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

186 Comments
Coalcracker
Posted on: Wed, 06/29/2022 - 19:59

So I just do this 4 day a week routine for 8 weeks is that the program and then what increase my weight every week and just follow this for 8 weeks

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 07/01/2022 - 23:29

Try to improve every workout. It can be one more rep, or five more pounds. Don't beat yourself up if you don't progress. Just stick with it for all eight weeks, and you should see positive changes. Hope this helps!

verdad
Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 17:56

I'm in a caloric deficit right now, can I do follow this workout?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 07/01/2022 - 23:28

You can, but clearly you'll likely lose weight instead of gain. My guess is that is your goal, which I say best of luck and let us know how you do.

Gavin
Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 07:24

Hi Roger,

This looks great going to start using it but I’m curious if there’s a reason why over head pressing is left out been led to believe it’s an important one?

Sincerely Gavin.

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 06/30/2022 - 08:52

What's good, Gavin? Thanks for reading M&S!

Because of the work the front delts are doing with chest, I left the overhead pressing out on purpose. Furthermore, you're doing direct triceps work on this program, which are also involved in overhead pressing.

That said, if you feel strongly about overhead work, and you want to include it, you can add it in the middle of the chest and side delts workout.

Ahmed
Posted on: Mon, 06/27/2022 - 14:17

Hey Roger , what alternatives for squad and deadlift for whom suffer from herniated disc and ?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 09:52

Hey Ahmed, I suggest you talk to your doctor about what you can and can't do. A physician will know more about your specific injury and how to train.

Eric
Posted on: Mon, 06/27/2022 - 05:15

Hi Roger,

Thank you for putting this program together! It looks really exciting, and I will start it this week. I just have a question. Regarding the rep range 12, 10, and 12; is it correct that you should increase the weight for the second set to do 10 reps, and then decrease the weight again for the third set in order to be able to do 12 reps? I'm a little confused here.

Sincerely,
Eric

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 06/27/2022 - 09:00

Glad you chose my program, Eric. Actually, you should use the same weight for sets two and three. The key is not going to failure on the second set. Here is an example.

Close Grip Bench Press - 135 x 12 reps, 185 x 10 reps (you should use a weight that you can do for at least 12 here), 185 for 12 followed by whatever the intensity booster is for that exercise.

Hope this helps! Let me know how the program goes for you.

Joshim paul
Posted on: Fri, 06/17/2022 - 09:46

I am 17 years old and I am going to gym for 3 months followings split workout. So is this okee to follow this Schedule?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/17/2022 - 14:01

What's good, Joshim? This would work for you. Let us know how it goes for you. Thanks for checking out M&S!

Ahmed
Posted on: Mon, 06/13/2022 - 13:12

Hello Roger, are 3 exercises only in chest day are enough for chest hypertrophy ?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 06/15/2022 - 09:09

Hey, Ahmed. Yes, because on that last set of each exercise, you're going all out.

David
Posted on: Sun, 06/12/2022 - 09:15

I was wondering on the walking lunges, would it be 12 reps in total for both legs, or 24 @ 12 for each leg. Tia

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 06/14/2022 - 12:45

That would be 24, or 12 for each, David. Hope this helps!

AK Mahapatra
Posted on: Fri, 06/10/2022 - 07:42

Hi Roger,

Is there any workout program To Increase Vascularity (veins) Naturally and faster ? I understand it required High volume sets and Add cardio to workout routine. Apart from this we have to eat more lean protein, lower sodium intake and wear a shirt with tight sleeves.

I'm very much happy with these 8 weeks program and happy with my results from body fat % and metabolic efficiency.

Suggestion for the next workout program To Increase Vascularity (veins) while continue building muscle mass.

Thanks once again.

Please suggest.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/10/2022 - 09:27

Hi, AK! Vascularity is going to be determined by your diet and genetics. You're going to need to get super lean if you want to see more than the standard bicep veins. There is no specific training protocol that will help with that. I don't know what your bodyfat is like now, but that would be where to start.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 06/13/2022 - 09:23

This program will help you, but make sure that diet is on point while you do it. Without that, no workout program will help.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/8-week-fat-incinerator-workout

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 07/01/2022 - 23:25

I like this, AK. Which exercises do you like using the most?

