Gaining mass in a nutshell (a big nutshell)

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    Gaining mass in a nutshell (a big nutshell)


    After so many people asking for help gaining weight, I've decided to do a page, where all the information is found, so I don't have to keep writing this. Included in this are mass building exercises and such. O.K. here we go.

    The mass game is relatively easy, but there are tons of steps that have to be followed if you truly desire to gain size. Some people (endomorphs) can gain muscle from pushing around a lawn mower. If you're reading this, odds are you're not one of them. This means that if ANY of the following things are off, you will not gain the size you want to.

    1. Drinking water. Drinking water is essential to hydrate muscles. In fact, If you drink less than 1 gallon it is speculated that you are probably not getting the protein absorption that your body needs.

    2. Eating. Eating is essential to gaining weight. If you are not eating enough, you will not grow. Period. It takes 300-500 extra calories PER DAY to gain one pound of muscle per week. For simplicity's sake, lets say that 100 of those calories are then spent to maintain the muscle gain. You can see, you then don't have enough calories to gain another pound of muscle the following week, so you have to keep ramping your diet up. Many of us say "but we eat all the time". You do not. You did the same thing i used to do - 4 huge meals a day. 4 big meals does not a bodybuilder make. 5-6 small meals are what you need - you have to get your body used to always getting in nutrients. I now prefer to eat something every hour. Yes, something small, that keeps my body fueled, so I know i am doing everything right. Natural peanut butter (one tablespoon) or string cheese has 100 calories. So does adding one tablespoon of olive oil (EVOO) to a shake. Do any of those three times a day and you will grow for a couple weeks. Imagine doing that more often - like every hour.

    Figure out the calories you need to take in to maintain yourself. Then figure out where you want to be (10 lbs heavier). Plan your diet accordingly - eat for where you want to be, not where you are. This ties in with the 20g of protein OVER the 1g/pound rule.

    Breakfast is also the most important meal of the day. When I was having problems gaining, I thought two bowls of cereal were enough. Simply put, there's not enough protein in my two bowls of cereal for it to be a bodybuilders meal.

    3. Cholesterol. This goes along with eating. Cholesterol is proven to be required for gaining muscle. In fact, testosterone was first synthesized from cholesterol. The guy who did it won the Nobel Prize that year. I don't have the time to post everything, so here's a link if you'd like to read more. Don't forget to add those two eggs to your breakfast - your body will thank you for it. Cheese is also a good source for cholesterol.
    Manipulating Dietary Cholesterol for Optimum Muscle Growth by Dharkam

    4. Carbs after workout.
    When your body is completely exhausted from a nasty leg workout, what do we all do? Take in a protein shake. Post workout, and post workout only, you should spike your insulin levels to help drive that protein into your body. Add 50-100g (fast carbs) to your post workout shake and see the difference. The added benefit of course is the extra calories.

    In addition, you need to fuel your muscles BEFORE working out - 20g of protein + BCAA's (if protein is solid food) + slow digesting carbs will help make sure you do not get fatigued early. In fact, here's another link: Pre-Workout more important than Post Workout?

    5. Sodium / Potassium imbalance.
    I will preface this by saying I AM NOT a healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor if you think you're not getting enough of these two minerals. Are you tired all the time? You may have a sodium imbalance. If you take diuretics, you are probably on your way to having a potassium imbalance (hello heart rhythms). Electrolytes are the key to running your body properly. Sure water helps, but if you're lunch starts with the fries at McDonalds, your body is not running the way it should be. Any time your body does not run properly, you will not have the gains you should. Think of your body as a rosebush, lemon tree, marijuana plant, etc - the incorrect PH (alkali) balance, and there's no gains in terms of flowers.

    6. Multi-Vitamin. Yes, we always forget about it. But how can we grow if we're missing trace minerals. How many of us realize that zinc is the most commonly depleted mineral of athletes? That's where products like ZMA come in. I won't recommend my favorite vitamin (this is not an ad), just ask around in the forums for what people take.

    7. Protein. Protein is essential for gaining muscle. Yes, we all know this. Your body can absorb roughly 30-40g at a time. You guys still with me? You need one gram of protein per pound of body weight to grow. Still here? When you are on "gear" or "PH's" your body needs more than that since your body is growing at a rate it is not used to. That's why the pro's always tell you to take 1.5-2x the "one gram per pound" rule that we're all used to. You simply cannot absorb that kind of protein without being on something. If you're natural (which i assume you are if you're reading this for the first time), consume 20g of protein over the "one gram per pound" for optimal growth.

    8. Fats.
    Fats are what build muscle. Healthy fats that is, combined with protein of course. The rule of thumb (and there are exceptions) is: if fat is solid at room temperature, don't eat it. Healthy fats (monounsaturated) as found in avacados, nuts, fish, olive oil, canola oil are extremely important. Pretty much every other kind of fat you can avoid. Stay far away from transfat. In addition to many health problems, transfat has been shown to lower testosterone. Mono fats also help your body produce testosterone, so DO NOT cut them out. Ever.

