Blueprint to Mass!

2020 has been the most topsy-turvy year the world has seen in many decades, yet one thing remains constant for we bodybuilders. It’s the fall, and that means it’s time to put the tank tops and shorts away, stop worrying about your tan and being cut up, and shift your focus toward building some fresh new muscle mass.

You could wing it and just dive in with the vague ideas of training heavier, eating more, and hoping for the best, but it’s always better to have a map to your destination, or in this case, a plan of attack. I firmly believe that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With that in mind, let’s give you a solid blueprint to mass!

Training Blueprint

What you expected and the unexpected

I’m sure you knew we would be talking about focusing on the use of basic compound free-weight movements. These have been tested by time and millions of trainers to be the most effective means to adding solid, lean tissue to your frame. What you may be surprised to see in a guide like this is the generous use of intensity-boosting techniques like supersets, drop sets, rest-pause, and extended sets with partial reps.

Traditionally these techniques are employed in phases of cutting, whether it’s for your own personal goals or for some type of physique competition. Intensity techniques place higher demands on your CNS and overall recovery than straight sets.

So why would you reserve them for times when you are restricting carbohydrates and overall calories, as well as increasing your volume of cardiovascular activity? That makes no sense. It’s totally backward. We use those techniques with the goal of building bigger muscles. When does your body have the resources in terms of fuel and energy to optimize the muscle-building process? The off-season! That’s why you should be using more intensity techniques in the off-season and be far more judicious in applying them in a cut or contest prep phase.

Don’t go rogue on me

Before I lay out the workouts, understand that they are a critical component of this blueprint to mass. Meaning, don’t go substituting exercises unless you have a valid reason, such as a past or present injury that prevents you from safely and/or correctly executing that particular exercise. “I don’t like squats,” is not a valid reason. You may be tempted to use machine versions of some exercises – don’t. For this plan to work, you must execute it exactly as it’s laid out. Got all that? Okay, here’s the split to follow, and then the workouts.

Blueprint to Mass Training Split

  • Day 1 Chest and triceps
  • Day 2 Back
  • REST
  • Day 3 Shoulders and biceps        
  • Day 4 Legs
  • REST, repeat

Day 1 Chest and triceps

Incline barbell bench press

Warm-up:                3 x 15, 10, 5

Sets:                       3 x 12, 10, 8 (increasing weight)

                                                   1 x 8 + 8*

*Use a weight you can get 10 reps with and do 8 complete reps, then attempt 8 more performing only the top half of the rep from midpoint to full contraction.

Flat dumbbell press

Warm-up:                1 x 12

Sets:                       3 x 12, 10, 8

                                                   1 x 12 from dead stops*

*Come to a full stop in the bottom stretch position of every rep before driving back up. This completely eliminates momentum and forces the pecs to work even harder.

Pec fly machine

Sets:                                 3 x 10-12

                                         1 x 21*

*Do 7 full reps, then 7 reps from midpoint to full contraction, then a final 7 from full stretch to midpoint.

Weighted dips

Warm-up:                          Bodyweight x 10

Sets:                                 2 x 10

                                                              1 x 8, remove weight and rep out to failure with bodyweight

EZ-bar skull crushers

Sets:                                 4 x 15, 12, 10, 10

Seated overhead dumbbell extension – 2 hands

Sets:                                 4 x 10

Day 2 Back

Chin-ups (bodyweight)

Wide overhand grip 3 x 10-12

Shoulder width neutral grip 3 x 10-12

Barbell rows

Warm-up                                     2 x 15, 10

Sets:                                 4 x 12, 10, 8, 8

One-arm dumbbell rows

Sets:                                 3 x 12, 10, 10

                                                              1 x 5,5,5,5 each arm*          

*Use a weight you can get for 10 reps. Do 5 reps with your right arm, then immediately switch to your left arm and do 5. Repeat this back-and-forth process three more times until you have done 20 reps for each side.


