Q: I’m 34 years old, looking to make my last push at putting on some real size. I’m 6′, weigh 220 pounds and probably at 20 percent bodyfat. I’m currently deployed overseas on a civilian contract with the Air Force. I picked up a copy of the September ’04 IRON MAN and read the Quick-Hit Mass Split routine in your Naturally Huge column. I noticed it was written for a 15-year-old football player with a limited amount of training time. I have plenty of time, but the routine looked pretty good. I have a few nagging injuries but nothing prohibiting me from doing squats or deadlifts. Would you recommend that routine to me?
A: The routine I recommended to the 15-year-old football player was a great one for putting mass on an intermediate bodybuilder. It involved training each bodypart twice per week, focusing on the basic exercises that are so effective at building size and strength.
If training each muscle group twice per week suits you, you can use that routine. Many advanced bodybuilders feel they need more recuperation and train each bodypart only once every six or seven days. When you’re young and still developing muscle size and strength, your body can handle more work and doesn’t need as much recuperation. After you’ve reached a more advanced stage, you need more time to recuperate in order to grow. Advanced bodybuilders use more resistance in their training along with greater intensity, which usually increases the need for rest.
If building size is your primary focus, you want to train each muscle group with as much resistance as possible and with the basic movements, which involve several bodyparts. Using basic exercises with the maximum amount of weight for the recommended six to 10 reps will force the muscles to grow bigger and stronger. If you’re using the right exercises with enough intensity and getting enough rest between workouts, then you should be on your way to developing maximum muscle.
If you’re past the intermediate stage but still want a training program that will focus on building more mass, you can use a two-days-on/one-day-off/one-day-on/two-days-off split routine. Here’s an example:
Day 1: Chest, arms
Day 2: Abs, legs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Delts, back
Days 5 and 6: Rest
Day 7: Cycle begins again.
That rotation of bodyparts gives you six days of rest for each. You train your whole body over three days, but you take three days of rest before repeating the routine. That provides plenty of recuperation, which the muscles will need if you’re training them heavy and hard enough. Here’s an example of a program that fits that split:
Bench presses 4 x 6-10
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 6-8
Flyes 2-3 x 6-10
Pushdowns 3 x 6-10
Decline extensions 3 x 6-8
Incline curls 3 x 6-10
Barbell curls 2-3 x 6-8
Hanging knee raises 3 x 20-30
Crunches 3 x 30-40
Squats 4-5 x 6-12
Hack squats 3-4 x 8-12
Leg curls 3 x 6-10
Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 8-10
Seated calf raises 3 x 12-15
Donkey calf raises 3 x 15-25
Day 3: Rest
Seated military presses 4 x 6-10
Upright rows 3 x 6-10
Bent-over laterals 3 x 6-10
Barbell shrugs 4 x 6-12
Wide-grip chins 3 x 8-10
Barbell rows 4 x 6-10
Deadlifts 3 x 6-10
Day 5 and 6: Rest ALL In addition to using the best training routine, you’ll also need to work on your diet. You said that you’re at 20 percent bodyfat, which is pretty high. I don’t know the method you’re using to measure it, but if you believe that you’re too fat, you can change that.
Make sure you eat plenty of protein to help rebuild the muscle tissue you’ll be tearing down during your workouts. I suggest a minimum of six meals per day, with a substantial amount of protein in each. I try to eat three whole-food meals a day and three protein drinks. That lets me fit all my meals into my work schedule and get plenty of muscle-building protein.
Eat complete-protein foods, such as eggs, egg whites, chicken, fish, tuna, turkey, steak and lean red meat for your whole-food meals. I typically have egg whites for breakfast, chicken for lunch and steak or fish for dinner. Between those meals have a protein drink. Use a high-quality protein powder that includes whey, casein and egg proteins. That combination provides a slow release of amino acids into the bloodstream, which continuously feeds the muscles the nutrients they need to grow. (Muscle Meals is a good meal replacement; see page 140.)
You also need to eat enough carbohydrates so you have energy for your workouts as well as for recuperation. The glycogen from carbohydrate not only is stored in the muscle cells for energy for your workouts but also helps to prevent muscle-tissue breakdown by replenishing the muscles’ glycogen stores after each training session.
Concentrate on complex carbohydrates that will break down slowly, thus preventing any big fluctuations in your blood sugar level. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans and brown rice are the best choices. Vegetables are also excellent sources, so you want to eat plenty of them as well.
You also need a postworkout drink such as Muscle-Link’s RecoverX to feed the muscle cells the protein and carbohydrates they crave immediately following a workout. Taking advantage of that window of opportunity will enable you to rebuild muscle tissue quicker and create an anabolic edge for developing mass. I take three scoops of RecoverX mixed in water after each workout. (For more information see page 120.)
Finally, don’t forget to eat enough essential fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids will make the muscle cells more insulin sensitive, which will attract carbohydrates to enter them instead of the fat cells. Good sources include flaxseed oil and salmon. Research also indicates that having a little bit of saturated fat in the diet increases testosterone, so include some whole eggs and red meat in your menu as well.
To sum up: Eat a minimum of six meals per day and include plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates along with essential fatty acids. I recommend a diet consisting of 40 percent of calories coming from protein, 40 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from fats.
Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). His new book, Natural Bodybuilding, is now available from Human Kinetics Publishing. IM