AK Mahapatra
Posted on: Tue, 06/14/2022 - 13:23

Thanks Roger for the Fat Incinerator Workout program. So, we can choose Diet as Intermittent Fasting or Keto Diet. This workout has Big 3 Routines - Push, Pull and Legs. If I like to use Big 6 Routines - Push, Pull, Legs, Hinge, Row, and Press for this Fat Incinerator Workout program. So, Monday and Thrusday as Integrated day for Push, Pull, Legs (3 Rounds) and Hinge, Row, and Press for (3 Rounds) respectively. And, for Wednesday and Saturday I would like to use as Isolation Day. In the Isolation day, I can choose any of the exercise type - leg curl, bicep curl, Tricep extension, thrust, leg raise, leg extension, back extension, lateral raise, and calf raise for 3 Rounds.

AK Mahapatra
Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 15:20

Hey Roger,

Good Day. Hope all is well. I'm thinking of 4 days workout i.e. Monday and Thrusday as Integration day and Wednesday and Saturday for Isolation Exercise. Any exercise workout using Progressive Overload/Hypertrophy, I can follows as
Monday - Integration Day Workout
Squat/Lunge - 1 Exercises for 3 Rounds PS: Squat/Lunge can be performed alternative.
Push - 1 Exercises for 3 Rounds - 12 Reps to Failure
Pull - 1 Exercises for 3 Rounds - 12 Reps to Failure

Wednesday - Isolation Workout Routine

Out of the below 9 Exercise type variations, were 3 exercises to follow for 3 Rounds and 12 Reps to failure.
1. Leg Curl
2. Bicep Curl
3. Tricep Extension
4. Thrust
5. Leg Raise
6. Leg Extension
7. Back Extension
8. Lateral Raise
9. Calf Raise

Thrusday - Integrated Workout Routine
Hinge - 1 Exercises for 3 Rounds - 12 Reps to Failure
Row - 1 Exercises for 3 Rounds - 12 Reps to Failure
Press - 1 Exercises for 3 Rounds - 12 Reps to Failure

Saturday - Isolation Workout Routine
Out of the below 9 Exercise type variations, were 3 exercises to follow for 3 Rounds and 12 Reps to failure.
1. Leg Curl
2. Bicep Curl
3. Tricep Extension
4. Thrust
5. Leg Raise
6. Leg Extension
7. Back Extension
8. Lateral Raise
9. Calf Raise

Any workout were I can performed the same way.?

AK Mahapatra
Posted on: Sat, 06/11/2022 - 03:35

Thanks Roger for your response. Yes agreed this is based on diet and genetics. My current Body Fat is 14.52%. Now I'm making myself as Lean Body muscle mass. Let us know if any workout which will help and reduced my Body Fat to keep 8-7%%.

Julian
Posted on: Thu, 06/09/2022 - 13:20

So I plan to start this program but eventually I will be away for a week not able to workout. What should I do?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/10/2022 - 09:20

Hey Julian, how far out will you be away? If it's a few weeks away, plan for the week off, then pick up when you get back. If you're going away in the next couple of weeks, then hold off on starting this one until you return.

Nick
Posted on: Thu, 06/02/2022 - 16:51

Just finished my eight weeks. Very happy with results! Thanks for putting this together. Suggestions for the next workout? (Want to continue building.). Thanks again!

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 06/07/2022 - 20:44

Hey Nick, makes my day that you saw results. Thanks for trusting M&S and for choosing my program. Give this one a run next if size is your prize!

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

Hope this helps! - Roger

Johan
Posted on: Wed, 06/01/2022 - 11:36

Workout 1 only has 5 exercises whereas Workout 3 has 8, will it take longer to complete some workouts or are they roughly the same amount of time?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 06/05/2022 - 07:31

You're looking at a few extra minutes on Workout 3.

