T Nation

Bulking Program Advice Please


Im setting up a new program, and need some advice. Currently im "bulking" and am looking to add about 15-20lbs of mass in the next 3-4 months.

So here is my criteria for a program, and my questions.

1) Im not an athlete, but enjoy training like an "athlete".

2) My program will utilize barbell/DB complexes

3) I prefer to work in 4 week cycles (3 weeks loading / 1 week deload)

4) Will be traning 3-4 days a week.

5) Am able to utilize gym workouts, and GPP workouts at home

And here are my questions / concerns:

1) Ive been inspired by some of Dan John's writings lately. I read something that he feels specificity comes at the cost of increased risk injury. I see what he is saying here.

So what is a good way for a non-athlete?

Should I train as if I were training for powerlifting, O-lifting, strongman, MMA, and field sports, or would this just be counterproductive?

I dont see a need to be box squatting, or doing full cleans or snatches or training wide stance squats for the sake of getting my squat up. (I dont want to offend any PL'ers here, it just doesn't make sense for me to train for something that specific that im not going to use.)

2) So ive been utiliziing intensification/accumulation phases in the past. Should I go conjugate or western style periodization? (I read the Ferruggia article and still cant decide)

3) If im doing a lot of sled pulling/pushing is there much need for uni-lateral lower body exercises in the gym?

4) Any other recomendations?

Thats about it right now. Im not looking for a specific program or anything, just basic recomendations. Then i'll post up my program, and get your guys critiques and suggestions.

Thx in advance.





I think you are making it too complicated. I do the same thing myself, and I find that sometimes I just need to take a step back from all of that. Focus on eating a lot of food (meat, milk, eggs, and veggies as priorities), and lifting heavy things. Barbell exercises alone could get you there.

Back squats, Front Squats, Deadlifts, Cleans, Barbell Rows, Shrugs, Military Presses, Bench Presses, and Curls. All you really need to add those extra 15-20 lbs is right there.


Why? why the fuck are you deloading? What do you hope to achieve by doing barbell/DB complexes. STOP READING SO MUCH CRAP.

You are just talking out of your ass now.

Why are you doing all this bullshit? You just need to do progressive overload (add rep/weight each time you go to the gym)



Look dude, all you fucking need to do to add muscle is this: (or something like WS4SB)

day1: squat, leg press, lying leg curl, calf raises
day2: bench press, incline db press, barbell curl, db preacher curl
day3: off
day4: deadlift, db row, pull ups, back raises
day6: military press, seated db press, lateral raise, triceps pushdown.

work up to a top set of 3-6 reps on your big lifts, and do 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps on everything else (ramp up the weight)

If you want to work on your 'athletic ability' then do your prowler pushes, sled drags, log lunges 3x a week too.

THAT IS ALL THERE IS TO IT. Unless you are an elite athlete, you don't need periodization.

Just change exercises every 3-4 weeks (nothing major) so your body can get used to different movement patterns.

If you want to build as much mass as possible though, I wouldn't change exercises unless you absolutely had to.


Ok, so it looks like you guys dont suggest using western style periodization. So i'll give conjugate a try.

So without further adeu here it is.

Day 1: "ME Upper"

1) CGBP (Wont actually be a true ME, but i'll start week one with 90% or 1rm. I'll do something like 8-10x1 each week i'll add 5lbs and after my deload i'll try for a new 1rm.)

2) BB complex (Clean, Push press, FR. Squat)

**Performed as ladders, either 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3 or 1,2,3,4,5...to max x 2

3) Assistance pulling exercise (DB row, pullup, facepull, etc) 5 x 8-15

Day 2: "ME Lower"

1) Front squat (Performed similarly to CGBP)

2) RDL or Sumo RDL 3 x 5-10

3) Bicep/tricep exercise (These will be optional)

4) Sled pull/push Moderate weight/ moderate volume

Day 3: OFF

Day 4: DE upper

1) Speed bench @ 55% 8x3

2) DB complex (Snatch / press) (Performed the same way as BB complex)

3) Assistance pulling exercise (similar to day 1)

Day 5: Sled work (either heavy / low volume, or lighter recovery work)

Day 6: DE Lower (mixed)

1) Speed deadlift @55-60% 8x2-3

2) BB complex (same as above)

3) Assistance Push (ex. pushup, or DB Tricep ext. 5 x 8-15)

4) Assistance Lower (ex rdl, back ext, split squat 5 x 15-25)

Day 7: OFF

Well that would be it. Week two would be almost identical, except I would use DB complexes on Day 1 and Day 6 and BB on day 3.

