Over my past 2 years of serious bodybuilding I have made many costly mistakes. For some reason I keep making new ones too, but this is only part of the learning process, and I feel by telling you about my mistakes will help you to avoid making them yourself (so you can make your own ;).
When I first started bodybuilding (not weight lifting) I was about 160 lbs and 6% body fat. Within a year I went up to about 190 at the same body fat. That summer I worked construction and due to over training (working manual labor calls for a different training regimen, I'll get into that later) and not eating enough I lost about 10 lbs of muscle. Mistake 1.
Then there was college, during the first semester I had successfully bulked up to about 200 lbs at around 8-9% body fat. Rather than continue, I decided to start cutting up for a modeling debut that winter. I dieted down to 190 at around 5-6% body fat (where I was before construction), unfortunately, New England weather screwed me over, and that will be put off until June 22 (expect pictures in about a month and a half).
During the middle of the second semester, I bought a little propane grill and grilled on my balcony at school. I would go home on weekends and take meat from the freezer and eat it during the week. I was gaining like crazy, good for bodybuilding, but the school took it away and threatened to kick me out (ouch). I also discovered the Thursday nightclub scene. I then went back to the dining hall foods, but no longer had the appetite to eat it. I plateau at about 204, and that brings us to now, where I am about 200lbs at 6-7%. It's my goal to be down to 5% by June 22 for the modeling.
Enough about my woes though, this article is for those of you who are working manual labor this summer. Last summer I lost mass and I don't want to see any of you have that problem.
First off we're going to discuss the most important part, diet. Last summer I was burning about 4000 calories per day, and only taking in around 3000. That's about 2 pounds of muscle loss per week. If you are working a physically intense job, you have to eat big. For most, that's about 125 grams of carb's and 40 grams of protein at each of your six meals. Don't worry much about unsaturated fat, as it will quickly be burnt for energy.
Next is training. 4-5 days a week will quickly lead you to over training. You need to give your body max time for recovery. I would suggest a hardcore HIT routine. 2-3 times per week, using less than 3-5 sets per muscle and no more than 45 minutes in the gym. You'll quickly notice the difference in strength and energy after you switch to such a routine. Rest is also very important, make sure you're getting your 8-10 per night. Save weekends for partying. Check out my article "Training for Growth" and click here for more info on HIT training.
Lastly are supplements. Obviously you're going to need a weight gainers. It's going to be very hard to get 6 whole meals per day. Keep a couple pre-mixed in your car to slam when you get some free time. I suggest Prolab N-Large 2 since it tastes good, has a good amount of calories, and plenty of protein. And at about $1.25 a serving off the Bodybuilding.com store, it's cheap. Next is glutamine. With all the heavy lifting, your body is going to be releasing quite a bit of cortisol. Glutamine is great for stopping this catabolic hormone, and will actually help you to recover faster, so you don't feel as sore at work. As always, you need a multi-vitamin.
Some other optional supplements are an ECA stack to help get you up for those workouts after a hard day of work and some melatonin and valerian to help you sleep.
Let's quickly recap:
*Eat big. You're doing mans work, eat like a man!
*Stay hydrated. At least a gallon of water per day
*Supplement with glutamine, weight gainers, ECA and melatonin (when needed)
*Train hard and infrequent. The only way you're going to grow is if you recover, you'll need lots of time to recover if you're working your ass 8 hours per day.
So work hard, and workout harder. No pain, no gain, right?