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Gain Muscle Mass: Top 7 Mistakes Most People Make

by Dejan Antic | Follow Dejan on Twitter

It’s completely fine to make mistakes, we’re all humans after all.

What’s not OK, is to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Based on my own experience and experience from other people I’ve helped gain muscle mass, I came up with the following top 7 mistakes.

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be experiencing amazing muscle gains.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus: As so many people have asked how to build muscle whilst keeping body fat low, I’ve put together a free Lean Bulk Cheat Sheet. Click here to get instant access.

Mistake #1: Not tracking the food intake

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  ~Peter Drucker

In my opinion, this is the most important thing you need to do when you’re trying to gain muscle mass, lose body fat or simply maintain your current levels. Ironically this aspect of fitness rarely gets any attention.

It’s true that calories in calories out model of thinking has it’s flaws, but if you want to gain muscle mass then it’s important that you take in more (quality) calories than you consume.

When eating clean food it’s pretty damn hard to eat enough food for a caloric surplus since clean foods make you feel full quicker. If, for example, you’re supposed to eat 250 grams of protein per day and you’re improvising your every meal for the sake of variety, then there’s a big chance that you won’t even come near the required 250 grams of protein. At least that was my experience.

When you’re past the beginner stage, you have to be increasingly more methodical in order to gain additional muscle mass.

The best way to track the amounts of food you eat is to use a tracking journal (physical or electronic). By using a simple online food diary like FitDay, it’s really easy to keep track of the amounts of food you eat. It takes me less than two minutes every day to log everything in.

With over countless foods already available, you can rest assured that no matter what you eat will already be in the database with all of the nutritional data. In case you can’t find a specific food item, FitDay allows you to add a custom food item.

At first it’ll seem a bit overwhelming to keep track of all the foods you eat but if you’re disciplined enough, and you’re eating the same foods every day then keeping track of the food intake will take you just a couple of seconds.

Mistake #2: Not eating enough food

This one is closely related to the first mistake and I’d say that this is the biggest sticking point for most people.

As mentioned before, if you’re not tracking the foods you eat there’s a big chance that you’re not going to eat enough food. If you’re undereating then you can forget about strength and brawn (unless you’re a beginner).

When you’re starting out you’re going to see progress no matter what. You can gain muscle mass by undereating and eating shit as long as you train with intensity.

Unfortunately for everybody, the beginner phase is over quickly. The body is fast to adapt to new stimuli and after a couple of weeks and maybe months of beginners gains, the progress in the gym suddenly comes to a halt.

Your ability to gain muscle mass from this moment on is greatly diminished, where every additional pound of muscle requires more and more effort.

The biggest reason why most people are not eating enough food is because they’re trying to eat different things every day. Their main concern is that if you eat the same stuff every day you’re going to be sick or something.

This is complete and utter bullshit if you ask me because when you think about it, the average western man or women predominantly eats the same stuff every day. If you’re eating six clean meals a day (every meal different) then you probably have more variety in your diet than the average Joe and Jane have in a week.

Eating the same foods every day will save you hours upon hours of food preparation and nerves. Eating the same foods doesn’t mean that your meals have to be boring, but quite the contrary. You’ll still be able to make delicious meals but they will take much less to prepare since you’ve streamlined the whole cooking process by cooking the same stuff every day.

This is what kills the enthusiasm for most people … food preparation. Nobody wants to spend their whole day in the kitchen cooking and thinking about what they’re going to eat tomorrow. Life is already complicated as it is, so why make it even more complicated?

Just eat the same meals every day. Easier to track and easier to stick with.

Mistake #3: Not getting enough sleep

You gain muscle mass when you’re outside the gym.

Going to bed early is the biggest sticking point for me. Ironically it’s also the easiest one to address, but somehow I never get to sleep early.

Your body needs quality rest, especially if you’re involved in some sort of strenuous physical activity like weight training.

When you’re lifting heavy weights you make micro tears on your muscle fibers. If you ain’t getting enough sleep then your body is unable to repair these micro lesions and this in turn can lead to overtraining and serious injuries.

It’s all about the hormones.

Our sleep is divided into cycles which consist of non-REM and REM phases. It’s during our non-REM deep sleep phase that we get our biggest growth hormone spike. In short, HGH (human growth hormone) is an anabolic agent that promotes muscle recovery and muscle growth among other things.

So in order to gain muscle mass you want to make sure that you get the biggest possible release of growth hormone, every night. But how exactly can you do that?

Since our growth hormone is released during the deep sleep phase and the deepest sleep occurs around 2 am you want to make sure that you go to sleep in the early hours of the night. There is a greater amount of deep sleep earlier in the sleep cycle, while the proportion of REM sleep increases later in the sleep cycle and just before natural awakening.

During our restorative deep sleep phase, our blood pressure drops and our breathing becomes deeper and slower. With our brain taking a much needed time out from our daily preoccupations, there’s more blood available to flow into our muscles.

Increased nutrient-rich blood flow (if you have your diet in check) combined with high levels of growth hormone, will drastically improve your ability to gain muscle mass.

Lack of sleep and erratic sleeping schedule, on the other hand, can quickly decrease the amount of growth hormone that your pituitary gland secrets during your deep sleep. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle mass and reduced exercise capacity.

The biggest reason why I’m not going to sleep early is because I keep my laptop on after 8pm. In order to go to bed early (approx 10 pm) you want to make sure to turn off all of your electronic appliances like tv, laptops, smartphones, etc. a few hours before sleep time. In my case, I try to turn off my gadgets at around 8 pm and every time I do this, I go to sleep early with no problems.

