The easiest mass building exercises for novice to medium experience lifters are the basics, squats/bench, etc. Exercises which aren't single body part specific. I'm young enough and active enough to where I haven't had to go beyond the basic movements, so that's what I'm most familiar with. I'm in no way an expert, esp. compared to some of the others on this board, but I'll throw out my mass building routine just to give an example. ( keep in mind that I've always been a sprinter/jumper type athlete, so that is what my workouts were geared towards)
The # of reps is determined by how easy the weight is to move that day, and the weight is decided by how I'm feeling. If I don't feel particularly strong, I'll use a slightly lighter weight, with a couple extra reps. If I feel good, I'll pile on the weight, and HOPE to pound out 5 reps or so. And the weight I'm quoting has nothing to do with what you should try, I'm just using it to show the changes between sets. I'm sure you'll be stronger in some areas, and possibly weaker in others.
I like to work upper body 3x a week, and lower 2x.
Day 1: Chest
1 warm up set on flat bench: 12 reps x 135lbs.
1 set flat bench: 8-10 x 225
2 sets flat bench: 6-8 x 275
1 set incline dumbell presses: 8-10 reps x 55lbs.
2 sets incline dumbell presses: 6-8 reps x 75lbs.
1 set decline bench: 8-10 reps x 185lbs
2 sets decline bench: 6-8 reps x 225lbs.
I always had a lot of muscle stamina, so I always did flyes, or cable crosses, to completely burn the muscle. With these, I like to do a lighter weight ( 30-50 lbs) but high rep, with a very deliberate motion, so I could really feel the movement and gauge where I was at. I do 3-4 sets to failure.
Day 2: Thighs
(This is really where I kicked my own ass, because this was my strongest group)
1 warm up set free squats: 12-15 rep x 135 lbs.
1 set squats: 12 reps x 225
1 set squats: 10 reps x 315
2 sets squats: 6-8 reps x 405
1 set leg ext.: 10-12 reps x 50-100 lbs (depending on the machine, single leg vs double leg)
2 sets leg ext: 6-8 reps x 70-140 lbs
1 set leg curl: 10-12 reps x 40-80 lbs ( single/double leg)
2 sets leg gurl: 6-8 reps x 60-120lbs
1 set hack squats: 10-12 reps x 300lbs
2 sets hack squats: 6-8 reps x 450+ lbs
1 set leg press: to failure x 400 lbs
2 sets leg press: to failure x 550+ lbs
If I had anything left in the tank, I would go to the aerobics room and use the steps... build the bases to atleast 3 feet, and do repetitious jumps up, settle, and down, until I couldn't jump anymore. This doesn't do anything for mass, but I used it to help KILL the muscles and because that is what I was working for, explosiveness. On these days I wouldn't drive to the gym, I'd have someone drop me off and pick me up, because I couldn't even push in the clutch to start the car.
Day 3: Biceps/Back
(Note: most serious builders don't work many body parts on the same day, but I've got the body structure and muscle stamina to where I can combine, and still get results. I'm lucky
Some days I like to do back first, and others I prefer biceps.
1 set warm up preacher curl: 10-12 x 55lbs.
2 sets preacher curl: 6-8 x 90-110lbs
1 set alternating seated curl: 10-12 x 35 lbs
2 sets alternating seated curl: 6-8 x 45 lbs
1 set standing barbell curl: 10-12 x 60lbs
2 sets standing barbell curl: 6-8 x 80-90 lbs.
I'd kill the muscle with cable curls, either alternating or with a straight bar, with a weight which allows 15-20 reps for failure. About 2-3 sets worth.
1 set bent over rows (underhand grip): 10-12 x 95lbs
2 sets bent over rows: 6-8 x 135lbs
1 set pull downs: 10-12 reps x 100lbs
2 sets pull downs: 6-8 reps x 130 lbs
1 set cable rows: 10-12 x 120 lbs
2 sets cable rows: 6-8 x 150-160 lbs.
3-5 sets back extensions: 15-20 x 25lbs.
If I have gas left, I like single arm dumbell rows, with super strict form, the heaviest weight I can move.
Day 4: Legs/Calves
( This day was mainly to help build more stamina and explosive movement for my jumping and running)
1 set warm up free squats: 10-12 reps x 135
1 set straight leg dead lift: 10-12 reps x 135
2 sets straight leg dead lift: 6-8 reps x 225
(These REALLY help stretch and strenthen your hamstrings, but I wouldn't use them unless you've done a lot of strenthening on your lower back, and lots of stretching of your hamstrings.)
1 set lunges (barbell): 12 steps x 135
2 sets lunges: 12 steps x 225
1 set super jerks (jumper specific- have the barbell in a overhand grip, on the floor. Jerk as if moving towards a clean motion, but instead of turing your arms under, bring your elbows all the way up and raise up on your toes, then settle back to the floor.)10-12 x 75
2 sets super jerks: 6-8 x 95
1 set Smith machine calf raises(both legs):15-20x 95 ( if 0 counterbalance)
3-5 sets Smith machine raises: 10-15 x 225- 415
( my calves have always been WAY overdeveloped, I haven't worked them in 2+ years, and they are just now falling into line with my thighs.)
1 set calf raise machine( single leg): 15-20 x 75
3-5 sets calf raise machine: 10-15 x 110
Depending on how I feel, I may do side squats, with a light weight ( 75-95lbs), around 12 reps, for 3-4 sets.
The entire 2nd leg day does nothing by its self to build mass, just muscle strength and stamina, which in turn helps when working the heavy compound movements used to build mass. Like I said, this works for me, I doubt it works for many people.
Day 5: Triceps/shoulders
Like Day 3, I do which ever group first that I decide I want to focus on that day.
1 set warm up 2 hand cable push downs: 10-12 x 50lbs
1 set 2 hand cable push downs: 10-12 reps x 70 lbs
2 sets 2 hand cable push downs : 6-8 reps x 100 lbs.
1 set single arm french press( seated, weight above head, lowered behind head, and pressed up, without the elbow moving): 10-12 reps x 30lbs
2 sets single arm french press: 6-8 x 40lbs
1 set double fisted skull crushers( dumbells): 10-12 x 30 lbs
2 sets skull crushers: 6-8 x 45 lbs
If I still feel good, I'll throw in a few sets of underhand single cable extensions, 30-40 lbs to failure.
1 set warm up seated military press: 10-12 x 95lbs
2 sets seated military press: 6-8 x 115 lbs
I either do lateral raises or front raises, first set around 25-30 lbs, last 2 sets around 40lbs. I've had a ton of shoulder problems, so I can't do both every week.
1 set seated dumbell military press: 10-12 x 40lbs
2 sets seated dumbell press: 6-8 x 55 lbs
1 set upright rows: 10-12 x 75lbs
2 sets upright rows: 6-8 x 95 lbs
Due to injuries and sport specifc exercises, my workout is a little different. I know you'll hear all the more common routines and strategies, but I wanted to provide and alternative. Most people I know use less reps, and more sets than I do, but this is what works for me. My leg workouts are in someways more extreme, and also more ecentric than some people, but my body reacts to them. The main thing is to try different things to see what is the most comfortable, and what works the best. And remember, you're going to hit plateaus where you don't seem to grow much, all you need to do is re-arrange your workout to shock the muscles again, and you'll continue to improve. Good luck Todd!