5 Keys to Mass… Fast
5 Principles for Building Massive Muscles in the Shortest Possible Time
If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you want exactly what the title implies: massive muscles. And I bet there’s an equally good chance that you have been going at it all wrong. It’s time to fix that! What follows are 5 tips – along with training programs and other sagely muscle-building advice – for acquiring the most massively muscled body that your genetics are capable of building.
Key #1: Squat, squat, and squat some more
|Jon Cole squatting heavy and deep|
Hard, heavy squats should be the cornerstone of any good mass-building program, whether you’re splitting your body several ways or whether you’re using full-body workouts.
If you haven’t been doing any squats, then begin with the following program performed 2 days per week:
· Squats: 5 sets of 8, 5, 5, 3, 3 reps. Work up over 5 progressively heavier sets until you reach your maximum for 3 repetitions.
· Squats: 5 sets of 8 reps. After a couple of light warm-up sets, perform 5 sets of 8 reps. Use a weight that would make it tough to get 12 reps.
After a few weeks of this kind of training, then don’t be afraid to start doing heavy singles in your program. And once you have been training consistently for several months, then you need to inject some variety. Some days do sets of 5s, some days do triples, doubles or singles, and some days blast out sets of 20, 30, or even 50 reps!
Key #2: Train Your Back Hard and Heavy
|Bill Starr hitting a power clean|
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve talked to a lifter who wants to get big and strong, yet they do little other than train their arms and chest. Trust me; you would be better off training your legs and back, and then never training your chest and arms, instead of vice-versa.
Heavy leg and back training lays the foundation for all of the training that you do after that.
The muscles of your back should be trained hard, but not as frequently as legs. Feel free to squat 2 – or even 3 – days per week. But for your back, you’re better off training twice a week at the maximum, and about once every four or five days would be even better.
Here’s a kick-ass back program that you can perform once every 5 days:
· Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 reps. After a few warm-up sets, load the bar with a weight that you can get 7 to 8 repetitions. Perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions with this weight.
· Close-Grip Chins: 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps (or maximum possible). Perform these with your bodyweight (or with additional weight if you’re strong enough). Get a good stretch at the bottom of each rep, and really squeeze your back at the top.
· One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps (each arm)
· Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 20 to 30 reps. Finish off your session with a few tough, high-rep sets for a killer pump.
Key #3: Train with a Combination of Both Low and High Reps
You need to do the majority of your training in the rep-range that’s best for your body type. What rep range is best? Choose a weight that is 80% of your maximum. Perform this set to failure. The rep range that you end up failing at is where you need to do the majority of your training – whether it’s 3-5 reps, 6-8 reps, or 10-12 reps. Also, determine your rep range for each bodypart. For instance, the muscles of your chest might respond best in the 6-8 rep range, while your biceps might respond best with 10-12 reps.
Do the majority of your training – 60% is a good number to shoot for – in this optimum rep range. Do the rest of your training in other rep ranges. And don’t be afraid to do some ultra-heavy training (1 to 3 reps) and some really high repetition training as well.
Here’s an example of a biceps workout for someone whose optimum rep range is 6-8:
· Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 3 reps
· E-Z bar Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
· Standing Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
· Preacher Curls: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
· Concentration Curls: 3 sets of 16-20 reps (each arm)
Here’s an example chest workout for someone whose optimum rep range is 10-12 reps:
· Incline Barbell Bench Presses: 5 sets of 5 reps
· Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
· Wide-Grip Dips: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
· Machine Bench Presses: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
· Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 20-25 reps
Another option is to do more workouts entirely in your rep range, while performing occasional workouts outside of your optimum range. Here’s an example of 4 different shoulder workouts for a bodybuilder whose optimum rep range is 6-8 reps:
Workout One (Optimum Rep Range):
· Seated Military Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
· Standing Behind-the-neck Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
· Arnold Presses: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Workout Two (Optimum Rep Range):
· Standing Dumbbell Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
· Dumbbell Side Raises: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
· Seated Machine Presses: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
Workout Three (Lower-Than-Optimum Rep Range):
· One-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Presses: 3 sets of 1-3 reps (each arm)
· Barbell Push Presses: 3 sets of 3-5 reps
· Barbell Upright Rows: 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Workout Four (Higher-Than-Optimum Rep Range):
· Dumbbell Side Raises: 3 sets of 12-16 reps
· Dumbbell Front Raises: 3 sets of 12-16 reps
· Bradford Presses: 4 sets of 20-25 reps
Key#4: Train with Compensatory Acceleration
|Fred Hatfield - originator of C.A.T. - squatted over 1,000 pounds in his mid '40s!|
Here’s what a typical chest workout should look like using C.A.T.:
· Incline barbell bench presses: 5 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
· Incline dumbbell bench presses: 4 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
· Weighted dips: 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps (using C.A.T.)
· Flat dumbbell bench presses: 6 “strip” sets of 10 reps each set, going down the rack.
Key #5: Train with a Combination of Split Routines and Full-Body Workouts
All of the workouts that I’ve listed so far have been split routines, but you also want to do some full-body workouts. Training your entire body at one time allows for some good muscle-building benefits:
· You get more of a “metabolic advantage” with full-body workouts – especially when you perform a lot of work in a short period of time. This is beneficial because a lot of “traditional” bodybuilding split routines actually do very little to speed up your metabolism. You need an enhanced metabolism in order to stay lean and grow muscle.
· There is more of an “anabolic advantage” with full-body workouts. I have noticed when training clients, all of them accrue faster gains when full-body workouts are included.
Most of the full-body workouts that you perform should be done in your optimal rep range. The workouts should be done using compound movements, and the faster you can train, the better. Here’s a typical workout for someone whose optimum rep-range is 6 to 8 reps:
· Squats: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
· Power Cleans: 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps
· Standing Overhead Presses: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
· Incline Barbell Bench Presses: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
· Wide-Grip Chins: 4 sets of maximum reps
· Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Putting it All Together
Here is an example of what a couple weeks of training might look like employing all of these principles:
· Day One: Squat Workout
· Day Two: Chest and Back Workout
· Day Three: Off
· Day Four: Full Body Workout (outside of optimum rep range) – chest, back, and legs; no direct shoulder and arm work
· Day Five: Shoulder and Arms Workout
· Day Six: Squat Workout
· Day Seven: Off
· Day Eight: Full Body Workout (optimum rep range) – back, legs, and shoulders; no direct chest and arm work
· Day Nine: Off
· Day Ten: Chest and Shoulder Workout
· Day Eleven: Back Workout
· Day Twelve: Off
· Day Thirteen: Off
· Day Fourteen: Squat Workout
Keep in mind that this kind of training should be “organic” – a template needs to be followed using the 5 “keys” listed, but things also shouldn’t be set in stone. When you feel as if you need a day or two off, take it. If you feel good training four days in a row, do that, as well.
One last thing: Above all, training should be enjoyable. If you enjoy training predominately with low reps instead of high reps (or vice versa), then do that. If you have a good time training, then you’re more likely to stick with it. Have fun, have a good time, and train hard!