In this Article I will discuss how I went from a pathetic 125 lbs to 255 lbs in about 2
years by focusing on four areas which I believe are necessary for building as much
muscle as possible; which are Lifting, Eating, Sleeping, and Supplementation.
In The beginning I Believe I was a hardgainer, I was a swimmer and had been swimming
for 15 years, on a swim team, burning calories left and right. My family as well is very
thin, my mom is around 120 lbs, and my dad maybe 125 and my height, grandparents
again fairly thin. So I could have seen that as Oh yeah most of my family is thin so I'm
going to be thin myself, but I decided to try anyway, hey it couldn't hurt anything. Many
times you hear talking about Genetics as an excuse or the limiting factor in their
bodybuilding, but rather than have it as a crutch I decided to just try my hardest do the
research and see how far I could get. I also had a high metabolism -being young ,
swimming morning and night, 10,000 yards a day or more, I was a hardgainer.
I believe making certain changes in my life I transformed my actions to put me on the
opposite side of the spectrum. I quit swimming, began to eat much more, and of the right
foods, and did the research to lift, eat and sleep, for the maximal lean mass I could gain.
Being where I was in central Virginia, there wasn't much of a Bodybuilding scene, or
a big lifting scene, there were actually no bodybuilders at my college. I started thinking
to myself "How am I going to do this by myself?" There was no scene for bodybuilding,
so I would have to do this on my own. In the toughest of times I have found I am the only
one that can help myself.
I had to have an extreme focus of what I had to do in the gym, and out of it, all distractions
were taken lightly. I ate alone, and you are usually forced to when your eating an extra
10 large meals per day. Consistency plays a huge role as well, you must be consistent
in doing all the right things to succeed, especially in bodybuilding. Just eating right one
day and incorrectly the next day won't help you gain. I always say Consistency is the key,
In eating, lifting, sleeping etc because what this does is gets the body to a point where it
has no choice but to add lean mass because you are overloading your system. An extreme
focus wasn't understood my most of my friends though, and as a result I lost friends, because
I was always in the gym, eating, or so forth. They said "this stuff you are doing is crazy,
Why do you do it?" The focus paid off and I believe is needed if you're going to make large
gains in the future.
I began lifting way too much , I would lift everyday and do the whole body day after day doing the same exercises, and not letting your muscles rest and rebuild themselves so that they can in fact cope with the extra weight your putting them under and grow.
After researching I started to realize that my body needed breaks and I needed to specialize more, where I started the program where I gained most of my size. I trained one body part per day, and let that body part rest for at least 3 days before pounding it again. I train 5-6 days per week. For instance now I do Chest and Triceps on Monday, Back on Tuesday, Legs on Wednesday, Chest or Calves on Thursday, Biceps on Friday, and Shoulders on Saturday. As you can see I split it up as much as possible I do this in order to kill each muscle group as much as I can. When you work your whole body in one day you won't be able to concentrate on each part as much as you would if you partitioned your body parts throughout the week.
I'm not going to explain any secret lifts that I had, or anything like that, because what helped me gain the most mass, and the backbone of my workouts, which multiple studies hold up are the importance of free weights, and the compound lifts. I will outline what lifts I did when I was making the most of my lean mass gains:
Monday: Bench Press, Close Grip Bench, Weighted Dips, Dumbbell Flys, Incline Bench
Tuesday: T-Bar Row, Chin Ups, Lat pull downs, Bent over Dumbbell Rows
Wednesday: Leg Extensions, Squat, Leg press, weighted Barbell Lunges, Leg curl
Thursday: Heavy Dumbbell Press, Incline Press, Flys, Weighted Dips,
Friday: Bicep Dumbbell Curls, Concentration Dumbbell Curls, Cable Curl, Barbell Curl
Saturday: Barbell Shoulder Press, Machine Press, Dumbbell Laterals, Shrugs
In the above listed lifts I perform around 3-4 sets per exercise, and build up to as much weight as I can perform, while keeping form for around 4-6 reps. 6-8 reps Is the best rep range studies have shown for building lean muscle mass.
