John Meadows' 6-Week Plan for Packing on Muscle Mass


Erica Schultz / M+F Magazine

Forty-two days. That’s the amount  of time we’re going to ask you to commit to packing on more muscle to your frame. That’s not a very long time, but by the end of the program, you’ll be begging for mercy.

For six weeks, you’ll follow a six-day (or three, if time is tight) training split that’ll require you to push beyond what your muscles can do alone. You’re also going to have to be comfortable eating far more food than you’re (probably) used to. 

All of this is the brainchild of IFBB Pro League bodybuilder and programming guru John Meadows, C.S.C.S. We’ve included a sample week from his six-week Project Colossus program. The tenets are outlined below, but here’s the gist: You’re going to lift as hard as you can, eat thousands of calories, and let your body guide your progression. When it’s all over, you’ll have the mass to show for it. 

Meadows’ Four Tips for a Successful Bulk-Up

Deloads: “There will be no deloads during this program. So suck it up and push as hard as you can for six weeks. Then you can back off for a bit.”

Progression: “One week you may do a certain number of reps, the next week you’ll add partials to that, and then the next week you may add an isometric hold on top of that.” 

Training split: “This is a push, pull, and leg program with optional pump days for each. That said, I do not expect you to do all six days. (You can if you’re a psycho, but that’s on you.) Instead, do all three main push, pull, and leg days [shown here] and add two pump days. If you want to focus on your upper body, you can tack on the push (pump) and pull (pump) days. Or, if you want to hit legs twice, add that into your routine and pick one of the additional upper-body days.” 

Recovery: “To really unlock your growth potential, make it your mission to reduce your stress outside of the gym (paying your bills on time helps big-time) and get a full night’s sleep. For sleep, my general guidelines are: 1) Get eight hours of sleep. 2) Turn off electronics two hours before bed. 3) Keep your room cool. 4) Don’t nap late in the afternoon.” 

How to Eat for More Mass

Directions: If you want to get big, you need to eat like it. Follow these guidelines as a starting point and adjust as necessary. It’s a lot of food, but you need to push it for six weeks.

*/ Eating For More Mass Macronutrients How Much To Eat Calories Multiply Body Weight x 20 Daily Grams of Protein Multiply Body Weight x 1.25 Daily Grams of Fat Multiply Body Weight x .5 Your Carbs Will Be Made Up Of Remaining Calories

Example: For a 200 Pound Man: 4000 Calories / 250g Protein / 100g Fat/ 525g Carbs

*To find carbs: Multiply 250 x 4 (4 calories in a gram of protein) = 1,000. Then, 100 x 9 (9 calories in a gram of fat) = 900. Add them up (1,900) and subtract that from 4,000 (total calories). You’re left with 2,100. Divide that by 4 (the amount of calories in a carb), and you have your number.

How to Gauge Your Workload With RPE

Your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) determines how hard to work. Here’s how to decipher the RPE numbers listed below. 

*/ Rate of Perceived Exertion RPE Description 6 Easy Warmup Weight 7 Can do 4-6 more reps 8 Can do 2-3 more reps 8.5 Can do 2 more reps 9 Can do 1 more rep 10 Hit failure with perfect form 11 Went past failure with loose form 12 Used intensity technique to push past failure 13 Used multiple intensity techniques to push past failure

 

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