How to Add Muscle Mass Like a Hollywood Action Star

Workout for Muscle Mass

hollywood action star workout

A workout for muscle mass? Could it be? Am I really talking about building large muscles on a fitness site dedicated to building the lean, muscular, chiseled physique? DAMN RIGHT!

The truth is that most people starting out NEED to put on some quality muscle before worrying about getting lean and defined. I mean I don’t care if you have 8 pack abs if your chest is non existent and your arms and shoulders look like spaghetti. Now with that being said there is a good way to put on a muscle and a not so good way to put on muscle.

The ‘Not So Good Way’ To Put on Muscle

I see a lot of insecure teenagers who start off very skinny with the dream to get big at all costs. So they buy weight gainers, eat 4000+ calories a day and perform tons of squats and deadlifts. It is not uncommon for these guys to add 30 lbs in 3-6 months. So what’s the problem with this? Well if you take a look at the before and after pictures they probably look worse in the ‘after’ photos. They probably gained a good amount of fat and the muscle they did gain went mostly to their legs and ass. Their upperbody maybe bigger but it is most definitely softer looking. Lastly their face looks much less defined.

Example of a Poor Bulk – 180 to 220 in 4 months

Example of Bad Bulking Gained 40 lbs

Here is an example of a person who bulked up to put on 40 lbs in 4 months. Is it just me or does he look way better in the first pic? I found this transformation (if you can even call it that) on a bodybuilding forum – Link to Worst Bulk Ever. The funniest part about this ‘transformation’ were the encouraging comments. It’s ironic to think that in a world with so many overweight people struggling to lose weight that there is actually a culture (wanna-be bodybuilders) of individuals trying to get fat. The worst part is there are many more of these (transformations) around the net. If you reversed the pictures you could use them as before and afters for a weight loss product.

The Good Way to Bulk

Believe it or not there is actually a good way to put on muscle mass. Taylor Lautner is a great example of someone who effectivley bulked up. The dude went from a skinny 145 lbs teenager with 8 pack abs to a muscular 175 lbs with 8 pack abs. He didn’t have to sacrifice definition.

Taylor Lautner Transformation

Another example of someone who succesfully bulked up is Chris Hemsworth who is from the movie Thor. Hemsworth was in pretty good shape to start with but then proceeded to add a bunch of muscle with minimal fat gain for his role as Thor. In fact the director had to tell him to lose some muscle because he was too big for his suit.

Thor Workout

Another impressive bulk was done by Ryan Reynolds. The guy put on 20 lbs of muscle and lost fat. Talk about incredible.

Blade Trinity Workout

The most impressive bulk by far was done by Christian Bale who transformed his physique from a deathly skinny 121 lbs to a strong 190 lbs in around 6 months between filming the Machinist, where he played an anorexic insomniac, to Bat Man Begins, where he played a super hero.

Christian Bale Transformation

What is the Secret the Hollywood Action Stars Used?

Clean Bulk while adding muscle in the right places.

All of the actors mentioned added a lot of muscle with little or no fat gain. In addition the actors focused on adding muscle in the right places. By doing this a 5 pound gain in muscle can look like 15 or 20 lbs. The problem that most people make when bulking is they listen to bad advice. They wind up eating way too much food (especially junk food) and as a result they gain a bunch of fat in the process. They are told that you need to accept fat gain when bulking. The reality is you can only put on so much muscle and if your eating way over your caloric maintenance than many of those calories will get deposited into your fat cells. The second thing there told is to focus on Squats, Dead-Lifts and Bench Press. While these movements are effective they can do terrible things to your physique if over-emphasized. Squats and Deadlifts can give you a huge butt and overly big legs that are unattractive. In addition the Bench Press can overdevelop your lower chest which looks very unflattering on a man. Rusty Moore (author of visual impact muscle building) explains this in more detail in the first video on the Visual Impact Muscle Building Page.

What is the Best Workout Routine for Muscle Mass?

There is no best workout for adding muscle mass. However for adding muscle size quickly, this is the protocol that I find works exceptionally well.

5 Workouts Per Week

Lifting five times per week can work very well for adding muscle size quickly. You’re able to hit your muscles with a ton of volume to trigger some quick increases in muscle size. Lifting 5x per week can work very well for a 2-3 month period. After which, I prefer to strength train on an every other day basis, which I find leads to better recovery and strength gain. If you’re going to train 5x per week then nutrition and recovery needs to be optimal. Calories should support training and be slightly above maintenance and 7-8 hours of sleep per night is recommended.

Hit each Muscle 2x Per Week

If you’re after quick increases in muscle size then hitting each muscle group twice per week will lead to a much faster rate of muscle gain. I like to have one day per week where I really hit a muscle group hard with tons of volume. And another day where I back off on the volume a little bit. Here is how I like to set it up.

Monday – Chest and Triceps

Tuesday – Back and Biceps

Wednesday – Shoulders and Legs

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Chest, Back and Arms

Saturday – Shoulders and Legs

Sunday – Rest

Monday and Tuesday are high volume days. Wednesday is high volume shoulders and low volume legs. Friday is low volume. Saturday is high volume legs and low volume shoulders.

Start off Lifting for Strength – Finish Lifting for the Pump

When it comes to building muscle there are two different types of muscle growth. Myofibiliar hypertrophy (increase in size of the muscle fibers) and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (increase of the fluid in the muscles). MH is caused by lifting heavy weights for lower reps. SH is caused by lifting lighter weight for more reps. In order to maximize muscle gains you need to target both types of hypertrophy. The first 1-2 exercise for a muscle group will be dedicated to MH and the last exercise or so will be dedicated to SH. Most people stick to the same set and rep scheme and as a result their muscle building potential is reduced significantly.

Focus on Specific Exercises and Muscles to create the biggest visual impact?

