Simple Bodyweight Mass Gaining Routine

No prelude. Just straight to your face Rough Strength routine.

Monday

A1) Handstand Push-Ups – 20 total reps

A2) Front Lever Pull-Ups – 20 total reps

B) Pistol – ladders (count total reps)

Tuesday – off

Wednesday

A1) Pseudo-Planche Push-Ups – 30 total reps

A2) Pull-Ups with 3 sec holds at the top, 90 degree and at the bottom – 30 total reps

B) Pistol – 50% of Monday’s total reps in any set-rep scheme.

Thursday – off

Friday

A1) Explosive Dips – 40 total reps

A2) Explosive Pull-Ups – 40 total reps

B) Pistol – 75% of Monday’s total reps in any set-rep scheme.

Saturday – off

Sunday – off

That’s it. Closing points:

  • Adjust difficulty according to your current condition. If it’s too hard then choose a bit lighter version. If it’s too easy then pick harder variant.
  • Eat a lot. On your training days you shouldn’t feel hungry and especially before bed. You can experiment with off-days. Stay away from sugars.
  • Ladder is a special approach to sets and reps. Here in Ukraine everybody knows this stuff. Let me explain you. You pick an exercise and perform 1 rep. Then you partner performs one rep. Then you perform 2 reps and so on. It’s like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. When you feel exhausted start over. So, for example,  it’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (you feel that 7 would be impossible), 1, 2, 3, 4 (again you feel that 5 would be mistake), 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1. That’s ladder principle. It helps you to build a lot of volume while staying relatively fresh.
  • Where’s core work? I’m not a big fan of it. You can add 1 core exercise after main training part is done if you wish. Bridging every day in the morning would be a good idea for your lower back.
  • Don’t forget about progression. Make exercises harder once thay become easy or add reps.
  • “‘x’ total reps” means as much sets as it would take to complete ‘x’ reps.
  • Rest no more than 2 minutes between sets.

Become a beast! Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe.

Play rough!

Alex Zinchenko

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31 thoughts on “Simple Bodyweight Mass Gaining Routine

      1. WasD

        Алекс,

        А насколько интересным тебе было бы выкладывать русскоязычные версии этих статей про упражнения с собственным весом на http://WorkOut.SU в раздел статьи? =)

        Reply
  1. Gabri

    Hi Alex!!

    Great article as always, but i have a few questions regarding building leg size.
    Can you build big legs with pistols and weighted one leg squats ?

    I know deadlifts and squats are the best, but if i do them too aften mi low back feel too tired, and i don’t like that.
    So what about doing Squats or DL just once a week and the other days doing single leg movements like squats or jumps?? How would it work to try one of the 20 rep programs once a week and doing then bodyweight leg exercises the rest of the week??

    I just wanna train my legs and make them more muscular without hurting my back, since i already spend too much time sitted studying and it already kills my lower back. Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Gabri,

      Barbell squats are king of exercises for building leg size. Heavy weight for high reps and your legs will grow like weed. 20 reps once a week was the most productive leg size protocol for me.

      – Alex

      Reply
      1. Gabri

        Thank you Alex. Since doing it just once a week can give results i will definitely try it. Thank you!

        Reply
  2. Michael

    Alex could you please go into a bit more detail as far as the rep and set scheme? For instance… your routine for monday

    A1) Handstand Push-Ups – 20 total reps

    A2) Front Lever Pull-Ups – 20 total reps

    B) Pistol – ladders (count total reps)

    how many sets of 20 for A1 & A2???

    confused…

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Michael,

      You can perform as many sets as it will take. For example, reps could be 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1. Or 5, 5, 5, 5. Just hit the total. Of course you’ll need to adjust difficulty. If you can do more than 6 reps in the first set then add weight or make exercise harder.

      – Alex

      Reply
  3. John Taylor

    alex last 2 questions, im use to working out with weights.. will pistol squats be a pretty effective leg workout?

    and last, im going to basic training for the department of corrections and wont be able to go to gym, will this be enough to achieve a good body compareable to weights? and can i do sternum pulls up instead of front lever?

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Pistol squats are cool but they are quite easy. Add weight when you need it.

      Try it and see for yourself. Everyone is different. You can build solid strong upper body with bodyweight strength training. Just apply it correctly.

      – Alex

      Reply
  4. Mads

    Hello Alex.

