Building Muscle Bulk and Muscle Power Program
By Ken Lain as told to Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"
Some time ago I had the pleasure of listening to former world bench
press champion Ken Lain talk about the secrets of Gaining Maximum
Bulk and Power! He talked about many bodybuilders failure to
pack on all the muscle weight and power they desire. I then asked
him to describe his training strategies, which would land a smashing
blow against the somewhat ancient, inefficient and non-effective training
methods that some individuals follow. Here is what he told me.
Let me ask you a question: "Are you as
a power bodybuilder completely satisfied with the size and power
of your muscles?" Before answering that question think it over
for a moment. I can tell you, though, that quite a few of the folks,
especially the younger ones, who come into my Power Shack Gym here
in Abilene, Texas, ask me, "How do I get a massive body?"
or "How do I build up a bulky, powerful physique?"
These are the most common appeals for training
guidance I hear on an almost day to day basis. These folks tell
me practically the same story: "I have tried some of the muscle
gaining routines that are published in various mainstream bodybuilding
magazines, but I dont know where to begin." "Sometimes
there is so much information that its hard to put into practice
because the workouts are too long in duration. I dont have
time to use all the exercises and the program overall makes me work
Well, if yall are not completely satisfied
with your training results so far then Id like to impart some
hints and tips about gaining muscle bulk and power for both the
beginner to advanced power bodybuilder. Gaining muscle bulk and
power has always fascinated me. To begin with, to gain it you must
show a steady profit from your training endeavors. Its just
like my Power Shack Gym business, showing a steady financial profit
means that I must spend a little less than I earn and this is the
way I build up a healthy monetary reserve. Id like to mention
here that my Power Shack Gym is the actual flagship or very first
of many now in existence across the country.
Anyway, to gain the maximum in muscle bulk and power the amount
of physical energy you expend in your workouts must be more than
offset by the amount of rest and recuperation you get and of course
the type of muscle building foods you eat. If you expend more energy
and break down more muscle tissue than can be replaced through rest
and diet you will show no profit and will naturally fail to gain
the muscle mass and power you desperately want and need. Theres
another thing also. Muscle mass and power increases during the recovery
or rest cycles and not during the workout itself.
Actually, the way I see it, gaining incredible
muscle bulk and power can be best expressed as a formula that reads
as follows: Genetics + Unlimited Training + Unlimited Intensity
+ Unlimited Nutrition & Supplements + Unlimited Recovery &
Sleep = Maximum Muscle Bulk & Power. As you can see, each factor
is a single entity, but when they all become a unified entity (at
the same time), they become a tremendous force for influencing immense
muscle bulk and power. Your body cant help but be "primed"
to grow, grow, grow with a speed that will surprise you, and your
power will become augmented. As well, you can expect your reserve
of energy to be amplified as well as numerous other benefits.
I feel that the Maximum Muscle Bulk and Power
formula is as nearly a perfect combination as I have ever seen,
but only if you acknowledge that the body is a unified entity. Train
with this thought in mind and you will make outstanding power bodybuilding
gains. In practice, the formula for gaining maximum muscle bulk
and power works like this:
Genetics plays a major role in gaining maximum muscle bulk and power,
but you can improve your physique no matter who you are. While genetics
is the main thing, desire and discipline are important as well and
that is something that most people dont have. Ive personally
seen guys in the gym with great genetics who train maybe once or
twice a week if that often and when they train, theyre training
with their mouth more than they are training with their body. On
the other hand, youve got guys with sunken chests, shoulders
like a pear, and big old wide hips. Its a shame because while
they will never be great as a bodybuilder or power lifter, they
have the really awesome desire and discipline. Basically, though,
Id say that about seventy to eighty percent of the people
who train can enter a level three bodybuilding contest. The bottom
line is that you can improve your maximum muscle bulk and power
no matter who you are.
In bodybuilding in particular you have the cosmetic illusion, how
'cut' you are, and how the symmetry of the various muscle groups
blends in with one another. All of this makes the muscles appear
to be bigger. However, the most basic way to gain maximum muscle
bulk (and power) in particular is by increasing the size of the
muscle fibers themselves. Many people dont actually train
the muscle fibers but instead train the mitochondria and sarcoplasm
part of the muscle cells by using really light training poundages
all the time and perhaps slow continuous tension reps. This is not
the best way to train initially, though it does a little bit for
the strength part and gives a big massive pump which many bodybuilders
live and die for. They think the pump is what makes the muscles
big, but thats not the case.