It’s recommended that you get at least 8 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep less than this and you’re compromising your progress in the gym. It’s possible to decrease the time you need to sleep in order to get fully rested by developing and sticking to a consistent sleeping schedule, but if gaining muscle mass is your goal, err on the side of 8 to 9 hours.

Here are some quick tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • go to sleep early (10 pm is ideal)
  • make sure your bedroom is completely dark
  • use foam earplugs to eliminate the surrounding noise
  • try to keep the room temperature at about 70°F
  • read a boring book before bed time (fiction preferably)

Mistake #4: Not training hard enough

If you’re not scared of the weights you’re lifting then you’re not lifting heavy enough.

A lot of people think that in order to gain muscle mass, squatting or deadlifting 60 kg (135 lbs) for a few repetitions is enough. Boy are they wrong!I’ve spent months, lifting puny weights on all of of the major compound movements, and then was left wondering why I didn’t make any progress.

You should definitely use light weights when starting out so you can master the correct form of any given exercise, but once your form is good enough all of your efforts should be focused on lifting heavier and heavier weights.

Size follows strength.

So what exactly does hard training mean? Well, it’s simply training almost or to muscular failure by focusing on major compound movements like deadlift, squat, overhead press, weighted chins, etc. When you finish your last rep and you know that another rep isn’t possible to be executed with good form, then you’re training with the right intensity.

Especially in the beginning (beyond beginner’s stage) if you have all of the variables dialed in, your deadlift and squats should quickly surpass the 100 kg (220 lbs) mark.

Mistake #5: Spending too much time in the gym too often

This one relates to doing too many exercises in a single workout and repeating the same workout almost every day of the week.

There’s actually nothing wrong with spending a lot of time in the gym if you’re trying to make new friends or even meet a girlfriend who’s into healthy living but when you’re trying to gain muscle mass, try to make your training sessions as short as possible.

This means doing a routine that focuses on intensity and not on volume.

Remember that muscle grows when you’re resting, not when you’re training.

When trying to gain muscle mass, routines that emphasize on compound movements like deadlift, squat, overhead press, etc. are the way to go. Don’t be doing endless sets of preacher curls and triceps extensions since you’re not going to get big with complementary exercises.

Under no circumstance try to do routines you read in bodybuilding magazines since they are written for steroid gobbling genetic freaks.

Compound is the way to go.

By focusing on compound movements you’ll be able to finish your workouts in less than an hour and you’ll also save some money since you’ll be visiting the gym less frequently. A simple Push/Pull routine will do wonders for your size and strength if you’re training with intensity.

Remember, when trying to gain muscle mass, less is more.

Mistake #6: Lifting with poor form

This is a killer, literally.

Doing compound movements like deadlifts or squats with improper form is a one way ticket to the hospital.

Sure there’s lots of wiggle room when you’re lifting light weights but as soon as you start lifting heavy, there’s absolutely no room for error.

In order to gain muscle mass your primary focus should be to increase the weight on the compound movements. Good technique will allow you to lift more weight and as you may probably know by now heavier weights = more muscle.

Focus on strength and the physique will follow.

In my specific case, I was able to quickly increase my deadlift poundage by 45 lbs after being stuck for months on the same weight. The only change I made to my deadlifting technique was to incorporate a more narrow stance, that’s it. Sometimes small changes can really make a big difference.

It’s really important that you have your lifting technique dialed in perfectly.

The video camera is your friend here. Try to record as much of your workout as you can in order to see your lifting form on all of the big exercises. Compare your videos to other instructional videos on YouTube and you’ll quickly see if your lifting technique needs more work before you move on to heavier weights.

Mistake #7: Stressing about non important stuff

Stress can play a major role in your ability to gain muscle mass. Making sure you deal with stress is not only good for your progress in the gym but also for your overall health.

As far as weightlifting stress is related, I’ve managed to identify two major sources, and these are:

  • Improper goal setting and
  • stressing over about other people’s physiques.

It’s really common for people who are starting out, to set their fitness goals really high and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when people want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but they are knowingly or unknowingly not willing to put in an ounce of effort required to reach their goals.

Their idea is that “If I go to the gym 5 times a week and lift weights for 3 hours, then I’ll look like a bodybuilder in a matter of weeks. Forget about nutrition!”. This kind of thinking is the reason why most people get frustrated and quit after a month or two of training.

In order to avoid this kind of stress, the thing is to set smart goals so you’re comfortable with the amount of effort you’ll have to put in. If you’re not willing to put the required amount of effort to reach your goals, then you’re not going to gain muscle mass.

The other big source of stress for those involved in weightlifting, is comparing their physiques to other’s more developed physiques.

This was my problem for a very long time.

We humans are 99.9% genetically the same. It’s those .1% percent that separates us from everybody else. This .1% also determines how much muscle we’ll carry in our lives and how quickly we can add it.

Since our ability to gain muscle mass is largely determined by our genes, which we don’t get to choose, obsessing about why other people are more developed than us is useless and highly counterproductive.

What helped me the most was to simply compare myself, to myself. Whenever I catch myself comparing my physique to other guys, I just remember how much I’ve improved over the last year (size and strength gains). This is usually enough to eliminate the stress. I might not be quite developed as some other guys yet, but the fact that I’m slowly reaching my fitness goals does the trick.

If this kind of thinking doesn’t help you either, then try to think that you’re the only natural guy on the planet and everybody else is on steroids. This will help you achieve peace of mind, guaranteed :)

There are many more mistakes people make while trying to gain muscle mass, but if you make sure you avoid the ones described above, you’ll be well on your way to amazing results.

Do you have another common mistake to share in case I forgot to mention it? If so, please tell me more about it in the comments section below.

Exclusive Blog Post Bonus: As so many people have asked how to build muscle whilst keeping body fat low, I’ve put together a free Lean Bulk Cheat Sheet. Click here to get instant access.

