Top 5 Things You Need To Do To Gain Muscle
1) Eat Enough Calories
Calculate your maintenance level of calories with this calculator.
I recommend using the Mifflin-St Jeor Formula option as I find it is the most accurate of all of the formulas.
Start with a 300 surplus on top of your maintenance, and only increase your calories once your weight gain has plateaued for a full week.
At that point, add 100 calories to your total daily caloric allotment. Rinse and repeat.
If body fat starts to get out of control where your abs are completely disappearing, do a mini-cut for a couple weeks in a calorie deficit with additional cardio.
This will improve your insulin sensitivity and get you leaner, putting you in a more favourable position to jump back into your surplus and continue your lean gain.
Through this cyclical process, you can slowly pack on lean tissue with minimal fat gain, stay insulin sensitive, and have a lean muscular physique even during your off-season/”bulk” phase.
2) Incorporate Progressive Overload
While you do see a lot of pros in training videos online doing relatively light weight for their size, this is typically because they have already reached their desired size and are trying to bring up lagging body parts and remain uninjured.
You have to understand that a bodybuilder's source of income is their physique, so remaining injury free and maximizing their longevity in the sport is hugely important.
I guarantee during their rise to their pro cards though when the majority of their muscle was packed on, these guys were all trying to beat their strength numbers in the gym each week and continuously get stronger on each movement.
If you don’t try and get stronger, you won’t give your muscle a reason to adapt and grow.
Progressive overload is your ticket to giving your body the stimulus it needs to adapt and be forced to grow to accommodate that additional work load.
If this additional workload isn't exerted upon your body and you use the same weight for years on end, your progress will stagnate and plateau entirely at some point.
3) Be Smart With Your Macronutrient Allocation (type of calories you eat)
This is an entirely separate topic that won't be delved into in detail here but in general, be smart with your macronutrient allotment.
Just because you’re eating an allotment of 3300 calories per day to start your bulk (for example), this doesn’t mean that those calories can come from anywhere.
Ensure you are eating enough protein first of all.
1.5-2x body weight is what I find works best and anytime I’ve tried to get away with just a gram per pound body weight I had crappy results.
I'm not saying you need to do this, but anytime I've tried to follow the conventional approach of 1 gram per pound body weight, I've made horrible progress, and many times none at all.
Also, unless you have a crazy fast metabolism be sparing with your carbohydrate consumption.
The thing that typically stalls progress more than anything is eventually individuals have been pounding huge amounts of carbs for so long and have accrued too much body fat from overeating calories in general that they have a greatly diminished insulin sensitivity, and the result of that is an unfavourable ratio of weight gained.
The weight gained of muscle:fat per pound gained from that point on just gets sloppier and sloppier as insulin sensitivity gets worse and worse and that person accrues more and more body fat.
Use your carbs smart, as spiking your blood sugar and insulin severely with tons of carbs for no reason (e.g. on your off day when you are doing nothing aside from sitting on the couch) doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Allocate your carbs in greater quantities to when you need them (pre and post-workout) and be more sparing with them at times when you don’t need them at all.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have carbs at all if you aren’t lifting, but just be more sparing with them when they aren’t as necessary.
High carb days should be allocated to days when you are training big body parts like legs or back, as these are the workouts that will burn through the most stored glycogen.
4) Put Your Body In The Most Conducive Environment Possible For Building Muscle
Put your body in as anabolic as an environment as possible to accommodate new growth.
If you have a hormonal deficiency, get that addressed.
This is why I think most men over 35 should get their Testosterone levels checked as many guys totally sell themselves short by operating on a sub par level of physiological function by letting their natural hormones go into the gutter.
By putting yourself in as anabolic of an environment as possible I don’t mean go pound a bunch of SARMs, gear, GH, etc. you just need to understand that the more conducive of an environment your body is in for muscle growth, the greater your overall potential will be for gaining size.
To what extent you want to take that is your own personal choice.
5) Do This Consistently For Years Without Giant Breaks
This is the biggest pitfall.
Anybody can have a perfect day of dieting and training, and lots do, but it’s the guys who have perfect days for countless days in a row that always make the fastest progress.
I have seen far too often the inconsistent guys who actually look the same for almost a decade (I’ve been working out for 8 years and I still occasionally see some of the same guys I did when I was 17 and started working out and many of them look exactly the same).
If you have worked out at the same gym for a long time I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that despite many of the people being regular gym goers, a large percentage of them don’t make any progress even after years.
It boils down to them not being consistent enough in one of the areas I mentioned already, whether that be diet, training, or hormonal related.