The Next Step: Phase 2 of the Intermediate Mass Building Workout

If you're just wrapping up Phase 1 of The Next Step Intermediate Workout Program, we've got Phase 2 ready for you! Keep the gains coming with this series!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
6 weeks
60-75 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
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Workout Description

Now that you’ve advanced through our Complete Beginner’s Program and the first Phase of our Next-Step Series of intermediate mass workouts, you should’ve already noticed some great gains.

You may have also noticed a few areas that need a little extra work based on your genetics and/or response rates to various training methods.

Our Phase 2 intermediate mass workout is perfect for everyone ready to keep moving along the gain train.

The Next Step Phase 2 Overview

Phase 1 of the Next-Step Series had you training on a four-day split, so it’s time for some change-to-gain. Phase 2 is a three-day split that has you training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Why would you train less to gain more? There are a few reasons…

  • You’ll be condensing four days of training into three days, so you’re not really training less, just with different structure.
  • With reduced training frequency, the pressure is on to keep your intensity high.
  • Although you’re “only” training three days per week, each body part will direct and indirect work more than once.
  • Maximized recovery equals maximum gains.

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You might think that condensing your training into three days instead of four will make your training focus too broad or make your workouts too long, but to maximize both recovery and intensity, you’ll be doing fewer than 20 work sets per workout. That means you should be spending no more than an hour in the gym—usually less, and it means that you need to make every set count.

Big compound exercises take center stage on Mondays in Phase 2, as they’ll help build more muscle and strengthen your connective tissues. You’ll still be training in multi-angular fashion and with rep ranges that activate type-2 muscle fibers, however, so you’ll be training for maximum growth potential.

Stretch position exercises will only be performed on Friday, and although you’ll only be training three days per week, the volume, intensity, and frequency of body part hits will require the additional rest and recovery.

You’ll be also adding supersets and drop sets for increased blood flow, capillary expansion, innervation, and hormone release. That basically means more skin-stretching pumps, better feel, and more growth. Win-win-win!

Note that you’ll only be training arms with direct work once a week. Don’t worry, you’ll still be building big guns. Arms get a lot of indirect work on each training day with all the pressing and pulling, so this will help avoid overtraining .


Exercise Sets Reps
1. Squats* 2 7-10
2. Leg Extensions 1 7-10
3. Leg Curls 2 7-10
4. Bench Press* 2 7-10
5. Cable Crossover 1 7-10
6. Dumbbell Press* 2 7-10
7. Lateral Raise 1 7-10
8. Pull Downs* 2 7-10
9. Straight Arm Pull Down 1 7-10
10. Behind-the-Neck Pull Down 2 7-10
11. Shrugs 1 7-10


Exercise Sets Reps
1. Lying Barbell Extensions* 2 7-10
2a. Overhead Dumbbell Extensions 2 5-8
2b. Dumbbell Kickbacks 2 5-8
3. Barbell Curls* 2 7-10
4a. Incline Curls 2 5-8
4b. Spider Curls 2 5-8
5. Standing Calf Raises 2 12-20
6a. Donkey Calf Raises 2 10-15
6b. Seated Calf Raises 2 10-15
7. Leg Raises 2 7-10
8. Sit Ups 2 7-10


Exercise Sets Reps
1a. Sissy Squat 2 5-8
1b. Leg Press 2 5-8
2. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts** 2 5-8
3a. Dumbbell Fly 2 5-8
3b. Bench Press 2 5-8
4a. Lateral Raises 2 5-8
4b. One-Arm Dumbbell Press 2 5-8
5a. Pullovers 2 5-8
5b. Pull Downs 2 5-8
6. Shrugs* 2 5-8

*Do 1-2 warm-up sets of about 10 reps. Train to failure on all other sets, using a weight that allows you to get within the rep range listed – add weight if/when you easily get the higher rep numbers.
**For the drop sets, do the each set to failure, then reduce the weight (with minimal rest) and do another set to failure.

The Next Step Phase 2 Notes

During Phase 2, you’ll hit each muscle group from every angle, but you’ll only be hitting the big body parts with midrange (“compound”) and contracted exercises on Monday, smaller muscle groups with stretch, midrange, and contracted on Wednesday, and then big body parts with stretch and midrange supersets again on Friday.

Don’t let yourself believe that two sets of any exercise means it’s going to be easy work. Your results will depend greatly on your amount of effort, so give 100% on every set to get 100% payback.

NOTE: As with the previous phase, rep speed on all sets should be approximately two seconds down and one to two seconds up. In other words, control the weight in the eccentric/negative phase and explode into the concentric/positive phase. We’ll be changing up rep cadence and adding other techniques in a future workout.

Phase 2 Intermediate Mass Workout Summary

Try this routine as-is for a couple of weeks and then feel free to make changes as needed. If there’s an exercise you want to swap out that you simply feel more, do it. Nothing is set in stone, but try to avoid the temptation to add sets at this point.

This phase gives you a good amount of recovery while getting your body accustomed to hitting each target muscle more than once per week. You’ll likely notice a bump in strength fairly quickly as well as increased muscle gains within a few weeks. Then we’ll move on to Phase 3 before you hit a plateau.

Until then, train hard, eat well, and get ready to grow.

7 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 11/17/2020 - 06:22

Where’s phase 3 for intermediate?

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Posted Sat, 07/25/2020 - 19:03

Hi looking forward to following both beginner and then intermediate after lockdown but whats happened to stage 3?

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 15:04
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Posted Sat, 10/17/2020 - 15:46

Is there a Phase 3 for the "next step" series? If not what should I consider doing next?

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Posted Mon, 08/31/2020 - 17:52

Thats phase 3 of the beginners. This is the intermediate workout. Phase 3 hasn't been posted.

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Posted Mon, 01/28/2019 - 11:01

How should I include cardio in this workout, if at all?

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Posted Sat, 11/24/2018 - 11:54

Where is Phase 3 of The Next Step??