5 Size-Building Musts for Lean Mass Gains!
Complete Mass-Building Program
Get ready to pack on quality size and buy bigger clothes ’cause we’ve created a mass-building plan that will make you large and in charge!
Like many dedicated lifters, you’ve spent years struggling to pack on quality size. Unfortunately, the amount of time and effort you’ve invested in the process may not have provided the return on investment you’re looking for.
Now is the time to change all that. We have “5 Size-Building Musts” and a full 12-week training program to help you make substantial gains in lean muscle mass in no time!
Tip 1: Lift Heavy on Compounds
Heavy compound movements, such as deadlifts, squats and bench presses, are essential for stimulating overall growth.3,11 These compound (or multi-joint) movements enlist multiple muscle groups and, when properly performed, hit a greater number of muscle fibres. In fact, these exercises are responsible for systemically stimulating more muscle than any number of isolation (or single-joint movements) ever could.
The unquestioned superiority of compounds could fill numerous articles, but here are a few key takeaways:
First up, to adequately stimulate muscle, we must properly overload it with sufficient weight and excellent form. Compound exercises allow for a good amount of resistance to be used. This will help overload the muscles and stimulate growth.
“To adequately stimulate muscle, we must properly overload it with sufficient weight and excellent form.”
While current research shows lighter loads and higher reps can also get the job done, the experience of many concludes that heavy resistance, relative to one’s lifting capabilities, is necessary for advanced growth and thick, dense muscle.1,2,5 However, that’s not the only reason why compound lifts should play a major part in your training.
Using compound exercises also stimulates more of a muscle’s cross-sectional area. For example, whereas barbell bench presses hit the entire pec region, cable crossovers are generally thought to be more suitable for tweaking/refining specific regions of the pecs.
“Compound exercises get more work done in a shorter amount of time.”
Additionally, compounds get more work done in a shorter amount of time. Rather than incorporating 4-5 isolation movements for multiple sets and reps (thus, taking up more time in the gym and encouraging overtraining), 1-2 compounds are more economically-suited to doing a better job. After all, we all want greater results in less time. The extra time outside the gym can then be devoted to resting (where the real growth occurs).
Compounds are also superior in that they require several muscle groups to perform. For example, during the bench press, the pecs, triceps, front delts, core and even the lats have to contribute to the lift. This means you can do less direct work to these other muscle groups because they already been stimulated during the compound lifts. None of this is to say that isolation movements don’t work. They do and do so effectively (the best of which will be included in the program below). However, compounds must always take priority as they are, by far, the superior choice.
Tip 2: Strive for More
Extreme mass-building results require progressive resistance (the striving for increasingly more challenging ways to force further gains). Whether the resistance is on the lighter or heavier side, enough of it must be used to stimulate the kind of overload that leads to growth adaptations (more muscle to handle further such challenges). This means the lifter must keep each session optimally challenging. Here, adding more weight and upping the reps while continuing to refine and perfect training form ensures the muscles do not become complacent and also discourages training plateaus.
“Intensity methods, such as drop sets and supersets, can also force the muscles to adapt in positive ways.”
With the above said, use a variety of rep ranges and hit each major muscle group from multiple angles.9 Additionally, the use of intensity methods, such as drop sets and supersets, can also force the muscles to adapt in positive ways. Probably the best way to keep muscle gains consistent is to place as much effort as possible on having the targeted muscle do most of the work. Indeed, striving for more ultimately means optimizing the quality of each rep, which requires keeping form tight while adjusting the aforementioned variables to challenge the muscles to work harder.
Tip 3: Increase Volume
While training volume remains a key mass-building consideration, this variable changes from person to person depending on individual recovery rate, nutritional status, stress levels, etc.6,7,8
Still, for pure mass-building, it’s best to err on the side of under, rather than over, training. Since we are not going for extreme results, it’s best to hit a muscle hard, then give it a good 3-4 (or more) days to sufficiently recover and grow.
Thus, the program to follow will have you training smaller areas weekly and larger areas twice a week. This way you’ll receive adequate stimulation and your muscles will be thoroughly rested and recovered before the next session.
“A high amount of training volume appears best for muscle gains.”
