Dan John: Mass Made Simple – A review

After having finished Easy Strength recently, and Never Let Go a while back, I recently bought Dan John’s book Mass Made Simple, and I managed to read it in the train to Paris and back yesterday. Here my review:

Nomen est omen – the book is about one thing, and one thing only – bulking – so you probably know what to expect: exercise, nutrition, recovery.This is what you’ll get. The book starts with a number of general tips and observations, but it pretty quickly goes into the first “preparatory” program for those new to bulking, especially those who (literally) don’t know squat. This program is – six weeks of goblet squats. Not very exciting, but just what the doctor ordered to get squatting because – you might guess – the key component of the bulking program is the squat.

The main part of the book then is the bulking program, first the principles, and then – like in all the Bench-a-Bull-before-Brunch programs – a description of each an every workout; all 14 of them. Yeah, you heard right – it is only 14 workouts, even though IMHO you will stop using the word “only” in this context in the end. The program is one-day-on, two-day-off (ish – a bit of active recovery is scheduled half of the off days), 14*3 = 42, and 42 days is 6 weeks, just what the doctor ordered for a bulking program.
The program itself is very simple: upper body work, complexes, and squatting. The upper body exercises are the usual suspects: bench press, overhead press (one-arm-style), and a row. The complexes can be found on Dan’s site. And the squats are squats. Back squats, to precise. For the average punter, Dan starts with breezy 30@50kg, it goes up to essentially 50@100kg in workout#13 – #14 is the beginning of the deloading already. That’s it – almost.

Dan also introduces some tweaks – protein, creatin, coffein (actually, more like protein, creatin, more protein, even more protein, …) – and, cunning fox he is, not all at the same time so that you can actually figure out what works and what doesnt.

The verdict: an absolute buy for everyone who wants to do some bulking – and who doesnt? Personally my issue is that I currently do not have access to barbells (did I mention that a gym owner told me that the French ministry of health forbids the use of free weight in gyms? Now he could be full of the proverbial, but keep in mind that this is France which makes this claim actually sound quite reasonable; …ben alors, c’est comme ca, tu sait?…). So at the moment I am thinking how to do something useful with my 20kg and my 24kg kettlebell and whatever else I have available at home. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Dan John: Mass Made Simple – A review

  1. I’m guessing one wouldn’t be able to do this workout in the park using body weight exercises? Also, does the book prescribe a standard recovery period for everyone?

    • Dan is pretty adamant that this program is the program, and either you follow it or you don’t, but if you tweak it than it is no longer his program. He says that he has seen enough people trying to tweak it, and usually with bad results. My take would be that even though for some people it might be better to adjust recovery, in average allowing those kind of tweaks does more harm than good. On top of this, he’ll get all the emails “your program does not work” because people overtweak.

      As for the park – difficult I’d say. The upper body stuff might work – some kind of enhance push-ups and hand-stand push-ups. As for the complexes, you might sub them with some kettlebell work. But the squat is a bit difficult to do – one-legged squats are just not the same as backsquats. They clearly are extremely difficult, but I don’t think they bulk the same – I guess you just have to look at Pavel vs Dan. Pavel is incredibly strong, but certainly not big. I could be wrong, but as far as I can see most of the guys doing one-legged squats are more the wiry type, not the big type.

      So in summary – I’d probably try to get 14 free passes for a gym to do the program, and do only the active recovery work in the park….

  2. Pingback: “Mass Made Simple” review from Thor | Dan John

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