Quality Muscle Gains - Quick Plan for Offseason Bodybuilding Growth

Quality Muscle Gains

Gaining the RIGHT KIND of weight for your Competitive year

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These days the bodybuilding industry tends to focus on either diet or drugs. Bodybuilding seems to have been reduced to who diets the best and who has the biggest budget for purchasing black-market steroids. But that isn't really the whole story.

We see a guy like Ronnie Coleman step onto the Olympia stage, looking as if he's everyone else's daddy in a muscular-size sense, but we don't stop to think about how he might have reached that point. We know he comes into a competition in top shape and with a truckload of size, but our minds' con-templative abilities tend to stop right there. Shock can be a real impediment to clear thinking, particularly when viewing today's competitors. Immediately we think to our-selves, 'Boy, he must have really nailed his cycle this year!' We seldom consider what he had to do to sustain all that muscle and put it in one battle-ready package.

Believe me when I tell you that packing on mass doesn't come down to a needle or a pill. If that were the case, all the rich kids who use their parents' money for forays into building bigger biceps would be the most massive guys in the world. If budgets were the only factor, today's physique stars would probably be skinny, pale and jockeying a desk someplace in Kansas City! In fact, while budget matters in the pro ranks, it isn't everything.

One must consider several factors, such as genetic predisposition to size. For example, if each guy is using relative amounts of the same supplements, why does one bodybuilder look bigger? Why does he appear to have practically swallowed a whole other body-builder? Well, I'll tell you why one guy will come into a show with a lot more size: hard work, careful planning, and impeccable diet and training practices.


The top guys probably have long since compared notes on effectiveness of particular cycles. Since they all know the same people, and the circle is small, they're likely utilizing the same tools. (Okay, I got through that one fairly delicately.) Nine times out of ten, though, the top three guys are going to come in with different packages. One guy is going to be leaner, one is going to be bigger or show a much greater size gain from the year before, and one guy is going to and one guy is going to have it all together. And having it all together depends on the right kind of mass in combination with the right kind of condition.

Most pro bodybuilders are still guessing at how to pack on mass. Many suffer from the same mindset as most audiences. They, too, believe it's all about competitiveness through chemistry! Remember playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey at birthday parties when you were 5? Well, lots of today's top pros are still running around all year with blindfolds on, taking stabs at finding the one tactic that will give them 20 pounds of extra mass and twice as much hardness. So, for them, and for you, I present herewith what I consider to be a solid weight-gaining program guaranteed to pack on more mass.

OVERALL FOOD CONSUMPTION

Food. Can't live without it. Food is the single most important factor in weight gain. The simple truth is, when you eat more calories than you are able to burn, the leftover supply is stored in the body as weight. The trick is to make most of that weight, muscle weight. You can't just haphazardly throw food into your mouth and expect it to end up contributing to the aesthetics of a 22-inch rock-hard arm, or a 30-inch razor-sharp quad. You must carefully plan your meals with foods that will help you gain lean mass and not fat, and take care to plan your supplementation and prohormone cycles to accommodate muscle growth. I suggest eating six to eight times per day. Notice that's "times per day" rather than "meals." I distinguish between the two because, at times, you'll just be taking in pure protein without an accompaniment of carbohydrates and fats. I recommend eating this many times because packing higher calories into a simple breakfast, lunch and dinner will end up making you store most of those excess calories as fat. The goal here is to eat about every two to two and a half hours.

Focus on steak, chicken, fruit, milk, vegetables, essential fatty acids that originate in foods such as flaxseed oil, avocado and nuts. If I had to choose between fruits and veggies, I'd choose vegetables six days a week and twice on Sunday because they are much richer in nutrients than fruits and have less sugar. But since you're trying to pack on weight, get an equal amount of both. Leave cutting out fruit for precontest diet cycles. Don't shy away from dairy products like milk and reasonable amounts of cheese. Remember, you're trying to pack on mass here, and the calories, protein and fat from dairy products help supplement your total calories for the day.

I can't stress enough that you should sit down and plan your meals and actually write them down on paper. This way you know exactly what your game plan is, how to fol-low it (you'll know whether preparing food for the whole day is feasible once you write down what you want to eat), and when you'll be eating. Such a plan makes gaining weight a no-brainer. When your don't write it down, you are inevitably less successful. What you eat is the most important ingredient in a successful weight-gain program.

WEIGHT TRAINING

There's no disputing that eating right is the jewel of importance in the crown of mass-building, but it cannot create muscle growth without good training practices. When you're trying to gain weight, I suggest working one bodypart per day, five days per week. You really need to lift hard during these sessions and then recover fully for the next workout. You can't do that when you're working more than one bodypart.

Focus on primary exercises such as squats, hack squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, good mornings, chinups, bench presses and military presses. These are the exercises that will turn extra protein and calories into quality muscle. You are not going to gain much by doing lateral raises or lunges. You need those power-oriented lifts that will shock your system and stimulate your body into growth. Concentrate on getting strong by consistently adding a bit more weight each workout. Keep a workout log to chart your progress and keep you focused on those numbers as goals.

If you focus on building your strength, size will usually follow. Good form and intensity can substitute for gross amounts of weight any day of the week. Keep the weight as high as possible in your workouts, and play around with intensity levels (working faster through a heavy workout, if you can, or pressing through a superset using the same weight you would use for a single heavy set), but keep in mind that all the weight in the world won't substitute for correct, exacting form.

