Maybe you’re tired of ill-fitting clothes. Maybe you’re tired of low self-esteem and confidence. Or maybe you’re just tired of being out-muscled by beefier guys in the gym, on the job, on the playing field and around women. Whatever the reason, you want to ditch the baggy t-shirts and learn how to pack on slabs of rock-hard, lean muscle onto your frame.
But forget about your alleged raging metabolism that incinerates calories on impact, any man can add lean muscle mass to his frame. Those who can’t gain muscle weight are simply eating and exercising the wrong way.
And who can blame them? If you listened to all the flawed advice out there to build lean muscle you’d be popping every pill and doing bench presses until you passed out. You must be a “hard-gainer” with no chance for muscle growth, right? Doomed to a lifetime of scrawniness? Stuck skinny, with only steroids to change that, right? Wrong.
Enter our ‘bony to brawny’ action plan designed to help you unlock the secrets to getting the body you never thought you could have. Built using scientifically-proven principles, this plan will not only make your muscles bigger, but do it faster than ever. Motivated yet? Great! Your quest for more-muscle begins below.
WEAPONS OF MASS CONSTRUCTION
When it comes to laying down slabs of lean muscle fast, not all gym exercises are created equal. To help you pick the moves that will make you grow like a weed, and ditch those which leave you looking like one, stick to our exercise arsenal below for maximum results.
ISOLATION EXERCISES: Forget about bicep-curls, axe the triceps extension and ditch the dumbbell-fly from your routine. While these exercises which target (isolate) small, single muscle groups are great for zoning in on specific areas and adding eye-popping definition, they don’t offer the same overall brawn-buffing benefits as their compound counterparts.
COMPOUND EXERCISES: Identified by their ability to target multiple muscles simultaneously, compound exercises offer the greatest rewards for your muscle-building efforts. Allowing you to lift heavy, these multi-muscle moves trigger the greatest release of muscle building hormones which act as the fuel for bigger gains. The result? You’ll shave minutes off your total workout time while working your muscles with maximum efficiency.
THE MAXI-MUSCLE COMBINATION: There’s no faster way to build muscle than with low-repetition heavy resistance compound exercises: Use these tips to master three of the best for adding size.
1. THE SQUAT: Keep your chest up and your back naturally arched, and turn your knees out. Push up through your heels and your head neutral.
2. THE BENCH PRESS: As you push the bar, keep your shoulder blades back and down and tighten your core and leg muscles. Keep your elbows in.
3. THE DEADLIFT: Keep your chest up and your back flat, squeeze your glute’s and push from your heels.
In addition to these power-moves, add pull-ups, bent-over rows, dips, and military presses to your workout. Do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, with 60-90 seconds rest between sets.
MIX IT UP: The two most important ingredients for more muscle are continual variation and progressive overload. Use any one exercise with the same weight and repetitions for too long and you’ll put the brakes on your brawn-buffing efforts. THE FIX: Use heavy compound moves as your base, but also include isolation moves to alter the angle of attack, vary weight and repetitions and increase workout intensity. THE RESULT: You’ll keep your routine fresh and your muscles primed for growth.
MORE MUSCLE WITH REST & RECOVERY
Best news you’ll hear all day? There’s more to adding beef to your frame than bench pressing and protein shakes. If you ever want to stand a chance of achieving your dream body, provisioning it with dedicated down-time to recoup and regenerate is a must. Here’s four of the top ways to time your rest and recovery periods to perfection and get bulging muscles while doing absolutely nothing!
TAKE IT EASY BETWEEN SETS: Think you grow in the gym? Think again. You get big by recovering from training, not from the training itself. Take 45-60 seconds rest between each exercise set. Any less than that and you’ll have too much lactic in your muscles.
TAKE IT EASY IN YOUR BED: Consider a sleep in your morning workout. Your muscles repair twice as quickly when you’re asleep. Eat a boiled-egg sandwich before bed with some milk. Protein and carbohydrates combine with milk’s caesin protein, drip feeding your muscles as you dream.
TAKE IT EASY LAYING DOWN: After a post-workout shower, treat yourself to a rub down. You’ll help flush out waste products, lengthen and relax your muscles and speed recovery. Aim for at least thirty minutes to really get the blood flowing.
TAKE IT EASY BETWEEN EXERCISES: Unless you’re super-setting (pairing two exercises together without rest), rest for 2 minutes. This will give you enough time to recover and re-hydrate.
WAKE UP TO MUSCLE-ON-A-PLATE
Start your muscle building day on the right foot by making time for breakfast every morning. For the most well-rounded breakfast, oats are king. But make sure you steer clear of the pre-sweetened variety, as they’re often loaded with sugar and other store-bought preservatives. Instead, buy the plain ‘steel-cut’ variety and flavour them yourself with fruit, honey and cinnamon. You’ll feel fuller for longer and have energy to burn.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: (1) 50g of plain steel-cut oats, (2) 300ml of water, (3) 50ml of milk, (4) A handful of almonds, (5) 2 tbsp. of low-fat yoghurt, (6) 1 handful of strawberries.
This dish serves up everything you need to build muscle and stay alert from the moment you rise. You get 52g of energy-sustaining complex carbohydrates to fend of any sleepiness. You also get a whopping 16g of brawn-buffing protein to help your muscles recharge after a long night without any sustenance. Oats are also rich in arginine which helps accelerate protein absorption.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Give your frosted-flakes the boot and tuck into something that will fuel your muscles and stop you chucking your hard earned cash into the vending machine before lunch.
TIRED OF OATS? You can swap them for sausages, bacon and eggs on whole-meal toast. Other breakfast-table winners like low-fat cottage cheese, tuna and avocado are versatile and make for delicious sides too. Alternatively, if you prefer to drink your morning meal, smoothie’ s offer a nutritionally-packed magic bullet which you can you take anywhere, anytime. Use milk and ice as the base and then add flavour and nutrients with muscle-building power foods like milk, honey, yogurt, fruit and whey protein powder.
PACK ON MUSCLE WITH PROTEIN-POWER!
Proteins are the basic structural components for building and maintaining muscle. And without a steady supply to keep your muscles topped up, you won’t capitalise on your efforts in the gym. In basic terms, protein is the only macro-nutrient that cannot be stored in the body. This means you need regular protein hits for optimal growth and repair. The quality of the protein is also important.
All men, especially guys in their twenties and/or who are regularly active should look to take in at least 30% of their total daily intake from high quality lean-protein sources like meat, fish, dairy and vegetables.
THE MUSCLE-UP PROTEIN FORMULA: As a general rule of thumb, look to eat ~2 grams of protein for each kilo of your target weight. I.E. If you weigh 65kg but want to bulk up to 75kg, aim to eat at least 160g of protein a day.
WHAT ABOUT SHAKES? The foods that are best absorbed by the body are the ones that don’t just contain essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), but have them in the most favourable ratio’s. Protein shakes contain high-quality proteins designed to increase bio availability.
The best times to have them is any time when you find it hard to prepare or eat a high-quality naturally occurring proteins like cottage cheese, eggs, chicken, fish and chicken (i.e immediately post-workout). Here you need to feed your muscles double-quick. Do this by drinking a shake with 30g of whey protein powder, half a cup of milk & 1 cup of frozen berries to build muscle and fight inflammation fast.