The 3-Month Mass-Gain Plan

When it comes to gaining mass, everybody’s an expert. From the late-night infomercial guru tothe chatty, grizzled gym veteran, it seems that everyone has a gimmick forgetting huge. This pervasion of mass-gain punditry makes it difficult for theaverage lifter to zero in on what exactly needs to be done. Luckily, there are a few universal truths that anyone can apply toelicit the gains he or she is looking for. We not only present three of themhere, but our expert also used each of them to craft the accompanying mass-gainprogram, making it a proficient and practical method to gain an appreciableamount of new muscle over the next three months.Truth No. 1:  Muscles Grow With Big Lifts In The 8 to 12 Rep RangeSome people like to take a high-volume approach to muscle growth, insisting thatchallenging, high-rep sets flush the muscles with blood and trigger new growth.Other lifters are monogamous to big-weight lifts, clinging to the fact thatto-the-brink sets will build the most muscle, even with very few reps. Themiddle ground, however, works for everyone – if it’s done right.Jimmy Pe&ntilde-a, MS, CSCS, a Los Angeles-based fitnessexpert, celebrity trainer and founder of PrayFit (www.prayfit.com), insiststhat the greatest gains in muscle come to those who stick to the most proven reprange for muscle growth – eight to 12 reps. “This is the range that is mostknown, physiologically and anecdotally, to elicit muscle growth,” he says. Amazingly, there are still debates in fitness circles about whichexercises should be used to build mass. Some argue that the greater the varietyof exercises, the greater the stress placed on your musculature, the greateryour growth in the long run.”That’s ridiculous,” Pe&ntilde-a says. “Youcan always add variety with single-joint moves, but if gaining mass is yourprimary goal, you need to stick to bread-and-butter, compound exercises likethe bench press, squat and deadlift. Forcing multiple muscle groups to work inconcert against progressively heavier resistance is the way to go, period.”Applied Truth: In this program, you won’t ever perform a set with less than eight ormore than 12 reps. Because this is the optimum rep range for hypertrophy – yourmain goal these 12 weeks – it makes no sense to deviate from it for novelty’ssake. Also, single-joint movements will be a rare find. Major lifts comprisethe bulk of the exercises here.Truth No. 2: Progression Is The Key To GrowthShow us a personwho has stopped growing and we’ll show you a person who has stopped challenginghis or her body. Sure, sometimes a break is all that’s needed to get back intothe growth zone, but more often than not, a plateau is because of a lack ofcreativity and ambition- once your body gets too accustomed to one routine, youcan say goodbye to gains.The best way to avoid that is to insist on progression and to build itinto your plan. “Comfort is the worst thing that can happen to your physique,regardless of your goal,” Pe&ntilde-a insists. “Remember, your bodywill only change to the degree at which it is stressed. Put another way,without throwing in new variables – in this case, more weight and varying repprotocols – your body will not respond well, if at all.”Applied Truth: For the next three months, you’ll continually switch things up. Eachmonth, you’ll handle progressively heavier weight loads in more challenging repschemes (still within the eight to 12 window) to confuse your muscles and spurnew growth.Truth No. 3: Training To Failure (And Beyond) IsRequiredOne of the mostmisguided gym practices is stopping a set at a certain number when you clearlyhad more in the tank. Almost every time you see a prescribed rep range, in thismagazine or elsewhere, the goal is to hit failure at that number. Failure isthe point at which you can no longer perform reps with good form on your own.So if you bang out 12 reps when you could have done 15 or 16, you’re missingout on a slew of anabolic benefits.”The key for any set that is based on a particular rep or rep range isto select a weight that causes you tofail at that particular rep,” Pe&ntilde-a says. “Weightselection is of paramount importance to this program and just about any other.Hitting failure at these rep ranges triggers the pathways in your body wheregrowth occurs. Going with a weight where you can complete more than 12 repswill instead move you more into the endurance-building zone.”You can also get additional hormonal benefits by adding key intensitytechniques to your sets. Extending sets by lowering the weight and continuingto perform reps after initial muscle failure, also known as drop setting, isone easy way to squeeze even more growth-inducing intensity into your workouts.Another way to build mass fast is by taking short, calculated breaks to takeadvantage of your body’s rapidly replenishing, explosive-energy stores so  you can continue for a few more