How to pack on muscle mass to a lean physique
The level of muscle mass seen on cover models is many people’s idea of the perfect body; a balance of muscularity, athleticism and a low body fat percentage. What’s more, many cover models weigh in at around 175-180lbs, so it’s a challenging but ultimately realistic goal for genetically average trainers and hard-gainers to achieve.
However, even building 10lbs of muscle mass can be a real challenge for some people – due to factors including a fast metabolism, poor genetics, the wrong training, low quality nutrition, and also not eating enough!
The key to hard-gainer growth is to maximise your muscle building potential by applying proven mass building principles.
Muscle growth nutrition
Getting your nutrition on track is the first element of a mass building plan, so make sure you are fulfilling the below:
- Consuming sufficient calories.
- Eating nutrient dense foods.
- Getting in 1.6-2g protein per kg of body mass.
- Eating every 2-3 hours.
Without these factors in place it’s impossible for most people to gain muscle. However, for those with a fast metabolism, this can often mean consuming 3,000-4,000 calories per day before any muscle growth is triggered.
A Typical Hard-Gainers Eating Plan:
|Meal 1:||4 poached eggs on 2 slices of wholemeal toast (with vegetable spread), 1 glass of fruit smoothie.|
|Meal 2:||1 serving Progain, 1 apple and a handful of nuts.|
|Meal 3:||Jacket Potato, tuna and a handful of grated cheese and a mixed salad.|
|Meal 4:||1 serving Progain, 1 medium banana and a handful of nuts.|
|Meal 5:||2 chicken breasts, 1 large jacket potato and vegetables.|
|Meal 6:||200g greek yoghurt.|
Post-workout nutrition can have a major impact on recovery and mass building. Heavy weight training breaks down muscle tissue (muscle fibres are composed of protein), and consuming an easily absorbed protein (i.e. whey protein) after training helps these muscle fibres to be rebuilt and stimulates muscle protein synthesis (the process of making new muscle proteins). So if you goal is to maximise muscle growth make sure you consume at least 20-40g of protein post-exercise.
Consuming a fast-absorbing whey protein shake such as Promax after exercise.
Heavy Weight Training
Training correctly can transform your mass building progress. Most trainers get excellent results by combining sets of 4-6 reps (strength focus) and 8-12 reps (growth focus).
Use a variety of rep ranges for your exercises.
Example of a 3 day training split, which allows plenty of time for recovery:
|Monday:||Chests, shoulders and triceps.|
|Friday:||Back, biceps and abs.|
You stimulate more overall growth through training legs!
Chest, shoulder and tricep workout example:
|Bench Press:||5 sets x 4-6 reps (2-3 minute rests between sets).|
|Dumbbell Flys:||3 sets x 8-12 reps (1 minute rest between sets).|
|Shoulder Press:||5 sets x 4-6 reps (2-3 minutes rest between sets).|
|Lateral Raises:||3 sets x 8-12 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets).|
|Tricep Pushdowns:||2-3 sets x 8-12 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets).|
|Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions:||2 sets x 6-8 reps (1-2 minutes rest between sets).|
Mass Progression and Intensity
One big mistake that many trainers make is failing to progress in every session. Intensity is the key – increase the weights used in each session and then leave the gym in less than 60 minutes. Hard-gainers need to train intensely and then rest.
Hard-Gainer Workout Frequency – Rest to Grow
Most hard-gainers lift too frequently – and that means too little time for rest, recovery and muscle growth. Many hard-gainers can make better progress form switching from a typical training routine of 5 times per week to just 2 or 3 short but intense workouts. Training too frequently can reduce strength levels due to nervous system fatigue and start breaking down muscle tissue. Forget about the long routines in muscle magazines – they’re not designed for hard-gainers.
More Mass Building Tips:
The steps above will put you on track to add muscle mass – but for maximum results don’t forget the all important mass tips below:
- Sleep is vital for muscle recovery and growth (aim for 8 hours per night).
- Train for 45-60 minutes maximum – testosterone levels fall if you train for too long.
- Excessive alcohol lowers testosterone levels and will stop muscle growth in its tracks.
- Train your legs to gain all-over muscle mass.
- Focus on getting strong in the core exercises – squat, deadlift, bench press and shoulder press.
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