This 4 day workout will help you stretch sleeves, build mass, and bump up that number on the scale. You'll also learn about proper nutrition for your mass building goals.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Many people who find their way to Muscle & Strength are looking to build just that – muscle and strength. Whether it’s a teenager just starting in the gym or a college student trying to impress others, size is the prize, and they want to do whatever it takes to get it.

Good news: we have a plan that will help you stretch sleeves, build mass, and bump up that number on the scale. If you can commit eight weeks to this as if your future depends on it, then you can kickstart your journey to getting swole.

Side profile shot of a muscular man doing dumbbell bicep curls in the gym.

FAQ’s

Can I change the exercises or the order?

If you need to replace an exercise because you don’t have the equipment or tools to perform it, then you can change the exercise to a similar one. For example, you can replace a press with a press or a squat with another squat. Don’t change an exercise for another because one is easier than the other. If you want to grow, you’ll have to work. Taking shortcuts helps no one, and we want to help you.

Related: Lower Body Alternatives to Your Favorite Gym Machines

As for the order, if your gym is set up so that it would be easier for you to train consistently, go for it. However, these movements are in place so you can train everything from as many angles as possible. Each movement should support the one before it. This plan doesn’t do that 100 percent, but it will serve you very well if you follow it as recommended.

Related: Upper Body Alternatives to Your Favorite Gym Machines

Can I use this for fat loss?

This particular program is meant for those who are either new to training or have a strong desire to get bigger and stronger. You would have to alter your cardio, nutrition, and training to convert this to a fat-loss program. If fat loss is your goal, then you can check out many of our other awesome programs here at M&S.

Related: 12 Week Fat Destroyer: Complete Fat Loss Workout & Diet Program

So, I can eat whatever I want, right?

No. If you want to build quality mass and muscle, then you need to support those muscles with quality calories. I’m not saying you can’t treat yourself once or even twice a week, but overall, you should eat big (and healthy) to get big (and healthy).

Related: How To Plan Your Muscle Building Diet

How much size will I put on?

That is up to you and how hard you work. There is no specific way to guarantee the set number of pounds or kilograms you will gain on any program. Your training effort, experience, recovery, food, and supplements (if you take any) will all be factors in that. Some of you may gain five pounds while others will gain 15.

Related: How to Build Muscle: 5 Step Guide to Lean Gains

This is simple. How can I make it harder?

This plan is meant for beginners, and we want to keep it simple for them to start. If you need intensity boosters, more advanced exercises, and other ways to challenge yourself, we have other options for you to take on. 

Close up shot of a muscular man making healthy food in the kitchen.

Find Your Nutrition Numbers

Speaking of eating, let’s talk about nutrition. We don’t have too many specific diets because there is such a wide array of healthy foods, and the M&S community consists of many people from many cultures. What we do offer is guidance to help you determine your diet, and that is what we’re doing here.

During my time as a personal trainer, I worked with many people who wanted to grow for sports or simply for self-confidence. I recommended the same formula that helped me when I was a 125-pound senior in high school starting on my fitness journey. 

Related: How To Determine Your Daily Calorie And Macronutrient Intake Levels

I set daily goals of eating 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and .5 grams of fats per pound of body weight. I then took all those numbers and divided them by 6. That determined how much I was to eat per meal. So, using my beginner self as an example, I needed to have 125 grams of protein, 250 grams of carbs, and 65 grams of fat (I rounded up).

Per meal, that looked like this:

  • 20-25 grams of protein
  • 40-50 grams of carbs
  • 10-12 grams of fats

Why six meals? There have been a lot of arguments over the years about whether three or six meals are best for muscle growth. I’m going to be completely honest, it was easier for me to eat the smaller meals, so that was what I did. There’s something to be said about finding the best way for you.

Then, there’s water. For people wanting to grow, I always suggested a gallon of water a day, and that was what I did myself. Eight glasses are considered the standard, but if you want to grow and are training hard, then you need extra hydration.

Related: How to Time Your Pre and Post Workout Nutrition Intake

Muscular man doing walking barbell lunges in the gym.