If you want to add 10 lbs of muscle and make that 10 lbs transform your physique into that of a chiseled greek god than you have to be picky with your exercise selection and set up. Over-emphasize certain exercises and you can totally ruin your physique. The key is to focus on putting muscle on your shoulders, upper chest and upper-back while keeping everything else in proportion. Most people are told to train there legs like crazy because the Testosterone Boost will help them add muscle mass everywhere. There are two major problems with this.

1. You can only put on so much muscle at a given time. If you put 80% of your effort into training your legs than you can expect 80% of your muscle growth to occur in your legs. If you were to limit your leg workouts more muscle growth would occur in your upper-body.

2. Legs tend to be a very responsive muscle group. They usually grow much quicker than your upper-body. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone that has bulked up where they got most of their stretch marks. Chances are they got them on their thigh’s and butt first. It’s all about proportion. Tree trunk legs make everything else look smaller and less impressive.

Workout #1 – Chest and Triceps

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Flat Barbell Bench Press with feet on bench: 4 sets x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 4 x 10-12 reps (1 minute rest)

Skull Crushers: 4 x 6-8 (2 minutes rest)

Rope Extensions: 3 x 10-12 reps (1 minute rest)

Workout 2 – Back and Biceps

Weighted Pull ups: 4 x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Cable Rows: 4 x 6-8 reps ( 2 minutes rest)

Bent Over Flyes: 4 x 10-12 reps (1 minute rest)

Incline Dumbbell Curls: 4 x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Rope Curls: 4 x 10-12 reps ( 1 minute rest)

Workout 3 – Shoulders and Legs

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 4 x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Dumbbell Lateral Raises: 4 x 10-12 reps (1 minute rest)

Dumbbell Front Raises: 4 x 10-12 reps (1 minute rest)

Romanian Dead Lifts: 3 x 6-8 (2 minutes rest)

Reverse Lunges: 2 x 6-8 per leg (2 minutes rest)

Calf Raises: 2 x 15-20 reps (1 minute rest)

Workout #4 – Chest, Back, Arms

Incline Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets x 5 reps (2 minutes rest)

Weighted Pull ups: 3 x 5 (2 minutes rest)

Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 x 10 reps (1 minute rest)

Cable Rows: 3 x 10 reps (1 minute rest)

Standing Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 10 reps (1 minute rest)

Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions: 3 x 10 (1 minute rest)

Day 5: Shoulders and Legs

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 4 x 5 reps (2 minutes rest)

Machine Shoulder Press: 3 x 12-15 reps (1 minute rest)

Machine Lateral Raises: 3 x 12-15 reps (1 minute rest)

Squats: 3 x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest)

Lying Hamstring Curls: 2 x 8-10 (1 minute rest)

Calf Raises: 2 x 15-20 (1 minute rest)

Workout Notes:

Record your weight, sets and reps every workout. Your goal should be to gradually lift heavier and heavier weights overtime while maintaining proper form.

30-60 minutes after the workout have a protein shake with 40 grams of protein and 40-80 grams of fast acting carbs like dextrose. 1-2 hours after your shake have a big food meal consisting of lean meat, sweet potatoes or brown rice  and greens/veggies. These post workout meals are the most important.


How come you included squats, bench and deadlifts? I thought you said these lifts are not good?

These lifts are fine if used in moderation. However when people follow a workout routine like Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Program (a workout centered around these 3 lifts) or Bill Stars 5 x 5 program than these lifts can cause an unbalanced physique.

Complete Workout System

For a complete workout system focused on building the muscular hollywood physique I recommend Visual Impact Muscle Building by Rusty Moore. You can read my review here – Visual Impact Review.


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  • Martin

    Hi Greg!
    I love your website, it has so many excellent tips on working out!
    I have few questions about adding muscles. I am about 6 feet and 160 lbs. I gained 12 lbs in last 4 months. I hit every muscle group once a week, but I work out thrice a week for 2 hours. Your system seems to me like it has too few exercises, am I missing something here? I am used to do at least 12 exercises per workout (abs included), but you “require” only 4 a day. So, this is enough? Where would I include my ab exercises, because I do not want to lose my 6 pack?


    • admin

      Count again…. There are 5-6 exercises per workout. This is ideal. More doesn’t always equal better. Lifting weights for 2 hours is actually counter productive. After an hour of intense lifting your cortisol levels go up and you begin to breakdown muscle. 45-60 minutes is the ideal time for strength training workouts.

      You can perform you abs routine at the end of the workouts. If your looking for an awesome abs workout read this post – best abs workout . Or this post about getting v cut abs – how to get v abs

  • Martin

    Wow, I was really miss counting there! Well, I do like 4 exercises for each muscle… For example: 5 for chest, 4 for triceps and 4 for abs -> a day for 2 hours, thrice a week. From now on I am sticking to your plan and we’ll se how it goes ;)
    One more question about weights. If there are for example 12 reps, do you set weight so high that you barely do the last rep?

    • admin

      Pick a weight that challenges you for the rep range provided. I like to leave a rep in the tank to make-sure I avoid failure while ensuring that my last rep is strong and not a struggle where you have to grind it out.

      So avoid failure and avoid grinding reps out.

  • Mohamed

    Hi Greg ,
    I like your work , you always answer for what is on my mind , i have a question , i try to change my body by body weight training and fasting and it works fine with me the question is can i start lifting weight or better to wait till i became in a low body fat then do it

    • admin

      You can start lifting weights now if you want. Lifting weights and advanced bodyweight training are no different. Resistance is Resistance. Your body can’t tell the difference.

  • Tushar

    Hey Greg,
    This is a really good article, but I think you should write one that focuses on the diet, cardio etc. It really would help sort out a lot of our questions and thoughts.

