At MFF, we know what we’re good at: hotness. We make people hot. We specialize in culling the very best training and nutritional strategies and applying them to the pursuit of health and hotness. We are experts at getting people to their physique goals; this has resulted in a lot of acting jobs booked, a lot of pissed off exes, and a lot of successful hook-ups at the bar.
And while most of our work is fat loss, we’ve always had a special place in our hearts for putting on muscle.
It’s an oft quoted truism in the fitness industry that burning fat takes days and weeks, and building muscle takes months and years. I can tell you that this particular truism is pretty spot on; the tasteful acquisition of lean mass (NOT JUST WEIGHT – that’s easy, just start housing a shit-ton of fast food) is one of the hardest things to do in fitness.
But should you be looking to add some muscle, don’t be discouraged gentle reader! As always, the MFF team is here to make your dreams come true. While the road to muscle gain may be longer than the road to snatching up your current physique, it is ENTIRELY doable. And we do it every damn day.
So let’s look at some of the biggest rocks along the road to muscledom!
Um… uh… yeah… so um…
1) Get Stronger – This one is FREQUENTLY missed by would-be muscle seekers. Due to the influence of muscle magazines and the prevalence of anabolic steroids in bodybuilder culture, a lot of the advice out there is what we call “fucking awful” (forgive my scientific lingo). The higher rep, higher volume, pump up work-outs advocated in muscle magazines are, by all accounts, almost worthless… they just don’t work very well for most folks. Most folks need to develop a substantial base of strength before they can really put on appreciable mass. Focusing on increasing your numbers in the barbell lifts is KEY.
2) Eat a FUCK TON – Seriously. Most people have no idea how much they need to eat to support the body’s nutritional needs for muscle growth. Are you one of those skinny guys who claims you eat all the time, but just can’t seem to gain weight? Well, that may be your perspective, but I promise… you’re wrong. The rules of science still apply to you Skinny Vinnie. If the scale isn’t moving, EAT MORE FOOD. It’s not uncommon for males in their 20’s to have to eat as much as 3500 to 4500 calories per day to put on muscle (Yep, that’s a LOT. Strategies to come later in the list.)
3) Prepare to Put On (Some) Body Fat – Because putting on muscle is diametrically opposed to burning fat, the reality is you will have to put on at least a little body fat while putting on muscle. It is ESSENTIAL that you have a surplus of calories or your body will fundamentally not have the materials it needs to add mass. And if you are shredded at 7% body fat, you’re definitely not getting enough calories. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t want you getting sloppy here. There’s no reason to add more than 2 to 6 pounds per month as muscle can only grow so quickly. (Yes, I know that’s disappointing. I’m sorry the asshole supplement companies have lied to you.) BUT you will have to accept that your abs won’t be razor sharp as you pack on the beef.
4) Drink your calories – In order to get the amount of calories necessary, it’s helpful to do the OPPOSITE of traditional fat loss strategies. Drinking smoothies and shakes will be key – protein, oatmeal, flax seed, milk, fruit, peanut butter, yogurt, even honey. Since your body knows it’s full by volume and not by calories, this will allow you to get in more food without feeling totally nauseated by the amount you’re eating. Also make sure you’re consuming high calorie but healthful foods like nuts, dried fruit, avocados, coconut oil, etc.
5) Rest. A LOT – Your body has to be able to rest and recover from the gym. Rest and sleep are key here. Again, there are many schools of thought, but when putting on muscle, less tends to be more from a training perspective. 3 to 4 days a week of heavy resistance training and minimal cardio tend to be important for most “growth challenged” folks. Sleeping 8 to 9 hours and liberally napping is also key. Remember, you create the stimulus with the weight training, but the growth happens while you’re resting and sleeping and dreaming about being He-Man and fighting Skeletor don’t pretend like you don’t it’s ok we all do it seriously don’t be embarrassed.
He-Man is DEFINITELY juicin’
Masters of the Universe apparently take a lot of ‘roids
The painful reality is that we still don’t really know the exact physiological mechanism behind muscle gain. We’ve identified several factors correlated with muscle gain, and we’ve certainly found strategies that lead to success, but everyone is different. Hence, what works for one person may not work for another. That said, rest assured, by sticking to the above tips, you will be well on your way to filling out those shirt sleeves! Now let’s go do some fucking deadlifts.