T Nation

Building Overall Mass

So i posted about growing my arms and after reading what everyone said it made me question my lifting all together. So i’m going to ask what is the best thing i can do to build overall mass? i’ve researched a lot and tried many different exercises but i just seem to be gaining muscle size so slowly. i do basically the ppl split except mine is chest and legs, arms, back and shoulder, and then sometimes a rest day and then repeat. Strength improves like weekly but rarely does my actual size. i am eating a lot i’m 150 and gaining around a pound a week, if i miss one day of good eating i can drop more then a pound sometimes!!

i’m 18 and 5’6, restarted working out in December starting at 132 pounds. If anyone knows of some great easy to eat high calorie foods or lifts to build overall mass please let me know. i know the good ones are bench and squat but i can’t squat yet because of a knee injury still healing so i’m stuck on the hack squat machine for now. here are some pics of my current physique no pump just had woken up. What do you also think my lagging parts are? i know all of them obviously lol but any that are further behind then they should be? me personally i feel like my biceps are. like look at the picture of me just standing it looks like they barely even exist!!!

Dude, that’s great progress. Just keep going.

Just keep focusing on doing variations of the big lifts, if you stall, than either eat more, deload, or switch rep ranges.



Dude, by that logic, the pics also looks like your traps and lats barely exist. You’re way overthinking the pic.

That’s just what the body looks like at rest, which is why that’s a better type of progress pic than flexed bodybuilding poses (which competitive bodybuilders spend months practicing, since doing them wrong will give you an even more skewed idea of your physique).

Like people were saying in your other thread, you have no lagging parts. Keep doing what you’ve been doing and stick to the plan. Just focus on getting your knee/leg healthy so you can stop taking it easy on leg day. That’ll help total-body gains.

This is also normal. It’s called poop. And/or pee. And/or sweat. Weigh-in once a week, not every day.

That’s not anywhere close to a ppl split. Could we see what the week looks like - days, exercises, sets, and reps?

You also said you bench 225x6, which is very good for weighing 150. What are your recent PRs on any other big lifts?


So you’ve gained 18 lbs in the past 4-4.5 months? I’d say that’s really good progress. It’s also way too early to worry about weak points. Given how long you’ve been training, I’d say everything’s on pace. After you’ve been training for a good year, then you can start to look at weak points.

You could try messing around with different programs, but if you still gaining weight and strength with what you’re doing, there’s nothing wrong with just continuing as is. You’re better off doing what you enjoy (as long as it’s working), than changing things because you think something else might be better, but you hate the type of training.


Ha - I once gained 3kg in 4 hours and lost it all again over 2 days. Chris is right. Weigh in once a week and then take a 3 week average before making any sort of decision. If you’ve been gaining 1lb a week for 4 months then you might have 1 or 2 weeks where things slow down. Its okay. 1lb a week is good. In a years time you’ll be 52 lbs heavier. That’s a win - right?

If you want an all over body mass - super squats. 531 BTM. Deep water.
That’s 20 weeks of solid programming right there. (6 on, 1 off, 6 on, 1 off, 6 on). Eat like a champion and you’ll end up much bigger. Each come with their won eating requirements.

Good luck.

EDIT - ignore me - speed read and did not pick up in the injury. Very sorry.

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I really appreciate all the squat centered programs folks are offering the dude, but he says he’s got a knee injury and can’t squat…

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I wish I could gain 18 lbs in 4.5 months…


Have you heard the good word about the Dave Tate bulking diet? I bet that will put 18lbs on in 4.5 months.

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I meant muscle, not fat. Gaining weight is simple:eat more. Gaining 18 lbs of pure muscle on the other hand is something completely different.

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LOL! The night of my physique competition I gained 24lb over 6 hours.

Now every Saturday is a cheat night so following morning weight typically jumps 4-8lb. From bed time to morning my weight usually drops 4-8lb as well. I’m always amused when people act like any weight fluctuation <5lb is something crazy.

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Yeah i crashed my motorcycle a car pulled out in front of me while i was doing a wheelie. (stupid i know) So i’m better now but still gotta take it easy i’ve been using the hack squat machines and normal leg extensions just trying to gain strength back in my left knee/leg.

