Gain 10 Pounds In 100 Days!

Want to go from what you see in the mirror today to the same thing plus 10 pounds of muscle? Of course you do! Learn how to add 10 pounds of muscle without the fat!

While most people are eager to lose weight, bodybuilders are equally excited about gaining weight -- rock-solid muscle, that is. I sometimes get questions like: "What should I do, eating and training-wise, to pack on 30 lbs of muscle for the football tryouts next month?"

That's obviously not going to happen, but let's scale back the expectations a few notches and look at what you realistically can accomplish if you do everything "right".

You want to go from what you see in the mirror today to the same thing plus, say, 10 pounds of muscle. Very well. Let's walk through step by step on how to get you those 10 pounds ASAP. It may not sound like much, but 10 pounds makes a visible difference as long as you're in at least reasonably good shape.

Before we start, let me point out that I set 100 days as a general milestone. I'm thinking an average-sized, intermediate lifter in fairly good shape. A young, large-built male beginner will probably reach the 10-pound goal sooner, while a seasoned female bodybuilder may take longer.

A large guy may make swifter progress than a small guy, and a woman might progress slower than men because of hormonal differences.

The bottom line is that you should not beat yourself up if you made good progress but fell short of the general goal because of unfavorable circumstances. If you fell short because of laziness, however, go ahead and knock yourself out.

The Training

It's a sad fact that most bodybuilders are more or less overtrained, largely thanks to too many sets and reps, with not enough rest being a close second. Growth occurs during rest; lifting weights is a strictly muscle-damaging process. The trick to optimal growth is to inflict swift but brutal damage to the muscles (triggering the growth response) and then get the heck out of the gym once that is accomplished.

The sample workout below may not look like it would be enough, but once you crank up the intensity and load on a few extra plates you'll find it perfectly adequate. Remember: the goal is not to simply exhaust the muscle, statically holding a light weight for long enough will do that for you, but to cause the right type of damage that will prompt the muscle to grow after you go to bed at night.

This basic principle brings me to the next point: Keep it simple. Stick mostly to heavy, basic compound movements like deadlifts, squats, military presses, chins and dips.

As Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman or any other successful bodybuilder will tell you, it's the heavy basics that will get the job done. Using fancy machines for this-or-that specific muscle has a time and a place, but this ain't it. Right now we want to pack on the pounds, build core strength and lay a foundation - the details come later.

As for sets and reps, aim for as few sets as possible in the 6-8 rep range, with a few exceptions. Examples of such exceptions are crunches, lateral dumbbell raises (too heavy weight shifts the focus from delts to traps) and stiff-legged deadlifts, where excessively heavy training can be downright hazardous.

As for cardiovascular training, you still need to do some cardio to keep your heart and lungs in shape, but don't go overboard. Cardio is borderline counterproductive to packing on mass, so just do the bare minimum to stay healthy for the next 100 days. Two 30-45 minute sessions per week where you work up a sweat and start puffing should be enough.

Make sure to stretch and catch your breath between each set. There's a balance between rushing from one set to the next and yakking away with buddies for 5 mins between sets. Find the balance; it should be in the neighborhood of giving the trained muscle on each side of the body (biceps for example) a good, 30 second stretch, having a sip of water and sucking down a few deep breaths before hitting the weights again.

More advanced trainers will benefit from employing various intensity-boosting techniques such as supersets, forced reps and negative training. If you're in this category, you may also want to employ some form of periodization to make sure your muscles are getting something new and challenging. The emphasis should remain on heavy training, but you may want to consider throwing in 2-3 weeks of lighter training with more reps in the middle of your 100 days.

Choose weights you can do 12-15 reps with and go for the pump! Less experienced trainers, however, will be fine just sticking with the basic program and simply add more weights once they can do 10 or so reps per set.

Last but not least, finish each workout with 5 minutes of thorough stretching of the muscle groups you have just trained. Stretching helps flush out the lactic acid and brings in fresh blood, thus reducing soreness and recovery time. As a bonus, it stretches the fascia and may give the muscle "more room" to grow.

Sample Plan


Exercise Sets Reps
Flat Dumbbell Presses 2 6-8
Incline Dumbbell Presses 2 6-8
Standing Military Presses 2 6-8
Dips (weighted, if you can do more than 12 reps) 2 Unlimited
Tricep Pushdowns 2 6-8
Skullcrushers 2 6-8

Click here for printable workout log!


Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 2 6-8
Leg Presses 2 6-8
Leg Extensions 2 6-8
Seated Leg Curls 2 6-8
Stiff-legged Deadlifts 2 10-12

Click here for printable workout log!


Cardio activity of choice, 30 mins or more.


Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Calf Presses 2 6-8
Seated Calf Presses 2 6-8
Dumbbell Lateral Raises 2 10-12
Barbell Upright Rows 2 6-8
Bent-over Dumbbell Lateral Raises 2 10-12
Straight Abdominal Crunches 2 Unlimited
Twisted Abdominal Crunches 2 Unlimited

Click here for printable workout log!


Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlifts 2 6-8
Chins (weighted, if you can do more than 12 reps) 2 Unlimited
Dumbbell Rows 2 6-8
Dumbbell Shrugs 2 6-8
Barbell Bicep Curls 2 6-8
Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curls 2 6-8

Click here for printable workout log!


Cardio activity of choice, 30 mins or more.



The Food

Many start out not only wishing to pack on muscle, but also to get ripped. That's perfectly doable, but you must accept the fact that in order to pack on as much muscle as possible for the next 100 days, you'll probably have to temporarily add a few pounds of bodyfat as well.

I want to emphasize the word "temporary" here, since the extra body mass you've gained during this period will help you burn off the additional fat later, so don't freak if you wake up and find your waist has increased by half an inch.

As long as you've gained half an inch or more around your shoulders, too, you're fine. In other words, focus on getting big now, and worry about getting ripped once that is accomplished. Don't chase two rabbits at the same time.

With this in mind, let's talk about returning to the basics in terms of dieting. The "old school" bodybuilding diet from the glory days of Arnold serves us well today, though we now have the option to trim some of the saturated fat off the menu.

This means we can keep the core diet while replacing full-fat milk with no-fat milk, opting to lean ground meat instead of full-fat steaks, putting more emphasis on tuna and perhaps only have one or two yolks when you scramble eggs. You get the idea. Let's start by identifying some good sources for protein, carbs and fat.

Examples of good protein sources:

  • Fowl (chicken, turkey, ostrich)
  • Seafood (tuna, shrimp etc.)
  • Lean beef
  • Eggs
  • No-fat milk
  • Soy-based, enriched fake meat products
  • Quorn products

NOTE: Many fake meat products are surprisingly rich in protein and actually don't taste half bad. With virtually no fat and enriched amino acid profiles for more complete Biological Value (BV), these products can definitely help round out an otherwise bland diet.

Examples of good carbohydrate sources:

  • Oatmeal (not instant)
  • Rough bread (preferably whole wheat - look for high fiber content)
  • Thick pasta
  • Parboiled rice (the slow-cooking kind)
  • Potatoes
  • Beans, peas etc.

NOTE: As a rule, anything "instant" is not good carbs. You want the slow-cook option that will digest slower and provide moderate muscle fuel for a long time rather than a short bang. Also, when buying bread, don't be fooled by manufacturers who sprinkle stuff on the outside of plain white bread to make it look high-fiber.

Examples of good fat sources:

  • Olive oil
  • Flax seeds & oil
  • Fish (salmon doubles as a great protein/fat combo meal)
  • Peanuts
  • Fruits and veggies, such as Avocado

NOTE: Avoid animal fats (bacon, butter, fatty meat etc) except fish, which is high in beneficial essential fatty acids. Beware of peanut butter, as some brands are packed with unnatural trans fats that seem almost designed to clog up your arteries.

Bodybuilders tend to focus on the protein intake. That makes sense, given that it's the stuff muscles are built from. However, since our goal is to pack on as much mass as possible, we need to take a serious look at the carbs as well.

Carbohydrates is the primary source of fuel for your muscles. If you haven't eaten enough carbs, you'll run out of steam halfway through your workout.

Furthermore, since we want to keep you in a consistent growth-mode for the next 100 days, you must always have a modest but existing calorie surplus. In other words, you have to eat more than you burn every day so that your body feels that it can "afford" to add extra muscle mass. While protein drinks are good, the foundation of your diet are solid, well-rounded meals.

Aim for a diet where you get 50% of your calories from carbs, 30% from protein and 20% from fat (give or take 5% or so), preferably where you get both protein and carbs with each meal for optimal growth.

Don't forget to drink enough water so that you stay hydrated. Soda, coffee and juice doesn't count - pure water, and plenty of it is what you need. It is especially important to start sipping extra water prior to your workouts, so that you stay sufficiently hydrated.

Avoid alcohol, as it dehydrates your body and can mess up your natural hormone balance. It is also a good idea to get some fiber into your meals for optimal digestion.

If you eat only a few large meals per day, your blood sugar levels go between high peaks and a deep valleys. The peaks mean you essentially get more calories than you can handle in one sitting, while the valleys mean you're starving the muscles.

Instead, have a number of smaller meals and snacks spread over the day with a few hours in between. This way, you will stay in a nicely anabolic state from morning to evening. Depending on your schedule, a total of 5-6 meals should do the trick.

The Supplements

Your number 1 supplement is a good multivitamin/mineral, such as Twinlab's Daily Ones (or any other reputable brand that covers most, if not all, the daily requirements (RDA)). Also, since you're putting a lot of stress on your body, you may want to consider an extra dose of antioxidants.

In addition, I believe in taking small doses of extra vitamin C throughout the day to help combat the harmful toxins and free radicals we are subjected to in our day-to-day life. Vitamin C is water-soluble and passes through your system quickly which is why several smaller doses are better than one big dose.

