How to for the skinny guy: gain-muscle-mass

Okay, I've never been "skinny". However, with the goal to gain-muscle-mass to compete in the NPC, everyone is "skinny" in the world of competitive bodybuildin where mass rules. So, my point is, I understand the need, want, and obsession involved in gaining-weight...and having zero patients while it is happening.

My first year of college (freshman undergraduate) I gained23 pounds. Lots of this was shoveling bland food in all kinds of dining halls until I felt nausious. Now, I do believe in the meathead dogma that you must train the stomach too expand and "mildly" force feed in order to really gain mass. The reason for this is that the body loves homeostasis (static, narrow ranges of everything from hormoone levels to food, to temperature, to bodycomposition).

Only the last ten pounds I gained were with Still, if you are skinny, you are not going to get around one simple fact:

1. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO EAT!!!!!!!!! AND THEN EAT MORE!!!! Rule number 1: You are going to have to eat a ton! The main reason I decided to move on from competitive bodybuilding was that at 232lbs off-season at 5'8, I was often out of breath when sprinting with my dog (if I still even sprinted) or running up stairs (sometimes even walking up stairs). Although I loved the sport of bodybuilding (still do), I was not willing to constantly stuff my stomach and continuously use insulin to eat more to gain-muscle-mass, etc. I commend those who are able to do it, I just hope you/they take precautions of some sort to maintain health.

Sidenote/Precaution: many drugs affect electrolyte balance, cell conductance, and interfere with oxygenation via the efficiency of the lungs. The good thing for muscle-mass gain is, many of these bodybuilding drugs make us more fast-twitch-glycolytic, and less slow-twitch oxidative. Many of these drugs help us to store more muscle glycogen (we pump easily and stay "swole"), upregulate glycolytic (glycogen/glucose splitting or "lysing") enzymes...this allows for more powerful muscle contractions which allows us to lift heavier weights, combined with food and recovery allowing us to gain-muscle-mass.

The point is, before I get off track, many growth drugs increase our ability to conract forcefully, but not repetitively. You will never have great aerobic capacity if you become a monster. Understand that a human heart really is about the size of your fist. Monstrous muscle mass requires monstrous blood supply. This job is a definite increased demand on the heart-even at rest. That being said, sorry for the softie medical side coming out...lets talk about how to get this problem if you are a die hard mass freak.

We have three things to master to get REALLY BIG and gain-muscle-mass.

1. Unique, genetic-specific drug regimens(you will only find this by experimentation and trial and error)

2. Lots of heavy lifting-"progessive overload"

3. Lots of eating!! "caloric surplus"-eating more than your maintenance level...constantly. Day in and day out.

Diet Outline-eat-to-gain-muscle-mass

Basic stuff you can find on many sites and in many good bodybuilding and weight training exercise books can be found everywhere these days - try amazon or barnes and noble but all you really need to know is this:


  1. Bodyweight in pounds divided by 2.2 = bodyweight in kilograms

   2. Bodyweight in kilograms (kgs) x 24 = bodyweight in kg x   hours/day(24)

Take this number and multiply by 1.1 = this gives the extra 10% of metabolic boost that you get by the act of eating alone. This is often called the "specific-dynamic-action" of food and accounts for an additional 10% of your "Basal-Metabolic-Rate" calculated in steps 1 and 2 above.

So we have BW in kgs x 24 hrs/day x 1.1 = Basal Metabolic Rate.

This is the amount of calories (theoretically) that it takes to sustain your tissues - brain, muscle, fat, organs, etc. if you did nothing but lay in a machine called a "Bomb Calorimeter" for a full 24 hours. Obviously not very practical but they do actually do these things in some dietetic labs around the world (see why I chose "sports nutrition" and not "clinical nutrition"?!).

In any event, every PRACTICAL text or underground book I have ever read since I was thirteen says to add 500 calories to this number for relative activity needs. This is obviously a gross guesstimate because if you are a 165lbs ex college wrestler who now sits in a cubicle while you work it is vastly different than if you happen to be - say 6'4", 235lbs, and work in construction. So you get the point.

Either way, add the 500 calories - this formula tends to overestimate basal needs anyway.

For our purposes we have this:

BW (in kilograms) x 24 (hrs/day) x 1.1 = _ _ _ _. As a ballpark hint almost everyone should have a four digit number for their "working maintenance caloric level" - that is - the day to day calorie quantity that will keep you exactly as you are - muscle/bodyfat and all.

Lets take me for example: BW = 220lbs - divid by 2.2 to get kilograms = 100 kgs (STEP 1) Multiply this by 24 (hrs/day) = 2400 calories (STEP 2) Multiply this by 1.1 (Specific Dynamic Action of Food) = 2640 Add in the general guesstimate 500 "activity" calories = 3140 The formula is giving a rough estimate of 3140 for my maintenance caloric level.

From here I need to adjust up or down by 300-500 calories (depending on my muscle mass and or leanness and or my knowledge of my distinct metabolism...and effect of AAS or other drugs being used).

For caloric percentages from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, all you have to do is multiply by 4 calories/gram for protein and carbs, and 9 calories per gram for fat. So if you were going to eat five times throughout the day you would divided 3140 by 5 and get = 628 Calories per meal eaten over five courses would be a good maintenance estimate. If after two weeks+ I am the same weight and same body-composition I know I have found my true maintenance level of calories.

So if we wanted to get cut using this example, we would start at either burning an extra 300-500 calories per day or subtracting the 300-500 calories from the maintenance number. Since we are talking gaining weight we must add 300-500 calories per day to the maintenance number giving us 3440-3640 Calories per day. Divide this by the five meals per day we plan to spread our food and we have 3440/5 = 688 and 3640/5 = 728 calories. So to gain weight using this example we start at a low end of 3440 calories consumed per day and as high as 3640 calories per day (say for faster metabolisms or those who are very lean with lots of muscle mass - ex. post competition).

This is just an example and there are many ways to do this. For the lesser seasoned guys this is a good basic way to start to 'have a clue' regarding finding your starting place. You will need it whether your current goal is to bulk or to cut up.

Workout Outline-gain-muscle-mass

Many sources are available that provide excellent guidance for gaining muscle and strength at the time of this writing (July, 2012). The following is meant as a very general guide for lesser experienced individuals and is in no way an end all be all method. Many techniques work but the general principles are the same:

1. Get strong on all basic lifts - if you can't bench your own   bodyweight 10 times, you don't need flyes, plyos,   etc. 2. Dips, pullups, heavy but strict presses of all sorts - for   lit routines in general are over glamorized. Most guys need nothing more than a basic A/B split over four days in a basic four day split routine that looks something like this:

Monday/Thursday - Chest and Back Tuesday/Friday - Legs/Shoulders/Arms

3 sets x 6-12 on most compound exercises (bench presses, shoulder presses, rows, pull-downs, pullovers, dips, squats etc.)

2-3 sets x 8-15 reps on single joint exercises (curls, push-downs, leg extension, leg curls, etc.)

  Send the message, stimulate don't annihilate, and go home and eat so you can recover and grow. Its all about basic heavy progressive lifting that places overload on the muscles, joints, and bones along with plenty of surplus food and a diligent use of applied anabolic drugs that will build superhuman physical structure into your frame. Do it right and most guys will not need more than about a gram per week total of anabolic steroids to grow to their "RECREATIONAL PHYSIQUE GOALS" in size and strength. Of course elite level professional athletes in strength and power sports and upper amateur echelon bodybuilding are a completely different animal - but you already knew that.