How to Build Muscle and Gain Weight

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

Have questions about how to build muscle and gain weight?

Then I’ve got answers…

Question: Someone walks into your gym with a fairly modest lifting past (a recreational lifter or a little above) and says “I want to start getting bigger, what are three things I should know or do?” You say…

To build muscle and gain weight you have to use big, compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, military presses, dips, chin ups, pushups and rows.

You have to train with adequate resistance, meaning 6-10 reps on average and you need to strive to get stronger and do more work over time.

Progressive overload is a key component in making size and strength gains.

No matter how good your workout is you will never gain any appreciable size without adequate muscle building nutrition.

Shoot for about one .6-8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day and 2-3 grams of carbs depending on your bodyfat levels, training age, chronological age and the type of workouts you are doing.

The leaner you are the better your insulin sensitivity and thus the more carbs you can eat.

This is especially true if you are a teenager with a racing metabolism. A 17 year old kid with single digit bodyfat might need three grams of carbs per pound in order to gain weight, whereas a 35 year old might only need 1-1.25 grams.

Anymore than that and he’ll end up fat.

For the older guy, carb cycling is going to be a smarter approach.

The take home point is you gotta eat for size gains.

Question: What about rookie mistakes? Which are the biggest ones to avoid? In other words, DON’T do this stuff!

    • Don’t let your training sessions (minus warm up and cool down time) last more than 45 minutes.
    • Don’t waste your time with machines.
    • Don’t train for strictly for the pump if you are small and weak.
    • Don’t use body part splits.
    • Don’t train to failure on every set.

Question: What about some tips for injury prevention?

    • Always warm up properly by jumping rope or doing some type of callisthenic drills for 5-10 minutes before training. Follow this up with some mobility work and some joint prep stuff as well. This is also known as the dynamic warm up.
    • Don’t just jump right into your heaviest sets but rather work up them gradually by doing 3-5 warm up sets with 40-90% of your starting weight. For example, if you were going to squat 275 for 6 you would want to first do the bar for ten reps, then 95 x 8, 135 x 6, 185 x 3, 225 x 3-5 and maybe even 250 x 1.
    • Always do prehab work for the shoulders, as they are very injury prone. This could include YTWL’s and shoulder dislocations with a broomstick before each upper body session and some work on unstable exercises such as ring dips or Jungle Gym pushups.
    • Always do at least 5-10 minutes of mobility work for the hips and other tight areas of the lower body before squatting or deadlifting.  Static stretching may also be warranted here as well if the lifter is having a difficult time reaching the full squat position.

Question: What are your favorite three exercises that can help people put on size and why?

Squat- Because there is no better exercise to develop the lower body. They involve every muscle group from your sternum down and will build big quads, hamstrings and glutes along with strengthening your abs and spinal erectors.

Clean & Press- There is no more basic movement then bending down and picking something up off the floor. When you pick something up off the floor and put it overhead you’ve got a real winner. This exercise develops the shoulders, traps, upper, mid and lower back, upper chest, grip, triceps, abs, obliques, glutes, hamstrings and quads. It’s all encompassing and brutally effective.

I prefer this movement with a log or The Renegade Bar.

Chin Up– This is an exercise we evolved to do (from primates) and should always be part of your program. It builds the lats, biceps, forearms, abs and even the shoulders and pecs. Plus, the ability to do a large number of chin ups is pretty bad ass and a requirement for all men.

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