Review – Mass Made Simple: A Six Week Journey into Bulking by Dan John


As of this writing, I weigh 199 pounds (at 5’10”).  Six weeks ago, I was bouncing between 190 and 193.  Of course, I wouldn’t be happy if I had stacked on 7 pounds of love-handle in 6 weeks.  Luckily, this is not the case.  Not only am I bigger than I was a month and a half ago, but I am now more defined, particularly in my legs, shoulders, back, and chest.  I did not see much change in my biceps, triceps, or abs.

I learned about Dan John’s “Mass Made Simple” program through David’s How To Beast website (formerly Born to Bulk), where David interviewed Dan John.  I recommend you read the interview in  its entirety to get a flavor for Dan John’s general bulking philosophy.  In this post, I am going to quickly review the program and tell you how it benefited me.

Put simply, the program requires you to put in a hard gym training session one day out of every three, giving you two days of “rest” (although one of those days is considered a “recharge” day where you do a light 20 minute workout).  This has to have been my favorite aspect of the entire program.  I like going to the gym; but like most people, between work and play and self-improvement in other areas of life, I can’t afford to trek out to the gym every day, or even every other day.  The silver lining for guys who DO love to hit the gym daily: you will NEED the two days of rest following these workouts.

Maybe I’m a lightweight, but these workouts kicked my ass.  For the two days following any given workout in this program, I felt like a narcoleptic version of the Cookie Monster; all I wanted to do is ravenously eat and sleep.  On many occasions, I fought to stay awake so I could pound a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich before falling into a 2 hour post-workout slumber.

The workouts are roughly the same every day.  You will perform the same exercises on each training day, but the weights and reps will change.  Dan John is always pushing your limits to ensure you never come anywhere near a plateau throughout the program.  The “Mass Made Simple” book provides a specific page of instruction for each and every training day of the entire program, so you really can’t go wrong.  Reps and weights are also specified for different weight classes, so littler guys have nothing to fear.

In other words, this program isn’t too hard for ANYONE.  You just have to bring it on the workout days, and focus on your recovery eating and sleeping on the off days (eating and sleeping isn’t such a bad hobby).  When I wasn’t preparing food, eating, or sleeping, I was reading and writing, two of my other hobbies that require minimal caloric expenditure and are conducive to rest.

The workouts themselves consist of high rep squats, complexes, bench presses, military presses, “bat wings”, “bird dogs”, and some stretching before and after.  If you’re scared off by complexes, don’t be; I had never done them before trying this program, but Dan John provides you the info you need to execute them safely and effectively.

The last point I need to make is regarding the way Dan John recommends “adding” weekly tweaks to your workout.  For example; he does not have you pounding morning, pre-wokout, recovery drinks, or creatine right off the bat.  Each week he adds one of these items.  By the end, you will be doing all of these things.  John’s purpose is to help you single out what works for you and what does not.  For people who already know this information, I don’t think it is useful to stop your recovery drink intake before starting this program.  However, if you are unsure, this is incredibly useful.

In my case, this staggering strategy confirmed what I already suspected; once I started on pre and post-workout recovery drinks, my mass increase simply exploded.  For the first few weeks of the program I gained little in weight (although I looked and felt stronger).  Once I added on the pre-workout drink, my mass came up fast.  Essentially, I packed on 7 pounds in just the last 3 weeks of the program.

Anyway, I recommend this program to pros and beginners alike.  It is customize-able enough to be effective, allows you to experiment with different supplement strategies, and will definitely boost your mass.

Time to move on to a new program!  Would love to review your suggestions in the comments section – thanks.

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