The Growth Surge Project – Part 2

The Growth Surge!


This is Part 2 of the great Growth Surge Project. The goal here is to prime the body for an intensive two week program of twice-a-day training and hardcore eating that could result in a shocking amount of new muscle. But don't jump into this program if you haven't gone through the Priming Stage. You can check it out here.

Time to Blow Up!

Feeling good? Feeling well rested and ready to crank it up, tear it down, and build it back? In short, are you ready to explode? Good. Because now it's time for what you've been waiting for, the reason you accepted this challenge in the first place. It's time for the Growth Surge stage!

Now we know what many of you are thinking. Although you may think you're a recovery reject, with the use of proper nutrition we can almost guarantee that you'll keep Overtraining Man at bay. Many a trainee has approached us complaining of poor recovery. However, with the addition of a solid nutritional plan and a targeted recovery regimen, they kicked that problem out the door like a dog with the runs.

Beyond the recovery issue, the two week limit on the Growth Surge stage was put in place because of another reason. Some of you – if you stay on longer than two weeks – may gain more fat than you'd accept. But if we cut it off at the two-week point, you'll get the anabolic "kicker" you need while avoiding excessive fat gain.

Another benefit of two-a-day workouts is the fact that two workout periods provide two post-workout "windows of opportunity" to stimulate anabolic hormone release, nutrient partitioning, and nutrient storage. In addition, the very nature of these workouts leads to the stimulation of GH and Testosterone bursts. By combining these bursts with the big insulin surge and the hyperaminoacidemia that the post-workout drink offers, you've got an anabolic cocktail designed for muscle growth.

Without further ado, let's dive right in.


Here's your workout for the next two weeks:

Week 1


Morning (A) – 9 sets of back, 3 sets of rear deltoids:
3 sets x 6 reps of T-bar rows

3 sets x 10 reps of chin-ups (On the last rep of each set, drop down 1/3 of the way and hold that position for at least five seconds. Repeat with two more drops.)

3 sets of triple strip sets for seated rows (5, 5, 5)*

3 sets of bent over rear deltoid raise

Evening (A) – 9 sets of front and side deltoids, 3 sets of abdominals:
3 sets x 6 reps of seated dumbbell press

3 sets x 10 reps of front shoulder raise

3 sets of triple strip sets for upright rows (5, 5, 5)

3 sets of hanging leg raises


Morning (B) – 10 sets legs (hip-dominant):
4 sets x 6 reps deadlifts

3 sets x 10 reps good mornings

3 sets of triple strip sets for leg curls (5, 5, 5)

Evening (B) – 10 sets legs (quad-dominant):

4 sets x 6 reps of squats

3 sets x 10 reps leg press (feet together)

3 sets of triple strip sets for leg extension (5, 5, 5)


Morning (C) – 9 sets chest & 3 sets calves:

3 sets x 6 reps of bench press

3 sets x 10 reps of incline dumbbell press

3 sets of triple strip sets for flyes (5, 5, 5)

3 sets of triple strip sets for standing calf raise (5, 5, 5)

Evening (C) – 6 sets biceps & 6 sets triceps:

3 sets x 6 reps of barbell curls

3 sets of triple strip sets for dumbbell curls (5, 5, 5)

3 sets x 6 reps of lying triceps extensions

3 sets of triple strip sets for pushdowns (5, 5, 5)

Thursday – Off (completely)

Friday – Repeat A Day

Saturday – Repeat B Day

Sunday – Off (completely)

Week 2

Monday – Repeat C Day

Tuesday – Repeat A Day

Wednesday – Off (completely)

Thursday – Repeat B Day

Friday – Repeat C Day

Saturday – Repeat A Day

Sunday – Off (completely)

Rest should be approximately two to three minutes between sets based on conditioning levels. If you're out of shape and can't come back intensely during following sets, use three minutes. If you can use max weights, use two minutes.

We suggest you train to failure or near failure on every set of every exercise. As for tempo, we have no strict guidelines, although you should be lowering the weights under control slower than you lift them.

Triple strip sets are performed by beginning with a weight that you can do a maximum of five times; then immediately dropping to a weight that you can do five more times; then immediately dropping to a weight that you can do another five times.

There'll be no cardio performed during this growth phase.

"Regular Guy" Training Section

We strongly suggest you follow the above twice-per-day training recommendations, but if it's absolutely impossible for you to hit the gym twice in one day, then here's an alternative program for you.

Basically, what we're doing here is taking advantage of the high calorie intake and the anabolic environment provided by the supplements. We do this by purposefully "overtraining" for two weeks. Don't worry, if you're doing everything else correctly you'll be fine and you'll see some impressive gains. (Be aware though, that your gains will be significantly less than if you had bitten the bullet and done the two-a-days.)

Note: One caveat for this program, though, is that you must eat less food then the calorie counter below recommends. Either you can figure out your number using the calculations listed below and then subtract 15% to get your calorie count for each day, or you can just skip step #5.

