8 Week Big And Bold Workout: Simple, Brutal Muscle Building

So simple, so brutal, so effective. This bodybuilding workout packs a punch and is a great alternative to programs that revolve around 5 rep or low rep sets. Sample meal plan included.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
8 weeks
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

This approach is a 4 day split that focuses on big, heavy-hitting exercises. You won't find a lot of bells and whistles in this workout. Just simple, straightforward, ball-busting hard work.

The premise is simple...hammer the compound lifts, and follow them up with intense 10 rep sets to complete each workout. Here is how the split shakes out:

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Tuesday - Workout B
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Workout C
  • Friday - Workout D
  • Saturday - OFF
  • Sunday - OFF

This plan revolves around heavy sets and is perfect for the intermediate muscle builder (or strength trainee looking to add more muscle and strength). If you're tired of workouts that revolve around 5 rep protocols, consider this program a godsend. 

To lead off each training day you will perform 5 total sets of a heavy, compound exercise. The reps for these sets are listed as: "5, 4, 3, 2, MAX". Here is how this 5 set scheme works.

Start with a weight that is approximately 75% of your one rep max. Using this weight perform sets as follows:

  • Set 1 - 5 reps
  • Set 2 - 4 reps
  • Set 3 - 3 reps
  • Set 4 - 2 reps
  • Set 5 - As many reps as possible (MAX)

When you are able to perform 3 or more reps during the last set, add 5 pounds to this lift the following week. If you stall, meaning you are unable to reach your 3 rep goal on the final set for 3 straight weeks, drop the weight by 7.5 to 10% and start the climb again.

For the 10 rep sets, use the same weight for a given exercise and add weight when you can.

Run this program for a total of 8 weeks before taking a week away from training. After this point you may either switch to a different program, or run this routine for another 8 weeks.

Workout A
Squat Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 5 5, 4, 3, 2, MAX
Barbell Shrugs 5 10
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift 5 10
Seated Calf Raise 4 10
Planks 4 60 seconds
Workout B
Bench Press Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 5 5, 4, 3, 2 MAX
Close Grip Pull Downs 5 10
Seated Arnold Press 5 10
Cable Tricep Extensions 4 10
EZ Bar Curl 4 10
Workout C
Deadlift Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 5 5, 4, 3, 2, MAX
Leg Press 5 10
Leg Curl 5 10
Standing Calf Raise 4 10
Ab Wheel Rollouts 4 10
Workout D
Military Press Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Military Press 5 5, 4, 3, 2, MAX
Barbell Rows 5 10
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 5 10
Lying Tricep Extensions 4 10
Dumbbell Curl 4 10

Sample Eating Plan

This section contains a sample eating plan. If you are young with a reasonably fast metabolism, I recommend about 3,500 calories per day. The rest of you should consider starting with about 2,750 to 3,250 calories per day.

Understand that these suggestions are merely starting points. Daily calories should be adjusted as needed.

3,500 calorie bulking meal plan

  • 7 am - 3 egg omelet with diced onion (1 oz), green pepper (1 oz) and pepper jack cheese (1 oz). 1 cup cooked oatmeal with half a diced banana. Nutrition - 640 cals, 38.3g protein, 50.3g carbs, 32g fat.
  • 9:30 am - 2 scoops of whey protein in 16 ounces of water, almonds (1 oz) and strawberries (1 cup). Nutrition - 450 cals, 53g protein, 22.7g carbs, 18.2g fat.
  • Noon - cubed chicken (6 oz) with a dipping sauce of salsa (3 oz) and full-fat sour cream (2 oz), 1 cup cooked rice. Nutrition - 530 cals, 46.3g protein, 50.3g carbs, 14.4g fat.
  • 2:30 pm - 1 scoop of whey protein in 8 ounces of water, medium bagel with cream cheese (1 oz). Nutrition - 508 cals, 36.1g protein, 59.9g carbs, 13.1g fat.
  • 3:30 pm - Workout
  • 5 pm - 2 hamburger patties made with 80% lean ground beef (3 oz each), each topped with 1 slice of provolone cheese and mustard, 2 baked potatoes. Nutrition - 945 cals, 66.2g protein, 67.1g carbs, 44.7g fat.
  • 7:30 pm - 1 scoop casein protein in 8 ounces of whole milk, 2 cups popped popcorn with 2 pats of butter. Nutrition - 448 cals, 34g protein, 28.5g carbs, 23.2g fat.

