I have heard time and time again over the years how "I just can not gain any muscle and I eat so much." This statement probably ranks just as high as "I do not want to get too big."
Oh, before I address the muscle building issue I need to make one statement to the general public, YOU CAN NOT GET BIG BY ACCIDENT! Why do people remain so ignorant in the 21st century?
Everyone Can Gain Muscle
Well, let's address this once and for all. Everyone can gain muscle. It is how much muscle, how quickly and the quality that can vary widely. Many of the clients I have trained that claimed they could not gain muscle, did gain muscle while working with me (the men an average of 15-20 pounds).
What was the magic potion I used?....I wish I could make claim to one. The magic potion was in fact just tailoring the training and diet to their body types and following a consistent approach.
The following is a summary of my recommendations to the person who "could not gain any muscle even though they ate so much".
Develop A Plan
Start Writing Down Your Food Intake Now
- This will serve several purposes. First you will see what you are eating now, and how many calories it takes to maintain your current physique. Secondly it will serve as a reminder to eat.
My experience has shown that clients I counseled with their claim of an "inability to gain muscle" had no idea of their calorie intake, were often severely deficient in the appropriate amount of required protein for muscle gain, and clearly had no idea as to what vitamins, minerals and other supplements were important to aid in muscle growth.
Interestingly enough they all seemed to know what fuel they put in their car (as oppossed to the fuel they put into their body). Telling, huh?
Improve The Diet
Increase Food Quality And Quantity
- In order to build muscle mass you must eat a lot of food in order to have the available calories to support muscle growth. This is why writing down your initial diet and continuing to track what you are fueling your body with is so important. It allows you to provide a baseliner and develop a plan to get you to where you want to be.
From this diet evaluation you will be able to determine the things you may be deficient, as well as how many calories it takes to maintain your physique. This information again will be useful when developing a diet whether your goal is just to bulk up, or to gain muscle and burn fat. Either way the initial approach is the same.: document, evaluate, plan, and implement.
In general terms a good lean muscle building our diet should consist of 40-50 grams of high quality protein (turkey, chicken, tuna, etc.) every two to three hours.
Shoot for 5 to 6 protein meals. Your diet should also include good quality low glycemic index carbs (brown rice, oatmeal, fibrous vegetables, beans, etc. and some good fats (UDO oil is a good supplement) for the needed calories.
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Stay Away From The Carbs
- THIS IS IMPORTANT: Eating a high carb, low fat diet is an OLD STRATEGY. Recent studies have show a diet that is higher in protein, moderate in carbs with a limited amount of polyunsaturated fats such as the essential fatty acids - linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic (omega-6) are more effective. I am not saying to eat saturated and trans fats.
These should be eliminated as much as possible. To add more healthy polyunsaturated fats to your diet, eat fish a few times each week or try adding some UDO oil or flaxseed oil to your protein shakes or salads.
Minimize Empty Calories
- Empty calories (sugars, alcohol, soda, etc.) do not aid in muscle repair. Empty calories (such as any processed will only just raise blood sugar which will result in a crash and burn and a later binge. Eat healthy foods that contain the needed nutrients to repair the muscles your broke down while training intensely.
Eat At The Proper Time
- Eating to gain also includes eating at the right time, and NOT missing meals. Remember you should always have 40 grams of protein and carbs as close to when you finish a hard workout. Side note: You can adjust your diet to eat smaller meals and increase cardio to develop abs while you gain mass, but realize only advanced bodybuilders tend to be successful at this.
Most people are not successful at doing both at the same time and as a result it takes the longer to meet their goal. For this reason I suggest eating clean and well, but not worrying about a few extra pounds until you are ready to do your first evaluation (i.e. compare your intial condition to your new condition against your goals after an agreed upon reasonable amount of time).
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In this article John discusses the fact that most people fail to realize their physique goals as a result of poor dietary planning.
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Utilize High Quality Supplements
Not all required vitamins and minerals are easily obtained through food sources. For instance to get enough creatine through the diet many pounds of meat would have to be ingested. Today there are many new and exciting supplements available. As a minimum I would suggest the following supplements:
- A good
High quality RTDs or meal replacements for when you need a quick meal.
freeglut L-Glutamine to minimize muscular breakdown (catabolism), speed up recovery time and increase muscle cell volume. Because intense workouts can reduce glutamine levels in the body by as much as 50% taking 2 grams of glutamine immediately following the work out will suffice.
It should NOT be taken with creatine at the same time since glutamine and creatine compete for the same absorption receptors.
HMB to minimize protein (i.e., muscle) breakdown and damage to muscle cells (catabolism), which can occur after intense resistance exercise. HMB also plays a role in the synthesis of muscle tissue and can burn fat while building muscle tissue in response to exercise.