  • Alameen

    Hey Greg,
    How long should I use this workout before switching to the “eat like a model, lift like a bodybuilder” type of workout?

    I’m 15, 5’11, and weight about 198, 20% bodyfat

    • admin

      I would get lean first and then use this workout. Get down to around 180 or so. Until you have abs and then focus on putting on more muscle.

  • Leonid

    Hi Greg,

    started reading your site after your comment over on Fitness Black Book about your 315 pounds bench press and one-arm chin-ups.

    Yes, I know about Visual Impact but your real-world application of it will help me as I have learned how to gain mass very quickly, but need to learn how to build strong defined muscles in the right places.

    Thank you,
    your info appreciated.

  • James

    Hi, Greg,

    Im in the middle right now i was 5’7 180lbs over the last year i dropped down to 150lbs but now im stuck trying to build muscle and achieve a flat stomach and maybe a six pack. I was looking for a full body routine i could do 3 days a week what do you think is best to achieve my goals?

    Thank you,


    • admin

      Try this routine out –

      Focus on one goal at a time. Either build muscle or lose fat. If you wish to get rid of your stomach than drop your carbs/calories for a few weeks until you reach your desired level of leanness.

  • Richard

    Hello could you make this routine into 4 days instead of 5 days? Also is it 2 minutes rest after each set, because I thought it was necessary to rest only 45 seconds to a minute when trying to add muscle after each set.

    • admin

      Yes you can! Just perform the 5th workout on the next week. So your going to cycle through the 5 workouts performing only 4 workouts per week.

      The workout routine maximizes 2 types of muscle growth – myofibiliar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Myo is from strength increase and results in bigger muscle fibers. Sarco is from high volume training with sub maximal weights and results in an increase of fluid in the muscles. Therefore the first few exercises are geared towards strength gains and myo and the last couple exercises are geared towards training for the ‘pump’ and sarco.

  • Richard

    Thanks, but what about the rest part is is 2 minutes after each set? I thought your only supposed to rest for like 45 seconds.

  • Braden

    I have heard that the 10-8-6-15 rep sets are good for building muscle mass. With the last set of 15 meant to pump up the muscle. Do you agree with this or would it be better to do another lower rep set instead of the 15?

    • admin

      Yes that is a good method to build muscle becuase you cause a lot of muscular fatigue. I think the last set of 15 reps is pretty crucial. When doing the pyramid set its important to keep rest very brief. Around 60 seconds. You don’t want to let your muscles fully recover becasue the goal is to create cumulative fatigue. As a result you pretty much use the same weight for 10 reps, 8 reps and 6 reps. As your muscles becuase more fatigued you are not able to bangout as many reps with the same weight.

      With that being said pyramid sets are not effective for building strength. Increasing strength is an important part of building muscle. When in a muscle building phase I like to start off my workouts with the first one or two exercises geared towards strength. I then throw in another 1 or two exercises geared towards cumalitve fatigue. This way you get the full spectrum of muscle building.

  • Wassauce Farooq

    Hey Greg, is it okay if I use this as a my workout for the ‘Shrink Wrap Effect’ after I cut down?

    just wondering, :)

    if so, how many weeks should I do it?

  • Vincent

    Hi Greg,
    I just watched friends with benefits, and afterwards I did some research and came here!
    I’ve been going to the gym regularly for 4-5 months now, and I’ve seen some decent improvements to my body. I’m 5’9, 160, body fat % of 14 (down from 18% 4 months ago)
    I’m trying to get a solid 6 pack (I’m maybe a 4 pack at best lol).
    I’m also trying to get more mass on my biceps (priority 1) and chest.
    I have some decent size on my arms, but my biceps don’t “peak” proportionally. My shoulders look way more developed then the rest of my arms.
    I guess my main question is, with the bulking workouts u posted with low intensity steady cardio, how should I be eating? I mean, the common “fact” I hear is that you HAVE to have a caloric surplus to build any muscle.
    So if I’m trying to add bulk but lower body fat %, should I be eating more or less than the 2200ish caloric daily intake for me?
    And is it even possible to get a 6 pack while gaining bulk?
    Thank you! sorry for the long post, I just have alot of concerns!

    • admin

      Hey Man! Welcome to the site.
      Focus on one goal at a time. My recommendation is for you to get your 6 pack before you think about adding muscle. If you try and do two things at once its not gonna happen. In my experience the most effective way to drop fat is to limit your calories to around 8-10 calories per pound of bodyweight per day. Get at-least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. Limit carbs to 50-100 grams per day. Get some healthy fat. Give yourself 1 carb refeed day per week.

      Here is a great biceps exercise –
      Here is an awesome chest routine –

  • http://none Nick

    When you say 2 min rest that’s in between each set right? Sorry if I sound silly. I’m just very technical

    • admin


  • Xavier

    Hi Greg,

    I am about 5’8″ and weigh about 177 at 16 years old. And I have a few questions:
    1) I have rather “fat” thighs and I would like to tone them up. So what do I do?
    2) I would like to get a six pack (at least a four pack).
    3) I would like to know what workout plan I should follow to gain muscle mass.
    4) What diet should I follow to also lose about 15 pounds.

    I have a so-so workout plan. So let me know if u would like to see it.

    Thanks a lot,

  • Xavier

    Hey Greg thank you for a quick respose. I have another question. For the workout should it be similar to the one on this post, or more muscle strength/mass focused?

    Once again thanks a lot

    • admin


      The one in this post is geared towards building muscle quickly. If you want to gain more strength and less muscle than lower the reps.

  • Lucas

    Is your Greek God workout and diet great for losing weight, or do you have a better workout and diet for losing weight quickly? ie 20 lbs in 6-8 weeks? Or should i follow a similar workout like the one on this post with the Eat Like a Model diet?
    I am sorry of the way i structerd this comment might be confusing.

