Remember that forum post you read that told you all you have to do is eat big, lift big and get big? Maybe you already figured out for yourself that it was a bunch of baloney. That stuff only works for a few genetic freaks, which I’m betting, you’re not. So stop beating your head against the wall – you can’t force your muscles to grow.
Force-feeding yourself won’t build muscles – you just end up looking bloated and puffy. You need to learn how your body works, and work with it! That’s the way to get predictable and sustainable results from your muscle-building campaign.
Here are some pro tips to help you add that lean mass you want.
Pro Tip #1: Break big goals into small mini-goals
A lot of novice muscle-builders get an image in their mind of what they want to look like, and as time goes on, and they haven’t hit the mark yet, they get discouraged and either give up or start hopping from one method to another.
That “after” picture takes time to achieve and the changes are often so gradual that you can’t really see them from day to day. On top of that, muscle growth isn’t slow and steady – it comes in spurts. Some people think that as long as they stick with their program, working out for a few months, then cutting for a few months, they’ll achieve what they want. And some will. But do you have any idea how many opportunities they miss in the process, to speed things up considerably? A LOT!
You’re much better off setting some short term goals and deadlines. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to “bulk up”… that’s not a goal. Telling yourself you’re going to add 80 pounds of lean mass is a goal. But an even better goal is to break that into mini-goals of adding 10 pounds of lean muscle each month. That’s easier to deal with and shows you definite progress toward your main goal.
And by the way, don’t think for a minute that 10 pounds of muscle per month is impossible – it’s not. My 21-Day Mass-Building System will show you how to strategize your workout routines and diet to achieve it.
Pro Tip #2: More muscle gain with smaller training cycles
Just as you break your goals down into smaller goals, you should break your training cycles down into smaller cycles. The first few weeks of a new program will often yield great progress, but as your body gets accustomed to the program, progress slows and you finally plateau. The human body adjusts very quickly to a new environment, and that quick progress demonstrates that your body is responding to the change with growth.
There’s an old saying among muscle-builders: Almost everything works, but nothing works forever. In other words, don’t expect to make continuous progress with the same training program – sooner or later, you’ll plateau. You need to keep your body stimulated with new activities in order to see sustainable progress.
That doesn’t mean to keep changing things up all the time, though. That will just confuse your muscles, because they need to have time to adapt to new activity before the real results start kicking in. Ideally, you shouldn’t change until your progress begins to flatten, signaling a plateau.
In short, change is a good thing, but it needs to be planned and it needs to occur at the right time. Let each phase of your program deliver before changing up. This will usually happen in about three weeks, for most people.
Pro Tip #3: Calorie Cycling Delivers Maximum Muscle Growth
Bodybuilding competitors normally go through calorie cycling in order to gain lean muscle mass. They diet like crazy to get ripped for a competition, then afterwards, they cram to regain the lost weight, creating several pounds of new muscle in the process. That’s why they manage to get larger and leaner with every competition.
Where this becomes a problem is when they pay no attention to the nutritional aspects of their diet. You see, just like your body gets accustomed to the same exercise routine day after day, it can also get accustomed to the same nutritional intake over time.
Several research articles have been published on the topic of calorie cycling for fat loss. For instance, Forbes et all conducted a study with a group of adult females that converted from a standard maintenance diet to 21 days of 1200-1600 surplus calories per day. Their blood tests displayed a progressive increase of IGF-1, insulin and testosterone, the three most powerful anabolic hormones. But those gains were also accompanied by impressive gains of solid muscle mass.
Sure, they picked up a few pounds of fat, as well. But then, they weren’t working out at all, and they weren’t getting a lot of extra protein in their diet. Just think what kind of results they might have gotten if they had.
The bottom line is, your body will release more anabolic hormones when you greatly increase your caloric intake, which results in shifting those calories to muscle growth. This effect will last around two weeks before the body gets accustomed to the higher calorie content and muscle growth plateaus. That’s the time to back off the high intake and get primed for another phase of rapid growth.
This is short and sweet – great workouts won’t compensate for a lousy diet. If you want to train to build mass, you need to eat to build mass, too. That means boosting your caloric intake and getting plenty of healthy carbs like vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. The synergy this creates is what delivers the awesome results we all want.
Pro Tip #5: Shoot for Constant Progress
Don’t try to be perfect in your training – nobody is. You may backslide on your diet now and then or miss an occasional workout, but the world won’t end. If you berate yourself for it, you’ll just end up discouraged, possibly giving up.
Instead, focus on maintaining steady progress toward your goal. Dr. John Berardi said that there’s virtually no difference between sticking with a program 90% and 100%, and I’ve seen that to be very true in my fitness experience.
Having that 10% margin of error in your program allows you to forgive those slight deviations from your plan and keep making progress. In more than ten years in bodybuilding, believe me, I’ve given into my cravings for some junk food or skipped a workout now and then. But I’m able to keep moving toward my goals because I’m always at least 90% on track.
So my advice is to just stay focused on maintaining steady progress. Don’t beat yourself up over a couple of little stumbles. That’s the way you’ll be able to see your ultimate physique transformation and muscle building goals getting closer and closer.
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