Ever wonder how you can build muscle quickly, without the use of steroids or unnatural and potentially harmful chemicals? Do you want to know the secret to gaining muscle mass on a minimal budget? If so, you came to the right place.
Before I break into what I have discovered over years of trial and error, here’s a little about myself.
I’m 25, married and we have two beautiful boys, ages 1 and 2. I gained about 60 pounds in 2 years from having kids. The “Dad” weight thing is for real! I lost only 15 pounds of that but replaced fat with muscle, which can be easier for some. My BMI went from 28%-14% over the past 3 months. I stopped working out for that two year span when having kids and just 3 months ago, started going back to the gym. Just 3 months, and I’ve witnessed incredible results!
I’ve been into weight training (WT) for about 12 years now, since I was 13. I took 4 WT classes in high school, as well as a couple courses in college; Sports Physiology, Exercise Science and a basic PT class which was kind of like gym but for college. I never graduated college or anything but I did get through 1.5 years and since then, I have studied some of the ACE certification material which is about 3 huge books worth of amazing information.
Over the years, I’ve written journals, kept charts full of routines that I’ve experimented with as well as recording my diet and BMI. All of these things are what “serious” health/WT folks would be doing. After all of this over the course of time, I’ve realized that much of it isn’t necessarily important. Sure, some of it is great to know, like exercise science or learning about the body in general, but at the end of the day, what matters most is what you put into your body and what you do at the gym.
Now you probably want to know the ‘secret’ to building muscle mass, quickly and efficiently.
Some of you might already understand this. Maybe you don’t apply it, or maybe it’s not for you. I can guarantee that if you follow everything I say, you will see results. The proof is in the pudding, and I’m living proof.
I will break it all down into sections, starting with important supplements. I did say this was a low budget type of thing, so you won’t be spending hundreds of dollars a month, but you have to invest in your health.
Supplements: Multivitamins, Testosterone Booster (if you’re a guy), Creatine, and a pre-workout formula (usually in powder form). All of this can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart for under $60.
If you own a blender bottle, use it. If you don’t have one, buy one because it will become your best friend.
YOU MUST DRINK A LOT OF WATER!!!! You can drink soda or beer etc…just limit yourself.
Seriously. I carry around a gallon container of water. I usually drink half a day. When taking creatine and protein supplements, you need to drink at least 10 ounces of water a day. Creatine basically increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly. It’s a osmotically active substance, meaning that it pulls water into your muscle cells which increases protein synthesis. If you don’t drink enough water, you cramp up, feel extremely sore and can barely move. It happened to me and it sucks. Drink up and notice how you are able to lift 5 more pounds every week or two, or get in another 2-3 reps. It works.
Testosterone boosters enhance your performance and I’m not just talking about sex (LOL). It helps you push yourself to the limit every day. There isn’t too many bad side effects, I do notice myself getting more irritated on days that I don’t lift, but unlike steroids, you won’t rage.
Whey Protein is the most important thing. If you aren’t getting at least half of your body weight in protein per day, your muscles won’t repair themselves and grow. I’m 230, I consume around 130 grams of protein per day, which is more then half. Look at it this way, if your protein shake has around 30 grams per shake, drink 3 throughout the day, and that leaves you with protein from your meals. Lean chicken and fish is the best.
Pre-workout formulas are designed to give you an extra boost before you lift. It helps me a lot, especially if I’m tired. “Iron Pump” is a good one. Obviously, a multivitamin is good to take regardless of your fitness goals.
As mentioned above, drink water. You’ll drink so much of it, you’ll start to love it. Sparkling water is good too! It’s important if you are trying to build muscle mass, to eat a shit ton of calories. If your daily calorie intake is supposed to be 2000, eat 3500 calories a day. Your body will need it! Eat anything, if you’re all about food like me, then you’ll love it.
Here’s an example of my daily diet….you can replace a snack with a protein shake.
Breakfast: 4 eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, oatmeal, glass of whole milk. Breakfast is the most crucial meal, eat as much as you want…
Snack: Usually a banana or yogurt. You can drink a protein shake.
Lunch: 2 Sandwiches, juice or tea, chips, and sometimes something sweet.
Snack: Fruit, Pudding, Pretzels, Fruit
Dinner: 3 big pieces of chicken, broccoli and asparagus, maybe a potato or mac and cheese.
Snack: Sometimes I don’t eat well at night, I might chow on a hot dog or something sweet. Many will tell you never to do this, however I have found that when you’re lifting heavy weights, it doesn’t matter what you eat, for the most part.
About twice a week or more, I will hit up McDonald’s an hour or so after a workout. I’ll get a Big Mac meal with a large frap. People always say “Looks like the trip to the gym went to waste”. That’s BS. Your body will send that shit right through. It’s fine to have a cheat day every once in a while, it helps reset your body. You’re drinking so much water that it’s practically in and out.
