So, lets talk about what it takes to gain size. To me what it takes falls into these categories: #1 Nutrition, #2 Rest and #3 Training. They sound very simple but how and how much of these 3 categories can make a huge difference in the amount of size you will be able to put on. For me they look like this if broken down into percentages: Nutrition 60%, Rest 20% and Training 20%. The hardest thing for me to learn and it's also the hardest thing to make other people understand is this: You don't grow in the gym you grow outside the gym. Sure you couldn't grow if you didn't train hard but training is only stimulating the muscle to grow, Nutrition and Rest make the muscle grow. It took me literally years to get this in my head but when I did, which was about a year ago, my gains have gone through the roof. For example, in the past 11 months, I have gone from a bodyweight of 190lbs to 240lbs. I attribute my gains to grasping the importance of nutrition and rest.
If you have read any of my previous articles you already know my philosophy. Think Big, Eat Big, Lift Big to Get Big. In order to gain as much size as possible you have to take a philosophy like this as well. Think about like this, how many people do you know that are 185lbs and are fairly cut, I'll answer for you, a bunch. Now how many people that you know are 230lbs+ and are cut, I'll answer this for you too, not many if any at all. Why, because it's really hard and takes more dedication to get bigger than it does to get cut. If you don't believe me try doing my eating schedule for 8 weeks. I promise you by week 4 you will probably hate all foods.
Now that I hope you understand my bodybuilding philosophy let's discuss the 3 categories individually.
In order to grow and add slabs of new muscle you have to create an anabolic environment and food is the best place to start to put your body in an anabolic state. When you are training your muscles need food so you must saturate you body with food so they will grow as fast as they can. In order to do this you must consume more calories than your body is burning and all that is different from person to person.
"I am eating and eating and eating but I still can't gain weight". This is a very common phrase I hear and read about daily. You just think your eating enough. If you are eating enough you will see a difference in your bodyweight in a matter of just a couple of weeks. Now this is the hardest part of bodybuilding for me, eating when I am really not hungry but I suffer through it and do it anyways. If you are having trouble gaining then you need to up your calories by 1000 calories a week until you see noticeable gains. Now this is a very great way to add size during a bulking phase but I do not recommend you do it for more than 8-10 weeks at the time so you don't add a lot of unwanted body fat.
Another thing that most people don't consider is their water intake. The proper water intake is between 1-2 gallons a day. This is very important to keeping your muscles looking full all day. Now I am not talking about the 1-2 gallons including any other liquids I am just talking about water. Not only are my muscles fuller, I also feel much stronger and just feel better. I take a bottle of water everywhere I go. If I go to the mall, at sporting events, the movies, where ever I go so does my bottle of water.
The last part of this category we will talk about is supplements. They are very important to bodybuilders. Supplements offer you more of what you cannot get from everyday foods. There are many articles on these so I am not going to go into great detail with them I will just touch on the ones that are a necessity for bodybuilders:
To me these are the building blocks for your supplements. Anything else should follow them not replace them. Prohormones work for some and not for others. One of my favorite new supplements is the Methoxy products. These work really well and you notice gains in as little as a couple of weeks. Supplements are a real benefit in muscle growth so I suggest you use them to your advantage.
Alcohol and Smoking
One topic that I put under nutrition is alcohol consumption and smoking. If you smoke then your gains will be limited, same thing applies if you drink on a regular basis. I had a good friend who smoked and drank, not heavily, and he wanted to gain some size. I told him if he would quit those two things he would be amazed at the difference. Well after 4 months of training and eating with very poor results he quit the two and gained over thirty pounds over the next 3 months. Drinking and smoking really toxify your body and it's hard on your body to recover from those two plus trying to rebuild broken down muscles.
Also it is imperative that when trying to grow as fast as possible that you not do any other cardio or aerobic activity for the duration of the bulking phase. Use this time to rest and burn as few calories as possible. Resting is the simplest thing to do to grow but you would be surprised at the number of people I come in contact that do not get enough of it while trying to grow. So simply put, REST!!!!
