What Is Really "Specific" To Building Mass?

The fact that he was 13 in his before pic might have something to do with it too…


Ding ding ding.

The sheer act of aging and going through puberty is going to have changes to muscular development. It’s why “before” photos of some young teen are just disingenuous.

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So if I gained 120 since I started training, but I started training as a young bro, I can’t claim 120 pounds of gains?

Only if I can talk about how I’ve gained 195lbs since being a zygote.


Shit I’ve been ahead of my goals this whole time?!

That reminds me of a post on a different message board on which I’m a lurker regarding that picture. Though I don’t agree with the harsh content, I couldn’t help but laugh from the crafty humor.


I’ve took a look at my training routine and since next week I will be changing around a couple of exercises and include some of your suggestions I’ve thought maybe you could give me some feedback

Here’s the routine, which is a modified version of a PHAT template:

Monday upper body strength
Pendlay row 3x3-5
Rack chins 4x6-10
Flat db press 3x3-5
Incline db press 2x6-10
Seated Db OHP 3x6-10
EZ barbell curl 3x6-10
Straight bar pushdown 3x6-10

Tuesday rest

Wednesday back and shoulders
Pendlay row speed work @ 70% of Monday’s weight 6x3
Motorcycle row 3x8-12
Low pulley row 3x8-12
Underhand lat pull down 2x8-12
Cable pullover with rope 2x15-20
Side raises 2x20
Seated Db OHP 4x6-10
Heavier side raises 4x8-12

Thursday legs
I still have to come up with a decent template for legs, since as I stated I’m not giving them much attention.
I’m currently doing 5ish sets of goblet squats, followed by leg press, leg curls, and ab work.

Friday chest, bis and tris
Db flat press speed work @ 70% 6x3
Incline db press 4x8-12
Chest Press Machine 2x6-10
Low to high cable fly 3x10-12
Bb curl 3x8-12
Hammer curl 2x12-15
Concentration curl 2x15-20
Rope pushdown 4x8-15

Saturday and Sunday rest

I am not entirely sure about back exercise selection. I’m worried I might not be hitting lats hard enough with all those rows (although the motorcycle row should be pretty lat focused judging from the angle of pull), also i would like to keep the standard seated cable row, which I’ve been loving (I took it out because I wanted to try a couple new rows and because I’ve been using that exercise for months now). Also do you think I’m hitting shoulders properly with that protocol? I would like to include a face pull or some rear delt exercises apart from rows but I’m worried I might make the session too long. Also am I hitting the side delt properly?

Any other kind of feedback is, as always, highly appreciated

Not bad. But IMO, if your goals are physique-related, three broad criticisms would be 1) too much lat work, 2) over-emphasis on flat-bench movements, and 3) no rear-delt work.

On your Power day, You need a movement that hits the rear delts. Would suggest behind-the-back upright rows on the Smith machine. (Face pulls don’t readily lend themselves to power-style parameters.)

Wednesday should not be Back and Shoulders; it should be Shoulders and Back. (#Priorities) Further, drop one of the 14-or-so Back exercises you’re planning in favor of a high-rep rear-delt movement (I’m personally a fan of reverse pec deck, but whatever works for you). Delts also respond well to complexes (eg, four rounds of reverse pec deck/laterals/DB upright rows/DB presses, each exercise failing in the 10-15 rep range), so consider working them that way.

Friday’s Chest work should invert the relationship between upper- and lower-chest. (Just as Delts are more important that Back, so too is Upper Chest > Lower Chest.) Finally, Friday’s Arm work should be all about da pump–high reps, short rest periods. Drop the concentration curls in favor of a second triceps exercise (do you have access to a seated dip machine? That would be my first choice).

Anyway, those are my initial impressions.


Why is it too much lat work for physique?

How should I implement these into power day? Should I take anything else out?

I should probably drop the lat pull down, it looks like the best candidate to dropped, doesn’t it? Unfortunately I don’t have a reverse pec deck at my gym, and our actual pec deck machine doesn’t seem to lend itself well to be used in reverse… Are face pull okay? I was thinking about lying rear delt raises but they never felt right to me. Do you think I should implement complexes into my shoulder training at this point? How would you go about the rest of the volume I am currently doing?

Since my routine calls for speed work as the first exercise and it’s related to what I did on power day, do you suggest I change this altogether and do 3x3-5 of Incline press on power day with 2 sets of flat press as assistance, thus having Incline bench as speed work? Or maybe I should just drop the chest press machine and do more sets of Incline press. What’s your suggestion?

Actually the original one called for 3 curls and 3 Tricep movements but it looked like too much to me. What do you think?

Because for nattys, lifting is a zero-sum game. That is, you only have so much energy and recovery ability, so resources devoted to one bodypart necessarily take away from what is available to another. And IMO, well-developed delts + an OK back makes for a much more aesthetically pleasing physique than does a well-developed back + OK delts.

Tough call. If you decide you need to drop something, drop the flat-bench DBs, and up the number of incline DB sets to 4.

