Four “No Fail” Principles For Quick and Easy Weight Gain

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I got into weight training to gain mass and put on weight so believe me when I tell you…when it comes to wanting mass I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from. Because when I started training, I weighed 145 lbs soaking wet. Today, I’m a lean 210 lbs (at a height of 5’10″)!

Weight Gain Tips

4 Principles For Quick and Easy Weight Gain

I’ve got four “no fail” principles that I recommend to people who are trying to build muscle mass and gain some weight.

And I’ll tell you right up front – these principles are NOT rocket science…these are the basic things you SHOULD be doing if you want to gain mass, yet I see plenty of people only doing one or two of them and wondering why they can’t put on any mass!

Combining these four principles consistently will definitely get the job done!

1. Train heavy and to muscular failure

In order to gain muscle mass, you need to give your muscles a REASON to grow. Training with heavy weights (relatively speaking, of course – what’s heavy for one person may be light for another) to muscular failure is the stimulus that starts the process.

And by muscular failure, I mean the point where you physically can’t perform another rep WITH GOOD FORM – reps done with terrible form don’t count!

The best rep range to train for muscle growth, in my experience, is between 6 to 10 repetitions per set. Training in the range below that (1 to 5 reps) will primarily lead to strength gains rather than muscle gains.

Training in the higher rep ranges (for the most part, unless you’re using specialized high-rep techniques) will primarily work on muscular endurance with minimal effects on muscle mass.

Training to muscular failure is VERY important for muscle gain.

Muscles will not grow unless they are pushed beyond what they’re used to. Doing your sets only up to a certain number of reps and stopping on that number regardless of whether the muscle has been worked or not is a very common mistake made by both men and women alike. Counting reps and stopping on an arbitrary number will NOT work the muscles fully and will hamper weight gain.

So to train for optimum muscle gain, select a weight that will cause you to reach muscular failure in the 6 to 10 rep range.

2. Utilize basic exercises for most of your training

Dumbell tricep kick-backs will NOT help you gain weight. The Pec Deck will NOT help you gain weight. Leg extensions will NOT help you gain weight.

These exercises are not bad exercises; they’re just NOT the exercises that are going to give you the results you want. In fact, doing exercises like these at the expense of the basic exercises can actually detract from weight gain, especially if you have a hard time gaining weight. They will use up your valuable time and energy!

Basic exercises are the exercises that use the most muscle mass. They are the HARDEST exercises…the ones you either love or hate. This “make or break” challenge is what makes them the most productive for building muscle.

Basic exercises include:

  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • shoulder press
  • barbell curls
  • barbell bent-over rows
  • dips
  • chin-ups
  • lunges
  • calf raises.

This is not a comprehensive list but it will give you an idea of what a basic exercise is. Essentially, a basic exercise is an exercise that you can use a lot of weight on and that requires the most effort.

Use these basic exercises consistently for the majority of your sets and you WILL gain muscle.

3. Eat good quality nutrition in sufficient quantities.

Now that you’ve stimulated your muscles with hard, heavy training, it’s time to feed them. Gaining weight, a.k.a. building muscle, requires a caloric intake in excess of what it takes to maintain your current bodyweight.

Basically, you need to eat more.

The amount of calories you require to gain weight will vary greatly depending on several factors, primarily your current amount of muscle mass, your daily activity level and your metabolic rate.

The more muscle you already have and the more active you are, the more calories you’re going to need to eat in order to gain weight. If you are already thin, you probably have a fast metabolism (i.e. you lose weight quickly and gain it slowly), and you’re going to need to eat even MORE.

In order to keep your muscles supplied with nutrients, you’re going to need to eat frequently throughout the day. It’s best if you can manage to eat 5 or 6 meals over the course of the day. Naturally, these meals will be smaller than your regular meals if you currently eat 3 per day.

The idea is to keep feeding your muscles so that they always have nutrients available to grow. If you go without food for long periods of time, your body will turn on its own resources (e.g. your muscles) to provide needed nutrients for repair and recovery.

And whatever you do, if you want to gain weight, DO NOT skip breakfast! If you do, it will kill your metabolism for the rest of the day.

Besides sufficient caloric intake, protein is also critical for muscle gain. Protein is the structural nutrient that your muscles are made of. You must feed your body protein in order to help your muscles rebuild.

Good protein sources include fish, poultry, dairy, meats, soy, legumes (beans), eggs, and whey. A typical recommended protein intake for a person looking to gain muscle would be around 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, as a 136-pound person, this would have you eating 109 to 136 grams of protein per day.