SUPPLEMENTATION (NEUTRACEUTICALS)

To gain weight, you absolutely need supplements. I don't care what anyone says about this. There are so many supplements available that are quality products, I like to recommend several in one category to give you a choice. (See the sample day of supplements and food below.) Supplements, neu-traceuticals, meal-replacement powders and prohormones just make sense to today's bodybuilder because they help you in the process of gaining quality weight faster. Just remember that supplements are the icing on the cake and are not intended to replace food or quality nutritional practices.

Weight-gainers (use one with the lowest sugar content) are economical. Believe it or not, so are meal replacements. If you add up the cost of 10 to 12 ounces of steak or chicken and multiply the total by 4 or 5, you could conceivably be eating $30 a day in food. Meal-replacement shakes may seem expen-sive, but they offset a great portion of the cost of food. I do recommend, however, that you eat at least three meals of real food daily in addition to your supplemental calories.

Some supplements are designed to stimulate muscle growth. Products like prohor-mones, creatine monohydrate, methoxy-isoflavone, L-glutamine and GABA are essential in any mass-gaining program. What's more, they provide you with safe alternatives to heavy steroid use and keep your body hormonally balanced. Many bodybuilders who use anabolics also take these supplements to keep their nutrition on an even keel and get the most bang for their buck from the cycle they're on. No matter what your moral dilemma, I recommend all these over-the-counter products. They actually do work, folks!

7:00 a.m. Rise, Shine and Get Ready for the Gym

A lot of bodybuilders get up and go to the gym on an empty stomach all year long. They get into this habit because at contest time it's a great fat-loss technique. (Your blood sugar is at zero from sleeping and it maximizes fat mobilization.) However, if you're trying to gain muscle, this practice can be a catastrophe. You need to get some high-quality protein into your body right out of the chute. I recommend either a meal-replacement powder, such as MET-Rx or GEN, or just a plain whey protein. Choose one that's easy on the digestive system and doesn't contain a lot of sugar. I also recom-mend taking a multivitamin pak that far exceeds the RDA for daily nutrients. Remember, you're a bodybuilder, not a 50-year-old sedentary male. Add a scoop of glutamine to your sports drink before every workout session. Put some flaxseed oil into your meal replacement or protein powder for essential fatty acids (EFAs). If you're on a prohormone cycle of any kind (androstene-dione or other), take one dose now.

9:00 a.m. Morning Meal

In addition to a full morning meal of chicken breast, rice, wheat toast and egg whites, I also take a scoop of plain old protein powder. I like SportPharma's protein products along with my old favorite, Designer Protein. Take some creatine here too. Follow this meal with a brief rest if you can.

11:00 a.m. Snack

I suggest eating some kind of bar at this point. It will revive your blood sugar slightly as it begins to wane from your morning meal, and will deliver a bit of high-quality protein plus some nutrients that you may have lost during your morning workout. You can also use a meal-replacement packet. I like Biochem's bars the best. Worldwide's, MET-Rx's and MuscleTech's are good too. This is an excellent time to replenish some of your antioxidants. You can't get enough cell protection when you're training like a maniac trying to gain weight.

1:00 p.m. Midday Meal

Just have a good old-fashioned large meal here. When I'm trying to pack on size, I like adding steak to my diet - not only for the creatine found in steak, but also because red meat is simply a food like no other food. You can hardly find a protein that will make you as vascular, satisfy you as much, and is as capable of packing on the size as red meat can. Steak, rice or potato, two or three avocados or flaxseed oil, plus a meal-replacement packet is what I suggest for a great midday meal. This is probably going to be your highest-carbohydrate meal of the day, so double up on your rice servings and add that meal replacement with 30 to 40 grams of carbs.

3:00 p.m.: Preworkout Meal

Add one to two scoops of protein powder to a whole-food meal of chicken, a small amount of rice and some flaxseed oil. Take 5 grams of creatine. I recommend CELL-Tech by MuscleTech or, also a good product, MRM's Creactiv. Ingest your creatine 30 to 45 minutes after this last meal and about one hour before training. About 30 minutes before your workout take some more prohormone powder. I like GEN's and AST's glutamine here. Take another dose of your prohormone cycle, like MuscleTech's Nortesten or Anotesten, or Max Muscle's Max Stack. I'm also really liking the new methoxyisoflavone products for building lean mass. Try MRM's Methoxyvone or Methoxy-Pro by Cytodyne.

5:00 p.m. Postworkout Meal

Guys, and some of you women, if there's one thing I've learned in all my years of training, it's that eating a huge meal just after a workout can really destroy your gut. You should be feeling a bit sick after an intense mass-building session, and this is a great time to use a meal-replacement packet or some form of protein powder mixed with a light post-workout dose of carbs from a source such as Max Muscle's Carbo Max to replenish the lost stores of glycogen for tomorrow's ses-sions. Take a final dose of antioxidants for the day, along with CLA.

7:30 p.m. Evening Meal

Eat a straight meal here. There's nothing like real food when you are home and can take your time to prepare it properly. Naturally you should do this as often as possible. You've taken a good amount of supplements for the day, and your final dose will be just before bedtime. If you cannot eat a straight meal here, try a meal-replacement or a weight-gain shake, like the one offered by Prolab.

10:00 p.m. Before Bed

I keep hounding you on protein intake, I know, but there's time for one more dose just before bed especially if you're trying to grow and keep what you've cultivated in the gym today. For protein take in a low-carb meal replacement, Designer Protein, or a low-carb nutrition bar. To enhance your body's natural tendency to release growth hormone during sleep, use 5 grams of L-glutamine and 1 or 2 grams of GABA.





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