WHO AM I?
I am not a huge bodybuilder. I’m not one of those guys you see benching 300 lbs like it’s nothing. I haven’t been lifting for 20 years (I’m not even 20 years old). So who am I, and why the hell am I writing an article telling you what to do to gain muscle? I’m a guy who worked out for a few years and saw little to no progress. And after all that wasted time, I found the “secret” to building muscle. I have gained 20 lbs in 3 months and my lifts have all shot up. So now do you want to know my “secret”?
ARE YOU A BEGINNER?
Sorry not time for my “secret” quite yet.
A beginner in the world of bodybuilding is someone who can constantly make progress from workout to workout. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by simply adding weight to the bar each workout. You may say, “I’ve been lifting for years, I’m NOT A beginner”. Well let’s look at your compound lift stats. If they’re low, you are most likely a beginner. Let’s see how your weight (muscle not fat) has gone up over you “years of training”. Here is something you need to understand. Being a BEGINNER is NOT a bad thing. In fact, IT IS THE TIME OF YOUR TRAINING WHERE YOU WILL MAKE THE BIGGEST RESULTS!
By this point you understand you’re a beginner and that is a great thing. You know millions of dumbbell curls is not the way to go. So the next step – of course – is to get on a program. Well let’s look at what Arnold and the rest of the bodybuilders do. They’re big, so if we do what they’re doing, we will get big. NO STUPID! THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. The reality is that bodybuilders are shooting up so many drugs and they’ve been lifting for years. You are not doing either of these things.
What you need to do is a simple program. A program such as this:
…is what you need. It is a simple program that uses compound lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, etc). As said above, progression is what builds muscle. On this program you will be adding either 5 lbs or 10 lbs every workout. How’s that for progression? In only 10 weeks your squat and deadlift can go up by 100 lbs. Stick to this program until this progression stops. At this point, you will no longer be a beginner.
Why compound lifts? The reason compounds work is because they recruit huge amounts of muscle mass to complete these exercises. A squat will force your body to use much more muscle mass than a dumbbell curl. Exercises such as squats naturally boost the amount of good muscle building hormones that your body makes.
There is no real “secret”. In fact it is really basic. With strength, muscle will come. 5 reps (as in the program above) are typically not thought of as the amount of reps you should do when trying to build muscle. Well this is true. If you were a Ronnie Coleman you would not be doing this, but you are not him. I’m sure you’ve heard of “noob gains” before. “Noob gains”, to me, ARE THE GREATEST THING EVER! Your body, not being used to hard weight training, will respond to this program by building muscle. If you don’t think strength is needed for big muscles thing about this. When was the last time you saw a 200 lb maniac struggling with the pink 5 lb dumbbells?
We are overwhelmed with thousands of new diets that claim to get us in great shape. These “miracle” diets will get us huge muscles, while having a chiseled six pack. I hate to break it to you, but just as there is no real “secret” to a workout program, there is no “secret” diet. Although there are thousands of variable you can do to maximize your diet, the basics are extremely simple.
To gain weight, you simply need to take in more calories than you burn. It’s as simple as that! Your body burns calories, even if you are sitting, doing nothing. Your maintenance level of calories is the amount of calories you burn from just being alive + the calories you burn from your daily life + the calories you burn from your workout. To gain weight, you will want to eat 250-500 calories above this number.
Another important thing to do is eat a gram of protein for each lb of your body weight. Ex: if you weigh 150 lbs eat at least 150 lb of protein a day. Fill the rest of your calories up with complex carbs and good fats. Milk is a great way to add calories if you have problems eating a lot!
Just as with program and diet, there are no magical supplements! Supplement companies own most of the major bodybuilding magazines and forums. This is why they are loaded with supplement ads. These companies get you on their side by “helping” you, and then telling you that you need their supplements to make good or better gains.
Now I’m not saying don’t use supplements. But you don’t need to go overboard. Whey Protein is the only supplement I use. I use it because it is a great way to get protein in my body when I don’t have time to eat. This is the only time I use it. I prefer to have chocolate milk for post workout recovery followed by a large meal, but many people use whey post workout as well.
There are other supplements you may want to try, but as a beginner you really don’t need them.
When you go into the gym, you are going into battle. You are at war with the weights. At first progress may come easy, but it just gets harder as you go. You are going to put yourself through hell. Once those weights start getting hard you need to do anything possible to move that weight (without compromising form). Ask someone at the gym to spot you, or use the safety pins in the power rack. Make sure your safe. When you feel safe, there is nothing holding you back from going to failure.
Now that you have the information you just need to start. Reading won’t get you big muscles. Read the article on the workout program above and then get to the gym. Upon returning home from working out (or coming up from your basement/ garage) get on the online forums. By reading through these you will learn new things every day. Do the above plan and eat above maintenance and you’ll be growing like a weed.