Everybody wants to drop mass, I know, but there are a few people who need to pile it on. Either they are trying to break out of their prepubescent bodies or their genetics dictate a slender build.
Fitness nerds call them ectomorphs, but really haven’t we had enough name calling? We’re all gym rats at the end of the day.
If you are struggling to pack on mass but want to, you’re going to need to lift like a bodybuilder in a gaining phase for a little while at least. You’re gonna have to sleep and eat like one too.
To recover from your workouts, if you are lifting with enough intensity, you must sleep. This is a matter of quality and volume.
To get the best quality sleep, you want to keep stimulus as far from your cave as possible. Invest in blackout curtains. Make it so dark you have to add glow tape or low-light night lights to keep from banging your shins.
Move computers and other electronics out of the room. If you want to keep an eReader by your bed, that’s fine, but turn it off before nigh-night time. Some do very well with a little white noise, like a fan or a smartphone app that plays white noise.
Regarding sleep volume; think of your sleep is like a large stone wheel. Once you get it humming, it’s difficult to stop. Once it slows down, you have to put in the labor to get it spinning again.
Miss a few hours one night and suffer very little, but keep it up and the stone slows down. You can’t simply sleep those hours back in one shot, just like you can’t spin the wheel with one good push. It’s gonna take a couple days of effort in both cases.
Napping can help give your sleep stone little pushes. The key for your life is to understand how to move that stone for your best results.
Eat Food, food, and food
If I sound like a broken record (corrupt MP3 file for those born after the 70’s), then good.
Everything you do in the gym is great, but you are nearly wasting your time if you don’t make changes to your food. The big stones with mass gain relate to volume. In this case, by volume, we mean caloric volume.
A huge bag of popcorn will fill your stomach, but three burgers will do the same while feeding your body building blocks. For some people, eating food isn’t just a matter of saying, “Hey, say more.” I get that.
A few tricks…
- Midnight snack. Normally this is not recommended, but you need the calories. Set an alarm to wake in the middle of your sleep cycle. Eat a bar stashed by the bed or a shake stored in the fridge. Eat whatever you can.
- Consume liquid calories. For many of us, a protein shake means a low-guilt milkshake. They don’t fill us up like food but go down really easily.
- Increase Fat. Live your life with fat abandon. While others keep bacon and butter out of their nutrition, you can eat theirs. Fat simply has more calories than protein and carbohydrates.
Volumize Your Lifts
If your goal is to gain mass, but you are lifting like a powerlifter, resting for minutes between sets, forget it.
You’ve gotta stimulate your muscles to grow by telling your body what to do with those calories you ate. The best way to accomplish this is through volumized training.
This means nothing short of 14 repetition sets, up to 50 reps on the high end. Forget max-lifting, unless you are following up heavy lifts with super-super sets of less intense but similar exercises.
Supersets and the aforementioned super-supers are great ways to volumize your workouts.
Here are a few examples.
- Chest—Go from a straight bench, into a bodyweight push-up, then do dips until your shoulders blow up.
- Back—After you row something at about 60% of your maximum strength, drop the weight to 40-50% without resting. Then do it again.
- Legs—Hit a decent squat, then walk it out in lunges. Add in squat jumps to make sure you can’t walk out of the gym.
Rest Between Sets
Plain and simple, you’re getting too much rest between sets. If other gym members are asking to use your campsite after your set, you are sitting there too long.
Your plan for rest between lifts should be only when necessary, only when winded. If you were lifting for strength, it would be a different story.
This is why supersets pair so well with a volume goal. When super setting exercises, sometimes called “stacking,” you don’t really rest at between moves, but you can take a breather between stacks.
Do yourself a favor, don’t check your phone during your workout, even if you’re resting. If your face is in your phone, not only is your focus out of the gym, which is dangerous to you and those around, you’re resting too much.
Focus on the Negative
Sure, people who work out are traditionally thought of as more positive people. You can be, but when you workout, you’ll stick to the negative aspects of your lift.
The negative, in this case, the eccentric motion of your lift. The negative aspect of a bench press is lowering the bar to your chest. For the squat, it’s the downward movement.
It’s generally the movements toward the pull of gravity. Slowing down anywhere from a 3-10 count on your negative movements will not only increase your volume but your strength too.
Start with these five aspects of your program. Work them for 30-days, then measure your results. You can stay on these for 90-days before you’ll see you adaptations slow down.
Then it will be time consider other aspects of your program.