How To Gain Mass Fast: 20 Week Quick Start Program

Build muscle as quickly as possible using this 20 week program that features 3 unique stages: neuromuscular adaptation, conditioning, and a maximization stage.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Beginner
3
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells
Male & Female

Workout Description

The problem: you're just starting and don't want to waste time in the gym. You want to build muscle as quickly as possible, and not fail like so many other beginners do.

The solution: a 20 week quick start program that takes you from point A to point Z, providing you with specific workout plans that will help you reach the level of success you are after.

This workout program features 3 specific stages:

Stage 1 - Neuromuscular Adaptation Stage. Weight is moderate. The focus during this 4 week stage is on learning the exercises, practicing proper form, and developing the habit of actually getting to the gym and not missing workouts. You will be working out only twice a week, but using the same workout each day.

Stage 2 - Conditioning and Building Stage. Another 4 week stage. You will be training 3 days per week, and learning how to push yourself properly on each exercise. Sets will be maximized and you will start to add strength and muscle at a quality rate.

Stage 3 - Maximizing Beginner Gains Stage. This is a 12 week stage that will have your working out 4 days per week. The format will be an upper/lower style of training. You will get as strong as possible in conventional muscle building rep ranges, and will never waste a set.

Maximizing Sets - Maximizing Progress

Stage 1 - This stage is a feeling out stage. Start with a moderately light weight and only add weight to an exercise when the sets feel relatively easy. Don't rush into weight additions. First and foremost you want to develop consistency and an understanding of exercise form. Once you hit a nice stride, then slowly add weight as you can.

Stage 2 - Using good form, start to focus on pushing sets for more and more reps. You do not want to train to failure, not perform reps with sloppy form. Add weight when you reach the recommended number of reps for a set.

Stage 3 - Push every set for as many reps as possible - no exceptions. Never waste a set. Stop each set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or when you form starts to slip. Add weight when you reach the recommended number of reps per set.

Stage 1

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Thursday - Workout A

Note: Days of the week are presented for example purposes only.

Stage 1
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 2 10
Bench Press 2 10
Stiff Leg Deadlift 2 10
Barbell Row 2 10
Military Press 2 10
Skullcrushers 2 10
Dumbbell Curls 2 10
Seated Calf Raises 2 10
Sit Ups 2 10

Stage 2

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Wednesday - Workout B
  • Friday - Workout C

Note: Days of the week are presented for example purposes only.

Stage 2
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 10
Bench Press 3 10
Leg Curls 3 10
Barbell Rows 3 10
Military Press 3 10
Skullcrushers 3 10
EZ Bar Preacher Curls 3 10
Seated Calf Raise 3 10
Sit Ups 3 10-25
Stage 2
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 10
Leg Press 3 10
Dumbbell Flyes 3 10
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down 3 10
Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flye 3 10
Dips 3 10
Hammer Curls 3 10
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 10
Dumbbell Side Bends 3 10
Stage 2
Workout C
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 10
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
Leg Curls 3 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10
Seated Arnold Press 3 10
Cable Tricep Extensions 3 10
Dumbbell Curls 3 10
Standing Calf Raises 3 10
Plank 3 60 sec

Stage 3

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Tuesday - Workout B
  • Thursday - Workout C
  • Friday - Workout D

Note: Days of the week are presented for example purposes only.

Stage 3
Workout A
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 10
Leg Extensions 3 10
Leg Curls 3 10
Seated Calf Raises 3 15
Decline Weighted Sit Up 3 15-25
Barbell Shrugs 3 10
Stage 3
Workout B
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 10
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10
Military Press 3 10
Dips or Cable Extensions 3 10
Pull Ups 3 AMAP
EZ Bar Curls 3 10
Stage 3
Workout C
Exercise Sets Reps
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 10
Squats 2 15
Leg Press 3 15
Standing Calf Raises 3 15
Plank 3 60 sec
Dumbbell Shrugs 3 10
Stage 3
Workout D
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 10
Barbell Rows 3 10
Seated Arnold Press 3 10
Close Grip Bench Press 3 10
Pull Ups  3 AMAP
Seated Dumbbell Curls 3 10
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About The Author
Ian Coleman has written over 150 articles on muscle building and fat loss, and is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable muscle building trainers on the planet.

69 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 03/18/2015 - 22:04
Jeff

If I just completed your 8 week novice workout plan is it necessary to do stage 1 of this workout because of their similarities?

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Posted Wed, 02/18/2015 - 22:39
Logan

Can I add more exercises to each workout? Also, I've been going for a month, so would you recommend going to stage 2?

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Posted Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:32
james sherry

I am just starting out with weight training. How much weight should I be starting with for each exercise.

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Posted Sat, 07/26/2014 - 01:51
Bryan

Steve how much time between sets should I rest?

