If you need to know how to gain muscle and build muscular strength then you are in the right place. This blog series will take you there. It contains the top simple secrets I’ve taught clients trying to gain muscle and build muscular strength over the last 20 years. It also contains a master mind meeting with another muscle building expert where we put our heads together to give you the real insider tips and tricks on filling out those shirt sleeves and adding slabs of muscle to your body.
Of course nothing builds muscle quicker than getting to the gym and lifting those weights, but you’ll need some important information first. I want to reveal the real methods of building muscle that work, so you don’t waste any time, get ripped off or get steered wrong by bad advice.
Now before we get started, this is basic stuff. I am going to hit the hard, solid facts of how to gain muscular weight and get stronger… and it’s going to come down to lifting heavy, resting well, and eating enough good food.
REALITY CHECK, if you are skinny, can’t gain weight, and can’t move these numbers compared to your bodyweight – then we need to make you stronger too.
- 1x bodyweight for the overhead press
- 1.5x for the bench press
- 2x for the squat
- 2.5x for the deadlift
I Know How You Feel. I Was Super Skinny Before I Discovered The Truth About Gaining Weight And Building Muscle.
When I first started training I was in grade 10 and messed around with it for a year before I figured out that the magazine routines were WAY too high volume for a small framed guy like myself.
By the time I sifted through all the lies, I was starting at 126 pounds and from there, with a lot of eating and heavy training, I was up to 170 by the end of the school year.
This meant eating every few hours and going from a 45 pound squat to just over 315 pounds for 20 reps inside a year.
Let’s talk a little more about that initial spurt of growth of almost 50 pounds. Yes, it was all natural bodybuilding and drug free, but I was also very skinny to start with, and young and full of natural hormones. It took me another couple years to get up to 190 pounds. Then after that very slowly to 210.
So what I am saying is that realistically, once you reach a normal, average muscular body weight through eating and training, you are looking to gain those extra 20 pounds of pure, fat free muscle over the next year or two. Those last 20 pounds of muscle are what separate the people that look like they “train a little” and the really muscular guys that look like they can snap you in half.
Now Let’s Get Big
The Workout Plans That Will Help You Build Muscular Strength While Gaining Muscle
Beginning to gain size and strength requires a level of commitment most people lack.
The following workout plan is designed to focus on your full body, three nonconsecutive days a week with the weekends off. This plan is just a suggestion. You can adapt it as needed to suit your time constraints and I actually made some of my best progress using only two days a week. These days were generally Monday and Thursday with track and field workouts daily.
With any workout, you need to start out with some warm up exercises. I usually just do 2-3 light sets of each exercise to bring up my body temperature and get blood flow to the joints. A warm-up ramping up of the weight prior to working out helps get your body ready for exercise and your mind will get prepared as well.
You should also have an appropriate cool down period after you are done working out. This will reduce the possibility of delayed muscle soreness and will help quell the adrenaline that has been building in your system as a result of the workout. This can also be simple stretching exercises or a couple of minutes on the treadmill.
Again, it’s important to start out slow and not push yourself beyond your limits at first. Soon you’ll be going all out.
Use weights that are not too heavy for you but that will give you enough resistance to almost temporarily fail at the end of your set. Initially you are only going at 80% of your capacity. You can progressively increase the amount of weight you lift and the intensity, as you get stronger.
For the first week doing the workout, do your ramp up warm up sets and then begin with two sets of 10 reps each at about 80% of your full potential. Week three you can go to 3 sets depending on how you feel. If all is good at this point. Release the hounds and hit those three sets of each exercise as hard as you can without stalling out.
Keep upping your weights on each set once you achieve 10 reps. Every set will have a different weight because the set preceding it will make your muscles fatigued. So while you may do 100 pounds for 10 reps on your first set. Your second set, you may only get 80 pounds for 8 reps. This means that next workout you will add 5 pounds to the first set and stay with that 80 pounds on the second set until you get up to 10 reps. Then up the weight and start all over again!
Do this week after week, workout after workout until you can handle some really good and heavy weights. This along with feeding yourself lots of good food is all that it takes until you reach the strength numbers listed previously.
I also have a 5×5 workout plan that I will write about shortly but the method I just mentioned is what gave me my biggest gains when I was the skinniest.
Your Super Hero, Villain Crushing Workout Routine
If you have a powerlifting cage and two barbells, that’s all you need.
- Barbell Squats
- Chest Dips
- Standing barbell press (handstand pushups if can)
- Close Grip Pushups or close grip bench press
- Standing barbell curls
- Barbell Calf Raises
Keep in mind that your results will only come if you are recovering from your previous workout. If you feel well rested, then you can add in more sets or increase the intensity you put into each set.
About an hour before your workout, you should eat some protein and carbohydrates. This is to make sure that you have enough energy to make it through your entire workout. By doing this, you are putting your body into an anabolic state that will provide the necessary energy and power to effectively work your muscles.
Many people opt for a protein shake and a bowl of brown rice, but you can choose whatever foods you want to get what you need.
You need to keep track of your workouts and how many sets and reps you are doing. Write it down in a small notebook and when you are able to increase the number of sets and/or reps, be sure to take note of how long it took you to get to that point. Also keep track of the amount of weight you are able to lift and when you are able to increase that weight.
Be sure and rest between sets to allow your body to adjust and recover. That’s around a minute or two. DO NOT rest more than two minutes or else your muscles will get cold and all your previous work will be for naught.
