pain and gain workout

Pain and Gain Workout

mark wahlberg pain and gain workout how to build muscleWith the anticipation of Pain and Gain’s release on April 26th, people are starting to notice: Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are absolutely jacked.  After all, a movie about bodybuilders wouldn’t be the same if the characters resembled Andrew Garfield (yes, I think Garfield should have at least tried to put on muscle for Spiderman, but that’s a different story).

Ever since I can remember, the Rock has been jacked.  Since he started his movie career, he’s gotten hyoooge.  On the other hand, Mark Wahlberg has been fit for all his movies, but this is the biggest he’s ever gotten for a role.

Mark Wahlberg’s Pain and Gain Workout

Now, you’re probably wondering the exact workout routine that Mark Wahlberg did for Pain and Gain.  While it will never be truly known what he exactly did to build so much muscle, we can get a pretty good idea from analyzing his body.

pain and gain workout how to build muscle

Figure 1: Mark Wahlberg’s Pain and Gain Body

By analyzing Figure 1, a few things are apparent.  Mark displays:

  1. Wide shoulders.
  2. Large Chest.
  3. Huge arms.
  4. Thick and wide back.
  5. Moderately decent legs.

Thus, it’s apparent that Mark Wahlberg’s trainer for Pain and Gain prioritized his shoulders, chest, arms, and back while maintaining his legs.

How to Design the Pain and Gain Workout

According to the latest research in protein synthesis, for someone who’s been working out for more than a few years, you can get away with training the same body part every 48 hours and maximize protein synthesis.  This means that for the largest muscular gains, Mark would have worked out the same body part approximately three days per week.

In addition to this, Mark’s daily routine was probably the following: sleeping in, eating throughout the day, working out, learning his lines, and going to bed early.  This means that he lived a pretty stress free life leading up to Pain and Gain, while also maximizing recovery through lots of sleep and good nutrition.  This will allow anyone to train hard every single day.

With that being said, here is Mark Wahlberg’s proposed Pain and Gain workout schedule:

Day of Week Body Part Trained Type of Rep Scheme
Monday Chest and Back Heavy Weights
Tuesday Shoulders and Arms Hypertrophy
Wednesday Chest and Back Intensive Techniques
Thursday Shoulders and Arms Heavy Weights
Friday Chest and Back Hypertrophy
Saturday Shoulders and Arms Intensive Techniques
Sunday Legs Hypertrophy

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Here’s how the workouts break down:

Chest and Back

1: Snatch Grip Rack Pull

2A: Flat Bench Press

2B: Chinup or Lat Pulldown

3A: Single Arm DB Row

3B: Low Incline Dumbbell Flyes

Shoulders and Arms

1A: Barbell Military Press

1B: Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls

1C: Triceps Dip (Use weight if necessary); (If shoulder pain do Weighted Diamond Pushups)

2A: Dumbbell Scott Press

2B: Lying Triceps Extension

2C: Reverse Grip Preacher Curl


1A: Bulgarian Split Squat or Reverse Lunges

1B: Front Squat or Goblet Squat

2A: Hamstring Curls

2B: Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

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Type of Rep Scheme

Now, you’re probably wondering about the rep schemes.  Basically, throughout the week, you will be training different muscle fibers in order to grow as fast as possible.  Here is how they break down:

  • Heavy Weights – 5 sets of 5 reps on each exercise; Rest 90 seconds
  • Hypertrophy – 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on each exercise; Rest 60 seconds
  • Intensive Techniques – 2 sets of 10 reps on each exercise with a double dropset OR rest pause on last set; Rest 60 seconds between sets of 10

A Note on Double Dropsets and Rest Pause

Double dropsets and rest pause are the heart of true pain and gain.

In a nut shell, for a double drop set, you’d finish your set of 10 and immediately reduce weight by 15-30%, do as many reps as possible then immediately reduce weight by 15-30% again and do as many reps as possible.

For a rest pause, you’d finish your set of 10, rest 15 seconds and then do as many reps as possible with the same weight.  Rest another 15 seconds then do as many reps as possible again.

Art of Deload

The above workout should only be performed for three straight weeks before taking a deload week on the fourth week.  After the deload week, you can repeat the above workout routine indefinitely.  Here’s how to deload:

  • Workout three days this week.  Perform one workout for chest and back, one workout for shoulders and arms, and one workout for legs.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps with 60 seconds rest.  That’s it.

The purpose of the deload is to embrace supercompensation.  Since you will be working out so hard in weeks 1-3, you will push your body beyond its limits and start to overreach.  If you continued to push hard week after week, month after month, you would eventually become overtrained.

The supercompensation that occurs in week 4 allows your body to rebound from the hard training of weeks 1-3.  You see, in Weeks 1-3, your body learns to adapt to working out every single day and will adapt to recovering and building muscle fast.  During the 4th week, your body will notice that you are resting more, and will take advantage of this by building twice as much muscle.  It’s a killer trick to maximize your muscle mass while still feeling fresh and energetic.
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A Note on Nutrition

Nutrition is the secret key to building muscle; especially for the Pain and Gain workout.  You’re going to want to increase your calories above maintenance, eat lots of protein, and have a good Pre, Intra, and Post Workout shake.

Wrap Up

In summary, to build muscle like Mark Wahlberg in Pain and Gain, you need to:

  • Train your chest, back, shoulders, and arms 3 times per week.
  • Rotate between heavy weights, hypertrophy, and intensive techniques.
  • Maintain your legs by training them once per week.
  • Deload on the 4th week.
  • Eat lots of protein and have a good pre, intra, and post workout shake.
  • Repeat until you are as jacked as Mark Wahlberg.