Calorie and macronutrient totals:

  • Calories - 3,521
  • Protein - 273.9 grams
  • Carbs - 278.8 grams
  • Fats - 145.6 grams

61 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 11/08/2017 - 05:56

Hi there. How should i take mass gainer my ? Is there a change of intake if i weighted 55kg ? What is your best advise

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Posted Fri, 01/08/2016 - 13:25
shekhar Goa

hi how much time it for workout A to do . Can I take creatin powder

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Posted Mon, 06/01/2015 - 12:43

How long should you wait between these sets?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Mon, 06/01/2015 - 13:18

Tim, I would shoot for anywhere between 2-3 minutes. Perhaps more if you're going for a maximal attempt on a squat or deadlift. When in doubt, rest a bit more if you're not pressed for time.

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Posted Mon, 06/01/2015 - 14:43

Ok awesome, thanks!

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Posted Fri, 05/29/2015 - 11:44

Week 1, will let you know how I get on...

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Posted Sat, 04/18/2015 - 22:47

Hi Steve,
Would you recomend pushing to close to or failure on every set.

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Posted Wed, 03/25/2015 - 09:24

Started the programe 2 weeks ago
Have to say really enjoying it so far
1 question thou can i swap v-bar pull downs for either bodweight pull ups or lat raises

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Posted Fri, 03/06/2015 - 05:24

Hey Steve, I'm about to start on this regime next week and I wanted to know whether the Mon-Fri workout plan needs to be done in this order? After a heavy leg day it takes my legs a few day to recover before, for example, doing deadlifts.

Thanks in advance


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Posted Tue, 01/20/2015 - 13:47

Hi Steve,

Loving your program. I broke my collarbone over the summer, and the military press has been really tough. Is there another workout you would suggest replacing the military press with on military press day?

Thanks a lot.

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Posted Mon, 01/12/2015 - 12:43

hi, i have a question about those powersets (heavy compound exercises) how would you warm up?
maybe something like 1set of 5 with 60% of your 75% one rep max, a second set with 80% of your 75% one rep max and then start for the real 5 sets? or do you have a better plan?

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Posted Tue, 12/23/2014 - 05:27

Hi Steve,
for the 5-4-3-2-max at the start, how long do you rest between sets?

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Posted Fri, 12/05/2014 - 01:38

Why mostly high volume routines is overtrain for me?that where 3-4 sets 10,8,8 and the three
close to failure 50-60-80%?.

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Posted Tue, 12/02/2014 - 11:34

Hi Steve, great program! I have 2 questions: 1) On the 5 sets of 10 reps, what if you cannot complete the 10 reps in the last 2 sets (only getting 8 reps then 7 reps, respectively)? Should the starting weight be lower to allow completion of all 50 reps? 2) Could another chest movement be added to Workout B? It seems like chest is only stimulated on bench, incline bench, and military press.


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Posted Thu, 11/20/2014 - 00:26

I don't feel like there is enough focus on the chest or the arms in this routine. Does this program adequately cover the upper body? It seems to have a primary focus on the legs.

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Posted Fri, 11/14/2014 - 06:26

hi steve,, only EZ bar curl and dumble curl ? arm excersic? add some extra item or not?

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Posted Mon, 11/10/2014 - 03:53

I need programe with Big muscle. please help me steve

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Posted Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:57

How should we do the military press?

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Posted Tue, 10/21/2014 - 16:55

Hi Steve,
Great plan! I'm looking through here and there is so much great content.
I like the ramp up and test of strength at the start.
Then the hypertrophy style approach.

Just not sure which to go for in terms of cutting fat from midsection.

I know this is more bulk-orientated, but would it work for a cutting diet?

Not sure which to go for between this one and 6 Day Push, Pull, Legs Powerbuilding Split & Meal Plan
or Fast & Furious: 21 Day Shredding Workout Cycle And Diet


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Posted Thu, 10/09/2014 - 18:34

Also how important is it that I adhere to the one week off? And if I do need to take one week off any suggestions on things I may be able to do during the off week? Thanks so much!

