10 Best Lifts For Mass Gains

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Do you have as much mass as you’d like? Read on for the 10 best lifts for mass gains. Seven of the 10 are compound movements. Involving several and building muscle groups at once. Push some serious iron! Unless you have an injury that makes any one or more of these a bad idea-You need these 10 in your life right now!

10 Best Lifts for Mass Gains-


The big daddy of all lower body exercises. There is no more effective way to load the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes and hams than to put a barbell on your back. Squat down low and stand back up again. To get the most mass gains from squats, descend below parallel. Not all of us having flexibility in the hips and ankles to sink down to “rock bottom”. But perform a full rep as it relates to individual structure. Avoid piling on more and more plates sacrificing range of motion. It’s okay to do the positive part of the rep, aka the lifting in an explosive manner. Take care to lower the weight under control though. Never bounce out, this will wreck your knees over time. Find a stance that feels right for you. Try to maintain as upright a posture as possible. Use a weight lifting belt unless you have a powerful core.

Bench Press

Mass-Gain-ExercisesAll the pushing muscles of the upper body band together for this monster lift. The pecs, anterior deltoids and the triceps. Not only used by bodybuilders, but also as part of strength and conditioning in dozens of other sports. “How much ya bench?” isn’t nearly as important as how you bench. To maximally recruit the pecs and ensure the shoulders and tri’s aren’t taking the burnt of the load- set your body mechanics up correctly. Pinch your shoulder blades together. Roll your shoulders down toward your butt. Put a slight arch in your lower back. Use a spotter, but only to hand the weight off to you and help you rack it up at the end of the set.


If any exercise comes close to a “full-body movement”, it’s the deadlift. Involving the entire back, rear delts, biceps, quads, hams, glutes and calves! That’s a lot of muscle mass to hit all at once. Legitimately the simplest exercise possible. Lift something off the ground and put it back down. “I pick things up and put them back down”, in other words.  No need to lift like a powerlifter.  Set both hands overhand (knuckles up), and strap in. The initial drive off the floor is a simultaneous pull with the back, biceps and rear delts. Along with a push from the quads and glutes. Never allow you lower back to round. Many bodybuilders have transitioned to partial-range “rack deadlifts”. Usually starting the lift mid-shin or under the knees in a power rack. Rather than picking it up off the floor. Some swear by them as being more of a true back movement by taking the legs greatly out of the equation. Others dismiss them as a week substitute for full deads. That’s for you to figure out on your own if you try them.


Not only a very natural movement among humans, but all primates. It’s how you pull yourself up to a branch or top of a surface. As an exercise, nothing trumps it for working the upper lats, rhomboids, teres major and minor. Even the biceps. Requiring minimal equipment, just a bar bolted to the all or between two other supports. Once someone has mastered the chin-up with their own body weight, the next step is adding weight via a belt. Once you get to the point where you are doing good reps with a 45 hanging off of you, you can be sure your upper back will get wide and rugged.


The dip is right up there with the bench press in terms of overall impact of the pushing muscles of the upper body. When leaning the torso forward, the chest is maximally recruited, as the angle is very similar to a decline barbell press. If maintaining a more upright torso position, the triceps are forced to take more of the workload. Weighted dips are one of the most effective mass builders you will ever do for the chest and triceps. Some find dip machines to be better options. Particularly when it comes to attempting to isolate the triceps. If you can do them, nothing beats parallel bar dips. Experiment with keeping your elbows closer to the body or flaring them out. Find the optimal form for you.

Military Press

Mass-GainsConsidered so basic and vital to overall development that in the early decades of powerlifting, it was a competition lift. The only reason it was dropped, because arguments over how much backward lean was permissible in the standing press. Regardless, the standing and seated versions of the barbell press to the front, aka the military press, fantastic for building overall shoulder size and strength. Though dumbbells have their merits allowing the shoulders to rotate back a bit more, they become cumbersome to get up. When reaching a certain level of strength. Meanwhile, you can load the barbell up with 225, 315 or even 405! If you can blast up to 315 or more in decent form for reps-a lock you’ll build some thick, wide shoulders.

Barbell Rows

If you want a thick back, you must do barbell rows. These are often called “bent” or “bent-over rows”. Though the angle of the torso bend varies. Arnold did his with a full 45-degree bend, torso parallel to the ground. Some stood up a bit more upright around 70 degrees. Going any higher starts turning the row into something close to a shrug, as the range of motion is truncated. A forceful pull to the abdomen should coincide with a contraction of the lats. Followed by a controlled negative in which you can feel the lats stretch. Whether you pause each rep for more emphasis on the lats, or keep the bar moving in more of a piston style. It is a matter of personal preference.

Barbell Curls

If pulling substantial weights on deadlifts, barbell rows and adding weight to chins, your biceps are getting a lot of the residual work. They still need direct training, the barbell curl is the most effective option. The barbell allows for a greater load than dumbbells, so you can curl some decent loads. Unfortunately, barbell curls are the most commonly abused exercise in terms of form. Using heavy weight and thrusting hips. While “cheat curls” have their place, that place is after a few strict sets. Use a controlled rep speed. Think about flexing your biceps as you curl. Feeling them stretch out as you lower the bar. After three or four sets, your biceps should be pumped and burning. The straight bar is the most popular options, though many find the EZ-curl bar causes less wrist strain.


Triceps-Mass-GainsIf you’ve gotten to the point where you can bench press 1.5 times your bodyweight for reps as well as do dips with half your bodyweight strapped on. Your triceps will be thick and beefy. They still need direct work. Lying triceps extensions, aka skull-crushers, come into play. Most people do skull-crushers on a flat bench. You may get better range of motion and better stretch with an incline or decline bench. Most fare better with EZ-curl bar because you use heavier weights. You can lower the bar to your nose, forehead or behind your head. Use a spotter, if possible, at all times. Once you handle substantial weight, have the spotter hand off the bar to you and take it away at the end of your set. Saving you lots of trouble as well as your energy for the actual set instead of wrestling the bar into place.

Standing Calve Raises

Last but not least, we need to hit the calves. One winning basic movement, the standing calve raise. Anything you can stand on and hang your heel off, such as a step, will suffice. The calves are notoriously stubborn muscle group to build for two reasons. One, they are largely genetic. If you have high muscle insertions, there just aren’t a lot of muscle cells there to work with. Having no control over how high or low our calves insert. We do have total control over how we train them, and many of us do it wrong. Doing short, bouncy reps with too much weight. Need to use a full range of motion and a controlled rep speed. Rise up all the way on your tiptoes and flex your calves. Then lower until your heels are lower than the arches of your feet. Very low reps don’t seem to do much for calves. Work in ranges of 10-12, 12-15 and 15-20.


Day 1

Bench Press 5 x 12, 10, 8, 8, 8

Chin-Ups 5 X 10

Military Press 5 X 12, 10, 8, 8, 8

Deadlifts 5 X 12, 10, 8, 6, 6

Barbell Curls 4 X 8-12

Day 2 OFF

Day 3

Dips 5 X 10

Barbell Rows 5 X 12, 10, 8, 8, 8

Skull-Crushers 4 X 8-12

Squats 6 X 15, 12, 10, 10, 10, 6

Standing Calve Raises 5 X 20, 15, 15, 12, 10

Day 4 OFF


*Warm-ups not shown…always warm up as much as you need to!