So thx again for the recomendations. I WILL still be using a deload every 4th week, and I WILL still be doing my complexes and sled work. Those things I am not willing to change.

I think the program above looks pretty good, my only concern is whether it is a good idea to use a different movement on DE lower than ME lower. So im not sure if the speed deadlifts will have much carryover to the front squats, but they may help my cleans and snatches in my complexes.

Please critique.

***Oh and as for diet, i'll be aiming for 4k calories per day.


I agree that you have been reading way to much. Seems like you are trying to incorporate everything at once. In my eyes there is nothing wrong what-so-ever with deloading every 4th week however.

As has been said, focus on the core movements and on getting in a bit of volume. So sticking to 3-10 reps as a rule would be my adivce. Other than that just eat a shitload and you ll get bigger.


Why not just eat alot and do a bodybuilding split. It's worked for decades.


Use a simple template like WS4SB, replace PL style squats with Oly ones, and on dynamic leg days do power cleans and snatches.
But, if you are concerned about body mass adopt a simple BB split.


This is pretty much modeled after WS4SB except a bit less focus on the "main" ME/DE lifts and ive incorporated the complexes.

What are the specific problems with what I have written up?


Most program templates are put together in a very specific manner to reach specific goals. If you read the recent Wendler article, he discusses people wanting to combine 5,3,1 with WS4SB or whatever and being frustrated with their results--his answer? WTF do you expect? Stick to the program.

There is plenty of room in WS4SB for sled pushing pulling and is recommended. If you are sticking to the power variations of the oly lifts do them on on your DE days and replace speed deadlifts with them. Stick to the rep/weight ranges.


If you want it as simple as possible, just follow 5/3/1 (the general guidelines are outlined in an article here somewhere) and make sure you add weight to the bar and foot to your plate consistently.

You can also drink a gallon of milk per day, helps a lot too (recommendation by both Rippetoe and Wendler). If you want to stay lean and not worry about getting really fat in the process, then just eat every 2-3 hours and eat as much as you want (including carbs) in the morning after you get up and mostly protein/veggies/fruit over the day and then eat big (including carbs)again after you trained. It's that simple.


What kind of complex will you be doing?


ok its simple you train hard using lifts that will give you the greatest pump, eat 1000 or more clean calories (unless you dont care if you put on too much fat) and repeat until you have the desired look. And deloading is kinda pointless IMO unless you are going 110% for 11 weeks straight for a PL meet, or are burning out bad. Ive been going hard since april for powerlifting, and havent yet taken a deaload week, unless you count missing a few days in the gym because you were doing hard hard labor.


Thanks for the responses guys. Elih8er im thinking about what you said, and understand why combining things can be a bad idea, but am not sure about this one.

My program wasn't just thrown together though. I mean if you look into complex training it may be a little un-conventional NOW, but it still has its merits. And im counting on the fact that Dan John has been around for quite a while and has the sucess of both himself and the athletes he has trained.

So I did look into what would go well with complexes and based on my experience and what I could find, ME/DE work would combine very well with complexes. So if anything my program would at very least consist of complexes and ME/DE work, but im going to see if with a large calorie surplus I can get away with extress assistance/hypertrophy work.

And as a side note, I know im sorta throwing everything all into one plan, but that was sorta the point of my original question about periodization. Because Im either training it all at once (conjugate) or seperating things into cycles (western) And so i'll probably see if things work by training everything together, and if they dont, then i'll have to separate and periodize things out.

I hope it doesn't sound like I asked for advice and then just ignored your guys' criticisms, but im looking for more substantial suggestions. But I will still consider what has been mentioned as I try my program out.