Here’s where I dig into a routine. My preferences as far as work outs and a schedule. You can be creative and make your own schedule, it’s all subjective here, but if you follow my routine, you will see results.
I suggest that you spend the first 2 weeks doing cardio and high reps, low weight lifting. Run on the treadmill, elliptical machine, or even a bike. 20 mins is good. Then use the circuit weights. Figure out a good weight to start off at. You’ll be doing super sets and the weight increases.
*1×12= 1 set of 12, etc…
For Example: Chest Press: 140 – 1×12, 150 – 1×10, 160 – 1×8, 150 – 1×10. 140 – 1×12.
It’s like pyrmaid. You can do it high-low or low-high. You would do this type of thing on each circuit machine for the first two weeks. With cardio, this will help you lose some weight before beginning your strength training/building massive muscle. If you’re already in the process of transformation, then continue down below where I dig into my strength routine.
I like to work out on a two week cycle, meaning that I reverse off days bi-weekly.
Week one – 3 on 1 off, 2 on 1 off.
Week two – 5 days on, 2 off.
In strength training, it’s important to understand the max weight you can lift in 6 reps. When you know this, you’ll be able to know how much you can lift, increase, and also max out with in reps with weight slightly lower. 5-6 reps is the lowest you want to go. If you can’t finish with 5-6 and fail that’s alright! It’s cool if you want to finish each muscle group a super low 1-2 rep, I do occasionally.
When you know your 6 rep max, for each of these below, follow my counts.
Always perform each exercise with proper form. Don’t be “that guy”. You will only see major results if you lift what you can handle and control it the entire time. It’s good to contract the muscle and release it slowly for 4-6 seconds as you release. I like to do that with curls and tricep extensions.
Day 1: Chest/Triceps/Legs
DB Bench Press: 1×10 1×8 1×6 1×5-6
DB Fly: 1×10 1×8 1×6 1×5-6
Dips (I use a weight belt with a 35lb disk): 1×10 1×8 1×6
DB Tricep Extension: 1×10 1×8 1×6
DB Arnold Extension (It’s like a bent over extension): 1×8 1×6 1×4
Tricep Pull Down: 1×10 1×8 1×6 1×4
Hanging Leg Raises: 1×15 1×10
Leg Curls: 1×10 1×8 1×6 1×6
DB Balanced Lunge: 1×15 1×15
Day 2: Back/Bicep/Legs
Seated row: 1×10 1×8 1×6
Lateral Pull Down: 1×10 1×8 1×6
Laying Down Pullover: 1×10 1×8 1×6
Bent Over Reverse Fly: 1×8 1×6
DB Curls: 1×10 1×8 1×6 1xfail
DB Preacher Curls: 1×10 1×8 1×6 1xfail
Straight Bar Wrist Curl: 4xfail
Pull-Up (Weight belt with a 35lb disk): 1×10 1×8 1×6
Seated Leg Press or Squat: 1×10 1×8 1×6
Leg Extension or Calf Extension: 1×15 1×10 1×8
Day 3: Shoulder/Chest
This is a lighter day, but I still go hard on the few exercises.
Shoulder Press: 1×8 1×6 1xfail
DB Side-Front Lateral Raises: 1×15 1×10 1×8 1×6
Seated Fly: 1×12 1×10 1×8
Seated Chest Press: 1×10 1×8 1×6
Push-Ups: Max out to fail.
Take note, I do get some light cardio in before or after my workout. I like to shoot hoops because my gym has a nice court. You could row for 10 minutes or swim. Whatever you enjoy that gets you warmed up. It is good to get some cardio in for 10-12 mins. Some might argue that you need to do it on your off days or several times a week etc. When you’re ready to tone up those big muscles and look like the guys on the magazines, then you will do more cardio, usually high intensity interval training is the best. Some of those models and/or competitors restrict their calorie intake so they look more cut and ripped. They dehydrate themselves. I never condone this because it’s awful for you.
In week 2, I do the days in this order: Day 1,2,3,1,2.
After about two weeks of this schedule, I was able to increase a solid 5 pounds or more on many of these workouts. Ever since then I’ve been able to increase under 5 pounds every week or two. The results are staggering. You need to change up some of the exercises (keep the same muscle groups) every couple weeks because your body will adjust. If you confuse your muscles, they will grow faster.
I expect my body to hit a plateau eventually. I might get 6 months of solid muscle gain yet stop all of a sudden. Then you have to look at your schedule and see what’s going wrong or what needs to be changed. Change is good. Sometimes it can be as simple as not eating enough calories because your body outgrew your previous count, or not getting enough protein. When your body grows, so does your diet and everything else.
I wish you well on your transformation and health. Patience is key and dedication is a must. It takes time, but it’s what you get out of it that matters most. What turned into a break at the gym, away from my kids, became a passion to work on myself. Good luck!