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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  1. 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?


  2. 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

    • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.


    • 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.