Creatine to increase lean muscle mass, increase energy levels, increase strength and speed up recovery rates.
DHEA, prohormones also can be very beneficial to raise muscle building testosterone
Other Useful Supplements
- . CLA is a naturally occurring fatty that exerts a positive effect on protein and fat metabolism by accelerating fat loss. An added benefit is that it is also a powerful antioxidant and it also has a reputation to slow the loss of muscle tissue in catabolic conditions by lowering levels of anti-catabolic hormones within the body also burns fat and boost energy and muscle endurance.
It works by transferring long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides into mitochondria where the compound is oxidized to produce energy.
Calcium Pyruvate. Pyruvate increases energy levels enhances the transport of glucose and protein into muscle cells and increasing the amount of ATP available to the mitochondria.
L-Carnitine. Carnitine also helps maximize your fat burning.
Maximize Your Workouts
Lift The Right Way For Your Body Type
- For example ectomorphs find it challenging to add muscle because calories are burned very easily. With this in mind an ectomorph should minimize the
- (or add many more calories to your diet). It is also best to keep the number of weight lifting sets to a minimum since to many sets will burn calories.
- This is not as simple as it seems. Using proper form to minimize
- , but maximize intensity (using full ranges of motion to increase the load on the muscle), organizing body parts in such a manner that you do not over train.
- Use basic movements (
- , etc.). Power movements, especially squats, deadlifts, barbell presses will stimulate growth throughout your whole body. These movements are very important to developing a dense, muscular physique. Most successful bodybuilders were power lifters at one point in their career. Many still rely on the core lifts (squat, leg press, bench, deadlifts, dumbbell and barbell presses, etc.). to maintain dense, quality muscle.
While the number sets and reps will depend on your genetics, I suggest trying to lift heavy while performing a moderate range of reps (6 rep range) every third workout. If this does not work for you experiment with different reps and sets that works for you. When using a moderate weight workout or light day increase intensity by minimizing rest between sets and adding additional sets or exercises. Stick with a 4 on 1 off when lifting to gain mass.
Get A Good, Competent Training Partner
- A good training partner is dependable, focused, and can assist you when you want top lift heavy, need a spot, etc. A said a good dependable partner because anything less to me, is a negative. It is why most of my career I have trained solo. I would also suggest looking for someone stronger.
Your incentive is to catch/match him. Training with stronger and more advanced partners will get you to your goals quicker. It is a trick I used when I was younger. Besides no one wants to look weak or like a quitter to someone with drive, success. Do not under estimate the value of this suggestion.
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Provide The Appropriate Environment For Muscle Growth
Get Good Rest
- Hard training requires muscle repair. Diet is one part of the "recovery triangle" Good rest and minimal stress is also important. Try to get as much
- as you can.
- Have a life outside the gym, have hobbies. Be able to decompress. Utilize
- for stress relief. Massages are also great for increasing blood flow, releasing blood toxins, increasing flexibility. Each of these benefits also assists in muscle growth, recovery.
Do Not Over Train
- Do not be a gym rat, training for several hours each day can be quite counterproductive to your mass building goals. The main reason for this is that stressful conditions, which also include prolonged weight training, the body can break down proteins (from muscle) and burn them as energy. The longer the workout, the more protein that can be broken down.
This is why I emphasize doing more in less time, then getting the meal in ASAP, along with the muscle sparing supplements I briefly mentioned (such as BCAA's Free form amino acid capsules, glutamine and HMB).
Overtraining can also negatively affect the body's immune system which can result in allowing colds and viruses to slow down your progress in the gym and out (diet). To avoid this pitfall be efficient, and smart.
Since everyone is different, watch for signs of over-training and make adjustments accordingly. It is important to remember that natural bodybuilders will over train if they try to a training partner taking those "special supplements". My experience has shown me that workouts should not exceed 90 minutes. Mine are often 45 to 60 minute's total.
I now add 30 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of stretching and ab work. Strive to do more in less time. You will soon see that a 45 minute workout can be quite harder than a 2 hour workout. Train with me sometime and I will show you.
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This article will try to shed some light on this most serious of bodybuilding dilemmas and provide ideas on how to avoid becoming overtrained while continuing to gain muscle consistently.
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Remember, building muscle is hard work. Quality muscle will not magically appear without the proper stimuli. The approach is fairly simple if you remember the basics:
- Hard intense training.
- Good nutrition.
- Consistency (training and diet)
- Proper rest.
Stick to this plan and do not give up and I am sure you will be pleased with the results.
Keep me apprised of your progress.
Hardgainers: Put An End To That Skinny Body NOW!