The first two weeks of the program are all about lifting heavy with mass-building compound exercises. For everything but abs and calves, reps fall in the 6-8 range; for those accustomed to doing sets of 8-12, this means going heavier than normal. There are very few isolation exercises during this phase for chest, back, shoulders and legs because the emphasis is on moving as much weight as possible to add strength and size.
"It'’s especially important to eat a carb- and protein-rich meal immediately after a workout," Aceto says. "Right after training, it turns out that your body is really lousy at taking carbohydrates and sending them down fat-storing pathways,"” he says. "So post-training, carbs will be sent down growth-promoting pathways instead."” And when these carbs are combined with a protein source, you'’ve got a strong muscle-feeding combination because carbohydrates help deliver the amino acids into muscles by boosting insulin levels. This anabolic hormone drives nutrients into the muscle cells and kick-starts the muscle-growth process.
And how much should you work out? According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, beginners should do at least two days per week of any type of strength-training exercise. Your workout should consist of 8 to 12 repetitions each of 8 to 10 different exercises working all the major muscle groups -- chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs. (A repetition is how many times you lift the weight, pull the rubber tubing, do a pushup, or whatever.)
"When placed around the tops of your shins as you move side to side, the miniband hits your hand-to-reach gluteus medius, a muscle that helps rotate your thigh inward and outward," says Nick Murtha, a trainer for Men's Health Thrive. Waking up this muscle allows you to use all your glute strength when performing moves like a heavy-loaded squat or lunge, he says.
Reaching failure matters because tension matters. Failure is when the muscle cannot generate anymore force. Which means one applied (worked out) enough tension through the muscle to just want to give up. And guess what? Carrying groceries can do this for some. Why? We are all at different strength levels. So don’t worry about other people and what they can or cannot lift. I say this because FAILURE can be achieved with either light weights or heavy weights.

But as I said earlier, the amount of protein you eat is a secondary concern. Quality comes first, so think "what" before "how much." For me, the "what" is lean and not fried. If you adhere to eating lean, non-fried sources of protein, you maximize your chances of gaining maximum amounts of muscle with minimal increases in body fat. My favorite sources of lean protein are standard: egg whites, chicken breast, 98 percent or leaner ground beef, turkey, fish, and quality protein supplements like Lean Pro8.


I always recommend starting on the low end of the scale. Only increase volume when you absolutely need to. So, if you’re training chest, you could do 6 work sets of dumbbell bench presses to start out, breaking down to two sets per workout for three sessions per week. You can gradually add sets from there, experimenting with different training splits that will allow you to get in more volume without overtraining (we’ll discuss training splits next).
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Hook a velcro cuff to a low cable pulley and then attach the cuff to your right ankle. Face the weight stack from a distance of about two feet, grasping the frame for support. Keep your knees and hips bent slightly and your abs tight, contract your right glutes to kickback the leg. Slowly bring your working leg forward, resisting the pull of the cable until you reach the starting position. Repeat for required reps, then switch legs.
It’s a lofty goal: Gain 10 pounds of muscle in just one month. While such results are aggressive and can’t continue at the same torrid rate indefinitely, we’ve seen firsthand individuals who’ve followed our mass-gaining programs and reached double digits in four short weeks, averaging gains of 2-3 pounds a week. Trust us, it can be done. But if there’s one thing such a bold goal needs, it’s an ambitious training and nutrition strategy. In regard to nutrition, don’t even think about taking that aspect lightly. You can work out all you want, but if you don’t ingest adequate calories and macronutrients, you won’t build muscle. What and when you eat is paramount to your results, and you’ll find all you need to know about gaining mass in a short amount of time in our bulking diet meal plan.
Note that this recommendation is for total weekly volume, which means it would need to be divided up based on how many times you’re training each muscle group per week. So, for example, someone training everything twice per week would do 30-70 reps for each bigger muscle group in each of those workouts, and 15-35 reps for each smaller muscle group in each of those workouts.
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