If you’re looking for size, use the compound movements in this routine that’s the illegitimate love child of bodybuilding and CrossFit.

Expert: Dave Lipson is one of the world’s strongest CrossFit athletes who works at part of CrossFit HQ Staff and Thundrbro training programs @davefreakinlipson

Building Blocks

It’s safe to assume you’re looking to take your CrossFit performance to new heights and this pursuit’s side effects are always welcome because many of us are more than happy to stack on upper body size and strength. That said, going to the gym or box and wandering around aimlessly will leave you unable to knock the fluff off a cupcake. You need a good plan and the surest route to add rock hard muscle is to hit compound and heavy lifts with good volume and train muscle to failure in a multitude of ways. A large variety of exercises that hit all muscle groups in different movement patterns creates a complete program geared toward fast results. This upper body strength and size progression starts with a major lift at a maximal load to develop pure strength and then introduces volume for hypertrophy and gained muscle size. It’s the complete package because the exercises target different movement patterns for pushing and pulling, which will boost overall athletic performance.


To make sure no stone is left unturned the workouts will finish with isolation movements such as bicep curls and tricep press downs. This helps target mechanical weaknesses and symmetry of some of the smaller muscle groups. Try this program for six weeks and expect rapid progress and increased upper body size. Then change the exercises to avoid plateaus. This is a four-day program with one rest day between sessions. The program can be completed with minimal equipment, just a barbell, bench, and dumbbells and rings. This means you can do it at home or at your local box or gym and achieve noticeable results in a short time frame.


Working Muscle Gains

Use this plan to get athleticism that’s all show and all go

Day 1

1) Bench press 6 x 2 to a 2 rep Max
2) Narrow grip bench 3 x 8 reps
3) Arnold press 3 x 12 reps
4) Skull crushers on the rings 3 x 10
5) Dumbbell chest fly + Dumbbell press 2 x 10 reps
6) Banded resisted tricep press downs 3 x 30 reps

Day 2

1) Snatch grip high pull 5 x 5
2) Weighted pull-up 6 x 2
3) Bent over row 3 x 8 reps
4) Hammer curls 3 x 10
5) Dumbbell hang clean 50 reps at 55/35lbs for time
6) Barbell in rack inverted row 2 x failure

Day 3

1) Pin press 6 x 2
2) Strict press 5 x 5
3) Weighted dips 3 x 10
4) Band resisted push-ups 2 x failure
5) Dumbbell pull-overs 2 x 20

Day 4

1) Rack pulls 5 x 5
2) Single arm row 3 x 10
3) 3 rounds for time of: 5 chin-ups, 5 wide grip pull-ups, 5 behind the neck pull ups
4) 3 x 10 Straight bar barbell curl
5) 3×15 dumbbell seated incline bench curls
6) Ring row 2 x failure


Success Card

The training is only one aspect because if you expect to make gains you better have these basics covered


Take the time to familiarize yourself with the movements the first week by going a little lighter than you think you should. This will not only allow you to concentrate on mechanics, but also give you the space to progress each week by getting a little heavier. The goal is to increase the weights and reps each week as a linear progression. Take restperiods between sets of 90 seconds to two minutes long. Sessions should take around one hour. If it takes longer . . . you need to move quicker!


Nutrition is a key element for gaining muscle mass. Having enough calories to support growth requires a slight caloric surplus (a little more energy than required to sustain your current mass). A rough calculation to reach a surplus is about 20 calories per pound of bodyweight. 200lb athlete x 20 calories per pound bodyweight = 4000 calories per day.

Another important piece of gaining lean muscle mass is eating enough protein to create the right nitrogen balance. Proteins break down into amino acids, the building blocks ofmuscles. A positive nitrogen balance mean that you are eating more protein than required to sustain your current muscle mass. To achieve a positive nitrogen balance use a rough start point of about 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight per day. 200lbs athlete x 1 gram of protein per day = 200 gram of protein per day.

Eating the right amount of food with the right balance of nutrients is key for gaining size and strength. With dedicated training and eating, gaining upper body size and strength are sure to follow.


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