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Posted Tue, 10/07/2014 - 21:44


I've been doing this workout and now I'm in week 8. What I've been doing is doing this workout Mon - Thurs and then on Fri I do the run the rack chest workout. Is this okay for me to continue? If so after I take the one week off I plan on doing this workout again. What if I alternated my Fri with the run the rack and the 135lb workout...or should I stick to one or the other?

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Posted Tue, 10/07/2014 - 14:16

Hi, i've done loads of your workouts and have had some great results. I tend to only do a workout for 3 to 4 weeks before I get bored and used to a routine and then change to another. I want to have a go at this one but would also like to do your "Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split". I was wondering, could I do one week of this and then one week of the other and continue like that for the 8 weeks? Or am I best sticking with this one consistently for 8 weeks and then trying your other one?

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Posted Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:55

Hey Steve
Love this workout and I want to follow it
But the problem is the chest routine. Because in the past I messed up my workout and now it is overly bulked and is ugly so now (for my chest) I just want to cut and shape it. Would you have any recommendations for that?
Other than that
Thanks for the great routine!

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Posted Wed, 09/24/2014 - 23:18

Hey steve, I havent lifted weights for about 3 years, and im now starting to get back into it. I've put on a decent amount of weight since then and I'm looking to lose about 15 lbs and gaining mainly shoulder, chest, and arm muscle. is there a workout that would specialize in those areas?

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Posted Mon, 09/22/2014 - 18:37

Is there a advanced upper lower split or once your advanced you do body part splits?

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Posted Tue, 09/16/2014 - 20:09

Would it be acceptable to perform super sets in this routine? Ex: chest/back, triceps/biceps? Just trying to minimize workout time and see if there would be any benefit. Or maybe alternate every other workout where I perform supersets? Thanks!

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Posted Wed, 09/10/2014 - 19:05
mike s

Steve I have been training for over 20 years competed in powerlifting for 10 years in the uspf I have never been able to achieve the cut body builder look that I would like I have followed several routines found on this website and all of the diets that I have found and cannot get that look I put on size easily but cannot get the definition I'm 50 years old now my best lifts are bench 435 squat 630 deadlift 698 right now ive been following your 4 day power muscle burn what the heck am I doing wrong

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Posted Sun, 09/07/2014 - 21:16

Hi steve. Why would you have barbell shrugs on a leg day? Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:42

This routine is based around the big lifts. You are working both deadlifts and a deadlift variation (shrugs), and squats and leg press. They are on posterior chain-heavy days. Deadlift days you leg press. Squat days you shrug.

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Posted Wed, 09/03/2014 - 20:45
Ronald L.Shaffer Sr.

Hi Steve,
I am retired Army(88)and I am 6'2"@173...
Are any of the programs you talk about designed for my age group or are they
Designed for the younger people?
I would assume I could use your programs but scale them a tad... Would that make sense?
I have lifted weights off and on but now I would like to dedicate myself to lifting
I want to improve my overall image..
Also would machines work as well in the beginning then switch to free weights ?
Thank you,
Ronald l.Shaffer Sr.

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Posted Wed, 09/03/2014 - 20:38
Ronald L.Shaffer Sr.

All the plans that speak about are they geared towards 18-50?
I am 6'2"@173 Retired Army .. Okay shape eat healthy.. However
I have off and on lifted weights and a member of 24hour Fitness
Work 8-10 hours @5days
I am 69 plenty of energy..but I really want to build myself up and dedicate myself
To weight lifting and Art...
Are any of the programs for my age?
Thank you
Ronald L.Shaffer Sr.

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Posted Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:42

Hey steve, i have been following your posts and they are all wonderful. Thank you.

I only have dumbbells to work with due to my current working location. I have been following your dumbbell only home workout which is 3 days full body. I hope you could help me out and help me write a workout system with only dumbbells and pull up bar for minimum 4 days, split type intermediate level. Thank you so much in advance sir.

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Posted Thu, 08/28/2014 - 19:08

What's should my rest times be between sets and reps?

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Posted Wed, 08/27/2014 - 05:49


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Posted Wed, 08/20/2014 - 07:21
shimith julan

I really like this workout but what about arms. Do i totally ignore it ?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 08/20/2014 - 08:32

This workout has 16 sets of direct arm work.

