This mass building workout focuses on stimulating muscular hypertrophy and developing raw strength. It is a 12 week powerlifting program built on 4 high volume training sessions per week and was developed by Ryan Mathias at Mathias Method. It is a peaking program that is designed to build your one rep max in the squat, bench press, and deadlift for meet day.
Spreadsheet: Powerlifting for Mass Building & Hypertrophy Program
Spreadsheet via Mathias Method
Mass Building Workout Program Overview
You can read a complete summary of the program on Mathias Method, but a summary is provided below based upon my interpretation of the program.
Four Training Days per Week
Each training week consists of four workouts. Two are heavy/intensity days, two are volume days.
- Heavy Squats & Deadlifts
- Heavy Bench Press
- Volume Squats
- Volume Bench Press
So that is 2x weekly squatting, 1x weekly deadlifts, and 2x weekly bench press.
Days 1 and 2 are the intensity days, while days 3 and 4 are the volume days. Each week will focus on either the squat or deadlift for its lower body intensity day, focusing on the alternate lift the next week.
For example, week 1 focuses on the squat, performing 5 sets of 6 reps @ 70% of 1RM, followed by an overload set. After that, a deadlift variation (e.g. deficit deadlifts, pause deadlifts, alternate stance deadlifts, etc.) is performed.
Week 2 will focus on the deadlift, performing 6 sets of 4 reps @ 75% of 1RM, follow by an overload set. After that, a squat variation (e.g. box squat, pause squat, front squat, etc.) is performed.
Overload sets are performed on day 1 (lower body) and day 2 (bench press) each week. This is an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set performed with the same working weight or a daily max. Whichever you choose can be based on how you’re feeling.
These sets can help determine if you should increase your 1RM inputs for the following week or keep them the same. It is not expected that these will increase each week. They may not increase at all through the program. That is okay. Still, this mass building program does allow you to adjust the 1RM inputs each week if you choose to.
Important: Regardless of whether you choose an AMRAP set or a daily max, don’t stop uses proper technique or go to failure! Leave a rep in the tank. This is an opportunity to expose your body to higher intensities, not practice poor form.
Every fourth week is a deload week where intensity is dialed back. This is an opportunity to allow your body to recover, which is essential to building mass and strength.
Deload weeks are also an opportunity to practice lift variations that target your weak points in a given lift. For example, if you often miss your bench press when pressing off of the chest, Spoto Press might be a good choice. Having trouble locking out? Go for close grip bench press.
While you won’t be deadlifting during deload weeks, it is recommended that you perform a lower back exercise like good mornings or reverse hyper-extensions.
As you approach meet day, it is okay to scale down your accessories in the last week or so to allow for a bit more recovery. Similarly, I would personally recommend not performing the overload sets during week 12, but this differs from how the program was written, which does include overload sets for the squat and bench press during the final training days leading up to the meet. I believe the program is written as if the final workout occurs on a Wedneday and the meet occurs three days later on Saturday.
You can learn more about Ryan Mathias, including other programs he has written, at MathiasMethod.com.