Warm-ups:                                   2 x 20, 15

Sets:                                            4 x 12, 10, 10, 8

Day 3 Shoulders and biceps     

Seated dumbbell press

Warm-up:                                    2 x 20, 15

Sets:                                            4 x 12, 10, 8, 8

Dumbbell lateral raise

Warm-up:                                    1 x 20

Sets:                                            3 x 12, 12, 10

                                                                        2 x 8 + 8 (drop set)

Bent lateral raises

Sets:                                            4 x 15, 12, 10, 10

Barbell curl                       

Warm-up:                                    1 x 20

Sets:                                            3 x 10-12

                                                                        1 x 10, 4-5, 2-3*

*This is a rest-pause set. Do 10 reps to failure, but do not put the bar down. Let it hang and count to 10. Go again and try to get 4-5 more reps. Rest again for 10 seconds and make one final effort to get 2-3 more reps.

Standing dumbbell curl

Sets:                                 3 x 8 + 4-5*

*Do 8 reps with both arms at a time, then alternate arms for another 4-5 reps for each arm

Day 4 Legs

Lying leg curl

Warm-up:                                    2 x 20, 12

Sets:                                            2 x 10-12

                                                              2 x 10 + 4-5*

*Do 10 reps using a full range of motion, then do another 4-5 reps from the stretch position to hallway up


Warm-up:                                    2 x 20, 12

Sets:                                            4 x 12, 10, 10, 8

Leg press                          3 x 15 (increasing weight)

                                                              1 x 50*

*This set might take a few pauses to complete. When you do pause to catch your breath, be sure not to lock your knees. Keep a slight bend in them.

Barbell Romanian deadlift

Sets:                                            3 x 12-15

Standing calf raise

Sets:                                            3 x 20, 15, 10

                                                              1 x 50


Do 20-30 minutes of moderate cardio 3-4 times a week. The most convenient time for most people to do this is right after weight training, though you can do it at any time that works for you. If you do it after weights, don’t have your post-workout shake until after the cardio.

Nutrition Blueprint


Here is where you do have some freedom to make substitutions based on food allergies or simply preferences. Do your best to adhere to the format and the rough amounts of protein, carbs, and fats outlined, as it’s important you are constantly in a state of caloric surplus and have the raw materials to recover from workouts and synthesize new muscle tissue.

The amounts listed are somewhat random, based on an average 200-pound bodybuilder wishing to gain substantial muscular bodyweight. If you aren’t gaining weight after two weeks on it, bump up the amounts by 20 percent. If you find yourself gaining more bodyfat than you would like, reduce the carbohydrates by one-third.

This day is based on a day you weight train, and assumes you train after a standard 9-5 workday.

Meal 1

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup (dry)oatmeal with ½ cup blueberries or strawberries, 1 TBSP natural honey

Meal 2

  • 8 oz chicken thigh
  • 2 cups (cooked) white rice
  • 2-3 TBSP teriyaki or other sauce of your choice

Meal 3

  • 8 oz grilled salmon
  • Large sweet potato

Meal 4

  • 8 oz chicken breast
  • Large baked potato with some butter or sour cream


  • Post-workout shake
  • 40-50g whey protein isolate
  • 1 cup pure sugar candy like Skittles, Starburst, or Gummi Bears

Meal 5

  • 8 oz white fish or chicken breast
  • 2 cups white rice

Meal 6

  • 8 oz steak
  • ½ cup mixed nuts
  • Large green salad, asparagus, or broccoli

Supplements that will be helpful:


Creatine monohydrate (5g before and after training)

L-Glutamine (5g 3x daily between meals)

Digestive enzymes

Apple cider vinegar

Vitamin C

Pre-workout formula


Rest and Recovery Blueprint

It’s essential that you limit as much of your physical activity as possible to only your weight training. This won’t be possible for those of you with physical jobs but do your best. Get a solid 8 hours of sleep a night, or 9 if you can. Your body repairs and grows during sleep, so if you don’t get adequate rest, all that hard training and good eating will be in vain. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, try getting off all screens and devices by 2 hours before bedtime.

Strive to be relaxed and at peace rather than anxious or stressed out, as that will raise your levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol (sleep deprivation also does this). Many have found techniques like meditation and yoga to be valuable in this regard. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ is a good adage to keep in mind, as most of us expend far too much mental and emotional energy on perceived problems that in retrospect, weren’t really that important.

Putting it all together

That’s your Blueprint to Mass. If you follow the workouts and instructions to the T, you should expect to see excellent results within 6-8 weeks. Those who are newer to training will always make better gains than someone who’s been at it for 10 years or more, but everyone should add new muscle mass on this program. Work hard and good luck!

Christian King
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