Getting to 200 pounds of raw muscle, stripped of any body fat, is no easy feat. It takes work and not just any type of work. It requires hard work. It takes determination. It takes persistence. It requires a certain inner drive that makes you train when you’re exhausted. It necessitates a compelling force within you to shovel down plates and plates of food even when you feel absolutely bloated. It even requires the proper resolve to rest, settling yourself down when your mind battles you to get to the gym every day in its devious effort to facilitate your musculature. Getting to an amassed 200 pounds of rock hard muscle with two heaping 19 inch biceps supplemented with chiseled six-pack abs requires a certain dedication that has to be developed from within. It’s a devotion to the mere principle that you will not give up no matter how far or short you’ve come. You’ve got to have that desire from within. You’ve got to be hungry for it. Here are 8 essential rules to follow in your quest to be 200 pounds.
Rule #1- EAT, EAT, EAT!
I cannot stress this enough. What most people neglect to do when gaining mass is to provide their muscles with the proper nutrients necessary to facilitate growth. They forget to do the thing that requires the least amount of thinking: EATING. However, it is important to understand when the most beneficial times are to eat so you put on proper mass and not just carry fat on your body that you’ll eventually want to shed off. The most important time to eat in which the food you do eat actually contributes to muscle growth is when your body can create an insulin spike off of the carbohydrates you feed it. There are two necessary times during the day to do this without gaining body fat from the insulin spike, where blood sugar levels are still kept in check. That is when glycogen levels are low, which is immediately upon waking and right around your workout. While you should always strive to eat close to every 2 hours, make sure that you are very consistent with your breakfast and your pre and post-workout meal.
Follow these basic principles daily for proper mass gaining without gaining body fat:
First breakfast upon waking: 75g fast-digesting carbs mainly from fruit, 40g whey protein Second breakfast an hour after: Oatmeal, Fruit, Eggs, 1% Milk, Coffee Pre-Workout: 75g carbs, 40g whey protein Post-Workout: 100g carbs, 50g protein, 5g creatine, 10g glutamine Every 3-4 days spike up your carb intake: Have double the amount of carbohydrates you normally have but from good sources. Have healthy sources such as healthy whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, fruit, vegetables and a whole lot of them. Every 7 days incorporate a cheat day: Eat whatever you want during this day but make sure it is on a day in which you train. Studies have shown that by doubling your calories one day a week from what you are used to, the nutrients will mainly go towards building muscle mass and not towards fat growth. However, the most beneficial way to ensure that it will be contributed to muscle growth is to make sure it is on a training day.
Rule #2- Train with intensity
Amp up your workouts with high intensity but keep your workouts under an hour. You should be pounding set after set with not a lot of rest in between sets. Also, stimulate the muscle, don’t annihilate it by staying in the gym more than an hour or using weight you can’t handle. Proper form is a must and you don’t want to injure yourself, which will set you back even further. Make sure you take one set per exercise to complete failure.
Rule #3- Rest often
Make sure your workouts are spread out enough so you don’t hit the same muscle group more than once in a 72 hour span. It needs time to repair and then time to grow back bigger and stronger. Shoot to workout 4 days a week. You don’t want to be living in the gym because then you are only burning a lot of calories when you actually want to be gaining weight. Your body needs rest to adequately repair. Furthermore, every 4 weeks take a week off from the gym. That means don’t do anything. Give your body a break so that it can come back bigger and stronger. Moreover, sleep a lot to recover properly. Shoot for 8-9 hours a night. If you feel tired and cannot function off of that then sleep even more (but don’t sleep too much because oversleeping can have negative effects on your body!). Listen to your body and it will respond positively to your attentiveness.
Rule #4- Don’t neglect your cardio
Despite popular opinion, do a couple of cardio sessions a week. Your heart is a muscle as well. The better trained your heart, the more efficient it works and can effectively do its job. The better trained the heart is, the better it is at carrying out its job of passing oxygen through blood to help you through those high-intensity workouts to bang out more sets and more reps (which equals more total work and total volume during each bout). These cardio sessions should consist of 30 minute sessions of interval training. Sprint, jog, sprint, jog. Stairs are awesome for building tree trunks of legs as well. Besides the point of gaining muscle, don’t you want you to be a chiseled 200 pounder? Being 200 pounds and above 20% body fat is not impressive but 200 pounds and seeing every striation throughout your body is certainly something that we all can admire. Cardio helps shred that body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. If you perform cardio right, it actually facilitates muscle building. Performing cardio in terms of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), in which you combine high intensity sprints with lower intensity runs, will help you torch the body fat during and well beyond the workout is over while promoting lean muscle tissue gains. Stay away from the steady state cardio as this will actually break down muscle tissue and is less effective at burning fat because aerobic exercise doesn’t burn many calories after the workout is done, whereas high intensity anaerobic sessions burn fat long after the workout is over. I think it’s about time we jump start our system to burn calories while on the couch.
Rule #5- Develop a mind-muscle connection
Take it from Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. Arnold used to train his back a certain way. He used to envision that there was a nut/acorn in the small of his back and that every time he did a rep, he envisioned cracking that nut/acorn by squeezing his back muscles together. This gave him a sense of what muscles he was using during the exercise and to concentrate only on using those muscles when performing the repetition. You want the muscle you’re training to do the work. You never want to use momentum or other muscles than the ones you are supposed to train or you’re only hurting yourself in the end. You always want to complete a full range of motion and squeeze the muscle at the top of the movement. Don’t look at big bodybuilders and the likes of Ronnie Coleman and think to yourself that lifting heavy is the only way to go. This is not true. Form trumps weight.
Rule #6- Have proper nutrition
Make sure you consume enough carbohydrates, protein, and fat throughout the day. Be sure to take in about 1.5-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and about double that in healthy carbohydrates. Do not shy away from saturated fats in a fear of developing body fat. Saturated fats will help increase testosterone, a hormone that contributes to muscle growth.
Rule #7- Never go hungry
You should be constantly eating throughout the day. That means even at nighttime. Have a bowl of cottage cheese with fruit and milled flax seed along with natural peanut butter and 100% fruit jelly on whole wheat toast right before you go to bed. To put on mass, you need to supply your body with a lot of nutrients and you need to up your caloric intake big time. Your muscles need protein every couple of hours. Make sure to never go four hours without eating or your metabolism will slow and your muscle will catabolize simultaneously.
Rule #8- “Rome was not built in a day!”
It’s not going to happen overnight. It will take some time but that’s ok. It’s a gradual process but comes quick enough. Increasing your calories by 500 from what you previously do will equate to a gain of about one pound per week. If you are training hard and eating a lot of healthy nutrients then it will most likely go all towards muscle. Make sure you are eating soundly though. 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy weight gain. Don’t go over that. Small strides at first equal big gains in the long run.