Supplements can also be extremely useful for weight gain. Whey protein, creatine monohydrate, and the amino acid glutamine are among the most effective supplements.

And I’ll tell you right now, there’s no need to get crazy with your supplement purchases… manufacturers will often prey upon your strong desire to gain mass and try and sell you a TON of supplements you really don’t need.

Keep it simple and get your training and eating in order. THAT is what builds an impressive body – not a boatload of bizarre supplements.

So to sum it up: eat a lot, eat frequently and eat plenty of protein.

4. Get enough rest

Your muscles don’t grow while you’re training. Your muscles actually grow AFTER your training session is done. One of the best things you can do to help you reach your goal of gaining weight is to learn to relax. This is especially important both after a workout and at night.

Immediately following a workout, your body is in an emergency situation. You’ve just put a lot of stress on your body and your body needs time to recover from it.

If you immediately have to rush off to do errands or some other stressful chore, you’re not going to get optimal recovery and that means you’re not going to get optimal muscle growth. If you can manage it, try to schedule your workouts for when you have a little time to relax after. Heck, take a nap about an hour or so later if you can!

Getting some good, solid sleep at night is also very important. A large part of your growth process occurs at night. If you don’t get enough sleep or your sleep is restless, your body will not be able to take full advantage of the growth you’ve stimulated with your training.
Conclusion:

If you want to gain mass, you HAVE to do the basic things right…train hard with heavy, basic exercises, eat well and get plenty of rest. As I mentioned above, this ain’t rocket science, yet you’d be surprised at how many people miss more than one of these items!

Don’t stop yourself before you even get started – make sure you’re got these four “no fail” principles down pat!

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About the Author: Nick Nilsson has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been innovating new training techniques for more than 18 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding books including “Muscle Explosion! 28 Days To Maximum Mass”, “Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss,” “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of,” “Gluteus to the Maximus – Build a Bigger Butt NOW!” and “The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of”, all designed to maximize the results you get for the hard work you put into your training.

Be sure to grab your FREE copy of Nick’s 30-day “Dirty Little Secret Program for Building Muscle and Burning Fat FAST,”

Check out more articles related to these mass-building principles:

My Practical “Lazy Cook” Recipes For Building Muscle! So Easy Even a Caveman Can Make Them…

Training on the Edge – Learn How Overtraining on Purpose Can Get You Maximum Results FAST!

Rest-Pause Training

Eight Mistakes I’ve Made In My Training and How You Can Avoid Them

The Most Critical Lessons I Learned In My Very First Year of Training That Can Help YOU Maximize Muscle and Fat Loss

Holiday Challenge Press Release

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Fitness Challenge Debunks Holiday Weight Gain Myth – To disprove the myth that weight gain is inevitable during the holiday season, hundreds of Americans are signing up for a fitness challenge that tests their ability to become lean and fit between the end of November and the beginning of January.Holiday Fitness Body Transformation Challenge

** Press Release by Tom Venuto **

For the Holiday Challenge, a fitness contest that begins on Thanksgiving Day (November 24), participants can sign up at the Burn The Fat website where they can also track their exercise and nutrition regimens for 49 days. Those who slim down the most could win a Hawaiin vacation or other prizes.

The Holiday Challenge is the brainchild of fat loss expert Tom Venuto, author of the best-selling e-book Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle, and The Body Fat Solution (Avery/Penguin).

“Too many people buy into the news stories that say Americans will gain 5 to 10 pounds of body fat in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Venuto says. In reality, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average amount gained over the holidays is much more modest, just over one pound.

“So the idea that everyone is going to pack on several pounds is clearly a myth,” Venuto says. “But people believe that myth and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

To turn the conventional wisdom on its head, Venuto is challenging the thousands who follow his Burn The Fat blog to not just maintain their weight but to actually lose body fat during the holiday season.

“No one consciously sets a ‘goal’ to get in worse shape over the holidays,” Venuto says, “They do it by default. Mentally, people accept the idea that it’s impossible to stay in shape because of all the parties, the family get-togethers and the tempting food, so they say ‘Why bother?’”

Once people resign themselves to thinking that gaining fat is unavoidable they are actually setting a “negative goal,” Venuto says. And, he contends, the only way to counteract that unconscious negative decision is to create a conscious goal to do the opposite: to get in better shape over the holidays.

As an incentive to those who take part in the Holiday Challenge, Venuto will award two grand prizes of a five-day vacation in Maui to the overall winners in the men’s division and the women’s.

