Now there are many other things that you can do to help you build mass, BUT these 10 things are the bare essentials. In other words, they are absolutely necessary for a successful program.
1. Weight Train
Weight training involves the use of equipment that enables variable resistance. This resistance can come in the form of "free weights" like barbells and dumbbells, machines that use cables or pulleys to help you lift the weight and bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or dips.
For anyone trying to gain muscle, several things must be done. One is to train with heavy weights. By heavy I mean a weight that is challenging for YOU. The average guy in the gym usually works with a weight he can lift for 10-15+ reps. For mass gaining purposes, this is too light. Using an appropriate weight, you should only be able to do 4-8 reps. That's it! Using heavy weights and low reps puts your muscles and nervous system under much more stress than using lighter weights for many reps. This added stress causes the involvement and stimulation of more muscle fibers, which will cause rapid muscle growth.
For maximum muscle gain, the focus of your workouts should consist of free weight exercises. Not machines or bodyweight exercises. This is not to say that you shoud not use machines or bodyweight exercises, but they should not be the focus of your training. To get an effective, muscle blasting workout, you must stimulate the most muscle fibers as possible, and machines do not do this.
The main reason for this is a lack of stabilizer and synergist muscle development. Stabilizer and synergist muscles are supporting muscles that assist the main muscle in performing a complex lift. The more stabilizers and synergists worked, the more muscle fibers stimulated. Multi-jointed free weight exercises like the bench press, require many stabilizer and synergistic muscle assistance to complete the lift. On the other hand doing a bench press using a machine will need almost no stabilizer assistance.
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2. Eat More Calories
The most important thing that I cannot emphasize is that you need to eat to gain weight. You need to eat like you’ve never eaten before. If you are not eating enough calories, you will NEVER gain weight, no matter what you do. In order to build new muscle, you must eat more calories than your body burns off, creating what is called a caloric surplus. To gain mass, you should strive to eat around 18-20 times your bodyweight in calories. The extra calories will be used by your body to repair muscle tissue that is damaged during the heavy workouts, and to build new muscle.
Now, when I say eat, I do not mean just anything. All calories are not created equal. In other words, some types of calories are not equal to others for gaining muscle. For example, if I said that you need to eat 2,000 calories per day to gain weight, and you eat 4 bags of potato chips each day, do you think you would gain muscle? Not likely. The majority of your weight would be fat. Why? Because potato chips, like most processed junk food, contains empty, totally nutritionless calories. These foods do not provide you with the correct nutrient breakdown essential for gaining muscle.
3. Eat More Protein
Without protein, your body will not be able to build new muscle. Years ago, a higher carbohydrate and lower fat diet was the rage, recommended by professional bodybuilders and trainers. They claimed that this was the only way to eat for muscle gain. Unfortunately, the only people gaining muscle on that type of diet were a genetically gifted few. The rest just got fat.
Carbs serve mainly as energy for the body, while protein provides the necessary amino acids to build and repair muscle. For muscle growth, carbohydrates are not as essential as protein and fats. High quality protein, which the body breaks down into amino acids, should be the center point of all your meals. There are many studies that show intense exercise increases demand for amino acids, which support muscle repair and growth.To build muscle, you should try to get at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Whether you believe it or not, the fact is: High protein diets build more muscle when incorporated with intense training. Low protein diets do not. Period. Only protein can build muscle. Carbohydrates and fat cannot.
Here is one of the protein supplements that I recommend.
4. Eat More Often
To gain weight, you will be eating a large amount of calories. Unfortunately, your body can only assimilate a certain number of calories at each meal. For our purposes, eating three meals per day is not beneficial. If you had to eat 3,000 calories per day, then you would end up eating 1,000 calories at each meal. The average person can only use a portion of those calories. The excess will be stored as fat or removed from the body.
To enable your body to actually assimilate and use the 3,000 calories you will ingest, you have to reduce your meal size and increase your meal frequency. Splitting your calories into smaller, more frequent portions will enable food absorption and utilization of nutrients . I always eat six meals each day, evenly spaced out at three-hour intervals.
