Thursday, December 1, 2016

4-Day a Week Mass Program - Jim Smith (2016)

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Winter Mass Workout
by Jim Smith (2016) 

Winter translates to bulking season for many lifters, but that doesn't mean you want the body that's covered by your ugly Christmas sweater to look, well, ugly. The formula is simple: keep your diet on track (even if you are upping the calories), and adopt a training program that uses mass-building compound movements while increasing your overall training volume. 

The routine below has no frills; the idea that an exercise routine has to be flashy to work is bogus. Stick to this for a few four week cycles and you might be tempted to flip the bird to Old Man Winter and ditch your ugly sweater for something that shows off your new gains.

Training Program  

This basic four-day-per-week program (Mon/Thurs; Tues/Fri) centers on applying an appreciable amount of tension (weight used), metabolic stress -- achieved with techniques like drop sets, giant sets, and rest-pause training -- and muscular damage through specific rep ranges (4x12, 5x5, 4x8, 8x3) to increase time under tension. By the end of Week 4 you should notice a major difference in both appearance and strength of your upper back and shoulders. After all, if you want to rip through that ugly sweater (sorry, Granny), then you need a special focus on your traps and delts so your physique stands out.

Tips for Putting on Mass Safely  

1) Press with a neutral grip if your shoulders are beat up.

Having achy shoulders doesn't mean you have to avoid heavy presses. Just get away from the barbell -- since it locks your shoulders, elbows, and wrists into place -- and focus on pressing variations with dumbbells as they allow you to move more naturally under the weight. This lets your joints make small adjustments throughout different movements. 

2) Change the angle. 

Not every detail in your program has to be adhered to like law -- sometimes you need to get creative. If an exercise like the dumbbell bench press or seated military press is creating discomfort, try slightly adjusting the angle of the bench. Sometimes a small change like this can bring major relief to your joints and muscles.

3) Incorporate a thorough warmup.

If you're not warming up, you're just asking for an injury. Your muscles should be fired up, and your joints should be lubricated before you work out. Follow this routine for increased shoulder mobility and pain-free lifts. 

Upper Body Warmup: 

Foam rolling - chest, lats, upper back, triceps. 2-3 minutes.
Chest and shoulder stretches on power cage.1-2 minutes/side.
Light DB Military Press. 1-2 x 10 reps.
Light DB Military Side Lateral Raise. 1-2 x 10 reps.
Light DB Military Front Raise. 1-2 x 10 reps.
Light DB Military Posterior Flye. 1-2 x 10 reps.
Cable Face Pull (with external rotation). 1 x 20 reps.
Pushup. 1-2 x 10 reps.

Keys for Adding Mass Fast

1) Keep Cardio.

Most lifters trying to bulk up happily swear off cardio. Don't. In addition to improving blood flow which aids recovery, a study published in the Exercise and Sports Science Reviews showed that performing cardio at 70-80% intensity can induce muscle growth similarly to resistance exercise.

2) Hit the Sack.

"During sleep, your muscles recover," says Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., author of "Sleep for Success." "It is not uncommon to see as much as a 40% decline after a night of deprived sleep." Robbins recommends seven to eight hours of shuteye per night. 

3) Be Flexible with Calories.

Your caloric intake needs to be based on your body weight and activity levels, and you should adjust then accordingly," says Leslie Bonci, R.D., nutrition consultant for the Pittsburgh Pirates. "You need to maximize the quality, quantity, and distribution of calories throughout the day; be selective with carbs and fats." Bonci suggests consuming one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, 0.45 grams of fat per pound, and adjusting your carb intake around your training days. 

4) Consider Collagen Protein.

The high levels of glycine in collagen protein might help preserve your joints during this high-volume approach to building mass. While there's no recommended dose of glycine -- an amino acid that supports collagen, tendon, and ligament growth -- diet alone most likely won't provide a sufficient amount since it's most abundant in the animal parts humans don't usually eat: tendons, ligaments, and bones. Meat, dairy, and eggs provide minimal amounts. Collagen in our joints, tendons, ligaments, and throughout our body will not optimally repair itself after heavy intense training sessions. What's more, a study in Current Medical Research and Opinion concluded that after 24 weeks of supplementing with collagen hydrolysate, participants experienced less activity-related joint pain. 

