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It seems as if every strength coach, pro bodybuilder, or otherwise self-proclaimed exercise “guru” has a favorite workout plan for mass. Some involve super heavy weights with almost no volume, while some advocate a crazy amount of volume with light weight. However, there is a new workout plan for mass that’s starting to gain popularity – focusing on frequency.
The goal of any workout plan for mass is simple – work hard, break down the muscle, then rest and recover so the muscle can build back bigger and stronger. The issue that arises with this plan of attack is recovery – especially for natural lifters.
If your diet is perfect, you’re sleeping 10 hours per night, and you’re using performance enhancers, then training harder is almost always a good idea because your body can take the stress. However, this isn’t the case for most everyday lifters. They don’t sleep enough, they have work and life stress, and daily responsibilities prevent them getting the rest they should.
What happens then is that even if they don’t fully succumb to overtraining (of either the body or the CNS), they still never fully recover. They might feel good their first couple workouts after a weekend off, but by the end of the week, they’re dragging. This is why.
To get around this, natural, everyday lifters are way better off focusing on frequency instead of volume per workout. The overall volume can stay the same, but spread it out over several workouts instead of just one. For example, if you were going to do three hard exercises for the chest, you’ll get better results working the chest three times a week, one exercise at a time than you would doing all three exercises in the same session.
At the same time, the increased frequency means the muscles are neurally stimulated more often. Since the CNS plays such a big role in force production, this can also lead to strength gains more quickly, too. You could almost think of it like going out to practice something new near daily instead of just once per week.
Because you want to reduce how much work any one muscle is getting at a time, that means you’ll need to work it several times per week. This in turn, means that since each muscle group needs to be trained multiple times weekly, you’ll need to group multiple muscle groups together per session. The best way to do this is to do push / pull workouts as follows:
Workout #1 – Pushing Muscle Groups:
Workout #2 – Pulling Muscle Groups:
Alternate sessions back and forth, doing 4-6 total workouts per week. Rest days can be inserted really anywhere you like, based on your schedule, recovery, and so on.
There are a few different ways you can approach this workout plan for mass. You’re only going to do one exercise per muscle group per workout, and doing 2-3 total exercises per muscle group per week works well. Compound movements work the best, but you can do one isolation exercise per week if you like.
So a week’s worth of chest workouts could look like:
This is just an example, however. There really is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it, as long as you’re picking primarily compound movements. Continuing, you also have three different options to choose from when it comes to sets / reps schemes:
With this workout plan for mass, do two decently heavy warmup sets. Your first set should be around 55-65% of your 1RM, then another at around 70-75%. After that, you’ll do one main work set in rest-pause fashion. Load a weight you can do for 4-6 reps with good form, and do as many reps as you can. Rack the bar, rest 10-15 seconds, then rep out again, shooting for 2-3 reps. Rack the bar again, rest another 10-15 seconds, then rep out one last time, shooting for another 1-2 reps.
Max Power Production
Speed is the name of the game here. Do 1-2 moderately weighted warmup sets, then load a weight you could do 8-10 reps with good form. Do 3 sets of 4-6 reps with a decently slow eccentric (2-3 seconds), but as explosive of a concentric as you can muster. The goal is maximum muscular contraction and force production.
25 Total Reps
This method capitalizes on density to build strength and muscle. Do just enough to ensure the muscle is properly warmed up, but no more. Load up a weight you can do 6-8 reps with good form. Do as many reps as you can, then rack the bar. As soon as you can go again, do your next set of as many reps as you can. Be sure to rest at least 30 seconds, but no longer than 1.5 minutes. Keeping a running tally, repeat this until you’ve done 25 total reps.
Your best bet would be to utilize each method once per muscle group per week, but you can stick to just alternating between two methods, if you like. However, stagger your methods out so that you’re not doing the same thing for every body part in a single workout. This will more evenly distribute physical and CNS stimulation.
For example, the 1st time you do Workout #1 could look like:
The 2nd time you do Workout #1, it could then look like:
And so on.
If you’re in the market for a new workout plan for mass, give this one a shot. The workouts aren’t overly draining, it’ll likely be something you’ve never tried before, and you could find it more enjoyable. Your localized muscular recovery should go way up, and the risk of overtraining should go down. You very well could only be a few weeks away from some of the new size and strength gains you’ve been looking for.