Because the Holiday Challenge is a body transformation contest — and not simply a weight-loss competition — participants will be judged on how much they improve their body composition (the amount of lean body mass and body fat percentage). Contestants will also be judged on the visual improvement in their bodies (as illustrated by their “before” and “after” pictures), and the inspirational essay they must submit during the contest. In addition to the overall winners, additional prizes, (including Ipads, IPods, Kindles, and gift certificates) will be awarded to winners in other categories such as “Most Ripped,” “Most Muscular” and “Most Inspirational.”

During the Holiday Challenge, contestants must enter their body fat measurements, workout details and food intake (even on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) using a daily journal at the Burn The Fat website

But participants will need to do more than simply follow contest rules. They will also have to challenge the excuses and rationalizations that cause many people to fall off the fitness wagon during December.

“One of the most common excuses is ‘I’m too busy to work out over the holidays,’” Venuto says. “But no one is too busy for their highest priorities. Your health and your body have to become your highest priority — because without your health, you can’t enjoy anything else in life, including your family or the holidays.”

And those who want to be successful in the Holiday Challenge must also break out of the “either/or” thinking that keeps many people from reaching their fitness goals. “People believe they can either get in shape or they can enjoy themselves — but not both,” Venuto says. “But the truth is you really can enjoy the holidays and get in better shape at the same time.”

“Life is not an “either/or” proposition,” he adds. “It’s a matter of balance. And challenging yourself to achieve that balance is a great way to start the New Year!”

For complete details and contest requirements for the Holiday Challenge click the link below

www.burnthefatholidychallenge.com

Diet Help: A Step by Step Analysis

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QUESTION:

I need some diet advice. I’m in a huge rut and I’m very depressed about it. I think I need to switch up the foods I eat becaue right now I stay around 180lbs and can’t get in the 170′s. I noticed you weigh about that, so can you give me at least one day of a total days food that you ate in one day.

(more…)

Holy Grail Body Transformation Review

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The Holy Grail Body Transformation Review

When I first grabbed my copy of The Holy Grail Body Transformation Program by Tom Venuto, I DID expect the best.  I have known Tom since I started by online fitness business several years ago.  With his original Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle, my nutrition knowledge was already top-notch.  The real reason I wanted to test out this body transformation program was simple.

I’m tired of the typical bulk and cut cycles that are preached on the Internet.  I’m tired of gaining fat in the off-season and having to work hard to burn it off and just hold pace during the rest of the year.  I also am a glutton for new challenges as I get bored easily.  The idea intrigued me on many levels.

Here’s your chance to read this review and figure out if Tom Venuto’s Holy Grail Body Transformation System is something for you.

What You Can Expect

Part one starts out with the theory and science.  While many people may want to breeze over this section, I guarantee you it is not overly scientific or boring.  You need to understand the physiological process of body transformation and how you gain muscle and burn fat.  The whole nutritional program is based upon your ability to manipulate your nutrition to achieve the results you desire.

“Should you decide to pursue the Holy Grail, you are about to embark on a challenging journey. ~ Tom Venuto

Part two gives you the nutritional techniques to make this into reality.  Nutrient timing and nutritional periodization are discussed.  Your choices for the cyclical nutrition plan is the absolute core of the Holy Grail Body Transformation Program.  If you don’t get this right, it’s the difference between making a little progress and significant.  Sounds complicated but it is not.

Part three covers the weight training aspect.  There’s a program called “The New Bodybuilding” or T.N.B. workout.  In a nutshell, it’s an upper and lower body routine, twice a week, with different rep ranges, sets and rest periods.  You will be focusing on strength training and muscle hypertrophy, twice a week.  I found this to be very unique for my style of training.  Being a typical bodybuilder, I focused on split routines and a single goal.  While I’ve mixed and matched rest periods, sets and weights, this upper and lower body concept was a breath of fresh air.  Granted, it’s not a new concept by any means and for many people, they have done this style but if you have never tried it before, it’s interesting.

  • Upper and Lower body workouts; twice a week
  • Focused strength and muscle growth priorities

While the workout is great, it’s limited.  You will find that after 3 cycles of this program, roughly 12 weeks, you want to change it up.  Maybe do something entirely different.  The exercises listed are top-notch but for those who workout at home or the gym does not have the correct setup, you will be forced to mix and match your own program.  That is not a problem for most but it is a limiting factor.