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Posted Thu, 04/24/2014 - 06:55
Rishabh Sharma

Hello, Im 18 years old and a complete beginner. Moreover im pretty damn skinny. Should the program work just fine for me? Anything you'd want to suggest?

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Posted Fri, 03/21/2014 - 10:26
amitab

im 33 years im beginner this programs will help me to remove the belly fat

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Posted Wed, 03/12/2014 - 22:39
Jp

How long should I rest in between sets?

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 14:51
Massive

I have a weird problem, I've been following this workout routine for about 10 weeks but instead of my back getting bigger my cock has become massive! Any suggestions? could I be doing something wrong?
thanks!

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Posted Mon, 01/27/2014 - 16:09
Nick

Cant seem to find any other articles for Ian Coleman anywhere else but here. Does anyone know where they can be found or how to ask him training questions? Does he have a website?

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Posted Fri, 11/01/2013 - 05:54
mihr

may i knw the chart to play. .aftr the end of thz chart plz

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Posted Thu, 08/29/2013 - 01:52
carlos

Umm rest periods between sets? Or no rest?

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Posted Wed, 08/21/2013 - 20:17
nirvair

I had a big gym break so need to get in shape
....best suited for me thanks.

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Posted Thu, 07/25/2013 - 13:36
ari

So tell me, how long should I rest between sets?

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Posted Fri, 07/19/2013 - 18:08
Ibrahim

What amount of raw weight gain (in kg) would I be looking at in 20 weeks if I followed this routine precisely, combined with whey protein gold standard? Because to be honest my foremost goal from starting this programme would be pure size, and five months is a lot of time, so I'd expect real results.

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Posted Sat, 07/06/2013 - 02:16
Andrew

Could I switch the order of exercises around and do the back exercises before the chest exercises, or should I just do them in the order they are laid out? Am I right in assuming that the back muscle is bigger than the chest muscle?

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Posted Thu, 07/04/2013 - 16:47
Guvna

pls be in london

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Posted Wed, 07/03/2013 - 10:20
Myke

@ Alyssa, not an expert but it looks like you can. I was doing it for my first month going to the gym times a week. I think the most important thing for stage 1 is making sure not to miss your workout schedule.

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Posted Thu, 06/13/2013 - 19:31
Alyssa

Could I start stage 1 with three days per week, instead of two (as long as I have a rest day between each workout)?

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Posted Sun, 06/02/2013 - 05:09
Tneg

What's with the comment dislikes anyway?? that's weak!

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Posted Fri, 05/24/2013 - 14:23
Katharine

Can you please give me some guidelines to the amount of weight I should be starting out lifting for this plan? I'm completely new to working out with weights and would appreciate the advice. I'm female, 100lb, reasonably fit but looking to build muscle. Thanks.

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Posted Tue, 05/21/2013 - 16:54
J-DoggyStyl

This workout sucks, im a real big boyyyyy

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Posted Sun, 05/19/2013 - 20:25
Zac

hey,
I have been working out off and on for quite a while now and have made reasonable strength gains, but I am still yet to master perfect form with a couple of these exercises like the bent over row and stiff leg deadlift.
Do you suggest i begin this program at stage 1 and focus working on the form using lighter weight just because Im not confident with one or two of the exercises? or just jump into stage 2?

Thanks

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Posted Thu, 05/09/2013 - 00:03
Luigi

what is the recommended diet plan for this??

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Posted Wed, 05/08/2013 - 13:53
Salif

Hi Steve,
I'am working on the second stage and i want to know if the table with sets and reps is what i have to do or if it's just an indication ? Should i increase weight or reps or sets ?

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2013 - 11:09
Mike

I also haven't gone to the gym in about 2 years but but was quite into it then and when to the gym a least 4 times a week. Would it be beneficial to start this program from scratch in order to get back into the gym routine and get my muscles growing again? Furthermore, if I do this program and complete it, should I and could I move on to an intermediate program such as "Steve's Density And Strength 4 Day Split" https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/steves-density-and-strength-4... ?

Thanks

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Posted Fri, 05/03/2013 - 03:49
Enzo

I used to have a great body before, but I stopped going to the gym for about 2 yrs and now my muscles have shrinked already. I am not that fat but I now have a big tummy. If I get back to the gym and use this program, can I have my body sculpted? I really wanna have a lean body and I'm hoping if this program can give it to me?

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Posted Thu, 04/25/2013 - 12:29
Brian

I am in my third week of this program...skipped stage A since I already exercise on a regular basis and started with stage B. Only a week to go and then I am on to stage C. Thus far I have seen a difference - my shoulders, back, arms and chest are getting bigger. Found I really have to concentrate on getting enough calories and protein to supplement - I am a small guy but with the right eating habits and really hitting the gym hard I am starting to see results! Thanks for the help!

