As a man, it’s only natural to want a muscular body.
All other things held equal, women will find you more attracted to you – and men will show you more respect – when you have broad shoulders, thick arms, and a big chest.
On the other hand, scrawny men are often seen as insecure, weak, and impotent…
Trust me, I’ve seen these differences firsthand. Just 5 short years ago I was scrawny as fuck!
In this article I’ll cover 3 basic steps that you MUST follow in order to bulk up, build muscle, and avoid gaining fat in the process. This process is the exact same one I used to transform from a scrawny 145 pounds to a ripped 175 pounds.
Step #1: Eat the Right Amount of Calories
Fact #1: You can’t build muscle efficiently if you don’t gain weight.
Your body CANNOT synthesize new muscle tissue unless you consume MORE calories than you burn. This means you must eat enough food to gain weight.
When you do this, your body is forced to do something with the extra energy that you’re not burning. It will either store it as fat, or use it to build muscle. In steps 2 and 3 we’ll cover exactly how to make sure that your body uses it to build muscle.
Fact #2: Your body can only build about 0.5 pounds of new muscle per week.
As badly as you want to pack on 20 pounds of muscle mass in the next month, your body has a natural. Experts agree that you can only build about half a pound of muscle per week (unless you use steroids).
Now, when you’re new to lifting weights, you might be able to build slightly more than this. But as you get bigger and bigger, the rate at which you can gain more muscle gets slower and slower (as you approach your body’s natural limit). Either way, if you gain weight too quickly, you risk putting on fat.
This means you should aim to gain about 0.5 pounds per week.
However, gaining weight at EXACTLY this pace can be challenging, so I recommend aiming to gain about 1-3 pounds per month. Don’t stress the exact number, as long as you’re putting on a little bit of weight you’ll see quality results.
The most efficient way to control your weight gain is to count your calories.
I know this sounds like a pain in the ass, but it’s actually quite easy. Just download a simple calorie counting app on your phone like “MyFitnessPal” and use it to track how many calories you’re eating every day. The app will also help you calculate how many calories you need to eat in order to gain weight.
Step #2: Get Stronger in the Gym
Fact #1: You must get stronger in order to build new muscle.
Look – your body will only build new muscle tissue if you give it a reason to do so.
If you go to the gym every week and lift the same amount of weight for the same amount of reps, then your body has no reason to build new muscle mass… your current muscle is already doing a great job on its own. However, if you lift progressively heavier and heavier weights, then your body will be forced to respond by synthesizing new muscle tissue.
This is because it will NEED additional muscle mass in order to meet these increasing demands! And this is known as the principle of progressive overload.
Fact #2: Some exercises are better than others.
Now, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of different exercises to choose from. So how do you decide which to focus on?
Simple: use the exercises that allow you to lift the most weight.
These exercises recruit the most fibers in your muscle tissue and activate the most motor units in your nervous system. And these 2 factors combine to raise your rates of muscle protein synthesis and induce the most muscle growth.
This means you should focus on getting stronger doing compound exercises.
Compound exercises are exercises that work several large muscle groups at the same time. This allows you to lift the most weight doing these movements.
Effective compound exercises include: squats, lunges, bench press, dips, pull ups, deadlifts, shoulder press, and rows. These exercises should be the focus of your workouts. And you should be trying to get stronger and lift more weight (or do more reps) each time that you do them.
Step #3: Rest, Rest, Rest!
Fact #1: You build muscle when you’re resting, NOT when you’re working out.
When you’re working out, you’re actually in a catabolic state where your body is breaking down muscle tissue. You only enter an anabolic state where your body is building muscle when you rest.
Fact #2: Your body releases anabolic hormones when you sleep.
Anabolic hormones like HGH and testosterone are largely responsible for raising your rates of muscle protein synthesis (and therefore building new muscle tissue). And your body naturally secretes these hormones in greater quantities while you’re sleeping.
This means that you need to take days off… and get sufficient sleep!
If you lift weights every single day, you’ll actually suppress your levels of muscle protein synthesis and prevent yourself from building new muscle. This is why I recommend doing full body workouts just 3 days per week.
Additionally you should aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This will ensure that you aren’t limiting the amount of anabolic hormones your body is naturally releasing. A few tips to improve your quality of sleep include:
- Don’t look at screens for 1 hour before bed
- Keep your room cool (use AC or open windows)
- Fully shut your blinds and curtains to darken the room
These simple tweaks can dramatically improve your ability to fall asleep (and actually stay asleep throughout the entire night).
And that’s a wrap! If you follow these 3 steps, I guarantee that you’ll build new muscle mass at an optimal rate… and avoid gaining fat in the process.