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How to Make Gains the Right Way

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I often get asked from people how they can put on more muscle and get stronger.  Alright, I admit most of the people that ask about this are skinny guys looking to get JACKED.  This is a noble goal for many.  It is always beneficial to have a lot of muscle mass.  More muscle equals more strength, a high metabolism, which will allow you to burn more calories at rest and therefore make it easier to stay lean.  So of course, I oblige these “hard gainers” with some tips on how to put on muscle in a smart way and I will do the same for you.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way.  If you are going to put on muscle, you have to get after it in the gym.  I’m not talking about going into the weight room and doing bi’s and tri’s every day.  Chances are, if you are a hard gainer, isolation movements will do you little good.  You need to stick to complex movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, pull-ups, dips, bent-over rows, etc.  And, you need to push yourself on these movements every time you are in the gym, which should be 3-4 times per week.  Try and do a little more each week.  That could mean adding more weight, doing more sets, doing more reps, taking less rest time, etc.  And above all else, you have to be consistent in the weight room.  Skipping workouts is not an option.  There will be good days and bad days in the gym, but if you are consistent every week, month and year, you will get where you want to be.

Another prerequisite to hypertrophy is getting enough sleep.  You are not getting bigger and stronger while you are in the gym.  That is happening when you are recovering from the damage you did to your body in the gym.  Strength training breaks your body down and during sleep you are repairing and growing, so that you can better handle what you just put your body through in your workout.  That’s why it is important to always try and do a little more in your next workout than you did in the last.

When it comes to making gains, nutrition is absolutely essential.  This is where most people screw it up.  There are good ways to go about it and there are not so good ways.  One of these not so good ways is to go on the “See Food” diet.  This is where you see food, and then you eat it.  This food includes fast food, ice cream and cheap mass gain powders.  Now, don’t get me wrong, you will definitely put on some pounds with this type of diet and some of it will be muscle, but a lot of it will be fat.  If you want to put on muscle, while maintaining some leanness, you have to be smarter with your nutrition than that.

What I advise people to do is stick to clean eating throughout the day.  That means lots of meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, rice, fruit, etc.  Eat every 3-4 hours.  Include 2 palm sized portions of protein with each meal, along with 2 handful size portions of carbs and 2 thumb sized portions of fat.  Include vegetables with every meal as well.  Then, around your workout you are going to really increase your calories.  You are going to make a workout shake with 20-35 grams of protein and 40-70 grams of carbs.  Whey protein and dextrose work well for protein and carbs.  You are going to drink one of these shakes 30-60 minutes before your workout.  During your workout, you will sip on another shake made exactly the same way.  Finally, you will drink one more shake immediately after you finish training.  Adding in your extra calories around your workout will allow them to be used to fuel and recover from your workout.  The carbs will have a better chance of being delivered into the working muscle rather than being stored as fat.

This is a great place to start adding calories and for most people, you immediately begin to see some progress.  However, if the scale is not moving, you are simply not eating enough.  Slowly add in more calories (100-200 cals at a time) until you see progress.  Finally, you have to be patient.  If you are going to put on muscle and also stay lean, it will be a slower process.  Aim for 1-2 pounds each week and you will be on the right track.

Well, that’s all you need to know to start making those precious gains.  Now, go eat something!

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