No Frills Mass
by Gene Mozee (1992)
Many years ago I was faced with the problem of adding more muscle size and bodyweight even though I had already gained 30 pounds of muscle. After this initial gain I hit a wall and couldn’t add another pound no matter how hard I worked out or what I ate. I trained steadily for more than a year with little or no progress, and I was ready to throw in the towel. Fortunately, I was introduced to the No Frills Mass Blast, and in less than three months gained 30 more pounds and added five inches to my chest, 2½ inches to my arms and thighs and 1½ inches to my calves. In addition, my bench press jumped from 190x6 to 305x6.
I learned this method of training from John Farbotnik, the ’50 Mr. America. Farbotnik was a remarkable bodybuilder and one of the most knowledgeable experts on training that I have ever met. He was originally from Philadelphia and had won a few bodybuilding titles on the East Coast before moving to California. Struggling to get established out West, he took a manual-labor job. He decided to enter the Mr. America 30 days before the contest – even though his bodyweight was down to 170 pounds. He proceeded to add a pound of muscle a day, gaining 27 pounds, to compete at 197 and win the title as well as the Best Chest and Best Back awards.
I joined Farbotnik’s Gym in Glendale, California, and after I described my present workout to him he immediately perceived that I was overtrained – too many exercises, too many sets and reps, too many days per week. He explained that I was depleting my body’s energy level. In a sense I was training like a marathon runner – lots of endurance but little muscle size and power. Farbotnik said, “If you want to see results faster and gain muscle size quickly, select a favorite exercise for each part of your body and concentrate on these specific exercises until you smash the progress barrier.”
This was not what I had expected to hear. I had always assumed that the more you trained the more progress you made. “Not necessarily so,” Farbotnik pointed out. “Look back to when you made your greatest improvement after your initial gains. It was when you trained with a simple program that encouraged muscle growth without overworking.”
He was right. I had been adding exercises and trying programs used by the current bodybuilding champions. I thought that if it worked for them, it would work for me. That made about as much sense as a high school kid trying to play for a SuperBowl team. Maybe one in a million could do it, but I certainly had proven I wasn’t the one. The vast majority of advanced bodybuilders had to begin slowly and work up to their present level gradually. Lee Haney’s training program works for him, but if others who are not in his elite class use it or something like it, all they’re going to get is quick burnout and muscle and strength loss instead of gain. I’ve seen it happen many times.
When I owned the Pasadena Gym years ago, I prescribed Farbotnik’s basic principles for hundreds of trainees with outstanding results. One individual, Brant Clark, gained 33 pounds in 30 days. A few others gained 20 or more in 30 days. Many athletes, primarily football players from nearby high schools and colleges, added lots of muscle mass and power using the No Frills program, which is based on Farbotnik’s concept.
This training technique works well for hardgainers. It is simple to follow, but the results are strictly big time. I recommend it for those who have done at least a year of steady training on a basic all-around program. If you have been working out for longer than that and have hit a roadblock but still wish to add another 10 or 20 pounds, the following program can help you.
Concentration Curls – 4 x 10,8,6,15.
Squats – 5 x 10,8,6-8,5,6,15.
Bench Press – 5 x 10,8,6-8,5,6,15.
Dumbbell Rows – 4 x 10,8,6,15.
Presses – 4 x 10,8,6,15.
Two-arm Dumbbell Extensions – 4 x 10,8,6,15.
Calf Raises – 4 x 15-20.
Crunches – 1 x 30-50.
One of the advantages of this great program is that it can be performed at home with a minimally equipped gym with equally terrific results. A professional gym is an advantage but not a necessity.
How It Works
It is unusual to begin a workout with biceps, but as Farbotnik explained, “It doesn’t take much energy expenditure because it is a small muscle, and it’s fun and beneficial to start out with a good biceps pump. It helps set the mood for a good workout.”
Sit on the end of a bench or chair with he dumbbell directly in front of you between your legs. Grasp the dumbbell with one hand and straighten your back just enough to clear the weight from the floor. Start with the elbow straight, and with no hiking or backswing curl the dumbbell up to the deltoid so that your biceps is fully contracted. As you complete the contraction, twist your forearm and try to turn your hand so that the little finger is uppermost. This results in a strong biceps contraction. Slowly lower the weight all the way down in the exact opposite motion. Start with a light weight for 10 reps, then switch to the other hand. After a rest of no more than 60 seconds add weight and do 8 reps for each arm. On the third set use as much weight as you can for 6 reps. Rest 30 seconds, drop the weight and perform a pump set of 15 reps for each arm. For example: 25x10, 30x8, 35x6, 20x15.
The squat has no equal for building power and mass in the thighs, and it is also a great exercise for stimulating muscle-growth metabolism. It is a tough exercise and is frequently neglected because it is usually performed near the end of the workout when energy level and training intensity begin to diminish. You can give the squat maximum effort when you do it early in the session.