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Posted Tue, 04/23/2013 - 22:00
mari

Request to administer the site
Can I copy this program with Download Photos exercises

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Posted Tue, 04/23/2013 - 04:46
Andres A.

hey steve,
Im doing this workout plan, and i was wondering how long should i rest in between sets?

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Posted Sun, 04/21/2013 - 05:45
Oliver

Hi,
I was wondering if you could give me a few tips on developping a good eating program to go with this workout? Its the aspect I'm really struggling with. I'm currently on Stage 3. Cheers

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Posted Sat, 04/20/2013 - 08:08
lio

when should i start taking the Recommended supplements for this workout ?

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Posted Sat, 04/20/2013 - 08:06
lio

when should i start taking the Recommended supplements for this workout ?

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Posted Sat, 04/20/2013 - 06:58
Oliver

I'm struggling with putting together a correct eating program. I'm on Stage 3 and 24 years old. Any tips?

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Posted Tue, 04/16/2013 - 08:30
Samer

Hi
In stage 2-3
if I left 200 lbs in the first set 10 rep can i use the same weight to do the second and the third set or should i add weight every set.

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Posted Sun, 04/14/2013 - 02:59
Muaaz Tariq

I'm 14 years old and I never worked out before. I was just wondering if this workout plan is good for me and maybe a meal plan to go with it because I'm really skinny.

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Posted Sat, 04/06/2013 - 17:47
Tufail

plz can you tell me best fat loss routine, thank you

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Posted Mon, 04/08/2013 - 22:17
Steven

Honestly the best fat loss program is a good eating plan.

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Posted Thu, 04/25/2013 - 17:20
Tufail

Steve Plz Help me
My right arm (Bicep,Tricep,Shoulder) is gaining mass faster than left arm
what should i do?
My Workout are
ARMS The Big Arm Routine
Shoulder The Coconut Shoulder Routine
Chest High Intensity Chest Blaster
PLZ HELP THANK YOU

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Posted Tue, 09/10/2013 - 08:08
Dom

70% diet and 30% exercise is great, I find the better I eat the less exercise I need to maintain an optimum Fitness level.

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Posted Fri, 04/05/2013 - 03:50
Strider

I'm newly starting gym. Want to lose flabby stomach and build decent frame. will this workout be okay or do I need to do something else? Thanks steve.

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Posted Wed, 04/03/2013 - 14:31
Tufail

Hey Steve,
I perform this routine weekly
Monday Chest
Tuesday Fat loss
Wednesday Shoulder
Thursday Fat loss
Friday Arms
Saturday Fat Loss
Sunday Rest
Will this routine will work for me to build my muscle quick as possible?

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Posted Tue, 09/10/2013 - 08:04
Dom

you might want to add legs to your routine if you want to build muscle quickly buddy, do legs on your Saturday "Fat Loss Day" then rest on sunday.

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Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 17:44
John

I used to lift regularly, but after law school, marriage and the kid, I realized that it's been 5 years since I last did regular 5 day-a-week workouts, and most of my muscle has turned into blubber.

This workout looks like a good way to jump back into the game. Do you have any thoughts on using A-HD instead of creatine? I never really had good success w/ creatine, so I'm wondering if I can replace it with something else.

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Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 03:09
John

I used to lift regularly, but have been out of the game for a few years, so much of the muscle turned to blubber.

What are your thoughts on using something like A-Hd instead of creatine? Also, as long as I am downing enough protein, what are your thoughts on running a small caloric deficit (400ish) to lean out at the same time?

One question I never had an answer to - should I eat high protein on ads I don't lift? I always kept it higher, bt didn't emphasize it like I did on lift ads... Should I aim for 2x weight in protein grams everyday?

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Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 03:09
John

I used to lift regularly, but have been out of the game for a few years, so much of the muscle turned to blubber.

What are your thoughts on using something like A-Hd instead of creatine? Also, as long as I am downing enough protein, what are your thoughts on running a small caloric deficit (400ish) to lean out at the same time?

One question I never had an answer to - should I eat high protein on ads I don't lift? I always kept it higher, bt didn't emphasize it like I did on lift ads... Should I aim for 2x weight in protein grams everyday?

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Posted Mon, 04/01/2013 - 01:24
matt

If your trying to build Lean muscle fast you still need rest days, your strength will build quicker but gains will be smaller

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Posted Sun, 03/31/2013 - 13:52
victor wilczynski

I'm a beginer. need to learn workouts.

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Posted Fri, 03/29/2013 - 07:02
shahab

Hi guys! I am workout a year but I have not seen change in my body anybody help me

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Posted Tue, 03/26/2013 - 11:19
Brian Wong

if I have been working out in a consistent basis for 1+ year already, can I go straight to stage 3 or at least stage 2? As I am sure I already develop a good habit to go to the gym (5 to 6 days a week). I am just looking for a program change.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 03/28/2013 - 09:29
Steven

If you've been working out that long I would just run the third stage,