Gaining pure muscle sounds simple, but it is far easy. How many people do you know start working out at the gym, only to quit 2 weeks later when they become frustrated with their lack of progress? When it comes to packing on muscle, there are 4 important things that you need to focus on to increase muscle mass. If you are not focusing on these 4 things, you probably will not grow.
First and foremost, muscles need to be stimulated to grow by training near maximum intensity. Training at a high intensity physiologically forces the body adapt to the stress you have put on it. It is best to get the heaviest lifts done right after a thorough warm-up and should be taken near or to failure. The only way the body will stronger and more muscular is if you give it a reason to. Heavy sets near failure with composite movements will signal an anabolic response. To really let the testosterone flow you should be failing within 3-6 reps for 3-6 sets. Use exercises such as squats, dead lifts, bench press, rows and overhead press for best results.
Volume sets should also be included near the tail end of the workout. Remember, hypertrophy is directly proportional to the amount of blood that can be forced into the muscle. Isolate muscles that are lagging behind and force as much blood into them as possible. This is achieved by constant moderate tension over a long period of time, while performing the exercise at full range of motion. Obviously, the rep range is going to be a little higher to achieve the volume pump. 3-6 sets of 8-12 reps, even as high as 20 reps should get the job done. Increase the weight for more tension if you can perform more than 20 reps with proper form.
Intense training means nothing if the body is not fed the proper nutrients to recover. Perhaps the most difficult part of gaining muscle mass is eating the proper types and amounts of food. I am sure you have heard it a thousand times “you are what you eat”, and this is absolutely true. Keep that in mind the next time you stuff your face with that greasy cheeseburger.
So if you want to be lean and muscular it obviously a lot of protein is needed (1.2-1.5g per pound of body weight should enough for most people). But, no matter how much protein is ateen, muscle can not be built without a caloric surplus. Obviously in order to gain, more energy needs to be ateen than the body is burning. During a bulking phase, an extra 300-500 calories per day, every day, should result in steady weight gain of 1-2 pounds per week.
The final point is perhaps the most neglected for most people. You will not grow if you do not get enough sleep, plain and simple. Keep in mind that the majority of natural anabolic hormones are released during deep sleep. Sleep is when the body is repairing itself from most of the damage of the training session. If you are sleeping 5 hours or less per night, you will most likely never go to grow because the body is too stressed. Lifting too much and not sleeping enough will inevitably cause exercise burnout and / or over-training of the central nervous system. The magic number for most people based on average sleep cycles is actually 7 hours, not 8 like we have always been told. You might think that more sleep is better, but more than 9 hours does not seem to have any additional benefit for most people. Beyond 9 hours, studies have shown diminishing returns. So it looks like your parents were on to something when they were nagging not to over-sleep.
In review, the 4 things needed for weight gain.
1. Lift heavy with composite movements
2. Force blood into muscles with high volume sets with constant tension
3. Eat at a caloric surplus and eat plenty of protein
4. Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night.
Stay consistent and persistent and unduly you will see results!