reps.This is known as rest-pause training. Variations on both techniques will beused in this program.Training to failure, and beyond, causes additional damage within themuscle bellies which, when paired with proper nutrition, is the idealenvironment for exponential growth.Applied Truth: While you will be striving to reach muscle failure with each set inthis program, you will add some intensity boosters in the second and thirdphases that are designed to help you take your muscles beyond failure.Plan of AttackNow that youunderstand the underpinnings of the program, here’s more detail on how you’llbe spending the next 12 weeks in the gym. In Phase 1 (weeks one to four),you’ll lay the foundation for future size gains. “In this phase, you’ll selectyour 12 rep max for your base line working weight,” Pe&ntilde-a says. “After your first set of 12, you’ll rest no more than one totwo minutes, then perform another two sets with that same weight, achieving nomore than 12 but shooting for at least 10 on the second set and eight on thethird set.”InPhase 2 (weeks five to eight), you’’ll bring on more poundage. “This month,you’ll go a little heavier, selecting your 10 rep max, right in the middle ofthe magic growth range,” Pe&ntilde-a explains. “You’ll do your firstset so that you fail at 10. After your first set, you’ll be noticeablyfatigued, but your second set is another 10 rep-max set. This means you willprobably need to drop the weight slightly to achieve another 10 reps on each ofthe next two sets. Remember, the key is to fail at 10 reps. If you can do more,you went too light. If you can’t quite reach 10, you need to lower the weight abit.”Finally,in Phase 3 (weeks nine to 12), you’ll put your expanding muscles to maximumuse. “Keeping with the theme of progression, your eight rep max will serve asyour base weight,” Pe&ntilde-a says. “And as you’ll see, wehave you going for 10 and 12 reps afteryour initial set of eight. You might be asking how it’s possible to get 10 or12 reps using a weight that causes you to fail at eight. The answer is youwon’t, technically. When you get to eight on your second set, we want you torest for roughly 15 seconds, then do another two reps to get you to 10 total.And on your third set, we want you to rest for 30 seconds before attempting anadditional four reps to get you to 12 reps. It’s not necessarily a truerest-pause set, but the mentality is identical. You rest long enough for yourexplosive energy stores to replenish, then perform more repetitions, paving theway for more growth.”Onemore note to keep in mind: These protocols will not apply to abs, which youwill instead train twice per week at a standard rep range for all 12 weeks.Because you’re focused on getting bigger, you just want to keep your abs conditioned,but save the hardcore ab work for your get-lean plan.Now,before you begin, one more truth to mention: Any training program is only asgood as the effort you’re willing to put in. We assume you want to pack onimpressive muscle gains and are willing to put in the intense work required -now it’s your turn to prove us right.The Three-Month Mass-Gain ProgramWEEKLY SPLIT:DayBodyparts Trained1Chest, triceps2Legs, calves, abs3Rest4Shoulders, traps5Back, biceps, abs6Rest7Rest DAY 1: Chest & TricepsMonth 1Month 2Month 3ExerciseSets*RepsRepsRepsChest:Incline Dumbbell Press1121081101010181012Flat-Bench Barbell Press1121081101010181012Incline Cable Flye1121081101010181012Weighted Dip1121081101010181012Triceps:Close-Grip Bench Press1121081101010181012Lying EZ-Bar Triceps Extension1121081101010181012Cable Pressdown1121081101010181012*Does not include warm-up sets. DAY 2: Legs, Calves &AbsMonth 1Month 2Month 3ExerciseSets*RepsRepsRepsLegs:Barbell Squat1121081101010181012Romanian Deadlift1121081101010181012Leg Press1121081101010181012Leg Extension1121081101010181012Lying Leg Curl1121081101010181012Calves:Standing Calf Raise1121081101010181012Abs:Weighted Crunch4121212Hanging Leg Raise4To failureTo failureTo failure*Does not include warm-up setsDAY 3: RestDAY 4: Shoulders & TrapsMonth 1Month 2Month 3ExerciseSets*RepsRepsRepsShoulders:Seated Barbell Press1121081101010181012EZ-Bar Upright Row1121081101010181012Dumbbell Lateral Raise1121081101010181012Bent-Over Lateral Raise1121081101010181012Traps:Dumbbell Shrug1121081101010181012Smith Behind-the-Back Shrug1121081101010181012*Does not include warm-up sets.DAY 5: Back, Biceps & AbsMonth 1Month 2Month 3ExerciseSets*RepsRepsRepsBack:Deadlift1121081101010181012Bent-Over Barbell Row1121081101010181012Seated Cable Row1121081101010181012T-Bar Row1121081101010181012Decline Barbell Pullover1121081101010181012Biceps:Standing Barbell Curl1121081101010181012Incline Dumbbell Curl1121081101010181012Hammer Curl1121081101010181012Abs:Weighted Crunch4121212Hanging Leg Raise4To failureTo failureTo failure*Does not include warm-up sets.

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