Intermediate Mass: Program for Adding Pounds of Solid Bodyweight

Intermediate Mass

Sometimes it's far easier than you think to increase your muscle mass and strength.

Periodically, every bodybuilder finds it necessary to train for mass. In particular, the intermediate trainee- who has already added 20 to 30 pounds of muscle-often finds that his progress begins to slow down after several months. Often this individual will get discouraged and begin adding more exercises, more sets, etc. What he really needs is a result-producing program that will snap him out of the doldrums of a sticking point and jolt him into making continued progress toward his ultimate goals.

Perhaps the most important point in the following mass-building program is the need to establish the ideal balance between effort and rest. This not only means how much rest you take between sets, but also the number of days you rest between workouts. In addition, the amount of sleep you require each night is also important for continuous, rapid progress in building mass.

Reading about how superstars like Lee Haney, Shawn Ray, Mike Quinn, Gary Strydom, etc., train ferociously six days a week can cause you to severely overtrain if you try to emulate them. Ken Waller (Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe) said, "If you have been training hard for four or five years, you can get away with a high number of heavy sets and train six days a week. But for optimum results for the intermediate-stage trainer, 10 to 12 sets on a muscle is just about right."

Growth simply won't take place without sufficient rest and sleep. If you overwork, progress comes to a screeching halt. An overworked muscle fails to respond. The wasted time spent trying to pound a muscle beyond its capacity to grow can be disheartening.

One of the most effective ways to build massiveness is to train four days a week, working each muscle group twice a week. The only exception to this is calves, which are worked each session, and some light abdominal warmups before each workout. Here are some important points:

1. Set your goal. What will it take to give you that "massive look?" Fifteen, 20 or even 30 pounds? That means solid muscle, not fat or water weight.

2. Heavy training builds more permanent muscle. "Pump artists" who use light poundages deflate after a two-week layoff. The champs who train heavy can lay off for a month and show no appreciable loss of muscle size.

3. Heavy leg work is essential. The full squat (upper thighs parallel to the floor) is the basic mass builder for the thighs. It can also stimulate the growth metabolism necessary to increase mass in other muscle groups as well. Calves respond rapidly on a four-times-a-week workout. That's how Rory Leidelmeyer built his amazing 21-inch calves!

Monday and Thursday


Calf machines heel raises. Position yourself on the calf machine with the balls of your feet on the four-inch block, feet pointing straight ahead. Lower the heels as far as you can toward the floor. Get a full stretch. Inhale as you raise up on your toes as high as possible. Hold this position for a fast one-two count, then exhale as you lower the heels to the floor. Repeat for 15 reps, then do another five reps of going halfway up and halfway down. This keeps the calves under continuous tension and makes them pump up more. On the second set point your toes inward with the heels out wider and follow the same procedure-15 full reps, five halfway up and down pump reps. On the third set place your heels together and your toes facing outward about 10 inches apart. As you rise to a full contraction, concentrate forcing the weight on the big toes-this works the inner head of the calves. Same repetition procedure. Rest no more than 60 seconds between sets. Perform six sets, changing foot position on each set as described above.


Roman-chair situps. This is a good warmup to loosen up before blasting away at your upper body. It helps keep the midsection toned and tight as you gain muscular bodyweight. If you don't have a Roman chair, sit on a bench and hook your feet under a heavy barbell. (A piece of sponge or foam rubber placed between the bar and the feet will make this a lot more comfortable.) With your hands clasped behind your head, lower your upper body back until it is near parallel to the floor-never go lower than this-then exhale forcible as you come all the way forward while trying to touch your head to your knees for a full contraction of the abdominals. Do one set of as many reps as you can do. Work up to 50.

Bent-knee leg raises. Keep your legs slightly bent and place your hands under your buttocks while lying on your back on the floor or a flat bench. Again, use the sponge to make your hands feel more comfortable. Raise your legs upward keeping them slightly bent until the toes point directly overhead at the ceiling. Lower your feet toward the floor, but don't let them touch it. Exhale as the legs are raised; inhale as they are lowered. Do one set of as many reps as you can do. Work up to 50.


Heavy barbell squats. This is un-questionably the greatest thigh builder of them all. With your heels elevated on a two-inch block, your feet about 15 inches apart and a barbell across your shoulders, inhale deeply as you squat down to a position where the tops of your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor. Then exhale as you quickly return to the starting position. Keep your back straight at all times. The first set is a warmup set, so do 12 reps. After a minute or two of rest add weight and do 10 reps. Continue adding weight for each set as you do eight reps, seven reps, six reps and two sets of five reps. That totals seven sets.

Leg curls. This adds that full sweep to the back of the thighs-the hamstrings. When performing this exercise, be sure to keep your body flat against the table at all times. If the hips are allowed to raise up as your legs are curled, the movement is 50 percent less effective. Five sets of 12 reps, resting no more than one minute between sets.


Barbell bench presses. Great for adding mass and dynamite power to the chest. Using a medium-wide grip, inhale deeply as you lower the bar to the highest point of the chest, then exhale as you ram the bar back to the starting position. Start with 10 reps, and add weight as you do eight reps, seven reps and two sets of six reps. Then drop the weight and do 15 reps for a pump set using a wide grip.

Incline dumbbell flys. This is primarily for the upper pecs, but it will also add size and shape to the outer pecs. Lie on an incline bench with two dumbbells at arm's length and your palms facing each other. Lower the dumbbells out to the sides in a semicircular motion until the weights are about even with the sides of your chest but back slightly so that they are nearly in line with your ears. Return to the starting position and repeat for four sets of eight to 10 reps. Rest no more than 60 seconds between sets. Inhale deeply as the weights are lowered; exhale as you return to the starting position.