    Thank You.

  • daniel

    how many weeks do i do this work outs..

    • admin


      You can do this workout for several months as long as you are progressing in strength. Every 3 weeks or so you can change up a few of the exercises.

      In my experience though, variety is highly overrated. If you keep switching programs and exercises too often then your body won’t have a chance to progress at a given exercise.

  • james

    hi greg,

    is it possible to leave leg work out of this routine including deadlifts?

    • admin

      Yes! If you don’t wish to increase the size of your leg muscles then by all means skip the leg work. I like to do sprints/intervals on the treadmill and stationary bike to tone up my legs.

  • Leslie

    Just one question about this workout regime: is it beneficial to replace the 2 rest days with high-intensity interval training days if I aim to build muscle and lean up a bit simultaneously. Thanks!

    • admin

      Hey Leslie!

      If you feel refreshed and have the energy for it on the rest days then go for it. A better strategy would be to perform some low intensity cardio for 30-45 minutes on the rest days. HIIT can be a little taxing when your lifting 5x per week.

  • Dan

    Hey Greg,

    Been following this workout for 2 weeks and lovin it! I realise the workout is paramount to actually producing muscle but I know nutrition plays a supporting role. The problem i have is the confusion around the diet… There is the, “eat a little above maintenance to gain muscle mass”, and then you have the “Eat Stop Eat 1/2 times a week with low calorie 5 days out of the 7”. Both are geared toward building the “Lean Hollywood Look”. Also, you mention on a recent post to eat more calories on the training days. Does that mean that you basically have to eat higher on 5 days and only low on 2? Your wisdom would be much appreciated!!!

    • admin

      Hey Dan!

      Glad you enjoying the articles. In regards to your quesiton it really depends on where you are right now and what your goals are. If you are trying to put on muscle and don’t really care about fat loss then I would recommend bumping up your calories on all 5 training days. Eat around 16-18 calories x bw in pounds. So if you are 150 lbs then you would shoot for around 2400-2700 calories. On rest days I would go down to 12-14 calories x bw (mostly from reducing carbs). This will allow you to gradually add muscle while making it very hard for your body to store any fat.

      The fact that you are doing the Hollywood action star workout suggests that you are focused more so on gaining muscle then fat loss. So try this eating strategy out.

  • Dan

    Thanks Greg! I was just getting worried about all the info out there. Can get quite confusing at times and even tho I love experimenting, time isn’t on my side. Need to get lean and ripped in 3 months. I do care about fatloss, as we all know, muscles dont really stand out without a low bodyfat level, and I assume with the eating strategy you mentioned, fatloss should come gradually. Ultimately, looking like a Hollywood action star means being muscular as well as being very lean. That’s what i’m after.

  • james

    hi greg can you please do a maintanence workout for when you are happy with your gains but don’t want to lose any hard earned muscle
    james recently posted..How to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

  • JLMA

    Which of Visual Impact’s Phases would this workout of yours fit in?
    Phase I? Phase II? Phase III?

    • admin


      This would count for phase 1 or phase 2.

  • nicholas

    Hi. I have started training 4 months ago. I only gained 2 kg. I am a skinny 57 kg at 178 cm height. I am 19. I have been training 3 times per week and eating about 2500kcal …What would you advise me to do?

  • Scott

    hi. loved the article. it was very helpful. I was curious to know if I should start with muscle building or cut first. I’m 23, 5 foot 9, and 169lbs. Do I need to get down to a low body fat % first or would i be good to start with putting on mass
    also where would you fit ab work into the routine

    • admin


      If your abs aren’t visible then you should get lean first. If you get lean first then add a little muscle you will look awesome.

  • Oliver

    Should the weight for example when you do shoulder press (8 reps) at workout 3 be the same when you do shoulder press (5 reps) at workout 5 ?


    • admin


      No. Since you are doing less reps you will be able to handle a heavier weight. You a weight that only allows you to get the number of reps shown.

  • kenneth

    do you can combine these workouts with some HIT and low intensity cardio so you will add muscle en become ripped ? and eat proper offcourse like breakfast , lunch , pre work out ( banana,bcaa) , post workout ( bcaa,whey) , dinner lean meat veggies and sweet patatoes. is it better to put the banana away in pre workout, can you still workout at the same intensity with sutch small amount of carbohydrates ?

  • Stephen

    Hey Greg I’m 14 years old, 5 foot 5 in height and I weigh about 110 lb. I am kind of skinny and I need to put on more muscle for hockey. Also I want to look bigger, stronger and I want to try to get the “lean/ Hollywood ” look. Would this workout here be right for me? If not, what do you recommend? Would visual impact appeal to me? I am already pretty lean and you can see a six pack. I just want more size and strength now. My bone structure is pretty small too so will I still be able to achieve the Hollywood look? Thanks alot Greg Please respond soon!!

  • John


    I use to be in pretty good shape (while doing martial arts/weight training etc) but I have definately let myself go.

    I started back at the gym about a month and a half ago, I am able to go 3 times a week consistently. I work out harder then I ever have before, and on top of that I have completely changed my diet as well. I eat a lot of fish, chicken, vegetables, oatmeal (all healthy concious recipes) etc. I also count calories and have been staying in the 1500-1700 range (etc the odd weekend day where I may have a few too many beers). I’m about 5’9, 170 lbs. My problem is….I havent lost any weight! I maybe fluctuate a couple, but thats it!

    Any suggestions or ideas what im doing wrong and why I have seen weight lose? I have noticed muscle gain a bit, but thats about all.

    Great site man!

