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

247 Comments
Joe
Posted on: Wed, 09/21/2022 - 12:04

Great routine. I’m at about the 8 week mark at this point. Seen great improvement. Instead of using this for body mass building, used it for cutting. I’ve lost 15lbs and ready to start lean bulking. Love this routine and hate to find something else for bulking. Thank you Roger!!

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:24

Joe, thank you for the kind words and sharing your results. Honored you chose my program. Thank you also for reading M&S!

Boer
Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 05:48

I am just curious for the Drop sets, negatives and rest pause is that after each set or only on the last set of the exercise?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:23

Last set only, Boer.

Dan
Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 00:20

Are the 4 workouts posted what we’ll be doing all 8 weeks or is there variations from week to week?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:23

Same workouts for all eight weeks, Dan.

M
Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2022 - 00:01

Hello Roger,
Im new to this platform. I have done the 1st week and I live these workouts. How can I download the full 8 week Guide? From the PDF I can only access 1 week.

Thank you,
M

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/24/2022 - 09:22

Hi, M. You repeat the same workouts for all eight weeks. You would simply use the same PDF.

RM
Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 14:36

Hi Roger,this wourkout looks amazing i will give it a try.
But could you explain why you chose dumbbell bech press over barbell bench press

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 08:22

Sure. Dumbbells offer a greater range of motion, and you have to work harder to stabilize the weight you use. Both of those factors will help you improve the development of the chest. Hope this helps!

ROHIT
Posted on: Thu, 09/15/2022 - 02:26

HI THERE , I'VE A LITTLE BIT OF FAT AND I WANT TO MAKE MY ABS VISIBLE AND INCREASE MASS SO WOULD IT BENEFICIAL IN THAT CASE ALSO ???

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 08:19

As long as you're eating healthy to support making your abs visible, then yes.

Richard Keith
Posted on: Tue, 09/13/2022 - 09:29

What about front shoulders? Are they hit by other exercises?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2022 - 08:18

They are hit by the chest exercises, but feel free to add in a front raise between chest and side delts if you want, Richard.

Stuart parker
Posted on: Mon, 09/12/2022 - 09:52

Hi, what's the best training program as im just starting going gym to and looking to build muscle ect

Cruise
Posted on: Sat, 09/10/2022 - 20:59

I have been looking for a good hypertrophy program, i like the look if this so will be giving it a go starting tomorrow. Aiming to eat in a surplus as well, will be having a body scan at the 8 week mark so will let you know the results.

Nits
Posted on: Sat, 09/10/2022 - 02:21

Hi Roger, Thanks for your reply.

1 already Monday we did a chest workout and again Tuesday chest pullovers? No need to rest the chest.

2 I have time to do 2more workouts on Monday. if it does not affect the result. please suggest 2 Workouts.

3 Deadlift alternatives, please

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 10:50

1. The pullovers actually work the back more than the chest, so it would be ok to do them after training chest the previous day.
2. It would affect the result because you need the time to recover.
3. Hard to make alternative suggestions without knowing why you can't or won't do them. Provide some insight, please.

Christian Berndsen
Posted on: Fri, 09/09/2022 - 05:22

I have 2 questions 1st the exercises for each can they be done in any order for that day, and 2nd if I did Monday Tuesday off Wednesday, workout Thursday, off Friday, workout Saturday and off Sunday. Would that work?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 09/18/2022 - 10:42

Answer 1: You should follow the order they are in, but if it's easier because of the gym setup you're training in, then it will be alright.

Answer 2: Your suggested split would be okay as well. Thanks for reading M&S!

Vishnu
Posted on: Sun, 09/04/2022 - 02:41

Will it gain so many muscles in 8 week or some

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 09/04/2022 - 10:57

The amount of muscle you gain will depend on how well you eat and recover. There is no way I can pinpoint how much muscle you will build. Just give it all you got so you can maximize your potential.

Vishnu SH
Posted on: Sat, 09/03/2022 - 01:40

will it help to gain muscle in 8 weeks is it true

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 09/03/2022 - 20:57

If you follow a sound nutrition plan and recover/sleep well, then yes.

Meg
Posted on: Fri, 09/02/2022 - 09:30

The 90 second rest is between each rep set, correct? Is there a recommended rest when you move on to the next exercise? Thank you.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 09/02/2022 - 20:38

Same rest time, Meg. 90 seconds between exercises unless it takes longer to transition. Then, just try to get back to work as quickly as possible.

erfan
Posted on: Thu, 09/01/2022 - 04:32

hi roger as a skinny person im wondering if this would work for me?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/01/2022 - 20:34

It absolutely would work for you, erfan. If you choose to do it, please let us know how it works for you. Feel free to ask questions along the way if needed. It may take us a bit, but we will get back to you.

Ahmed
Posted on: Tue, 08/30/2022 - 04:29

Greetings Roger,
On Arms day, I think barbell curl and cable curl are the same.
Is there any alt for one of them ? Like EZ bar curl.

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 08/30/2022 - 09:24

Greetings, Ahmed. Go for it!