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{ 166 comments… read them below or add one }

Riki

Thank you! Loved it.
One thing though, it’s “lose body fat” not “loose body fat”
Well, I guess you could go with “lose loose body fat” :P
Doesn’t take much away from the article, but for the grammar nazis as myself it would be strikingly great if you could edit that.
Only in internet does someone whine about something like that!
Going to sleep ->

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Dejan

Hey Riki, thank you for the grammar feedback!

When you write stuff, sometimes you get so close to your articles that it’s impossible to spot these little mistakes :)

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Adam

I’d like to know if the supplment mauscletech (ceell tech) helps in thin people to gain mass?

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Dejan

The only thing that helps thin people build mass is smart training, a good diet and plentifull sleep.

Don’t waste your money on supplements until you get those three main pillars of awesome physique handeled.

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Gavin

Great article, thanks.

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Dejan

You’re welcome Gavin :)

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Iliasthetics

Some of the things that you are saying are not right. Humans are not 99 % same of that was tha case we would all roughly look like zyzz . In other words we would all look the same. That not true at all. Genetics is a big role in the body transformation as well as what u said with which I agree with. One more thing. Compound excersises alone might get u bigger but u want be ripped and have the body u have always dreamed off. U need to combine compound movements with isolation excersises in order to hit every spot of the body creating a Greek god like body.

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Dejan

It’s a well known fact (showed by the Human Genome Project) that humans, regardless of race and sex, are 99% identical. And you must also realize that genes also determine how our eyes are made, how our endocrine system works, the insertion points of our muscles, etc.

From Wikipedia – “Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism’s cells and pass genetic traits to offspring.”

If our genes were ONLY responsible for our looks and the the growth potential of our muscles then yes, I guess we’d all look like Zyzz. But as you can see, genes are responsible for much more than just our looks and muscle building potential.

Cheers,

Dejan

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Darryl

Hey, great read. I am just curious, and this might be a stupid question, but, when lifting heavy is it all right to do cardio the same day? I am currently working out three days one off, with weights in the am and cardio in the pm. Good or bad?

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Dejan

Hey Darryl,

This really depends on how you feel. Most people would say never to do cardio (especially after your weight training session), but if you like running and you’re not “overdoing” it then I say by all means do it.

Just make sure to keep an eye out on your energy levels. If after a few weeks you feel really exausted despite eating and sleeping well, then I’d suggest you cut down on your cardio.

Cheers,

Dejan

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Joe

“Most people would say never to do cardio (especially after your weight training session)”. I’m sorry but that is complete nonsense.

It is THE optimal time to do cardio if you’re looking at losing fat. During lifting you deplete your glycogen stores then while doing cardio afterwards you burn fat.

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Dejan

Hey Joe, thanks for the comment!

Let me ask you a question … how do you know that you’ve depleted your glycogen stores after a workout? How do you know that you’re actually burning body fat, when you’re running after a workout?

In my experience this is minutia, which doesn’t bring any significant results. I feel that cardio after my grueling workouts is just too much of a nuisance to be worth doing.

But then again, if you like doing cardio after your weight training and you feel that it’s a key part to achieving your fat loss goals, then by all means do it.

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David

Awesome article! A lot of good tips! Thank you!

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Dejan

Hey David,

Glad you enjoyed the article :)

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Tanner Furtkamp

Hey I have been working out like crazy and my body fat % is very low and i have always worked on being as fit as possible. I’m now trying to gain muscle, but after years of training and reaserching body fat burning workouts, that’s all I know. Any tips on the food i should eat (i know you say good nutrition and i do that but certain foods would be grand!) or workouts I should do to reach my goals? Thank you!

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Dejan

Hey Tanner,

Building muscle mass is simple, but not easy :) The main thing about building muscle mass is that you need to eat more calories than you consume. As far as food choiches go (for building muscles) your staples should be lean meats, white rice for post workout carbs and quality saturated and un-saturated fats (coconut oil, olive oil, organic animal fats, etc.).

A good muscle building routine is a Upper/Lower body split with focus on compound exercises. On lower days, your focus should be on the squat, upper days should be more focused on pullups. Every workout should be more intensive than the previous one (either by decreasing the pauses between the sets, adding weight to the bar, adding more reps, etc.).

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S. Cook

Don’t understand “eat more calories than you consume” from above paragraph. Is eat and consume not the same thing in this context?

What I meant to say was that it seems that to eat, is to consume. That’s why it’s confusing to me and possibly others. How can you basically “consume” more than you “consume”? Also, I am new to all of this. What are “compound exercises”; for those of us who don’t know? Sorry if I just missed that explanation.

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Dejan

Hey Steve,

By consuming, I meant that your body needs energy to keep you alive. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say that your body gets that energy either from food that you eat or from your fat stores.

As an example, lets say that your body needs 2500 kilo calories (kCals) to stay as it is (body weight). Lets say that one day you managed to eat a lot (3000 kCals). This means that your body consumed 2500 kCals while you ate 3000 kCals. If we add up the numbers, this means that you’re in a surplus of 500 kCals. Since all of your energy needs are met by those 2500 kCals, those 500 extra calories can be made available to build new muscle tissue or (if you’re not strength training) to be stored as body fat.

Hope I made it clear now :)

Compound exercises (also called multi-joint exercises) they involve movement in two or more joints (e.g. squat – includes movement in the hip, knee and ankle joint). Compound exercises give you the most bang for your buck because they recruit a lot of muscle fibers thus allowing you to lift more weights. Isolation exercises only involve movement in one joint, thus working much less muscles at once than compound exercises do.

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John

Hello friend,

Is it OK to do a superset of biceps with triceps (bent over rows with bench presses)? Is it harmful?