But before I forget, you can use the nutritional outline in this Holy Grail Body Transformation Program with any workout program.  While it appears to be optimized for the T.N.B. workout, there is no barriers to using this concept with any other weight training program.  Which is the ultimate in mix and match in my opinion.

The book would benefit from a plug and go type exercise chart showing sample exercises, reps, sets and rest periods.  For example, list several exercises for each body part and the user can pick and choose what to do.  This still allows the concept of the T.N.B. program to be completed but it would give much needed options for those who may not be able to do or have access to that piece of equipment.  It’s the only flaw I see in the workout section.

Part four talks about lifestyle factors that will and can effect your progress.

  • Sleep
  • Alcohol
  • Stress

Part five is a question and answer section.  After the first version which was done and completed during a Burn the Fat Inner Circle challenge, Tom Venuto took the hundreds of e-mails and put them into a Q&A format.  The latest version really drills down into things that are covered but maybe overlooked the first go around.  This turns out to be an immensely helpful chapter of the book.

In the appendix sections, you will find things like:

  • Sample meal plans
  • Calorie calculators
  • Burn the Fat 2.0 food database
  • The T.N.B. workout program

Please understand that if you aren’t versed in nutrition or just a beginner, this program may be a little too complex.  It does have sample meal plans but you don’t find an in depth coverage of nutrition for a lifestyle and the workouts assume you can handle yourself in the gym as far as knowing when and how to push yourself past limitations.  A person without 6 months of solid weight lifting experience would be best to stick with a more generalized program and not worry about body composition changes that are left to a more advanced athlete.

In summary, this is one of the most fun and nutritionally challenging programs I’ve tried in a decade.  I’ve seen my own body fat go from the lower end of average (14%) for a bodybuilder to a lean, 7.47% with a small amount of muscle gain, significant fat loss and gains in overall strength.  The Holy Grail Body Transformation Program bills itself as a body composition changer and if followed to the letter, it will do just that without making you feel starving for food or in such a low carbohydrate deficit you are walking around like a zombie with a constant low sugar, low carb headache.

Over the course of 8 weeks, I personally have received many questions about this program myself.  So I’ve developed my own question and answer section.  A big thanks to Scott, one of my Facebook friends for drilling down the questions so that I would have something very specific to discuss.

Question and Answer Section:

QUESTION:

What kind of diet do you go on, in terms of calories, protein, fat, and carb ratios?

ANSWER:

Your calorie calculation requires you to figure out how many calories a day you will need for weight gain, maintenance and weight loss.  You will use either the Harris-Benedict Formula or the Katch-Mcardle Formula.  Nothing out of the ordinary here.  The reason you will want to know all three is that depending on the cylindrical diet plan you choose, you will have different calorie targets.

This whole plan revolves around the concept of Zig-Zag nutrition.  That’s where you have a few days below maintenance, then you follow it up with a maintenance or above maintenance calorie day.  You might choose the plan called the 3:1 Cycle.

That’s 3 days of 15%-20% below maintenance and 1 day in a surplus or 15% above.  Or you might choose a 3 day of surplus and 3 days of a calorie deficit.  There’s a few options depending on what your primary goal is for your macrocycle.  Meaning…

Are you trying to primary build muscle and burn some fat, or burn fat as a priority but keep muscle or maybe.. do the unthinkable and get leaner while gaining muscle?  The nutrition portion of this plan will guide you through all 3 options very nicely.

Proteins, Fats and Carbs will be in the standard.. 45%, 35%, 20% .  Focus is on higher protein for muscle retention and satiety.  The lower carbs is very comfortable with emphasis on carb tappering and burning fat without sending you into low or zero carb mode where you feel like a zombie.  The fats are there to keep your intake in-line with recommendations.

Where it gets REAL INTERESTING is the carbohydrate tappering plans (carbs specifically around workouts) and post-workout nutrition.  Rather than just having a standard set meal plan, the focus is on lowered carbs overall (200g per day) with a focus on most of those carbs coming into play before and after the workout.  This allows you to have plenty of energy for that specific time when you need  it most.  Most plans don’t take this into account.  It makes it a bit more specific to your goals.

Being on a continued lower calorie plan is a good way to lose muscle.  Being in a surplus too long and you gain fat.  This 3:1 style along with the others is just easy enough to follow without making every single day a “new” meal plan and overly complicated.

Nutrition in the Holy Grail Body Transformation Program is a top priority.  Get this right and you are almost guaranteed some significant results.