Today i actually for 225 for 7 so i’m super hyped about that. for chest day i start out with bench and i’ll pyramid starting from 8 reps then 6, 4, and 2 and after that i’ll do like 5 pause reps with like 185 or something. and then i’ll go light on incline on the smith machine for like 12 reps. and then i’ll do high to low cable flies 3 sets 12 reps each and then finish off with some dips just any many as i can. The only impressive lift i got is bench lol. cant squat because of my leg so that takes out like every other compound lift.

For arms i super set everything. i’m trying out a new workout a guy suggested and putting some more stuff in there i like. Everything is 3 sets. so for arms i’ll do chin-ups like 8 or so and then close-grip bench for 8 reps. then barbell curl for 10 and dips for 10. then hammer curls for 12 reps with rope push down for 12. the straight bar push down for 10 or 12 with incline dumbbell curls for 15 reps. then some ez bar skull crushers for 10 with crossover curls for 12. Do u wanna know what i do for back and shoulder too? i just don’t wanna bore everything with describing my split lol.

I did strategy 4 (I did every training day, not every day) of this and it added good size for an extra 10 minutes per session:

Are you doing physio? Or seeing a specialist? Honestly - at your age you should get over it. But doing under the eye of a specialist will make sure its quicker and done right. You’d be surprised how small injuries picked up in early life can have “unseen” knock on effects. That can be mitigated or removed with help.
Example - I have a bad lower back that is related to repetitive rugby injuries. I’m told by a few people that had I had access to a proper care in teenage years - I’d be fine.

As for what I would do - keep plugging away. Sure you can’t squat yet. But you are young and obviously work hard. So you will grow. And one day you will be able to squat again (I assume). So stick to pain free training. Longevity is key. No one gets huge training like a demon for 6 months and then having to take a year off.
Get better at the basics:
Pulling movement; bent over, one arm, chest supported, pull ups
Pushing movements; bench, incline bench, over head - including the BB and DB versions and dips
For legs so long as its pain free; hack squat, stiff leg dead lift, extensions, curls, single leg stuff.

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i was doing physical therapy and stretches for a like a month and then stopped once i could walk 100%

Don’t worry about trying to impress us.

If you can’t do unweighted squats without pain, your knee health needs serious professional attention. If you’ve been doing hack squats and leg extensions without issue (both of which can be rough on the knees unless you adjust the ROM), you don’t have a major problem. You just don’t wanna squat and need to make better exercise choices.

Can you do front squats, leg press, reverse lunges, and/or Romanian deadlifts?

It’s not boring. The more detail we have, the more help we can offer in getting you into a well-designed plan and making sure you don’t accidentally become a bench 'n curl bro. Layout your current week: Monday you do this, this, and this for these sets and reps; Tuesday you do this, this, and this for these sets and reps; etc.


For what it’s worth, I find squatting to a box (a bit different than a pure box squat) to be good for relearning the pattern with cranky knees.

If you need some pointers on re-arranging a more optimal PPL set-up, you’re more than welcome to hop into my log. Been doing a lot of high volume/heavy weight stuff for a while, but it’s fairly easy to adjust for existing injuries.

Eat. A lot! Sumo wrestlers have the greatest amount of fat-free mass of all athletes in the world. Their training program? “A regular routine of stomps and throws”:flushed:. That’s right. Not a single heavy barbell movement. Just insane amounts of food. Food is the most anabolic thing in the world.

These are both indicators that you are growing. It takes time. Be patient. Contrary to the bullshit articles you’ll read on here, you will not add an inch to your arms in a month or even three. Unless you add a bunch of fat. A lean inch on your arms takes 15 pounds of muscle your frame, which will take at least 6 months, realistically a year or so to build.

  1. Whole milk and various shakes made with whole milk
  2. High rep Squats
  3. High rep Deadlifts

None. You won’t be able to see these until you are more advanced. You look like a normal healthy young man with pretty good genetics for muscle building.

Eat a lot. Then go eat some more. Train to get stronger in the compound movements. This is priority #1. As long as this is happening, just enjoy the ride and don’t change things. And if you want to actually look like you lift, don’t make the mistake that I did in my early years. Make sure you get some volume work in. After your top end set(or sets) add a few sets of pump work in. But don’t overdue it. Just a couple sets of flies after bench or a couple sets of lateral raises after over head presses, etc. get progressively y stronger over time, while doing a bit of pump work after your main lifts, and eat and sleep a lot. You’ll be a monster in 2-3 years.