Place a barbell behind your neck and along the backs of your shoulders in the standing position, feet about 12 inches apart and toes pointing slightly outward. Inhale deeply as you lower slowly into a position where the tops of your thighs are slightly below parallel to the floor. Do not bounce or rebound from the compression of your calves and leg biceps. Keep your back straight at all times and look straight ahead, not up. Exhale as you return past the halfway position all the way to the top. Here is an example of how your sets might look: 135x10, 175x8, 205x6-8, 225x5-6, 135x15.
Barbell Bench Presses.
Farbotnik preferred dumbbells for this movement because you can lower them below sternum level for a greater stretch than you can with a barbell. I used a barbell but would do the dumbbell version one session a week. Use strict form, lowering the weight until it touches the chest just above your nipples. Inhale deeply while lowering the weight; exhale while ramming it back to the starting position above your chest.
When using dumbbells, start with the weights touching above your chest at arm’s length and your palms facing forward. Inhale deeply as you lower the dumbbells below sternum level until the weights touch the sides of your pectorals. Exhale as you press the weights back to the starting position with the dumbbells touching. Here is an example progression for bench presses: 135x10, 165x8, 195x6-8, 215x5-6, 155x15.
Note: On the squats and the bench presses try and add one additional rep on the pump set at each workout until you reach 20. Then increase the pump set poundage at the next session. On the bench presses use a slightly wider grip for the pump set and bang out the reps as fast as possible while still maintaining good form.
Here is a seldom used but highly effective mass builder for the lats. It also strongly works the traps, rhomboids and the posterior delts. In other words, it adds mass and shape to the entire upper back. Perform this exercise while standing on a sturdy bench or a large block of wood so that you can get a maximum stretch as the dumbbells are lowered beyond foot level. Your knees may be slightly bent, but be sure your trunk is slanting downhill and your body doesn’t hike the weight as the arms pull the elbows high. You pull with the back and posterior shoulder girdle, not with the biceps.
With your thumbs pointing forward and the dumbbells below your feet, pull the weights up as high as possible while keeping your back flat and parallel to the bench. Inhale on the way up, exhale on the way down. Again, use 10, 8, 6, 15 on this exercise.
Behind the Neck Presses.
This is a supreme shoulder exercise that not only adds mass to the deltoids, but also widens the shoulder girdle. Your grip should be fairly wide – at least eight inches wider than shoulder width on each side. Take a barbell off a rack and jerk the weight overhead to arms’ length.
Inhale as you lower the bar in a controlled manner until it touches the back of your neck at the shoulder junction. Exhale as you press the weight back overhead, concentrating on the delts, until your arms are fully locked out. Perform 10, 6-8, 5-6, and 15 reps. If you find yourself cheating too often as time goes by and the weights get heavier, switch to the seated version for a while.
Two-Arm Dumbbell Triceps Extensions.
You can perform this great mass builder with a barbell for variation. I prefer doing it with a heavy dumbbell, which allows for maximum triceps extension and stretch of the triceps. Either way it can be done seated or standing.
Grasp a dumbbell with the palms of your hands flattened against the inside of the upper plate and your hands wrapped around the handle. Lift the dumbbell overhead, holding it in a vertical position with your elbows fairly straight. Keep your elbows close to your head as you bend them back, lowering the weight as far as possible while inhaling. Exhale as you straighten your arms to a fully locked out position using triceps power alone. Use the 10,6,5,15 rep schedule, increasing the poundage on the second and third sets before dropping to a lighter weight for the pump set.
All gyms are equipped with a calf machine. If you train at home and one isn’t available, you can do one-legged calf raises while holding a dumbbell in one hand. To perform this movement you rise onto your toes, one foot at a time. Use a high block that doesn’t let your heels touch the floor as you go as far down as possible before rising all the way up for a full contraction. Don’t bounce – always use a slow, deliberate movement. Do all four sets without rest.
Recline on your back on the floor with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle and your lower legs supported on an exercise bench. Roll up until your upper back is off the floor, blow the air out of your lungs and contract your abs hard. Uncurl your body, inhale and repeat. Keep your lower back pressing against the ground at all times.
Use this program three times a week on alternate days.
On the heavier exercises – squats, bench presses and overhead presses, rest about two minutes between sets.
Try to complete the workout in less than 90 minutes.
When you can do two more reps on your heavy (6 rep) set, increase the poundage on each set. On the squats and the bench presses try and add one additional rep on the pump set at each workout until you reach 20. Keep pushing your poundages as often as possible, but always use strict form.
Stay on this program for 6 to 12 weeks.
Never miss a scheduled workout. Consistency is the key to continued improvement.