Kris Gethin is known for creating some of the most effective workouts and programs you can get your hands on. Sure, he may be a bit rough and tumble, but it does work. One of his most famous ones yet – the Muscle-Building 12-Week Trainer – is what we’re reviewing today.
I did this exact plan years ago, so let me give you the what’s what.
About the Creator – Kris Gethin
Kris Gethin is a lead workout plan creator on the BodyFit platform, but, of course, he had to work his way up to that honor. Kris originally comes from Wales but has spent most of his life in the States.
At a very early age, Kris developed a love and passion for fitness, especially bodybuilding. Bodybuilding (and fitness in general) is a lot more popular over the Atlantic in the UK, so being exposed to the right environments was easy for Kris.
Fast forward a few years, and Kris spent a massive amount of time in the gym, not only as a bodybuilder but also as a coach and personal trainer.
This combination is what taught Kris quite a lot about the fitness world, as he was not just consuming but also creating programs for others to use as well.
Kris became extremely popular and a regular face in gym rats’ houses as he started creating content for BodyFit. Not only that, but he has quite a few honors to his name:
Other than these achievements, Kris still motivates millions via social media by keeping his training intense and hard. But would this carryover into his workouts for normal people?
Muscle-Building 12-Week Trainer Overview
The Muscle-Building 12-Week Trainer is – without a doubt – a muscle-building program, but there is some cardio sprinkled in there. This might be to keep insulin sensitivity high to ensure you have an easier time gaining muscle rather than fat.
As with the other programs that Kris has created, there is a video for you to follow every day. Kris is actually in India for this plan, probably to work, as he does have gyms in India as well.
Regardless, that’s not stopping him from creating one hell of a plan.
- Fitness level: Advanced
- Duration: 12 Weeks
- Workouts per week: 5 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 60 minutes
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Build muscle
The whole plan is actually split into phases in which you will try different training methods made popular by legends in the bodybuilding world:
|Phase Name||Weeks||Principles||Popularized By|
|Y3T (Yoda 3 Training)||1 – 3||Building heavy loads into higher volume||Neil Hill|
|FST7 (Fascia stretch training)||4||Stretching a muscle between sets||Hany Rambod|
|GVT (German Volume Training)||5||10 x 10 (Sets x Reps)||Germans|
|High-Intensity Training||6||Heavy load training to failure||Dorian Yates|
|DTP (Dramatic Transformation Principle)||7 – 12||Heavy volume and load combined||Kris Gethin|
This may seem overwhelming at first, but Kris does an excellent job at breaking these down as you progress.
Each of these phases is massively different from the next, and while you would usually follow these for at least 20 weeks each, I think this does make the plan “interesting” and engaging.
As mentioned before, Kris does program cardio for you and even advises you to do some form of active recovery on off days (anyone having 4Weeks2Shred flashbacks?). This could be to improve recovery or to make sure you remain healthy while packing in the calories.
You will have five workout days per week, and, unfortunately, they are all one after the other. This (from personal experience) makes recovery a lot harder. You can, of course, split those up into 2 on, 1 off, 3 on, 1 off, if you wish – I personally advise this.
Here is how Kris does his weekly workouts:
- Monday: Legs, Abs
- Tuesday: Chest, Triceps
- Wednesday: Shoulders, Abs
- Thursday: Back
- Friday: Biceps, Calves, Abs
Not only is the “no rest day” a problem, but other small problems like training shoulders after triceps would definitely limit the amount you can lift. But, before we reach a verdict, let’s look at the plan in greater detail.
Kris Gethin’s Muscle-Building 12-Week Trainer Details
Due to the fact that there are several different weight training methods in this plan, you can expect a whole lot of different intensifiers…
Okay, What On Earth Is an Intensifier?
Ever done a set, nearly died, sweating buckets, and you set the weight down and think “Damn. That could be harder.” No? Well, Kris (and several other athletes like the HRT crew) have.
Yeah, we all have problems.
Intensifiers serve the purpose of increasing the intensity of a certain set or even a whole session. They have the benefit of (potentially) causing more muscle growth – but at the expense of being exceptionally taxing on your central nervous system and recovery.
Thus, save them for when you are in a calorie surplus.
The reason why they are so taxing is that they will often push your past failure, meaning you will have to dig deep. It would also be wise to have a spotter when doing these.
Here are some of the intensifiers used in this program:
- Drop set: You take your set to failure on a certain weight, set down that weight, lighten the load, and then go to failure again (with the new, lighter load).
