3 Solid Rules for Muscle Mass Building

(Last Updated On: December 13, 2018)

When trying to build mass, you need to keep it simple and follow a few basic rules. Once you can adhere to these rules, and the proper program, you will find that it is easier than you think to build massive muscles.

1. You can’t lift to heavy or too light

There is no doubt that you can build mass on heavy weight and lower reps (1-5), the load needed to gain mass on a low-rep program is difficult for the most of us. Unless you have a 400-pound bench press, 500-pound squat, and 600-pound deadlift, you will need some more reps. In order to cause enough stimulation for muscle growth, you need to have a higher time under tension (TUT) to cause enough microdamge to the muscle tissue. Conversely, if you train too light (15-25 rep range), you will not have enough load to stimulate strength and muscle growth. With proper nutrition and recovery, the 5-10 rep range will be the perfect prescription to gain mass.



2. Think More is Less

I see way to many bulking programs that are way too complicated. They have too many exercise choices, too much volume, and not enough recovery days. They also get too crazy with adding drop sets, supersets, rest-pause methods, and everything else you can think of. While all of those methods have their advantages, you can’t do them all at once. You need to pick one method, and go at it, hard for 6-weeks. Keep the program simple and execute.


Related: Best Muscle Building Supplements


Katie Hogan crossfit


3. Building Muscle Should Be Your Only Goal, So Keep Fat Loss on The Backburner

If you want to build mass, you have to keep all of your other fitness goals on hold. That means fat loss in particularly. You can’t worry about keeping your coveted 6-pack, or think you are going to stay as lean as a show-ready bodybuilder. In order to gain some mass, you are going to have to eat BIG. This does not mean that you have to eat a bunch of junk food to get in the calories, and then end up looking smooth and out of shape. It just means that you need to make sure that you get enough quality calories to recover and grow. You also need to make sure that you are paying attention to your workout nutrition. A high-protein recovery shake before, during, and after will be a good way to get quality calories in, and optimize the anabolic window.

You also need to make sure that you don’t do too much activity outside of your lifting days to optimize recovery and muscle growth. I would avoid doing to much cardio, if any at all. If you really want to, I recommend no more than 2 days per week at a moderate intensity for only 20-30 minutes. Anymore is going to hinder your mass gains. Keep it simple and stick to your goal.

All about workout nutrition


The Exercises

Over the years I have found these exercises to be the best at building mass. In most cases, the barbell and dumbbell will be the tool of choice. Again, you don’t need a ton of equipment to get the job done. Just some heavy iron.


Incline Barbell Bench Press

I love the flat barbell bench press to increase strength, but for mas building purposes, the incline reigns supreme. You never see a bodybuilder with too much upper-chest. In fact, that is where a lot of bodybuilders lack in thickness and in depth. The incline barbell bench press will add mass to your whole chest, from clavicle to sternum.


Front Squats

Again, I love the traditional back squat. They too can add slabs of beef to your thighs. There is just something magical about front a squat that builds the quads, and even the front delts and abs.

Front squat


Romanian Deadlifts

Leg curls have their benefits, but they cannot beat Romanian deadlifts. Not only do they build the hamstrings, but they also build the glutes and lower back.



The pull-up is the king of all upper-body exercise. They help you achieve a barn door wide back, rear deltoids, forearms, and strengthen the abdominal region.


1-Arm Dumbbell Row

You can’t build a massive back without a good rowing variation. The 1-arm dumbbell row is perfect to round out your back training. Not too mention that it helps balance out asymmetries and can be useful when doing high and low rep ranges. It also gives you a better range of motion over the barbell, which also allows you to keep better form and tap into every possible muscle fiber.

Lawrence Ballenger Workout and diet


Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The barbell shoulder press could have easily been placed here. The dumbbell has a few advantages for most of the population. It is more shoulder friendly, and can be used more efficiently and safely in the higher rep ranges. It also helps balance out your pressing movements with a little unilateral work.


Dumbbell Hammer Curl

The hammer curl is the perfect all-around arm builder. It hits the biceps, brachialis and braciradialis muscles, helping you achieve that thick and dense look. Add some fat grips to the dumbbell and you will have a great forearm builder as well.


Farmers Carry/Walk

This is the perfect “finisher” to a great mass building workout. It hits just about every muscle in the body, and challenges you mentally, if you go heavy enough. The farmers walk/carry will add thickness to the whole body and increase your work capacity to help keep your training intensity at an all time high.

Farmers carry

The Workout

You will only be lifting three days per week. Yes, only three days per week. Each workout should take you about 60-70 minutes. You will want to rest at least 90 seconds between exercises such as bicep curls and Romanian deadlifts, and up to 3-4 minutes on your heavier sets of bench press and squats. Instinctive rest long enough to move heavy weight, but not too long to where you cool down. Use warm-up sets as needed. On work sets add weight to each successive set. A Monday/Wednesday/Friday, or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday split will be optimally. In the end, just make sure you get three lifts in per week on non-consecutive days.


Workout 1

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3×10
Front Squat 4×8
Romanian Deadlifts 2×10
Pull-ups 25 reps as many sets as it takes. If it is too easy, add weight
Incline Barbell Bench Press 3×10
1-Arm DB Row 5×5
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3×10
Farmers Walk/Carry – pick up a heavy weight and walk as far as possible until you cannot hang on anymore


Workout 2

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 5×5
Front Squat 2×8
Romanian Deadlifts 2×10
Pull-ups 15 reps as many sets as it takes. If it is too easy, add weight
Incline Barbell Bench Press 5×5
1-Arm DB Row 2×10
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 5×5
Farmers Walk/Carry – pick up a heavy set of dumbbells and walk as far as possible. Set the dumbbells down and rest, and then return them to the rack.


Workout 3

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3×10
Front Squat 5×5
Romanian Deadlifts 2×10
Pull-ups 20 reps as many sets as it takes. If it is too easy, add weight
Incline Barbell Bench Press 3×10
1-Arm DB Row 3×10
Dumbbell Hammer Curls 2×10 reps and 1×5 reps
Farmers Carry/Walk- the same and in workout 2, just go heavier and further.