No one wants to hear it, but the truth is that most guys never gain more than a few pounds of muscle. It doesn’t matter how much work they do. Does this describe you? Working for hours at the gym and never seeing the bulk you’re trying to gain? Being in good health can sometimes feel like a consolation prize. Sure, it’s the thing you should be trying to gain. But it’s hard to see good health. It’s easy to see bulging quads and biceps.
It’s no wonder, so many different men wind up wondering if they’re just not genetically built to gain muscle and size.
Well, I wasn’t going to accept that as an answer. I put together my system and experimented with ways to gain as much mass as I possibly could within one month. The results were astounding. After getting things perfected, I gained 20 pounds in only 28 days. That’s 20 pounds of lean muscle.
I did that work so I could learn what it takes. It didn’t take drugs. There wasn’t any gimmick.
My goal was to get large, but also to help the guys out there who are just like I was. The guys that have put months of work into their gym schedule and yet see no size gain even though they gain strength. I know the struggle. I used to be skinny. But if I know anything, it’s that I stand as proof a guy can gain muscle no matter what their genetic disposition.
If you’re looking to add some mass, or even if you just want to streamline your workout, here are six lessons you’ll need to keep to heart.
1: Eat More Calories Than You Burn
People associate healthy with thin, so most “health food” is designed to be low calorie. This is the worst possible thing when you’re trying to gain mass. It should be a no-brainer, but you need extra calories when you’re trying to get large. Yes, you need protein. More to the point, eating enough lean protein can help your muscles grow. But if you don’t work out enough for the protein to be used, it simply turns into fat. This is why you can’t just pound back protein shakes and bars when trying to get large. Try thinking about eating for the body you want to have. Don’t think about how many calories of what you need now. Think about how much you’ll need to fuel the body you want to grow in to.
So when you read guides that say to eat “a lot”, you have to do more than just eat a large amount for your size. You need to figure out how to take in more calories. In fact, if you start thinking about it in terms of calories your future body needs and how much work it would take to burn those off to hit the body you have now, that’s a good way to gauge how much of a work out you need.
Of course, you have to take in calories in a way that’s comfortable for you. No plan works if you can’t stick to it. You might want to eat more meals. Or you may want to eat fewer meals but pile that food onto your plate. I couldn’t stuff that much food into myself at once, so I went with eating more often. I ate seven times a day, each time eating the amount I’d want to need in the future.
There are ways to get some calories into your food that won’t fill you up. This isn’t the same as empty calories. Empty calories are calories that your body receives no nutritional benefit from. You want to do things like eating a few tablespoons of nut butter after a meal or adding a few table spoons of oil to your meal. If you’re hitting the gym regularly but not seeing any change in size, then eating more is a good starting step. Eat until you’re uncomfortable, and then work out hard. You may throw up a few times at first, but as you get used to it your body will change shape before your eyes.
2: Increase Your Protein Intake
Now that we’ve discussed how important it is to eat more than just protein let’s talk about how important it is to eat protein! People often get protein from the wrong sources. Many of those protein bars or shakes are loaded with sugar. You can tell when they’re sugar-free because they taste like cardboard. But if they are loaded with sugar, which most of them are, then all you’re doing is sending empty calories in with the protein. This negates a lot of the benefit. You may be getting enough protein by the numbers, but your body isn’t processing the protein at the level you see on the wrapper.
The first step is to ignore any myths you may have heard about protein intake. You can eat more than 20 to 30 grams of the stuff per serving. That is, you can do that as long as you’re also working out enough to burn those calories. You want to aim for around a gram of lean protein per pound of your body weight. Remember to eat lean protein. Not protein bars. Protein shakes are good for when you need quick intake after a workout, but make sure it’s not loaded with sugar. Fatty protein won’t do you nearly as much good, and you’ll have to eat more food to get the same amount of protein per pound.
3: Eat Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods
Eating the right kind of food is something of a major theme in packing on the muscles. People can often eat plenty of calories when they’re gobbling up cakes and cookies. Eating plain white rice and lightly salted skinless chicken breast? That’s a different story. This is why I’ve been saying repeatedly that you need more calories, but also the right kind of calories. Highly fatty foods, foods with heavy grease, foods with way too much sugar, these all translate directly into fat rather than muscle.
More mass may be your goal, but not that kind! So eat foods that are dense in calories rather than foods with a high number of empty calories. Steak, chicken breast, fish, these are all great protein sources.
4: Compound Exercises Are The Way To Go
You can look over my workout as much as you want. You’re not going to find weird, complicated lift routines. The lifts I hit are the ones that work the most muscle areas at once. These are the lifts like squats, bench presses; you get the idea. Your goal is to strengthen the muscles in connection with each other. This forces them to all grow at once so that one muscle group can’t be pushed aside by the growth of a different one. Throw in a few targeted lifts to build up the muscles you want people to see, and you should be golden.
Rapid weight changes and lift changes may help to build strength, but they don’t help with size. It’s much better to lift more weight more often. Every time you lift, you should be trying to add more weight. As you do this, your body will begin to grow. Here is a list of 7 best exercises to boost your muscle growth!
5: Lift Heavier Weights
Higher rep numbers is a goal you should be striving towards, no question. But being able to do an extra ten lifts at the same weight isn’t going to help you grow in size. Sure, gaining endurance is important. You’ll want to do that to maintain the size you’ve grown. But to grow, you need to add more weight as soon as you possibly can. Every time you add more weight, try to do the same number of reps you did at the previous weight. Chances are good you won’t manage at first. As you’re able to hit the same number of reps, you’ll notice your muscles beginning to grow and bulge. Once you can comfortably hit the same number of reps at the higher weight, then you add more!
That said, be careful. You may be excited and determined to get that amazing beach body, but if you sprain or tear a muscle, then you won’t be working out for months. Lifting heavier weights means you’re at a higher risk of injury. That’s simple math. So make sure proper stretches and warm ups are part of your routine. Here is a video describing the best warm up and cool down exercises.
Also, it helps to have a partner who can spot for you.
6: Get Enough Sleep For Your Body
Getting a good night’s sleep is great for a wide variety of health reasons. But it’s especially good for helping your muscles heal up. Not only does it let your body heal the damage you’ve done, but it also helps replenish your energy supply so you can work out more.
Your body has a number of processes that only kick in when you sleep. Among these processes is the job of hormone production. You’re going to need those hormones if you want your muscles to grow while they heal. It’s these hormones that are often replicated in the various muscle building drugs that people use. It’s not just important to sleep because of your body’s healing process. It’s important because your body produces cortisol when you stay awake for too long. This hormone is designed to force your body to shut down so that you sleep and the body can fix itself. Staying awake kicks your body into emergency mode, which causes it to cannibalize itself to survive. This means losing weight, and more importantly, it means losing muscle.
There’s only so many hours in a day, but if at all possible you should prioritize sleep at least as much as diet. Otherwise, you may find all of your hard work going right down the toilet.