Workout Overview

Every exercise in this program will call for four sets of 12, 10, 8, and 6 reps. This means you will gradually lift heavier weights for fewer reps, which should be a little more difficult. You won’t be able to go to failure on all four sets. You should only push yourself to the end of the six-rep set. 

Many of you are familiar with Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), which is a gauge to determine how hard you’re working. You can use that formula to determine the weights you use. My suggested plan would look like this: 

  • Set 1 – 12 reps, RPE 7
  • Set 2 – 10 reps, RPE 8
  • Set 3 – 8 reps, RPE 9
  • Set 4 – 6 reps, RPE 10

And if you're looking for a suggested training schedule here are a few examples below:

Example 1:

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Workout 3
  • Friday: Workout 4
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Example 2: 

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 3
  • Saturday: Workout 4
  • Sunday: Rest

Example 3: 

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 3
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Workout 4

Remember, the best workout schedule is one you can follow. 

8 Week Mass Building Workout for Beginners

Workout 1 – Chest/Shoulders

Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Bench Press 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Dumbbell Bench Press 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Cable Crossover 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Tricep Dip 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Seated Dumbbell Press 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Lateral Raise 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Machine Reverse Fly 4 12, 10, 8, 6

Workout 2 - Back

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 4 12, 10, 8, 6
One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Lat Pull Down 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Seated Row 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Single Arm Lat Pull Down 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Hyperextension 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Dumbbell Shrug 4 12, 10, 8, 6

Workout 3 - Legs

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Squat 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Hack Squat 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Leg Press 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Dumbbell Lunge 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Lying Leg Curl 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Seated Calf Raise 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Standing Calf Raise 4 12, 10, 8, 6

Workout 4 - Arms

Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 4 12, 10, 8, 6
One-Arm Seated Overhead Tricep Extension 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Straight Bar Tricep Extension 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Barbell Preacher Curl 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Cable Curl 4 12, 10, 8, 6
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 4 12, 10, 8, 6

Cardio

There is a misconception that you shouldn’t do cardio at all if you want to gain mass. This isn’t accurate. Cardio is very important for aerobic health, recovery, and overall wellness. You don’t have to go run marathons or spend an hour on a Stepmill, but you should be doing active walking or cardio three to four times a week. 

Schedule 20 minutes either after a workout or away from training. You should feel like you put in effort, but don’t take it to an extreme. You just want to be moving, not torching every single calorie you put in your body.

Fit man doing cardio on the stairmaster in the gym.

Recovery

Even with all the work that is on the program, there is going to be a temptation to do more. I would suggest channeling that energy and enthusiasm towards your recovery instead. Get a massage, use a foam roller, or devote time to extra stretching. The mindset should be that you’re preparing for that next workout and want to be your best for it.

Beyond that, your calories and sleep are also going to help you maximize recovery. That is why even though you want to grow, you need to be eating quality calories and getting great sleep.

Conclusion

The method of building mass can be simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’re going to work hard and will have to eat and recover smart to reach those goals. However, that doesn’t mean It’s impossible. It can be done, and yes, you can do it. If you have questions as you go through the process, hit us up in the Comments section, and we’ll do our best to help you along the way.

61 Comments
Onur
Posted on: Wed, 05/15/2024 - 16:02

I have 2 questions wwhat i can do instead of deadlift i have scoliosis not a big deal my doctor allows me to workout however i just dont like deadlifts at all what are other alternatives and second qyestion is what to do after finishing this workout, thanks a lot by the way

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:20

Hello Onur, if you are able to do rack pulls, then those would work. If not, then do hyperextensions for the lower back.

After you finish this one, you can either run it again or choose another one from this link based on your new goals.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Either way, thank you for reading M&S, and I am honored you are using my program!

