Gain Muscle Size

 

Antony wants this to be about YOU…all the figures quoted in magazines, websites, etc are meaningless if they don't apply to you!. A six-foot athlete, with a very physically demanding job in his late teens, will need to consume significantly different amounts of calories to put on weight, then a 5-foot office worker who doesn't take part in any sport. 

The key is to find out exactly how much you need to eat to gain weight and then compare this to your current intake. It could be you are already eating enough but that other factors are slowing down your weight gain.

LETS CALCULATE YOUR CALORIE NEEDS

 

First thing’s first,  we need to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is essentially an estimation of the minimum energy required to keep basic bodily functions online (heart rate, respiration, etc.) if you spent an entire 24 hour period at rest.

Now we have the BMR, we’ll need to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This is a combination of the calories need to maintain your basal metabolic rate coupled with your daily actives.

 

Lean Bulk. A lean bulk is generally recommended for healthy individuals at an average weight. Use the following formula to determine your daily calorie needs for a lean bulk:

  • TDEE + 250 calories.

Aggressive Bulk. If you’re fairly new to training, underweight, or a classic hard gainer, it might be beneficial to eat more aggressively. Use the following formula to determine your daily calorie needs for an aggressive bulk:

  • TDEE + 500 calories.

 

Keep in mind, all of these calculations are based upon algorithms for most individuals. However, they cannot factor in every individual variable.  Therefore, some individuals may need to add more calories in order to gain weight while others will need less to get the scale moving in the right direction. Start with a set number, eat accordingly for a month, check the scale, and then reassess.

 

Muscle Building Foods

 

Certain foods contain carbohydrates in the form of glucose, fats in the form of triglycerides, and proteins as amino acids.  Calories are the building blocks of muscle but you should also be aware of each individual macronutrient and have a general idea of how much you’re consuming.  When it comes to making gains, you should do your best to keep things simple and wholesome on the nutrition side of the equation.

 

Stick primarily to whole foods, meaning foods that have one ingredient – the food itself and very minimal additives. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

 

PROTEINS:

 

  • Chicken

  • Lean Beef

  • Whey Protein

  • Fish (Lean and Fatty Options)

  • Eggs

 

CARBOHYDRATES:

 

  • Rice

  • Quinoa

  • Oats

  • Potatoes

  • Fruit

  • Vegetables

 

FATS:

 

  • Olive Oil

  • Mixed Nuts and Seeds

  • Coconut Oil 

  • Cheese

  • Avocados

 

Keep in mind, as your caloric intake increases, it may become progressively tougher to consume enough whole foods to meet your goal. If that becomes an issue then look to liquid sources such as smoothies or coconut/whole milk depending on tolerance.

 

Once dietary macro and micronutrients have been met, so processed sources can be consumed to help increase caloric intake if appetite is lacking.

Hard training individuals can consume a higher level of "discretionary calories" from processed sources due to their high work output but ideally, this should only compose 10-15% of their calorie intake. Remember, everything in moderation. 

 

Foundation Supplements

 

  1. Creatine – Creatine is cheap, effective, and backed by vast quantities of research showing its efficacy in regards to power output, muscular hypertrophy, and anaerobic energy system performance. 

  2. Fish oil – Ensuring a proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is incredibly import ant for both long-term cardiovascular health and management of triglycerides.

  3. Vitamin D – In actuality, vitamin D is not a vitamin at all. It’s a fat-soluble nutrient similar to A, E, and K but it differs from the others as it acts as a steroid precursor from a hormonal perspective. Research has shown that optimal vitamin D levels can influence heart health, cognition, and bone density.

  4. Whey Protein – If you struggle with your protein intake or increasing meal frequency to get your calories, then whey protein is one of the cheapest options that are portable, tasty, and convenient.

*OPTIONAL*

  1. Probiotics – If you’re putting down 4,000 calories on a daily basis, your GI system is going to be working overtime. Not to mention improving the bacterial flora can enhance short-chain fatty acid production, nutrient absorption, and individual immune responses to antigens.

  2. BCAA’s – Admittedly, these are highly context dependent. If you’re fasted or performing excessively long training sessions then these have slightly more application but for the average trainee, there are wiser uses for your money.

  3. ZMA – Sleep is essential in the production of new muscle and improving your recovery in between sessions. However, many athletes are deficient in both zinc and magnesium as these are depleted through intense exercise and can have nocturnal and hormonal effects that influence the results of training.

 

STEP 2: WORKOUT

 

When you first begin to lift weights it can be tempting to focus more on the actual weight on the bar rather than the biomechanics of the movement. Don’t fool yourself, a poor technique will catch up with you in the long run.

Ideally, you’d start your training session with foam rolling for 5 minutes and then move into a few dynamic stretches and activation drills for your shoulders and hips. It doesn’t have to be anything incredibly lengthy but it will make a drastic difference if you incorporate these elements in the long run.

 

Most Effective Muscle Building Exercises

 

  • Deadlifts

  • Squats

  • Dips

  • Chin Ups

  • Bench Press

  • Overhead Press

  • Rows

 

You Can Only Train as Hard as You Recover

 

Do not underestimate the importance of recovery. Your recovery outside of the gym will determine your training frequency, duration, and intensity.

 

Rest

 

Muscle groups need time to recover, you can’t expect your chest and shoulders to be firing on all cylinders if you hit 8 sets of bench yesterday.

Most muscles can sufficiently recover in roughly 48 hours so working them every other day is a good place to start, hence why most beginner total body programs are based on a 1 day on, 1 day off setup.

 

Sleep

 

Sleep is without a doubt one of the most under-utilized performance enhancing aids. There is an entire area of research dedicated to just sleep and the effects on body composition and muscle growth.

 

Stress

 

Stress can be good at times; training is a stressor, right? Sure it is, but when you have multiple stressors in your life that are weighing on you mentally and physically, you’ll quickly begin to notice negative effects on your health and performance.

 

Spend 5-10 minutes each day in complete silence, unplugged from social media or electronics. You’ll be surprised just how difficult this can be but it’s important to get away from the constant stress of updates, texts, and incessant messages.

 

 

Most Important Muscle Building Tips:

 

Muscle building isn’t complicated, just make sure you remember these 11 important tips:

 

  1. Nothing happens until you nail your nutrition.

  2. Focus on progressive overload with either more weight, reps, or sets.

  3. Stick to compound exercises.

  4. Don’t abuse training frequency (at least not initially) – more doesn’t always equate to better.

  5. Minimise stress and maximise recovery.

  6. Sleep as much as possible; nap frequently.

  7. Stick to whole foods but don't be afraid to incorporate some processed options (10-15% of calories) if appetite is poor and you consistently lose weight.

  8. Eat 250-500 calories above your BMR.

  9. Emphasise protein at every meal and eat 2.2g/kg of bodyweight.

  10. Gain 0.25kg (intermediates) or 0.5kg (beginners) of bodyweight per week.

  11. Adjust calories up or down according to weekly weight loss/gain.

 

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