Advanced muscle building takes motivation, determination, hard work, and many other factors. When you reach the advanced level, it becomes hard to get your body to put on muscle mass because of all the volume you have done in the previous years. At the advanced level, you must make sure that all factors are almost perfect: nutrition, training, rest, and supplementation. If you have a weak area at this point, it will be exposed no matter how good your genetics are, and you will have trouble gaining muscle.
A combination of basic and advanced methods has been employed in this workout to stimulate as much growth as possible. For the deloading weeks, if an exercise is done for 4 sets during the first 3 weeks of each cycle, then it should be done for 2 sets during the deloading week. If it is done for 3 sets during the first 3 weeks, then during deloading do the exercise for 1 or 2 sets, depending on how you see fit.
Wide Grip Pull-Ups: With an overhand grip (palms facing bar) and hands wider than shoulder-width, pull yourself up for the desired amount of repetitions. Make sure to go all the way up and all the way down. Add weight if necessary.
Incline Flyes: Simply do dumbbell flyes on an incline bench. For increased effectiveness, take a greater weight than usual and only do the bottom half of the range of motion, focusing on a large stretch at the bottom.
Front Squats with Heels Elevated: Do a regular front squat but to increase the loading on the quadriceps, put a 1–2" block underneath your heels. This will do wonders to stimulate quadriceps development.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts (Off 4-inch podium): Snatch grip deadlifts off a podium are probably the best hamstring exercise you can do. Stand on a 4-inch podium and with an extra wide-grip deadlift the weight off the ground.
Wrist Extensions: As opposed to a wrist curl where your forearms face up and you curl the weight with your wrists only, in a wrist extension your forearms face down and you lift the weight up with your wrists only.
Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrugs: Do a regular shrug but have the bar placed behind the back.
Calf Raises on 45° Leg Press: Load up a 45° Leg Press with as much weight as you need and pull out the safety bars and push the platform up to all the way with the strength of your quads. From there, perform calf raises with a full stretch, all the way up and all the way down.
Seated Incline Lateral Raises: Sit upright on an adjustable bench and perform lateral raises in the seated position. Sitting places more overall tension on the lateral head of the deltoids which will lead to more overall mass.
Note: For all exercises, lift at a normal speed; do not compromise form at all. At the advanced level, keeping strict form may lead to better gains.
Note: The re-charge day focuses on two muscle groups that are worked indirectly throughout the week and are similar to a rest day in the sense that large muscle groups are not trained on this day. It is effective to essentially re-charge during the middle of the week instead of placing a heavy workout at that time.
Note: Rest periods, other than those already mentioned, should be between 45–60 seconds between sets for all exercises.
Triple Drop Set: Take a weight equivalent to your 12RM (12 Rep Max) and lift it 10 times, then have spotters strip off enough weight so you can perform 10 more repetitions, and then have spotters strip off even more weight so you can perform 10 more repetitions. Perform this triple drop set for as many sets as shown. (i.e: 3 Sets x 10–10–10 Reps would be 10 Reps, 10 Reps, 10 Reps, Rest, 10 Reps, 10 Reps, 10 Reps, Rest, 10 Reps, 10 Reps, 10 Reps)
Core Training: Note for all phases: Abdominal (core) training should be done 3 times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) with each day focusing on a different aspect of the core.
Due to the amount of leg training involved in all three phases, cardio should be eliminated or reduced to 1 low-intensity session per week (preferably Saturday or Sunday).
Cardio would most likely interfere with strength and muscle gains in the legs so generally it should be avoided when doing such an intense routine. Especially during the last 4-week phase, where intense methods such as 6x6 and drop sets are employed, a lot of calories will be burned during the workouts which will give the athlete fat loss benefits as well.
need a frequent change in their workouts to prevent homeostasis, which is when the body adapts to a training stimulus and you hit a plateau in your gains. The above workout is a 12-week plan with 4-week cycles, and each includes a 1-week deloading period. This way you can slightly overtrain or overreach for 3 weeks and then let your body have a break for 1 week before repeating the process.
Overreaching, or planned overtraining, has been proven to be the most effective way to gain strength and build muscle. This routine should not be used more than twice during a training year. It should only be performed during a bulking phase when there is a caloric surplus to handle the rigors of this program.
This routine is so advanced for a variety of reasons. First of all, the volume is such that only advanced bodybuilders with years of training could handle it and be able to make great gains. Secondly, various shock training methods such as Super setting, High Frequency, Rest-Pause, Drop Setting, and the like are employed for maximum effect.