The basic way to train for maximum muscle bulk
and power is to do a ten week training cycle. I suggest dividing
your workouts into a push and pull system. Push days will be on
Mondays (Heavy) and Thursdays (Light) and involve the chest, shoulders,
and triceps. Pull days are Tuesdays (Heavy) and Fridays (Light).
On these training days you will work back and biceps. Leg work can
be done on Tuesdays or you can insert an extra training day in your
schedule and, say, devote Wednesdays entirely to leg work. Legs
will only be trained once per week, though.
On chest, back, and legs do 9 to 10 sets and
no more than 12 overall. For the remaining muscle groups do about
6 sets each. Thats what Id recommend for most people
and thats not counting the specific warm-up sets. Usually,
if you do warm-up sets for the chest you wont have to do any
for the shoulders and triceps. Likewise, after training back (especially
pull-down movements) you wont have to do warm-up sets for
the biceps. Youll notice that I have heavy and light training
days for the muscle groups. Thats because the body cant
stand or cant recuperate from two heavy training days per
week for the same muscle groups. On the heavy and light days do
basically the same exercises, sets, and reps. The difference will
have to do with rest intervals and the poundages used. On the heavy
days, rest 5-8 minutes between sets and use maximum poundages for
majority of your sets. On light training days rest no more than
3 minutes between sets and use no more than eighty percent of the
weight that was used on the heavy day of training.
It is this training scheme which blends the bodybuilding with powerlifting
for what I call a power-bodybuilder approach to training. Regarding
the number of sets, reps, and exercises for the large and small
muscle groups, I would suggest doing 3 to 4 exercises (your choice
since I dont know what training equipment you have available)
for the large muscle groups (chest, back, and legs) and 2 to 3 exercises
for the remaining smaller muscle groups (shoulders, triceps, and
biceps). Do 2 to 3 sets per exercise for 6 to 8 reps each. This
will depend on the total number of exercises for each muscle group.
Do each rep nice and controlled, say 1 second in the positive phase
and 1 ½ - 2 seconds in the negative phase. While I did say
that you could choose your own exercises for each muscle group,
I do suggest that you include the Flat bench press, High lat pulldowns,
and the Parallel squat as the very first exercises in the sequence
for the particular muscle groups in question. Your sets and reps
scheme for these three exercises will deviate somewhat from what
I suggested above. Ill talk about it next.
Its my opinion that 90% of the bodybuilders and powerlifters
train or do the same thing over and over again. This happens at
the professional or world class levels as well. They all get into
the same rut, training with the same weights, the same exercises
day in and day out. The body, in order for it to grow, you have
to constantly change something. You have to change the speed of
the movement (rep speed), youve got to vary the number of
reps youre doing, or youve got to change the amount
of weight being used. We as human beings resist change and while
we dont like it, we have to change in order for the body to
continue to improve. One of the best mass building cycles that I
have used which makes weekly changes in the amount of poundages
used and repetition variations is the 10 week Matrix program.
Basically, the Matrix program requires that
you add five percent poundage increases to the 3 main sets (after
the warm-up sets) while decreasing the number of reps performed
by one from a base of 10, each week. By week number 10 you will
be doing approximately 10% more poundage than your previous best
max effort but for only one rep. As I mentioned previously, this
program can be used on the basic exercises such as the Flat bench
press, High lat pulldowns, Parallel squats, and Deadlifts if need
be. Dont go crazy trying to use the Matrix program on each
and every exercise you do on a push or pull training day. For me
personally, I use the Matrix program on the Bench press itself for
chest on the push day and thats it. Heres how it works.
At the beginning of a ten week mass building cycle, lets say
your max was 295 pounds in the bench press. One of the keys to the
success of this program is to use 10% more poundage at the end of
the 10 week cycle for a one-rep maximum than what you could do previously.
In this program it would be 325 pounds (295 lbs. x .10 = 29.5 lbs.
