T Nation

Mass Movements: Puttin' On The Beef

A common theme on this Forum is the inability to put on mass. I think we agree that diet is probably the biggest culprit. Second would probably be haphazard workouts with no sense of progressive overload.

What about the fact that many simply don’t incorporate “mass” movements? (IronMan Calls them “compound”) OR movements that allow us to push the maximal amount of weight per bodypart.

I’ve compiled a list and would like you guys comments and/or criticisms. The thought is that a “mass” movement should ALWAYS be incorporated into our workout IF we expect to “put on the beef”.

1)Back UPPER:Power Rack Back Lifts (1/4 Deads done from a Power Rack with the stops set @ about upper shin level). TOTAL: Deads

Squats: (Overall)
Stiff Legged Dead Lifts: (Hams)
(The stretch is very important during this exercise, so make sure you don’t restrict your range at the bottom of the movement.
At the top of the movement stop before you are standing straight up. This keeps full tension on the hamstrings the entire set. )


Heavy EZ-Bar Triceps /French Presses

Bench Press

Donkeys (Concentrates effort on lower Soleus, instead of the overlying Gastroc).

Presses:(Now I prefer Behind-the-Back Barbell “Piston” Presses, but there is a LOT of controversy about their safety. I can really feel a “pump” with them, though.)

Your thoughts?

My main concern is the heavy EZ bar triceps extensions or dumbbell extensions. As these place a lot of stress on the elbows. I would suggest close-grip benches and dips instead. Especially for heavy weights. Also, bench presses are good, but incline bench might be better since so many people lack that part of the chest or have that droopy look. Otherwise, you have some good stuff there.

My list: Back squats (high bar, ass to grass), DL’s, good mornings, RDL’s, bentover rows, chinups, overhead press, bench press. Basically any kind of movement that uses the body as a whole unit (with the exception of the bench press).

Mufasa – I agree that the mass movers will help put on the beef. The theory is that more GH is released when maximal muscle mass is used. There was a thread earlier (last week I think) about the most effective movement. Deads seem to have won by a wide margin, followed closely by squats. I find your listing of deads as mainly a full back exercise and not a hammie hitter interesting. I definitely feel it in the hams – maybe a form problem there (for me). I’ve had a lot of problems with french presses wreaking havoc on the elbows, but dips hit my tri’s pretty hard. You seem to have hit on a mix with little overlap, though. Might be a little light on the lats – adding a row or pull-up would help, but then you introduce more overlap. I tried a different movement the other day that gave a great pump to the arms. What I did was basically overload a standing db hammer curl, and cheat it up towards the armpit with the arm allowed to flare to the outside (does that even make sense?). Had the db loaded 25% on one side of the handle, 75% on the other, with the heavy side down (away from the thumb). Worked the bis, rear delts, upper delts, and traps pretty hard. Probably looked pretty stupid though (I lift at home, so I don’t get the “what the…” stares).

Nate: My upper chest is a little weak. Do you do inclines exclusively, or do you “mix it up?”

I forgot; Reverse Grip Barbell Rows (made popular by Dorian) are pretty awesome Mass Builders for the back also…

This is great! (Which is why I present this stuff to you guys!) Brider brings up a great point: LATS! The feeling is that chins should be a part of all programs also. If your back is weak (for beginners, with proper chins, the “power” should come from your BACK not your arms) start with Lat Pulldowns, but at some point, you should advance to chins.

This is totally off topic of me, so please pardon me: I saw a guy at the gym complaining to a personal trainer on how he couldn’t get his tri’s to grow, minutes later I saw the clown doing tricep kickbacks with a 20 lb. dumbell!!! Do people think?