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Posted Sun, 08/17/2014 - 13:01

Hey Steve. I'm gonna be starting this program this week. I was looking at your sample meal plan and all the macros seem to be pretty close to my needs. However, I noticed post workout nutrition consists of a meal 90 mins after. Is there a reason you neglected a post workout shake or is that to be assumed in all this?


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Posted Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:03

Don't fall into the practice of "needing" to have a protein shake within 30 minutes of your work out or all is lost! If you look at the post w/o meal you are chewing on a MINIMUM of 60 grams of carbs. A delay between training and eating is advised to allow things like your central nervous system, heart, lungs, etc an opportunity to settle down. IF your blood sugar starts to cause you issues because your depleted by all means throw something down the pipe. Don't over think this stuff and just have fun with it. Patience is the key.

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Posted Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:50

Just to clarify say if I start with 110lb's and on the 5th set I can do more than 3 reps, the following week would i start set 1 with 115lb's?

I don't have access to a seated calf raise machine so would putting a barbell across my quads just above my knees and doing raises this way be just as effective?

I'd also have to sub leg press and curl so thinking weighted step ups or lunges would be ok?


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Posted Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:16

It depends on how many more you can do than three. Forget the number on the weight and stick to getting the reps. I am going to guess that a 10 pound jump isn't going to be an issue. Go for it jane. You can do standing calf raises with the machine set at its lowest position and your feet facing inward, or a smith machine will work great. No on the last ? Concentrate on direct hamstring hit.

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Posted Fri, 08/15/2014 - 19:06

Hey steve,

I am a classic ectomorph trying to gain some weight. Would you rec. this workout routine to gain mass? I dont eat beef, is it okay to substitute with Turkey instead?


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Posted Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:10

Sai, I am gonna jump in here. EAT...as much protein as you can, your body will use and store what it can and discard the rest. Use protein supplements, amino acids, and drink as much water as you can to move all the food around to the right places. No beef?? no problem, turkey by the pound, not by the piece, same with chicken and eggs. At least 2 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight PER DAY no exceptions. Go up slowly and be sure to invest in some digestive enzymes to keep the stomach acid strong. Eat hard, train hard, and grow as big as you want! Best of luck.

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Posted Thu, 08/14/2014 - 08:02

Hey Steve, nice one here. We spoke months ago, I am a former Marine Powerlifter and after numerous surgeries, hip replacement, knees, shoulders etc. I decided that if I want to train I have to be "smarter"...painful to say. Anyway thanks for incorporating the "big three" into this workout. I will attempt to stay away from the urge to go all the way on the 2 rep sets and hopefully remain whole for a while. To all you "young guns " out there...don't look to change it up before you have given it a chance, follow the nutritional guide closely and most of all please STOP making excuses! I have been in this game for over 50 years and can assure you that Mr. Shaw KNOWS his stuff. Pay attention and learn, you'll get more out of it that way.
Semper Fi, Steve

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Posted Tue, 08/12/2014 - 09:47

what about pple withought proper gym equipment n wanna join the prog

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Posted Mon, 08/11/2014 - 23:22

I love this workout routine because it started with lower routine which most of the time I missed out doing. Thank you.

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Posted Sun, 08/10/2014 - 05:28


I like this workout but I want to be strong but want to loose my extra killos.
Can you please help me to plan my meals and work out.
my target is to loose 15 kgs minimum.
I currently weigh 100 kg but my target is 85 kg.
only problem is I am not allowed to do any leg exercises bcoz of my knee injury (restrictive movement is stepping up/down)


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Posted Sat, 08/09/2014 - 09:15

If I did this workout but go workout at 6 in the morning how would I make that eating plan work? Or would it still work.

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Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 16:27

Hi Steve, looks like a solid workout and im looking for something like this to boost my main lifts. I've just got a few questions: could I change the barbell shrugs on squat day to a quad dominant exercise such as hack squats? (As I squat low bar and feel I need the extra quad work) or do you recommend keeping them? And could I change leg press to additional squats 5x10 or do you only recommend squatting once a week on this program? Cheers.

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Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 08:19

Hi Steve, how long do you recommend resting bewteen sets on the big compound exercises?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 08:38

Typically about 2-3 minutes, up to 4 minutes max if you feel you need it.