This article was written by Chris Cormier, and featured in Flex Magazine,
May 1995 issue. For more information on how to subscribe to Flex, please
take a look at our Magazine section. Chris Cormier can be contacted at
Physique Promotions, 9668 Moss Glen Ave, Fountain Valley, CA, 92708. The
phone number is (714) 775-0204.
Mass is no mystery. Attaining it is quite simple and straightforward. All
you have to do is bust your gut and apply the following 10 basic rules.
1. Use Free Weights for all Heavy Sets
As heavy as some machines might feel, they do not involve as much of the
ancillary muscles areas as do free weights and, therefore, do not build as
much compound mass.
2. Utilize Compound Movements
How you perform an exercise is perhaps the most important dynamic in
building mass. If you want full, hard bulk, do not isolate. Instead, use
what Dave Draper calls 'body thrust' to compound the involvement of all the
muscles in the area. Also, don't fall for the theory that cheating robs you
of separation. On the contrary, it augments the compound benefit and builds
even greater size so that there's more muscle in which to carve separations.
3. Find areas of improvement
Assess your physique to determine which muscle groups need to be brought up
in size, then go to the gym with that in mind, concentrating on working
those areas first. Begin your workout with a barbell movement and follow with
dumbbells. If you use cables, do so at the end of your workout. Never count cable
sets as muss building sets.
4. Experiment to find your best mass building exercises
I used to perform lots of squats, and I became incredibly strong with them,
going as high as 40 reps with 315 pounds. But there came a point where, even at that
level of intensity, my legs weren't growing to my satisfaction. I discovered
that my lower back and hips were taking too much of the stress; the solution
lay in working my quads more exclusively. I therefore stopped squatting and
switched to leg presses and hack squats instead. My legs are now better than
5. Avoid injuries
Be wary of dangerous exercises. Squats and flat bench presses, for example,
possess the highest injury potential, so I stay away from them. I can't
count the number of individuals whose bodybuilding careers were ended by
torn pecs, slipped discs or strained erectors. With proper knowledge and
execution, you can get commensurate or even better growth from exercises
that work those muscle groups thoroughly without placing undue stress
on tendons and ligaments.
6. Utilize optimum sets
Use a range of 16 - 20 total sets per bodypart.
7. Don't count exercises
There is no optimum number of exercises. Most bodybuilders prescribe
four sets each of four or five different exercises per bodypart, but for some
muscle groups, there might be only one or two movements that work them
effectively. In those cases, you should do 16 - 20 sets of one exercise,
or 8 - 10 sets each of two exercises.
8. Perform optimum reps
I like to train heavy, but I also like to use lots of reps. I recently
performed incline barbell curls with 405 pounds for 10 reps, but I
consider that to be medium to light weight, and, therefore, not mass
training. My favorite number of mass reps on a regular basis is 10, to
failure, of course. However, that doesn't mean you should avoid going as
heavy as possible now and then.
9. Flirt with maximums
Check out your strength levels every so often by maxing out with one or two
reps. Remembers, though, that any time you play around with benchpress
poundages above 405, you flirt with danger. The body cannot consistently
take that type of training. When you want to test your max, do not take
big jumps. Rather, work up gradually to keep your body accustomed to
the changing forces and their deflections at each level. For example, I
go up to 500 pounds for two reps on the incline barbell press, but I do not
jump directly from 405 to 500. Instead, I make sure I can do 465 for
at least four reps before I go to my max.
10. Eat your meat
The more protein you eat, the better, and the best form of protein for mass
is meat, especially red meat. That's where you get your muscle building
nutrients, your strength reserves and the necessary fats for joint protection.
Make all of these tenets second nature to your bodybuilding lifestyle and
you will gain good solid mass.