At the gym

How do I put on some muscle mass?

This is a great question and while I am not a professional athlete I have myself went up from 66kg to 75kg through diet and weight training over the span of a year. I’ve lost belly fat and gained muscle and if I could do that at 36 years of age while having a fulltime job, part time business and staying out of the gym on occasion- because sometimes sticking to routine is just impossible for me- then so can you! Here’s how I did it.

Research

I first defined what my goal is and then I did my research. Muscle gain, it turns out has a lot to do with working out in the kitchen and not that much to do with working out in the gym. Let me explain. I’ve, in the past, lifted much heavier than I lift now, and I’ve been much fitter than I am now, but I’ve never looked this good before. I’ve never weighed more than 70 kg because I’ve not had this much muscle. What was the difference between then and now? I didn’t have the goal to gain muscle in the past, and consequently I didn’t eat or train correctly. I suggest you do your research before you jump into a training program. Try to figure out what will fit best into your lifestyle and be most sustainable in the long run. Gaining muscle should be done slowly, over years, not months. 

Diet

The first thing you need to get in order is your diet. To gain muscle, you must gain weight. Yes, believe it or not. There’s no such thing as gaining muscle mass while not gaining weight. If you already have a lot of fat, that’s a good start! You can probably gain muscle easier without gaining much weight. In fact, you’ll probably lose fat. However, if you are very thin, you won’t gain more muscle if you don’t eat more. You need to go into a caloric surplus. Simply put, eat more than you eat now, and possibly, eat better. You can find more information here: 

https://www.maximuscle.com/nutrition/advice/How-to-build-muscle-and-size/

https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm

You should also eat clean. One of the main ingredients for muscle growth is protein. You can get all your protein from food, but that can be quite difficult. You can also get yourself a protein supplement such as Whey Protein for post workout, and Casein Protein for before you go to bed at night. I used to consume on average, 1.5 grams of protein per 1kg of weight. I’ve seen trainers recommend upto to 2grams of protein per 1kg of body weight. That was often a bit tough for me to do. I was on a budget.

In addition to supplements make sure you eat enough red meat, white meat and eggs- make it a daily habit. Fruits and vegetables are good for your overall health so consume those in good measure too. However, some foods are just not good and you’ll feel it in the gym when you overindulge in them. As a rule, cut out all refined sugars and get your sugar from fruits. That means you will need to cut out all fizzy drinks- colas, cakes and candy bars. White flour doesn’t work well for me, but in moderation I think it shouldn’t be train smash. Lastly, drink plenty of water to properly hydrate for the amount of work you’ll be putting in at the gym. 

Train properly

Unfortunately, in life, you can’t really have it all. It is very rare for athletes to be at their strongest and also have been at their fittest- in terms of cardio. When I was at my fittest, I weighed 62 kg. When I was at my strongest, I weighed 72 kg. Running a marathon at 72 kilograms when you could run it at 62 kilograms of weight doesn’t make sense. Hence, if your goal is to gain muscle you should probably not be running marathons. In order to gain muscle you need to use less calories than you consume so the surplus can go into muscle building. In other words, you are telling your body to do two different things with the energy consumed if you try to get the best of both worlds. Strength training requires that you focus on pushing your body in that direction mostly. Focus on compound lifts, once you have mastered the techniques. Don’t lift heavy when you aren’t apt at doing the movements right. Get a coach who knows how to lift just to rectify your mistakes. You can’t see what you’re doing wrong yourself. 

Lift Heavy

When you are interested in gaining muscle you have to lift heavy or go home. There’s no gaining muscle mass through lifting light weights. You must push yourself and record your totals. You should try to increase your totals every month, even if just by 1kg. After a year you would have increased each lift by 12 kilograms. That’s not a little! If you can increase your lifts by more than that, and usually people can, then go as heavy as you can. Create a day or two in the month to test how much you can lift. If you don’t lift heavy, you will become more toned but that isn’t our goal here. 

Rest enough

You need to get your 8 hours of beauty sleep if you are serious about muscle growth. Your muscles grow in your sleep. You also need to get enough rest between workouts. Recovered muscles perform better. I suggest newbies to work out three times a week only with rest days in between. Eventually, after six months of consistent training you can graduate to five days a week with two rest days non-consecutively. Train for two days and rest, then for three days and rest. Do compound lifts at least once a week. At the end of every eight, ten or twelve week cycle, take a full week off from training. By taking a week off, I mean, do no training at all- not even push-ups at home. 

Enjoy yourself

The most important thing about sticking to a training schedule is to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it and it starts to feel like a chore, change it up a bit. Training is a great way to release stress. It shouldn’t be stressful within itself. Take your time in between lifts, chat to people if you must, make little videos here and there. Training is a way of life and if you look at it like that you’ll be able to lift until you become a grandpa one day. Don’t try to rush into getting results. The best and most lasting muscle development happens over a long period of time. Be consistent and you’ll see results! 

1 Comment

  1. I have never really gained muscle that looks like the body builders or power lifters. Like you say ‘ you can’t train for both ‘. My training was for fitness and speed.

    And since my budget was small for eating, that looks like it was not adequate for muscle building.

    So I remained thin, fit, healthy, and perhaps easier to move fast and light, till my old days.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: