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.
Who can track a one pound change over a week except women? In my best and worst shape I could always fluctuate five pounds overnight. Rather unpredictably too
Your water weight fluctuates primarily based on how many carbs you’re consuming.
I suggest weighing yourself no more than once every 2 weeks to avoid over-analyzing this.
I will make deserved lean and muscular body
When I was 18 I was a pretty skinny dude but I made the decision to start building muscle and started a new program. It did not get me ripped instantly or anything but It did help me seriously improve to the point where I feel much more confident with myself.
That’s awesome man, it’s a big reason to hit the weights for guys.
I am not sure it is safe to make an assumption that every man wants to become BIG, strong and lean. Being just strong and lean can take you a long.
Fair enough, but a good amount of size (steroid withholding) is something most men want.
Interestingly, the thought of becoming stronger interests me more than that of becoming big. The surprise factor excites me more than a person looking at me and saying , “Wow, he looks like he can bench 500 pounds!”
I feel you Brian. Strength gains motivate me more than muscle growth at this point, but I believe most guys need to see some visual results before they get hooked on the strength aspect.
I’m all for whatever a person wants to be or do. I keep seeing your subtle hints. But there’s a lot of good medical purposes for steroids. You can abuse anything. I respect that you are not an advocate for steroids. I’m 54 and have trained my whole life in elite gyms W.S. Barbell, Lexan and others all across the United States. I’ve used steroids throughout my lifetime for recovery and enhancement. Most recently I used them to help me heal from a 4th degree burn on my hand the surgeon told me would need to be amputated. That was Sept. 21st its now almost Thanksgiving and I’m nearly healed. I’m thinking that you either don’t probably don’t have an educated understanding of anabolic steroids or your just going of of the speculation you have heard from the internet. The reason why steroids will never be mainstream pharmaceutical is because they would put a dent in the doctors wallet! My immune system is great, my blood pressure is spot on and I look great for 54 years old! I’m 5’10” 180lbs bench 345lbs squat 550lbs sets of 3 and can run a mile twice a day. Its not your cup of tea, I get it, why not put something on your page about how it works and what the real benefits? Everything else you have is great spot on and very informative. Respectfully!
How about doing cleans?
A favorite when I can make it to the gym (I’m an AVP in IT with a long commute at a fortune 100 – back off! 😉 ) is to clean the weight, into the OHP, and repeat. So each “rep” is Clean, to OHP, to top of Clean, to ground. (Kicks your ass, too. Weight is irrelevant. More is better, but it’ll gas you fast regardless.)
When I got better, it went
Clean from ground -> OHP -> lower Behind neck -> Behind neck press -> Top of clean -> Ground. Under control, mind, but controlled chaos.
Now, without good diet, it’s not enough, and by itself, it won’t make you a beast, of course – but it DID get me trim, fast. Somehow, at 40, life gets in the way of what’s important, as you spin more plates…
But nothing works as well as steel, to get you back on track, so I’m making a commitment to get back in the gym, and with tweaks all over the place, I hope to trim up again in about a year. (could lose 60 pounds of fat, I think. SO easy to put it on when working IT, especially in a high-stress, frustrating job, with variables well outside your control. So, freebie advice, DO NOT go into something for the money, you’ll get burned in the end: Burned out, burned up, and bitter. )
ANYWAY – thoughts on (a) the exercise itself, cleaning the weight for each OHP? and (b) super-setting multiple exercises into a routine, like a star complex, or such?
The clean to press is a great exercise for sure, especially if you enjoy doing it.
And the exact routine you do doesn’t matter as much as being sure that it works all of your major muscle groups as well as pushing yourself to stay consistent and get stronger.
Hi, is there a specific period when we should increase the load i.e. weekly, monthly etc?
There are different protocols, but trying to add 5 lb. every time you do a certain exercise is a good place to start. When you plateau, then add 5 lb. every other time you do that exercise. This is assuming sets and reps are held constant.
Great articles man! I miss your videos
Thanks Andre – there will be more soon.
May u tell me some foods that is high in calories and protien but they are able to ate in summer
I am from punjab , india so tell me foods that are easily available here
Thanx in advance
I’ve never been to India, so I don’t know what’s available there. But you can check out some ideas to gain weight here: https://www.howtobeast.com/gain-weight-fast-men/
Here is a list of foods that are easily available in India and will help you gain weight.
