Among both guys and girls, the concept of gaining lean body mass or getting more curvaceous gets talked about a lot, but few have seemed to unlock the secrets of doing it without getting hurt or sick or overtrained. However, in the past few decades, a guy named Dan John, author of several bestselling books on weight training, has emerged as a real leading expert mass gain.
I've quoted Dan many times before in my podcasts, and now it's time for me to actually man-up and use a 12 week variation of his short (and simple) mass gain e-book: "Mass Made Simple".
So I'm setting aside twelve weeks this winter, preparing to eat way more food than I usually eat, and entering the world of attaining body mass - with Dan's program as my guide. Here are the basic principles I'll be following:
1. You must get stronger, and you need to do two things to get stronger: add weight and do more reps. The answer has never been lift light weights for high reps, or lift heavy weights for few reps. The answer remains: Lift heavy weights for high reps.
2. The second part of the formula is that you need to do some serious squatting, which not only makes you hella strong, but also results in a potent release of strength and mass building hormones. One secret of mass gain among the bodybuilding crowd (in which I used to compete) was that to overcome small arms, small chest or any other lack of size was simply to load the body up by squatting more.
3. Finally, the third part of Dan's formula is to spend more time "on the bar" (not to be confused with "at the bar"). For this, Dan is referring to the almighty barbell. And the single best way to get more time with a bar in your hands is to use something he calls "complexes". Complexes are simply a series of barbell exercises performed back-to-back without ever putting the bar down. You perform all the reps on one exercise before moving to the next. This is much harder than it sounds. Your heart rate goes through the roof. Your muscles burn like hell. You cry and whimper. And then you do it again.
So the trick to gaining mass in Dan's program is to put these three elements together - heavy weights at high reps, squatting and complexes - and then of course, actually surviving the workouts and recovering properly.
To achieve these three objectives, there are also three primary elements to Dan's "Mass Made Simple" book:
Element #1: A toughness-inducing mass strength program that begins each workout - namely the bench press and the one arm overhead press.
Element #2: A lung-sucking, full-body-burning barbell complex comprised of six separate exercises - inserted in the middle of each workout.
Element #3: High rep squats (used as a leg crushing "finisher" to each workout)
Now I have to admit, although I'm doing Dan's entire 6 week program this winter, taking a week to recover, then doing the entire 6 week program one more time, I'm adding a few components so that I stay fit enough to throw down a triathlon at the drop of the hat.
-one added, hardcore "power swim" each weekend (40-60 minutes in the water)
-one added, hardcore "Sufferfest" bike each week, along with riding my bike to the gym for each workout
-two short runs, tennis or basketball games each week to maintain running speed.
And of course, my usual biohacks, including things like daily cold thermogenesis, morning Core Foundation routines, and elevation training tricks. I put the entire plan on TrainingPeaks (my software and workout logging weapon of choice) including the nutrition I'll be using, supplements, and each detailed daily workout.
So if you care to join me on my journey, in which myself and everyone who joins me will be posting before/after photos on the BenGreenfieldFitness Facebook page - and getting way cool prizes for the best mass gain results - then simply...
-->...click here to grab my 100% done-for-you Simple Mass Gain Plan for Triathletes and Skinny Endurance Athletes. <--
P.S. Dan recommends you focus on getting as lean as you possibly can before entering this program. I recommend you detox and clean your body before entering this program. So you may want to also consider doing an "adrenal reboot" and using 4-12 weeks of my Adrenal Recovery Plan before jumping in.
P.P.S. If you get the "Mass Made Simple"e-book to review it and to accompany the TrainingPeaks triathlon-tweaked verison of the program I wrote, then be forewarned - Dan John recommends Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches. I don't. I instead recommend following my personal nutrition recommendations.