    I am not capable of doing many of these excersises yet. is it possible that you can make a routine with “light versions” of the ones u have listed? So that i will be able to use this one later when i have gotten stronger? Great work :)

    Cheers
    Mads, Denmark

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Hey, Mads. If you can’t do these variations yet then you should concentrate on basics: pull-ups, push-ups, dips and bodyweight squats and lunges. When you’ll get strong enough you can try this routine.

      Alex

      Reply
  5. Nick

    Hey alex, is it possible to gain 8+ pounds of upper body mass following this routine?

    Reply
  6. Lance

    I can’t quite do handstand pushups, planche pushups, or lever pullups. What are some acceptable substitutes? Normal pushups and pullups are pretty easy to me. I’ve been working on 1-arm pushups for a while and can Archer pushups on the ground and can do more reps with rings that are about shin height. Any thoughts would be cool!

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Hey, Lance,

      Here are some easier substitutes:

      Handstand Push-Ups: Pike Push-Ups, Dive Bomber Push-Ups, Partial Handstand Push-Ups.
      Pseudo-Planche Push-Ups are not that hard but if you struggle to do them then focus on progressions to One-Arm Push-Up. Something like Diamond PU -> Lever PU -> 5 Finger Assisted -> 4 Finger Assisted -> 3 -> 2 -> 1 Finger Assisted -> One-Arm Push-Up.
      Front Lever Pull-Ups are also not that hard in tuck position. Do them on rings. If you still struggle try to add rubber bands for assistance.

      – Alex

      Reply
      1. Aj

        And what are your modifications for a intermediate/advanced athlete?
        Thanks for the reply.

        Reply
        1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

          It all depends on individual.

          1. Some people won’t be able to tolerate full-body training. So obviously I’ll split the routine into Upper-Lower-Upper or any other reasonable scheme.

          2. I’ll leave strength work in low volume. 3×3, 3×5, 5×3 are good set rep schemes. Or I can use something more flexible like 15-20 total reps.

          3. I may add volume work. It may be assistance work in higher reps. Something in the lines of 3×8, 4×10, 3×12 etc.

          And, of course, diet is the main issue in gaining lean mass. Slight calorie surplus, preferably 3-4 g of protein per 1 kg of bodyweight and don’t forget about carbs.

          I think this is it.

          – Alex

          Reply
  7. Matus

    Hi alex,

    really like your website and want to know your opinion about my routine. Im focusing on calisthenic-strength right now:

    3x strength workouts per week:

    1:
    – one arm handstandpushup progression 3-4 work sets
    – one arm push up progression 3-4 work sets
    – pistols ladders

    2:
    – one arm chin up progression 2-3 work sets
    – pistols ladders

    3: everything together (2 sets of each progression)
    – one arm handstandpushup progression 3-4 work sets
    – one arm push up progression 3-4 work sets
    – one arm chin up progression 2-3 work sets
    – pistols ladders

    on my rest days a i do some handstand balancing + work on front/backlever or one arm dragonflags…

    What do u think about this routine? Would you change something?

    thanks in advance.

    Greetings from Slovakia

    Reply
  8. Pedro

    Alex! you have to do one set of A1 and then one of A2 until you complete the total reps? and what do you think working on handbalancing and maybe hill spints on rest days?

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Pedro,

      >you have to do one set of A1 and then one of A2 until you complete the total reps?

      Yes.

      >what do you think working on handbalancing and maybe hill spints on rest days?

      It’s viable.

      – Alex

      Reply
  9. Pedro

    Alex! A1 and A2 are done like supersets and then rest 2 minutes???? and should we do the same amount of reps in A1 and A2 in order to finish both exercises at the same time? ad finally what do you think about working on handbalancing and mabe hill sprints on rest days???

    Reply
    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      >A1 and A2 are done like supersets and then rest 2 minutes?

      Not necessarily. You can rest 1-2 min between A1 and A2.

      >should we do the same amount of reps in A1 and A2 in order to finish both exercises at the same time?

      Again, not necessarily.

      – Alex

      Reply
  10. Agostino

    Do you think that a routine like this with 10 total reps per exercise will be good for pure strength gains?
    I’ll progress to harder exercise when I can do the 10 reps in 2 sets of five with 3-5 minutes in between sets.
    Thanks Alex.

    Reply

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