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
    Split
  • Training Level
    Intermediate
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
    4
  • 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.

Negatives

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.

Nutrition

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

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

311 Comments
Trevorrr
Posted on: Thu, 12/01/2022 - 03:06

Hi,I've been training for about 1.5yrs now. I never had a program just did PPL for the most time. I just wanted to ask if I can do something on Saturday because I don't really want to take 2 days off.
So what should I do?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 12/02/2022 - 21:22

Determine which bodypart is the weakest or needs the most work, and work that bodypart on Saturday. As long as you're recovering properly, you should be fine doing this.

Colin Williams
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 02:17

Hey Roger, firstly thank you for this plan and the fact it's free is awesome, looks amazing and after a couple of weeks of low motivation I'm itching to get back to gym tomorrow to try this. My question needs context so here goes, I am 5ft 6 and peaked out at 17st 10lbs back in 2020, I started losing weight and lost 3/4 stone before starting attending the gym. Since then I seem to have gained a little weight taking me to just above 15st, 213lbs, I work out 3 or 4 times a week and keep my calories and protein in check most days, I have a contestant mental struggle between wanting to gain muscle but conscious of gaining weight/body fat as tht feels like I'm going backwards, would you suggest this workout for me or switching to something that targets body fat more? If so what would you suggest. Thanks Roger.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/27/2022 - 21:27

What's good, Colin? So glad you're here and I appreciate that you considered my program.

Here's the test: if you can see your abs, go for muscle. If you have extra bodyfat, go for getting lean first. If size is the prize, then yes, give this one pure Hell and let us know how you do. If you need to shift to fat loss, then do this one but keep the carbs and cheats in check. If you'd feel more comfortable with another program, I'll find one for you. Let me know, and thanks for reading M&S!

Colin Williams
Posted on: Sat, 12/03/2022 - 02:18

Thanks Roger, I'm three workouts in and enjoying it so far, I do struggle with pull ups and dips due to my shorter height and weight however revert to assisted versions. Looking at the leg day I have apprehension's to doing the lunge walk and side lung as I have a previous big toe injury in my left foot I don't want to aggravate, could you suggest other exercises I could do here that don't involve hyper extension in that area? It's taken months and months to heal and still isn't right!

Also, in day 3 I was doing the cable curl, not sure of the form as it didn't feel I was working my abs but that's normal in the abs right? A day later DOMS kicked in but may have been the leg lifts...

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 12/04/2022 - 10:58

Cable curls are for biceps, not abs. As for the leg exercises, you can check out our Exercise section and find substitutions that you could feel comfortable doing. You're going to have to go by feel to find the ones that work.

Colin Williams
Posted on: Sun, 12/04/2022 - 13:46

Sorry, typo, cable crunch I meant not curl. Thanks again.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 12/05/2022 - 09:52

No problem. If you don't feel it working, then switch to something else that you can feel working.

Eric Dittemore
Posted on: Fri, 11/25/2022 - 16:00

My question is do the weights go up with the sets or down or stay the same for all 3 sets? Thank you so much

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 11/26/2022 - 12:57

Set 1: Moderate
Set 2: Heavier
Set 3: Same as set #2.

Nathan
Posted on: Fri, 11/18/2022 - 04:47

on the special characters (*^+) is it just that last set, or all 3 sets for that exercise?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 11/23/2022 - 20:24

Last set only, Nathan.

verdad
Posted on: Tue, 11/15/2022 - 13:51

I feel the Pullovers completly on my chest & nothing on my back or shoulders. How's the form supposted to be? Everyone I've asked told me it's a chest work out.

And when I try to do 'em with a cable I don't feel any muscles actually straining.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/20/2022 - 17:30

Make sure you lower the weight until you feel the stretch in the lats. Then, focus on relieving that stretch when you go to pull. I found this helps more people feel the lats over the chest. If that doesn't work, you can use a triceps bar with the vertical handles, which will also activate the lats more.

Are you doing the pullovers with the cable standing or lying?

Sunny Obara
Posted on: Sun, 11/06/2022 - 19:19

Hey mate! looking to try this workout in a couple weeks. Do you think it would be a good idea if i added in an extra push day on saturday or sunday?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 11/12/2022 - 11:03

What's good, Sunny? Thanks for reading M&S! If you feel that your chest, shoulders, and triceps are lagging, then an extra push day on Saturday would be ok. Just make sure you take that Sunday off completely so you can recover.

Luke R.
Posted on: Wed, 11/02/2022 - 11:21

Can I do legs more than once a week? Also I am currently doing the ICF 5x5 program. Is this a good program to do after the ICF 5X5?

Thanks, Luke R.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 11/07/2022 - 11:59

Hey Luke, answering both questions here.

1. Yes, this one would be good for after you finish ICF 5x5. Stick to training legs once a week.
2. Focus on strength, then switch to hypertrophy.

Luke
Posted on: Tue, 11/08/2022 - 08:56

Could I also do the 10 week mass building program? Or should I do this one?

Thanks again.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/13/2022 - 21:29

I would say pick one and give it all you got. Won't go wrong with either, but don't do both at the same time. Recovery matters a lot.

Luke R.
Posted on: Tue, 11/08/2022 - 08:59

Could I do the 10 week mass building program after I complete the 5x5 or should I do this 8 week one?

