No one likes slow gains. Feeling like your time in the gym is being wasted isn't exactly good for motivation.
I know many of you are frustrated. You plan your training, plan your meals, plan your supplements yet can't seem to make any decent progress. A good percentage of lifters that go through this madness eventually give up.
This article is for you. I am going to give you some tips to help turn things around. Let's set aside your "no gainer" days, and turn you into a huge gainer.
Tip #1 - Maximize Every Set
Are you focused on progressive overload? Do you push every set for as many reps as possible? Many lifters don't.
Here's my advice: push every set for as many reps as possible, stopping that set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep. Add weight when it makes sense.
By doing this you will be maximizing every set of every workout, and improving your gains.
Tip #2 - Build Head to Toe Strength
Muscle building isn't just about raw, brute strength, but it does require you to get a lot stronger than you are now. Head to the gym with the following goal: to make every body part from head to toe as strong as possible over the next several years.
Placing fancy workout protocols or advanced training techniques before strength additions in the weight room is a good way to fail. These tools have their place, but only when you are using them as a method of building extra strength. For example, supersets alone won't do much if you are not trying to get stronger while using them.
The goal of getting every muscle group as strong as possible, in concert with hypertrophy-style rep ranges and workouts, will help you maximize the muscle building process.
Tip #3 - Embrace Challenging Exercises
Lifters who avoid the most challenging exercises develop a body that looks like they avoid the most challenging exercises. It's really as simple as that.
It's not that you need to do every compound exercise under the sun, but rather you need to have a fair amount of quality compound exercises at the center of your program. Movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, barbell rows, military press, stiff leg deadlifts, dips, pull ups, etc.
When you choose the best tools for a job, you make completing the job much easier. This applies to building a house as well as muscle building.
Embrace challenging exercises and you will build a body that looks like it was challenged.
Tip #4 - Start a New Lifestyle, Not a New Program
Lifting is a lifestyle, not an 8 week program. If you think you can build a great chest in 8 weeks and then get on with the rest of your life, you are sadly mistaken.
Even if you could build the world's most amazing chest and biceps in 8 weeks, and strip away body fat to reveal six pack abs, it would still require a lifetime of work and proper dieting to maintain them. Unfortunately, the premise itself is a fantasy: no one builds a great chest or biceps in 8 weeks.
Instead of approaching weight training as an 8 week program, enter it as a lifestyle change. Understand - and embrace - the reality that to reach and maintain your goals, you will be at this the rest of your life.
Tip #5 - Stop Missing Workouts
Seems like an obvious tip, but you would be shocked by how many lifters:
- Miss workouts every week, or every other week.
- Never train longer than 6 months without taking an extended amount of time off.
You can't build an impressive amount of muscle mass if you take extended layoffs with regular frequency. You also won't be maximizing progress if you manage to miss a substantial percentage of your scheduled sessions.
If you find yourself missing too many workouts, maybe it's time to train less frequently.
Tip #6 - Stop Changing Workouts
This is a huge problem for many lifters. They find a new and exciting program, and just have to try it.
Understand this...there are no magic workouts. Different styles of training exist for different experience levels and age ranges. If you remain patient, eat right, get a lot stronger and stop missing workouts, nearly any reputable program will help you build muscle.
Seek out a program that suits your needs, age and experience levels. You will likely find many programs to choose from. It is best to select a program that motivates you to hit the gym, rather than immediately gravitating towards the one filled with all the bells and whistles.
If you find a program isn't to your liking, consider evolving it to fit your needs. If you spend your time trying to find a program that fits you perfectly, it may take many months or even years. If you learn from a program and try to analyze and change what you don't like, or what doesn't fit your needs, you will be working towards creating a unique system of training that you enjoy.
Tip #7 - Eat to Maximize Muscle, Based on Experience
Natural lifters experience diminishing gains over time. First year gains should be impressive, with second year gains being about half of first year results. Progress continues to be cut in half each year thereafter. The take home point is this...if you ARE experiencing quality gains, you want to bulk less aggressively each year moving forward.
A good plan for your first year of training is to eat about 500 calories over your maintenance level. This should translate to about 1.5 to 2 pounds of weight gain max per month. In a perfect world, 75% of this should be muscle gain; fat gain will be minimal.
During year two aim for one pound of weight gain per month. You may need to drop calories to 300-350 above maintenance to hit this mark.
After year two it's best to bulk with only about 200-300 calories over maintenance. Gains will be slow, and there is no point in adopting an aggressive bulk. Once you have built up a nice muscular base, eat mostly clean, hit your daily calories, and understand that gains after this point can't be rushed with massive amounts of food.
Final "Huge Gainer" Recap
- Maximize every set of every workout
- Make every muscle group from head to toe as strong as possible.
