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Massive Gains From Head To Toe

A total body overload plan for virtually guaranteed hypertrophy.

By Sarah L. Chadwell, NASM-CPT


Broscience states that lifting heavy junk builds muscles. Oh wait, that’s the overload principle. If you’re looking for a six-week plan to make full body gains, here it is. You can use the same exercises each week for six weeks combined with the overload principle which states that placing a greater load or stress on muscles than they’re accustomed to will lead to hypertrophy and increased strength.


“Gain”ster Workout

Before you begin, you need to know your one rep max for each exercise, or the maximum amount of weight you can push for one repetition. Why? You’ll use a percentage of your one rep max to determine the amount of weight you will use for each exercise and build on that in the coming weeks.


Monday: Chest/Back


EXERCISE    SETS   REPS WK1-3 REPS             WK 4-6

60-80% 1 RM             75-90% 1 RM


Barbell Bench Press    3-4 10-12 8-10

Bent Over Barbell Row 3-4 10-12 8-10

Incline Dumbbell Press 3-4 10-12 8-10

Back Extension 3-4 10-12 8-10

Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 3-4 10-12 8-10


Tuesday: Legs Glutes/Hamstrings Focus



60-80% 1 RM 75-90% 1 RM


Barbell Hip Thrust 4 10-12 8-10

Barbell Romanian Deadlift 4 10-12 8-10

Machine Hamstring Curl 4 10-12 8-10

Barbell Reverse Lunge 4 10-12 8-10


Wednesday: Arms/Abs (20 minutes cardio optional)



60-80% 1 RM 75-90% 1 RM


Dumbbell Curl 3 10-15 10-12

Preacher Curl 3 10-15 10-12

Skullcrusher 3 10-15 10-12

Cable Triceps Pushdown 3 10-15 10-12

Hanging Knee Raise 4 20 30-35

Barbell Abs Rollout 4 20 30


Thursday: Rest (20-30 minutes cardio optional)


Friday: Shoulders



60-80% 1 RM 75-90% 1 RM


Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 10-12 8-10

Combination Dumbbell Front 3 10-12 8-10

& Lateral Raise

Seated Shoulder Press 3 10-12 8-10

Barbell Upright Row 3 10-12 8-10

Prone Rear Delt Raise 3 10-12 8-10

Farmer’s Walk 3 20 steps ea direction 30 steps ea direction/carry heavier weights


Saturday: Legs – Quads/Calves



60-80% 1 RM 75-90% 1 RM


Squat 4 10-12 8-10

Leg Press with Calf Raise 4 10-12 8-10

Leg Extension 4 10-12 8-10

Calf Raise Machine 4 10-12 8-10


Sunday: Rest



Using The Same Exercises To Achieve Hypertrophy

This workout program uses the same exercises for a six-week period. To achieve hypertrophy, or muscular growth, you’ll change other variables over the six-week period including the load, rep ranges and rest period.


Load and Volume – During the first three-week period, you’ll work out using weights that are 60 to 80 percent of your one rep maximum for that exercise and use higher volume, or number of repetitions. In the second three-week period, you will increase the load and initially you’ll drop the volume. However, you must continually work to increase the volume. Progressively overloading your muscles is the only way to force them to grow.


Rest Period – In the first three-week period, rest for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. During the second three-week period, shorten your rest time to 30 to 45 seconds between sets.


Cardio – It’s optional. Why? If you have an ectomorph body type (you’re naturally skinny) and have difficulty gaining mass, then adding cardio to your routine could counteract all the work you put into lifting. On the other hand, if your body type is endomorph, you have difficulty getting lean. Endomorphs need 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, two or three days per week, to control their body fat percentage. Low intensity cardio will not negatively impact gains. It’ll help reveal your newly acquired gains.


Rest – Rest and recovery are vital to muscular growth. You tear muscle fibers through heavy lifting. Needless to say, you’ll be doing plenty of that. You need to give your muscles time to repair. The repair process results in the thickening and growth of the muscle fibers. Make sure you take rest days.


Monday: Chest/Back


Barbell Bench Press

Lie under a bench press rack with loaded weight. Using a medium-width grip, proceed to lift the bar from the rack; hold it straight over your chest with locked arms. Lower the bar at a medium pace until it nearly touches your middle chest area. Pause and push the bar back to the starting position.


Bent Over Barbell Row

Bend over and grab a loaded barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Hinge at your hips and pull the bar to your lower chest keeping your torso stable and horizontal. Lower the bar back to the starting position.


Incline Dumbbell Press

Lie on a 45-degree incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs. Use momentum from your thighs to push the dumbbells up and overhead at shoulder width. Your palms should be facing away from you. Lock your arms at the top. Lower the weight straight down at a medium pace. Return to the starting position.


Back Extension

Lie prone on a hyperextension bench securing your ankles under the footpads. Keep your body straight. Your waist should be able to bend without any hindrances. Hug a plate flat to your chest. Bend forward slowly at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back flat. Your hamstrings should stretch, but don’t round your back. Pause. Slowly raise your torso back into the starting position.


Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

Sit on the lat pulldown machine and take hold of the bar using an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Pull the bar down until it’s positioned at the upper portion of your chest. Pause at the bottom of the movement. Slowly move the weight back to the starting position.


