Putting on 15 pounds of muscle in just three months isn’t all that unrealistic, though at the same time, this is a goal that many make for themselves yet fail to achieve.
Chief Obstacles To Packing On 15 Pounds Of Lean Mass In Only 90 Days:
- Performing the wrong exercises
- Not using heavy enough weight
- No or minimal progressive overload
- Not eating enough
- Not eating at the right times
Proven Formula For Packing On Muscle In A Relatively Short Span Of Time:
- Major emphasis on compound exercises
- Using maximal weight loads for 8-12 repetitions
- Increasing daily food intake
- Eating 5-6 meals a day at specific times
As easy as this formula sounds, it goes unheeded by many trainees aspiring to put on muscle fast. There are additional methods for quick hypertrophy, which will be covered later in this article. It’s important to first cover the most common mistakes and the most effective strategies.
Mass Building Exercises
Many new trainees and even those who’ve been visiting the gym for a long time and still haven’t gained much muscle, believe that the secret to gaining mass is to exhaust themselves with weights; type of exercise doesn’t really matter.
So what happens is that a man will spend literally 45 minutes just on biceps curls, hitting the biceps from every kind of angle, using dumbbells, barbells and pulley systems. After 45 minutes, his biceps are killing him… but after three months, they’re not much bigger.
He sees a man with biceps three times his size doing the same exercises and wonders what’s going on. The second man indeed does isolation routines to refine the peak of his biceps, but he doesn’t spend too much time with this isolation routine because he’s busier performing the mass building compound moves.
A compound exercise works several joints, and therefore several muscle groups, simultaneously. An isolation move like biceps curls and leg extensions works only one joint at a time, and hence, one muscle group.
Isolation work is fine for additional shaping of muscles and bringing them out more, but the answer for solid muscle volume gain is in a regimen that’s concentrated on compound exercises, namely:
- Barbell Squat
- Leg Press
- Bench Press
- Incline Press
- Lat Pull-Down
- Bent-over dumbbell row
These exercises are the basics, though there are other compound moves such as chin-ups and T-bar rows that are valuable for gaining muscle. In order to put on muscle fast, one must lift as much weight as possible.
This doesn’t mean stretching out training sessions to two hours, or training every day. It means time under tension, and volume: moving the greatest loads within 45-60 minutes, no longer.
Longer than that is not necessary, as exhausted muscles won’t work efficiently. Plus, the psychology of knowing a training session will be two hours can backfire, in that a person may subconsciously hold back on effort to “preserve” strength for the second hour; or, he may hold back simply because facing a two hour workout can be dreadful.
Amount Of Weight Lifted
The trainee should lift as heavy a load as possible for 8-12 repetitions. This means that a ninth to thirteenth rep cannot be completed.
Failure training guarantees that the volume inside a muscle cell will grow, to accommodate the exertion; the result is a bigger muscle cell (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) because the “machinery” such as capillaries within the cell has increased in number and density.
The best way to lift as heavy as possible is to do compound exercises. Which exercise can you lift a heavier barbell with? A biceps curl? Or a deadlift? Which routine can you lift more with? A leg extension, or a leg press? More weight lifted = more mass gained to accommodate the load.
The goal should be to lift as much weight as possible—with proper form—for 8-12 reps. The proof of this is everywhere. Next time you see a man performing a leg press with a humongous amount of weight, note the size of his legs. Every man with a massive chest and shoulders can bench press a lot of weight.
Every woman who can squat a significant weight load does not have the legs of a distance runner. A woman who looks like a fashion model cannot bench press 150 pounds.
There is a direct relationship between strength and muscle size (though it’s important to note that maximal overall body strength is achieved with power lifting protocols, which do not generate the greatest hypertrophy).
The trainee must continually strive to lift as much as he or she can within that 8-12 rep max.
If one can do a thirteenth rep, it’s time to add weight, even if it’s just a two and a half pound plate on either side of a barbell.
Do not wait till you can do 14 reps to increase the poundage. In fact, one school of thought sets the rep max at 8-10.
Don’t go overboard with progressive resistance in that you find yourself doing 5-7 rep maxes. This is more like power lifting, and though you’ll get very strong, there will be a sacrifice in some hypertrophy.
