Gaining muscle is an incredibly worthwhile pursuit that takes time and energy. And it can take a LONG TIME if you aren’t going about it in the right way.
So, to simplify it, I like to think about it in this framework:
Eat enough food + Lift progressively heavier weights + Sleep + Time = GROWTH!
For the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on the EATING SIDE because this is where most guys I have trained are messing up when they come to me.
Problem: Most guys simply aren’t eating enough.
Solution: Eat enough.
Duh. But what is enough?
ENOUGH = the amount of food you need to eat to make the number on the scale go up two weeks in a row.
A lot of times, ENOUGH is often accompanied by feelings of fullness, nausea, distaste with food in general, and unhappy roommates who you share a bathroom with. (Buy an air freshener. Believe me on this one.)
For those of you who want a specific “enough," most men need 16-20x their bodyweight to increase their muscle mass when combined with progressive resistance training.
Example: For a 180lb male that would be ~2880 – 3600 calories PER DAY, EVERY DAY. (Some may even need to go up to 3800-4000, especially those with highly active jobs or very fast metabolisms – but this is less common.)
An additional stipulation that I like to make is that the calories come from whole food sources and emphasize protein. How much protein?
For now, define that as at least 1.25g/lb of your TARGET bodyweight.
Example: If you are 180 trying to get to 190, then eat 190 x 1.25 =237g of protein everyday. Easy. Well, only “easy” if you consider eating 2lbs of meat everyday “easy”…
At this point it is worth pointing out two things:
1. Notice that as you gain weight, you will need to increase the calories, as this equation adjusts.
2. You need to do the prescribed amount EVERY DAY for an extended period of time (>3 months)
So what does all of this look like in practice? During my bulk phase between April 20th and June 20th, I, every day, ate some variation of the following:
- 2lbs of lean meat
- 4- 8 cups of rice (I eat more on my lifting days, details later) or 3-5 potatoes
- Tons of veggies at every meal (slows digestion for more sustained release)
- 2 PB sandwiches (I put cinnamon and Truvia in mine. Totally delicious)
- 1 Gainer shake = 1 cup spinach + 2 scoops protein powder + 1-2TB PB + 1TB honey + 1 fruit (optional)+ pinch of salt (this makes a world of difference) + cup of crushed ice + 1 cup water
If you add this up, it is about 3200-3800 calories depending on the add-ons, which is precisely what I needed to be consistently eating everyday to gain that kind of muscle.
If you wanted to use this template, but decrease it to fit your needs, you could easily take out one PB sandwich or take out the shake in case you start and are putting on too much fat.
As a recap:
- Exercise stimulates your body’s muscular system/breaks it down and tells it it is going to need to ADAPT to this stimulus.
- But, nothing happens unless you FEED your body. Exercise turns on the factory. Food delivers the raw materials so the factory can build.
Between the first picture and second picture I did not change the way I trained at all. The ONLY thing I changed was what I ate, and more specifically, HOW MUCH I ATE.
I hope this closer look at my transformation and gets you that much closer to achieving a muscle-building transformation of your own. Don’t change your goal just because you haven’t gotten there yet.
Next week, we'll look at the training program you need to couple with your new eating regimen.
BodyForge’s website is currently undergoing its own before/after transformation. Check out the “after” in a couple weeks. In the meantime, Alex actively encourages anyone to reach out to him on Facebook regarding the BodyForge system.
Alex is the Founder of BodyForge Corp. - a web-based, custom-tailored nutrition and training system whose sole purpose is to deliver incredible physical transformations through deliberate lifestyle redesign. This system is the product of 9 years of meticulous experimentation and consistently proven methods. The science of human potential never halts, and as such, nor will BodyForge’s thoughtful evolution.
To see what happens when the right tools meet motivated individuals, check out Alex’s Instagram page. Be intrigued, be enlightened, then BeForged.