6 Tips to Help Gain Muscle
If you’re looking to gain muscle I can tell you that you’re not alone – not a week goes by without at least one person coming up to me asking me about the “industry secrets” to building muscle mass. As long you’re not allergic to some hard work and are willing to put some time in the gym – and the kitchen – then you won’t need to worry about any black book of training secrets. Adding muscle isn’t necessarily about any dark secrets but rather about being consistent with the basics.
Let me take you on a little trip down memory lane: growing up I was always an endurance athlete. I was a mid-distance runner and even went to the State Finals in track and field while in high school. I was lean and somewhat fast, but I had trouble filling out a t-shirt. Actually, I had trouble filling out any t-shirt and it wasn’t until I couple years ago that I outgrew some of the clothes I kept from my high school days (baggy clothes were in during the 90’s….and when I say a baggy, these clothes were really baggy).
Graduating high school at a measly 130 pounds I can tell you that I’ve tried just about anything to add muscle. Fast forward to today, and with an additional 70 pounds of mass on me, I have evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Some of these things might make you a tad uncomfortable, but no one ever said it would be easy.
- Keep a food log. Everybody who thinks they eat enough actually doesn’t. Most guys who have come to my studio under-eat by around 1,000 calories. The numbers don’t lie and keeping a food journal can tell you how many calories you’re actually eating. Consume less than you burn and you can’t put weight on.
- Don’t oversleep. Sleep is huge in the recovery process, and without it, you won’t build muscle. But too much of anything is a bad thing. Its simple math: if you eat every 3 hours but sleep for 12, then you can only get 4 meals in. 4 meals it’s great if you’re trying to maintain weight, but it won’t cut it when it comes time to gaining.
- Liquid nutrition. Whole food rules but it can be hard to sit down for a full meal every few hours. Adding oats and peanut butter to a protein shake can go a long way in helping you get those additional calories.
- Change workouts frequently. A good rule of thumb is to change workouts after 4-6 training sessions. That means after 4 sessions of barbell incline pressing, you could change to a decline press or some dips. Depending on genetics, the body can adapt after only several workouts.
- Take a deload. Constant stress is not a good thing, and that includes working out. Your last session before changing movements should be a bit easier. This gives your muscles and nervous system a chance to relax before taking a hit again with a hard training session. Remember: your body adds muscle when you sleep and recover from a workout, not during it.
- Count your tempo. You’re probably doing somewhere between 6 and 12 reps, which is the ideal rep range to add muscle. However, if your sets are over faster than you can say your name, then you’re not going to add much mass. Use 3-5 second negatives so your set is lasting a minimum of 40 seconds.