This is because shorter reps don’t fatigue the muscle cells as much as do longer sets (8-12 RM), and thus, there won’t be as much of an increase in the cells’ machinery that handles fatigue.
Less machinery = smaller increases in volume = less hypertrophy = less lean mass gain.
What To Eat?
It’s common for a skinny guy to take up muscle building without making a conscious effort to eat more. It’s a myth that every skinny person already eats a ton. This is false. Some people have small appetites, and as a result, are on the thin side.
Another point to consider is that many “skinny” people are thin because they have very low muscle volume. Their body fat percentage can actually be a lot higher than a bigger, heavier person who has much more muscle mass.
For “skinny” or even medium-framed people, a calorie surplus is a must. This is easily accomplished by eating more than what one normally eats, and by adding a few meals to the daily roster; the ideal total is five or six a day, though even seven can be worked in. These need not be heavy, five-course meals.
Often, there are only three items in most of these meals, sometimes only two. Meals should contain:
- 20-30 grams of quality protein (fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans)
- A helping of complex carbohydrate that can fill a large palm (potatoes, yams, rice, barley, oats, or two slices of whole grain bread)
- A vegetable or fruit side such as steamed broccoli, a tossed salad or a bowl of berries. These are general recommendations for “clean” eating.
Another school of thought endorses the “bulking” approach, in which it’s a free-for-all: Trainees are encouraged to load up on fast food, chocolate milk, pancakes, ice cream, pizza and burritos. This is an unhealthy way to eat.
Just about every actor who goes on a training program to add 15-30 pounds of muscle for an action movie role, incorporates a clean eating plan into his regimen.
Another method is GOMAD: gallon of milk a day. This, too, is impractical, if for no other reason that many followers of this complain of diarrhea.
Six mini meals a day of quality proteins, carbohydrates and fats (nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, fish, grass-fed beef, wild game), plus supplementation with whey protein, are more than adequate for mass gain.
Another effective approach is that of either having one cheat day a week in which the trainee indulges (within reason) in pizza, French fries or other “junk” foods, or, only on weight training days he or she allows one or two palm-sized portions of cake, candy, sausage, etc. A calorie surplus will be used for building muscle volume.
For people wanting to lose body fat, they should cut way back on junk food and avoid eating to the point of fullness; this alone is often adequate enough to drop body fat.
Portions at each meal should be controlled to prevent fat gain or to lose excess fat, e.g., a cup or two of pasta with one chicken breast and a bowl of steamed broccoli, versus a full plate of pasta with two thick slabs of meat loaf drenched in gravy, and a bowl of steamed broccoli soaked in melted cheese.
When To Eat?
The general rule of thumb is every three hours, especially for skinny people, even if all they can get down is a handful of nuts or a tuna salad. Many people, even though trying to gain muscle, go long periods without eating. Fatigued muscles need a steady supply of nutrients to rebuild after workouts.
Breakfast is a must because after fasting overnight, muscles are starved for protein and carbohydrates. Within one hour of a workout, a meal should be completed. This means some planning, even if it’s ham and cheese on a bagel at the shop next door to the gym.
Over time the trainee will learn to better plan so that post-workout meals consist of healthier items, like a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread plus a fruit platter, or a vegetable omelet and big glass of juice.
Post-workout meals should include fast-acting carbohydrate sources like fruit, juice, dairy products, or even the day’s cheat treat. In other words, if one plans on eating cheesecake or a can of sugary soda on a training day, this type of food should be taken within one hour of the workout: soda with that tuna sandwich.
The sugars will be efficiently used to help shuttle protein to hungry muscle cells, rather than stored as fat.
Protein should be taken shortly before bedtime to help muscles recover overnight. For those wanting to lose fat, avoid carbs close to bedtime.
Whey protein powder is best taken as the post-workout meal, but this isn’t always possible for busy people. Whey should be eaten every day, though, and first thing in the morning is another ideal time: 25-30 grams mixed with milk or juice, or in a blender (e.g., milk, banana and peanut butter for a tasty shake).
