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For those of you into health and fitness, what is the most proven bulking method for a relative beginner?
I am a fairly thin guy (5-9, 140 lbs), want to pack on some muscle mass. I've consulted with a trainer, a few friends and read several articles at places like bodybuildingforums, everyone has their own opinions and bragging about "do this" or "do that". Some recommend bulking/cutting, some recommend weight-incrementing microcycles, some say just stick to a very simple routine...it's almost funny.
I'd just like to gain 10 lbs or so of muscle. I'm going 3 days a week and eating a lot of protein. What have you guys done?
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I did Starting Strength then switched to Boring But Big after a year. I really recommend starting strength for beginners. It helped me develop the ethic required to build mass by going to the gym regularly, after which switching to a more size based routine was easy. Plus you build mass all over, particularly in hard to develop places like your back and legs. Nothing worse than chicken legs on a guy with 16" biceps.
If all else fails I hear steroids are pretty much legal in Thailand. Retire there and ride bicycles forever.
Be careful with those deadlifts though. I wrecked my back 6 months ago because I was in too much of a hurry to hit a new PR. Snap city is no fun.
How old are you?
Age will make a difference as well as genetics. However, you WILL be able to accomplish your goal of gaining 10 pounds if you are disciplined enough to stick with it. If you are past 30 years old, I'd recommend you get a complete blood panel run to see how you are doing...including a complete hormone panel. You won't gain muscle if testosterone levels are too low...
Do you have any injuries that you'd need to work around? I have many injuries that I earned through construction and other hard labor work during my childhood. I have spinal problems as well as hip, knee and shoulder problems. I have had to work around those the entire time. I would have been able to get bigger and stronger without those injuries, but even with them...I was able to put on a good solid 80 lbs of pure muscle over 10 years time .
Not all personal trainers know all that much so I'd recommend doing your own research online instead of spending all your $$ on trainers. There is not only one program that will work for you. Spend your money on the right kinds of food, protein supplements, etc..
What is your budget for gaining those 10 pounds?
How fast do you expect to gain that muscle weight?
Have you not spent any time weight training before?
You are going to want put together a program that takes 45-60 minutes MAX to complete. You will not be taking excessive breaks, but focusing on hitting the weights hard, no BSing and then get out within the right amount of time. I lift 4 days per week, but 3 will work too. Figure out a program that you WILL stick with.
I was 119 pounds a 6'1" at 21 years of age. I am now 210 pounds with a BF of around 15%. My goal is to be around 200 pounds at 8%. I've been 195lbs at 8%, but that was 5 years ago. I went through some rough times over the past few years and didn't lift/eat like I should. Stress took it's toll on me too. However, once you are determined and motivated, you can turn things around.
There are supplements that can help you gain muscle without gaining fat. Avoid those "Mass Gainers" as those are crap IMO. You say you are already lean so that should make slow and steady muscle gain quite rewarding and noticeable.
Beginner level should be very basic and simple. You should focus on compound movements that work many muscles at once. Get a good base and THEN focus on single muscles.
Well, I don't know... a guy with bodybuilder-size thighs and chicken arms may just be even more ridiculous! lol
I would recommend a classic push/legs/pull routine:
Mon: chest, shoulders, triceps
Weds: quads, hamstrings, calves
Friday: back, biceps
^^^That classic routine actually works very well. Just focus on the compound movements in the routine (switched to BOLD) and use the single muscle exercises as a "finisher". Hold off on those until the end of your workout. They are often getting worked out pretty well when doing your compound movements anyway. For instance, you will feel you shoulders and tris getting worked in a bench press. Every muscle in your body will be worked with a deadlift (be careful with those as House said). You can put A LOT of muscle weight on big muscles such as the back and quads/hams...
SS with accessories is enough to keep your arm size growing in proportion. I added 3x10 face pulls, 3x10 cable curls (I switched from EZ curls to cable curls due to back issues), 3x10 tricep extensions, and 3-5x10 pull ups every other workout to keep my arms growing in step, with two of the four mentioned exercises on each workout M/W/F. Put on 15 pounds of LBM in 1 year, but also put on 10 pounds of fat due to eating like shit (was finishing up my undergrad).
And no matter what they tell you, please do some cardio on your off days. It may hurt your gains a bit, but your heart will thank you.
I used to talk like House. Deadlifts made me walk like House.
If you're a novice and fairly young you should see good results from most any program you stick with.
Let me report some interesting results over the last few weeks, though, from the other end of the spectrum -- 63 years old, undoubtedly low testosterone, and not having made any progress with the weights for over three decades, despite lifting regularly.
Motivated by an ebook titled Squat Every Day, a few weeks ago I started lifting every day, the heaviest weights I could handle for 1-3 reps. I was just trying to move the weights a little, even if it was only through about a 4-inch range of motion. After about five days I concluded that my skeleton wouldn't stand up for long under the stress, but it didn't escape my attention that I was getting significantly stronger every day.
