This 4-day program will help intermediate and advanced trainees gain size and strength. Rest-pause set, drop sets, and negatives will kick your muscle gains into high gear!
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

Summer is in the past, and people are now looking to gain some mass – healthy mass that is. After dedicating months to getting leaner and looking better, you might be ready to devote some time to heavier weights and filling out some of those t-shirts and hoodies. If that reads like I’m talking about you, then keep reading because we have the plan right here.

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

MASSter Class Is In Session

Over the next eight weeks, the goal is to build muscle and get stronger. This will be done with an eight-week program that requires you to hit the weights four days a week. These workouts will be intense and challenging if you do them right, so there will be no need to double them up or find additional time to train. When you’re not working out, you should be eating, sleeping, or living life outside of the gym.

Who Is This For?

This is a program that will help intermediate and advanced trainees gain positive size and strength. Beginners and rookies may find this program to be too intense, and they could still learn more about form and execution before taking on a program like this. Don’t worry, though. M&S has plenty of programs for those that are just starting out.

Principles of the Program

In order to gain something that you don’t have, you need to do something that you don’t typically do. That means pushing yourself beyond what you normally perceive to be “failure.” That’s why some intensity boosting methods are going to be a part of this program.

Rest-Pause Sets

During one of these sets, you will push the set to failure within the recommended rep range, rest for 10-15 seconds, and then perform as many reps as you can. So a set of barbell curls may look like this:

Barbell Curls – 70lbs for 8 reps, 15-second rest, 70 pounds for 4 reps.

Even though you took that brief rest, you actually did four reps more than you normally would have. Those extra reps will help you take your training to the next level.

Drop Sets

This is when you reduce the weight you’re using after failure so you can continue to train. There is no additional rest taken. Once you hit failure, you immediately reduce the weight and keep going. A drop set of incline dumbbell presses may go like this:

Incline Dumbbell Press – 60lb dumbbells for 10 reps, 30lb dumbbells for 12 reps.

Yes, you reduced the weight, but that was still enough to challenge the muscles in a safe way. So the goal will still be accomplished – you're tearing down muscle fibers so they can recover and grow.


This is when you take the weight from the lifted phase to the stretch phase very slowly. It may take you one second to lower the dumbbell on a curl normally. With negatives, you can take as long as five or ten seconds. This program will include five-second negatives at different points in the workout. The goal is to maintain control of the weight and force the muscle to work harder.

Muscular man doing dumbbell shoulder presses in the gym

How Much Weight Should I Use?

This is one of the most common questions we see in the comments section of our articles, so let’s address it here. If 10lbs is all you can use for an exercise, use it. If you’re capable of using 80lbs, use 80lbs. The point is that the weight should be challenging enough for you to execute the desired reps within the recommended rep range. If you’re supposed to do six to eight reps, but can do 12, it’s too light. Conversely, if you can’t do more than four, it’s too heavy. There is no magic formula to help you figure out the weight you need. It’s going to be a matter of trial and error.


As hard as you’re going to be training, you’re going to need to eat in order to recover and grow. That doesn’t mean you get to go crazy and eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Having a sound nutrition plan will be very beneficial. M&S actually has a great guide that can work well with this program. You can consider it or any of the other nutrition programs here designed to help you get bigger and stronger. I will offer two pieces of advice here:

  1. Eat Protein First – Protein is the nutrient that plays the biggest role in your recovery and growth. If you get full before the meal is completed, you don’t want protein left on the plate. This can also help you keep your blood sugar in check.
  2. Take Your Time – It's food, not flavored oxygen. Take the time to properly chew and enjoy the meal you’re eating so it can be digested properly. Overwhelming your stomach by pounding down a lot of calories at warp speed won’t help you, and it will make you uncomfortable as well.


Cardio is about more than burning calories and increasing metabolism. It’s good for heart health. So I don’t think you should ignore it completely. You can do three or four sessions of moderate level cardio a week at 20 minutes per session. You can do these in the morning or post-workout. Get them in when you’re able to get them in.

The Workouts

Now let’s talk about the training. This is a four-day routine. You will perform each workout once a week. The optimal way to do this would be by following this split:

  • Monday – Chest and Side Delts
  • Tuesday – Upper Back and Rear Delts
  • Wednesday – Off
  • Thursday – Arms and Abs
  • Friday – Legs
  • Saturday and Sunday – Off

That would be the best split, but let’s face facts. There are a lot of you that have jobs that don’t allow this to happen, so here’s what you need to know. Do these workouts at times that best suit you. The only rule I suggest you follow is that you don’t train for more than three days in a row before taking a day off. Two would be best, but if you must train a third consecutive day, go for it. I don’t suggest you do this normally. The recovery is vital for you to grow. Training four days in a row without the extra rest may affect the results you see from this. 