How to gain muscle fast does not mean mindless eating, stuffing one’s self or “eating like a pig.” It means conscientious eating of cleaner foods at opportune times. A grueling workout will also increase appetite for many people.
How To Gain 15 Pounds Of Muscle In 3 Months: Additional Strategies
- Additional compound moves: dumbbell chest and shoulder press, seated row, barbell shoulder press, heavy-weight walking lunges.
- Train no longer than 60 minutes.
- Take 60-75 seconds in between sets to incur significant fatigue, which will boost fat burning as well as boost gain in muscle volume. Take a few to several minutes in between routines.
- Train each muscle group twice a week. Frequency is a major force in hypertrophy. Never train the same muscle group two days in an row.
- Work large muscle groups before smaller ones, e.g., work the back before the shoulders.
- Good isolation routines are biceps curls, dumbbell lateral raises, triceps push-downs, done with heavy weight, at the end of sessions. These comprise a minority of the routines.
- The biggest meal of the day should be the post-workout meal. If you’d like this to be the whey protein shake, the “bigness” of it can be in the form of total calories:
- one scoop of whey powder plus 8 ounces chocolate milk, one tablespoon peanut butter and one whole banana—plus a tossed salad including nuts and an olive oil/vinegar dressing—total calories: about 700.
- If you’re having difficulty ingesting a calorie surplus, add two tablespoons of olive oil to your protein shake (you’ll never taste it); snack on nuts; add cheese and nuts to salads.
- Eat a “post-post workout meal” two hours after the post-workout meal.
- Drink a gallon of water a day.
- Supplement with creatine, 5 mg a day. Take the dose after workouts, and on non-training days, around the same time as your workouts. If workout time varies, just take the creatine at a fixed time on non-weight days.
- Take two fish oil capsules and 6-8 grams of the amino acid glutamine after every workout.
- Best sources of protein: whey protein isolate, egg whites, fish, poultry, grass-fed beef, wild game. Nuts/seeds and beans are also healthy sources of protein.
- Do cardio twice a week for no longer than 30 minutes, on non-weight days, in the form of high intensity interval training.
Beginners Vs. Experienced
Beginners can’t just dive into heavy weight training without risking injury. They need to spend several weeks honing proper form, especially in the deadlift and squat, as well as building up base conditioning in their joints and connective tissue.
This is accomplished by devoting several weeks to lighter training with 45-60 second rests in between sets. The short rests will bring on pronounced fatigue and stimulate human growth hormone.
HGH does not increase the size or number of contractile proteins in muscle, but it does increase connective tissue, which in turn, allows for heavier lifting. Beginners who train and eat properly experience the most notable progress.
Experienced trainees need to fight harder to add on another 15 pounds of muscle. In addition to doing everything they’re supposed to do, they may want to supplement with the amino acids L-arginine and L-ornithine, according to the following formula:
500 mg of L-arginine per 50 pounds of bodyweight, and 250 mg of L-ornithine per 50 pounds of bodyweight.
This will stimulate HGH and is best taken before bedtime on an empty stomach, to help facilitate better sleep and increased HGH release during sleep.
Speaking of sleep, this is a prime time for HGH release. Seven to eight hours of non-interrupted sleep are crucial for maximizing muscle growth.
Then awaken to a replenishing breakfast such as scrambled egg whites with bits of cheese, mushrooms and spinach; a bowl of oats; a banana with a little peanut butter on it, and a few glasses of water.
To put on muscle fast, one must have a solid plan in place, rather than lift and eat haphazardly. It will help immensely to make out a shopping list and prepare the week’s meals as much as possible so that the right foods are always on hand.
For example, buy a bunch of chicken breasts, cook them all at once, then store them in the freezer. Have other cuts of meat ready for cooking, cans of tuna on hand, plus a good supply of potatoes, oats, rice, pasta, vegetables, fruits, etc.
Gaining 15 pounds of muscle in three months is very possible when the right training regimen is in place, when the trainee sticks to every element of it and does not make excuses.
It’s been done many times before, because the human body responds in a predictable way to a specific training stimulus, and specific ways of fueling and refueling the body through food and important nutrients.
A much better physique is literally just 90 days away for men and women willing to make changes.
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