The routine starts with a basic 4-day split that focuses on volume acclimation and overall size through heavy compound movements, supersets, and even some isolation movements to target and stimulate muscle groups completely. The next 4-weeks focus on responding to high volume and shock methods such as super-setting and rest-pause.
The frequency also increases to 5 times per week with a “re-charge” day on Wednesday focusing on two smaller muscle groups so that recovery can be maximized for major muscle groups. Each workout ends with a superset with one exercise for both of the muscle groups worked that day. This can help to facilitate more blood flow to the targeted muscle groups which eventually leads to more nutrients in the muscle which equals more muscle growth.
During the last cycle, shock methods such as triple drop sets are used to elicit maximum muscle growth. Also, Vince Gironda’s famed 6x6 method is employed for two main exercises during each workout day. Gironda suggested little rest between sets so during the last phase the rest periods are 20 seconds between the sets for exercises that are to be done in the 6x6 protocol.
Also, the pre-exhaust super setting has been incorporated into the final phase. This method allows you to exhaust a muscle group by performing an isolation exercise to pre-fatigue it and then perform a compound movement to completely stimulate it.
There is no specific number of years of training one must have under their belt to begin this workout; however, there are a few guidelines one must meet: Trained consistently for at least 2 full years: For the first 2 years of training one should focus on heavy compound movements and building a strong base. Once this base is built then advanced training methods and routines can be implemented to further your gains. For these first few years, concentrate on performing 2–3 sets with 8–20 repetitions per muscle group, and do full-body workouts. This way you will gain strength and put on muscle more effectively than if you jumped into advanced training methods immediately.
Have considerable muscular development: If you have been training for some time and still do not have a good base, there is no need to worry at all. This just means that you have been gaining slowly and that eventually, you will have a considerable amount of muscle. You also want to be at around 10% body fat or less, meaning you are in good condition to complete such intense workouts.
Have considerable and balanced levels of strength: Before beginning this program, as minimum requirements the athlete should be able to bench press 250 pounds or more, full squat 375 pounds or more, deadlift 400 pounds or more, barbell row 225 pounds or more, and military press 150 pounds or more.
Be accustomed to volume training: If you struggle with volume training routines and do not recover well from them, then it would be best to work on adapting to volume and being able to get substantial strength increases from this type of training before beginning this routine. This way you will be able to make much greater gains with an advanced muscle-building routine such as the one suggested above.
If you meet all of these guidelines then by all means you can start the advanced muscle-building routine. However, even if you meet 3 of the guidelines, bring your weakness up to par before beginning this program. If you meet 2 or fewer of the guidelines, just focus on getting stronger and bigger through heavy compound movements, and then when you are ready, this routine will be much more effective.
As a general rule of thumb, eating 500 more calories than you expend will help you gain approximately 1 pound of bodyweight per week. If those calories are mostly clean, i.e. not junk food, and you lift weights regularly and lead an active lifestyle, then almost all of that weight gain will be muscle.
One of the keys to building muscle is eating at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Very good protein sources include chicken, lean steak, lean beef, pork, cottage cheese, and milk. Another key to building muscle is having a sufficient amount of carbohydrates for energy and for growth. Complex carbs such as rice, pasta, whole wheat bread, muesli, granola, and oatmeal should be ingested for maximum effect.
The often forgotten variable to a balanced diet is a healthy fat. Many people eat greasy foods such as hamburgers and the dreaded Big Mac. However, they should concentrate on eating enough flaxseed oil, fish oils, and nuts such as almonds. Additionally, fish oil supplements can be taken so that you make sure you eat enough healthy fat.
If you want to build muscle, a good investment would be a multivitamin to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients and vitamins you need. Many people would be surprised how well a multivitamin can assist in muscle growth.
Basically, if you hit a plateau, eat about 250–500 calories of healthy foods more per day and you will be amazed and what it can do for recovery and growth. It is also important to stay properly hydrated. Even slight dehydration can decrease performance and hamper recovery so always replenish your body with enough fluid throughout the day.
Additionally, there are some supplements you can take in order to speed up recovery and maximize performance during each workout. Keep in mind, however, that supplementation does not replace or make up for a poor diet, so make sure to have a good diet before even thinking about taking supplements.
