What you need to bust through this wall is momentum. I am going to give you the momentum to blast through the wall, but to get that momentum we must take a few steps back first. This is going to take patience, but the gains will come, and when they come, they will be dramatic. Patience is the biggest virtue here however, and one cannot skip any steps for this to work correctly. But enough talk, I'll get into things.
Follow Step 1 for 3 weeks to a "T".
Drop all supplements except for a multivitamin and protein powder if you need it. The supplements will come later (save your money until then) but it is very important that you cleanse your body of them now. You want a clean system with clean receptors that way when we start to build, it is refreshed and ready to absorb anything and everything you throw at it.
Next are your calories. I want you to lower (What?! Lower! I'm trying to gain muscle here) your calories to maintenance. To find your maintenance caloric expenditure, multiply your weight by about 13 to 16 depending on lean body mass and activity level. For the average 200lb bodybuilder, a daily caloric expenditure would be in the neighborhood of 2500-3000. Keep your protein to no more than 1g per pound of body weight per day. Yes, you read that right, no more than 1g per pound of body weight per day.
Lastly is your training. Make a note of this, because these words will never come out of my mouth again. Switch your training to a high volume, high frequency, and high rep routine. Train 5-6 days per week with about 20 sets per body part, one body part per day. Here is your chance to buy that issue of Flex sitting on the counter. Pick a routine out of it, almost any one in there will fit the bill of what we are looking for here.
By now you must truly think I'm crazy. "What the hell is Red thinking this time? He's going to make me shrink up into the bag of bones I was when I started." Remember above where I said we needed to take a few steps back to gain enough momentum to crash through the wall, well this is it.
What we are doing here is putting you into a serious state of overtraining. Between the lowered calories, high reps and volume, and lack of muscle preserving supplements, your body is going to be feeling under the weather. Soon you will experience the effects of overtraining: fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of motivation, etc. Your testosterone will start to lower and cortisol will be increased. Don't be surprised if you lose a little weight during this step. It's ok though; it will all end in 3 weeks.
*Note: Some will need more or less time in this part than others. This will mainly depend on your training and diet prior to this phase. If you are already doing this, then you may not need more then one week. If you have been training with slightly lower volume, eating big, etc. then you may need more time. When you feel weak, overtrained, and almost like you cannot go on; move to step 2.
At this point I bet you really don't know what to think. It's ok though, things get better. In Step 1 you took your steps back. Here is where you catch your breath, get down into a 3-point stance and get ready to charge forward and shatter the wall.
Step 2 will quite possibly be the easiest week of your bodybuilding career. Here you will take a week off from lifting and cardio. It's that simple. Eat decent, have some fun, but try and keep physical activity to a minimum. Here you want to recover and let your hormones return to normal from the torture that you just put them through. Like I said earlier, just catching your breath.
In Step 1 we over trained your body into a catabolic state. In Step 2 we gave it a chance to recover and get back into a normal groove. Now its time to charge forward at full speed and bust through the wall shattering bricks and sending scrap metal flying in all directions. When the dust clears and you re-emerge, you will be bigger, stronger and more confident.
From personal experience I know I gain mass the fastest right after I come off of a cutting phase. There are several reasons for this. One is because when you diet your body's recovery time is cut into. Often you don't fully recover between workouts, leading to that weak feeling or even losing muscle. Cardio doesn't help this out much either as it burns calories, muscle and glutamine needed to recover. When you switch to a bulking phase, there is no cardio, there's no ECA to keep you up at night, so you recover much more efficiently. The other reason is because the sudden shock of a large amount of calories is quickly sent directly to muscles to aid in repair.
A sudden high influx of calories right now will do wonders for mass gaining. Since our main goal here is to gain muscle, I highly suggest a "see-food" diet. You see good food, you eat it. Plain and simple. As I write this, an old "B" movie is playing in the background. There's a huge crocodile going insane eating what ever it can find. It's going through great lengths just to eat people. This is how you have to be. Well, I'm not advocating eating people (Even though I bet human flesh is quite high in protein. Hmm? Nah.. j/k) but you must eat like a horse to gain in this program. 6 big meals per day, loaded with carbs, protein and quality fats.
In Step 1 you trained like a pro, and probably regressed. Here is where you train like a natural and make some great gains. I have always been an advocate of low volume, high intensity training and this situation begs for it like no other. After all the over training you have just been through, a low volume routine will be such a shock and change from your old routine that your muscles will have no choice but to grow. You will recover faster, be stronger at the next workout, and with enough calories, quickly grow. Your testosterone and GH levels will be elevated again, where, due to the low frequency and high calories, cortisol will be low. You'll grow like a weed. Ah, the anabolic groove. (Check out my article on Intensity (Training For Growth) for some routines.)
Now it's time to shop the net and spend some money. You've taken 4 weeks off from all supplementation, so your body is fresh and ready to absorb. The first thing I recommend is a quality weight gainer like N-Large 2. You need calories and protein to grow; this has both. Take it whenever you can't get in a meal and after working out. Next is creatine. For most, creatine is an extraordinary supplement and many users get great results off it. It's safe, inexpensive, and will enhance the effects of this routine. I suggest 5-10 grams of Prolab's micronized per serving depending on size.
Lastly is ZMA. Your body needs zinc and magnesium for proper testosterone production. Many have trouble absorbing these nutrients since calcium blocks absorption. Make sure to buy a ZMA free of calcium, I suggest Twinlab's ZMA Fuel. There are other supplements you can try (see my supplement review for more) but these are the main three mass builders that should be used. Stack these with the proper training prescribed above, a good diet and you'll feel the results.
So for those of you who made it to this point and aren't cussing me out beneath your breath; good luck. I know I'm going to catch shit for this program, but I really feel that it's a solid plateau buster. You may call it drastic, but that is often what is needed to bring about results. Follow it closely; get the results, then laugh with me at those who doubted it.
Prepare to set new goals, because you're going to crush your old ones.