Week 1


Barbell Bench Press: 2 sets 6-8 reps

Incline Flies: 2 sets of triple strips (5,5,5)

Bent Over T-bar Rows: 2 sets 6-8 reps

Underhand and Close Grip Seated Rows: 2 sets of triple strips (5,5,5)

Standing Barbell Press: 2 sets 6-8 reps

Front Shoulder Raises: 2 sets of triple strips (5,5,5)

Abs (leg raises): 2 sets

Barbell Lunges: 3 sets 8-10 reps

Glute-Ham Raises: 3 sets

Preacher Curls With Dumbbells: 2 sets 8-10 reps

Triceps Pushdowns: 2 sets 8-10 reps

Standing Calf Raise: 2 sets of 10-12

Peck Deck: 3 sets of 15 reps

Pull Downs (close parallel grip): 3 sets of 15 reps

Rear Deltoid on Peck Deck: 3 sets of 15 reps

Deep Squats: 3 sets of triple strips (5,5,5)

Dumbbell Leg Curls: 3 sets of triple strips (5,5,5)

Standing Barbell Curls: 2 sets 8-10 reps

Lying Triceps Extension: 2 sets 8-10 reps
Seated Calf Raise: 2 sets 15-20 reps

Seated Row (close, parallel grip): 2 sets 10-12 reps

Wide Grip Pull-Ups: 2 sets to failure

Machine Incline Bench Press: 2 sets 10-12 reps

Push-Ups (feet up on bench, hands turned out): 2 sets to failure

Arnold Press: 2 sets 10-12 reps

Lateral Dumbbell Raises: 2 sets 10 reps

Abs: 2 sets crunches or similar

Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 15 reps

Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets of 15 reps

Donkey Calf Raise or Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets of 15 reps

Sunday – Off

Week 2 – Repeat

Note: Triple strip sets are performed by beginning with a weight that you can do a maximum of five times; then immediately dropping to a weight that you can do five more times; then immediately dropping to a weight that you can do another five times.


Get ready for some big time eating during this phase!

Since most trainees eat too few calories and fail to maximize feeding for recovery during their normal training cycles, we have to stress the importance of eating, eating big, and eating appropriately during this phase. Without the nutritional signals for growth provided at the right time relative to your workouts, the muscle can't adapt to get bigger and stronger.

That said, you need to stop right here and realize one thing. Our recommendations are not a free pass to the Golden City Chinese Buffet! The eating, while big, must be super strict. If not, you'd better call this the Gut Surge program.

Using the Growth Surge calorie formula provided at the end of this article, determine your calorie needs for this phase (they're about 15% higher than even Massive Eating recommends). In a prior Appetite for Construction column, you'll find a sample Massive Eating meal plan. Make similar food choices and you're on track. Again, you must follow this without compromise. Skimp on the calories and you'll be wasting our time and your own. And that means no new muscle for your scrawny no-calorie eatin' butt!

You may be wondering why we recommend so many calories, especially since you think you have the metabolism of a small vegetarian creature, Dustin Hoffman for example. You may be thinking that you'd never be able to consume so much food without being transformed into a large seafaring mammalian creature and sent back into the ocean from whence you came.

Don't despair. With Massive Eating, many who thought they had a slug's metabolism have been able to significantly increase caloric intake and create a new caloric balance point. We're definitely on to something extraordinary here. With this program, if you train two times per day as we recommend, you've got nothing to fear but fear itself (and stretched out shirtsleeves.)


Just like the training and the nutrition, this two week supplement regimen is intense. After two weeks you're going to be a little tired (mostly of chewing!), but the size gains will become apparent. Your supplementation includes:


Biotest Surge – For you two-a-day workout animals, take half a serving during each workout and half a serving immediately after each workout (yep, that's a total of two servings per training day for these two weeks). For you regular-guy types, take one serving during and one serving after training.

Androsol – 70 sprays, twice per day or MAG-10 taken per label directions. (We're making sure you have a truly anabolic environment in which to work.)

10 grams of regular ol' creatine powder (taken as you did in the first stage)

Flax oil – At least two tablespoons per day

Advanced Protein – Use as needed to meet calorie and protein requirements and fill in the gaps from regular food intake.

Note: Again, we know what you're thinking. You're thinking that the recommended supplements are going to cost you an arm and a leg and perhaps a pinky toe. Well, you obviously don't have to follow our supplementation suggestions, but we worry that most people will overtrain and see poor results while following such an intensive program without taking care of recovery and anabolic needs. So it's up to you, as always, but if you want optimal results then we strongly suggest you follow the supplementation guidelines.


Let's head off a few problems at the pass. First, you're going to be intimidated by how much food you have take in during this stage. Don't panic. After all, it only lasts two weeks and surely you can put your pecker to the grindstone for that short amount of time. The secret is to think of food as fuel, nothing more, nothing less. You're going to have to fuel the machine to have productive twice-per-day workouts and pack on the muscle.