Nolan West
Posted on: Wed, 05/08/2024 - 16:56

I just completed this 8 week program and thankfully was able to see great results is mass and strength. This was my first time working out in years and I stayed to the program and saw results. I am wondering what program to do next to build mass or if I should start this over same 8 weeks over again?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:18

So glad this served you well, Nolan! You can run it back one more time or choose another one from this list.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

JP
Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2024 - 10:33

My coworker recommended this routine to start training, I’m 25, 5’ 8” and 130 lbs. it’s been great so far the first week but I’m wondering if there’s another type of squat or freeweight exercise I can replace for the day 3 barbell squat. I have been suffering from shoulder dislocations (5 in the last two years) and last night the squats pushed my shoulder out (anterior dislocation) on the 3rd rep. The hands behind the head to hold the bar seem to be a no go, the “reaching for the seatbelt” motion is something I can’t really do. I’ve been training my shoulders with resistance bands for 4 months since the last dislocation so it was a bit of a setback. I do need to keep strengthening those muscles though.

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:18

Hi JP. I would suggest focusing on a leg machine or doing goblet squats with a dumbbell in your hands to the front. Follow your doctor's or therapist's advice for the shoulders for sure. Hope the rest of the program is helping you.

Ivan G
Posted on: Mon, 04/29/2024 - 22:06

First off big thanks for providing this to the community!! 2 questions.

For this program is it just rinse and repeat for 2 straight months?

And for barbel squat, I dislocated my shoulder so putting my hand behind my head and squating is virtually impossible. Any recommendations for a substitute?

Thanks again

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/10/2024 - 21:21

Ivan, thank you so much for reading M&S!

Yep, rinse and repeat for two months. Sometimes consistency is the key.

If you have access to a safety squat bar, use that. If not, goblet squats, front squats, or dumbbell squats are all good alternatives.

Curt Klebaum
Posted on: Mon, 04/29/2024 - 20:58

I’m 72. An active fitness weightlifter before 2020 slacked while gyms were closed then moved to a small town with no gym for 50 miles. Then I found a little wellness center on the Paiute reservation next to my town. They let me join so Ive been halfheartedly back to the weights. I have to say I am very pleased with this program I just started. It’s challenging and interesting with the changes in weight and reps. Feeling motivated again Thanks!

Ghaith Kamal Aldeen
Posted on: Sun, 04/14/2024 - 06:14

Hello coach what can I play for six packs?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 04/14/2024 - 10:14

Any of these workouts will help you with ab training. Plug one or two a week in at the end of the workouts you choose to do them with. Keep in mind that nutrition matters a lot if you need to get leaner to see that six-pack.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

Jeremiah
Posted on: Wed, 03/27/2024 - 13:25

Hi, I'm a hs freshman distance/cross country runner who wants to gain muscle without sacrificing my speed. what alterations should I make to this program to fit my needs?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 03/28/2024 - 20:44

Hi Jeremiah, thank you for reading M&S.

The only change I suggest is to make the running the cardio. Don't worry about the extra sessions. The workouts should not interfere with your speed as long as you continue to run and focus on mobility and flexibility. If you have any questions or issues along the way, let us know and we will try to provide answers. Good luck!

Dayang
Posted on: Thu, 03/14/2024 - 01:44

Hi Roger,

I know it says mass building but can I lose weight with this workout if I do calorie deficit?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 03/23/2024 - 17:01

You can with proper recovery and cardio.

Marin
Posted on: Mon, 03/11/2024 - 05:42

Can someone explain me? How do I train this?
That the Workout 1 means day 1 ?
Workout 2. Day 2 ?
Workout 3 Day 3
Workout 4 day 4

Do I train Monday and Tuesday and then have a stop?
I train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, and then have a stop. ?
Or is it supposed to train one workout from 1 then another from 2 then another from 3 ?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:47

Hey Marin, so here's the crazy and wild thing about this workout. I didn't put days of the week on here because I know everyone has different schedules. So, as long as you do them in the order I laid out, you can do them on whichever days you have available to train. Two days on, one day off, repeat,or every other day, or anything in between. The only other recommendation I would add is that if you do all four in a row, then you should take two days off to recover. Other than that, do them on the schedule that best fits you.

Musta
Posted on: Sun, 03/10/2024 - 19:40

What can I replace with single arm lat pull down?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:43

You can swap out the regular version for single, Musta.