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Dejan

I don’t see any problems with this superset, as long as you’re keeping good form (correct exercise technique, good posture, no jerking of the weights, etc.).

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Ryan

Hey what would you recommend for a 17 year old that could be considered scrawny, to do to try and bulk up as quick as possible(like month and a half). Any diet tips?

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Dejan

Ryan, not even Rome was built in a day :)

Muscle building is a long-term process, therefore I’d suggest that you take things slowly, otherwise you might just end up fat and dissapointed. These intense bulks can only be handled by people who are already lifting a lot of weights, are genetically gifted or people who are on steroids.

Considering you’re in neither of those three categories, I’d suggest you to build a solid strength foundation first. Make sure to eat plenty of protein (at least 80 grams per day) and a lot of quality fats (especially quality saturated fats).

Once you get the basics dialed in, only then can we talk about advanced methods.

Hope I helped :)

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Mike

I separate Bi’s and Tri’s to allow me to focus on each of these muscles 110%. being small muscles as they are. I’ve had more growth than ever previously trained.

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Dejan

Hey Mike!

That’s a good idea since, like you said, these are smaller muscles thus they can be trained a bit more often and with more focus. My favorite tricep exercise is lying tricep extension with an EZ bar while for the bicep, my favorite is dumbbell curls.

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Anthony

Hey man, great article.

I am currently slowly bulking as I lift. I preform compound movements, and i am seeing tons of strength gains. I am just starting to workout again and I am 2 months in, so I am not stressing about my size at the moment, but i know it comes in time. I supplement with ‘True Mass – BSN’ it is a weight gainer, roughly 800 calories with milk, 70g carbs, 48g of protiens, tons of BCAA’s and great aminos. The great part is, there is close to no simple sugars.

Sorry this is long, but I just wanted to know your opinion on weight gaining supplements. Haha thanks again for the article.

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Dejan

Hey Anthony!

Glad to hear you’re putting good focus on compound movements. By building a solid base first, you’re setting yourself up for massive success.

In my opinion, mass gainers are a waste of your money.

Even though the nutrition label says that it doesn’t have any simple sugars, the sad truth is that those “complex” carbs are actually the same as simple sugars (they’re just called with a different name). Think of mass gainers as overpriced whey protein, mixed with simple sugars.

You’re better off spending that money on some free range eggs :)

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Anthony

I’m glad you responded in such a short period of time! And thanks for the advice, I have searched the True Mass and it seems to be a top leading brand in its category. I basically take it after workouts. But thanks for your opinion, as it is what I asked for :)

Also as I said, my strength gains were crazy as is everyones for the first few months, but how long do you think until size really kicks in?

And I usually do declined after flat bench to get my undercut, my undercut is coming, and the split right under between each pec is nice from dips. But should I do higher reps with declined for the cut, or keep my range of 6-8reps?

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Dejan

Anthony, you’re welcome :)

How long it takes for the size to follow up your strength gains? This depends from person to person so I can’t give you a definitive answer. But a safe bet would be I’d say a couple of months. And even if after a couple of months, you don’t see any progress in size, then just keep on pushing forward because size WILL eventually follow. Once you’re able to bench 225 lbs for reps, you can be sure that you’re going to have pecs that reflect that :)

As far as the declined bench press goes, keep your range of 6 to 8 reps and just focus on moving more weight with correct form.

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Tutun

Hi Dejan, great article.

I’m at an early phase of weight training and I’m doing 5×5 stronglifts. When I did my last body fat measurement, I realized I gained around 1 kg muscle but also a lot of fat. Is this normal?

All of the measurement results tell me that I’m overweight while before my weight was normal (was 77.4 kg now 79.6 kg my height is 176 cm and it’s been a month since I started weight training). My diet is not perfect and I tend to eat a lot after working out, but if I’m dieting I’m affraid I will lose muscle mass.

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Dejan

Most beginners don’t really need to eat a lot of food, when they start to lift weights. The main reason for this is that their workouts are not intensive enough to justify all of those extra calories – no need for you to slam down 500 grams of white rice every day, if you’re barely able to deadlift 170 lbs.

My recommendation (for the diet) is to start small. At first, keep your diet unchanged, but make sure to focus on eating more protein with every meal. Once your workouts get more intense though, start adding in extra calories to support muscle growth.

And yes, it’s normal to add some fat mass when you’re trying to gain muscle mass.

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Eric George

Hey Dejan great article,

I was just wondering if it’s a bad idea to strength train in the morning and at night? Will that actually decrease muscle mass because the lack of recovery/sleep? I have to wake up at five thirty if I want to strength train and I go go to bed around 11-ish.

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Dejan

I actually doesn’t matter when you strength train. The most important thing is that you’re actually training (training at 11pm or 530am is better than not training at all).

Just make sure you get more sleep, because if you’re working out your need for sleep also increases. 6 and a half hours think won’t cut it for most people.

Learn to listen to your body and go from there. If you feel really tired and crave more sleep, try doing less (fewer workouts per week, lighter workouts, etc.). But if you feel buzzing and energized after 6 hours of sleep, then by all means “lift them weights” like a champ.

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Ray

Last week I binged and ate tons of cookies, then lifted and the next week I didn’t binge and I couldn’t lift the same weight I did last week. Does this mean I should add a pre workout meal? And if so what should I have? I’m 15, 5.5 and weigh 130.

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Dejan

Hey Ray,

You not binging has probably little or nothing to do with the fact that you lifted less the following workout. There was probably some other factor at play here (probably lack of sleep/recovery).