    Transfat is hidden under ingredients as "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated". Under some FDA ruling, you can have 0.5g of transfat and list the amount as 0 grams. How many of us use just one serving? Read the ingredients!!!

    9. Sleep. I'll leave it at that. 7-8 hours is recommended.

    10. Bad stuff.
    Please don't say "I want to gain weight" if you're still drinking and smoking. When I was smoking, I literally could not gain weight, even doing 800 calories over my maintenance diet. Just don't do it. Cut out the bad stuff, drugs, etc out of your life if growing is your goal.

    11. Keep a Journal.
    If you do not keep a journal, how do we progress in weights? Do we do what feels good, or do we just leave the bar where it is? Every month, try to go for a new personal best - even if its adding those 2.5 plates on to your barbell bench. Thats 5 pounds added a month, or 60 pounds added a year. Its not embarassing to add a 2.5 plate. Its embarassing being the same size a year from now, when every one around you is getting bigger.

    12. Mass Gainer exercises.
    There's a few exercises that are "mass gainers", proven to stimulate the most muscle fibers of said target muscle group. Most of these are compound exercises (except barbell curls). Always START your workout with them, as you will be fresh, and able to do the most weight. I'll pick the most common workout - back/bi's. If this is you, Do one back mass builder, then the bicep mass builder. Do three or four sets of 10 reps. Then do the other set. Then start your routine. Mass builders are called such, not only because of the muscle fibers stimulated, but the sheer amount of weight you can do. No tricep workout will have you doing more weight than dips or close grip bench. Most won't even have you doing half. Start with these on the appropriate days, and make it happen. Also, so many people say "I don't want big legs, just a big upper body, so I don't work out legs." As you can see from the following exercises, legs in paticular, that its a big mistake. Also, squats are proven to add about 15-20% to your UPPER body mass, by virtue of the free flowing testosterone that squats release.

    back - pull ups
    back - deadlifts (increases free flowing testosterone by 15%)
    biceps - barbell curls (cheating)
    biceps - chin ups (weighted if needed)
    calves - donkey calf raises
    chest - barbell bench (increases free flowing testosterone by 8%)
    chest - dips (body forward, legs back)
    hamstrings - straight legged deadlifts (ask Kai Greene) - forces your hamstrings to act as the main stabilizer muscles.
    legs - squats (raises free flowing testosterone by 20%)
    legs - the sled (a.k.a. leg press)
    shoulders - military press
    shoulders - upright rows
    triceps - dips (weighted if needed, body upright, legs as straight as possible)
    triceps - close grip bench
    overall - overhead squat (best growth hormone booster)
    overall - clean and press

    13. stress. This is an Edit in reference to something I mentioned in a related thread. Stress will seriously mess with you. It can affect how often you eat, how much you eat, and completely unmotivate you in the gym. If something is bothering you, figure out how to fix it. Put a positive spin on your life - with me its "Well, my friend with type 1 diabetes doesn't complain much, what do I have to stress about?"

    If you're doing all these things already, and not gaining, try DC training - I'm not gonna mess with Dante.

    Special thanks to everyone on this forum - a lot of points are mentioned here that I personally would not have added (drinking alcohol), because I simply don't drink, and therefore think nobody else does. You guys helped inform me, and I'm compiling all the data into one place. If I missed anything, please let me know - will edit it accordingly. I can't stress this enough: YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST, AND MAKE THIS FORUM WHAT IT IS - THE TOOLS TO SUCCEED.

    p.s. stay tuned for my next thread - "5 easy steps to magic: The hard way"

    EDIT: in case anyone is wondering, i graduated HS at 134 lbs in 1994. i got down to 117 when i joined service the following year. in 2005 after dental surgery, i was 126. now, having gotten to 175 naturally, i feel this is a fairly complete answer to gaining before we try adding "muscle builders" to our system. If your diet is off, how can you possibly maintain your gains anyways?

    EDIT: Before and After pics are HERE i apologize in advance for the quality of the first pic.


    RE-EDIT : what worked for me :
    The Ectomorph Workout

  2. Teg
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    AWESOME Write up there sir! A great selfless act on your part for sure!

    Now to get mine ish figured out? *Scratchs Head*
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    Good read! bookmarked
    “We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
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    Great post. Appreciated, as I will begin bulking pretty shortly!!
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    glad its helping someone.
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    great thread,
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    Good stuff. Great guide, specially for begginers. Props to ya.
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    Thanks for the write up. I learned a couple of new things, knew some of the stuff, but what it did for me, aside from educate, was motivate. 2 weeks left on cutting and now I can't wait to bulk again. Thanks!!
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    Great thread, will be linking to this from a couple of other forums to say me th trouble of repeating myself
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    lol.
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    Should have held out a few more days and had this as the 1000'th Training forum thread
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    "8. Fats. Fats are what produces testosterone. Healthy fats that is. The rule of thumb (and there are exceptions) is: if its solid at room temperature, don't eat it."