Macario I Machado
Posted on: Sun, 03/10/2024 - 17:47

Is this Workout for a 69 year old Senior, Noe a newbie at the Club...

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:43

As long as you're healthy overall and have no training restrictions, you can do it Macario. Let us know how you like it. Thanks for reading M&S!

Adan
Posted on: Wed, 03/06/2024 - 01:26

I don't quite understand (RPE).. What does it mean exactly?

How am i suppose to use it?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2024 - 08:42

Hey there, Adan. Essentially, RPE is how hard you're working on a scale of 1-10. 1 being barely at all, 10 being as hard as possible. Hope this helps.

Tony
Posted on: Mon, 02/26/2024 - 13:37

Are these 4 consecutive days, then rest 3?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 02/26/2024 - 18:48

Hey Tony, that is not recommended. The best split would be two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off. However, if you need to train three days in a row because of your schedule, I get it. Just don't do all four in a row without some type of break in between. That could negatively impact your recovery.

Rishabh
Posted on: Sat, 02/17/2024 - 04:12

I have been training since 6 months and going great with this program. My doubt is about the cardio portion . When I started hitting the gym i was 89 kgs and 178 cm. As of now I'm 80 kg but my trainer has advised me to stay away from the treadmill even though i only walk on incline for 20 minutes 5 times a week.He's of the opinion that i will lose muscle mass but here i am more worried about my belly fat. The only cardio that he's suggesting is to hop on the cycle for 10 minutes not more than 2 times a week on hard mode. Also asked me to increase Burpees. I'm not very skinny but I was looking to get definition. Would this help me ?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 02/22/2024 - 10:12

It appears that your trainer is a big fan of High Intensity Training. Burpees are going to be more productive than treadmill when it comes to burning calories. If you keep it short and sweet, you won't lose muscle mass, and as long as you keep the diet on point, you can get leaner.

Steve
Posted on: Sat, 02/10/2024 - 16:05

Hi
Firstly thanks for all these workouts. I started them some 6
months ago and for the first time have actually put some weight on and most is all muscle.

To questions is 60-90 seconds ok for the rest period between sets?

Secondly, is it best to do a straight up and down motion or push at the top?

Cheers,
Steve

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 02/15/2024 - 18:49

Steve, I'm thrilled this program has helped you. Congrats on your progress and thank you for using my workout.

60-90 is solid for rest, and straight up and down is preferred, but if you want to push at the top, you can. Just stay safe when you train.

Christopher S
Posted on: Tue, 02/06/2024 - 16:59

Hey there, just for clarification about this 8 week program

In terms of the sets/Reps, do I Increase the weight for each Rep during the workout? Please explain if I'm increasing the weight on a daily basis, during each workout, or weekly basis

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 02/15/2024 - 18:48

Hi Christopher, thank you for reading M&S and for the question.

When reps decrease, the goal is to increase weight. Improving strength is a goal for this program, but if you're not able to, by all means stick with the same weight. As long as you're consistently giving your best effort, results should come. Hope this helps!

Besi
Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2024 - 02:20

Hi there! Can you use the same plan if you also want to lose weight but want to have a good built body? I mean this plan, but being on calorie deficit and more cardio?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/30/2024 - 09:52

Hi Besi, as long as your recovery is as it should be, then I think you would be fine. Make sure you take a couple of complete days off during the week.

Tallif
Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2024 - 23:17

Due to my work schedule I have been going to the gym everyday because I never know when I won't be able to. So I have been restarting every 5th day. Last rest was between day 2 and 3. Am I hurting more than helping? I have gained 1.5 inches on my arms.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 21:30

As long as you're not noticing any issues with recovery and feeling excited about training, ride that train as far as it will take you, Tallif.

Justin
Posted on: Mon, 01/22/2024 - 18:10

What do you do after you finish the 8 weeks on the beginning I got like a week left

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 12:30

You can either keep going or find a new program based on your goals here.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Steve
Posted on: Sun, 01/21/2024 - 06:40

Is this workout suitable for natural bodybuilders to follow and what advice would you offer in this context? I really like this program and whant to try. Thank you in advance

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2024 - 12:29

Hi Steve, I am a lifelong natural lifter and never consider anything otherwise when I create my programs, so I think this would be good for you. Make the sets count and monitor your recovery would be the only extra advice I would suggest. Thanks for reading M&S!