Tuesday: Legs Glutes/Hamstrings Focus


Barbell Hip Thrust

Sit on the ground in front of a flat bench. Roll a loaded barbell over your legs; position it above your hips. Raise your back against the bench with your shoulder blades near the top of it, simultaneously lifting the weight. Drive the bar skyward with your legs, extending your hips. Lock your hips at the top of the movement, pause and then lower back to the starting position.


Barbell Romanian Deadlift

While standing, hold a bar with a pronated hand grip. Push your chest out, keep your shoulders back and your knees slightly bent, then lower the bar by pushing your butt backwards as far as you can and keep the bar close to your body. Return to the starting position by driving your hips forward.


Machine (Prone) Hamstring Curl

Set the machine to your height. Lie face down on the machine with the pad of the lever a few inches under your calves. Make sure that your torso remains perfectly flat on the bench. Grab the side handles of the machine. Keep your toes straight. Curl your lower legs up. Be sure your upper legs stay flat on the pad. Once your hamstrings are fully contracted, pause. Slowly lower back to the starting position.


Barbell Reverse Lunge

Hold a weighted bar across your upper back. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Step back about two feet with your right foot keeping your hips facing forward. The toe of your back foot will make contact first. Allow both of your knees to bend and lower yourself until your trailing knee almost touches the floor. Press back up into the starting position using your back foot. Repeat on the left side.


Wednesday: Arms/Abs, Cardio Optional


Dumbbell Curl

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length with your palms facing out. Keep your elbows close to your torso and your upper arms stationary as you curl the weights to shoulder level, fully contracting your biceps. Pause and slowly return to the starting position.


Preacher Curl

Sit at a preacher bench with a weighted E-Z bar. Grab the E-Z bar at the innermost handle and start with it in a flexed position near your chin. With your upper arms and chest secured against the bench pad, slowly lower the bar until your biceps are fully extended. Then curl the weight up. Squeeze your biceps and hold for a one count. Repeat.



Lie on a bench with an E-Z bar. Extend both arms overhead. Begin by bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. The bar will end right above your forehead. Straighten your arms to begin the next repetition.



Cable Triceps Pushdown

Attach an angled bar to the high pulley. Grab it with an overhand grip at shoulder width. Stand with your torso straight and a slightly forward inclination. Your upper arms will remain close to your body and your forearms should be pointing up towards the pulley as they hold the bar. Use your triceps to push the bar down until it touches the front of your thighs. Your arms will be fully extended. Pause for a two count and repeat.


Hanging Knee Raise

Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms and legs fully extended and your feet off the ground. Raise your knees towards your chest as high as possible. Pause and slowly return to the starting position. Don’t swing your body.


Barbell Abs Rollout

Load a barbell with five-pound plates on each side. Kneel on the floor behind the barbell. You’ll be on your hands and knees. Roll the barbell straight forward, stretching your body flat, but don’t touch the floor. Pause and then pull yourself back to the starting position.


Thursday: Rest – Cardio Optional


Friday: Shoulders


Seated Shoulder Press

Sit on a bench with back support. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Position them upright on your thighs and use your thighs to push the dumbbells overhead. Lock your arms. Rotate your wrists so that the palms of your hands are facing forward. Lower the dumbbells until your elbows are parallel to the floor. Pause in the contracted position. Push the weights back to the starting position.


Combination Dumbbell Front And Lateral Raise

Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Let the dumbbells rest on your thighs. Keeping your torso stationary, raise the dumbbells vertically stopping slightly past shoulder height. Pause. Then keeping your palms facing down and your arms straight push the dumbbells out horizontally. Pause. Bring them back to your midline, then back down to your thighs. This combination is one rep.


Barbell Upright Row

Grab a weighted barbell with a slightly less than shoulder-width overhand grip. Stand with your arms fully extended and back straight. Keep your elbows slightly bent. Lift the bar by pulling your elbows up and to your sides. Bring the bar close to chin level. Pause for a two count. Lower the bar slowly to the starting position.


Prone Rear Delt Raise

Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lie chest down on an incline bench set to a 15 to 25 degree angle. Your arms will be extended to your sides, palms facing your torso. Raise your arms horizontally until your elbows are at shoulder height and your arms are parallel to the floor. Pause and slowly lower the dumbbells.


Farmer’s Walk

Grab a pair of dumbbells. Find a long straightaway. Walk up and down the straightaway resting briefly at the end of each direction. Repeat walking back and forth (one set) for the desired number of sets.


Saturday: Legs – Quads/Calves



Load a barbell in the squat rack. Step up to the bar and place the bar on the top of your traps. Keep your chest up and your head facing forward. Place your feet hip-width apart with your feet turned out as needed. Lower your body by bending at your knees. Refrain from pushing your hips back. Your knees will move forward, but should track in line with your second and third toes. Move all the way down, keeping the weight in your heels. When your upper and lower legs make contact, begin driving the weight back up.


Leg Press with Calf Raise

Sit on the machine after loading the desired weight. Place your feet on the platform hip-width apart with your heels flat. Your knees will be at a 90-degree angle. Brace your abs and push the platform up with your heels and forefoot through a full range of motion. Pause. Descend slowly to the starting position. Your feet should always remain flat. Next, lock the plate in place and position your feet so the balls of your feet are on the bottom of the plate with your heels hanging off. Push the plate with your toes and balls of your feet contracting the calf muscles. Pause. Lower the weight. Repeat.


Leg Extension

Select the desired weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad. Your legs will form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg. Using your quads, fully extend your legs. Your body should remain stationary. Pause for a one count and then lower the weight.

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