Healthy Foods to Gain Weight
What if I’m working out with compound movements and still gaining more of fat than muscle? Is it something which I’m doing wrong?
Hey Rohan. Either you are gaining too fast, or you’re not pushing yourself hard enough to get stronger and lift more weight.
Hey man, just wanted to say thanks. My wife is trying to lose pregnancy weight and I’ve started getting into working out so we can motivate each other. I’m 34 and I’ve always been 6’3″ and 175 for as long as I remember so obviously I don’t need to “lose” weight. I figured by starting a weight routine I could challenge myself to start a program and have goals as she does. I have a lot to learn and I appreciate your insight and look forward to reading all your blogs. Luckily for me I’m in no rush so .5lb a month should be a reasonable goal to attain. We’ve been eating great for years (1500-1800 calories per day) so I’m most interested in what I’m supposed to supplement my diet with while weight training so as to not get the chubby protein shake body like so many guys get. I’m sure you’ll have an article outlining that in your works though. Thanks again, cheers mate!
Thanks Ben – no need to supplement, just make sure you’re eating enough calories to gain a little weight (and a solid amount of protein in every meal).
And browse through some of my other recent articles for some more training/diet ideas if you like.
Hi, I am an IT professional working night shifts 4:30 pm to 2:30 a.m IST. Is it possible to make muscle gains and the so called anabolic hormoneby going to bed around 3 am and waking up at 11 am? Thats also a solid 8hrs of sleep by the way. What do you think David?
A big fan of your work and also aspiring to become a fitness coach like you, someday. I am an IT professional working night shifts 4:30 pm to 2:30 a.m IST. Is it possible to make muscle gains and the so called anabolic hormones by going to bed around 3 am and waking up at 11 am? That’s also a solid 8hrs of sleep by the way. What do you think David?
As long as you’re consistently sleeping 8 hours, then you have nothing to worry about. The exact times don’t really matter.
Am skinny and I would try ur routine for 6 months and see.
Well Sunestron is best way to build muscles fast and seriously it’s worked great for me, not only it boost testerone but also increase libido and energy too. What was even better was I feel more confident and coherent than before. I am an over 40 years old man, if it works for me, it should work for you too. On top of all those merits, the price is very reasonable and affordable.
I’m on a tight budget and live where meat is a bit expensive. I don’t use protein shakes, how can I eat better?
Why don’t you use protein shakes? Seems like the easy answer here.
David, 2 questions
1. I need to eat about 2600-3000 calories per day to gain more weight, thats according to calculations i did.
What do you feel about gainer supplemets to add to the daily meals.
2. How do i eat more in order to prevent belly fat? If i eat more as you mention in #1?
1. I make my own gainer shake every day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U4dpS2r8SA
2. Only gain 0.5 lb per week and you will limit fat gain.
Thank you for valuable and excellent information. Yes during sleep 😴 we build muscles and restore energy. I have one doubt , to loose fat should I go for calorie restriction alone or exercise?
Both exercise (lifting) and calorie restriction
Thank Dave for the article. If I may ask, I do work outs regularly especially chest but my arm and should have gained more than the chest. I have tried to follow almost all videos on how to lift or do bench press for the chest to grow. Unfortunately it is not growing and what irritates me is that I have man boobs. what should I do?
You need to cut fat if you have man boobs. Also, I would recommend incline dumbbell press
I’ve been following all 3 steps for over two years now and what I found is that when I’m building muscle it’s impossible for me to stay lean. I wen’t from 12%+/- body fat to about 25% +/- body fat. I got really strong but couldn’t stay lean.
I followed macrocounting every day and always had a healthy diet. My ultimate goal was to put 10-15 pounds of muscle and stay at around 12% body fat but it didn’t work. As I got stronger, I started to put fat as well.
It took me 6 months to gain 22 lbs, which I figure 50% of that gain would be muscle.
I’ve always been on the heavy side, I’ve been training in the gym lifting heavy since i was 14, but i never managed to be leaner and still have muscle, because when i eat more to get the calories i need to gain muscle i get fat very easily (my body is prone to storing fat).
Now i have lost 6 kg im currently at 60 kg but ive noticed a lot of muscle loss.
I want to build muscle, but i dont want to gain an insane amount of fat again. Also i dont know how many calories i should consume to do this.
Im currently consuming 1600 cals to loose wheight (since i started from 66kg to 60kg)
Also keeping track of my wheight is hard because it fluctuates a lot over night.
Can you help?