Listen, I completely understand if you are having a hard time putting training in the last category of importance, hey it took me three and half years to realize it. Once I put more emphasis on diet and rest, my gains went through the roof.
There are many ways to train but nothing packs on the mass like basic heavy lifting. When mass training your workout should evolve around three main exercises: bench press, squat and deadlift. Use multiple sets with low rep ranges. Below is a sample mass training program that I use frequently.
|Monday:|| flat bench - 8, 6, 6, 3, 3, 6
dumbbell fly - 10, 8, 8, 6
barbell curl - 10, 8, 6, 6, 6
dumbbell curl - 10, 8, 6, 6
|Tuesday:|| deadlift - 6, 4, 4, 3, 3
barbell row - 8, 8, 6, 6
weighted chins - 12, 10, 8
close grip bench - 8, 6, 6, 6
nose breakers - 10, 8, 6, 6
|Thursday:|| military press - 10, 8, 6, 6, 6
upright rows - 8, 6, 6, 6
cleans - 6, 6, 6
barbell shrugs - 12, 12, 10, 10, 8
|Friday:|| squats - 10, 8, 6, 6, 3
leg press - 8, 6, 6, 6
leg curls - 12, 10, 8, 8
standing calve raises - 5 x 15
Just remember to use the maximum amount of weight that you can handle for those rep ranges. Like I said before and I also base my entire bodybuilding philosophy around this Go Heavy or Go Home. If you want to grow stay away from machines and sissy weight. To get big you must lift BIG.
Now as much as I am a huge believer in training heavy I will also be the first to admit that it is not the only way to spark new growth. There are many different variations to training that I really like to use when I want to really hit my muscles and make them grow.
Just a few of the different training styles that I really like to use are as follows:
100 rep sets: 100 reps sets are the most hated thing that I do but they do produce good results. Talk about feeling the burn, you will be in some major pain with these but it is well worth the torcher. I don't recommend this workout be done more than once every 4-6 weeks and never more than one week in a row. I will do one set of 100 reps per body part as follows:
- Chest: bench press
- Biceps: barbell curl
- Triceps: push downs
- Back: seated rows
- Shoulders: military press
- Legs: leg press
- Calves: standing raises
Giantsets: I really love to do giantsets for sparking some new muscle growth. It produces a burn that is similar to the 100 rep set. My usual giantset looks like this.
- Chest: incline bench, flat dumbbell bench, flies, cable crossovers: 2 x 8-10 reps
- Biceps: barbell curl, dumbbell curl, preacher curl: 2 x 10-12 reps
- Triceps: close grip bench, nose breakers, pushdowns, kickbacks: 2 x 10-12 reps
- Back: chins, barbell row, seated row, latt pulldown: 2 x 10-12 reps
- Shoulders: military press, dumbbell press, side laterals, rear laterals: 2 x 10-12 reps
- Legs: squat, front squat, lunges, leg extensions, leg curls: 2 x 8-10 reps
All of these are good ways to change up your current routine. If you are in a plateau right now then see my "Plateau Busting" article. It shows the ways that I cope with the dreaded plateau. Just remember that when training don't let yourself get into a routine that you haven't changed in over eight weeks. Change is good! Even I, although I really love to train heavy, change up and use the above routines for about four weeks and then it's back to good heavy weight.
Now that we have talked about the different training methods that I use let's touch briefly on the subject of proper form. Now the philosophy that I use of proper form is this, when training heavy I will do what ever it takes to get the weight up to force my muscles to grow. But I also use good form 75% of the time. I don't recommend you try cheating the weight up if you aren't an experienced lifter. It is very important for beginners and even intermediate lifters use proper form until they know what their body can and can't do.
I hope that this clears up a lot for some of you and will lead to some new growth. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me and I answer your questions based on my own experiences. Good Luck, now go and GROW!