Updated: Aug 16, 2019
DEDICATE YOURSELF TO BUILDING MASS This is the number 1 reason most people don't gain the muscle mass they desire. If you really want to gain slabs of muscle, you need to focus 100% on doing so. What do I mean by this? Well you need to eat, sleep and train for more muscle. That's it, simple. Or is it? You can't just "part time" gain size, you need to dedicate time to it, whether this is 6, 8 or 12 weeks is entirely up to you and more realistically on the amount of muscle you plan on gaining. Tip: If you're trying to gain weight, dedicate to it and don’t worry about the risk of losing a little definition in your abs!
EAT TO GROW So, I get this ALL the time - "I eat healthy and so much but I just can't seem to gain any weight" then when I ask them what they eat I usually work out they eat around 2500 calories at a push. Now, I realize not everybody is like me and needs around 4500 calories to gain any weight (this really isn't as fun as it sounds FYI) but you do need to eat BIG to get BIG. Work out your maintenance calorie needs (quick google search will give you 100s of calculators to use) and then add 500. Try this for 1 week, weigh yourself and adjust as needed - we want to aim to gain around 1lb each week, although 2-3lb sounds better this will likely have a high fat:muscle ratio which we don't want! PROTEIN - everybody knows about protein, but do you really know its purpose or how much? Protein is made from amino acids, each and every amino acid plays a role in our body especially when it comes to repairing. Naturally, when trying to gain more muscle we need more protein to repair and then grow. Aim for around 0.82-1g per lb. of bodyweight for optimal results. Tip: Remove the guessing game and use an app such as MyFitnessPal to see how many calories you're really consuming.
MASTER REST So, everybody thinks big muscles are made in the gym, whilst this is partly true it's also very wrong. Whilst we train we damage our muscles, tearing lots of small microfibers within the muscle. Whilst we rest the body will then begin to repair or replace these damaged fibres using a cellular process that fuses the muscle fibres together, this will then lead to new muscle protein strands. These new (repaired) strands increase in thickness and therefore size, equaling hypertrophy (muscle growth). Tip: Train hard and sleep like a baby for optimal recovery and increase muscle density and size!
MIND TO MUSCLE CONNECTION This is the ability to be able to activate a muscle correctly by just thinking about it. Now why is this important? Let’s take the bench press for example, have you ever done this exercise and afterwards thought my chest doesn't feel worked and my triceps do? This is due to the wrong muscles taking the load. Benefits of improving this? The correct muscles will be working when you're training them and taking the weight, which will lead to more muscle gains in that particular area. How can you improve this? The best way to do it is without weights (yes, I'm giving you permission to flex for a real reason other than to look good in the mirror) once you've learnt how to contract the muscle it's then best to start using light weights and really concentrating on the muscle you're trying to work before you then go on to your heavy lifts. Tip: Flex your muscles and really concentrate on the muscle you're trying to flex.
PROGRESSION So, you've gained a few lb. and you're happy with your results, stick to what you're doing to continue right? Wrong. To continue growing and increasing muscle mass there must be consistent progression. I'm not just talking about your training either, your diet must also progress too. The more muscle you have and the harder you train the more calories your body will use. An example of this for your training would be if you did 3 sets of squats and you got 80kg for 10, then 80kg for 8, then 80kg for 7 the next time you train you'd aim for 80kg for 10, 80kg for 9, 80kg for 8. Continue this each week until you can complete 80kg for 10 reps on all 3 sets and once you've achieved that you can then increase the weight and start again! Tip: Consistent progression is the best way to gain muscle quickly and safely!
LIFT BIG TO GET BIG - HOW TO TRAIN Keep it basic - compound exercises are key for size; get a few of these in every workout and ditch those endless amounts of dumbbell curls and leg extensions and I guarantee you'll put on more muscle. These exercises include: barbell squats, barbell bench press, deadlifts, barbell bicep curls, bent over row, dumbbell/barbell shoulder press, pullups & Romanian deadlifts. Tip: Big heavy compound exercise focused workouts = more muscle
Time under tension
So we have two types of muscle contractions; concentric (shortens your muscle) and eccentric (lengthens your muscles) an example of this would be during the bicep curl, as you lift the weight the muscle shortens (concentric) and as you lower the weight back down it lengthens (eccentric) - each one is equal to 50% of the exercise yet 90% of people I see/train only concentrate on the concentric and then just drop the weight back down therefore only benefiting from 50% of the exercise. Tip: explode up (concentric) and slowly control back down (eccentric) for the full benefits of every exercise you do!
Stimulate not Annihilate
Training smart is key, what exactly does stimulate not annihilate mean? Training to your maximum and to complete failure sounds like it should be a good thing, right? But at what cost? Volume is key to muscle building so by training smart will allow you to move the most weight possible in one session. For example, if you do 3 sets of an exercise and go to complete failure on the first 1, will you be able to give it your all on the next 2 sets? Probably not. An example of smart training would be to select a weight you will completely fail on at say, 10 reps but only actually doing around 8 reps. If you really enjoy the struggle of pushing out the last rep, save it for your last set. Tip: keep 1 or 2 reps left in the tank to be able to smash your remaining sets.