According to science, a high amount of training volume appears best for muscle gains and, indeed, 2-3-weekly body part training will, in perfectly controlled conditions with optimal rest and certain supplements, translate to greater mass gains.
In practice, however, such overload may severely tax the nervous system and lead to incomplete recovery (especially for the natural lifter). It’s impossible to build quality mass under such conditions. So, save the volume for the workout, and focus on resting, and growing, outside of the gym.
Tip 4: Eat Big to Get Big
Gone are the days when bodybuilders would become unrecognizable due to excessive mass gains. Think quantity vs. quality (basically, they’d get fat). Fortunately, today’s lifters are more attuned to the fact that muscle grows faster in a healthier state. Only by feeding our muscles with quality proteins, carbs and fats and by taking superior supplements may we experience the exponential growth that will have us looking, feeling and performing at our best. The best quality foods for pure size building include:
Protein: Whey protein isolate (DIESEL – 100% sourced from New Zealand grass-fed and pasture-raised dairy), eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, red meat, chicken, and fish.
Carbs: Sweet (or russet) potatoes, white (or brown) rice, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, oats, and whole-grain pasta.
Fats: Foods high in omega 3s (for example, cold-water fish and flaxseed oil), egg yolks, extra virgin olive oil (consumed raw), avocado, and various nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, pecans) and seeds (e.g. sunflower and chia). (Note: Saturated fats can be included in your diet but should only comprise about 20% of total daily fat intake).
“An easy way to figure out a calorie starting point is to simply multiply your body weight by 15.”
To ensure gains are comprised primarily of lean muscle (with minimal fat) aim for a graduated caloric increase. An easy way to figure out a calorie starting point is to simply multiply your body weight by 15. For example, the total daily caloric intake for a 180-pound lifter will equate to 2700 calories (180 pounds X 15 = 2700). Then you need to fill in those calories with food in your meal plan.
I’d suggest beginning with one gram of protein and two grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day. The rest of your calories can from fat.
From here, assess body weight and body fat percentage on a weekly basis. Should muscle gains begin to stall, bump protein up to 1.5g and carbs to 3g while keeping fat intake consistent. Just keep in mind that an increase in lean body mass will require you re-adjust calorie intake. In short, the bigger you become, the more calories you’ll need to further maintain, and build lean mass.
One of the best ways to achieve this aim is with a superior mass-gainer supplement. As we now know, to get big, a lot of calories must be consumed throughout the day.4,10 This can be problematic for most people. This is where a high-quality mass gainer, such as HULK, becomes a must for people looking to pack on quality size.
HULK supplies 1030 calories, 60g of rapidly absorbed proteins, 10g of muscle-building amino acids and only 2g of sugar per serving. As well, unlike other mass-gainers, HULK supplies a full serving of fruits and vegetables. Plus, HULK provides 14 vitamins and minerals. Just keep in mind that the serving size can be cut down in half and used as a meal replacement to be used more frequently throughout the day.
Tip 5: Rest to Grow
The final step on our quest for jaw-dropping size is rest and recuperation. On equal par with high-intensity training and optimum nutrition, rest is vital when looking to translate reps into results. In fact, it’s the only way to ensure a high-training output and continuous gains.
For size-hungry bodybuilders, rest means doing just enough to stimulate muscle increases, then getting out of the gym and letting the gains commence. The old adage of not running when you can walk, not walking when you can sit, and not sitting when you can lie down applies here. In other words, outside of the necessary weights and cardio, take every opportunity to keep both body and mind at ease.
Therefore, to optimize muscle gains, avoid high-stress situations (arguments with significant others, employment conflicts, even heavy traffic, and other such ‘dramas’). Instead, be more laid back and “keep it cool”. Be sure to get 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, try to nap for 30 minutes each day (if you can), avoid negative people and situations, and engage in a small amount of active recovery (light, low-impact activities such as walking and housework, not vigorous sports).
Author: David Robson
Veteran fitness writer and high-performance coach and trainer David Robson specializes in communicating the benefits of healthy living through his many written works and advanced training instruction. A competitive bodybuilder and martial artist, David is known for leading from the front and inspiring through his dedicated training efforts.