If you truly feel face pulls in the rear delts, yeah. (I don’t.)

I’ve always had trouble feeling these too. How about band pull-aparts? Or using cables to simulate a reverse-pec-deck-like movement?

Give 'em a try, and see what you think. If you like 'em, keep 'em. If not, go back to straight sets.

Either one of those would work.

Start with two and two. Like I said, focus on the pump–higher reps, short rest periods. Maybe flip back and forth between sets of bis and sets of tris with minimum rest between (say, 15 seconds). The point is to force as much blood as you can into your arms.


Do you think I will need to drop anything at all tho? I am thinking I might try and just add them without changing anything else.

I personally like face pulls, and if I do them properly with protracted scapula to inhibit trap activation, I can definitely feel them in my rear delts.

I have tried pull aparts with cable like you suggested in the past but they didn’t feel right.

Yeah but how should I implement them? Are they gonna be the only work I’m doing for delts for that session or should I do them after my normal presses or heavier raises?

Looks like I’m going with option 2 and just drop the chest machine. Also on a related note, what’s your opinion on my routine including 6 sets of 3 at 70 percent of the power day weight for “explosive” speed work? Have you ever found that to be effective?

I’ve got another question which is kinda relevant to this thread. You often see routines as recommended for beginners VS intermediate VS advanced, as well as lots of different criteria to categorize each ones.

So I read many many times that one is an intermediate once they can squat xxx weight or similar. How does that apply to an individual training for aesthetics only? When are you considered an intermediate if you’re not strength training?

Also how do you think I fit in that category? I’m asking this because I’m a bit confused every time I see people talking about stages, experience, and what a beginner truly is.

Go for it.

By all means then, do them.

If after doing 4-5 rounds of those complexes you still feel like doing “normal presses or heavier raises,” you’re not working the complexes hard enough.

I know Norton swears by that, and he’s obviously gotten great results with it, but I’ve never programmed that way, so have no experience to draw on.

In my view, a beginner is someone who 1) is still mastering the movements, ie, learning how to actually perform the lifts; and relatedly 2) is still experiencing so-called ‘noob gains,’ ie, rapid increases in the weight they are able to lift (much of which is neural; ie, a function of mastering the movements and learning how to recruit motor units synchronously). Once someone has grooved the movements, and their strength has plateaued, they’re no longer a beginner in my book.

Based on what I wrote above, you tell me. And as for intermediate vs advanced, who cares? Post-beginner, it’s a matter of figuring out the training parameters–the volume, frequency and intensity–that work best for you. And I know of no other way to figure this out than trial and error. (To make things trickier still, the most effective parameters for a given individual might change over time.)

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@EyeDentist Hey man, I gave the Upright row variation you suggested a try.

It felt weird at first, but I’m getting the hang of the movement. However, what they felt like in my rear delts was not quite the same as the feeling isolation work gives me. I’m just trying to make sure I’m still working them properly. Here’s a video of me doing a set, mind giving some advice on form? Smith machine behind the back Upright row technique feedback - YouTube

Also since we’re here: I was advised from a guy to whom I asked advice at the gym to use a belt on exercises like the Bb row in order to avoid getting held back by my core (he said something along the lines of, “do you want to be a weightlifter or a bodybuilder? If that’s the latter, then you better do what you need to do to focus on the muscles you’re working and avoid getting held back by something else”) so I decided to give it a try tonight while doing Pendlay rows.

Apparently, my waist was too slim for that specific belt so it did little to none since it wasn’t tight enough.
Anyway, do you think I should follow that guy’s advice and use a belt on some of the heavier exercises?

One last thing: I would like to get your feedback on my Pendlay row too: Pendlay row technique feedback - YouTube

Please lemme know, thanks!

You’re hunching over too much, especially toward the end of the set. Look at your neck and head–they’re parallel to the floor. You need to stay much more upright. (A little forward lean is fine.) Think about getting your elbows to move back and out.

Watch this guy. Note: The first exercise he does is a shrug, which is not what we’re going for. It’s the second variation, a little more than halfway through the video, that you should emulate:

I don’t use a belt much–but then, I don’t go very heavy on anything anymore. It’s really a personal preference thing. Why not try it both ways, and see if you feel like it helps?

You’re way too upright on the Pendlays. Remember, this is just a deadstop barbell row. Your torso should be flat, and almost parallel to the ground. Look at the guy in the video embedded in this article:

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Got it.

So on a different note, I was re-reading an article about about training volume landmarks that someone mentioned here a couple of days ago.

I was like, I’ll just compare all the volume recommendations against my current routine, and something instantly jumped to my mind.

I quickly noticed that in most progression samples shown in the article, the number of sets increased week by week.
I have seen people doing this and some programs mentioned it, but we haven’t really discussed this here so I’d like to ask: in addition to increasing the weight from week to week, should I strive to do more sets too? If so, how would you program this in my specific routine? I hope that’s not asking too much.

One more thing that I noticed, since I jumped on the side/rear delts article, is that the author recommends from about 20 sets per week to about 30 if I recall correctly.

