When it comes to getting big you need to increase your calorie intake. This is the only thing that actually makes you gain weight. You just need to consume more calories than you are burning off in the day. But your cannot eat junk food to accomplish this goal. I have people asking if they just eat candy and chips will they gain muscle, and the obvious answer is no, foods that contain high amounts of fat will (amazingly enough) make you fat.
You need to get your calories from quality protein and sugars. Sugars (more specifically dextrose sugars) should be taken directly after a workout. These should be taken with a protein shake. I have roughly 45 grams of protein, 60 grams a dextrose sugar and 1-2 grams of fat. I do not include fat in the shake, but usually find a slight amount in the protein. This will ensure you get the proper nutrition after your workout, which is the most important time for the muscles to get fed.
Along with the after workout nutrition, in order to gain mass you must eat throughout the day. 5-6 meals spread out over the entire day is the best option to ensure your muscles are well fed at all times. High protein foods like meat, cheese and milk are important. Make sure at the end of the day you have had one gram of protein for each pound of body weight you have.
I felt it was important to include this section about nutrition in a workout routine because nutrition is more directly responsible for muscle growth than the time you spend in the gym, therefore it is important you get it right if you plan to gain weight.
Now to the actual working-out portion of the routine. A workout designed to build muscle should include little or no cardio. Some people might disagree, but as I said before building muscle requires that you increase your calorie intake. If you are burning away all your calories you will have a harder time building muscle.
If you want to do cardio your best bet is to do it on your non-workout days, reduce your calories on those days, and keep the calorie intake high on your workout days. Make sure you keep your cardio sessions away from your weight-lifting sessions as cardio could make you tired and reduce your weight-lifting effectiveness.
My weightlifting schedule is divided up so I get compound movements on different days. This is so that I feel fresh for each compound movement, as they are more difficult than other lifts. Mondays I do chest and shoulders. I have those two bodyparts on the same day because they are both pushing movements and I find that if I do chest on one day, and shoulders on another it hurts my chest to do shoulders on that day, and I want my chest as much time to recover as possible. On that day my compound movement is the bench press. Wednesday I have back, on that day deadlifts are the compound movement.
Friday is arms, and I do dips as the compound movement for triceps. And finally Sunday is legs and squats are the compound movement. I take every other day off (except between Sunday and Monday because there just aren't enough days otherwise) to ensure that my muscles have time to recover from their workout. And that is the basic look for a workout routine.
As for what exercises to do there are endless possibilities so I am just going to give basic guidelines. The idea is to select compound movements, besides those select exercises you need to pick exercises that allow you to move the most weight possible (with proper form of course).
Taking triceps for example, doing a cable pushdown is far superior to a dumbbell or cable kickback. Some people believe that you need exercises like dumbbell kickbacks for "defining" muscle, but there is no such thing as an exercise that defines muscle. Muscle definition is only created by low body fat and large muscles, and the way to build large muscles is through heavy lifts such as pushdowns and skullcrushers.
Keep the sets around 12 for large muscles like chest, back and legs, and 9 for smaller muscles like biceps and triceps. People tend to disagree on the amount of sets, but I found this number of sets to be ideal for me, the key is to experiment and find out what works for you.
Any cardio done should be done on your off days as I said before so that you do not interfere with your calorie intake. I'd recommend maybe 2-or-3 times a week for cardio at most. I personally do not do any cardio while I am bulking. I tend to limit my fat intake during this time and due to my eating habits and genetics I tend not to gain much fat.
While cutting I would recommend doing cardio every other day. On every off day (non-weightlifting days) you should begin your day with cardio. People seem to agree that cardio on an empty stomach is the best idea IF you are not overly concerned with losing muscle and you are trying to cut as much weight as possible. If you are concerned about muscle loss you should eat breakfast and then do cardio.
Studies also show that doing cardio in the morning has a whole range of benefits such as high energy levels throughout the whole day and better nights sleep.
This is a basic skeleton of a workout schedule. Everyone needs to discover what works best for him or her. No one can make up a perfect schedule for you. But general guidelines are to eat properly, rest adequately, and lift heavy. If you stay committed to the gym you should figure out quickly what is going to work or not for you, then everything will fall into place.
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