Workout 1: Chest and Side Delts

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Incline Barbell Bench Press 3 12, 10, 12* 90 sec
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press 3 12, 10, 15+ 90 sec
Cable Crossover 3 12, 12, 12^ 90 sec
Seated Lateral Raise 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Single Arm Cable Lateral Raise 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec

* Rest-Pause Set

+ Drop Set

^ 3-5 Second Negatives

Workout 2: Upper Back and Rear Delts

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Bent-Over Barbell Row 3 12, 10, 12* 90 sec
Dumbbell Pullover 3 12, 10, 15+ 90 sec
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 3 12, 12, 12^ 90 sec
Dumbbell Rear Delt Fly 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Cable Face Pull 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Dumbbell Shrug 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec

* Rest-Pause Set

+ Drop Set

^ 3-5 Second Negatives

Workout 3: Arms and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Close Grip Bench Press 3 12, 10, 12* 90 sec
Weighted Dip 3 12, 10, 12+ 90 sec
Rope Tricep Extension 3 12, 12, 12^ 90 sec
Lying Leg Raise 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Cable Crunch 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Barbell Curl 3 12, 12, 12* 90 sec
Hammer Curl 3 12, 10, 12+ 90 sec
Cable Curl 3 12, 12, 12^ 90 sec

* Rest-Pause Set

+ Drop Set

^ 3-5 Second Negatives

Workout 4: Legs

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Deadlift 3 12, 10, 12* 90 sec
Lying Leg Curl 3 12, 10, 12+ 90 sec
Walking Lunge 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Front Squat 3 12, 10, 12* 90 sec
Leg Extension 3 12, 12, 12+ 90 sec
Dumbbell Side Lunge 3 12, 12, 12 90 sec
Seated Calf Raise 3 12, 12, 12^ 90 sec
Calf Press 3 12, 12, 12^ 90 sec

* Rest-Pause Set

+ Drop Set

^ 3-5 Second Negatives

Posted on: Sat, 05/06/2023 - 08:40

Rest-pause set has 12 reps but how is it rest pause if it stops at 12?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 05/09/2023 - 07:03

Per the article text.

During one of these sets, you will push the set to failure within the recommended rep range, rest for 10-15 seconds, and then perform as many reps as you can. So a set of barbell curls may look like this:

Barbell Curls – 70lbs for 8 reps, 15-second rest, 70 pounds for 4 reps.

Posted on: Fri, 05/05/2023 - 10:44

Hello Roger! Greetings from Brazil, good job with your trains, they really help many people around the entire planet! Thank you so very much!

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Posted on: Sat, 05/06/2023 - 06:39

I really appreciate this, Bruno! Thank you very much for the kind words and reading M&S!

Bradley Thomson
Posted on: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 16:52

Hey Roger. Thoughts and suggestions of adding a 10 min ab workout to each day ? Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/04/2023 - 07:04

You can do that. If you need ideas, check this out, Bradley. Thanks for reading M&S!

Aamir Riaz
Posted on: Tue, 05/02/2023 - 13:34

My request is please attach the workout picture or video with training workouts

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 16:24

If you put your mouse over the names of each exercise, there is a link you can click that takes you to a page with exercises demonstration videos and instructions. This provides the information you want without making the page super long. Hope this helps.

Posted on: Tue, 05/02/2023 - 10:43

What would be the best day to add biceps and triceps in addition to arms day? I was thinking adding triceps to Workout 1 and biceps to Workout 2. I would also be making my arms day my final workout of the week. Schedule would be Monday=Chest+Side Delt, Tuesday=Upper Back+Rear Delt, Thursday=Legs, Friday=Arms+Abs. What are your thoughts on all of this? Thanks for your help!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 16:26

I made the arm workout so it provided adequate volume while considering how much the triceps would be involved with chest and biceps with back. If you wanted to add one for each on chest and back as you suggested, it would be ok, though.

Schedule looks ok to me if it helps you stick with me. Let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sun, 04/30/2023 - 09:27

thanks you for the Programm.
Should the strength and the weights also improve though the weeks or go through with the same weights?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 16:23

Some weeks they might and others may not. You should be a little stronger by the end of this, but muscle size is the priority here.