I work really hard on making sure that when I step into the gym, my stomach is as empty as possible. I found out that for me, working out on an empty stomach is the best thing in the world because it allows me to be focused (due to the sympathetic nervous system). Every time I eat before a workout (2 to 3 hours beforehand) I get drowzy and I’m not able to switch into beast mode :)

All of my PRs were done with an empty stomach.

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Joe

Great article. Like the part about measurable goals as I made the same mistake. Performance based goals are better than vanity based goals because you can measure your performance, meet your expectations and the looks follow. Vanity based goals always leave one despondent as the magazine cover body takes much time and effort.

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Dejan

Joe, nicely said. Couldn’t have said it better myself :)

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. And if you’re not progressing strength wise there’s little chance that you’ll get big. Focus on building a solid foundation first since size follows strength.

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Daniel

Hey hi there, i have read all your tips and i have to tell you it is quite impressive.
I have a question noboby have trustly asnswered yet. I got a hernia surgery three days ago. I really need to know how long should i wait until go back to the gym? Sure I want to start as soon as possible. However, I don’t want to go through the awful experience I just had at the hospital.

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Dejan

Hey Daniel,

I’m not a medical professional so I can’t give you any advice relating to your specific situation. The best thing you can do is to have a talk with your doc and ask him, when would it be a good time to start training again. Follow his instructions.

Take your time, there’s no need for you to be rushing back into strength training since that could potentially make your condition worse. Make health your number one priority, the gym can wait :)

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Jeff Higenbottam

Hey there,

I’m getting married next year (july 5th 2014) and want to be in the best shape of my life (personal goal). I have a gut right now with a little muscle…just wondering if I should be cutting or continue bulking if I want to be able to fit snug in a nice fitted suit (skinny tux) for next year. I’m 5 foot 10.5 and weigh 186 pds. Should I focus on cardio – or do you think if I just eat super clean..continue training with heavy wieghts..I will have my six pack back that I havent seen in about 15 years lol. Thanks for the info….and tips would be great!!!

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Dejan

Hey Jeff,

Your best bet, if you want to fit snugly in your wedding tuxedo, is to focus on lifting heavy weights AND clean eating. By eating clean foods, you’ll be able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Do cardio if you really like it, but it’s not necessary for success.

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Peder

Hello : )

I have had problems with my overall health lately(Virus) been sick for about 4 weeks and meanwhile I was sick I lost 5 kg in bodyweight, and can’t think about all the lifting weight I lost, was on good way with the summer body, but now I feel like shit, my motivation is down and all that.
I have been training weights for about 2 years now, im currently weighing 80 kg. And I want to increase my size a little, do you have any good tips for me on how to do this? I struggle to find a diet, and as I said my motivation is crap atm. This has happend 2 times the last year, first time I lost 10 kg in body weight and now 5.. Would appreciate your help! : D

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Dejan

Hey There!

Sorry to hear about your illness. I know when I get sick, I’m really anxious to get back into my training. Just don’t rush into your training if you’re not 100% recovered because otherwise, you’re going to prolong the illness.

With that said, work on your compound movements (bench, chinup, squat, deadlift, etc.) and focus on eating wholesome foods. Without complicating too much, try to eat at least 80 grams of protein per day, with every meal have some vegetables and for your post workout meal, cook yourself 100 grams of white rice (best source of clean carbs).

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Akki

Sir, my diet is full of nutrients. But I’m not gaining appropriate weight. I lift heavy weights in the gym.

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Dejan

Hey Akki, if you say that your diet is full of nutrients and your lifting heavy weights, there are probably two things that you’re doing wrong.

First, you may not be eating enough food to support muscle growth. Second, you are not sleeping enough.

To solve the first problem, try counting calories. I have an article coming up on this topic that makes counting calories easy as pie, so be on the lookout.

To solve the second problem, start writing down what time you go to bed and what time you wake up. By doing this you’ll be able to see exactly how many hours of sleep you get every day. To boost the quality of your sleep you can check out this article I wrote over @DumbLittleMan.

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Wanda the beginner

I am two months in and I eat about 12 eggs aday bout 6meals a day (small) and I already see major changes in appearance and strengh. I-m deadlifting 100kgs now and squading 100kgs too and my bench went from 30kgs to 60kgs. I’m starting to train twice a day now but different bodyparts and have set up my program that I get a full day rest between a certain body part. In the mornings I’ll focus on excesises requiring a multi gym machine and many dumbell excesises, then in the afternoon I go to the gym and use barbells and dumbells strickly. I saw great results in so little time so I’ll up the intensity. I managed to build lean muscle and burn fat. I personaly believe if you workout smart you can go to the gym a lot and not overtrain.

Reply

Dejan

Hey Wanda, great to hear that you managed to find a routine that fits you like a glove. As long as you’re seeing progress with what you’re doing, keep doing that stuff until you milk the gains dry! :)

You’re the perfect example of what’s possible to achieve if you really apply yourself both in the gym and in the kitchen. Nice stats mate, keep us posted on your progress!

PS: Remember to take photos of your progress! You’ll regret not taking before pics once you gain 20 pounds of muscles :)

Reply

Jon

Hi Dejan,

I used to be able to bench 140 lbs but then I stopped working out for 4 months. I’ve been back again for few weeks but somehow I can’t lift more than 120. I may have lost 2/3 lbs and stopped taking Pre-workout supplements (diet is same). What do you think happened?

Jon

Reply

Dejan

Hey Jon, thanks for stopping by :)

There are probably two things holding you back.

First, your nutrition may not be good enough to support muscle and strength gains. Since you mention that you’ve lost 2 to 3 pounds I assume that you’re not eating enough. Once you’re past the very beginner stage, you need to eat more calories than you consume in order to build more muscles. Focus on eating at least 80 grams of protein per day and have a meal rich in carbohydrates after your every workout (keep white rice as your main source of post-workout carbs).