Whey Protein: The staple supplement that every bodybuilder probably takes already. There is no real need to even explain the multitude of benefits whey offers, such as increased recovery and more muscle growth while preventing catabolism (Muscle-wasting) and promoting anabolism (Muscle-growth).
Creatine Ethyl Ester: A new form of Creatine that is really a lot more effective than Creatine Monohydrate because the absorption is so much better and it is much more powerful; Take one serving post-workout as this is all you actually need. There is no loading involved, and the best results would be achieved if taken with a post-workout shake. However, if you have gotten good gains from Creatine Monohydrate then stick with it.
Multivitamin: No explanation needed here, the first thing you should do when purchasing supplements get a quality multivitamin because it will help you meet your daily needs for various vitamins and minerals which will help you gain even better.
ZMA: This blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B has been proven to help fight deficiencies of those three nutrients which in turn leads to increased strength, better sleep, and possibly increased testosterone — all incredible bonuses for someone trying to gain muscle at the advanced level. Take this before going to sleep.
BCAA/EAA: Branched Chain Amino Acids and Essential Amino Acids will help you recover better from workouts than ever before. Branched Chain Amino Acids digest much more quickly than protein with the same amount of amino acids which helps aid recovery and may even improve strength between workouts. Choose a BCAA or EAA product depending on your needs. For BCAA, if not financially restricted, try mega-dosing them at 50 grams total per day and the results should be tremendous.
6-OXO: This relatively new supplement is one of the few supplements on the market that has actually been proven to increase testosterone levels in men. It is what is known as an estrogen inhibitor, which consequently leads to increased testosterone levels. Maximum results can be achieved in 3 weeks. A tapering method in which you start out at 300 mg daily for a week, do 600 mg for weeks 2–5 and finish with 300 mg daily for the last week may be even more effective. Do not use this in cycles of more than 6–8 weeks.
Tribulus/Avena Sativa/Other Natural Testosterone Booster: Testosterone boosting will do a lot to help you put on more muscle mass than ever before. There are two ways of going about this — one as you all know is illegal and the other is legal and has few if any side effects.
A natural testosterone booster will help your body learn how to create more testosterone while on it so that you can make greater gains with fewer side effects than ever before. This is especially effective combined with 6-OXO. When testosterone levels are raised, the body also increases estrogen production slightly so the 6-OXO combined with the natural testosterone booster would work synergistically to keep the estrogen low and the testosterone high.
Pre-Workout Energizer + Nitric Oxide: Nitric oxide is known as a vasodilator, which means that it will help promote more efficient blood flow to the muscles. This in turn will send more nutrients to the muscles being worked which leads to greater muscle growth. Nitric oxide is also known for helping create “the pump” and making it last for a more prolonged period of time.
Nitric oxide is based on the amino acid L-Arginine so look at a product’s ingredient profile to make sure that you are not overpaying for something that is pure arginine as you could buy it in bulk for a much lower price. Secondly, a pre-workout energizer combined with nitric oxide will give you energy to really be able to hit the weights with an intensity that will lead to greater gains. Usually, a pre-workout energizer such as caffeine is combined with nitric oxide and Creatine for the greatest effect.
(If there are special requirements for specific supplements that you want to take, adjust this schedule accordingly.)
This workout, like almost any other well-designed routine, will give you great and maybe even extraordinary gains only if your nutrition, rest, and supplementation are all in check. If that is the case, then one can expect to gain about 10–15 pounds of muscle during the 12-week period.
While some may say that these are not amazing gains, consider that advanced athletes have a much more difficult time putting on muscle than do beginners and intermediates. Also, consider the fact that this routine can be used twice per year so during a bulking phase as much as 30 pounds of muscle could be gained.
To get maximum results from this, one should start their bulking phase with a 1–2 week routine at a moderate volume and then start this routine for 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks, then one should take one full week off to recover and then do a low to moderate volume routine for 4–6 weeks before starting this routine again.
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If simplicity and basic workout routines were best at packing on mass, then shouldn’t we be seeing a lot more Arnold Schwarzeneggers, Jay Cutlers, or Mr. Colemans walking around? If things were really just that easy, most everyone would have the fittest body they could imagine for themselves.
Back in reality, we know that, naturally, muscle is built by traveling down a long, hard path. Because we must first pave this road for ourselves, one must be thirsty for challenge to set up the right obstacles. Success, then, would be the ability to triumph over every hardship no matter what difficulties are faced.
It’s important to understand that in the natural way of building muscle, there can be no shortcuts. Every difficulty must be confronted and conquered in full. An example of an adequate set of trials can be as follows.