I agree also that training should have a specific purpose. And the specific purpose of my current program will be to gain 15lbs of muscle. This will be obviously accomplished through calorie excess. And training will be aimed at increasing the amount of weight I am able to use on my complexes. (Increasing my working weight on my complexes is the primary goal for training) The ME/DE work and all the assistance work is only there to either maintain these qualities or for the possible carryover to increases in performance on my complexes.

***I probably should have stressed these few criterion that im not willing to change:

1) I will be using complexes

2) I will be using sled work

3) I will be training to increase strength

Now if you dont think those three criteria can be met, then I assume you think the conjugate method does not work. Because this is my GPP, max strength, and hypertrophy work basically. Those are the only things that I MUST have in my program. So either i need to switch to western style periodizaton and separate them, or train each quality all together.

Having said that, what needs to be changed about the program I listed. Is it too much frequency? Volume? exercises? what?


Well last time around when I was periodizing things it looked like this.


BB Complex - (hang clean, push press, front squat, row, rdl)

After having done the program for about 2 weeks, i decided to drop the row and RDL so it became just ---- hang clean, push press, front squat. This allowed me to get more reps and use more weight.

I was doing a ladder method for reps, and was doing something like 1,2,3 x 3-5 cycles or 1,2,3,.... going up as high as possible and then back down.

DB Complex - (originally looked like this - righ side (snatch, press, lunge) left (snatch, press, lunge) I dropped the lunge to allow for more weight and reps. The rep/set scheme was the same as above.

These complexes were alternated each workout, and would be followed up with 1-2 exercises of RE type work. Something like pushups or pullups 2xAMRAP

I was fairly happy with this program, and in just 3 weeks was able to increase my working weight on my BB complexes by 20lbs and a 10lb increase on my DB complex weight.

The biggest problem I found with this program was that there wasn't any max strength work in it. And that is why I wanted to change things this time around.


First, keep it simple. Find a program you would like to do and stick to it. Wendler's 5/3/1 or WS4SB are popular around here.

Eat, if you want to bulk, you gotta eat. If you don't eat but have the perfect program for builking, you will not bulk. Did I say you gotta eat?

Drink a ton of milk. It's simple and cheap.

My secret for bulking was 2 cups of milk, a scoop of whey protein, a scoop of ice cream, and either some strawberries or a banana. Blend well. I gained 40+ pounds in one summer when I was 23. I drank this after my workout and before going to bed. Oh, and I ate, a lot.

But, keep it simple and stick to it.

Good luck


Good advice. Im definately focusing on eating a ton. Your shake sounds interesting. I used to do whole milk, heavy whipping cream, and protein powder. Yum......

What you bring up about sticking with it is going to be important for me. In the past Ive always periodized things and consequently would be switching things up every 4-6 weeks. I think switching to conjugate training will be a good move and will allow me to stich with one program for 4-6 months instead of 4-6 weeks.


Monday: 5/3/1 Squat;*Post. Chain; Quads; Abs
Tuesday: 5/3/1 Bench; Shoulders/Chest; Lats/Upper Back; Triceps; Condition
Wednesday: Complex
Thursday: 5/3/1 Deadlift; Post. Chain; Quads; Abs
Friday: 5/3/1 Press; Shoulders/Chest; Lats/Upper Back; Triceps; Condition
Saturday: Complex
Sunday: OFF

*All assistance work=5 sets of 10 reps

I don't know you personally, so I don't know how you handle carbs. However, if your goal is "bulking," adding 15-20 lbs in 3-4 months, I suggest following Dr. Pasquale's Anabolic Diet, with the mid-week carb-up. Specifically, in case you are not familiar, go for 12 days eating 30g or less or carbs, then eating 60% calories from carbs for 2 days. Now go to eating 5 low-carb/2 high-carb days each week. Estimate calories to gain at bodyweight x 20. Most people are going to balk at me suggesting someone trying to gain weight go "low-carb," but this program helped me go from 145 to 197 in a calendar year, & I ran my fastest 40 & had a visible 6-pack at the workout (walk-on).

If you want something simpler, try to eat 1 lb. of almonds every day. Too expensive? Eat a jar of natural peanut butter.


fuckin troll


If you have to post your training template on a website to garner acceptance, you should not be writing your own training. You'd be better off just picking something like the others have said and doing that till you have a better understanding of your body.

not trying to be a dick, don't take it as such