Have you ever wished you had an experienced professional to guide you through your first serious bulking cycle, but couldn’t afford to shell out tons of money on an expensive personal trainer?
Well, maybe now you don’t have to, as Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine is a free resource designed to help lifters pack on mass in the simplest way possible.
What if it doesn’t work, though?
With all the different opinions floating about in the forums, it can be hard to gauge just how effective it truly is. If only you had an experienced professional to study it for you and give you the lowdown on how it really works.
Well, that’s what I’m here for.
I’m going to analyze the program and lay out all the pros and cons to help you decide whether or not it’s the right one for you.
Table of Contents
- About The Creator — Lyle McDonald
- What is Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Program?
- Program Details
- Generic Bulking Program Pros
- Program Cons
- Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Program Conclusion
About The Creator — Lyle McDonald
Lyle McDonald is an American fitness author from Los Angeles, California. He’s been involved in the fitness industry for 35 years and began writing about it all the way back in 1993.
He has personal experience in numerous sports throughout the years, including weightlifting, cycling, skating, swimming, gymnastics, and has even participated in the occasional triathlon. He recently spent almost 6 years training to try and make the US Olympic Ice Speed Skating Team.
When it comes to trusting a source, most people want a combination of knowledge and personal experience to give them confidence in what you say.
The fact that the experiences above are combined with a degree in kinesiology (exercise physiology) from UCLA makes him a source most would trust.
Over the years, he has published numerous books on fitness, workouts, and diets, which have garnered him a wide fan base.
He launched a website, Bodyrecomposition, that he now uses as the primary location for a lot of his work. He publishes articles, workouts, and diets there, as well as providing the option to book personal consultations with him directly.
Due to the popularity of some of his programs, especially the generic bulking program we’re looking at today, and success he’s had preparing clients for shows, he’s become quite the topic for discussion on bodybuilding forums.
As with everything in the world of fitness, he has his detractors as well, with some feeling his programs are not as good as people would have you believe and are overly simple.
That’s the draw with a lot of his work, though. It’s for the everyday man, not just the experienced bodybuilders among us.
What is Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Program?
The generic bulking program is a resource designed to help beginner to intermediate level bodybuilders put on mass.
While there are some elements of strength training involved, the primary goal is hypertrophy. As such, it features slightly more volume of both exercises and repetitions.
Designed as a split routine, separating upper and lower body, it’s a seven-day cycle with four training days and three rest days each week.
The rest days are spaced out with one on day 3 to break things up and two rest days back to back on days 6 and 7 to allow you to fully recover before starting again.
Each workout will last roughly 90 minutes, and the program should run for no more than 8 weeks before de-loading to allow the body time to recuperate.
Overall, it’s a relatively basic and straightforward routine that should be easy for anyone to understand and can be performed with the sort of basic equipment available at almost any gym.
Monday – Lower Body
- Squats – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift or Leg Curl – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)
- Leg Press – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (2 minutes rest)
- Leg Curl – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (2 minutes rest)
- Calf Raise – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)
- Seated Calf Raise – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (2 minutes rest)
- Abs/Lower Back – A couple of heavy sets apiece
Tuesday – Upper Body
- Flat Bench Press – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)
- Rows – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (3 minutes rest)
- Incline Bench Press or Shoulder Press – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (2 minutes rest)
- Lat Pulldowns or Chin Ups – 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps (2 minutes rest)
- Triceps Exercise – 1-2 sets x 12-15 reps (90 seconds rest)
- Biceps Exercise – 1-2 sets x 12-15 reps (90 seconds rest)
Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday – Rest
Thursday – Lower & Friday – Upper
Repeat the first two days. You may make some slight exercise substitutions if you wish.
Generic Bulking Program Pros
Simple To Follow
When you’re designing a routine for beginner and intermediate lifters, the last thing you want to do is make it overly complicated.
At that point in their development, not only will they have more trouble following a routine full of unusual exercises and advanced techniques, but their bodies simply won’t need them.
Until you start plateauing, the basics should see you making comfortable progress, and this is clearly the understanding of this program.
Allows Plenty Of Rest
One of the biggest pitfalls new lifters make is not giving their bodies enough time to recover. They are often so desperate to make progress that they spend every second they have working out.
While that sort of commitment is commendable, it overlooks the fact that our bodies do their growing while we’re resting, as this is when they repair the damage we do to muscle fibers during a workout.
Without even realizing it, they are actually hampering their own progress.
With each workout only lasting 90 minutes, 3 rest days per week, and a deload week every six to eight weeks, this program provides ample time for your body to do the growing you desire.
The easiest way for someone to give up on a program is if they get bored with what they’re doing.
Sometimes, even if it’s working, if they’ve been doing the same thing day in and day out for weeks on end, the mental fatigue can set in before the physical does.
The fact that the Thursday and Friday routines allow for “slight exercise substitutions” is a great way to combat that.
It gives the user the ability to shake things up a little to keep things fresh, while at the same time specifying the changes must only be slight.
This will prevent the hindering of the overall effectiveness of the workout.
Lack Of a Diet Plan
When it comes to bulking, nothing is as important as your diet.
You could be following the most effective bulking workouts in the world, but if you don’t have the right nutrients, you still won’t see any results.
Your muscles need fuel to grow.
It could be argued that this is just the workouts, and you should combine it with your own nutrition plan. That said, the top programs usually come with a diet plan or, at the very least, a guide of roughly what your macro intake should be.
That means that, unfortunately, the lack of anything diet-related here has to go down as a negative against it.
Certain Body Parts Seem to Be an Afterthought
While I understand the need to prioritize your legs, back, and chest, as they are the body’s biggest muscles, I still feel some of the others are overlooked.
While it specifies a couple of heavy sets for both your lower back and abs twice a week, it still seems a little neglectful for such an important body part as your core—especially as there are no exercises recommended for them either.
Biceps and triceps could receive as little attention as 2 sets each in the entire week, and no specific exercise has been listed.
Shoulders could potentially receive no work at all, as there is the option to do incline bench press instead.
For the sake of a couple of extra sets per week and a little more guidance, these could have been fleshed out. But instead, they seem to have been tacked on with little to no consideration.
Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Program Conclusion
Overall, this program represents a good starting point in the world of bodybuilding and is something I would recommend for those just finding their feet in the sport.
For beginners, it should provide all they need in the gym to start producing results. For more experienced lifters, it provides them with a solid base to build from.
It gives a good idea of the sort of exercises you should be doing, along with reps, sets, rest times, etc. This will allow you to add and subtract things as you develop, get more confident, and better understand your own body.
The one thing I cannot stress enough, though, if you plan to follow this program, is to make sure you have a suitable diet plan to accompany it.
The lack of any mention of an accompanying diet is a massive oversight, in my opinion, and you won’t make any progress unless you sort that out first.
Are you ready to “flip the switch” and bulk up with a tried-and-true program? Then check out our review of Athlean-X’s Total Beast Program to see why so many serious lifters swear by it.