    • Greg


      Hey welcome to the site man! At 1500-1700 calories per day you should be in a fairly high deficit. I would expect you to see a pound or two of weight loss per week assuming average activity level. How long have you been dieting for? If you have only been dieting for 1-3 weeks I would strongly recommend you keep at it. Sometimes it takes a few weeks and then the weight starts to decline. If you’ve been stuck at the same weight for longer then 3 weeks then something is going on. Perhaps you are overestimating your caloric intake? You could also try adding an hour of cardio exercise 4 times per week.

  • John

    Thanks man I’ll keep at it! I have been dieting for about a month and a half now. It’s kinda weird cuz the scale isn’t moving much but I’ve had people telling me I look thinner in my waist and that kind of thing? Maybe I am loosing fat but adding muscle? Either way, what do u think is the best way for me to go about continuing? Work wise, calories, etc. also, if u aim to eat 1500 calories or so, should u make a point to do that? I guess I mean sometimes I can go without eating much all day and I realize I’ve only eating 1000 or 1200. Is that a bad thing? Like will I loose muscle that way?

    Thanks again!

    • Greg


      This can happen where the scale stops dropping despite eating low calories. I recommend you transition to a more moderate calorie deficit at about 500-700 calories under maintenance. Sometimes eating too little can cause water retention due to elevated cortisol. Another good idea would be to incorporate 1-2 higher calorie days per week where you eat plenty of carbs.

  • Stephen

    Hey Greg I was wondering if you read my comment above
    ?? Please answer soon! ^^

  • Guillermo

    Hi greg, i have the visual impact body muscle and i am in the 2 week of phase 1, in this phase do you recommend training in fasted state??? Can you explain me a little more how fasted training works?? or what state training you reccommend



  • Jake

    Hey greg,
    I found your website about a month ago and have found it to be by far the most influential when it comes to getting fit and looking great. I am 17 going on 18 and 6’5″ at about 169Ibs. I used to be about 205Ibs about a year ago when i was lifting religiously but i fell out of habit and lost a lot of weight with an increase in my metabolism that happened over summer. I am now finally trying to get back into lifting as i am obviously very lean. i dont know what my body fat percentage is but i dont have much mass anymore and really wanna build up some mass and burn body fat to earn my utlimate goal of that “hollywood look”. i recently bought visual impact and was planning on starting phase 1 soon. However i dont really like how muscle building in split up into phase 1 and 2. I notice that your routine in a sense combines phase 1 and 2 by going for both goals in one routine rather than spliting it up into 2 phases. By biggest goal is to build muscle without fat as i am already lean and that will save me having to burn off much fat in the end, if any. I was wondering if your routine you suggest here would be better for mass building for the “hollywood look” or if i should stick strictly to the visual impact phase 1 and 2 routines split up? I just feel it would save time if i combined the two types of muscle building like you do here rather than split them up into phases. Thanks again and keep up the good work so you can inspire more people like you have done with me!

    • Greg


      That’s for the supportive words man. Glad you enjoying the site. Which program you decide to follow is ultimately up to you. It’s not a bad idea to follow visual impact through the whole program. After completing it you can try a workout program like this one which combines heavy lifting with pump training together.

  • Erik

    Hello! I think your stuff is one of the best out there, I see a lot of guys that market themselves as fitness gurus/expert and I get conflicting info and ideas but among them I think you have the physique that I want to model. My question is… is it possible to have a perfect Adonis index ration while training for a marathon? I’ve been running for a couple of years now… I’m not an elite but I want to run a 42k and 102k ultramarathon and finish with a decent time… How can I train for it with out looking like an emaciated distance runner?

    • Greg

      Training for two separate goals at once is very in efficient. Decide if you want to train for looks/strength or for a marathon.

  • John

    hey man,

    another question for ya…

    I am trying to follow the above workout….with the workout I am also doing the intermittent fasting. Usually I go from 7pm-11am ish without eating. I take a whey protein with almond milk about an hour before my workout (12:30pm), and then another one 30-60 mins after. Then I am trying to eat a decent size meal (with a decent amount of protein and carbs) shortly after. Since im at work I cant eat again til dinner time (6pm) and I have a big meal loaded with protein etc.

    My questions are…
    Do you think this is a decent way to go about reaching my goals to loose about 10 pounds of fat and get ripped? AND how important is it to take that dextrose?? or BCAA’s?

    • Greg


      If you’re trying to lose the last bit of fat don’t take dextrose. Having simple carbs post workout will shut off fat burning and add empty calories that won’t keep you full. BCAA or protein pre workout is beneficial.

  • ant

    I am also already very lean and want to bulk up without gaining any fat. My goal is to reach the ideal muscularity for my 5’10 frame, I am currently at 151 pounds and would like to know what the ideal wieght would be for someone my height to get the perfect physique or at least as close to perfect as possible.

  • John

    Hey Greg,

    Thanks for all your responses! I appreciate it!

    So i’ve been working out and eating about 1300-1500 calories/day for a couple months now (if not longer). And about 3-4 weeks ago I started taking pre/post workout protein shakes, and following the above workout.

    As I mentioned in an earlier comment I still have yet to see any weight loss. I am 5’9 and 171 lbs. I need to lose a good 10 pounds of fat I think still. Am I doing something wrong here? The scale does not move much past a pound up or down. I have noticed strength gains, an increase in muscle, and have also been told i look a LITTLE slimmer but I dont think I’m getting the results I should be seeing how since I started I think I have lost maybe 2 pounds!??
    ….also, my diet mainly consists of chicken, fish, steak, veggies, lean turkey, and some carbs like rye bread etc for sandwiches……

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Greg


      That is extremely strange John that you haven’t lost any weight at such low calories. Are you sure you’re tracking your calories correctly? There must be some mistake because at such few calories you should be practically starving and disappearing at that level for several months.

  • john

    The problem is that Human growth Hormone use is so common in sports and hollywood. Ryan Reynalds and taylor Lautner have definitely used substances. That vanity fair article is correct. I suggest you check it out. Im not saying they do steroids, but human growth hormone use is very common.

