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8 Week Bodybuilding Workout Program for Mass Gains

March 16, 2018

jason stallworth themuscleprogram mass gains

Building muscle mass is simple. Seriously, many people over-complicate the process. And many will stray from the basics of gaining size by going with some new workout trend.

Look, most trends suck. At least when it comes to working out. I’m all for innovative ideas, but when it comes to bodybuilding, there’s just some basic exercises and techniques you cannot ignore, no matter what the new wave of ‘experts’ say! 

So in this post, I’m going to give you my old school, anti-trend, proven-to-be-effective 8-week bodybuilding workout plan!

Best Type Of Workout For Gaining Mass

Gaining mass requires more than just lifting heavyweights. Now, don’t get me wrong, going heavy is necessary. And you will be doing some heavy lifting in this bodybuilding workout. 

But for true muscle mass gains, you need more than that. Otherwise, powerlifters would look like bodybuilders (and let’s be honest…they don’t)

So what’s the best type of workout for gaining mass

A workout that incorporates heavy compound exercises with a mix of isolation exercises and overall volume (more sets and reps). I’ll explain why below, but first let’s take a look at what a simple bodybuilding workout look like. 

Here’s an example of a basic bodybuilding back workout:

  • Barbell Rows: 4 x 4-6
  • Dumbbell Rows: 4 x 6-8
  • Seated Rows: 4 x 8 (drop set on final set)
  • Lat Pulldowns: 4 x 10 (drop set on final set)

As you can see, you’re building the strength and dense muscle with barbell rows, and staying heavy with the dumbbell rows.

But then you start merging into exercises and techniques that will pump more blood into your muscles, break down the muscle tissue, and help you pack on size. There’s also some added intensity for the drop sets. 

8-Week Bodybuilding Workout Program

Are you ready to start a real bodybuilding workout program? This is one of my personal 8-week workout programs for gaining mass. 

Keep in mind when say mass I don’t mean merely gaining weight or getting fat. In other words, don’t use the excuse…

‘I’m on a bulking cycle, bro…it’s ok if I eat whatever I want!’

Your goal is to build both muscle size and get to (or maintain) a certain level of muscle definition. And this is why the program is split up into 2 phases…

This 8-week bodybuilding workout program is split up into 2 phases.

  1. Phase I: Mass and Strength Gains (weeks 1-4)
  2. Phase II: Muscle Mass and Definition (weeks 5-8)

Phase I: Mass and Strength Workouts (Weeks 1-4)

8 week bodybuilding workout program for mass and strength

Your first 4 weeks are going to be all about building a solid foundation of mass and strength. Whether you’re new to bodybuilding or you’ve been in this game for a while, these workouts will simply help you pack on some serious size. 

You’ll be training 5 days a week, and here’s what you’re schedule will look like:

  • Monday: Back
  • Tuesday: Chest
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Deadlifts and Arms

Back Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Rows4 x 6-8
Dumbbell Rows4 x 8
**Unilateral Seated Rows4 x 8-10
Lat Pulldowns3 x 10-12
Cable Pullovers3 x 12-15

**Unilateral is where you have resistance on both arms (pulled back in this case), and you extend one arm out in the negative position while maintaining the other arm in the pulled position. You can also use the Hammer Strength or any machine that allows dual movement. 

You’ll be doing unilateral exercises for chest and shoulders as well. 

Chest Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Bench Press4 x 6-8
Incline Bench Press4 x 8
Unilateral Incline Dumbbell Press4 x 8-10
Dumbbell Flyes3 x 10-12
Cable Flyes3 x 12-15

Leg Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Squats4 x 6-8
Leg Press4 x 12
Stiff-Leg Deadlift4 x 12
Leg Extensions4 x 15
Leg Curls4 x 15
Standing or Seated Calve Raises7 x 15

Shoulder Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Seated Barbell Press4 x 6-8
Unilateral Seated Dumbbell Press4 x 8
Lateral Raises3 x 10
Bent-Over Raises3 x 10
Dumbbell Shrugs3 x 12

Deadlifts and Arm Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Deadlifts4 x 6-8
Skull Crushers3 x 8
Barbell Curls3 x 8
Rope Pressdowns3 x 10
Dumbbell Hammer Curls3 x 10

Phase II: Muscle Mass and Definition Workouts (Weeks 5-8)

workout program for muscle mass and definition

Your final 4 weeks are going to shift a little into gaining more muscle definition while maintaining the mass you’ve gained and perhaps gaining even more size.

You will still be doing your heavy compound exercises (I personally believe that no matter what phase of training you’re in, you always need to keep your core mass building exercises in your program)

But you’re going to notice that your reps are going to increase during this phase.

Your goal now shifts to pumping more blood into the muscle, and making sure your muscles are exhausted so that they can recover and grow (I’ll also give you some nutrition and supplement tips for faster mass gains after the workouts here)

You’ll still train 5 days a week in Phase II:

  • Monday: Chest and Biceps
  • Tuesday: Legs
  • Wednesday: Back
  • Thursday: Shoulders and Triceps
  • Friday: Legs

You’ll also notice that you’re working leg twice a week. This is because legs are your largest muscle group. Working them more will not only help you gain more size but you’ll also burn more calories because of the ‘mass effort’ that training legs take. 