    It's not totally true. Example peanuts and almonds are solid at room temperature and rich in healthy fats. Not a good advice to avoid them.
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    if you look at natural peanut butter, there is a layer of oil on top - a.k.a. not solid at room temperature = healthy. i was referring to the fats found on red meats, chicken, etc. (not fish though). also fyi, nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which are the fats mentioned to eat in this thread. will edit the thread though in case someone else is confused. thanks!




    seriously though, that was a really good catch. i can't believe i didn't mention nuts in my post. nuts are held together because of the other macronutrients in them, protein in specific. now that i've calmed down a bit - you seemed a bit offensive in your previous post (i did mention there were exceptions, please don't tell me "not good advice") read the main thread again and tell me what else i've missed. great catch on your part.

    EDIT: although i did not like the tone of the last post, i will rep ANYBODY that can contribute to make the main post better. remember, this post is for all of us, so all input is welcome, so long as the original post does not become a book. i think i forgot nuts because i eat peanut butter when i type. lets keep it simple, but without any omissions like nuts...
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    Quote Originally Posted by suncloud View Post
    EDIT: although i did not like the tone of the last post, i will rep ANYBODY that can contribute to make the main post better.
    sorry if you felt the tone bad, wasn't offence
    anyway good article, very helpful!
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    good post man i wish i read this when i first started liftin ...hopefully some other noob can get to it
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    A lot of people know the theory on mass gaining but when it comes to doing what you preach...well that is another story. I'm paranoid of carbs, that is something I'll need to change.
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    what are examples of fast acting carbs?slow acting carbs?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamgreat187 View Post
    what are examples of fast acting carbs?slow acting carbs?
    What is 'GI' and a List of Common Foods

    easy link courtesy of mullet.
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    thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by suncloud View Post
    glad its helping someone.
    whats the flavor of Peanut oil in a shake, or just raw?

    olive oil is plain too strong, i almost gag when i try to use it in a shake. Hoping to find a compatible source that tastes better
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    peanut oi is a bit lighter. might try that or almond oil. course if that doesn't work, another option is just put it on a salad and eat it that way. i have a problem with oil in my shakes too. what works for me is steak in canola oil, and chicken in olive oil (with some rosemary and garlic). doesn't matter how you take it in, just that you do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by suncloud View Post
    peanut oi is a bit lighter. might try that or almond oil. course if that doesn't work, another option is just put it on a salad and eat it that way. i have a problem with oil in my shakes too. what works for me is steak in canola oil, and chicken in olive oil (with some rosemary and garlic). doesn't matter how you take it in, just that you do.
    yea, it needs a bit of masking or mixing even in food lol. I almost want to do it just RAW to save time but, better i do it and enjoy food still lol. how much lighter are either almond and peanut oil from canola?since that one i havent tried yet but it seems much lighter than olive.
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    fat content is the same. the flavor is a bit easier to handle though. a slightly nutty flavor is sometimes easier than the bitterness of olives. i personally stick to dousing my food with either olive or canola, and doing natural peanut butter (which tastes so much better than that jiffy stuff). if you like cooking though, peanut oil is a staple of thai food.
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    Quote Originally Posted by suncloud View Post
    fat content is the same. the flavor is a bit easier to handle though. a slightly nutty flavor is sometimes easier than the bitterness of olives. i personally stick to dousing my food with either olive or canola, and doing natural peanut butter (which tastes so much better than that jiffy stuff). if you like cooking though, peanut oil is a staple of thai food.
    any common peanut allergy issues with it?

    im hoping to start DC soon, i just feel my stats are behind although ive been lifting 3 years now. would it seem i should pursue building before something advanced like DC? ive done (rippetoes SS, 5x5, and a little of P/rr/s)
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    this is an awesome write up..should be stickied
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    Quote Originally Posted by T H E O R E M View Post
    any common peanut allergy issues with it?
    not sure - never had allergies to anything except cats. SARS is all i got to watch for

    Quote Originally Posted by T H E O R E M View Post
    im hoping to start DC soon, i just feel my stats are behind although ive been lifting 3 years now. would it seem i should pursue building before something advanced like DC? ive done (rippetoes SS, 5x5, and a little of P/rr/s)
    if you've done the basics, and have lifted for 3 years, DC is probably the right choice for you. make sure you hang out in the DC forums, since DC is a little complicated - static hold, stretches, rest pause sets, etc. after 3 years of lifting, you should know what intensity is all about, and you will need it to gain ANYTHING from DC training.
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    This thread should be stickied. Seriously stickied.
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    thanks suncloud. Had some very good information, I wish i found it earlier.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T H E O R E M View Post
    whats the flavor of Peanut oil in a shake, or just raw?

