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: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 07:13

Hi Roger,

Would you say this programme is suitable for women too?

Thank you.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 09/27/2023 - 13:48

Hi, Chloe. Absolutely. That is why Male and Female are listed under Target Gender. If you run it, I hope you'll share your results with us. Thank you for reading M&S!

Gatsby C
Posted on: Tue, 09/19/2023 - 15:08

Just finished doing the 10 week program, now I want to pick this program up.. how long should 1 rest before starting another workout program?? Or does it matter

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 09/27/2023 - 13:45

Up to you, Gatsby. If you feel you need a week, then you should definitely take it. If you're feeling good and ready to get after it immediately, then go ahead with this one. Either way, I hope you'll share your results with us. Thanks for reading M&S!

Cristhian Jose ...
Posted on: Mon, 09/11/2023 - 22:00

The drop-set, pause or failure aren done on the last set or on each set?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:56

Last set only.

Gavin Hughes
Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2023 - 02:30

Hi, thanks for producing this awesome workout, I am halfway through my first week and feeling my chest and back worked.
I am a little confused as for back day you have dumbbell pullovers and in the video it’s states they are for chest ( I have used for many years for chest) and also deadlifts on leg day, I can see why but hasn’t deadlifts been used for centuries for back.
With my current physical limitations I have switched deadlifts out with leg press and dumbbell pullovers with one arm dumbbell row.
It would be awesome if you could clarify this comment however if not no worries.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/12/2023 - 11:10

Hi, Gavin. Thanks for the comment and choosing my program.

The pullover has had this issue for years. Some people do it for chest, others for back. It actually works both. When you lower the weight behind your head to get that stretch, the lats are being stretched. They are also being worked when you begin the pull. Once it gets to shoulder height and you bring it over your head and torso, the chest is working.

As for deadlifts, they work the entire posterior chain, and they have also been used for centuries for the lower body, specifically the hamstrings and glutes. Yes, it works the lower back as well, so this is a way that you can get the most bang for your buck. If limitations force you to make switches, then go for it. The risk wouldn't be worth the reward.

It would be awesome if you shared your results once you finish the program. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 01:44

Good morning Roger I hopebit is going good I just started with you program yesterday and sorry if this is the 100 time someone asks you this, but i still don't understand with the negatives. So on you 3rd set must you conplete te last set and then immediately do negatives because if I fail i dont have enough sterength for even one negative.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:07

Hi, Raymond. No problem at all. The third set would be the negatives if the workout calls for it. However, you MUST have a spotter. If you're training alone, don't do them. It's not worth the risk of injury.

Posted on: Mon, 08/21/2023 - 17:34

Should I be increasing the weight after every set or increase the weight every week?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:08

Increase the weight on set 2. You shouldn't reach failure with it. Stay with that weight on set 3. You may be able to change weight some weeks, but if you don't or can't, don't sweat it. Effort is more important than the number on the plate or dumbbell.

Posted on: Mon, 08/21/2023 - 14:08

How would you recommend running this program over the course of 8 weeks? Same split for 4 weeks and then mix the days up or just stay consistent for 8 weeks. For example every Monday is chest and side delts for 8 weeks? Also do you recommend any kind of rep range variation or RPE increase over the course of the program?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:17

Hey Joe, I know not many programs do this nowadays, but the plan is to run it for all eight weeks the same way. You should be seeing changes in how many reps you can do or improvement in strength. The only way to determine that for sure is to run it as is for all eight weeks. As long as the weight challenges you, you're good. RPE wasn't on my mind, but going with something like 6-7 on the first set, 8 on the second set, and 9-10 on the last set would work.

Posted on: Mon, 08/21/2023 - 07:25

Could you Teller me something more about the progression? Would it be okey...? Two- Three weeks Adding 1 rep per Set per week and then the weight or what would you suggest me to do?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:14

That is the exact way I would shoot for it. Try to achieve one more rep, then when you get well over the rep range, add five pounds and start over. Great strategy. Please let me know how this works for you!

Posted on: Thu, 08/17/2023 - 07:27

What’s the pace on reps? 2/0/1, 2/0/2, 2/0/1?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:13

You can do 2/0/1 if you like. As long as you're controlling the weight, tempo is up to you.

Justin Mierwood
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 17:29

I want to thank you for helping make my transition back into weight lifting so much easier. I am 34, I have a full time job, a wife and 2 toddlers. I have been using your program for one month and I have put on a noticeable 5 pounds of muscle. My goal is to reach 200 pounds. I am 6 ft tall and 165 pounds at the moment. Again, thank you so much for putting this together for people like me to use! It is an enormous contribution to my health and my life.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:12

Justin, stories like that are why I wanted to get into this business. It means the world to me that my program was a small part of your success. Thank you so much for the kind words, and congrats on the progress. Can't wait to hear back from you when you get to 200. Keep it up!

Tye Kuzmicz
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 15:40

Would it be beneficial if I trained legs twice a week, maybe on Tuesday and also Friday? I want to build them and have a long frame at 6’5

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/22/2023 - 21:09

Hi, Tye. I get why that would appear to be a good idea, but I suggest sticking with the plan as is for at least eight weeks. If after that time you feel you need to up the volume, then add a second leg day if you like. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 01:03

Do I rest for 90 seconds after each rep?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 09:15

After each set.