295 + 30 = 325 lbs.). Whenever you are computing poundages by the
10% system and you have an odd poundage (in this case 29.5 lbs.)
always take your answer to the nearest five-pound interval. In this
case 29.5 lbs. would be moved to 30 lbs., whereas a poundage like
22.1 lbs. would be taken to 20 lbs.
Heres a ten week Matrix program for increasing
a 295 lb. bench press to one of 325 lbs.
10 Week Matrix Program
(Maximum Muscle Bulk and Power System)
WEEK 1: Monday (Heavy Day) 55% of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up
sets; then 3 sets, 10 reps, 175 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 10 w/140 lbs.
WEEK 2: Monday (Heavy Day) 60% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 9 reps, 190 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 9 w/150 lbs.
WEEK 3: Monday (Heavy Day) 65% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 8 reps, 205 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 8 w/165 lbs.
WEEK 4: Monday (Heavy Day) 70% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 7 reps, 220 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 7 w/175 lbs.
WEEK 5: Monday (Heavy Day) 75% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 6 reps, 235 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 6 w/190 lbs.
WEEK 6: Monday (Heavy Day) 80% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 3 sets, 5 reps, 250 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 3 x 5 w/200 lbs.
WEEK 7: Monday (Heavy Day) 85% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 2 sets, 4 reps, 265 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 2 x 4 w/215 lbs.
WEEK 8: Monday (Heavy Day) 90% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 2 sets, 3 reps, 285 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 2 x 3 w/225 lbs.
WEEK 9: Monday (Heavy Day) 95% of Projected
Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then 1 set, 2 reps, 300 lbs.
Thursday (Light Day) 80% of heavy day. 1 x 2 w/240 lbs.
WEEK 10: Wednesday (Personal Record Day) 100%
of Projected Max. Do 2-3 light warm-up sets; then first attempt
88-92 ½ Max 1 set, 1 rep, 315 lbs. Second attempt 95-97 ½
Max 1 set, 1 rep, 320 lbs. And finally, a third attempt with 100-102%
Max 1 set, 1 rep, 325 lbs.
The heavy weights used in the Matrix program
can undeniably take a toll on your body so after the 10 week cycle
go into a 4-6 week cycle of high volume training (that is, more
reps are done per set). For example, when doing Flat benches on
Monday, do 2 sets of 6-8 reps, then 2 sets of 12-15 reps, and finally
2 sets of 25-30 slow continuous tension reps. This is an excellent
way to hit all the components of the muscle cell (Fibular, Mitochondria,
and Sacroplasm). Each part in itself contributes about 33 ½%
to the overall muscle volume size. The remaining chest exercises
and those for the other muscle groups should be different than (or
a variation of) what was used during the 10 week cycle, and performed
in straight set style.
On the Thursday (push) and Friday (pull) training
days, stay with the same exercises, sets, and reps (unless otherwise
advised) as on the Monday, Tuesday, and optional Wednesday workouts.
Rather than reducing the poundages used down to 80% of what was
used on the heavy days, you may have to drop down to 65% to begin
with because you will be doing super-sets for chest and triceps
and tri-sets for the delts. On the back you can do straight sets
however. For biceps do one exercise in a double drop fashion, say
Standing barbell curl 80 lbs. x 10 reps, 50 lbs. x 15 reps and 30
lbs. x 30 reps. On another biceps movement such as the Dumbbell
curl, go down the rack in 20 lb. increases or decreases (depending
which way you go) doing all reps to failure. Vigorous super-sets,
tri-sets, double drops and down the rack are done basically non-stop
until all the required sets for a particular muscle group are accomplished.
Initially, after 4-6 weeks of this, map out a new Matrix program
and go back to the original exercises used in the previous 10 week
cycle. You may not always be able to add 10% for a new projected
one-rep max for the Matrix program. Pretty soon theres going
to come a time when 5% will be all that you can add.
However, for the first year or two you will continue to make those
10% gains, which will take a 300-lb. bench presser up to around
400-500 lbs. over a two year period of time, but only if he has
the desire or discipline to train consistently. Youll need
the desire and discipline to train consistently especially when
you are five to six weeks into the Matrix program and want to give
up because it is so brutally hard to get through.