The other thing that is probably holding you back is lack of recovery, namely you’re not sleeping enough. A lot of people (including me!) don’t sleep enough. This is a health hazzard, but also a big muscle building barrier. To get this part of your life handeled, try going to sleep before midnight and get at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night.

By just working on those two factors, I’m really confident to say that you’re going to bring your bench poundage back to where it was. And dare I say it, you’ll even hit new PRs :)

Reply

Some dude

Awasome dude! You reply to all comments … rarely seen any dude like you.

Anyway I want to ask something too. I’m a begginer in building muscles and my town doesn’t have any Gym, aminos, nor do I have a friend who has intrest in bodybuilding. If I’m just doing basic stuff like push ups, chin-ups, bodyweight squats or any basic bodyweight exercise with no tool, will this be enough to build muscle mass?

Reply

Dejan

That’s what NoBrainerMuscle.com is all about … helping you guys gain as much muscle mass as possible! And I believe that answering each and every question I get (via emails, comments, etc.) is the least I can do to help you out :)

Anyway to get to your question … bodyweight exercises can be great for starting out. Here are some strength goals you should strive to get to:

  1. 50 pushups in one go
  2. 20 chinups in one go
  3. 70 bodyweight squats in one go

This is a nice starting point that will give you a solid foundation.

Now if you really want to make serious gains, then you’ll need to either join a gym or, since you can’t do that, build your own home gym. Luckily for you, I’ve written an article on how to build the perfect home gym for less than $500. A must-read if you don’t have an access to a commercial gym.

Hope I answered you question :)

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Liam

Hiya mate, nice article.

I have a massive problem. I’ve been in a plateau for about 6 months and its awful. My weights have barley increased in this time and I’ve tried so many things.

I tried loading 4000 cals a day….didn’t work just gained excess fat
I tried drop sets…didn’t work I just spent longer in the gym
I tried increasing the weight every session…didn’t work I just decreased in reps

Please help, I’ve been lifting for 2 years and I’ve never had anything like this before, it seems impossible to gain muscle, and even worse it seems like in the past month I have actually lost muscle and strength!

Thanks,
Liam

Reply

Dejan

Hey Liam, I know how you feel mate. This happened to me also.

I tackled the problem by switching things up. After doing the same routine for more than 9 months, I got fed up doing the same stuff over and over again. The workouts were a drag and I didn’t feel motivated to really push myself anymore. The end result was that I lifted the same weights each workout and my progress came to a screeching halt.

By switching to a completely different routine (higher reps, higher volume) I managed to bust through my plateau.

Reply

Dylan

Hey loved the article!
So im 16, 6,1 and 208lbs I’ve been playing football for pretty much my whole life and never really got into lifting very much and im a sophomore, I was on JV this last year and the coaches were basically saying JV is the last year you can get away without lifting. So im going to start eating healthy, working out every day, in hope to be a lot stronger by August. Any tips on what kind of lifts to do? Supplements, how many times per week to go to the gym? Pretty much anything that will help me get as strong as possible by August! Thanks a lot!

Reply

Dejan

Hey Dylan, glad to hear that you’re eager to work with weights in order to level up your game :)

First of all, you need to train your body as a unit. For this reason, your main focus should be on compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, chinups, and bench press. A push/pull split once a week should be more than enough to get you started.

You could do your Push training (squat + bench press) one day, then 3 days later you could do the Pull training (deadlifts + chinups). This should give you plenty of recovery time and should not interfere with your football training.

No need for any supplements. Just focus on eating quality foods as much as you can and put a lot of emphasis on your protein intake. For more simple diet tweaks, read this article.

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Pranab

Hey Dejan,

You wrote an awesome artice and I love it! So, here’s my question…

I am 19years old, height 5.10 and weight around 74 kg. I don’t get time to go to the gym as i am studying a lot, but what I is I workout at home. I have two dumbells of 7 kg and here’s my workout:

Sunday – (back and biceps)
3 sets of around 8 reps = pullups (different grips)
3 sets of around 7 reps = chinups (different grips)
3 sets of 15 reps = dumbell curls (I do my all workout very slowly as it gives more intense)

Monday – rest

Tuesday – different types of leg exercises

Wednesday – (chest and triceps)
3 set of around 12reps = pushups (different grips)
3 sets of around 8 reps = standing dips
2 sets of around 6 reps = triceps extension

Thursday – rest

Friday – different abs workout (seat up etc.)

Saturday – rest

My diet = 4 eggs(1 whole and 3 white), 1 glass milk, 2 glass bornvita, 3 times white rice(in a day), 6-7 litres boil water ,green vegetables, 2 pieces of fish and 15-20 pieces of meat (2-3 days in a week)

I am doing this workout since 1 and half month and I have already seen some big diffrence. My weight increased from 66kg to 75kg, arms increased from 12.5 inch to 14.5 inch with less than 15% body fat. Can I carry on this routine for 5-6 months? After that I have decided to join a gym. Can you give me some forearms workout? And is this routine good for me and for my strength?

Reply

Dejan

Hey Pranab, thanks for the detailed comment :)

All I can say is this … good jon! If you find that your routine is giving you results then by all means keep on doing what you’re doing. No need for changes.

Just don’t throw away the yolks because egg yolks contain the most part of the nutrients. Eat whole eggs, they’re good for you.

No need for a forearm routine because with all of those dips and chinups, your forearms are getting a hell of a workout.

Milk this routine dry of it’s gains and only then should you consider moving onto a different routine. How long will this take? I don’t know. Keep track of your lifts and physique and you’ll see when the progress will stop.

