The Fastest Way to Gain 10 lbs of Muscle

 by Corey Beasley

Would you like to gain some NEW muscle?

If so, this is a simple, yet brutally effective program that we have used over the years.  It's a great, off season, workout cycle that you can perform for 3-4 weeks max.  If you have a competition or fight coming up, please do NOT perform this workout.

The foundation of this program is the barbell back squat. You will be performing the back squat Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 3-4 weeks. In addition to squatting, you will perform one pushing and one pulling exercise to challenge the upper body. Simple, right?

To get started, you will need to determine your starting weight for the squat. If you squat often, then you can start with your 10 rep max for back squat. If you are less familiar with the barbell squat, then you should practice form on this movement before testing the limits.

Once you have determined your starting weight, then all you need to do is 1 set of 20 reps, without racking the bar. If you've chosen the weight correctly, you will probably have to pause between reps and take a few breaths. This is why this program is commonly known as "breathing squats". The only real guideline is that you add 5 pounds to the bar every workout. 5lbs might not seem like much, but over the course of a month, you will have added 60lbs to the bar!

After performing your breathing squats, you will perform 2 upper body exercises of your choice. I would recommend simple pushes and pulls, like push ups, pull ups, dips, rows, etc. Compound exercises that give you the most bang for your buck. Do 2-4 sets of each exercise and go eat.

The basic idea is that you are overloading the body (and mind) to do more work than previously thought possible. This progressive overload forces the body to adapt slowly over time, hence your new found strength and muscle.

*If you are nursing an injury or have any major imbalances from right to left (arm, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, etc), please consult a doc, coach or therapist before trying this program.

Here's a recent plan that we walked a couple guys thru at Innovative Results.


Foam Roll
Dynamic Warm Up
Squat - 1 set, 20 reps
Dips - 4 sets, 8-12reps, 301 tempo
Chin ups - 4 sets, 8-12 reps, 301 tempo


Foam Roll
Dynamic Warm Up
Squat - 1 set, 20 reps
Plank Chain Pull - 4 sets, 8-12 reps
Reverse Crawl - 4 sets, 75ft


Foam Roll
Dynamic Warm Up
Squat - 1 set, 20 reps
Push Ups - 4 sets, 8-12reps, 301 tempo
KB/DB Rows - 4 sets, 8-12 reps, 301 tempo

As previously stated, we performed these workouts for 3-4 weeks and then transitioned into another program.

Most of you guys are probably familiar with chin ups, rows, push ups and dips, but we included plank chain pulls and reverse crawls on Wednesday's workout and use a specific tempo Mon/Fri.

Here's a quick explanation of those points:

Plank Chain Pulls have become one of my favorite pulling exercises. We use a 1/2in, 30ft chain that is clipped to make a closed loop. We wrap that loop around a heavy bucket and we are ready to go. To perform the exercise, you start in the push up position, reach out front, grab the chain with one hand and pull back towards your arm pit. Although you could pull forever, we simply did 8-12 strong pulls on each arm and then rested between sets. Keep a strong stomach during the movement and do not allow too much the head, shoulders, hips or knees to collapse.

Reverse Crawls are simply crawling backwards. Keep your knees an inch off the floor, opposite arm and leg working together, head up and crawl in reverse. Crawling backwards basically makes your arms the driver, instead of your legs. This is a simple, but effective exercise for developing the upper back, shoulders and arms. If you are feeling ambitious, you can add resistance to this by using a harness or dragging a chain around your back.

301 Tempo is basically controlling how fast you perform the movement listed.  For example, if you are performing the push up, you would lower your body to the floor for 3 seconds, 0 pause at the bottom and push up for 1 second.  For the chin up, you would lower yourself down from the bar for 3 seconds, 0 pause at the bottom and pull yourself for 1 second.  The first number describes the eccentric portion of the movement, second is the pause and the third is the concentric portion of the exercise.

No chains?  No worries.  You can use any compound push or pull that you are familiar with.

Key Points

  • This program should be used during the off season or at least 12-16 weeks out from a fight.
  • Add 5lbs to the squat bar for every workout.
  • This should be the ONLY strength workouts you perform for 3-4 weeks.
  • You should increase the quality and quantity of meals that you eat.
  • Sleep a minimum of 7-9 hours per night.

Used correctly, this can be an extremely effective way to build muscle and increase your strength.  That being said, do not take the simplicity of this program lightly.  It is one of the most physically and mentally demanding programs we have ever done, but the results are undeniable.  Every person that walked through this program has gained a minimum of 10lbs of muscle, so get organized, prepare your food and get ready to grow!

Corey Beasley is founder of Fight Camp Conditioning and works with a variety of mixed martial artists, jiu jitsu players, wrestlers, boxers and other combat athletes.  His innovative programs have helped develop multiple world champions and continue to assist the young guys and gals coming up the ranks.

Got Questions?

Leave us a comment below.

PS...keep us posted on your progress.  We would love to hear about your gains, new muscle and the strength that you developed on this plan.