Posted on: Sun, 08/06/2023 - 12:51

Okay so I know that there a million questions regarding +, * and ^ but I still dont have one thing figured out even after scrolling through comments for a few minutes. On a drop set or a rest-pause set, do I rest 15 seconds after the second or the third set? And how about negatives? Do I just do the third set slower to the recommended amount of reps or do I have to do an extra 4th set but slower till failure?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 09:16

15 seconds after the third set only. Do your set, rest 15 seconds, continue. Same with the negatives. Do the final set, add negatives when you approach failure (WITH A SPOTTER), and then end the set.

Posted on: Sun, 08/06/2023 - 09:03

Hi,I would like to ask,why is not included an overhead Press exercise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 09:17

Front delts get worked with both chest presses as a secondary muscle. If you want to add them, go for it. Follow same set and rep scheme.

Posted on: Sat, 08/05/2023 - 10:58

Good Morning,

Do we start we a warm up round for each one at all?

Thanks again

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 09:18

You can if you like. I do prefer you do a couple on at least the first exercise of the workout.

Posted on: Wed, 08/02/2023 - 01:38

Can I stick with this program if i don't have cables in my gym?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 09:18

You sure can! Go to our Exercises section to find similar exercises based on the equipment you can use. Follow similar set and rep schemes.

Posted on: Sat, 07/29/2023 - 05:14

Hello roger thanks for this program , im already using this and have big hopes. I have got one question , can i introduce some changes in the workouts or i must follow strictly? I mean , in example, doing the pullover in machine instead of dumbells


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 08/09/2023 - 09:19

Hi, Dario! I actually prefer the Pullover machine, myself, but I know many people don't have access to one. If you got it, use it. What other changes are you considering?

Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 01:58

Hi Roger, thanks for this workout program, looks great. Gonna start next week. Just 1 question (apologies if it's been asked already) but on day 2 you have Dumbell pullover after bent over rows.... is this correct? Should it not be a dumbell row for back day? Or am I missing something? Thanks again. Dave

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 07:00

Hi, Dave! Thanks for the question. Pullovers actually work the lats as well as the chest, so this is not a mistake. If you focus on the stretch and pulling the weight up for pullovers, especially after the bent-over rows, the lat pump will be worth it.

Emil Cotoi
Posted on: Wed, 07/26/2023 - 16:18

Hi,first i just wanna say thanks for all the help and sharing free program, these days not many things come cheap especialy free!:)
2nd i just want to understand better the 'principles' u said to do it on one of the workouts? like there are 3 sets on an exercise right? do i do 1 rep with 'rest pause' 1 with de 'drop set' and 1 with 'negatives'? thats it, and 1 more thing, i just wanna ask if this routine is better than the 10 week muscle build program?:) thats it, thank you in advance!:)

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 06:57

Hi, Emil. The first two sets are normal sets. It's only the last one that you would use an intensity booster such as rest-pause or drop sets. As far as whether one is better than the other, that is based on the individual. I'm partial to this one because I wrote it, but many readers have saw positive results from the 10 week program.

Posted on: Tue, 07/25/2023 - 21:32

Hey mate just wondering can I stick with this workout for more than 8 weeks? I've been working out for nearly 2 years but have struggled to find a decent plan. I've been doing this one for about 6 weeks and feel pretty good. I'm hoping this gets me to the place I want to be. Also is it ok to do leg press instead of front squats? I really struggle with front squats.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/27/2023 - 06:53

Hi, Andy. You sure can stick with this for longer than eight weeks. If you do, let us know how it goes for you.

You can also make the switch to leg press, but try to do at least one or two sets of the front squats so you can work to get better at them. They are so beneficial that the extra commitment will be worth it. Thanks for reading M&S!

Posted on: Tue, 07/18/2023 - 18:58

I recently began following this routine and I wanted to express my appreciation for sharing it. I used to lift weights in college but slowly got out of the habit. Every time I tried to get back into it, I would lose interest after a week or two. I needed new exercises and a program that would allow me to concentrate on the weightlifting itself, rather than figuring out what exercise to do next. Thanks for motivating me to return to the gym.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/21/2023 - 20:05

Rich, this absolutely made my day! Thank you so much for the comment and for reading M&S! It's my privilege to be a small part in your fitness journey!

Adam Haldiman
Posted on: Tue, 07/18/2023 - 13:11

This was a great and well put together workout! I noticed that you have some exercises that have sets of 12, 10, 15. This is confusing to me because I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be increasing weight from one set to another. Could you please provide some clarity?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/21/2023 - 20:50

Hi, Adam. That is on purpose. On those exercises, I want you to focus more on hitting failure for reps instead of heavier weight. It's a different way to tax the muscle. You can certainly do 10-12 on that set if you like, though. If you run it, let me know how you do. Thanks for reading M&S!

Daniel Jenkins
Posted on: Mon, 07/17/2023 - 07:11

If there's a symbol for say Drop sets, doen that mean all 3 of the sets are drop sets?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/21/2023 - 20:47

Hey Daniel, the last set should be the drop set or rest-pause only. Hope this helps, and thanks for reading M&S! Cheers!

Posted on: Sat, 07/15/2023 - 14:55

I would like to do two leg days or glutes three time a week too

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/21/2023 - 20:49

Ok. Then, you could do a second leg day on a day off and work glutes into that. I don't think you need to hit glutes three times, but if you insist, then plug them in on any other day you like. I think this could impact your recovery, though.

Kenneth Flaville
Posted on: Sun, 07/09/2023 - 21:52

Should I be doing the rest-pause, drop set, negatives for all three sets of the exercise or only the last set of the specific exercise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 07/10/2023 - 08:10

Last set only, Kenneth.