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Bulking Up in Your 20’s

ironmanmagazine.comQ: I’m 17 years old—almost 18. I recently started my bulk, which will last for eight months. I weigh around 188 pounds; when I started working out almost two years ago, I was 135 pounds. I’m 6’. I want to do a pull/push/legs routine but I made some changes. I’m switching from my five-day split, in which I was hitting each bodypart only once a week, to this: back and delts, legs, chest and arms, off, repeat—three days on/one day off. I want to put on 25 additional pounds of muscle by the time I hit 20. Is that possible? I want to bulk the way you did when you were 20 to 24, which I think you mentioned was really heavy lifting on a pull/push/legs split, right? Can you tell me if I’m doing it right?

A: That would be a great routine for you to follow at your age and with two years of training under your belt. Working each muscle group only once a week is a mistake at your age because you can recuperate faster. You should be able to train your bodyparts more often.

You have already made great gains in a short time. Adding more than 50 pounds in just two years is a remarkable accomplishment. I’m sure that by changing your routine to work the muscles more frequently, you will gain even more.

The only change I recommend is that you switch your chest and arms workout with your back and shoulders workout. You don’t want to work your back the day before you train your legs. If your lower back is sore or tired from your back workout, it will affect your leg workout when you try to do squats or stiff-legged deadlifts.

Here is a good example of the exercises and sets you can use for your new training program:


Day 1: Chest, arms

Bench presses 4 x 6-10

Incline presses 3 x 6-8

Flat-bench flyes 3 x 6-8

Dumbbell pullovers 2-3 x 6-10

Pushdowns 3 x 6-10

Lying extensions 3 x 6-8

Weighted dips 3 x 6-8

Incline curls 3 x 6-10

Barbell curls 2-3 x 6-8

Standing calf raises 4 x 8-12


Day 2: Abs, legs

Incline situps 3 x 30

Incline knee raises 3 x 20

Squats 5 x 6-10

Leg presses or hack squats 3 x 6-10

Leg curls 4 x 6-10

Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 6-8


Day 3: Back, delts

Wide-grip chins 3 x 8-10

Barbell rows 4 x 6-8

T-bar rows 3 x 6-8

Deadlifts 3 x 6-8

Seated barbell presses 4 x 6-10

Lateral raises 3 x 6-8

Bent-over lateral raises 3 x 6-8

Barbell shrugs 3 x 6-8


Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Mr. Natural Olympia and is a three-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Check out his Web site at for more information about how you can be a part of his exciting, new Natural Olympia Fitness getaway. Send questions or comments to John@NaturalOlympia
.com. Look for John’s DVD, “Natural Bodybuilding Seminar and Competitions,” along with his book, Natural Bodybuilding, and his training DVD, “Real Muscle,” at his Web site or at Home Gym Warehouse, Listen to John’s radio show, Natural Bodybuilding Radio, at   IM


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