So I switched to a 3-day a week routine with mostly standard ten-set reps, but a set of the one-rep max also. I was able to use 30-40 more pounds for the 10-rep sets, and the max keeps getting higher.
The results: In about three weeks of doing this I've gained seven pounds, though my waist size has gone down an inch and a half (and remember, I'm 63). Yesterday I bested my PR on the bench, which was set in 1983 (though this time it was on a Smith rack, or whatever those things are called that contain and control the trajectory of the weight, so maybe it doesn't really count).
So, I find all this to be terribly interesting, and motivating. If you hit a plateau, you might try for a while handling the heaviest weights you can through a short range of motion and low reps.
GOMAD worked for me (gallon of milk a day) but I wouldn't suggest it if you are lactose intolerant. That combined with squats, deadlifts and benchpress helped me to go from 5'9" 135 to about 5'9" 170. I did it for about 2 1/2 years consistently. I have since stopped and shrunk to about 165. I can't do it again as I am lactose intolerant now (wasn't at first).
The above also included eating meals regularly every day. That's not usually mentioned as it's common sense for most. It's very easy for ectomorphs to go without eating. Get that area nailed down as well. Keep your 'fridge stocked. Get plenty of sleep.
I'm a 32yo, been lifting on/off for 2 years. Had nothing 2 years ago, got some muscles going particularly on the arms and shoulders. I've been doing microcycles the past 2.5 months (incrementing by 10 lbs each week) with a back/bicep day, chest/tricep day and shoulder/legs day. I think I've gain 1-2 lbs of muscle, not really impressed but I am learning to work through the sets faster (60sec rests) while emphasizing form. I've also started a mass gainer supplement and have been eating a little more than usual.
Is your goal to look lean so you can see your ab muscles or is your goal go gain size on the muscle you already have?
Both will require a lot of focus on nutrition as that will be the determining factor in your results.
You need to find out what your BMR aka basal metabolic rate for your weight and fat percent if you happen to know what that is, I'm going to provide a few links to help you with your goals
I will state this at the start of your fitness journey, if your not ready to learn, you wont get the results you want, fittness is just as much about learning as it is "lifting weight" or "eating healthy"
First link is a easyish way to find out what your BMR is
now, to cut down fat, you'll be able to achieve this 2 ways, you can eat your maintenance calories and get your caloric deficit from exercise alone, this method spares as much muscle as possible while keeping you from destroying muscle mass, the second method is to subtract 500 calories from BMR calories and work out, resulting even more weight loss but you may lose some muscle with this process, but always maintain a good work out regiment.
If you want to gain weight, take your BMR and add 200 calories to it and slowly gain muscle, with muscle gain comes a small amount of fat gain, if your good at managing what you eat you can get away with smaller surpluses to gain good muscle weight, if your not good, you might want to go the full 500 calories extra.
People with throw out all kinds of macro nutrition splits at you, but in the end your body type age and activity level will change what you need to eat.
If you'd like any more help pm me.
A lot of this is probably complex or new to you, but trust me, I went from 300 lbs to looking like a model with a 6 pack.
I highly recommend you don't overuse that Mass Gainer. I would restrict it's use to only AFTER a brutal workout in the gym. If you use it more than that, you are likely going to gain fat and water weight. You might feel you are getting somewhere due to weight gain, but you'll look and feel worse. When I was new to lifting, supplementation, nutrition, etc., I made the same mistake. I did the Mass Gainer, the Gallon of WHOLE MILK per day, etc.. I gained some serious weight, but I looked and felt terrible. It came to an end when I had serious stomach issues due to all of that whole milk. I actually became lactose intolerant from drinking too much of it.
When you feel skinny and want to gain muscle it's easy to go overboard and do crazy (and sometimes harmful) things in order to gain it. I recommend taking it slow and focusing on quality over quantity. Fat loss can happen MUCH faster than muscle gain. You can gain 10 lbs of muscle in 6 months, but it might take you 9 or 12 to solidify 10lbs of pure muscle. If that is all you want to gain, then taking a year to do it is not a bad goal at all. No reason to rush it, enjoy the small gains all along the way instead of bulking up with fat/water and looking/feeling like crap most of the time...lol.
After a good 3 or so months of serious weight training and diet, I could recommend a few supplements that have worked well for me. However, I'd rather you get used to training/diet without them first as then you will appreciate the sudden burst through plateaus.
I'm a big fan of Scooby's calculator. Generates daily calorie amounts that match your fitness goals and activity level.
The tried and tested method for beginners is to do a whole-body routine consisting of the major compound lifts three times a week. When you plateau on that you split your routine and add isolation lifts. If you want to be lean and muscular you would eat a high protein, low calorie diet. If you want to bulk up you would eat a high protein, high calorie diet. Remember to eat a lot of quality animal fats with your protein.
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