Artem
Posted on: Sun, 01/14/2024 - 05:31

Hi! I want to preface this with an expression of appreciation for your content!
These resources are something that I recommend to my friends all the time, not exclusively those who can’t afford a personal trainer!

I (M, 20 y/o) am fairly new to training (2 months, approximately) and am currently undergoing a transition in jobs, thus I’m forced to wave my personal trainer goodbye for the sake of financial security (I’ve been wanting to do that for a while and start training myself)

I can’t help but get exponentially more confused, though, when it comes to the frequency and types of training programs, do I hope you could shed some light on it:

Most of the articles state that one should train a muscle group twice per week. Can I/should I adjust this plan to fit this purpose? If not, what other patterns work best for that?

I’ve noticed that this snd many other programs don’t include abs-specific exercises. Do you have ang tips to including them into your routine comprehensively?

An unrelated question: from what time are you considered an “intermediate” level? Does it rake roughly a year of training to grow out of the beginner phase?

Thanks for your feedback in advance!

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/15/2024 - 18:59

Hi, Artem. Thanks for reading M&S!

Some people benefit from training twice a week, and others feel results from once. This is where you will have to pick one and figure it out for yourself. Take this program and run it for a while. Track your progress along the way. If you don't like how things are going, then you may need more volume (everything twice a week). Personally, I think and have seen many trainees reap results from hitting everything once every 5-7 days.

We have plenty of ab workouts here on M&S. You can literally pick one of these and do them once a week after weights on any training day you like.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

Intermediate: 9-12 months of training and you start feeling like you need more intense challenges. Then, it's time to level up. Hope all of this helps, and don't be afraid to come on back if you have more questions. We're here to help and glad to have you in the M&S community!

Alan
Posted on: Sun, 01/07/2024 - 02:07

I'm fairly new to working out. The last 6 weeks I've been at the gym 5-6 days a week alternating body groups. I've seen some improvements but haven't had a real plan to follow. 30 min cardio on olyptical to warm up and 3 -4 sets of whatever I'm working on.
How important is taking multiple days off for growth? I'm terrified I'll get back in my static lazy ways and stop working out again.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/08/2024 - 21:22

Very important, and as a matter of fact, it will help you, Alan. You don't grow when you're training. You grow and improve during recovery with quality food and adequate sleep. I would suggest taking two days off (Not in a row) and make sure that when you're on an off day, you plan out that next workout with enthusiasm and sound strategy. The anticipation to train can be nerve-wrecking, I know, but the rest is what matters in the process. Thanks for reading M&S!

Alan
Posted on: Tue, 01/09/2024 - 06:00

Thank you.

Chuck v
Posted on: Thu, 01/04/2024 - 19:14

8 week mass builder for beginners is 4 days. Do you rest for the remaining 3 days?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 01/07/2024 - 20:09

Sure do! Rest and recover you can grow and get stronger!

David
Posted on: Sat, 12/30/2023 - 06:27

Hi there
May I ask, isn’t building muscle going to burn body fat anyway? You need to eat for muscle growth so it’s a bit of a balance right? I take protein before and after a workout as well as from food. So as long as my protein intake is good and I’m not eating rubbish, body fat should lower with more muscle. Am I wrong?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/30/2023 - 20:36

You're not wrong overall. It can certainly lead to some fat loss. Extra cardio and detail with the diet would also be necessary if fat loss is a priority, though.

David
Posted on: Sat, 12/30/2023 - 21:59

A bit of squash after training is fun and makes me sweat like crazy. That will be my cardio!

Thank you

gijs
Posted on: Wed, 12/13/2023 - 17:43

hi there, im a 16 yr old skinny guy and i really want to put on some muscle. do i see any results after 8 weeks if i train hard enough? thanks