Mufasa, I notice that you don’t have any OL movements in there. Might want to think about that…

Aaron, people do NOT think(my major prob. w/ people). the best ex. for tri’s is french press(bar none, and I’m a big dip fan) just stick to one ex. per bodypart and go heavy for 6-12 reps. ALWAYS have atleast one day off between workouts and keep your sets LOW

Char: OL? Got me on that one, bro…

Add weight on all bodyweight movements if possible. Decline pushups w/ pushup handles allowing for greater ROM, DB incline bench, handstand pushups w/ handles or chairs for greater ROM (or DB shoulder press if handstand pushups not possible), dips, close grip bench press, shoulder width supinated and neutral chins, supinated bent rows at 45 and 80 degrees, full squats high bar med-wide stance, deads, standing calf raises, 45 degree seated calf press, seated calf raises, supinated and hammer incline curls, supinated and hammer reverse incline curls, reverse and Tsatsouline (sp) supinated bar curls (great for forearms), DB alternating curls (for stability), cuban press, clean and jerk, full front squats, very wide stance med-low bar squats, lateral raises (essential for external rotators), janda situps, jackknife pushups, hanging circumduction, lying tricep extensions.

Mufasa, you know I stick to all the basic exercises for my workouts. And I’ve posted my routine in a few places. So you can always check that out for my sample exercises to hit the most mass.

As for upper pecs, I had done plenty of incline benches in the past. But It’s been a long time since I’ve done them. I’ve noticed that my pecs are beginning to lose some of the mass on the upper pecs and beginning to droop down a bit.

After my shoulder injury in October 2000, I stopped benching until March 2001. I benched for two months and stopped again because it reaggravated my shoulder. I haven't done flat benches for a month. Yesterday, I hit the gym with some buddies for a "fun" workout (nonscheduled workout to hang with some friends). I decided to do some benches. As soon as I went heavy, my shoulder started hurting. So I pretty much need to stop doing them.

With Staley’s Convergent Phase Training program, I will be benching again. I’ve added dumbbell incline presses for the first month’s circuit, incline barbell presses for the second month’s circuit and dips for the third month’s circuit. That will be the only chest work I do. As my chest is ahead of the rest of my body. Although, my back is pretty good, and my legs are doing well now that I’ve rehabbed a knee injury. My weaknesses at this point are arms and shoulders. Some of that should be addressed with the new program since I’ll be doing arm and shoulder work 1-2 times a week depending on the way the circuits are lined up. You may want to check out Staley’s CPT program to see what I’m talking about.

Also, if you want to send me your e-mail address I can send you the link to my homepage. I have a few pics that show my progress over the last few years. I will also have some new pics very soon, as I have been getting much leaner recently.

Oh yeah, OL refers to Olympic Lifts (snatches, cleans, etc). You can always put them in if you have someone to teach you how to do them correctly. I've been using power cleans recently, and love the way they work the body!

Nate: As always, thanks! OLYMPIC LIFTS! (I should have known that!) Anyway, in answer to Char, I am not nearly so familiar with these lifts. HOWEVER, it seems like a) They would fit under the catagory of basic, “Mass Building” lifts and b) are therefore interchangeble with some of the lifts I mentioned. Would this be correct?

few comments, donkey calf raises emphasize the gastrocs, not the soleus…

you are missing, chinups, cleans/snatches for the posterior chain, bent over rows, and dips.

Mufasa, I suggest you perform semi-stiff legged
deadlifts as they involve the glutes,which will
greatly reduce the chances of lower back or hamstring strain.

Call it heresy, but I think ANY free weight movement that allows you to engage consistently in progressive overload is “the best”. If it’s a three-dimensionally unstable movement and you can add weight week in and week out, it’ll grow ya. But that’s just my opinion.

Great Post…how about a standing overhead press…taxes the body good , tough to progress in though. I think some others worth mentioning would be HEAVY hammer curls
(with good form) seated rows , and heavy shrugs. maybe even lunges. now a couple of Q’s. What are cuban presses? Can anyone describe proper technique in the sntch. I’ve been wanting to switch it off with hang cleans but i don’t think i have the form down…Thanks, Mike

If you want to pack on the mass fast include multi-functional compound movements: Power clean and press, squat clean, snatch clean, high pulls, muscle snatch, etc. Build a program aroung these movements and other basics like the deadlift, squats (back & front),bench press. Through in some grip work and some curls and you’re set.

As a personal example I always worked my traps hard with shrugs and they developed and grew quite well. I then incorporated high pulls instead of the shrugs and my traps exploded in size! Try to focus on overhead presses as well, standing not seated. This will put on the mass fast also.

Cuban presses are an upright row, external rotation, and standing overhead press. Since cuban presses were on my list, I did not include standing overhead press. They are great for shoulder health.