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2023 - 20:06

Hey Roger. Is this program suitable for a natural bodybuilder?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2023 - 21:23

It is, Dan. Wouldn't call myself a bodybuilder in terms of stage, but I've trained for 25 years and been natural for the entire time. I don't design programs based on alternative means. Good luck!

Posted on: Wed, 04/26/2023 - 05:29

Hi, I am 27 years old around 85 kg and I am training hard for the last 3 years. Also I have improve my diet a lot and eat as clean as possible the last 2 years( of course I have cheat meals as well). I am trying to build muscle and look aesthetic but I feel like I have hit plateau at this point and I don’t see any more results. I will give this workout a try but can you suggest me anything else to do any tips? Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/27/2023 - 12:04

Hi, Mikel. Thanks for trying this program. Not really much more besides what you're already doing here. Have you added supplements to the plan? That could serve you well if not. Hope you'll keep me posted on how you're doing with this, and don't be afraid to ask questions along the way. Thanks!

Tom DiGregorio
Posted on: Sun, 04/23/2023 - 12:15

Hello Roger I am just starting your mass program. I am
300 pounds and I have corrected diet and foods and drink plenty of water eat alot of steak and salads with oil and vinegar, no sweets, processed foods, refined carbs, or fast food and no sugar. So, if I do the mass program will the muscle help shed the fat off my body and I walk 6,000 steps a day for cardio

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/27/2023 - 12:02

Hello, Tom. Surprised you chose a mass program for fat loss, but I think you can still do it. It would help for sure, and the 6,000 steps is a good starting goal. Hopefully by the end of the eight weeks, you're doing more. Good luck, and please keep me posted on your progress! Thanks for reading M&S.

Tony Boobier
Posted on: Tue, 04/18/2023 - 12:06

Is this on your workout ) Meant to be A for Negatives thank you

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Posted on: Thu, 04/27/2023 - 12:00


Posted on: Sun, 04/16/2023 - 22:14

Hey Roger
Hope you’re having a great day and thanks for the plan.
I’ve looked through the questions but I did not find an answer to how much I should be lifting percentage wise to my 1rep max. Also, am I supposed to increase the percentage weekly? If so, please mention what it must be weekly.
Another question is, can I use the bench and incline machines rather than bench and incline bench presses because it naturally feels better when I’m lifting. Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/27/2023 - 12:00

Percentage wasn't considered with this program. You should find the weight that is challenging for you to achieve the rep ranges. Some people may find that to be 60-65% of their max while others can do as much as 75%. As for each week, if you can do more, go up. If not, no shame in staying where you are.

If you got access to machines, go for it.

Posted on: Mon, 04/10/2023 - 05:02

Can i add shoulder press / arnold press? If can which day i must add

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Posted on: Sat, 04/22/2023 - 13:58

Day 1 after the last chest exercise.

Abbas Nabizada
Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2023 - 21:56

Hi, I have no job or any other activities, can I do it do it 5 or 6 days a week instead of 4 days.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 04/22/2023 - 13:58

I would suggest sticking to the schedule as is so you can maximize recovery. If you need to do something else on another day, add more ab work in.

Bradley Thomson
Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2023 - 15:15

Great workout. Is another 8wk or 12 wk program you would recommend after completing this one?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 04/22/2023 - 13:57

You can either run this one again or choose one from this link.

Bradlee Valle
Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2023 - 03:35

Hi I'm 23 years old 145lbs I'm trying to gain weight and muscles, is this a good workout for me?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 04/22/2023 - 13:56

If you have gym experience, yes. If not, let me know and I will find a program more suited for you.

Bradlee Valle
Posted on: Sat, 04/29/2023 - 19:11

Hi i have some gym experience but i don't consider my self a intermediate i think i am more like a beginner plus or something like that i have go to the gym before for like a 1 but i do think if you have another workout for me that might help better and thanks for your time

Posted on: Thu, 04/06/2023 - 10:19

Just starting this workout and a few questions. From reading prior Q&A’s below is my understanding of the program. How much should Weight B increase be? How much should Weight C decrease be/should it be lower than Weight A? Is the rest/reps below correct for all set 4 variations? Thanks!!

Weight A - starting weight
Weight B - increase Weight A by X% for sets 2/3
Weight C - drop Weight B by X% for drop set 4
Set 1 - # reps, weight A, Rest 90s
Set 2 - # reps, weight B, Rest 90s
Set 3 - # reps, weight B
Set 4, Drop - rest 0s, AMAP reps, weight C
Set 4, RestPause - rest 15s, AMAP reps, weight B
Set 4, Negatives - rest 15s, 4-6 reps, weight B

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sat, 04/22/2023 - 13:56

Increase weight B by 5-10 percent roughly. It may be more for some lifters.

