T Nation

I need advice for starting out a program for mass gain


I'm a 5'10, 161 lbs. male, good shape, a little bit of fat around my abs when I sit down, pretty decent muscle tone, and I have been lifting for about two years. I never actually had much of a plan before, I mostly did about 4 sets of 10 reps for every muscle I worked. Now, however, I want to start a program for mass gains (I want to bulk up because next year I want to join the rugby team at my school). Heres what I worked out as of yet:

Bench Press
Military Press
Shoulder Shrugs
Bicep Curls

W Su:
Stiff-Legged Dead Lifts
Calf Raises
(any suggestions, please step in)

My main concern, however, is that I'm not really sure how many sets and reps I should do. I found this one guide that said something along these lines:

(For example, for Bench Press)
5 Warm up sets:
1st- 20 Reps of 20% of what I plan on lifting
2nd - 10-12 Reps of 30%
3rd - 6-8 Reps of 60%
4th - 3-5 reps of 80%
5th - 1 Rep of 90-95%
2-3 Work Sets:
1st - 5-6 Reps of the amount I plan on lifting (120 lbs)
2nd - Same
3rd - Same

I use that for Bench Press, Dead Lifts, Squats, and Military. For bicep, tricep, shrugs, and calf-raises, I do your normal 3-4 sets of 10-12.

I believe this is a good program, however, I figured that it would be best to get another's opinion concerning mass gaining workouts. If anyone has any suggestion for anything, please, I'm all ears.

Thank you


This will answer all of your questions. If you have any further questions ask them here but I'm sure this will answer all of them http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/299prog.jsp .


Your choice of exercises isn't bad but you did forget pullups or chins for back. You might want to look into a 5X5 or HST program or anything by Chad Waterbury. Try the search engine for articles. Work each bodypart a minimum of twice per week and eat big and clean.

Here's a great program put together by Goldberg on a different forum:

Squats-5x5(Do four progressively heavier sets of 5 with the 5th set being your 5RM.)
Deadlifts-5x5(Do the same)
Bench Press-5x5(Do the same)
Incline DB Press-2x12-20

Light Squats or Lunges-4x8 each leg
Good Mornings-3x8-12
Shoulder Press-5x5 or Dips-4xmax until you get 12 each time. then add weight.

Squats-warmup to a 3 reps with 5 more lbs than you used on Monday. On the following monday use this weight for your 5th set.
Bent Over Row-5x5
Incline Bench-5x5
Tricep Extensions-2x12-20

Do this and quite worrying about all of the elaborate programs. Bench, Squat and pull. it will lay the best possible foundation. The best thing that ever happen to my training was reading this program by Bill Starr in Muscle Media 2000 around 1995."

Good luck.


What about your diet? your training routine is only part of the whole equation. Read through the Frequently Asked Questions section and most all of the answers you seek should be there. Glad to see you are getting serious. This will be a rewarding endevour for you.


Nutrition, as already mentioned, is very important. You are young, your hormone levels are naturally very high, take advantage of the protein synthesis that comes with this,ie: eat lots of protein(320-350g in your case). You should stick to higher reps at your age, especially for hypertrophy. It just won't happen at 5-7reps, and you will not lose strength doing this as you have yet to reach high strength levels. You will still gain strength at reps in the 8-15r range. You are also doing waaaay to many warm up reps! You're doing 40r to warm up. By the time you get to your work sets, you'll have nothing left, even if the intensity is low. You are only doing 120lbs in your worksets, no need to do so many warmups. A better plan would be to use 10r with 50%of work sets weight, then 8r with 75%, then 4-6r with 90%, then move on to work sets.


I would say that if you have been doing a 4x10-12 routine for two years now that it is high time you did some heavy lifting.

I would say do some heavy low rep work for atleast a month and then get in a mix of both heavy/low rep, and higher rep work. Possibly something like ABBH.

But to start I would guess you would get your best gains from lifting heavy.



Thanks so much for all your suggestions guys


All of the advice so far is great. I will however have to disagree with the statement that you aren't going to build mass with lower reps. In my experience I have seen that you can indeed grow with lower rep schemes, but you have to make sure that your overall volume is high. So on a strength phase you might hit 50-80 reps per week per bodypart, you might want to raise that to 120-150 reps/week per bodypart. So chest for instance could be:

A)ME Bench (work close to 5RM, then 3RM, then 1RM) ~40 reps
5X5 (work slowly up to 5RM)
4X3 (work to 3RM)
3X1 (work to 1RM)
B)Inc Bench 8X5 40reps
C)Dips 7X6 42 reps
D)Skull Crushers 4X6 (less direct triceps work b/c of so much indirect work)
E)Side lateral raise 3X10 (less direct)


Oh...or you could spread that out over the week obviously Mon A Wed B Thurs C and alternate tri/bi/delts at the end of all workouts (if you feel you need the extra work to bring up bodyparts)


Perrogrande, he's a beginner, that is why I recommend the higher reps for growth. It would take several years before a trainee is ready for the demands of the lower reps and get the most from those lower reps.


He has 2 years of training under his belt already. Granted that he was not on a periodization program nor on a correct eating plan, but his body should have enough adaptations to go straight into a good strength / hypertrophy program such as ABBH. Oh yeah, he gets to do the fun part: Massive Eating!!

I was in the same boat, except I was 130lbs when I started. Now I'm pushing 185lbs. Eat and lift, it's that simple.


i love eating... thank God


You think 2 years of unplanned, sporadic training is sufficient to claim one as an experienced lifter? I guess you would also say that he has reached his genetic potential and is now ready to explore the world of AASs. I'm guessing he's a teenager. The guy can barely bench press 75% of his bodyweight, come on! I am not putting the guy down 'cause we've all been there and I help guys just like this for a living, so I am not flaming him in any way but realize when someone is getting in over their head. He still has lots of improvement he could gain by exploring his potential in the higher rep ranges before moving down reps. I'm not saying he can't go lower in reps, but I am saying it is not necessary and probably not the best thing to do.


try a push pull deal like: bench/row, squats/calves, chinoverhead press, deadlift/abs. you can put in bis/tris if you really feel the need to. or you can do an iso type deal like: chest/tris, squats/calves, back/bis, deads/abs, delts/traps. laters pk


Read this Ian King's paper: