|Part 1 | Part 2|
Bodybuilding is the greatest sport on earth, yet is also one of the most frustrating. No matter what your level of experience is, the one common factor between all trainers is that we are trying to build MASS! No matter how you look at it mass is still king! Shape, symmetry, proportion - they are all desirable traits in a quality physique, but still rate a distant second to shirt splitting MASS!
Yet despite our best efforts, some of us are simply getting no where. How would you feel if I told you that I have the solution to end your frustration and put you on the correct path to obtaining the mass you crave so bad? I don't know about you, but I would be excited and ready to go. Well, reguardless if you are a physique competitor or just someone who wants to put on some lean muscle, lets make 2005 the year for MASS!
Establish A Plan Of Attack
Just as anything in this day of age, if you want to come out on top...you need to plan. To make this coming off-season your best ever, now is the time to structure your plan and ask yourself why you want it so badly.
What if's and wishful thinking simply do not cut it, nor does taking it all in your stride. The more accountable you make yourself for your actions (and lack of progress), the more you will receive at the end of the day. All the mass you ever want is here for the taking; you just need to find the path.
By following my 5-step action plan, you'll be on your way to XXXL in no time!
5 Step Plan Of Action
1 - You Need A Goal
Why do you want to build mass? A simple enough question, which comes back with so many 'off the wall' answers. I know it sounds simple enough, but seriously - why do you want to build more mass? Are you a competitor and need more mass for the stage, or are you a non-competing athlete who just wants to be bigger?
No matter what your answer is, you need to keep your goal at the forefront for all your decision making. It is your goal, which is going to keep you on track and to give you the focus (and strength) to keep striving forward when the going gets tuff.
Gaining mass in the off season is a common goal for most trainers, but instead of just gaining mass, is there something a little more specific that you wish to achieve? Maybe you want to build 5kg of rock hard muscle in 6 months, or wish to move up a weight class for your next competition. No matter what it is, the more specific it is - the more powerful it will be.
If your goal is to gain 5kg and you know you have 6 months to do it, you can break it down to more manageable monthly 'sprints' instead of a large focused task. One kilogram of muscle within 1 month seems more achievable then 5kg in 6 months, even though the pervious will generate greater mass gains over time. The way we think makes a monthly goal seem more achievable, plus there is the instant gratification you get after one month of solid training.
Additionally, you'll know that if you haven't gained a minimum of 1kg after a month, then you need to adjust your plan accordingly.
2 - Assess, Then Re-Assess
What exactly about your physique do you not like? Ok, as this article is about gaining mass then that's a pretty easy answer. But as bodybuilding is all about muscle, it's all about illusion as well. With the way we attack our physique, we can create the illusion that we are bigger then we actually are. By enhancing shoulder width, enhancing your V taper and reducing the size of your waist all contribute to creating the illusion of added size.
Granted mass is mass, but gaining 20lbs around the waist will not do anything for your physique's appeal. It's all a matter of gaining mass in the right areas (everywhere apart from your waist). If you had two bodybuilders of equal height, weight and body fat percentage, the one whose weight is better distributed over their body will look better - and will look bigger! Identify your strengths and weaknesses and work towards creating your ideal physique.
3 - Nutrition & Supplementation
The 'Old School' approach to getting big was to eat big. Whilst the basic principle is true, quality of food is never mentioned. Many people take the 'eat big to get big' literally and eat everything in site. Sure enough they gain a heap of mass, but they also gain a heap of body-fat. Instead of eating big, we should be thinking along the lines of 'eating toward the goal'.
To make substantial gains in lean mass, you need the right types of food. Believe me or not, but the perfect nutritional approach to increase mass is to follow your pre-contest approach! Let me run with this for a second and you will see where I am coming from.
Effective pre-contest dieting principles (large amounts of quality protein, functional carbohydrates and essential fats) let us get into awesome shape at contest time, so shouldn't the same foods be used to build mass in the off season - YES!
The reason we are able to slash our body fat percentage to crazy low levels and maintain our muscle mass is a combination of effective training and reduced calories. To gain weight, we need to increase our daily calorie level to above what is determined our maintenance level.
Following the same basic guidelines (just eating more) will let you build all the mass you ever want to, while avoiding the waist gain that many 'typical' off-season diet approaches result in. Food is the fuel, so if you put junk in you will get junk out. Put in quality nutrients (calories) and you will be rewarded with slabs of rock hard muscle! By all means enjoy your off-season and sample the treats you cannot commonly eat, buy keep a leash on your appetite.
In regards to supplementation, stick to the basics. A truckload of mass takes a dedicated and educated approach, not every product that shop X supplies. With my own experience, I have found that the big 4 work best in laying down slabs of new muscle.
Here are the four that work best:
- Supplemental Protein
in various forms (WPI, WPC, Caseinate)
- Creatine Monohydrate
The better structured your nutrition and supplementation plans are (and that you follow them consistently), the better your results will be.
4 - Training
- Choose the most productive (compound) exercises for each muscle group.
- Use free weights in replace of machines whenever possible.
- Train each muscle group only once a week.
- Train 1-2 muscle groups per day.
- For your workout, use between 3-6 sets per body-part, and no greater then 10 total sets for the entire session.
- During a set, keep the time under tension less then 20 seconds.
- If the weights are starting to feel easy, you need to increase the overload.
- Recovery is key. Take a week off whenever you feel totally drained and unmotivated.
The means in which we train in the off season contributes a large percentage to the possible results we can expect to achieve. Off-season is the time to keep things simple, and to keep it HEAVY!
Weight training is all about stimulating muscle to grow, so you need to follow a training style, which generates the greatest amount of stimulus. The only training style that makes the grade is progressive overload training. Progressive overload training is all about applying a maximal stress to the muscle so it has no choice but to grow bigger and stronger so it doesn't experience that same level of discomfort again.
| What Is Progressive Overload?
It basically comes down to applying a maximal stress to the muscle so that it doesn't have a choice but to grow bigger and stronger.
A muscle working within its limitations has no reason to change, so you constantly need to increase the overload (weight lifted) in order to create the same stimulus.
Here are a few guidelines to use when constructing your ultimate workout routine:
5 - Action
With all the information I have put forth to you, it all means nothing unless you take action. If you sit back and contemplate the possibilities, then you are wasting valuable time.
You need to take action NOW!
My advice for you is to have the remainder of this week off training to experience some well-needed physical recovery. During this time, you need to establish your goals, define your strengths and weaknesses, devise an awesome nutrition and supplementation plan and create a killer work out. The only piece of the pie left is action.
Seize the day and attack the possibilities like there is no tomorrow. The sooner you start, the more MASS you can inevitably gain!
|Part 1 | Part 2|
About The Author
Josh Dickinson is a Co-Founder of Physique Essentials - A Health & Fitness consultancy company determined to assist people reach their physique goals Naturally. He is an accomplished bodybuilding competitor and a certified personal trainer. If you have any questions that you would like answered by one of Australia's quickest rising competitors, send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org