  • John

    Hey Greg!,

    Thanks for your replies!

    I decided im going to give the visual impact a try!

    Im wondering how long the workouts tend to last?? Seeing how there looks to be 9-10 exercises per workout how long can I expect to be at the gym? Reason I’m wondering is I workout during my lunch time at work, so I have around 50-60 to be lifting.

    Just trying to plan everything out so I can stick to the program once I start….

    thanks for your help!

    • Greg


      Phase one workouts seem long but if you are resting 60 seconds between sets then you should be done in an hour. If you are short for time then skip the last sets on the exercises.

  • Anthony D.

    Which abs exercises should I add?


    • Greg

      Hanging Leg Raises, Planks.

  • John

    Hey Greg,

    As always, thanks for the replies.

    Wondering if you have any advice on this…

    I am not looking to get “really big”, i mean I want the hollywood look and what not but my arms have always been on the bigger side. After doing some of your workouts and starting the VI program, my chest has been improving a lot (which was always my weakest point) and im wondering if I should swap out some of the exercises for more chest or some other variation? (since im not really looking for more bulk in my arms, but more definition)….or should I just continue with the program as is??

    also……I was in an accident a long time ago and messed up my shoulder. About 4 years ago my friend said my shoulders were uneven. After going to see a doctor she said with my injury I had compensated and held one higher then the other and its most likely still inflammed.

    now that I’ve gotten back into working out and started the VI program about a 2 weeks ago…its working really well but I notice my shoulder are still very uneven, as well as notice one side being a bit weaker while I workout.

    Is there anyway to correct this? by lifting a certain way, or other methods??

    Any advice would be appreciated!


    • Greg

      Keep following the program as is! Everything will fall into place. After completing the program you can do more of a chest specialization routine if thats what you want to focus on. Not much I can recommend you do for your shoulders. Try to consciously keep them as even as you can and maybe see if there is exercise therapy to correct the balance.

  • Alex

    Do you recommend incorporating any cardio or abs workouts with this workout plan? I know Rusty recommends small amounts of HIIT (if you choose to do any) for Phase I of Visual Impact, but he also includes abs with legs for one of the days. What are your throughts?

    • Greg


      This is a very high volume routine so I recommend limiting any extra activity. 2 abs sessions per week (after lifting) and no more then 2 cardio sessions is the most I would do.

  • Huan Shern

    Hi Greg, really loving your website and the great tips for building muscle! I am 172cm (5 feet 7 inches) and weigh 143 lbs. Should I follow the workouts here or from this article:

    Personally I prefer the latter one as I can work out only 4 times a week while focusing on the important muscles, what do you think?

    My focus right now is on building muscle, but I am making an effort to lose fat as well by doing cardio on my rest days.

    Would really love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks!

    • Greg

      Both will work quite well if you put the effort in. I would go with the kinowear one!

  • Jordan

    Hi, If I was to do the 5 day a week workout whilst jogging for a good 45 minutes after every workout would that count as good cardio aswell?

    I have a flat stomach but still have that bit of fat covering my abs, I can feel them but cannot see them. What is the best way to get rid of that fat? I want to get lean with good abs. My goal is to have a great six-pack by Christmas.


    • Greg

      Lifting 5 times a week plus 45 minutes of cardio after every workout is WAY TOO MUCH! I can’t imagine that going very well.

      If your focus is on losing fat you need to get your diet in order. Lifting 5x per week on a diet is excessive and unnecessary. Cut down to around 3 sessions per week. Remember on a diet the goal isn’t to build muscle but to maintain muscle.

  • Anthony D.

    Hi Greg! I’m really enjoying your website. I’m 5′ 9.5”, 159 lbs and 11% body fat. Would you recommend start lifting for gaining pounds and lose fat later or should I lose fat first?


    • Greg

      You could do either. I would probably cut until I’m under 10% before thinking about gaining muscle. This will give you more room to work with when gaining muscle. Never let yourself get over 12% body fat.

      • Anthony D.

        Thank you for the fast answer! Would you suggest doing the Kinobody Fat Loss Diet and Sliced & Shredded Workout for burning some fat? After loosing some fat, I’m thinking of doing the hollywood workout plan to gain some pounds, but I don’t know which diet i should do.


        • Greg

          Yes. That would be very effective.

  • Jackson

    Hi! I just read your website and I was wondering.. What do you think of people who train their whole body on each workout day? If they workout 3 days a week.

    • Greg

      Works exceptionally well for beginners. I would recommend doing whole body workouts for the first 6 months of training. 3-5 exercises per workout for 3 sets of 5-8 reps. As you become more advanced then workout your whole body in one workout will be way too taxing. It is at that point where a 2 or 3 body split would be a wise idea.

  • Paul

    When you talk about Myofibiliar hypertrophy & Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, how would you work that in?
    For example in workout #1, the Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4 sets x 6-8 reps (2 minutes rest).
    Will I use 1 set weight for all 4 reps or vary the weight?
    ie: start heavy, then go lighter for the last 2 sets by using the start off lifting for strength, then finish lifting for the pump technique?
    Thanks.. and thanks again for the very informative site!

    • Greg

      Keep the weight the same for all 4 sets. The first 2 exercises for chest you are predominately training for myofibrillar hypertrophy. The last exercise for chest (flyes) is with higher reps and shorter rest. This exercise targets sarcoplasmic.

  • Kris

    Workout looks great but throughout this 5 a week system do you still build in cardio and abs workouts? If so when?
    My body regeneration is also really slow and im an active sportsman so morally refuse steroids, is there any supplements you can recommend that may help me out? I already try creatine and a lean mass gainer

    • Greg

      You can add 2-3 abs sessions per week. I recommend a good diet with plenty of protein, fruits, veggies and moderate amounts of carbs. Supplement wise multi vitamin, fish oil, calcium and vitamin d is about all I recommend.