Lat machine pulldowns. This exercise builds wide lats and adds size to the upper portions of your back near the shoulders. Do one warmup set with 10 reps, then go heavy for four sets of eight reps. Use a wide grip and pull the bar down until it touches the back of your shoulders; let the bar return to the top position in a controlled manner so that you get a full stretch. Exhale as you pull the bar down and inhale on the way up. One minute of rest between sets.

Bent-over rows. This great exercise works the entire back from the lats and trapezius all the way down to the erector spinae muscles of the lower back. Use a fairly wide grip and be sure to keep the back flat and parallel to the floor throughout the whole performance. Do five sets of eight reps. Relax the biceps and let the back muscles do all the work. One minute of rest between sets. Inhale as you pull the bar upward to the lower part of your chest; exhale as you lower it slowly. Don't let the bar touch the floor between reps. Keep your legs slightly bent at all times.

Upper-body pumper. Finish off with one set of parallel bar dips and one set of wide-grip chins for as many reps as you can do.

Tuesday and Friday Abdominals

Use the same abdominal workout as outlined on the Monday-Thursday program.


Seated calf raises. This exercise builds the soleus muscle, which covers the shin bone (fibula), as well as adding mass to the gastrocnemius. Position yourself on the seated calf machine-or you can use a heavy barbell if you place a foam rubber or sponge pad under it-so that the balls of your feet are on the footpad that is directly below the leg pad. Lower your heels to the lowest possible position that is comfortable. Inhale as you raise up on your toes as high as possible. Hold for a count of one-two and fully contract your calves before lowering your heels to the bottom position. Repeat for 15 reps and five halfway up and halfway down "burns" for a great pump. Rest for 60 seconds between sets. Do six sets as described. Vary your foot position on the block so that you do two sets with the toes straight, two sets with them in and two sets pointing outward.


Behind-the-neck presses. Using a wide grip will not only add mass to your delts, but it also helps widen the shoulder girdle. Perform this exercise while seated. Take the barbell off the rack and jerk-press it overhead as you sit down. Starting the first rep with your arms straight overhead, lower the bar until it touches the base of your neck. Without pausing, ram the bar back to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat for five sets of six reps. After completing the last rep of each set, lower the bar slowly to the shoulders-to give the shoulder girdle an extra stretch-before returning the weight to the rack. The maximum rest between sets should be 90 to 120 seconds.

Seated rear lateral raises. This is one of Bill Pearl's favorite exercises for building the outer delt head. Sit on the end of a bench or stool. With a dumbbell in each hand place the dumbbells behind your back with your palms facing each other and the dumbbells touching. Inhale as you raise the dumbbells upward until they are just about ear level. Lower them back to the starting position and repeat for four sets of eight reps.


Barbell curls. The EZ-curl bar is my favorite for performing this great exercise, but a regular barbell will do. It builds huge biceps on the neophyte as well as the champ. Your hands should be about 15 inches apart. Curl the bar up to your shoulders and flex the biceps at the top. Lower slowly all the way down until your arms are straight. Repeat for five sets of eight reps with no more than 60 seconds' rest between sets.

Incline dumbbell curls. Here is an exercise that builds size, shape and muscularity. Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand at arm' s length. Let the dumbbells hang straight down from the shoulders with your palms facing in; inhale as you curl the dumbbells to your shoulders. Important note: As you begin to curl the dumbbells, turn your palms upward and flex your biceps at the top. This is one of Arnold's favorite curling movements. Do five sets of eight reps, resting only 30 to 60 seconds between sets.


One-arm triceps extensions. This exercise builds mass and shape and causes the arms to appear larger when viewed from the side. Keep your elbow close to the side of your head and pointed toward the ceiling as you lower the dumbbell as far as you can; return to the top position by straightening your arm to full lockout. Do five sets as follows:

30 pounds for 10 reps 35 pounds for 8 reps 40 pounds for 6 reps 45 pounds for 6 reps 35 pounds for 8-10 reps

Go from one arm to the next without any rest at all. Inhale as you lower the weight; exhale as you straighten the arm.

Lying barbell triceps extensions. Here is a favorite size builder that all the champs do. Lie down on an exercise bench holding a barbell at arm's length above your chest with a narrow (10-inch) grip. Lower the bar behind your head until it barely touches the bench; your elbows are pointed toward the ceiling. Quickly return the bar to a full lockout at the starting position. Inhale as you lower the weight; exhale as you straighten your arms. Perform five sets of six to eight reps.

Final pumper. Perform two sets of close-grip (10-inch space between hands) pushups with your feet elevated on a bench. Try for two sets of 15 to 10 reps, resting only 60 seconds between sets.

Like everything else in life you get out of your workout only what you put into it. If you want to become massive in a hurry, this program can help you reach your goal. Hard, motivated, steady training on the above program will bring you that much closer to reaching your ultimate potential as a bodybuilder. Always keep your goal in front of you and continue to strive for it in a positive and logical manner.

As mentioned earlier, sleep and rest are essential for maximum growth. About eight hours of sleep is ideal for muscle growth. Also, on this four-day-a-week training program, you will be resting on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Give this fast action training program your best shot for the next 60 to 90 days and you, too, can get that massive look. Good luck and good training!

Related Articles