Weight C should be a minimal decrease, and some people may not need to decrease at all. For the drop, go by how you feel.

Posted on: Sun, 04/02/2023 - 14:50

will this get me stronger as well?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 04/06/2023 - 09:27

Maybe not single rep strength, but you may find you can push more weight for more reps than before. Good luck!

Posted on: Wed, 03/22/2023 - 01:45

Good day! I found this workout routine and it’s speaking to me. I hope to start it tomorrow. I currently tend to do a lot of different things that help keep me in shape-ish, but all that I’m doing lacks focus. To this point, would it be okay to perform a “finisher” routine of no more than 20 minutes after these lifting days? The finishers would include HIIT and circuit training.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2023 - 19:49

Hey there, Justin, glad the workout is drawing you in.

I kept the HIIT and extra cardio out of it because it was meant for helping the person doing it build mass. If you feel the cardio would help you, then by all means, go with HIIT or a circuit workout. Let me know what you do and how it goes for ya. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Sun, 03/19/2023 - 13:37

Hey Roger, firstly i want to thank you for your afford and sharing this work-out plan with us. I only have one question. Can you share some abs exercises? Leg day is quite short and i want to exercise my abs too. Thanks in advance.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2023 - 19:46

Thank you for reading, Ertan, and I hope this helps you!

I got you for abs. Do this one at the gym or home, whichever works for you.

Let me know how this goes for ya!

Posted on: Sat, 03/18/2023 - 19:59

Hi Roger,
I'm about to start this program but I'm wondering if I'm supposed to keep the same weight for the 3 sets?
For example I don't see how I can do the Dumbbell pullover 12/10/15+ with the same weight. Either the first two sets are too easy or the third will be 8 reps if I use the same weight.
Should I adapt the weight during the sets? Same for the negatives sets I don't see how I can do negative for 5sec with the same weight.
Thanks for the answer, beside that concern the program looks great.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2023 - 19:45

Let's use the dumbbell pullover as an example, Lionel.

Set 1: Should be easy. I would use 60 pounds.
Set 2: Should be moderate. I would use 80 pounds. You should NOT hit failure at rep 10.
Set 3: Same weight as set 2, but this time, I am using the intensity booster. This would be when you hit failure with 80 pounds, then drop or do rest-pause.

Hope this helps!

Alexander Correia
Posted on: Mon, 03/13/2023 - 15:38

Hey question about the drop set and negatives. Are they for each rep or for the last set of reps to the workout you have tagged for negatives and drop sets. For example = 3 x 12,12,12 +/^ on the last rep or 3 x 12+/^,12+/^,12+/^ for each one. Thank you again. Workout is really good!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2023 - 19:43

This way is correct. 3 x 12,12,12 +/^

Save the drop set and negatives for the final set of each exercise.

Glad you like it, let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Mon, 03/13/2023 - 03:12

Hi Roger,

Thank you for replying to all this comments, I really appreciate that.

I have one more question. How much time under tension do you recommend for one series? How about the entire exercise? I’ve tested 20s working time with 1:30’ pause x 3 and also for another excercise 30s/1:30’ x 3.

What is your opinion?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/23/2023 - 19:42

30 seconds would be better. I like to focus on making sure I can control the weight I'm using. Using the incline dumbbell press as an example, I will get more out of doing 10 reps with 100-pound dumbbells if I do 30 seconds of work over 20 seconds. Make sense?

Posted on: Fri, 03/03/2023 - 16:22

I can complete al the exercises in this workout except the lying leg curl and the leg extension, no machines. What would be a good substitute for those exercises using what I have (Smith machine & cage trainer, cables, DB and BB). Can you give any advice on what exercises I can add to work on my glutes which badly need the extra attention.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/12/2023 - 19:11

Going to handle the leg extension and glutes question with one movement, Nathan. Sumo Smith Squats. The wide stance will target the glutes, but the quads will work as well.

Single leg curl with the cable will replace the lying leg curl. You can also do leg curls on a flat bench with a dumbbell between your feet.

Posted on: Thu, 03/02/2023 - 22:52

Are drop set performed on set 3 or all 3 sets and is that the same for rest pause and negatives

Thank you in advance

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/12/2023 - 19:09

Only Set 3, and yes, the same for rest-pause and negatives. Thanks for the question, Steve.