Unapologetically Chase the Pump with This Bodybuilding Masterclass in Gains – Men’s Health

With the Crossfit Open now over, you’re forgiven if you’ve grown slightly weary of fast-paced gymnastics, heavy Olympic lifting and burpees ad infinitum. With summer on the horizon you have yet another psychological bargaining chip with which to convince yourself that swole should be your new goal.

MH is no stranger to posting hybrid ‘functional bodybuilding’ sessions, trying to hit the sweet spot between form and function. But if you’ve been at the sharp end of competitive fitness for a while, without a curl in sight, or even if you’re just seeking an uber-pump, then an unapologetic bro session is in order.

But make no mistake, this ‘push and pull’ session is as brainy as it is brawny, leveraging scientific principles that are as ratified in the lab as they are in the gym.

The workout is split into two parts. The first utilised ‘antagonistic superset’ is designed to stave off fatigue, enabling you to push big weights for big reps whilst still getting a huge dose of muscle-building volume. You’ll move back and forth between two movements, one big compound lift paired with a smaller movement that works the opposite muscle groups, letting you to rest for the big lift, whilst continuing to pump up those smaller (but just as important) muscles in the interim. It’s a 2-for-1 deal on gains.

In part two, we’ll turn that principle on its head, pairing movements that work the same muscle groups. A smaller, isolation exercise will ‘pre-cook’ the targeted muscles before moving into a brutish compound lift. With your body already in a fatigued state, you’ll need less weight on the bar for your big lift to hit the muscle building ‘failure’ point. This won’t only coax your body into firing up maximum muscle fibres to get the job done but the lighter weight is more joint friendly.


Perform 5 rounds of each superset (as denoted by letter A,B, C etc.,) before moving onto the next. Do not rest between exercises, but rest 60-120 seconds between each round.

Start light and add weight to your lifts across each set, but don’t dip below the rep range prescribed for each movement.


5 rounds of:

barbell bench press

A1. Bench Press x 6-10

Lay flat on a bench, pushing your feet into the floor. Take a barbell out of a rack, locking out your elbows, holding the weight above your chest (A). Lower the bar slowly until the bar touches your body (B) keep your elbows at 45 degree angle, pause here before explosively pressing back up.

A2. Bicep Curls x 10-15

Stand tall with a pair of dumbbells at your sides, your palms facing towards you (A). With minimal momentum, curl both of your dumbbells upwards, turning your palms in, until your little fingers are near your shoulders (B). Squeeze here and lower the weights under control taking a 3 count to bring them down, fighting them all the way and repeat.

5 rounds of:

shoulder, exercise equipment, free weight bar, physical fitness, arm, strength training, gym, standing, joint, barbell,

B1. Weighted pull-ups x 6-10

Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip shoulder width apart, lift your feet from the floor, hanging freely with straight arms. (A) Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows whilst pinching your shoulder blades. If you can, add additional weight with a belt or weighted vest, building to the heaviest set you can perform.

B2. Tricep Extensions x 10-15

Lay flat on a bench with a barbell or pair of dumbbells locked out above your head (A). Bend at the elbows, slowly lowering the weight(s) towards your forehead, whilst keeping your upper arms locked in place, perpendicular to the bench. Stop just short of the bar touching your head (B) before pressing back up explosively. Repeat.


5 rounds of:

C1. Banded lateral raises x 15-20

Stand tall, with your feet inside of a light resistance band, holding the other end at your sides (A). Raise both arms up laterally, moving explosively against the band tension until they’re parallel to the ground (B). Pause here before lowering your arms under control to your sides. Repeat, quickly.

C2. Standing Barbell Press x MAX REPS

Using a light-moderate weight that you could usually press around 12-15 times, clean a barbell onto your shoulders. Take a breath and brace your core. (A) Press the bar overhead, squeezing your glutes to keep your back from extending and locking the weight out overhead (B). Lower under control to your shoulders. Repeat until you can no longer achieve another good quality rep.

5 rounds of:

D1. Band Pull-Aparts x 20-25

Stand tall, holding a light resistance band in front of your body, your arms outstretched, slightly below chest height. Adjust your grip until there is slight tension on the band when your hands are shoulder width apart (A). Keeping your arms straight and shoulders down, explosively pull the band apart, squeezing your shoulder blades together, until the band touches your chest (B). Reverse the movement and repeat in quick succession.

D2. Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows x MAX REPS

Set an adjustable bench to around 45 degrees or prop a flat bench up with a box. Position yourself face down with your chest on the pad, holding a pair of dumbbells (A). Staying tight to the bench, row both dumbbells up towards your hips, pause (B) and slowly lower before repeating.

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