Hope I helped :)

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Dylan

Okay thanks a lot! That really helps

Reply

Nick

Hey Dejan,

I like your article. I have a question, as I’m not sure where to start. I’ve let myself go over the years. Currently 32 yrs. old. I’m 6’0″ and topped out at 250 lbs. I’ve lost nearly 40 lbs. over the last 2-3 months by changing my diet. I went head long into a fresh, whole-foods diet (lifestyle change) and it paid off, but I have a long way to go. Now, at 210 lbs., I want to hit the gym, which I haven’t done in years. I hate cardio, and even though I need to lose more fat weight, I’m not doing it that way. I want to get big and ripped honestly (currently big and fat, lol), and from what I understand, you can burn tons of fat by lifting heavy (for bulking muscles).

I figured I’d start with what you recommended, with the push/pull split. I can’t do chin-ups though… yet. Can you give me an alternate exercise for that portion of the “pull” exercise?

I also have a nutrition question. For example, I ate a TON of food yesterday, but it only netted me less than 1500 calories. Here’s my stats after I punched in the info on myfitnesspal.com … 1445 Calories, 123 Carbs, 76g of fat (good fat from avocados, nuts, etc.), and 91g of protien. After doing the math, I need 2,552 calories to maintain what I’m at right now, with no exercise at all. That’s just for me to stay my fat self. But with my diet change, I’m eating tons of food and getting very few calories, like mentioned above. That’s fine if I’m not doing anything, and probably why I’ve lost so much, so quick. But if I want to start lifting, it probably isn’t enough. I’m happy with the amount of protein/carbs/good fat, just worried about caloric intake. What do you think?

Reply

Dejan

Hey Nick!

Loved your story man! Kudos to you for pushing hard at the start … amazing results. Most people stop living this lifestyle after a week or two – consider the 40lbs you lost a big freaking success.

With that said, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.

1. Try to see whether your gym has a machine that can assist you in your chinups. Most gym have them, so there’s no need for you to change the exercise. If they don’t have such a machine, then a good substitute is an exercise called lateral pulldown.

2. Don’t obsess to much about calories, focus on nutrients. Nutrients should be your main focus, but overall caloric levels are also an important factor to consider when trying to lose weight.

Let’s make a quick calculation, on how much calories you really need.

Your weight is 210 lbs and your body fat level is probably +20%. We’re going to deduct 20% from your weight (210 lbs – 20%) in order to get your approximate lean body mass (LBM), which in this case is 168 lbs.

Once we have your LBM, we’re going to multiply it by 14 to get your approximate caloric needs. So 168×14 equals 2352 calories per day. Rounded down, that gives us 2300 kcals/day. This is going to be your caloric intake on your training days.

On your rest days, you’re going to eat 20% less calories – 1800 kcals.

Your protein and fat intake is always going to stay the same – protein 120 grams/day, fat 150 grams/day.

On your training days, just add up the difference of 500 calories/125 grams (2300 kcals – 1800 kcals) in the form of carbohydrates. Starchy carbohydrates from whole foods are preffered (white rice, potatoes, yams, etc.), but frutis are also fair game.

So, to sum it up …
Training days – 2300 kcals, 120 grams of protein, 150 grams of fat and 125 grams of carbs.
Non-training days – 1800 kcals, 120 grams of protein, 150 grams of fat.

Make sure you join a gym asap and eat your carbohydrates AFTER your workouts.

I know you probably have more questions, so fire away here in the comments :)

Hope I helped!

Reply

Nick

This does help Dejan, thank you, and I do have some more questions.

I’m glad to hear that my caloric intake doesn’t have to be too astronomical. My situation is kind of “different” I guess, since most people trying to bulk up and gain muscle size usually aren’t fat blobs to begin with. That’s what has thrown me off course a bit. You read from most lifters that you need to eat a TON to get those muscles big(3000 cal/day, or more!). Well, I’ve ate a ton, but minus the lifting lol. So, my gains came in the way of fat cells. Plus, it wasn’t good, clean food.

I feel like I get a lot of nutrition now, even though I’m not getting a lot of calories. For example: My breakfast and lunch is a “green drink” that I divide in half. It’s a total of 24oz, in which I put 2 cups of spinach, a 7-8″ banana, a medium naval orange, a couple 5″ carrots, 2tbsp of flax seed, and 4tbsp of rolled oats. Half of that is breakfast. Then I eat an apple and about a 1/4 cup of almonds for a snack, and the other half of that shake plus a can of tuna or chicken for lunch. For another snack, I eat some peanut butter and a fruit of some kind. Then, whatever my wife makes for dinner(which is usually some kind of pasta or meat with steamed veggies). I get a lot of nutrients from the drink. It’s basically being flooded right into my blood stream, since there’s very little for my body to have to digest.

I’ve changed my sleeping habits lately also. Before I was going to be around 2am and getting up around 7am, terrible I know. The past week or so, I’ve adjusted that a lot. I’m going to bed around 10pm, and trying to get up around 5am. This is when I plan to get my workout in. Get up at 5, head to the gym, workout, hit the showers, and head on into work. I noticed another article you wrote about not eating before you work out. Do you feel you have plenty of energy for your workout when you do that? I’m one who can’t eat when I wake up, so I will probably be working out on an empty stomach also. It makes me nauseous if I don’t wait a couple hours to eat. At the same time, I don’t want to fizzle out during the workout, or miss out on any gains.

Do you still do the intermittent fasting? I’ve been contemplating on that as well. Also, there’s a book by Mark Rippetoe called “Starting Strength.” Have you heard of it? I haven’t read it, but he suggests drinking a gallon of milk every day as part of your daily intake… wtf? That’s insane! Any idea why anyone would recommend that? From what I’ve read, people have insane results with his program. There’s just so many different opinions on what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat… it’s pretty overwhelming.