Thanks you roger

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 11/13/2022 - 21:31

Answered this in a previous question: you can't go wrong with either one, just don't do both.

Also for future reference, the question or comment has to be approved before I answer. No need to send it multiple times, I will see it and answer as quick as possible.

Luke R.
Posted on: Wed, 11/02/2022 - 09:30

I am a hs athlete and I am not quite sure when to change rep ranges. Should I combine rep ranges like powerbuilding? Or do strength train for a period of time then transition to hypertrophy?

Thanks, Luke R.

layne
Posted on: Tue, 11/01/2022 - 21:38

which workout plan would you reccommend moving onto to gain more muscle after finishing the 8 weeks for this one?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 11/07/2022 - 11:54

Give this one a look, Layne. Hope it helps. Thanks for reading M&S!

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 11/18/2022 - 08:47

Apologies, the link didn't go the first time. Let's try this again.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...

layne
Posted on: Thu, 11/10/2022 - 22:12

give what one look?

Luke
Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2022 - 10:05

Hi Roger. I am halfway through the eight week program and I have seen some muscle growth. After the eight weeks are over is there a program you would recommend me move on too?
Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/26/2022 - 21:22

Hey Luke, glad you're seeing results. You still looking to build muscle or would you want to shift to fat loss?

Dean
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2022 - 13:52

Do I do 3 sets of 12 10 and 12, or 1 set of 12 10 and 12 making 3 sets?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 10/25/2022 - 09:30

Set 1: 12
Set 2: 10
Set 3: 12 plus whatever the intensity booster is.

Will
Posted on: Sun, 10/23/2022 - 17:08

Hello. Thank you for posting this great workout. I’m keen to give it a try. A quick question, and apologies if it’s been covered and I’m missed it.

On the final sets which include the alterations, is the expectation that you hit these reps then apply the alteration? For example, incline bench. Should I hit 12 then add additional reps following the rest pause, or is the expectation I hit failure before 12 and the rest pause reps take me to 12? Thank you.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2022 - 11:17

12 reps, then the alterations. Hope this helps. Let us know how the program helps you, Will. Thanks for reading M&S!

Will
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2022 - 14:08

Thank you, Roger. Appreciate the response.

Harpreet Singh
Posted on: Sun, 10/23/2022 - 04:09

Hello sir as a beginner i m currently doing all the five nain compound movements n getting good results. The question is after going through this article i have gathered some useful informations such as drop sets on the last sets of each exercise. N going to the failures n about the rep range etc etc should i go gor the same program or should i change it...

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 10/23/2022 - 11:25

Test the waters and see how it feels for you. If it feels like it's too much, then go back to the workout you were doing. If you feel like you can handle the work every week, then you've graduated from beginner to intermediate.

Joseph
Posted on: Mon, 10/17/2022 - 05:42

With this plan do I do 3 sets of test pause then 3 sets of drop sets and then 3 sets of negatives for each exercise

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 10/17/2022 - 12:08

Save the rest-pause and drop sets until the end. If you wanted to add a set of negatives, that would be ok. But all that effort and volume would seriously increase the chances of you getting injured.

Keith
Posted on: Mon, 10/10/2022 - 21:57

Hey, Rodger. Rest pause , I see 12;10;12 is this done like so 12 reps to almost failure then rest 15 secs do more till failure. 10 rep rest then to failure and so on?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 10/11/2022 - 07:14

Only on the last set, Keith. The first two sets should be performed as normal sets. The last set would be 12 reps, 15 seconds rest, then go to failure.

Hope this helps!

Roger

Mang Mang
Posted on: Mon, 10/10/2022 - 20:23

I want to ask one thing, I am currently working out with the program you drew. But is it good to change that program? For example (if I did arm & abs on day 3 instead of doing leg and arm & abs on day 4), what would be effective? is that a good idea? cuz of day 4 is leg then I always skip it cuz I'm a little tired of doing leg exercises.

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 10/11/2022 - 07:10

If that change helps you, go for it. Let us know how it works because your experience may help someone else. Thanks for using my program!

David Lopez
Posted on: Mon, 10/10/2022 - 18:39

I gave a try and I just did not feel it so intensive maybe because I am used to working out hard. I wanted to try it because I was not seeing gains in my arms. I only hope this workout works for me.

Ömer
Posted on: Wed, 10/19/2022 - 10:42

Hey man did it work better for you?

David Lopez
Posted on: Mon, 11/07/2022 - 14:26

Yes, man! it actually has worked for me, the recovery and advanced techniques have taken my workout to another level.

Ben
Posted on: Sun, 10/09/2022 - 01:33

Hi Roger, is there a recommended routine to continue with at the end of the 8 weeks? Should I just keep going with this? Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 10/09/2022 - 15:55

Hey Ben, the next routine depends on your goals. If you feel this one is helping you, and you're still looking to add size, then by all means, give it another round!

Tony
Posted on: Sat, 10/08/2022 - 05:21

I started gym on august,but i feel my programm not give me good result,is it good to gain muscles?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 10/09/2022 - 15:54

This one will help you build muscle, yes.

Colemam
Posted on: Thu, 10/06/2022 - 15:58

Hi there! I hava a question for you. I didnt understand what drop set is. For example flat dumbell bench press:
1. Set 12 reps 50 lbs
2. Set 10 reps 55 lbs
3. Set 15 reps 45 lbs
Is it correct?
Could you please give me an example?
Thanks.