Ross
Posted on: Sat, 08/27/2022 - 06:13

Hi Roger, great mass building workout. Feeling the effects after 7 weeks. Would you recommend continuing for more than 8 weeks as really enjoying the workout ?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 08/27/2022 - 13:08

If you're seeing progress, then roll with it as long as you can, Ross. Glad you're feeling effects. Hopefully you're seeing results as well. Thanks for reading M&S!

Ricky
Posted on: Sun, 08/21/2022 - 15:02

In your opinion what is a bette 4 day split? This one or a upper lower? Do sets and reps usually add up to the same amount on both spits so it wouldn’t really matter? Also will hitting muscle groups one time a week with this program build muscle? Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/22/2022 - 07:11

Reads like I'm trying to be vague, but the answer is individually based, Ricky. The sets and reps may be different totals based on the program you pick. As for the last question, yes, hitting muscle groups once a week is enough to build muscle because you have more time to recover.

Reid
Posted on: Wed, 08/03/2022 - 14:45

Hello! Quick question regarding drop sets. I switched up a few exercises to meet my own goals, so I did bench press.
Is this how it would be broken down?

Set 1: 12 reps x 115lb — 90 sec rest
Set 2: 10 reps x 135lb — no rest
Set 3: 15 reps x 95 lb

Is that correct?
Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 08/11/2022 - 08:01

Hi, Reid. No, not correct. My guess is you replaced the flat dumbbell with the barbell, but if I'm wrong, correct me. Sets would be like this.

Set 1: 12 x 115 - Not to Failure
Set 2: 10 x 135 - This shouldn't be to failure either.
Set 3: 15 x 135, Reduce to 95, go to failure.

If you're not strong enough to do those weights you listed for the reps I wrote, then reduce the weight.

houssam
Posted on: Wed, 08/03/2022 - 00:04

hi roger I practice boxing, I train 3 days a week and I want to increase my muscle mass. Will this program work for me?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 08/11/2022 - 07:59

You will need to eat a lot in order to gain size while doing boxing, Houssam. It is possible, just keep those protein, carbs, and fat up.

Trent
Posted on: Sun, 07/31/2022 - 13:55

Roger,

My goal for reference is to tone up. Lose the fat I have while building more strength and muscle. I needed a new program to hopefully help break my plateau. However I enjoy a longer workout. Typically around 1.5 hours. Would it be best for me to add in additional workouts or to increase the number of sets for workouts already listed?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 08/11/2022 - 07:58

Trent,

If toning up is the goal, then I would suggest focusing more on cardio than doing extra sets. You will need to burn calories in order to lose the weight to help you tighten up. Doing more work in the weight room means you'll need more time to recover. I definitely don't suggest training with weights more.

Aaron Kennewell
Posted on: Wed, 07/27/2022 - 02:14

Hi Roger, I noticed on your Leg Day (Workout 4) you have deadlift, and on the Upper Back Day (Workout 2) there is no deadlift. Is this correct? Just wondering why there is no squat or leg press on leg day and no dedlift on Upper Back Day? Is there a benifit to leaving out a compound movement such as squat or leg press from a program? Many thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 08/08/2022 - 18:04

What's good, Aaron? I chose deadlift as the main leg movement because of the benefits they offer the hamstrings and glutes, which are neglected by many lifters. I hope this info helps.

Wesley
Posted on: Tue, 07/19/2022 - 06:27

Hello I just started this program but I don’t really get the Rest-pause set, drop sets, and negatives thing could you please explain it more in death? Thanks in advance.

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 07/28/2022 - 08:29

Do the first sets of each exercise as you would normally. The last set you perform as the workout log instructs. As for how to do each, these might help if what I wrote isn't helping.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/the-rest-pause-technique-and-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/understanding-drop-sets-for-m...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/building-strength-and-mass-wi...

rohit choudhary
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 08:45

hey roger , I'M FROM INDIA AND I WANT TO DO COMPETITIVE BODYBUILDING AS IN CLASSIC PHYSIQUE DIVISION BUT I'M IN INDIAN MILITARY SO I HAVE TO UNDER 5 TO 6 HRS DAILY MILITARY TRAINING SO CAN I STILL PUT ON MUSCLE MASS AS OF PRO LEVEL BODYBUILDERS

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 07/22/2022 - 14:42

It will be a hard road to build muscle with all that training, but as long as you're eating enough food, you can build some muscle. Many of the competitors in Classic Physique do this for a living, and they have more time to recover, so I won't say pro level. You're going to be ripped for sure after all that training.

Shreejan
Posted on: Sun, 07/10/2022 - 06:36

Hello,

I used to be 180lbs and now I am 148lbs with my height 5.6ft male, however I have some belly fats and fats on other parts of my body. I am trying to work on my body composition and build muscles while getting rid of the fat. Should I follow this specific workout plan or should I go with body fat loss workout plan? I am currently on 1700 calories deficit as well. Please let me know which workout plan would be best for me. Thank you!

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 07/10/2022 - 16:21
Shreejan Shrestha
Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2022 - 19:42

Quick question: Is it okay to take protein powder/shake on days I don't work out? I take 2 scoops a day on days working out. Currently on an 8-week-fat-incinerator-workout plan. Thank you :)