5) Drink Up.

Drinking more water when you're increasing the volume of your workouts helps for numerous reasons, one being that proper hydration encourages slideability and movement between all the soft tissues in your body. 

Training Program

Bench Press - 

Week 1: 4 x 12 reps, 90-120 seconds rest.
Week 2: 4 x 8 reps, 90-120 seconds rest.
Week 3: 5 x 5 reps, 90-120 seconds rest.
Week 4: 8 x 3 reps, 90-120 seconds rest.

Barbell Squat - 

Week 1: 4 x 8, same rest as above. 
Week 2: 5 x 5.
Week 3: 8 x 3 reps.
Week 4: 4 x 12. 

Barbell Overhead Press - 

Week 1: 5 x 5.
Week 2: 8 x 3 reps.
Week 3: 4 x 12.
Week 4: 4 x 8.

Deadlift - 

Week 1: 8 x 3 reps.
Week 2: 6 x 4 reps.
Week 3: 5 x 5.
Week 4: 4 x 6 reps.     


1) Bench Press, sets/reps as above each week.

2) Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press, 4 x 15-20.

3A) Pullup, 4 x 8-10
3B) Dumbbell Shrug, 4 x 20
3C) Face Pull, 4 x 20
Above three exercises performed as giant sets. 

4) Triceps Extension, 4 x 20

5) Wide Grip Pushup, 1 x 100
Perform pushups with hands spaced wider than shoulder width. Use a rest-pause protocol, resting on knees when needed no longer than 15-20 seconds, until the full 100 reps are reached.


1) Barbell Squat, sets/reps as above each week.   

2) Romanian Deadlift, 4 x 8-12, same rests.
Perform with either dumbbells or a barbell.

3A) Walking Lunge, 4 x 8-10
3B) Wide Grip Barbell Shrug, 4 x 20
3C) Rear Dumbbell Flye, 4 x 10-12
Above three exercises performed as giant sets. 

4) Lat Pulldown, 4 x 15-20.

5) Wide Grip Pushup, 1 x 100. 
Same as above. 


1) Barbell Overhead Press, sets/reps as above each week.

2) Wide Grip Pushup, 4 x 20, same rests.

3A) Bentover Rear DB Flye, 3 x 810
3B) Seated DB External/Internal Rotation, 3 x 20
3C) Seated DB Front Raise, 3 x 10
Above three exercises performed as giant sets.

4) Seated Row Ladder, 1 x work to 20.
Set 1: Use heaviest weight possible for 2 reps, no rest to
Set 2: Drop weight by 10-20 pounds, 4 reps, no rest to
Set 3: Drop weight 10-20 pounds, 6 reps, no rest to 
Set 4: Drop weight 10-20 pounds, 8 reps, no rest to 
Set 5: Drop weight 10-20 pounds, 10 reps, no rest to 
Set 6: Drop weight 10-20 pounds, 12 reps, no rest to
Set 7: Drop weight 10-20 pounds, 14 reps, no rest to 
Set 8: Drop weight 10-20 pounds, 16 reps, no rest to 
Set 9: Add 60 pounds, 20 reps.  


1) Deadlift, sets/reps as above each week.

2) Barbell Romanian Deadlift, 4 x 12-20, same rests

3A) Leg Curl, 4 x 20
3B) DB Shrug, 4 x 20
3C) Pullup, 4 x 5-8
Lower every pullup rep slowly for a count of three to five seconds (slow eccentrics) before pulling yourself back up to the top as fast as you can.
Above three exercises performed as giant sets. 

4) Weighted Back Extension, 3 x 10

5) Prone Rear Delt Flye, 1 x 100
Perform face down dumbbell posterior flyes on incline bench with no more than 25-30 pound dumbbells. Do not set the weights down, and use a rest-pause protocol, resting only when you need, no longer than 15-20 seconds, until the full 100 reps are reached. 

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