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Gaining Muscle

I've had a lot of requests to put a short write-up on gaining muscle. In this article I'm primarily talking about men who want to bodybuild and gain a muscular physique. Women should of course try and gain lean muscle as well. This will help speed up the metabolism and create that nice lean, tight look that we all strive for.

In my experience gaining muscle is harder than losing fat. A lot of people will disagree but the truth of the matter is that if you are a male of average height and build, you would be doing excellent to put on 2-5kgs of pure muscle a year. That is with a structured, personalised training program. And eating the right foods with the right combinations, portions, breakdowns of macro nutrients etc.

I was a very thin 52kgs before I started doing weights. So I know how hard it really is. I'm only 72kgs now and I've been training for over 16 years. And I've lifted some pretty heavy weights over the years. My best squat was 200kgs for 8 reps and I deadlifted 220kgs for 3 reps. That's at a body weight of about 78kgs which was about 2 years ago now. Some years more consistent than others due to injuries, work and study committments of course.

Here are some tips to gaining muscle mass:

1. Make sure you are doing the mass-building movements. The deadlift, bench press, dips, chins, bent over rows, d/b presses, millitary presses, squats, lunges etc. These are compound exercises which allow you to use heavier weights. This in turn will put on some mass.

2. Make sure your eating enough. To really gain substantial muscle mass you need to be eating at least 4-6 meals per day. Any less and you are wasting your time in the gym. I know bodybuilders who eat 10 meals per day. This includes protein shakes but I created a diary for one of my bodybuilder friends which contained a space for 10 meals. He went on to win the Mr Natural Sydney title in 2006.

3. Don't be fooled into doing a "dirty" bulk. Lots of people will tell you to just eat anything to get big. This is bad advice. Any extra calories will get stored as body fat. And if you let your bodyfat get above about 20% when you diet down you will risk losing too much muscle as a consequence. Eat big but eat clean. Many good healthy meals of complex carbs and quality protein and some good fats.

4. When training with weights you need to train for intensity not duration or volume. When you are in the gym don't train each bodypart for more than the required number of reps and sets. For example if I train chest, I will only do about 10-12 sets in total. Any more for me and I lose the pump, my testosterone and growth hormone levels diminish and I'm left feeling flat. No good!! Hit the weights hard with perfect form and then get out of there to rest and heal. Cardio can be done afterwards but only easy and only for about 20mins.




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