You can read more benefits about training legs more often in my post: Training Legs Twice A Week: Full Routine For Muscular Legs

Chest and Biceps Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Incline Bench Press4 x 6-8
Dumbbell Press4 x 8
**Incline Dumbbell Flyes (drop set on final set)4 x 10
Cable Flyes (drop set on final set)3 x 12
Alternate Dumbbell Curls3 x 10
Preacher Curls (drop set on final set)3 x 12

**You’ll be doing drop sets throughout all of weeks 5-8. This is where you perform a set, and immediately do another set with reduced weight (by about 30%)

Drop sets will pump more blood into the muscle and you’ll achieve massive pumps, which will equate to more size and definition. 

Leg Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Squats4 x 6-8
Leg Press4 x 8
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts3 x 8
Leg Extensions (drop set on final set)5 x 10
Leg Curls (drop set on final set)5 x 10
Standing or Seated Calve Raises7 x 15

Back Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Rows4 x 6-8
Dumbbell Rows4 x 10
Seated Rows4 x 10
Lat Pulldowns (drop set on final set)4 x 12
*Reverse Grip Barbell Rows (drop set on final set)7 x 15

* That ‘7‘ under sets is not a typo. This is similar to Hany Rambod’s FST-7 training concept. You can apply this to all muscles but it’s crucial for back that you get more training volume, pump more blood into the muscle, and stretch the muscle fascia. 

You can check out my full FST-7 style workout program in this post: FST-7 Mass Building Workout.

Shoulders and Triceps Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Seated Barbell Press4 x 6-8
Arnold Press4 x 8
Barbell Shrugs (drop set on final set)4 x 10
Lateral Raises (drop set on final set)3 x 12
Weight Dips3 x 10
Cable Pressdowns (drop set on final set)3 x 12

Leg Workout

ExerciseSets x Reps
Deadlifts4 x 6-8
Front Squats4 x 8
Good Mornings3 x 8
Leg Extensions (drop set on final set)5 x 10
Leg Curls (drop set on final set)5 x 10
Standing or Seated Calve Raises7 x 15

Bodybuilding Workout Plan Nutrition and Supplements

You can follow this 8-week bodybuilding workout program religiously, but if you don’t give your muscles what they need to recover, they simply will not grow. 

This program would not be complete without giving you some guidance in those areas. And fortunately, nutrition and supplements are simple (though many overcomplicate this!)

Bodybuilding Nutrition for Mass Gains

Bodybuilding Nutrition for Mass Gains

If there’s one part where most fail at bodybuilding it’s the diet. Now, this post is more about the 8 week bodybuilding workout program (the weight training part), so I’m not going to go in depth with nutrition. 

The good news is I really don’t have to. Because eating for bodybuilding not complex. At least it shouldn’t be! 

I will give you some basic rules for bodybuilding nutrition that will complement this weight training program: 

  • Do NOT fall into the trap of trendy or fad diets! 
  • Yes, you need all 3: Protein, carbs, and fats
  • Eat 5-6 medium size meals per day
  • Make sure you eat plenty of protein and carbs immediately after your workouts
  • Don’t overeat, and don’t undereat (listen to your body, and just be honest with yourself)

Stick with those basic bodybuilding nutrition rules during this workout program and you’ll be just fine! 

**Be sure you check out my meal plans for mass and strength gains on this post: Meal Plans for Mass and Strength Gains

Bodybuilding Supplements for Mass Gains

Let’s be real…there’s a ton of supplements for mass out there. But let me break this down for you and help you save money. Because you and I both know that you can spend an entire paycheck on Bodybuilding.com or Amazon buying bodybuilding supplements.

Here’s all you need to start with:

  • Whey protein powder (for post workout and between meals)
  • Creatine Monohydrate (pre and post workout)
  • Multivitamin (take with any meal; I take mine with my post workout shake)

That’s it! Keep it super (or stupid, as they say in the KISS method) simple and you can make some awesome mass gains with just these supplements, and not break the bank!

**If you want to take it to the next level and learn more about my recommended supplements for mass gains, check out my post: Best Supplement Stack for Mass Gains

Post Program – What Workout Program To Do Next

You may be wondering what to do after you finish this 8 week bodybuilding workout program. There are a few different options…

  • Take a week off, or deload (workout light) for a week
  • Start the program over again!
  • Use this program as a template to create your own
  • Start a new workout program (see below for more) 

The most proven concept for building muscle continuously is periodization. In short, this means changing your workouts after several weeks. Our muscles adapt to the same thing, so it’s important to make these changes.

**Also check out my premium 12-week programs below:

Train with Passion,


About the author

Jason Stallworth

Hi, I'm Jason Stallworth and I created The Muscle Program in 2010 for the purpose of helping you build muscle. I know first-hand how weight training and being in the gym has shaped my life in more way than one. And here is where I share that experience with you so that you can continue pushing yourself and becoming the best version of yourself each day!