4-Week Upper-Body Mass Workout

Build some serious muscle with this four-week upper-body mass workout from STACK Expert Bill DeLongis.

Upper-Body Mass Workout

Have you hit a workout plateau? Are you looking for a new way to train? This four-week upper-body program is designed to build muscle mass, making you stronger and more powerful. It was inspired by Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program and the Westside method.

Upper-Body Mass Workout


  • Perform the recommended weekly set and reps for each exercise.
  • Perform grouped exercises (A and B) in superset fashion with no rest between exercises. Rest one minute between sets.
  • Write down the result of each workout, so you have a benchmark you can try to exceed. If you cannot complete the reps listed with proper form, reduce the weight.
  • Warm up before all workouts. Read this article on common warm-up mistakes.
  • Each workout should last no longer than an hour, including your warm-up and eight to 10 minutes of core work.
  • Perform the workout twice a week. Devote another two days to your lower body. Take 48 to 72 hours off between upper-body days and lower-body days.
  • Before starting this workout, you will need to know your one-rep max on the Bench Press. Read this article to learn how to calculate your one-rep max.

Your week can look like this:

  • Monday: Upper body
  • Tuesday: Lower body
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Upper body
  • Friday: Lower body
  • Weekend: Off

Max Effort Day (Upper Body, Day 1)

1. Bench Press

Week 1

  • 2x5
  • 1x3
  • 3x5 @ 65%, 75%, 85%

Week 2

  • 2x5
  • 1x3
  • 3x3 @ 70%, 80%, 90%

Week 3

  • 2x5
  • 1x3
  • 1x5 @ 75%
  • 1x3 @ 85%
  • 1x1 @ 95%

Week 4

  • 4x10 @ 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%

Coaching Points

  • The first three sets are warm-up sets. Your max will determine how many warm-up sets you need.
  • Rest 2-3 minutes between sets to recover.
  • The percentage listed is based on your one-rep max.
  • For weight percentages, follow the order in parentheses. For example: 2x10 (80%, 90%) means do the first set of 10 reps at 80% of your max and the second set at 90%.
  • If you reach the prescribed reps on the final set and feel like you can perform more, continue the set until failure. Be sure to use a spotter.

2A. Incline Barbell Bench Press (Weeks 1 & 3) / Standing Military Press (Weeks 2 & 4)

  • 2x5 (warm-up sets)
  • 3x5 @75-85%

2B. Pull-Ups

  • 1x50

Coaching Points

  • Do as many Pull-Ups as you can between sets until you reach 50 reps.
  • If you complete more than 12 reps per set, add extra weight.

3. Row Variation (Seated Cable Row, 1-Arm Row, etc.)

  • 4x4-8

4. Row Variation (Choose a row that targets the upper back, like the T-Bar Row or Meadows Row)

  • 3x8-12

5A. Bicep Curl Variation

  • 3x8-12

5B. Dips

  • 3x8-12

Dynamic Effort Day (Upper Body, Day 2)

1. Speed Bench Press

  • 1x5 @ 30% of 1 rep max
  • 1x4 @ 40% of 1 rep max
  • 8x3 @ 50-60% of 1 rep max

 Coaching Points

  • The percentages help determine the load, but they can be changed. Bar speed is important. If the bar isn't moving quickly, the weight is too heavy.
  • If you have chains or bands, use them during this exercise.
  • Rest 60 seconds between sets.
  • This exercise helps you develop rate of force development (RFD), teaches you to accelerate the bar (so those max-effort lifts can be performed fast enough to avoid failure in the middle of a rep) and allows you to perfect your form.

2A. Push Press (Weeks 1 & 3)

  • 1x5 (warm-up set)
  • 3x3-6 (choose a weight 40-60% of your 1 rep max and work on bar speed)

2B. Varying Grips Bench Press (Weeks 2 & 4)

  • 3x6/6/6

Coaching Points

  • Pick a weight with which you can maintain bar speed and perform 6 Close Grip reps, 6 Normal Grip reps and 6 Wide Grip reps.
  • Do not rest between sets.

2B. Chin-Ups x50 (Weeks 1-4)

  • Do as many Chin-Ups as you can between sets of Push Presses until you reach 50 reps.
  • If you complete more than 12 reps per set, add extra weight.

3. Plyo Push-Up

  • 3x6-10

4A. Row Variation

  • 3x10-15

4B. Band Pull-Aparts

  • 3x15

5. 4-Way Shoulder

  • 2-3x12

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