Mason
Posted on: Fri, 05/27/2022 - 13:47

Thanks for the program!

I just had one question.

Would it be ok for me to switch up what muscle groups I do on certain days? Like Mondays can I do legs, Tuesdays chest and side delts, Thursdays upper back and rear delts, and Fridays arms and abs?

Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/27/2022 - 21:10

Hi, Mason! Yeah, that is okay. I will tell you that your Tuesday workout may be affected by training legs on Monday. However, if you feel you can handle it, go for it.

Mason
Posted on: Fri, 05/27/2022 - 22:12

Thanks, Roger!

Would you have any other recommendations for me on how I should have it structured if I want to start my week off with legs?

Thanks again!

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 05/28/2022 - 21:10

Not really. I think what you have written in your first comment would be alright.

Shree Jagtap
Posted on: Thu, 05/26/2022 - 07:03

I am an intermediate and don't take supplements is this workout effective for me or you suggest any other workout plan ?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 05/26/2022 - 21:18

This is a good one for you, Shree. Try it out and see how you do!

BTW, the supplements are always suggestions. They definitely help, but they are never required on our programs.

Jamie
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 07:58

What about front Delts, lower back, lats and forearms? How can this be effective when missing major muscle groups?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 18:50

Jamie, the front delts are getting worked with chest movements. So, they are left out on purpose.

Pullovers specifically work the lats more than the chest. Bent-over rows work the lats as well. Those and deadlifts can both help your lower back, too. As for forearms, grip the weights you're using as hard as you can, and the forearms will work hard. You can throw in reverse curls, though, if you like.

Jamie
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 21:33

Thank you Roger! Just wanted to clear that up as I showed a friend and he pointed that out and wasn’t really sure how to reply.

Drew
Posted on: Sun, 05/22/2022 - 23:17

Hey Roger, if I hit the target goal of 12 reps on first set should I increase the weight for next set? And if I don’t hit the target range on following sets where do you go from there ? Thanks !

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 18:51

You should go up if you hit 12, Drew. If you don't hit targets afterwards, do the best you can and try to improve next time. If you miss it by more than 2 reps, go back down.

Sepehr
Posted on: Sun, 05/22/2022 - 16:45

Hi there

Is it advisable to add and/or replace exercises within the workouts? Such an incline dumbell curl? I'm also not really able to do pushing up portion of the weighted dip, should I just do the negatives or is there a seperate exercise I could replace it?

Thankyou

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 05/25/2022 - 18:53

Hello, Sepher!

Add, maybe one exercise, but not more than that. Replace? Sure, as long as the exercises perform similar functions.

If you can't use a dip machine or assistant, do whatever tricep exercise you feel you can do that isn't already on this program.

Good luck!

Añadir
Posted on: Fri, 05/13/2022 - 16:14

For the drop and pause sets, is for all 3 sets correct?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:15

No! You only do the drop or pause on the third set. The first two should be standard sets.

Damaso
Posted on: Tue, 05/10/2022 - 21:45

I would like to start this program but the only time I have to work out is before work. So I'm in a time crunch of about an hour, would this program fit into that time or what adjustments would you recommend?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:16

I think this would be okay for you, Damaso. If you need to trim it to fit your schedule, cut the first set out of the last couple of exercises.

Alexandre
Posted on: Mon, 05/09/2022 - 11:12

Hi, thanks for your program :)
I hope you and everyone is doing ok.

My question is : can i use this program for the whole summer (3 moonths), while bulking ? or do you recommend me another program more adequate for bulking ? and is 3 months fine

thanks in advance

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:15

What's good, Alexadre? The program would be ok to do for 3 months. Take this for a full run while getting swole and let us know how it goes.

Tarun Arya
Posted on: Fri, 04/29/2022 - 01:43

Can I replace front squat with barbell back squat? Front Squat is Very hard for me.
Suggest me an alternative for that exercise.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 05/16/2022 - 09:14

Hi, Tarun. You can do back squat, goblet squat, a squat machine, or Zercher squats.