It happens all the time in the gym I workout at. Some skinny guy (that has probably not lifted for more than a couple of months), comes to me and asks, "John I want to be HUGE as soon as possible, what do I have to do?" My usual answer? "Be patient!"
Bodybuilding does not belong in the category of all the other "aerobic sports"; usually after some short period of time you are able to increase your endurance and your skills. Bodybuilding is one of the very few "anaerobic sports" that exist. Of course as years go by you become more of an expert, but what most people must realize is that half the battle is performed in gym. The other half has to do with proper nutrition, recuperation and supplementation.
It's totally worthless even if you just had a "killer" workout to go home and not feed your body with the proper nutrients. Your body had just given a "battle" and it deserves to be treated good. You see, there is a critical time period shortly after a workout where you can either trigger muscle growth or fall prey to protein degradation, and that means actually to lose muscle instead of building it. If you miss the opportunity to provide your body with a sufficient amount that should be consisted of carbohydrates, protein and fat, you have just lost the battle. Also it's not only important to eat IMMEDIATELY after your weight training, but to eat constantly through the day. (Usually 5-6 good nutritional meals, every 2-3 hours). Scientific researches has said that the optimum frequency interval for macro nutrients like protein and carbohydrate seems to be about every three hours.
Just think about it, when would your body find easier to digest food, and to get the most advantage of it? When the food is spread out only 3 times per day (and let's assume that every meal consists of 1000 cal), or when it's spread out in 6 meals (and every meal consists of 500cal)? Also every meal should consist of moderate carbs, high protein and low fat. You can not build muscle if you don't eat enough protein, period! The easiest method to estimate how much protein you need, is to eat 1gr of protein, for every pound that you weight. (For European friends, that means 2.2gr for every kilo they weigh). Many people are taking even higher quantities of protein (2gr per pound), and that's fine, as long as their program does not continue for more than a month. The reason is that your kidneys and liver have a pretty hard time trying to absorb and digest these extreme quantities of protein. It's not good forcing such vital body organs to work to 100% of their capacity.
What I would suggest, (assuming that most of us are taking care of our nutrition 11 months per year) is for 6 months out of the year to eat 1gr of protein, then for the next 4 to increase the quantity and to eat 1.5gr, and only for the last month of the season (usually just before our summer vacations, right?) to go for 2gr. Just remember always when you increase the protein consumption to increase also your water consumption. Your kidneys and liver will need more water in order to have a more easy task to do. Personally, I believe that the best ratio is 50%-35%-15% (carbs-protein-fat) for the first 6 months, then you go for 45%-45%-10%, and the final month is 40%-50%-10%. Also for people that think they should eat very high amounts of protein in a yearly basis, remember that maybe you can build muscle only if you eat protein, but you can have energy only if you eat sufficient amounts of carbs. Carbs are arguably the most important key to nitrogen balance. Carbs help spare protein for muscle growth and repair and replenish liver and muscle energy stores leading to faster recovery. So it's not wise for your meals to be based only in protein.
Finally, I want to end my first article talking about recuperation. So since it's impossible to build muscle if you don't eat enough protein, the same impossibility is to get bigger if you don't rest enough. Try every night to sleep for at least 7 hours. Sleep is the most important "supplement" for your body.
The natural growth hormone appears only in two cases. a)When we train, (and it starts declining after 40-45 min of training so every training session should not last more than that period), and b)when we sleep. Most scientists suggest at least 8 hours a day, but I believe 7 hours will work very good also for you, if these are non-stop hours. I always hear clients in my gym, complaining that they can not train with high intensity. Usually my first question is if they ate well before they came into the gym, and if they say "yes", always my second question is how many hours they slept at night. Guess the answer. 3..4..maybe even 5 hours. And I wonder "What do they expect to do if they have not slept enough"?
As I said in the beginning, every training session (at least for persons that want to get bigger), is like a battle. Would you ever go to fight without your weapons? Of course not. And your most important weapons when you go to train are a)Good nutrition, and b)Good sleeping. lf you have these two, it is much easier to lift more and concentrate more at this critical time. That's the only way if you want to be a winner every time you hit the gym.
I hope you enjoyed my first article, and next week l will talk about the importance of the right supplementation.
Till next week take care all.