- Be Realistic: If you young and are just starting training, gaining 20 pounds of muscle in a year MAY be an easy goal, especially if you are dieting the right way. If you have been training for years every pound of muscle you want to earn is going to be work.
- Protein: Is your bodies best friend when it comes to gaining mass, I have tried increasing my carb intake as well, which will also be necessary but protein is going to be the primary building block. Using liquid protein supplements in addition to your solid protein is a great tool. I have whey protein recommendations here or use your favorite protein. The recommended standard for gaining weight is 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, if you find this extremely hard, my recommendation is to start by adding 40 grams of protein a day to your diet per 2 weeks until you can do 1 to 1.5 pounds per pound of body weight. That's simply a big piece of chicken or a protein shake.
- Eat Healthy: Ice cream has protein in it, so does chocolate candy, but you need to be eating healthy. Lean meats, vegetables, some fruits, plenty of fluids, and more protein. Don't just eat 6 bagels a day, it did not work for me and likely will not work for you! Tons of reading material in the diet section here if you have not already read it.
- Allow Enough Recovery: If your workouts are kicking butt, make sure you are allowing time for the body to regenerate muscle growth through rest and recovery.
- Cardio is not your enemy: Unless you are going for a power lifting competition do not stop cardio! You're not going to be able to run a full marathon and gain mass but don't totally eliminate cardio, I like to do sprint/suicide drills or play some soccer to keep my cardio up during mass phases. You will be adding a lot of calories to your diet and don't want to stop the process of burning fat and staying cut.
- Space your meals: Just like losing weight, you should be eating every 3 hours, don't expect to put 200 grams of protein into breakfast and gain mass... you may gain possible kidney damage and be on the toilet for a few hours a day though.
- Monitor your body fat %: get a quality scale and read this article on how to weigh in properly and monitor your fat levels so you know you are gaining the right kind of weight.
- Do not rely soley on whey:I love whey!!! You hear me mention it all the time here. But remember to get your protein from other sources as well!
- Carbs yes, fat no: It's okay now to throw some potatoes and rice in with your grilled chicken or lean steak, but don't go smothering it in butter. You need healthy fats to grow and function, but if you are eating right they should come in the meats, vegetables, and other foods you are eating.
- Increase Calories Gradually: it is unlikely to work by just loading calories. One time I ate 10 meals a day for 3 days and as I stepped on to the scale at my gym I lost two pounds! Instead gradually add calories just like the protein, try to add 200 to 300 healthy calories each day for 2 weeks, then a bit more till you are making the gains you want.
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Consult a doctor or medical professional before beginning any fitness or diet program.