My goal is to provide my body with constant nourishment throughout the day. So if it typically takes about 2.5 hours to digest most meals, want to be eating another meal just as my last meal is leaving my stomach. I do this because my body is constantly in need of nutrients to repair itself. I do a lot of damage during my workouts and completely stress my system. My body is trying to "adapt to the stress," but in order to do this, it needs consistent fuel.
If I ate only three meals per day, then my body would be without nutrients for about six hours between each of those meals! This is unacceptable for skinny guys. Without food, your body will quickly begin to breakdown muscle tissue for energy.
5. Eat More Fat
If you want to gain muscle mass, you must eat enough dietary fat. Dietary fats play an essential role in hormone production, which in turn is responsible for growth and strength increases. I have never gained muscle on a low fat diet, though many people still believe that eating fat makes you fat. This is absolutely false. In fact, there is a very popular muscle gain diet that been around for years, called the "Anabolic Diet" that requires you to eat only fat! Butter, bacon, and heavy cream are all on the menu. Though quite extreme, this diet does work.
Most people are overweight because of a diet high in simple carbohydrates, not from eating fats. If your diet is too low in fat, your body will actually make a point to store any fat it gets, because it doesn't know when it will get more. A low-fat diet will also lower testosterone levels, something we do not want when trying to gain weight. Studies have shown that dietary fat has a direct relationship with testosterone production. An increase in dietary fat intake seems to bring on an increase in testosterone levels. The inverse is also true. A decrease in dietary fat intake is usually accompanied by a decrease in free testosterone levels.
However, you don't want to increase your intake of saturated fats. Saturated fats are what cause disease and coronary problems. Though you will always have some saturated fats in your diet, your main focus should be to increase your intake of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
EFAs are unsaturated fats that are necessary for thousands of biological functions throughout the body. Because they cannot be manufactured by the body, the must be provided by your diet. These fatty acids not only help increase testosterone production, but they also aid in the prevention of muscle breakdown, help to increase your HDL level (good cholesterol) and assist in hormone production. To get your recommended amount of EFA's, I recommend supplementing your diet with either Udo's Perfect Oil Blend (which combines omega- and omega-6), or Cold-Pressed Flaxseed oil (which is mostly omega-3).
6. Drink More Water
To make sure that your muscles stay hydrated, you must drink plenty of water. Dehydration can happen easily if you train hard. A dehydrated muscle, takes longer to repair itself than one sufficiently hydrated.
Drinking a sufficient amount of water not only increases your vascularity (more visible veins), but it will also help to quickly remove toxins from the body. Protein generates metabolic waste products that must be dissolved in water. Without enough water, the kidneys cannot efficiently remove these wastes.
7. Take a Multi-Vitamin
There are many supplements and specific muscle gain enhancing products that I recommend using in my book, but I have to remember that this is only the 10 most important elements of a successful mass program. So, I have to keep this brief and to the point. All of the other products will help, but they are not essential. So, I will only touch on two vitamins supplements.Multi-Vitamins and Antioxidants.
If you want to gain muscle, you must make sure that you are not deficient in any vitamin, mineral or trace element that your body needs. I know many people are going to disagree with me, but I believe that in this day, we absolutely need to supplement our diet with vitamins and minerals. I know that those who are against using vitamins are going to say that if we "just eat a balanced diet. . . ", You know the rest.
Well first, eating a balanced diet is easier said than done. America is the most overweight country in the world. Most people don't even know what a "balanced" diet is. Balanced with what? Experts will continue to spout, "eat a balanced diet," while Americans feast on nutritionless fast food and sugar.
Second, not only do our bodies have to deal with the ever-increasing external stresses of everyday life, they also have to combat nutrient-depleting exercise. Food today is, for the most part, nutritionless - almost totally void of the body strengthening vitamins and minerals it contained one hundred years earlier. Instead, we now ingest over-processed, fiberless meals, and under-ripened vegetables grown in barren, over-farmed soil, laden with pesticides.
How healthy can that be? If you want to ignore the facts and continue on about "balanced diets," fine. It's your decision. But I, for one, eat a balanced diet, and I still take a multi-vitamin supplements.