- Don't avoid challenging exercises, embrace them.
- Approach muscle building as a new lifestyle, not a short term program.
- Get your back side to the gym and stop missing workouts.
- Quit jumping from program to program, chasing after magic workout systems.
- Eat to maximize muscle mass and minimize fat, based on experience levels.
My husband loves Sunestron! He has tons more energy and feels refreshed. He has been body building for 20 years and this has given him a new desire to lift again. My husband will be cycling on and off-he will be sticking with this Testosterone Booster.
i stopped looking for the newest fad program about 2 months ago and just started doing heavy compound lifts and a few isolation movements, changed up my diet and increased protein intake and i have seen tremendous gains already
Rob, you truly are a "rare (and smart!) breed" of Body Builder. There are not many (including myself but, I'm there now...) who are traveling the 'road less traveled' as you are. I'm now on that road and am, like you, making "tremendous gains". Stay on course and you will not only build muscle but, you will save a lot of money in the process. I had to learn the 'hard way' but, I'm now resigning to keeping in truly 'natty' from this point on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. God Bless & I wish you continued success on your path.
I am from Afghanistan,
How can i gain weight? please help me
Yes i need a lots of tips of making bulk muscles n good strength. what d key factors to do the same. today i am just muscular but having tiny size's. what i need to do build the huge size as well muscular body to become like hulk thanx.........................
i'm 148lbs,167cm and i want to gain 15lbs of lean muscle without gaining extra fat.my workout routine looks like
tuesday-back and bicep
friday-back and bicep
saturday-legs and abs
What is the best way to lose weight and gain muscle without compromising both?
I love the newsletters and the workout tips
Mr. Shaw, I have read several of your articles here at Muscle and Strength and your advice is sage as always here. I am relatively new to strength/lifting (I am a female of 50 years old...) and want to express to you how much I appreciate your advice. I found this article especially encouraging as I am seeking to add muscle to my frame. I was told about you by another writer for Muscle and Strength and diligently read your articles as they recommended them highly They are all written from a foundational point of reference and are all 'no nonsense'. Keep up the great work, Steve. Oh and by the way, I also appreciate that you respond so quickly to your readers questions. How very Gracious of you, Sir!
Awesome tips sir thank you very much
This should be a sticky in the forum somewhere. Probably the beginners' section.
Tip number 1 is awesome. I started doing this a few weeks ago, and my performance and gains have rocketed.
Glad to hear it. I preach that above and beyond everything.
Glad to hear it. I preach that above and beyond everything.
Damn Tony Horton and his lies! lol
Hi Steve, just wondering what do you think is the best approach for gaining strength and size. Would it be better to have strength days followed by hypertrophy days, or have strength sets before hypertrophy sets every workout? I'm definitely not an elite powerlifter :)
The real key is consistency and progression, back with proper food intake. There is no best way, as long as the program is reasonable.
My recommendation is always to pick a reputable program that movivates you to lit.
Can you explain muscle confusion then? I'm kind of confused, I have heard different things as well.
Muscles don't have brains, you can't confuse them. If you want them to grow then lift progressively heavier weights.
I thought i was doing muscle confusion by when i did bench, starting off heavy, do what i could, drop down light and rep 20 out then just go back and forth. I do it on everything and have seen HUGE gains. My bench and leg press has sky rocketed from what it was when i started back after the holidays. What would you call what im doing?
This sums it up.
Muscle confusion myth is a misconception based on the concept of 'pump' in body development. The pump is a temporary phenomenon wherein the person gets a feeling that the muscles have expanded right after the workout. The feeling of a pump is basically a misunderstanding of the sensation which is triggered due to the accumulation of lactic acid and myofibril contraction, which leads to the constriction of blood flow. This in turn triggers a rush of blood into the capillaries of the working muscles making them appear as if they have expanded.
Changing your routine up continuously can lead to deterioration of the body mass instead of enhancing it. The simplest way to get bigger muscles is a successful lifting regimen for a long period, followed by an adequate recuperation. This will facilitate growth in muscle size and strength.
It's not bad to change your workout regimes once in a while to get rid of boredom caused by routine. But one has to make sure that these changes are not frequent and won't hamper your health in any way. Like Rip has stated over and over, You don't get bigger from lifting weights, you get bigger from recovering from lifting weights. Believing in muscle confusion won't do you any favors on your path to success, and is just a shortcut that will lead you to a dead end.
Hi I'm just wondering about the tip that says not to jump from workout program to workout program. I don't know if i'm misunderstand this tip, but I heard from numerous sources that changing up your workout routine every 4-6 weeks is beneficial. Could you clearify?
That's a myth. Progression and consistency are the true keys for natural lifters.
Do those sources also happen to produce a magazine you can buy every 4-6 weeks... coincidence?