How to Gain Muscle - Go From Skinny to Jacked and Dominate Your Opponents

Nothing Stopping You!
Photo by jcoterhal

I used to be a skinny kid. I weighed 135lbs and I did not look like any lightweight I can think of (Castillo or Corrales). I did not like being so skinny and tried many times to add muscle mass, gain muscle, and generally increase the size of my muscles and gain weight. I wanted to have a physique more like Tyson or Schwarzenneger and a little less like Alf Alfa of the little Rascals.

Gaining muscle is easy once you understand the basics (and it took me years to learn them - not quite sure why). There are four components to it:

  1. Eating like a horse (the right foods of course)
  2. Completely destroying your muscles in a workout
  3. A whole lot of rest
  4. Avoid Adaptation

You do those four things and do them well or at least consistently and I guarantee you will add muscle to your body (within your genetic limits.

How to Eat to Gain Muscle Mass

Eating the right foods is covered in the nutrition portion of this website, or you might want to take a look at Get Muscles Fast - so I'm not going to get into a big nutrition discussion here. Just know that it is about 95% of the battle.

How to Completely Annihilate your Muscles

Your muscles are made up of two different kinds of fibres - fast twitch and slow twitch (as the theory goes). Fast twitch are involved in the endurance activities such as long distance running and as such you end up with small, lean muscles. Slow twitch are involved in the powerful motions, powerlifting and the like and as a result developing them gives you large powerful muscles.

Boxers need a combination of the two which leads to a well defined, yet highly powerful physique. I would consider a boxer's physique as the most highly tuned physique the human body can reach because of that combination. At any rate, to develop muscle, every workout you do must tear them apart.

The more you tear apart a muscle during a workout, the bigger it will get.

When you workout you are causing microtears in your muscle. This is actual muscle damage. Your muscle gets bigger when those tears are repaired in the REST periods after your workouts. See where point 3 comes into play. The actual muscle growth occurs when your body is at rest - sleeping, watching TV, or generally being a lazy SOB.

Therefore, the more damage you can cause to your muscles during a workout, the more growth you will experience. I'm not talking injury damage here, I'm talking stressing them to the max.

Your big muscle groups are capable of performing 3-5 exercises per group (will vary slightly, but this is the norm) before being completely fatigued. When attempting to build mass, you must concentrate on basic movements which target these large groups and focus less on defining your muscles (targetting the slow twitch fibers). Your seven major muscle groups are:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Biceps
  4. Triceps
  5. Legs
  6. Shoulders
  7. Abs

A workout should target those groups and annihilate them with every workout. To do that, you want to use the most possible resistance you can and do it for few repetitions. The sheer weight you are lifting will limit the amount of repetitions you can do anyways.

Rest - The Magic Ingredient

Growing up, being the skinny kid, I figured if I lifted weights everyday, twice or three times a day I would put on huge slabs of muscle and be able to walk around town, feared and intimidating. Yeah, didn't work.

I was missing this component and really had myself believing that I couldn't put on muscle sitting on my ass. I was so wrong. When I finally incorporated adequate rest into my workout schedule, I immediately started having gains I only dreamed of in the years prior. Why had I been so stubborn to heed this advice?

Your muscles need between 24 and 72 hours of rest in order to fully recover from a workout. Exactly how much time depends on you and your genetics. Generally speaking, allowing 48 hours between workouts and up to 72 hours between leg workouts will allow sufficient time for your muscles to repair themselves before you tear them apart again.

That recovery time could be longer if you do not follow a proper nutrition plan. Your muscles need the proteins and other nutrients necessary to conduct the repairs. It's like trying to repair a car without spare parts - not going to happen unless you're McGyver (okay I just aged myself with that comment...)

Here is where the dilemma occurs. You can't possibly work out all of your major muscle groups, giving each group your unbridaled focus and fury, and still be living at the end of the workout. As such, you need to sequence and split your workouts and target specific groups during specific workouts. You then have to schedule those workouts taking into account the principle of rest.

Sound hard, it's not so bad. Here's an example:

First, the usual groupings:

  1. Chest/Back
  2. Biceps/Shoulders
  3. Triceps/Legs
  4. Abs are a unique case - I will explain.

Doing this is called a split routine. Abs are unique in that they do not react to growth the same way as most of your other muscles. They, like your calves, usually require a large number of repetitions in order to stimulate growth. As such, they are usually conducted daily giving much less time for rest. A set or two of abs on a daily basis will yeild results in proportion to the rest of your development.

Plugging the groupings into a schedule:

  • Sunday - Rest Day
  • Monday - Chest/Back
  • Tuesday - Biceps/Shoulders
  • Wednesday - Triceps/Legs
  • Thursday - Chest/Back
  • Friday - Biceps/Shoulders
  • Saturday - Triceps/Legs
  • Abs everyday or every second day

You can further target a specific muscle group (and shorten your workouts) by doing a daily split - conducting two workouts, one in the morning and one in the evening. So take Monday for instance - in the morning you would kill your Chest and in the evening, kill your Back. This allows you to concentrate much more fully on that muscle group and focus is key. It does you no good to go through the motions, you have to really focus on making your muscles work for the duration of the exercise.

The biggest thing about rest is that when you aren't working out with heavy weights and low reps, you are resting. That doesn't mean going and playing a game of football, or running or cardio of any sort. To put on muscle fast, do nothing but workout, sleep and eat. It may not be incredibly healthy, but you will put on muscle very quickly. I'd recommend tempering the speed you want to add muscle with a little common sense and incorporate a little cardio - but realize it will hamper gains.

Avoiding Adaptation - Swindling Darwin

Your muscles will eventually adapt to whatever program you put them on no matter how much weight you are trying to lift (which in itself will eventually reach a max). When that happens, you're muscle growth will plateau and you will experience few to any significant gains.

To avoid this you must constantly keep your muscles guessing. You can do this by:

  • Increasing weight (Progressivity)
  • Introducing new exercises
  • Supersets
  • Negatives
  • Forced Reps
  • Partial Reps
  • Isolation Training
  • Forced Negatives
  • Cheating
  • Staggered Sets
  • Stripping
  • Isotension
  • Instinctive Approach
  • Pre-Exhaustion
  • I go/you go
  • Flushing
  • One and a halves
  • Platoon System
  • Ballistic Training

(I'm working on a glossary for the site, so definitions for these will be up shortly, for now, just realize there are ways of overcoming adaptation)

So there you have it. A surefire way to add heaps of muscle to your body. If you want to gain muscle and gain muscle quick, follow these principles and give one of these workouts and programs a go.  I would especially recommend this muscle building program - or try the Maximum Muscle program included in your Inner Ring Membership.


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