Want more size? You're definitely not the only one! Many of us want more mass. Successfully putting it on, though, is where things get difficult. Skinny so-called "hardgainers" aren't the only people who struggle to add muscle to their frames.
Lots of people—including women—lift and eat their hearts out without seeing their measurements reflect it as much as they'd like.
It may feel like you're cursed, but something more tangible and fixable is always to blame. Arm yourself with the right information, and finally feel your clothes straining from dem gains!1
Know Your Nutrient Timing
Supplying your body with an abundance of calories when you're just lying around on the couch does you no good. Fuelling your workouts with good nutrition, on the other hand, is paramount to your success.
"Your insulin sensitivity is at its peak first thing in the morning and immediately after your workout," explains Tobias Young, Optimum Nutrition-sponsored athlete. "For me, eating more carbs early in the morning and after my workouts has brought optimal results."
We still have a lot to learn about nutrient timing, so it's hard to give a universal prescription. Recognize that everybody is different, but also grant the possibility that when you eat can have a major effect on your body composition in addition to what and how much you eat.2
Train Your Weaknesses
Hate doing squats? Maybe that's a sign that you should make them your highest training priority! Training your weaknesses can make huge differences in your physique.
"The mass game is all about creating an illusion of beast-like proportions," explains fitness model and Bodybuilding.com contributor Noah Siegel. "To win the game, it's important to hit your weak points and turn them into features that stand out in the crowd."
Siegel says he always starts a workout by fatiguing the muscle groups he feels are weakest, and then progresses into his stronger muscles from there. This way, he trains to his fullest capacity.3
When it comes to building quality mass, quality food is the key. A good portion of that quality food should come in the form of carbohydrates. "Great carb sources that are inexpensive include potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, and pasta," explains Young.
Fruits are also excellent sources of carbs because of their antioxidant content and overall nutrient content. Don't feel guilty eating them!
Most experts agree that muscles need carbs in order to grow. If you've been trying to bulk up with a "low-carb" diet, maybe it's time to switch your game plan.4
Try A Mass Gainer Supplement
One tried-and-true approach for gaining appreciable size is supplementing with a weight gainer. Weight gainer protein supplements usually contain more than 500 calories per serving and include lots of carbs, protein, and even some fat to help you gain size.
It's important, however, to know your body type so you can select a weight gainer that's right for you and your goals. "Serious Mass is awesome for hardgainers and Pro Complex Gainer is a superb choice for mesomorphs," recommends Tobias.
Mass gaining may not seem like an exact science, but maybe that's why you haven't been successful. Use the right tool for the job and see what happens!5
Get Lots of Sleep
Recovery is one of the most underrated elements of gaining quality lean muscle mass. If you aren't sleeping enough at night, you rob your body of the primary time it uses to repair muscle damage so you can hit the gym feeling stronger than you did before.
Actors bulking for major film roles are often ordered by their trainers to sleep at least 10 hours per night! That may not be an option for you, but start prioritizing sleep more, and it's highly likely you see great gains in both strength and size. A fatigued body will never be a strong one.6
Keep Fats In The Picture
Some people also shun dietary fat when they bulk because they're afraid eating fat will make them fatter. This just isn't the case. People who are building muscle need fat to reach their necessary calorie-intake levels.
Saturated fat helps keep testosterone levels in a healthier range so you can add quality muscle. Aim to get 15-20 percent of your fat calories from saturated fats and the rest from unsaturated and omega varieties.7
Love The Process
Steve Cook feels that taking the time to stop and simply enjoy the process has helped him make the most of his fitness journey.
The IFBB men's physique pro explains, "When running a marathon you wouldn't focus on the finish line. You'd focus on what's immediately ahead of you. Focus on doing everything you are capable of in the now, and the future will take care of itself."
There's no need to rush. Know that muscle-building takes a lot of time, and it's your long-term passion that will ultimately see it through. Be patient and have fun!8
Train With Intensity
Think back to the last time you did a workout. Did you really give it your all?
Many people hit the gym and just go through the motions. They may spend more time taking selfies, texting, or finding the right music than actually lifting. You can't expect great results if you half-ass your workout.
The next time you have a date with the iron, dial it in and focus. Feel your muscles squeezing at the top of each rep. Extra focus can increase your intensity and mean the difference between mediocre and superior results.9
It's important to add variety to your routine. If you continue to do the same things over and over again, your body can prepare itself for the workouts and you won't get as much out of your training. To keep your body guessing, add even small changes to the movements in your workout.
For instance, do a wide-grip lat pull-down one session and a reverse-grip pull-down the next time. Play around with different lunge variations or even different push-up hand positions. Little changes can quickly add up and contribute to faster results.10
Don't Eat The Same Food Every Day
If your diet consists of chicken and rice, chicken and rice, and chicken and rice, you need to change it up. If you eat the exact same meals day-in and day-out, you run the risk of not only diet boredom, but actual nutritional deficiency.
While you may hit your macronutrient targets for proteins, carbs, and fats, don't forget about all the micronutrients your body needs. They play critical roles in building muscle, energizing your body, repairing broken down tissue, and keeping your immune system strong.
If you rely on the same six or seven foods daily—even if they are healthy foods, you're still not likely to get all the nutrition you need. Add some new foods to the mix, and both your taste buds and your body will thank you.11
Track Your Progress
Tracking everything you do in the gym takes time, but it has a big payoff. You might remember what you did for your last workout, but what did you do last month? If you don't keep track of changes over time, how will you spot trends in your progress, learn which programs produce the best results, or discover how your body reacts to new stimuli?
By keeping a workout log, you'll be able to track your history in the gym. That's an important aspect when it comes to choosing new workout regimens, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and determining your future goals.12
Don't Weigh Yourself Daily
If you're the perfectionist type who has big expectations, you might spend too much time worrying about what the scale says.
Remember it's normal and natural for your weight to vary slightly from day to day, so don't freak out if you step on the scale and don't love what you see.
Pay attention to the long-term trends in your body. Those day-to-day variations are small potatoes compared to the changes you'll see over weeks or months.13
Never Stop Learning
Your quest for mass should also be a quest for knowledge. From new nutrition protocols to new supplement information and workout techniques, there's always something to learn. The most successful individuals constantly strive to better themselves in both mind and body.
Take the time to do research, read, and learn about your goals. The more you know about them, the more prepared you'll be for setbacks, and the more likely you'll find success.