  • Ryan

    Hey Greg I’m new to the site and had a quick question. I’m about 6’1″ and 170 lbs but and have some muscle but not much. Would this be a good workout to add some additional muscle? Right now I feel like I still have a soft layer of fat on my stomach, chest, and arms will this workout help? Thanks and keep up the good work

    • Greg

      This is a very effective workout to build muscle! So yes this will help you add some muscle size. If you want to lose some fat you will need to reduce your calorie intake.

  • Anthony D.

    Hi Greg! Is there any problem in working out 5 straight days and rest on the weekend?


    • Greg

      If you’re maintaining your weight or lean bulking then that is fine. I wouldn’t do that if you were cutting though.

  • Chris Z

    Yo greg its been awhile and im starting visual impact muscle building all over and was wondering during phase 1 and 2 how much did you eat because im trying to gain like 10-15lbs of muscle. Would be awesome if you can tell me how many meals as well

  • Anthony D.

    Hey Greg, in the last exercise of each group (dedicated to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) should I lift to failure on every set?


    • Greg

      Stop one rep short of failure. So if you are going to fail on your 10th rep then stop at 9. You’re still pushing it hard but your making sure you get all your reps.

      • Anthony D.

        I usually finish these sets without executing the movements properly (cheating). I thought this was better for gaining muscle mass. So even in those sets, I should execute all the repetitions perfectly, right?

        • Greg

          Only with certain exercises is it useful to finish off with a few cheat reps. I sometimes do these with barbell curls and lateral raises.

          • Anthony D.

            Nice! Thank you for the answers!

  • Anthony D.

    Hey Greg, I’ve been doing this routine for a month and fasting 16/18 hours every day. But, unfortunately, I lost some weight. I’m trying to eat a lot in the 8/6 hours feeding window but propably It isn’t enough. What would you recommend doing? I’m current 5’10 and 147 lbs.

    Thank you!

    • Greg

      Don’t fast more than 16 hours if you’re having trouble gaining weight. Also include lots of carbs to get your calories up. Especially post workout.

      • Anthony D.

        I only fast 18 hours because my last meal is around 9 pm and my first meal is when I get home after college around 2 or 3 pm. Is there any problem eating 10 pm if I’m going bed 11 pm? Or should I bring something to eat in college?

        Thank you!

        • Greg

          There’s not a problem eating 1-2 hours before going to bed. That’s perfectly fine.

  • Paul

    Hey greg, is it wierd that i’m getting stretch marks after 2.5 weeks of doing this workout? i feel that i’m getting alot bigger

    • Greg

      Hmm that is a little strange that you got them soo quickly. Try to watch your diet. If you keep your calories around maintenance you shouldn’t be growing that rapidly.

      • Paul

        i’m having about 1800 calories with 150-170 grams of protein is that too much ?

        • Greg

          Is that total calories for the day? Or is that one meal of several?

          • Paul

            Thats the first meal after finishing the gym then for the rest of the day ill have one small meal of 500 calories

          • Greg

            So you’re eating 2300 calories total? What’s your goal – fat loss, muscle gain, maintenance? If you’re focusing on building muscle 2300 calories is definitely not too much.

  • Noel ChaChi

    Hiya Greg!
    -I must say in the whole online world of advice and tips regarding health and weight training, YOU are by far my favorite! thanks for all the help and support you give man keep it up!

    Okay so now to the real question….I have been doing intermittent fasting for about 2 months now with great success and it has got me pretty lean. However I am now on a bulking process for the winter and hope to put on some more lean muscle. I am about 2 weeks in on this Hollywood bulking routine and I was noticing that i am slowly getting less defined around my abdominals as i was prior to this bulking process…is this normal?

    • Noel ChaChi

      PS. (just extra info if needed) I am 5’7” weighing around 142 lbs.

      Thanks for your help and advice buddy!

    • Greg

      Thanks dude!

      Sounds like you are eating too much. You don’t want to be losing abdominal definition. Especially that quickly. Cut back on your calorie intake. You shouldn’t be gaining more than 0.5-1 lbs per week.

  • Wahib Farooqui

    Hey Greg is it possible to build muscle while losing fat with this workout while eating at a 1500 calorie maintenance? (I’m 5’7 145lb)

    • Greg

      Very doubtful your maintenance is only 1500 calories per day. Can’t imagine you would be able to build muscle on so few calories. You’re maintenance is probably more along the lines of 2000 calories per day.

      • Wahib Farooqui

        Ok thanks! One more quick question:
        Lets say i got lean, could i gain muscle without gaining fat or losing fat with this workout at a 2000 calorie maintenance?

        • Greg

          You could gain muscle without fat. I wouldn’t try to do both at the same time. It can be done but results are better when you focus on one goal at a time.

  • Noel ChaChi

    Hi greg its me Noel again!….I was just wondering how long is a usual effective bulk gonna last if following this “Hollywood Bulk Routine”….PS I am so far a month into this program and i can see a definite growth in size and strength in my chest, shoulders, back, and arms! THANKS A TON MAN!

    • Greg

      Awesome job man! For a good amount of muscle gain you’re looking at 3-4 months minimum.

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  • Hani

    Hey Greg, very nice site, You and Rusty are the only guys I take workouts advice from, too bad I already have Visual Impact otherwise I would’ve bought it throw your website to get your workouts.

    Anyway, can you please explain what you mean by Flat Barbell Bench Press with feet on bench and what’s the diffrence between it and the regular “feet on floor” bench press.


    • Greg

      Same as regular bench press but your feet are flat on the bench instead of the floor. This is slightly more challenging. You can perform regular bench press if you would prefer.