If fat loss is part of your overall goal, then 30 minutes of sprints or jogging after your workout or on the days off from weight training will do the trick. If your fitness level is good enough to do the sprints, simply go fast for one minute and then jog for one minute. It’s a great fat burner and is called interval training.
Once you have done at least three months of the above routine or have gained at least 15 pounds of muscle, you are ready for what lies below.
NOW FOR MY FAVORITE ADVANCED ROUTINE
Please do not go to this routine until you have spent at least 3-4 months doing the other full body beginner routine and cannot seem to push your weights any higher on that routine. You will only over-train and burn out. This is a very advanced routine and you have to build up to it. Having said that, here is my favorite intense and awesome butt workout!
Again, only do this routine for 4 weeks max. Then go back to the previous routine and use 10 pounds less on everything for two weeks before starting to ramp back up in intensity. These are foundational weeks to let injuries heal and the nervous system calm down.
Big weights! Wicked pump! I always get caught between two minds whenever I hit my workout at the gym. One side of me says to lift heavy to get big and the other says that form should matter more than my weight poundage. This is an issue that used to cause me to get quite twisted every time I would prep a workout training cycle. I know each technique has its merits, so I used to be swayed back and forth never staying with either method long enough to see the results. With the low weights I get to move some decent poundage’s and my ego gets gratified but alas, there is no killer pump. When I stick to the perfect form method with lighter weights I get great pumps but I never feel like I am really working hard enough to get anywhere because my weights are so light. So in my search for the perfect weight workout, I decided to combine the two methods and get the best of both worlds.
Seems obvious when some one else says it doesn’t it? I love the pump from drop sets and isolation exercises and I love the feeling of grunting under large loads, so why not do both in a workout?
What I do is put in two exercises of 5×5 with 1 minute to 2 minutes rest between sets and then move on to one or two more exercises for 3 or 4 sets apiece with the odd drop set or super set in order to finish the workout with a great pump. I stay with the same weight on the 5×5’s until I get all 5 sets of 5, usually hitting 4 or 3 reps on the last two sets in the beginning. When I finally complete the full 5×5 I up the weight by 5 to 10 pounds and start over. This ensures that I don’t get lazy and that I am always getting stronger, so that’s the first rule of muscle mass realized.
Once I have trained the muscles with between 85-100% of my one rep max, I’ve stimulated strength gains through enhanced neural drive and hit my type IIB fibers hard. Now onto the second group of exercises. I squeeze and pump the muscle, trying to fill it with blood while keeping in my mind that weight is a secondary concern. Here is where I hit the type IIA fibers with a slightly higher time under tension developed from the intensity techniques. The weights for this type of training are usually within 70-80% of your one rep max. Whenever I reach the point that the lighter weights no longer fatigue the muscle at around 10-12 reps, I bump it up a notch. Chasing the pump I rest no longer than 30-45 seconds causing me to hit a totally different set of fibers and making sure that all life has been thrashed out of the muscle. The best of both worlds in one workout!
The 5×5 method can also be seen as a lazy mans periodization, as the intensity varies from week to week depending on if I am trying a new weight or if
I am still trying to get my “5’s” at an already accustomed to weight. The high intensity at the end allows me to get nutrients and blood into the muscle, gives me my time under tension and stretches the fascia while the body part is still stuffed full of the goods.
So in effect this routine develops the type IIB fibers through high tension multiple sets making me stronger by increasing relative strength though enhanced neural drive. Then moves on to hit the type IIA fibers through a slightly higher time under tension given to me by the extended sets. This makes me larger by increased hypertrophy, stimulating increased muscle glycogen, ATP and Krebs cycle activity.
The only variable to fill in after this is your nutrition habits, but that’s a topic for later discussion. Here is an example of this type of weight workout. None of the set totals include your warm ups:
- DB Bench press 5×5
- Dips 5×5
- Incline flyes super set with incline smith presses for 3x failure on both..
- Barbell curls 5×5
- Incline dumbbell curls 10/8/6
- Hammer curls drop set – 4 sets
- Squats 5×5
- Lunges pyramid up 12,10,8,6
- Sissy Squats 3 x max
- DB or barbell, stiff leg deadlifts 5×5
- Lying Frankenstein curls (toes down on way up and toes out on way down) 4- drop sets, each drop being 8 reps (8-8-8)
- Standing calf raises 3-drop sets of 10-10-10 per set.
- Seated calf raises for 4 sets of 40-50 seconds each
- Standing presses 5×5
- High pulls from the hips 5×5
- Face down incline laterals supersetted with bent over lateral raises for rear delts 4 sets to failure
- Close grip bench 5×5
- Skull Crushers 4×8
- Superset of kick backs and close grip pushups with elbows wide 3x 10
- Deadlifts 5×5
- Chins (add weight as needed) 5×5
- Triple drop set under grip Barbell row for 4 sets (go for 10 reps on each drop)
4 sets of crunches supersetted with hanging leg raises.
Take the next two days off and then restart the cycle. There are several ways to manipulate this schedule depending on your recovery ability and other stress factors in your life. Some of my clients respond best if they drop the second exercise of 5’s or alternate it with a 10/8/6 rep scheme.
Sometimes I like to make this an “every other day” workout, especially if you’re hitting the cardio hard. Train weights one day, do cardio the next and just keep the rotation going. This won’t work though if you have a strict lifestyle schedule outside the gym.
Don’t worry about wilting away between workouts because as a natural bodybuilder the more rest the better. It’s far more productive to be slightly under trained than over trained. However if you give every workout your all on this routine, you will look forward to the rest!
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