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Hypertrophy Block Review

Hypertrophy Block Review

The Program

I mostly followed Dan John's Mass Made Simple, but I'll state up front that I did not do the program as written. In particular:

  • I started the program, completed 3 workouts, then got sick & continued to do the third workout as a holding pattern until I felt solid enough to move forward.
  • The program recommends a three-day workout rhythm. (Each workout is followed by exactly two rest/recharge days.) I worked out twice a week. (Usually Monday/Thursday.)
  • Where the program prescribes bat wings, I did flexed-arm hangs, and later chin-ups on a pull-up bar.
  • The program uses squats at 185# through much of the last few weeks. That proved too heavy for me. Where 185# is called for, I used 165#.

I found that the workouts took about 90 minutes to complete, including a 5-minute warmup of light rowing.

I did not do any stretching to speak of during the program, and I have not noticed any diminished mobility.


Final Tally


  Before After
weight 187.2# 198.2
calf 15.5'' 15.75''
thigh 22.5'' 25.25''
hips 40'' 41''
waist 38'' 39''
chest 39.5'' 42''
biceps 12.5'' 14''

(All measurements taken with my OrbiTape.)

I'd call that a raging success. I haven't gotten results like this since I was in my 20's.


I decided to mostly stay off the bike during this block. I wanted a break after finishing the local race season, and I found that the barbell workouts maxed out my recovery capacity anyway. From a purely caloric perspective, the fuel that I was no longer burning on the bike was plenty to let me grow some muscle.

Aside from that, I've eliminated sweets from my diet and breakfast usually consists of two boiled egg whites and a high-fiber cereal.


Protein: I added 90g of protein to my diet each day. I'd have a protein shake with lunch (30g), and one after dinner (60g).

Here's the recipe:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop (30g) protein powder (2 scoops at night)
  • 1 spoonful of smooth peanut butter
  • 1 squeeze Hershey's syrup (~2tbsp)
  • 1 banana
  • 6 ice cubes

Creatine: I followed Mass Made Simple's recommendation to supplement with ~5g of creatine each day during the program. I took it all at once in tablet form with my nightly protein shake, and I've experienced no ill effects, and it seems to help with recovery between sets, and my ability to do longer sets.

Fish Oil: I continued my normal routine of taking a multivitamin tablet and several capsules of fish oil with dinner every night.

Subjective Notes

I can absolutely feel that I'm stronger than when I started, and comparing workouts from the beginning & end of the program bears that out.

During the last two weeks of the program, I definitely felt the fatigue accumulating. Once again, it's clear that adequte sleep is absolutely key for me. If I slept well, I'd feel good about recovering & finishing out the program. If I didn't sleep enough (late night, work, dad life), I found my motivation & recovery both flagging.

During the first half of the program, I was drinking 2 protein shakes a day, for a total of 60g of protein. That felt like enough, but as the workouts got tougher, I started putting 60g of protein in my nighttime shake after workouts, and that boosted my recovery & muscle gain.

I intentionally did not track my measurements during the program, mostly because I didn't want to overthink it. I wanted to just do the program as written (as much as possible), and see where I ended up.

As the squats got heavier, I really did feel my posterior chain start to work as a single unit. I feel like that's a nice progression from the very quad-dominant squat form I had in the past.

Before the beginning of the program, I'd been feeling some extra fatigue in my low back, and I worried that the sheer volume of squatting (and the loads) might be a Bad Idea for me. I maintained squat form at all times, and I've felt my low back get progressively stronger.

If I do a similar training block next year, I'll refine my nutrition a bit. Now that I know I can put on muscle, I'd like to get to a position where I have less fat to shed going into the season.

Looking Ahead

In the past, I've made excellent progress in the weight room only to find it tough to translate those gains to the bike. I'm going to make sure I hold onto whatever gains in work capacity I've earned over the last two months.

I've had good results in the past by shifting to a slightly taller gear than what feels right. As my legs adapt, I shift again. I'm hoping that training like that over the next few months will build my ability to push taller gears & move faster.

Whether I repeat this program next season will hinge both on my race results and on my body composition when I get there. Honestly, I feel like my squat & deadlift numbers are small for my size, so I might be better off focusing on strength.

I honestly couldn't be happier with my results. I put on lots of muscle & got much stronger. Last year at this time I weighed ~186#, so I've got more fat to shed this year than last year. But I'm fine with that. If I'm a few pounds heavier that last year, pbut I'm a couple of percentage points leaner, I'm happy with that.

Long Game Goals

Fat loss. I really want to get leaner. So the next training block will involve getting my body used to spending time on the bike again, but the primary goal will be to shed fat.

Strength maintenance. I've pushed up my numbers quite a bit, so I want to keep them where they are & start at next season's training where I've finished this season's. It would be awesome to be able to do this program 100% as-written.

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