One tip we can give you is to spend Sunday preparing food for the rest of the week. That way it'll be easy to get the calories required because much of your "stock" bodybuilding foods will be ready to go. MRPs and protein powders help tremendously in this area as well.

Also, get yourself a small cooler to take with you to work or school. Pack it with the food you'll need to get through the work day – tuna, cottage cheese, pre-mixed protein shakes, fruit, beef jerky, nuts etc. Our Foods that Make You Look Good Naked article should give you some more ideas and there are some great recipes in the "Recipes for Success" articles.

Don't forget to log your weight, body fat and other measurements before and after this stage.

As you did in stage one, be sure you're keeping an accurate food log. Most people fall drastically short on calories without one. Don't assume you're eating enough!

Some people find it convenient to train at home during one of the twice-a-day workouts. If you have some basic home equipment, this could make the twice-daily workouts a little easier to fit into your schedule, although you may have to make some exercise substitutions.


In the upcoming third and final installment, we'll help you recover from the Growth Surge, get rid of any extra fat you may have gained, and show you how to preserve that spankin' new muscle mass. Stay tuned and stay strong for the next two weeks!


Growth Surge Calorie Formula

Get ready to pack in some calories! For this stage, you're going to be eating according the original Massive Eating calorie guidelines, only when you get to the final number you're going to add 15% to it! Also, don't forget that you'll be training twice per day so your Cost of Daily Activity numbers are going to double.

Note: The first two stages of the calorie formula start out just as they did in stage one, but there are significant additions after that.

Step #1 – First, determine your resting metabolic rate or RMR. Divide your bodyweight by 2.2 to convert it into kilograms. A 180 pound guy would weigh 82 kg.

Now take your percent of body fat and multiply it by your weight in kilograms to get your fat mass (FM). If our 82 kg guy has 12% body fat, so 82 x .12 = 9.84 kg FM.

Now subtract this number from your total weight in kilograms to get your fat free mass. Our guy would subtract 9.84 kg from 82 kg to get a Fat Free Mass (FFM) of 72.16 kg.

Now multiply your FFM times 22 and add 500. That's your RMR. Our guy would multiply 22 x 72.16 to get 1582.52. Add 500 for a total of 2087.52. So his RMR is about 2087 calories per day.

Step #2 – Now we need to determine the costs of daily activity. We do this by multiplying your RMR you got above with one of the numbers below that best represents your daily activity level not counting workouts.

Activity Factors:

1.2-1.3 for Very Light (bed rest)

1.5-1.6 for Light (office work/watching TV)

1.6-1.7 for Moderate (some activity during day)
1.9-2.1 for Heavy (labor type work)

So if our sample guy worked in an office setting, he'd choose 1.5. So 2087 calories (his RMR) times 1.5 = about 3130 calories.

Step #3 – Now to figure Cost of Exercise Activity. Multiply total body mass in kilograms by duration of exercise in hours. Then multiply that number by MET value for intense free weight training, which is 6. (You may recall that there are other MET values but there's no need to list them because, well, you better be doing intense free weight training and skipping the cardio during this stage!)

So here's the formula:

Cost of Exercise Activity = Body Mass (in kg) x Duration (in hours) x MET value

Let's break that down using our sample dude. Let's say he trains with weights for an hour each time he hits the gym. As we said, the MET value for intense free weight lifting is 6. So he'll multiply his weight is kilograms (82kg) times one hour (1.0) times 6. So he uses about 492 calories during his weight training session.

But hold on a second. If you choose the twice-per-day training option and each workout is about an hour in length then you'll need to double that. So Cost of Exercise Activity will be 492 x 2 for our sample guy, or 984 calories.

Normally, he'd then figure out how much he burns during cardio, but remember, we don't suggest any cardio during the Growth Surge stage.

So now our guy is going to add 984 calories to his total thus far. 3130 + 984 = 4114

Step #4 – Now go back and look at your RMR number again. Our guy's is 2087. To calculate the thermic effect of food, you should multiply your RMR times 0.10 if you eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and 0.15 if you eat over one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So 2087 x 0.15 = 313. Our guy would then add that number to his total. 313 + 4114 = 4427 calories.

Step #5 – Normally, we'd stop there, but not during the Growth Surge! Now take your final number and add 15% to it. So our guy would do this: 4427 x .15 = 664. So he's going to eat 664 calories more than he normally would during Massive Eating: 4427 + 664 = 5091 calories per day.

John Berardi, PhD, is the founder of Precision Nutrition, the world's largest nutrition coaching and education company. Berardi advises organizations like Apple, Equinox, and Nike. He's coached the San Antonio Spurs, the Carolina Panthers, US Open Champ Sloane Stephens, and 2-division UFC Champ Georges St-Pierre.
Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram