Don’t Let These 4 Reasons Stop You From Building Muscle!

Why can’t you build muscle mass? Well, probably because you are poor at eating and training. Studies have shown that to increase 1 inch of bicep you need to gain 4.5 Kgs (10Lbs) approx. Here’s how you can stop sucking and finally put on some size.

1 – More Calories = More Muscle.

To improve your muscle size it is important that you focus more on your Meal Frequency.

People who are skinny and small have this misconception that they are eating a lot, but they are actually not. Eating 2000 calories per day isn’t how you gain muscle mass. Neither does eating a pizza or fries once a week makes you look swole. Just like a person who is fat thinks that he/she needs to lose 20 Lbs but in reality, it might be more than 50 Lbs. Likewise, a person looking to put on muscle mass thinks he/she is eating enough.

Before and after steroids
Eugene Sandow and Arnold Schwarzenegger

In the early stages of Bodybuilding evolution, even before the Great Arnold, Mike Mentzer, Frank Zane, Frank Columbo, there weren’t any such things as MASS gainers, pre/post workouts, bcca(s) or steroids. Bodybuilders or strongmen ate healthy caloric surplus food and lifted heavy (progressive overload). The above pictures show their well-developed pectorals and overall muscle development even without any such supplements. This is a great example how a well-planned nutrition can benefit an individual.

I know, you have fallen prey to huge marketing campaigns that made you believe Proteins, Bccas, Pre/Post Workouts, Mass Gainers etc were your magic wands to achieve that DREAM PHYSIQUE. However, this is not completely true. The only way to achieve massive gains is through a well-planned meal frequency that increases your calorie intake steadily. Maintain this consistency in meal frequency along with a proper workout you will see sleeve bursting results in less than 12 weeks guaranteed.

“But I have trouble eating a lot.” Honestly, I do too. And I’m not asking you to wake up Monday morning and start shoveling in 10,000 calories a day when you’re used to eating 2,000. When I said consistency I meant you steadily increase your caloric intake over time. It is not possible to achieve those serious gains overnight.  You don’t set a goal to deadlift 400kgs when your best deadlift is 150 kgs. You set your sights on a 150 deadlift then 160-170.

Easy ways to help your body adjust to eating more food:

Add healthy oils such as Olive oil & Coconut Oil to your meals. Even if you’re only eating three meals a day, consuming these healthy fats is a very simple way to up your calories. If you add a tablespoon of olive oil to each meal or consume separately, that’s 119 extra calories. If you consume 3 times a day, that’s an additional 357 calories just from olive oil.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Advanced and Intermediate bodybuilders consume protein shakes and mass gainers to easily consume roughly 400 calories per day. Each shake of 50g yields almost 200 calories, that said 2 shakes per day makes 400 calories easily.

Have one big shake a day. Back in the day, all of our shakes were made using blenders. The powders pretty much required it, but this also allowed you to easily add in lots of stuff and you could create some pretty delicious shakes. Try it. Buy a blender, add egg whites, peanut butter, bananas, milk, etc. until you fill it to the top. Over the course of the day, sip on it. Set a goal that you’re going to finish every last drop by end of the day. Remember to track your macros. We suggest you use Myfitnesspal app for this purpose.

Recently when I started bulking, I used the following recipe to go from 65Kgs (143.3 pounds) to 80 kgs (176.37) over the last few months. Of course, I was also eating to the point of gagging almost every meal (which was every two hours, mind you), but I also managed to get this in each day as well:

  • 2 cups of milk a day
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 100g Feta Cheese
  • Slices of bread
  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 Bananas twice a week
  • and 3 to 4 donuts a week (Cheat Bulking) but I don’t suggest this to everyone.

Eat peanut butter sandwiches. I used to source most of protein and fats from peanut butter and olive oil. Make three. Eat one between meals. You can carry them around with you anywhere. And if you don’t like peanut butter then my friend you’re doomed.

2 – Poor Training Intensity

Put on your gym-face. Add intensity-extending techniques into your program.

My fellow friends at my gym say this frequently, “I saw you training at my gym the other day. I was going to come say hi, but you looked pissed off.” I’m not pissed off. I’m training and that is why I come to the gym and not to chit-chat or socialize. And to me, training requires a great degree of concentration (mind to muscle connection). Your gym-face should reflect your attitude about your training. Don’t wear your gym-face to the club, and don’t wear your club-face to the gym.

In between sets, however, I do pay attention to my surroundings… at times. And I see a lot of people in the gym wearing their club-face, socializing, and having a great time. And if that’s what you’re there for, that’s fine. So long as you don’t impact my training, I don’t care. Not everyone wants to grow as much muscle mass as possible or get maximally strong.

But if you do, then you need to train like it and take your time in the gym seriously. People often lose focus because they don’t stick to a particular program or they are just not properly guided. Trust me I’ve been there and done those mistakes. I had been repeating the same mistakes over and over again not knowning how much weight to lift, what is a proper diet, should I bulk or cut etc, I was simply stuck in a cycle of mistakes and results were minimal. I see plenty of people doing the make mistakes and making ZERO progress over time. This is why we suggest you maintain a Training & Workout Journals to track your progress. Join our forums for Training & Diet Journals.

Steve Reeves
A picture of steve reeves posing.

Back in the day (Golden Era of Bodybuilding as I would say), one of the biggest staples of leg training was high-rep work. Twenty-rep squats, 50-rep leg presses. You know, hard shit. Guys used set-extending techniques like drop sets, giant sets, Time under tension, rest/pause, running the rack, and all sorts of methods that drew the set out as long as possible and created a ton of metabolic stress. They didn’t even know what the term “metabolic stress” was. All they knew is that when they trained really, really hard, they grew.

Now I see the net filled with memes like “anything over three reps is cardio.” Look man, even the hardest of three-rep maximal sets can’t be compared with a high-rep all-out set of squats. It’s not that a three-rep max set isn’t hard, but the two just aren’t comparable. At some point in your training life, you’re going to have to sit down and come to the conclusion that if you want to move forward in regards to progress, you’re going to have to train your ass off.

The fact is, almost all of us get stuck in a rut of complacency, or we lose the desire to train really freakin’ hard. A great way to bust out of this rut is to add in some set intensity-extending techniques that force you to set personal goals at each training session. My personal two favorites:

 Sets and Reps

Generally, in this basic training programs, I recommend doing 4 to 5 sets of each exercise, except where otherwise specified. I believe this is one of the most effective approaches for muscle and strength gains.

  1. Doing 4 sets per exercise and total 12 sets per body part for larger muscle groups. However, on the other hand, fewer total sets are needed for smaller muscle groups like biceps, triceps and rear delts.
  2. Full range of motion, it is important that you stretch out to full extension and come all the way up to complete the contraction.
  3. Contraction – Lifting weight is just an act, but executing it properly is BODYBUILDING. Remember when your trainer might have said lift the barbell with your biceps and not with your shoulder? You need to understand that it is important to choose the right form and weight in order to avoid any sort of intervention of other muscle groups to do your work. Therefore, I suggest you choose lightweight and gradually make your way up without losing your form for the EGO of Light HEAVY weight.
  4. Warm-Up Sets: Always make sure to include 1 warm-up set before your working sets to ensure that your muscle are ready to go heavy and avoid any risks of injury.
  5. Resting Between Sets: Keep your rest periods short when lifting lightweight and keep your rest periods between 1-2 min when lifting heavy. I personally keep it between 30-60 secs which helps me develop cardiovascular strength as well.

Progressive Overload for Hypertrophy and Strength

The goal each week is to increase weight on the bar gradually (upper body 5 kilos and lower body 10 kilos or more depending on your strength). I’m sure it may not be possible to increase weight every week, in such cases increase the number of reps per set and check if you can increase the weight in the coming week. Repeat this until your body gains strength to increase weight again.

I prefer these two set intensity-extending techniques to all the others (drop sets, super sets, giant sets, etc.) because goal setting is involved. You can do a conventional drop set and not put a lot of effort into the set, but if there’s a number you must match or improve upon, it’ll increase your focus and intensity tremendously.

At some point, there has to be more weight added to the bar, or more reps done with the same or more weight. This doesn’t mean you sacrifice form or movement execution for weight on the bar. It simply means that progressive overload, especially for the small and the weak, should be the cornerstone of your training ideology.

Serge Nubret Building Muscle Mass
Serge Nubret

3 – Practices makes a Man perfect – Period.

The best way to make progress is to do movements you don’t like doing.

This actually applies to just about anyone who gets stuck in a rut. However, let’s just be honest here, there’s an infinite amount of curls done every day in gyms across the world compared to squats. The reason is quite simple – squatting is hard while curls aren’t. But outside of that, one reason why lots of guys don’t grow or improve is that they keep doing all the things they love to do while avoiding all the shit they hate.

If your goal is getting jacked and strong, you need to sit down and make a list of movements you really hate doing that are applicable to building mass. Why do you really hate them? Because they’re hard for you to do. Why are they hard for you to do? Because the muscles involved in performing them are weak and small.

4 – You Don’t Grow Because You Don’t Train Enough.

Overtraining is a matter of concern but most people have this misconception that they are overtraining but they aren’t.

You can consider yourself as overtraining when you do more than 25 sets per body part in a week. Anything below 25 sets for most of the men aren’t overtraining. However, we suggest that 12-16 sets per body part are the sweet spot for muscle growth and strength gaining.

One of the most famous training programs from back in the day was a 5-day split.

The Gain Gain Training Program for Ultimate Muscle Mass.

For the first three days of this program, here’s a rule you must follow: only choose exercises you hate. If you suck at the movement, you must do it.

Day 1 & 4 – Chest/Back

ChestBack
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 1 warm up set 4 working sets 15,12,8,6,4
Incline Bench Press 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Pullovers 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Exercise Sets Reps
Chin Ups 5 Sets 10,10,10,10,10
Bent over barbell rows 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Deadlift – Heavy Weight 4 working sets 12,8,6,4

Day 2 & 5 – Shoulders/Arms

ShouldersBiceps & Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbell Overhead Press (Military Press) 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Dumbell Lateral Raises 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Heavy Up Right Rows 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Bicep Barbell Curls 6 Sets 12,10,8,6,4 Heavyweight
Seated Bicep Dumbell Curls 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Close Grip Bench Press for Triceps 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Standing Tricep Double Hand Dumbell Extention 4 working sets 12,8,6,4

 

Day 3 & 6 – Legs

ShouldersBiceps & Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 4 working sets 15,12,10,8
Lunges 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Leg Curls 4 working sets 12,8,6,4
Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Bicep Barbell Curls 6 Sets 12,10,8,6,4 Heavyweight
Stiff Legged Deadlifts 3 working sets 12,8,6
Good Mornings 3 working sets 12,8,6 till failure

 

 

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