QUESTION:

What does the T.N.B. workout consist of?  Heavyweights 8-10 reps, light weight 12-15 reps?

ANSWER:

T.N.B. workout is an upper body, lower body workout, done twice a week.  The focus is on strength and muscle growth and that is accomplished by variable sets, rep ranges and rest periods.  Loading periods are cycled so that each week, you aim to be personal bests.  Your ranges for strength will be in the 5-6 rep range and muscle growth in the typical 8-12 range.  Strength phases will use a 5×5 method which is quite good for raw strength gains.  Lower volume will be used for higher rep ranges.

Week 1: Introductory loading

Week 2:  Base loading

Week 3: Overloading

Week 4: Shock loading

Week 5: Begin new cycle

After 3 cycles of this, you’ll need to switch up the exercises.  It’s a very detailed program that covers what most bodybuilders want.  Strength with significant muscle growth.  And while it may not be new to some (upper and lower body routines) it creates a nice foundation in which you can build upon to further create your own workouts.  The only thing I’d wish for is some easier method to create these sticking to the principles outlined.  It’s far too easy to start adding new exercises to the original program and you’ll end up in the gym for 2 hours.

In the current form, you can do this routine in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

After the 3 use, Tom recommends either switch to a new program or continue to use the weekly workout schedule, set/rep parameters while changing some or all of the exercises.

QUESTION:

I work out at 3:45am everyday m-f and it drives me insane when everyone’s diet never takes in affect for people like me that workout first thing when they get up because tons of bodybuilders and trainer do that.  All the diets start out about eating breakfast, then a snack, etc then talk about working out at night. Some of us get up early and workout.

ANSWER:

Even if you do your weight workouts when you get up.. it’s IMPERATIVE to eat.  While cardio can be done on an empty stomach, weight training should not.  You need fuel for those workouts.  If you get up early, you should have some type of high protein, high carbohydrate breakfast and give yourself 30 minutes to digest the food.  You may need more time, maybe less.  Personally, I can eat a full meal and be ready to go in about 30 minutes.  But you need to be fueled for those workouts.

Many bodybuilders do workout early.  But if  you want to build muscle, you’ve got to fuel yourself.  Even the individuals I know who hit the gym at 5:00am still make time for a quick breakfast at 4:30am.  This breakfast can be as simple as raw uncooked oats, protein powder and an orange.  Plenty of carbs and protein for a weight training workout.

There is no benefit to weight training without adequate nutrition.  After being asleep and potentially catabolic with lower nitrogen levels, the last thing you want to do is induce more stress via weight training without proper pre-workout nutritional support.  Take the time for a short, quick breakfast to get some fuel into your system so you can attack the weights.  After that, support yourself with proper post-workout nutrition.

QUESTION:

Can you give like maybe a 2 day complete sample diet of what you eat on the meal to give some new ideas of what to eat. Right now I’m stuck on protein drinks, grilled chicken breast, green beans, and egg whites for pretty much my entire day.

ANSWER:

Oddly enough, the meal plans that come with the program are nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact, they actually matched my target calorie goals for both a deficit and surplus.  While it’s hard to believe, I have stuck with the defaults for two reasons:

  1. It makes life simple
  2. It makes like really simple

All joking aside, the one thing that had me pulling my hair out was the constant switching of high and low calorie days too often or different meals for every day.  While the variety was welcomed, it made it frustrating to grocery shop quickly and it made bulk cooking and planning an event not worth pursuing anymore after a couple of weeks.  This plan is not much more than eggs, chicken, fish, occasional beef, and vegetables.  It makes shopping a breeze.  It makes eating dull.

Now there’s options as the program comes with the standard Burn the Fat 2.0 food database.  Meaning, you have a list of foods in which you can substitute for any of the items.  Tired of Salmon?  Switch it for Tilapia.  Tired of turkey?  Switch it for Venison.

Bottom line, the plans comes with several sample meal plans for men and women, based upon some basic calorie goals.  There is a nice one that shows you the carb tappering method of nutrition that is discussed in detail.  Meaning, a fair amount of carbs before and after your training.  But not too much before and after.  Thus, you can keep a reasonably low carb plan but have plenty of energy specific for the workouts.  This is something missing in most meal plans today.  They hit macro-nutrient ratios and calories with a wide variety of foods but they don’t necessarily target those calories specific to a workout.  Just seeing the concept is enough for you to adjust any of the sample plans to whatever you might need.

Got a question?  Feel free to ask.  Tried this program?  Let others know your experience.

- marc david