Since from this week I’m going to implement the complex you recommended:
Cable rear delt scarecrows
Db lateral raise
Db Upright row
Db ohp

How does that count? Should I just treat them as straight sets? If so, then that’s 19 sets including the heavier ohp I do on Monday. Is that + the indirect work (which actually isn’t much for the middle delts) sufficient to stimulate optimal growth? How should I progress on shoulder training?

What you’re talking about is/are training cycles, that is, how one programs training over a period of weeks to months. There are about a million different approaches to training cycles, with some emphasizing increases in weight, others volume, others intensity, and still others manipulating various combinations of these. Most involve ramping up the parameter(s)-of-concern over a period of weeks, and then entering a ‘deload’ period in which training is cut back for a period of days to a week or so.

Which approach should you adopt? I have no idea. As we say in medicine, whenever there are a plethora of ‘treatments’ for something, it is a sure sign there’s no true treatment. In other words, if there was one clearly superior way of doing things, all the others would fall to the wayside, and we’d all train pretty much the same way. We don’t, because there isn’t. So in short, neither I nor anyone else can tell you if you should adopt a progressive-volume approach, because there’s no way to know a priori whether it will work for you. So if you want to give it a try, go for it. Just don’t program-hop–pick something and stick with it long enough to know whether you’re responding to it (or not).

As for counting complexes, I would count each individual exercise. So IMO, 4 rounds of 4 exercises is 16 sets. But then, I don’t follow a progressive-volume approach, so…

If I were PHAT training, I would measure progress in terms of weights/reps on the Power days, and would not be concerned with progressing on the more pump-oriented days.



Hey, I applied some of the changes we discussed lately.

Today it was shoulders and back, and I started with the complex you suggested.
It hurt like hell and gave me a solid pump, luckily I was mentally prepared for that hell since, as I mentioned, in the past I already trained in that fashion.

However, I found that the intense burning sensation faded out quickly after moving to back, unlike when doing CT’s growth factor program where it would last of course for the whole duration of the workout. This made me feel like I hadn’t don’t much work (although I probably wouldn’t have said so had you asked me during a set), but that’s probably just mental.

Here’s a video of one round

I believe I’m doing the movement correctly, although my form on laterals could be a little better. Mentally I concentrate on raising the elbows, but it looks like I end up with the wrists higher. Let me know

Also I found that my back training suffered a bit from the inversion of order, but my guess is that I just need to get used to it.

I tried the motorcycle row and hated it: it felt very unstable and my legs and core were working harder to keep me into position than my lats were to actually move the weight. Lesson learned, I am going to stick to more stable exercises.

And, speaking of such exercises, I gotta say that, while I’m loving the Seated row more and more, I’m lately facing a problem: upon the last reps, I find it difficult to get my back back into position and do the rep—I’m doing it in a way where on the negative portion of the rep I come forward and “hunch” over a little. When I get my back flat to do the next rep, I find it hard on the core and the musculature around the scapulae, more than on the actual muscles that perform the pulling movement. Here’s a video of a set

let me know if it looks like I’m doing anything wrong

Pretty good. A few small points:
+Arms could be just a little straighter on the rear-delt work. And remember, the ‘swing thought’ (golf analogy) on that movement is not getting the hands to move back (ie, toward the wall behind you) but rather out (ie, toward the walls to your left and right).
+I thought your form on the laterals was pretty good, as were the upright rows.
+You took a ‘camp-out turn’ (swimming analogy) between the upright rows and the presses. You can rest all you want when you’re dead; don’t rest between exercises in a complex.
+You pussed out on the DB presses–had 3 more reps in you at least. Next time, put your purse down and cowboy up! (sexist analogy).

After a second viewing, you probably pussed on the cable work as well.

Question: What weights are you using for upright-row DBs and press DBs? Because if they’re similar, you could find a compromise DB weight to use for both, in which case you could go straight from rows to presses without switching DBs. Less down time = more burn. (If necessary, do the DB presses standing rather than sitting.)

Work harder, and this feeling of not having done much work will go away.


Funny, to my eye your last few reps look better than your earlier ones. In the early reps you’re pulling the handle too high–almost to your sternum. Note the extreme degree of flexion at the elbow on these reps–a sure sign you’re pulling too high. In contrast, on the last few reps you’re pulling more toward your navel (as you should). Again, look at your elbows–far less flexion on these reps.


man, you guys really get into some minutia.

EyeDentist, I can’t tell if you’re mostly humoring him because he likes this sort of discussion, or if you think think any of this really matters in the big picture. Like hitting ‘perfect’ reps on the cable row.

Also, my cable rows look MUCH different from these. I’ve found that very heavy overloading on cable rows is particularly effective. I definitely ‘feel’ it in my back more, because it becomes difficult to simply handle the load at all. I’ve found that, in general, heavier loading is the best way to engage the larger muscle groups because it becomes necessary. I think very controlled, isolated movements are best employed to work on weak points.