There are two must-have supplements in addition to vitamins. The first is protein powder. Opt for a pure-protein variety with no carbs, such as Designer Protein, unless you're an ectomorph (naturally skinny), in which case you can go for a protein/carb mix, such as Heavyweight Gainer 900.

Regular, protein-rich meals is the foundation of your diet, but as you will see in the sample meal plan there are a few spots where a protein drink hits the spot right-on. I also recommend keeping protein bars (or "meal-replacement bars") that have a nice mix of protein, carbs, fat and vitamins on hand as convenient snacks.

The same rule applies: Choose relatively low-carb, low-calorie bars (300 calories or less), unless you're an ectomorph in which case you can pick more calorie-dense bars.

The other must-have is creatine monohydrate. This remarkable supplement literally pumps you up and make you stronger, bigger and heavier in a matter of days. A lot of this is caused by increased water retention in the muscles that will go away later, but you get to keep the benefits from having been able to train with heavier weights.

To read more about what creatine is and how to use it, click here. I prefer to split the daily 10 gram dose so that I have 5 grams before and after the workout. This ensures creatine saturation in the muscle going into the gym and then taking advantage of the "express delivery" into the muscles from the post-workout drink

Other supplements, that I consider important but not necessarily crucial, are BCAAs, glutamine, glucosamine and dextrose. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are isolated amino acids that will help you grow stronger. Glutamine is another, muscle-building amino acid that boosts your immune system to boot. Glucosamine helps protect your joints and ligaments.

Dextrose, finally, is simple, quickly-digestible sugar. Normally, this would be the last thing to fit into your diet. Immediately following a workout, as in, even before hitting the shower, it is great. The reason for this is that the muscles have had their stored energy resources depleted and are starving for new energy.

By chugging a drink with 50 grams of powdered dextrose, along with 40 grams of protein and 5 grams of glutamine, you give the muscles a jolt of exactly what it needs to kick into anabolic mode. Mix in the post-workout creatine and it piggy-backs on the sugar into your muscles as well.

Another good habit is to have a protein drink (40 grams of protein + 5 grams of glutamine) right before going to bed. This will ensure that your body has what it needs to rebuild your body as you sleep. And don't worry about it turning to fat; protein doesn't easily convert to bodyfat.

Finally, if you want to get really serious you can make it a habit of taking an extra 5 grams of BCAAs in the middle of the night. Many people get thirsty during the night and keep a glass of water by the bed. Keep the BCAAs capsules in a cup next to the glass and chug them along with the water.

The Mental Game

In spite of what you may have heard, a tough workout schedule and a strict diet is not a guarantee of anything. The biggest difference between success and failure is in your head. You must get into the hungry mindset where you really desire to kill your muscles in each and every workout. Consistently push yourself out of the comfort zone and keep a watchful eye so you don't start slacking off mentally.

I found visualization to be a great help in keeping my eyes on the ball, but you have to find what works for you. Some swear by watching 10 mins of some pro's training video before going to the gym, others study their old training logs and challenge themselves to lift more weight for more reps.

Team up with a stronger training partner and try to keep up. Or make a bet and psyche each other up to the point of going berzerk in the gym. Again, you have to find what works for you, and there's no "right" or "wrong" way as long as it works.

Putting It All Together

Ok, time to wrap things up and get this program off the ground. Before you start, bring out the measurement tape and measure your waist, shoulders, arms and thighs (flexed and at its thickest) first thing in the morning. Make note of the measurements and make weekly updates every Monday morning, along with your body weight.

Don't bother with flimsy bodyfat-measurement gizmos at this point - as long as your waist stays put and everything else increases, you're on track. As mentioned earlier, expect the waist to increase a little. That means 1 to 2 inches, tops, over the course of these 100 days.

More than that and you could probably scale back a little on the food intake. No change, or shrinkage, means you're probably not growing as fast as you could if you ate more.

Sample day for a normal-sized, active male:

Time Meal
7:30 1 bowl oatmeal porridge w/ no-fat milk
8 scrambled egg whites, 2 yolks
1 apple
Multivitamins, extra antioxidants
10:00 1 protein bar
8 oz. orange juice
500 mg vitamin C
12:30 2 skinless chicken breasts
1 cup parboiled rice
1/2 cup steamed mixed vegetables
3:30 1 small can of tuna
1 low-sugar granola bar
1 banana
5 grams of BCAAs
5 grams of creatine
500 mg vitamin C
5:00 Workout
5:45 Post-workout drink (dextrose, protein, creatine, gluatamin)
6:30 12 oz. lean beef
1 cup potatoes (boiled, not fried)
8 oz. no-fat milk
10:00 Pre-bedtime drink (protein, glutamine)
500 mg vitamin C
Night 5 grams of BCAAs

There you have it. Train like your life depended on it, then get plenty of rest. Eat lots of healthy food, take the right supplements and drink lots of water. Sleep at least 8 hours per night and GROW!