Many mult-vitamin manufacturers try to put "everything" in their product, but it's not necessary. At minimum, your multi-vitamin should contain the USRDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, K and the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, selenium, and possibly iron (for women). Men should find a multi-vitamin without iron. You typically get more than enough iron from your food. Extra iron is needed only for menstruating women.
It should also contain other essential nutrients like biotin, chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum and pantothenic acid.
There are some vitamins and minerals that are best taken separately. Vitamin E, vitamin C, folic acid and calcium are best taken at higher dosages. Many proponents of multi-vitamins cite that taking that many vitamins and vitamins together causes negative interactions because they compete with each other for absorption. For example: magnesium, zinc, and calcium compete for absorption; copper and zinc also compete for absorption.
But think about this for a minute. This is no different than eating different foods at the same time, as most people do. The vitamins and minerals in the foods compete also. Competition is expected and the body is designed to handle that. Here is a good multi-vitamin that I use.
8. Take Antioxidants
An antioxidant like Vitamins A, C, E, Glutathione, Glutamine, and Selenium are essential in preventing free radical damage, which is accelerated after the heavy trauma of weight training. Antioxidants protect other substances by being oxidized themselves. Here's a good antioxidant blend that I also use.
9. Rest More Often
Rest is the most overlooked "skinny-guy secret". If you don't rest, you won't grow. Simple as that. Your body does not build muscle in the gym, it builds muscle while resting!
The key to successfully gaining weight is eating enough calories, training hard and then resting. No diet adjustments will make up for lack of rest. If you train hard in the gym, then you should be resting your muscles as much as possible. If you do not give them time to rest and repair, you will not grow. Period.
10. Be Consistent
O.K., so you want the secret to gaining muscle mass fast? Well, here it is: CONSISTENCY.
You can have the best diet, the best training schedule, join the best gym that has the best equipment, but without consistency it's all worthless.
Over the past 3 years, I've talked to hundreds of people who have successfully transformed their physique. Though most of them trained in totally different ways, there was one common denominator that appeared throughout each success story:
Day in and day out, they followed their pre-determined plan, consistently, without fail.
You must find the determination and drive within yourself to consistently put one foot in front of the other and see this through. If not now, then when?
"You never know what you can do, until you try to do more than you can." - Tony Blauer
Think that this is too complicated or inconvenient?
Sometimes guys will complain to me about the perceived inconvenience of following a specific plan. I can see it’s easy to make excuses, after all, I used to do the same thing.
Don't get caught up in this. The truth is, the hardest part any training routine is getting started. You've got to break your old habits and make new paths for yourself. Remember that saying, “Do what you've always done, and get what you've always gotten”.
Read it again.
Before I really learned the right way to gain muscle, I trained sporadically. I worked out when I felt like it. One week I might have trained five days, while another week I would train once or twice. As far as my routine was concerned, I did whatever seemed interesting at the time. Never keeping track of my sessions or planning my routines. I had been a member of a popular health club for 8 years, yet I had managed to gain not one pound of muscle. I tried all the popular "weight gaining" products at the time. Very expensive stuff like Cybergenics, weight gainer powders, Boron, amino acid tablets, etc. The list goes on.
Needless to say, none of it worked. I began to give in to the fact that I just could not gain weight. "It's because I have a fast metabolism", I was told. I had been thin my entire life, and I would have done just about anything to gain weight. For years I did not know what it felt like to weight more than 138 pounds. I was even underweight as a child.
After I was born, I had to remain at the hospital for an extra seven days because of my weight. Understand, this was not just some overnight problem for me my lack of size had plagued me my entire life. In my teen years, I took up the martial arts in hopes of learning to defend myself against the much larger kids at school. Too ashamed of my appearance, I was rarely seen without my shirt in the summer time. To thin, I was not allowed to play sports in high school or college.
When I speak, I speak from first hand experience. I am not some guy who is naturally athletic, or genetically gifted. I had always been thin, and I would still be thin if I had listened to everyone around me telling me why I couldn't gain weight.
You can do it too; I'm not that special.