Unlimited Nutrition & Supplements
For a guy who really wants to put on some size and gain some power,
he should eat everything he can get his hands on. Eat these foods:
All types of cheese; all types of nuts; rich soups and stews; thick
gravies; all types of cereals, especially oatmeal (a Ted Arcidi
favorite); all Italian dishes; rice pudding prepared with eggs,
milk, and seedless raisins; whole wheat bread liberally spread with
sweet butter; plenty of potatoes baked in their skins, with butter.
One of my favorites is to cut a store bought roll of chocolate chip
cookie dough, cut it in half, flatten it out into a giant cookie,
and microwave it.
If you want to make unusual progress, start
out the day with a big ol breakfast. I might start out with
8 oz. of orange juice and 3 oz. of Familia Swiss Museli mixed cereal,
with milk or maybe cooked oatmeal made up with whole milk rather
than water. Ill add a half a cup of raisins or diced dates
(sometimes both) and top it off with a ½ cup or dairy cream
and a liberal supply of honey. Next Ill eat a 4 oz. lean beef
patty, which is to be eaten with an omelette made of 5 eggs, 2 cups
of non-fat dry milk and a 2" x 1" x1" piece of American
cheese. For the omelette, beat the eggs, blend in the powdered milk
and a bit of liquid milk if needed. Pour this into a hot buttered
pan and fry it like a regular omelette with cheese broken into small
pieces or melted on top. If Im still hungry Ill eat
whole wheat toast with it.
Eat plenty of cheese, bananas, unsalted peanuts,
all nuts, raisins, dates, fresh figs, potatoes, yams, corn, and
beans. Its better to eat smaller meals every 3-4 hours rather
than just 3 large ones. Five 1000 calorie meals are easier to digest
and assimilate than three 1500 calorie ones. Never skip a meal when
youre trying to put on maximum bulk. Dont forget to
include plenty of water-packed (sodium free) tuna, fish, and chicken
breasts. Also, instead of going the doughnut route at break-times
at work, eat yogurt, peanut butter, tiger milk bars, etc., and be
sure to include high-calorie blender drinks.
To insure proper nutrition, if youre
consuming the wrong foods take in a quality vitamin & mineral
packet each day plus some type of protein supplement. It has been
my experience that you can get away with eating "junkier"
if you are taking a good regimen of vitamins and supplements throughout
the day along with your food intake. I dont have the space
to say more about Unlimited Nutrition & Supplements, but you
can be sure that any advice on diet which appears in this magazine
is more than worthwhile so dont be afraid to use the information.
Just about every word of it is expert and authoritative.
Unlimited Recovery and Sleep
As I mentioned early on in this article, muscle mass and power increases
during the rest cycles and not during the workouts themselves. The
way I structured the heavy and light push and pull training days
and having Wednesday (optional if you work your legs on a heavy
pull day, Tuesday), Saturday, and Sunday for rest will allow your
muscles and nervous system to recover completely from the workouts.
You must rest completely between workouts and especially on non-training
days and get a good nights sleep each and every night of the
week. I suggest a minimum of 8 hours sleep and night and I myself
try to get nearly 10 hours.
Few bodybuilders or powerlifters relax enough.
In this modern life, with the tempo stepped up so high, its
easy to fall into a pattern of fast living. Im not talking
about living in the fast lane of night clubs, drinking, and parties
every night in the week. Television, movies, and attending sports
contests, etc., can keep most folks up later in the evening than
is good for them. As a result, they try to sleep a little later
in the mornings and from then on out its a race against time:
rush, rush, rush all day long-nerves on edge, eating fast meals,
rushing through a workout (weights feel heavy and the bodybuilder
feels shaky and has to push himself to continue). These types of
conditions, day after day, are more exhausting than beneficial and
no profit will be shown from it. Kick back and slow down your pace.
Get to bed early so that you can get up in plenty of time to take
care of your morning hygiene and eat a sound breakfast such as the
one I described previously. Leave for work or school early enough
so you dont have to rush. Arrange your workouts so that they
will fit into your daily routine and you will not have to rush through
them. Relax several times a day. Reading is a good way, and I know
Ted Arcidi takes a 1 ½ hour nap each afternoon. Get rid of
the fast pace. Your body and mind will benefit from this greatly.
Closing Comments By Ken Lain
Follow the advice as I have outlined
it and I am sure you all will find the "Secrets of Gaining
Maximum Muscle Bulk and Power" easier than you thought. And
dont squat if youre wearing spurs (ha).