  • Hani

    Another question, I’ve been folllowing phase one in the visual impact now, when I read that you suggested to start the phases back word, should I jump stright away to phase three or should I just stick to the regular order.

    Yet another question, since I’ve already got the visual impact is there any other way I can get your additional 20 weeks of workouts, the thing is you’re a living example for it and I’d like to follow your footsteps, plus you’re one of very few who don’t neglect stringth for looks.

    Thank again buddy

    • Greg

      If you’re already lean then there is no need to start at phase 3. If you have some fat blurring definition then it’s probably wise to shed fat by doing phase 3.

      I actually have my workout program coming out in December. This is going to be 10x more effective then the bonus visual impact workouts.

  • adrian

    No ABS workout sir? hmm,,,

    • Greg

      I have other articles about abs workouts. You can use those routines.

      • Adrian

        thanks. Can I substitute this routine to VIMB Phase 1 and 2?

        • Greg


  • Arham Zavery

    Hey Greg,

    For the past 8 weeks I’ve been on the “How to Add Mass like a Hollywood Action Star” program and have seen some great results. However, I would like to continue gaining a little more mass. Do you know of any other workout that I can go to next?


  • Logan

    I v e been looking at the How to put on muscle like a hollywood star and how to put on mass like a super hero with the RPT. Which one is better to get bigger and stronger on.
    Thank You

    • Greg

      Superhero is more up to date and my preferred method.

    • Guima

      Stick with this program. As long as you apply progressive overload (gradually increase the weights) you’ll continue to grow. Or just try his superhero workout.

  • Erich

    What is the recommend cardio for this workout program? I want to build mass while also get in better cardio shape. Thanks for the advice.

  • Paul

    hey greg im 189lbs and 6ft 3 and 10 percent body fat but if i do this advanced workout and intake over 140g of protein a day will it be enough to build muscle?

    nother question is would it be wise to convert the exercise into a “metabolic resistance training” exercise? to help burn fat? or would i not get the same results?

    my goal is to be 200 lbs lean mass and at most 8% bodyfat

    • Greg

      Hey Paul,

      I’d actually increase protein to 160g per day. Calories should be about 250 over maintenance. Maintenance is usually around 15-16 cals per pound of bodyweight assuming 1 hour of physical activity per day. Doing the exercises in a circuit fashion would be an absolute disaster. You wouldn’t be able to lift nearly as much weight and thus the hypertrophy stimulus would be significantly reduced. Fat burning doesn’t happen in the gym. It happens in the kitchen with your diet.

      • Paul

        I know diet is very important but i mean to assist my fat burning should i do your ultimate fat burning routine after this workout 2 to 3 times a week?

        • Greg

          That’s going to be too much training in general. I’d recommend getting 45-60 minutes of low intensity cardio on rest days. Do the ultimate fat burning workout while following a less demanding strength training program.

          • Paul

            ok thank you Greg for your advise

  • Destin

    Can I do leg press instead of squats?

    • Greg


  • Lucas

    Hi Greg
    Can you give example of such shake with 40 g of protein? What should I mix ?

    • Lucas

      Also, what do you think about eating bananas after training?

      • Greg

        That’s fine. Still counts toward your calorie intake.

        • Lucas

          Can you tell me how much of fat should I consume daily? What is the barrier not to gain any percent in BFP?

          • Greg

            If you’re in a calorie deficit you won’t gain fat, period! That said, I think fat should be kept within a moderate level, 20-30% intake is usually optimal.

    • Greg

      Usually about 1.5-2 scoops of protein mixed in water or almond milk.

  • Kenny

    Hi, have a few questions about this routine. I am 23 years old and weigh 175. Not sure what my BMI is. I do a calisthenics routine 3-4 times a week just to stay in shape. It keeps me feeling good but I dont notice any results in terms of physique, which is why Im looking into something else. I havent lifted weights in years… would this be a good program for me to start back with? Also, could you point me in the right direction as far as what diet I should be following during this routine for best results? Thanks!

  • Guima

    Hey Greg,

    I’m thinking of following this program after I finish VIMB phase 1, it looks great!

    I got two questions though:

    1) Are the rest times relative to rest between sets or between exercises?

    2) How would you modify this program for someone not interested in training legs (they’re already disproportionately big) ?

    Thanks for your time.

    • Greg

      1) rest between sets. Take a few minutes between exercises or as long as it takes to set up.

      2) You can just cut out the leg workouts/exercises and continue on this routine as is. That will give you better recovery for upperbody.

      • Guima

        Thanks for the reply.

        As far as reps go, should we go to failure on the SH sets and avoid it on the MH sets or should we avoid failure in all the sets, both heavy and light weight?

        • Greg

          I recommend stopping about 1-2 reps shy of failure.

          • Guima

            Which workout do you think is best for muscle gains, this one or the one on the article you wrote for kinowear (


          • Greg

            I’d go with the one from kinowear. You’ll make better strength gains and build more muscle overtime. This workout is really high in volume.

  • http://www. GAry

    Great stuff! I have been working out for over 20 years. I am 47 years old and would like to loose some weight and gain muscle. I know its more difficult as we age but which workout do you feel would work best for me and why?
    Thank you.

    • Greg

      Do the daniel craig skyfall workout on kinobody! It will work very well for you.

  • Jordan

    Hey Greg can you do a workout for brad Pitt in fight club??? I’ve seen loads of different ones and don’t know which one to go for. Would really appreciate it

  • Jonah

    This workout goes against most of what you promote now. Would it still work to add size?

    This compared to superhero bulking and GGD in terms of focus for size.


    • Greg

      This is an old article of mine. And something I’d only recommend if you really wanted to lift 5 days per week. Definitely not good for the long term.