How to Pack on 15 Pounds of Muscle

Use this workout plan to bulk up all over

August 31, 2011
buff man doing situps outside

Some of college's biggest, strongest athletes come to me to train for the NFLCombine. Yes, they're already shopping at Big & Tall when they arrive, but each guy packs on another 10 to 15 pounds of solid muscle. They do it in a few weeks, using basic exercises. Our secret? Maximum effort. They're willing to go all out to achieve what they want. Are you? 

Follow these 10 principles to pack on as much as a pound of muscle each week.


This workout is designed to help you pack on total-body muscle. Of course, if you ask a skinny guy where he wants to grow the most, he'll keep the answer nice and simple: "Chest, shoulders, and biceps, please." Rest assured, this workout can add serious size to those areas, but it'll also muscle up your legs and back. The upshot: You'll look bigger and buffer from every angle.

Build bigger muscle today! This is the only exercise book you'll ever need.

Do each workout (A and B) twice a week, with at least one day off before repeating workouts. So if you do A and B on Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday off. Then repeat A and B on Thursday and Friday. Take an extra day of rest if you're feeling run down or excessively sore. Warm up for 10 minutes. Do the exercises in the order shown. After each set, rest long enough to do the next set with nearly the same level of performance—about 3 minutes for 5-rep sets, and 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for the others. Do one of the core exercises before or after the strength exercises in A and B.

Tip: Perform the following Chest Warm-up prior to every upper body workout. The movements will activate the muscles in your shoulders, back, chest, and arms, which helps you lift more weight and prevent injury.

Workout A

Barbell Bench Press

1. Bench press
Hold a bar above your chest using an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Lower it to your chest, and press it back up.
Do 3 warmup sets of 5 reps using 75 percent of your estimated max. Then do 4 sets of 5 reps using 85 percent of your max.

Chin Up

2. Chinup
Hang at arm's length from a chinup bar using an underhand, shoulder-width grip. This is the starting position. Pull your chest to the bar as fast as you can, pause, and take 2 seconds to lower to the starting position.
Do 4 sets of 6 reps.


3. Dip
Position yourself in a dip station with your arms straight and knees bent. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Pause for 1 second, and press back up to the starting position.
Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Barbell Biceps Curl

4. Barbell curl
Using an underhand, shoulder-width grip, hold the bar at arm's length in front of your thighs. Keeping your elbows close to your body, curl the bar up to shoulder level. Pause, lower, and repeat.
Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Cable Triceps Extension

5. Cable triceps extension
Hold the rope attachment of a high pulley of a cable station and stand facing it, your elbows bent 90 degrees. Without moving your upper arms, pull the rope down until your arms are straight. Pause, and repeat.
Do 2 sets of 15 reps.

Video: Triple your chest with this workout


Workout B

Barbell Deadlift

1. Deadlift
Bend at your hips and knees and grab the bar overhand, your arms just outside your legs. Now stand up, pulling the bar off the floor and thrusting your hips forward.
Do 3 warmup sets of 5 reps using 75 percent of your estimated max. Then do 4 sets of 5 reps using 85 percent of your max.

Dumbbell Step-Up

2. Dumbbell stepup
Grab a pair of dumbbells and place your left foot on a bench or step. Press through your left heel and lift yourself onto the bench. Take 2 seconds to lower your right foot to the floor. Do all your reps, and then switch legs and repeat.
Do 3 sets of 6 reps.

Barbell Hip Raise

3. Barbell hip raise
Sit on the floor with your shoulder blades against a bench, your knees bent, and your feet flat. Place a bar across your hips; this is the starting position. Squeezing your glutes, lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Lower, and repeat.
Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Back Extension

4. Back extension
Hook your heels into a back extension station. Keeping your back naturally arched, lower your torso until your body is bent 90 degrees. Then raise your torso back up until it's in line with your lower body. Hold this position for 3 seconds.
Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Search: Can you build muscle without lifting weights?

Core Workout

Rotating Plank

Beginner: Rolling plank
Start in a pushup position but with your weight on your forearms. Brace your core and hold for 30 seconds. Now roll to your left into a side plank and hold for 30 seconds. Then roll to the original plank position and hold for 30 seconds. Roll to your right for a 30-second side plank and then return to the original plank and hold for 30 more. That's 1 set.
Do 2 sets, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets.

Plank Cable Row

Moderate: Side plank and row
Attach a handle to the low pulley of a cable station and lie on your right side, facing the stack. Grab the handle with your left hand and assume a side plank. Hold the side plank as you pull the handle to your rib cage, pause, and extend your arm. That's 1 rep. Do all your left-side reps, and switch sides and repeat.
Do 3 sets of 10 reps, with 1 minute of rest between sets.

Swill Ball Stir Pot

Hard: Swiss-ball "stir the pot"
Assume a plank position with your forearms on a Swiss ball. Use your forearms to move the ball in small circles while keeping the rest of your body in the original position. Make 10 circles to the left and then 10 to the right. That's 1 set.
Do 3 sets, with 30 seconds of rest between sets.

For video instructions and a digital training guide, check out this workout online at There you 'll also find a complete nutrition plan to fit any goal.