For each workout, a brief warm-up with light weights or cardio is preferred. Rest periods between sets should be about 2 minutes long.
The challenge lies in utilizing weights that leave the given rep ranges barely finished. Each set should go until another positive portion of a repetition is not possible, with the effort being applied until the muscle is no longer able to remain contracted or support the weight.
In addition to applying maximum effort to every set, weights must be increased on consecutive workouts. This is one of the most important concepts to building muscle. Regardless of whether the increment is only a few pounds, the weight must be heavier. If the same effort is used each workout, the body has no reason to change. By progressively using heavier loads, we must work harder to push our limits. This ultimately forces adaptation and elicits muscle growth from our body.
Cardiovascular activities are definitely not the greatest way to stimulate muscle growth. They do not place enough stress on muscles to induce large amounts of growth. Instead, the lungs and heart are used to a greater extent when performing cardio.
Because it can improve some aspects of fitness, including body composition, some cardio may be performed while on a muscle-building program. However, it’s important that the main focus of energies be left to workouts of an intense nature. If one has the motivation and energy reserves available, then, by all means, cardio activities can be included regularly.
Those with the desire to do cardio need to be careful that it does no compromise muscle-building goals. The best way to strike a balance is to limit cardio sessions to no more than 30 minutes. This will prevent the production of catabolic hormones that cause muscle tissue to be cannibalized as an energy source.
To further prevent muscular tissue breakdown, one can opt to perform only lighter cardio that slightly raises the heart rate, like walking at a fast pace. This type of activity is much easier to recover from and the body expends most energy (around 85%) by “burning” up fat stores instead of glycogen, found in the liver and muscles, or muscle tissue itself.
Another option is to use HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, preferably on “off” days. This type of training contains both an aerobic and anaerobic component, which are alternated over a period of typically 15 minutes. A general HIIT workout might be alternating between jogging and sprinting for 30 seconds each.
The limited duration not only prevents the breakdown of muscular tissues but helps promote muscle growth as the anaerobic component promotes secretion of anabolic hormones. This activity can also help increase VO2 max or maximum oxygen uptake, which will help improve the intensity of anaerobic workouts.
It would be a good idea to start this routine after a week’s rest period from any training. This ensures that the body is not fatigued in any way and capable of recovering and growing from intense exercise. Once started the plan should be consistently followed for up to 12 weeks before taking a break. After this period of training, one should take time to rest up and avoid overtraining.
Overtraining can be described as a state in which the body is no longer able to fully recover from daily activities. This makes it impossible to build new mass because the body cannot even repair its original structure. Some symptoms include excessive, prolonged or debilitating fatigue and soreness, depression, irritability, poor mood or strength loss. If any of these feelings occur, one should consider taking a week off from most physical activity before resuming training.
It’s also good to discontinue supplements for up to 4 weeks after ending a training phase. This helps remove any tolerance the body may have built up for the supplements. Once supplementation is resumed, their full efficacy and potency for building muscle will again be realized.
The workout must become an attitude, not just an activity. The thirst for progress and the pushing of limits are what truly create an advanced workout routine. By utilizing moderate volumes and high intensities applied through a variety of angles, the workout outlined above works to recruit vast amounts of muscular tissue. However, simply going through the motions is not enough. Pain must be viewed as a stimulus for growth.
It really all comes down to mind over matter. The mind must be able to make the undesirable a desire. When the body wants to give up, we must push on. While the routine is designed for completeness in using all muscle groups, it is the intensity and effort that we apply that lead to the most advanced gains in muscular strength and size. A workout should only be considered “advanced” when it effectively breaks the comfort zones to which the body is accustomed.
Years of physical training are not necessary before embarking on a muscle building journey. One may have the mind-set and tenacity for training at an advanced level right from the start. However, it’s not the wisest thing to go crazy with the weights upon first stepping into a gym.
Weight lifting can be a risky experience. When handled improperly, weights are dangerous and cause injury. The first priority for anyone serious about building muscle should be to learn to reduce the risk of harming themselves while training.
For this task, it would do well to accumulate at least 3 months of training experience. In this time, proper form and exercise execution should be emphasized. It’s also good experience for learning what particular muscles are targeted for each exercise. Understanding how the body works will lead to getting the most out of every exercise.