My style of lifting for many of the free weight compound lifts, such as bench, squat, deadlift etc, is more so of a powerlifting style. Similar to Ronnie Coleman(an Inspiration to me) I do the 6-8 rep range when building up to my last set of an exercise, but on the last set I usually go all out, lifting to failure with heavy weight. Here is where I stood before my program and after it:
Bench: 440 lbs for a few reps
Squat: 700 lbs for a few reps
Leg Press: 2100 lbs for 8 reps
The lovely freshman 15, this refers to the 15 pounds that a freshman may gain in coming to college, I joke around sometimes and say I experienced the freshman 130. This extra weight usually comes because of a lack of sports which people perform more so in high school unless you're a more so top notch athlete, but also because of the cafeteria food which was "all you can eat". This was what spurred me into gaining mass in college.
Sophmore year of college I began upping my calories I had quite the high metabolism, but I had gained 40 lbs just that summer, after getting serious in the gym, and performing the lifts correctly. I found I had to continually up my calories, I was eating 6000 calories a day, I thought that was a whole lot; I gained a few more lbs. I upped it again after I hit a plateau, it was now up to 8000 calories, I was like "crap this is getting expensive" my money was going towards "clean foods" and high protein foods such as eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, yogurt, pasta, rice, lean beef, pork, beans, and lots of milk! I basically was on a diet I called the Massive Eating Diet which does sound kind of ironic, this just means I was taking in more calories than I needed but this meant I took in more calories than I burned, which allowed me to build lean mass, and quite fast as well. I remember I upped my calories up to 12,000 calories for a few months, during this period I made most of my gains, where I remember I would gain 10-12 lbs a month! Now when I say clean foods I just mean I stayed away from high saturated fatty foods, and empty carbs, as well as fast foods, sugars, candy, desserts, etc. Doing this I kept off a good amount of fat while I gained mass. I was actually happy that I could keep my body fat constant as well around 9-10% which was where I started at when I was 125 lbs.
*So as some general rules for me:
1. I ate around 800-1000 calories per meal
2. Made each meal high protein to get in around 400-450 grams of protein per day
3. Kept meals "clean"
Sleeping isn't too tough I made sure I got 8-10 hours of sleep. I know 10 seems a bit much but some people need more, some less, but a minimum is a safe number and one I followed. You build muscle when you sleep, not when you're in the gym, so this is when you're actually doing your growing. You also heal during this time as well, why do you think parents tell you to sleep when you're sick?
Since your body has no fuel, it has no food, or protein for 8 hours, it may start to breakdown muscle tissue to use as fuel, and this could be a problem. This can be counterproductive if you're trying to become a musclebeast that scares women and children (just kidding). One thing I would do would be to wake up in the middle of the night and actually have a small meal prepared, mostly a protein shake of Whey protein, some cottage cheese, and milk. This gave my body fuel for the night. Another thing people do if they don't want to be bothered with waking up is get some protein before they go to bed, I would get some milk and cottage cheese, which gave me Casein protein, which is a protein that digests more slowly than whey, which would last through the night rather than being quickly digested such as whey.
I did Supplement with a few products I didn't go crazy with tons of supplements, but I think the key is in there name, they SUPPLEMENT what you eat. They are not magic. I used and still use:
On 100% Whey Protein: This helped me the most by helping me to get in my daily protein needs
GNC L-Glutamine Powder: After becoming ill with a lymph node infection I took this to strengthen my immune system.
Flax Oil: To help me get extra healthy fats, such as Omega 3s, to fight effects of sat. Fats
Centrum Multivitamin: Helped me get all the vitamins and minerals I needed to keep growing
Did I use Steroids?
Me and my family were once having a family dinner, and after I ate I was leaving to go downstairs when my little brother said, "me and my friends at school, think your doing steroids" I laughed at him and jokingly said "all the time", later that night my dad comes down and being sly says "ya know um steroids are bad mkayyyyyyy"
I have never taken steroids, although I don't hate them, I have nothing against them, I just don't use them, I don't think I need to I am still young, my free testosterone in my blood stream is doing just fine. I supplement and am on the massive eating diet that is enough for me and has helped me get where I am without anabolics, but I say if you want to use them learn about them, do your research, then fine go on ahead!
I think something possibly more important than the physical gains that I made was how my mind changed, mostly in what was important in life. Before bodybuilding I beloved that schoolwork was everything, and I was a shy nerd, girls were a no no, I never even talked to them and If one smiled at me it would make my week!
After bodybuilding it was all different I was meeting people left and right I figured out that at least in my mind people were equal, some may be prettier, have more money, be bigger, thinner etc, but they are still people and I never thought I didn't deserve to talk to someone. I gained more confidence and I think I grew mentally which was more important I believe.