Weight training is a complicated game. Probably over-complicated with the amount of absolute crap, lies, and the ridiculous levels some will go to just for a tad more growth. My advice is – forget all that and just focus on the basics.
In a nutshell, the basics are:
Lift, eat, and rest.
The type of exercises you do actually matter very little. What is important is how much they fatigue your muscles. For instance, if you collapse in a heap on the floor after a leg exercise which everyone else tells you is useless – then they are talking crap. It obviously works, so keep with it.
The secret is to continually add resistance (weight). As soon as you stop adding weight, the muscles stop growing.
To get big, you’ve got to eat big. My advice is to only start to bulk if you currently have a low level of body fat. The reason for this is, when you eventually cut, if you have a lot of body fat, it’s going to take months to get rid of it. All the while, you are going to slowly lose some muscle mass – it’s inevitable.
Not to mention the fact that, you’ll also put on additional fat whilst bulking, which only prolongs the cut.
So, assuming you are in pretty lean shape, and are ready to begin packing on muscle, here’s how it goes. You need to eat more calories than your body burns.
You need to take regular measurements with callipers to measure body fat, along with using tape measurements to gauge size increases. The idea is to take it slow, gain size without gaining fat. (It’s easy to get fat by overeating when weight training – I can’t emphasize this enough, you need to avoid this at all costs.)
I’d shoot for around 1lb of weight gain a week. This way, you’ll be sure to be putting on mostly muscle and minimizing fat.
A tip here is, there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. So, when training, if you eat 3,500 calories more in that particular week, much of it will be muscle, but some will be fat – and as muscle gains slow, the more of that 3,500 will become fat – so you’ll need to eat less and cut it more fine.)
Overall calories are important, but, a good balanced diet is really the driving force behind calorie totals. You need to eat a lot of protein (maybe 1 – 2g per lb of bodyweight) and eat carbs before and after training to load up on glycogen for ready energy. Don’t think you need to cut out fats, either. Eating dietary fats (saturated) helps to boost testosterone levels dramatically, and without testosterone, you won’t gain any muscle mass.
Try to split your diet up into a ratio of around 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% fat, or something similar, to get a good balance.
Not only is it critical that you get your 7 – 8 hours sleep a night, but, you need to take it easy when you aren’t training. Your body needs all the energy it can to grow, so the less physical activity you do, the better off you’ll be.
Plus, for example, if you did squats on Monday and did jogging on Tuesday, you’re only breaking down the leg muscles again meaning they won’t be able to recover for your next session. You’ve got to recover to grow, to lift heavier the next session. It’s a delicate cycle – don’t break it.