With enough practice, a strong mind-muscle connection can be developed. This makes workouts much more beneficial as one learns only to utilize target muscles without external support or interference. After about 3 months training with comfortable and controllable weights, one should be ready to train safely and effectively at the intensities required to grow significant muscle.
In order to build new mass there needs to be a surplus of energy for the body to draw upon; you need to create more than there was before, so you need to eat more than you did before. If diet was constant before starting an advanced muscle-building routine, eat at least 500 calories more than the previous diet. If a consistent diet was not in place, use a metabolic rate calculator to find how many calories are necessary for sustaining mass, then eat at least 500 more than that number.
Another important aspect of nutrition is the quality and type of calories eaten. Be sure to get enough complex carbohydrates throughout the day to help fuel intense workouts. Simple sugars should be reserved mostly for post-workout. As the main muscle-building nutrient, protein needs to be available at a quantity of about 1.5–2 grams per pound of body weight per day.
Finally, eating fats, the most calorie-dense macronutrient, also has its benefits and might be eaten at a rate of about 20–30% of total calories consumed. Dietary fat is often given a bad name, but provides essential fatty acids that the body requires to function. Fat also creates a means through which the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, can be absorbed by the body.
Eating consistently and constantly for a total of six or more times per day will allow for maximum availability of nutrients and energy for the body to use in the growth process. The only time when the muscles should be wanting would be in the morning after sleeping.
Drinking water liberally throughout the training program is also advised for assisting with nutrient transportation and also for storage within muscle tissues, ultimately making them more massive. With the detrimental effects that alchohol has on protein synthesis, avoiding it altogether is recommended.
As we know, muscles are broken down under the stress of exercise. When we sleep, they are rebuilt, and if we have a lifestyle conducive of an anabolic state, they grow back bigger and stronger. A simple and sound approach to recovery is to get at least eight hours of quality sleep every night.
Another basic goal of recovery is to minimize stress outside of working out. Worrying and that kind of chronic mental stress takes a good deal of energy, the same energy we want to use for growing bigger. Also, for those that have the time, techniques such as stretching, massages, and hot/cold contrast baths also aid recovery, reduce stress, and should definitely be looked into.
With the high sleep, low stress lifestyle forming the basis of recovery, we can add additional activities to enhance recuperation. For those that have the means, buying and using supplements is an excellent way to refine and perfect the effectiveness of even the most advanced workouts. Recommended supplements include multivitamins, digestive enzymes, nitric oxide, proteins, amino acids, creatine and hormonal support varieties.
For the most part, follow the indications and directions that come with each supplement.
Specific supplements with a personal recommendation for accompanying the given workout: NOW Super Enzymes (Digestive Enzymes): Taken with each meal to aid in absorbing nutrients.
Amino Acids: Taken before, during, and/or after a workout to provide the necessary amino acids that the body will use to rebuild stronger and bigger muscle tissue.
Multivitamin: Consume at least one every day to provide the body with numerous vitamins and minerals that aid in producing optimum functionality. Without supplementation of vitamins and minerals, it is easy for the body to run into deficiencies because intense training tends to use up greater quantities of nutrients than are found in most normal diets.
These are all good sources of dietary protein. Egg protein is one of the most bioavailable protein sources there is, so it is good for consumption at any time. Whey protein is considered a “fast” absorbing protein, so it may benefit to have some before or after working out when amino acids need be most available for transport into muscles. Casein protein has a slower rate of absorption and may be best taken in the morning or at night to provide a steady amount of amino acids for preventing catabolism over an extended time period.
Testosterone Enhancer: A natural way to boost testosterone not only improves protein synthesis and muscle growth, but will reduce body fat and help create a better mood, motivation, and aggressive impulse toward training.
BSN NO-Xplode (Nitric Oxide/Creatine Pre-Workout Stimulant): A great way to provide sustained energy, concentration, and better pumps throughout workouts.
The workout, nutritional, supplemental and lifestyle guidelines that were provided follow closely with a routine that was personally used for about 3 months. Without any provisions for cardio, roughly 25 pounds of lean mass were gained by the end of this time. Other routines of weight training had been performed before this routine but without any such significant results.
While everyone is unique and likely to see differing results, the guidelines that have been outlined for you here do work as an advanced framework for building muscular mass. With extraordinary intensity and aggressiveness for progress, who knows, your results maybe even better than those exemplified.
Workout of the Week is where forum members are asked to answer questions about what they think the best workouts are.
Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any diet or exercise program or taking any dietary supplement. The content on our website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to replace a relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.