- FST-7 Sets: You do a total of 7 sets (8 – 10 reps) with only 30 seconds of rest in between in which you are flexing the target muscle.
- Superset: You do two (or more) exercises back to back with no rest.
- Various DTP sets designed by Kris himself
Certain intensifiers will be used at certain parts of the process and usually should be kept to a minimum as regular progressive overload forms the base of any workout. That said, Kris is known to ask a whole lot from the people who follow his workouts…
Wait, I’m Doing How Many Sets?!
If you’re the type of person who prefers a low-volume approach to training, this might not be the best plan to follow. The very first session (legs, go figure) is a whopping 24 sets.
Now, 24 sets may not sound like a lot. However, if you hack squat more than 5 plates per side, it’s a lot of sets.
See, in training, you need to find a balance between volume and intensity. If one is high, the other needs to be low. Running both high will surely lead to an increase in a stress hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol is a natural hormone the body produces when you are too stressed. When there is too much cortisol in the body, you will find it a lot harder to build muscle or burn fat.
This plan is actually extremely high in volume, especially in weeks like the German Volume Training (GVT) week.
The leg day in the GVT week has 15 sets for quads. I understand you only have one opportunity to train legs per week, but that is an insane amount of volume. This does make the whole plan unrealistic to some, particularly those that are new to training.
That said, there is nothing in the 12-Week Trainer that is so insane and unachievable that you would not be able to do so. You might need to lower the load slightly compared to other training styles, but you should be able to do these workouts with some ease.
Nutrition and Supplementation
You might be surprised to learn that your diet plays just as important a role when trying to gain weight as when you’re trying to lose weight. Arnold didn’t get that big by popping Pop-Tarts. Kris states that he will be “burning” body fat while gaining muscle.
This is not possible for … 90% of the population. To build muscle, you need to be putting on some body fat. Sure, Kris might be able to build muscle without gaining fat, but he is also a professional, so don’t measure someone’s step 12 with your step 1.
Speaking of steps, Kris is (as with his workouts) going straight to the point and wants you to follow these steps:
- Step 1: Calculate your calories by using the calculator given.
- Step 2: Calculate your macros, which do nicely for you with the same calculator.
- Step 3: Follow the calories and macros given, and increase the calories when weight gain stops.
The supplements… not quite so simple.
Kris does own a supplement company, and this is very apparent in the supplement schedule that he advises. He suggests you use 8 different supplements.
Do you need all 8? Maybe you could benefit from the creatine and the powder, but most people simply do not need all 8.
3 Muscle-Building Trainer Pros
- It’s actually doable: As I mentioned earlier, I have actually done this plan. I did this plan in exams, and I was able to do this with no problem. Other creations of Kris are way too intense to follow, but this was very doable.
- It’s engaging: As you saw in the table, there are so many different rep and set schemes utilized over the 12 weeks that you will have a great time learning and doing these. Some people prefer this over the monotony of the same program over and over. Kris also makes the diet engaging, as he takes you through his meals on a daily, which will give you some ideas about what to eat.
- The daily video: The daily videos are more like blogs about Kris’s day, and I distinctly remember watching these as I did my cardio, which makes the plan extremely personal. Kris even goes through his own injuries, which could happen to you, meaning you’ll learn how to manage workouts if you are suffering from one, as he will be altering his program accordingly.
2 12-Week Trainer Cons
- It’s cool, but: Trying the different training methods is pretty cool. But in reality, you need several weeks doing each of them to really reap the rewards.
- The whole diet eats your heart out: I really like Kris, his attitude, and I actually like some of his supplements. But as someone who has studied nutrition, I simply cannot see why the average human would need 8 different supplements to go to the gym 5 days per week.
Muscle-Building 12-Week Trainer – Final Thoughts
Kris makes some pretty impressive workout programs that are complete, as they cover training, cardio, and nutrition. This plan is different and compared to his other plans, this one is the one that most people should be able to follow – granted they have at least 6 months under the bar.
When I did the Muscle-Building 12-Week Trainer, I did gain a good amount of size, if I recall correctly – about 10 pounds – but it has been a few years.
10 pounds may not seem like a lot, but if you gain 10 pounds in 12 weeks, that means more than 40 pounds per year… That is an insane amount of mass.
If you are thinking of running this plan, you might want to make sure you stick to the macros given. They might seem excessive, but I learned the hard way that trying to do it “leaner” will only backfire.
Remember, Kris is there to help and guide you. You don’t have to make the same progress as him – he is a professional, after all.
Rating: 4.0 out of 5