    olive oil is plain too strong, i almost gag when i try to use it in a shake. Hoping to find a compatible source that tastes better

    Hey why don't you try coconut cream or milk ?
    The fats in coconut are predominantly medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are fatty acids that are more easily digested by the body than other fats. As such they provide an energy source for the body and are unlikely to be stored as fat.
    Furthermore, consumption of medium chain triglycerides has been shown to increase thermogenesis. Because of all this, MCTs are ideal for people who want to build muscle without getting fat, plus, they are a great tasting addition of healthy calories


    Baba, N. 1982. Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium-chain triglyceride. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 35:678

    Bach, A.C., et. al. 1989. Clinical and experimental effects of medium chain triglyceride based fat emulsions-a review. Clin. Nutr. 8:223

    Hill, J.O., et. al. 9. Thermogenesis in humans during overfeeding with medium-chain triglycerides. Metabolism 38:641

    Hasihim, S.A. and Tantibhedyangkul, P. 1987. Medium chain triglyceride in early life: effects on growth of adipose tissue. Lipids 22:429

    Geliebter, A. 1980. Overfeeding with a diet containing medium chain triglycerides impedes accumulation of body fat. Clinical Research 28:595A
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    excellent advice...the carbs after workout are a definite must. i actually throw them in the shake before and after.
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    where are these percentages of free flowing testosterone coming from?
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    fitness RX magazine somewhere between nov 07 and jan 08. they did a whole article about raising testosterone naturally. they sighted the studies in it, when i find the darned thing i'll PM them to you.
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    great thread thanks suncloud
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    Exclamation Question: Cardio during the bulking weeks?




    I have gained over 40 lbs (from 140 to 180) over the last few months from eating and lifting. I'm now in the 2nd week of my new 8 week program focused more on building my explosiveness, my goal is still to get over 200 lbs (I'm 6'1-6'2).

    I'm doing sprints 3 times a week (Tues, Thurs, Sat), I used to jog long distance for cardio which was stupid of me because I thought it would help me get ripped faster so now I'm simply doing sprints. My question is, should I be doing any cardio period if my main goal is to bulk right now? Or should I wait until I get this 8 week program over with?

    I just don't want to get fat which is really the main reason I'm even doing cardio.
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    well, if your main goal is bulking, cardio would not be my recommendation. simply put cardio will spend calories that you could instead be used to bulk.

    however, there was a study done that basically said that the exercise bike INCREASED the size of your legs, and it is cardio. maybe that would be a good alternative. its interesting you asked this question, because i would say cardio (running distances) would be terrible for bulking, but sprinting? i've never seen a sprinter with small legs, so i'm a little unsure here.

    i would say cut the cardio to a minimum while bulking, but if you feel you're getting a bit too fat, try sprints or the bike. maybe someone else would know the answer here better than me.
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    I would use cardio in a mass gaining phase of a program. People, lets face it. Most people when they say they want to gain mass they essentially want to throw on LBM and drop some fat. People say they want to be 240+ but in reality most people dont and simply dont have the patience to make it there and still be lean. I think sprints are great. Do they burn kcals? Absolutely. So eat more. Sprints will make you a more anaerobic athlete and also teach you how to be explosive. Obviously, dont over do it though if you are kicking your ass in the gym too, be reasonable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hbs6 View Post
    I would use cardio in a mass gaining phase of a program. People, lets face it. Most people when they say they want to gain mass they essentially want to throw on LBM and drop some fat. People say they want to be 240+ but in reality most people dont and simply dont have the patience to make it there and still be lean. I think sprints are great. Do they burn kcals? Absolutely. So eat more. Sprints will make you a more anaerobic athlete and also teach you how to be explosive. Obviously, dont over do it though if you are kicking your ass in the gym too, be reasonable.
    I agree, I really hate the thought of no cardio period because first of all, it makes me feel lazy if I'm not running at all even though I may be going heavy the weight room, and 2nd, I feel better and it makes my body way more active.

    I'm thinking 3 days a week, doing around 15 sets of 100 m dashes with like 15-30 second breaks in between? I'm sure after 5-6 sets (mayb less), I'll be needing to take longer breaks in-between but do you think its enough seeing how it'll only be about a 10-12 min cardio session.
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    I disagree. Insulin spike shouldnt be done just after workout....but rather through nutrition throughout the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by fast1 View Post
    excellent advice...the carbs after workout are a definite must. i actually throw them in the shake before and after.
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    spiking insulin is only recommended post workout. any other time, slow digesting carbs are key.
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