Vague advice is often the name of the bodybuilding game, and it sucks when you are a beginner trying to find out what you need to do in order to get big, when all you get in response to your question is: train and eat.
Train and eat? Heck, that’s vague but its not even complete… what about the third element: rest? (I’ve never heard any of these guys who give lame answers include rest, have you?)
In this article I’d like to delve a little deeper and give you actual useable information you can implement right away to get you on the path to gaining muscle mass the right way. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it’s enough to get you started.
You need to train with weights, as heavy as you can use for your entire sets and keep good form, but heavy enough to challenge you on the last few reps of the sets, particularly the last set. If you aren’t challenged by then, you are lifting too light.
A good idea for beginners is to look out for programs which are no more than 3 days out of the week (Usually Mon, Wed, and Fri). This gives plenty of time to rest and recover, and each session should be 1 hour in length at the maximum. If you find you are taking much longer, you either need to work out faster (less rests) or the program is simply too much.
Compound lifts should make up the bulk of any program, and should include: squats, dead lifts, bench press, bent over rows, and maybe upright rows and military presses. Compound lifts always pack on more muscle mass than any other lift because they involve several muscle groups at once, which means you don’t have to work them individually.
Diet is crucial to gaining mass. Boiled down (no pun intended) you need to eat more calories than you expend each and every day. It’s a universal law which cannot be broken.
If you don’t eat enough calories, you won’t grow – and if you eat too few, you’ll quickly lose size, no matter how hard you train.
Right, equally important to overall calories is what goes into these calories. Your diet is made up of protein, carbohydrates and fats, and each have their own important sub-functions such as muscle growth and repair, glycogen production, and testosterone production in addition to contributing to overall calorie totals.
Good bodybuilding diets are split up in such a way that overall calorie intake (just enough to grow muscle, but not enough to grow much fat) are divided into ratios of maybe 50% Protein, 25% Carbs and 25% Fats or something similar. That way, the body gets what it needs from these macronutrients as well as the overall calorie needs.
As for foods, whole foods are the best. Things like eggs, beef, milk, cheese, pasta, baked potato, fish, rice, etc. You really can’t go wrong with these kinds of foods, and maybe a whey protein supplement for good measure.
For optimal results, while training to gain mass, rest. It’s that simple. Forget cycling, running, jogging, basketball, football, soccer, rugby, swimming, etc. Those are good for you, but they’ll not help you gain any mass at all, and will in fact work against your muscle building efforts in two ways: they’ll burn calories you need to use for building muscle, and they’ll also stop your muscles from being able to recover, because you’ll break them down again.
Of course, the overall calorie intake each and every day should be comprised of protein, carbs and good fats.