Reply

Dejan

The advice that you must stuff yourself with ginormous amounts of food only applies to genetic freaks. For most people this kind of advice is terrible since it usually leads to you getting fat like Jabba the Hutt. And that’s not good :)

A good rule to follow (if you want to get a more athletic physique) is to limit your intake of refined carbs as much as possible. I’m talking about pasta, white bread and any other processed crap. Put your focus on eating as much protein with every meal (meats, eggs, fish, nuts, etc.).

As far as intermittent fasting goes (a.k.a. skipping breakfast), I still do it. All of my personal records in all of the lifts have been achieved on an empty stomach. The thing with training on an empty stomach is that you have to get used to it. It’s not that hard, especially since you’ve mentioned that you don’t like to eat upon waking up. But once you do get used to it, believe me when I say, that you’re going to feel awesome! So much more clarity, mental focus … your lifts are going to improve for sure. And don’t worry, your muscle mass is going to stay intact :)

As far as different diets n’ stuff goes, everyone has to find out what works best for him. What works great for me, might not work the same for you. And the only way to find that out is through self-experimentation. Sure, finding what works best for you will take time, but that’s a time well spent. It’s like having some kind of superpower, where you know exactly how different kinds of foods affect you physical and psychological state.

And don’t drink a gallon of milk a day … you’ll probably just end up being a fat ass.

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Nick

Hey Dejan,

I’m trying to figure up my food intake based on the numbers you suggested in your first reply. I’m hitting a wall. I’m getting about 130g of protein, but only about 55g of fat, and only 1500 calories throughout the day. I was initially going to try intermittent fasting, running 8hrs on and 16hrs off. However, the 8 hour window would be starting around 6am, after my workout. For that first meal, I was planning to do a green smoothie and a protein shake(953 cal/46g fat/49g protein). Then another protein shake for a “snack” and a chicken breast/1cup broccoli/1cup corn for “lunch.” That’s where I’m getting the numbers first mentioned. If I beef that up to get the 2300 calories and another 95g of fat, it would probably come during my evening meal with the family, which would be outside of my 8 hour window. What do you think, given that information?

Oliver

Thank you so much for the information :D

Just have a few questions:
1. I do a tough physical sport which requires strength, explosiveness and speed. what would be the best workout for me and how would i do it.
2. I have no weights or anything at my house so what can i do according to the things i listed above?
3. My right side is slightly more muscular (legs, torso, arms, lats etc.), how can i even it out?
4. How can i get big lats and neck muscles and leg muscles?

Thank you so much !!

Reply

Dejan

Hey Oliver,

1. A whole body workout should be a good addition to your sport. Chinups, pushups, dips, air squats (once you get stronger legs you could do pistol squats). For bodyweight exercises there’s no routine. Just do those exercises as much as you’d like but keep on doing more every workout.
2. Read the point #1.
3. Just keep on doing the above exercises since I doubt that the right side is much more imbalanced than the left.
4. If you want to get big, fix your diet. Start by adding to your daily diet 1 lbs of meat (go with the cuts that are well within your budget) and 3 eggs. With that workout and the improved diet, you’ll finally start to grow more muscles on your targeted areas.

Hope I helped :)

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Leah

Hi Dejan,

Your article is very helpful. I have recently started taking personal training sessions to get back into shape and build stamina. I am 5’7, and weigh about 130lbs. I am taking strength training classes as my primary goal is to get toned and not lose any weight. I have started monitoring my food intake (myfitnesspal) daily. My trainer had mentioned that their nutrient values are incorrect, and had suggested I should take around 130gm of protein, 190gm of carb, and 2000calories a day. He also had mentioned that I should not eat brown rice or pasta if I want to get rid of my belly fat (that’s my biggest concern). However, I am having hard time with my food intake, while trying to meet the calorie count. I eat wheat bread with peanut butter, almonds, chicken, protein shake, brown rice with veggies or fish. But is it true the fastest way to get rid of belly fat is to cut down on carbs and eat clean carbs? what are clean carbs? can I have green smoothies all day long and protein drinks (I have started drinking syntha6 isolate) as a substitute for the carbs I am taking now? I am lost. I would appreciate if you could suggest any website that lists what foods to take and what amounts. Thank you.

Reply

Dejan

Hey Leah!

Glad to hear you’re using a calorie tracking app to keep track of how much food you eat :) That’s really cool!

I like to keep things simple. I think that your trainer gave you good starting numbers, except for carbs. I think that might be too big of a number for you.

Here’s what I want you to try.

On non-training days, you’d want to eat only protein and fats (1800 calories total). Carbs are allowed, but only from veggies. So you’d eat 130 grams of protein (520 calories) and the rest of the calories (1800 – 520 = 1280 calories) should come from good, quality fats – 142 grams (1280/9).

On non-training days eat fattier cuts of meat, eggs (don’t throw the yolk away!), nuts (like almonds), full fat cottage cheese (if you can tolerate dairy products), oils (olive, fish, coconut oil, etc.).

Eat as much veggies as you can.

On training days, just add 2 or 3 big bananas after your workouts. Other than that, eat the same foods as on your non training days.

Once you get leaner and your workouts start to get more and more intense, you should slowly cut back on the calories from fat and substitute them with carbs.

Hope I helped :) In case you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

Cheers,

Dejan

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Leah

Thank you, Dejan. That was very helpful. I will start doing so from now on. One last question, what about greens and fruits? You have suggested to eat as much veggies as I can, does that mean I can have green smoothies (with a scoop of syntha6) as a snack or meal? Also, I was suggested not to take sugars in order to get abs toned. Are sugars from fruits bad for abs? Please suggest. Thanks.

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Dejan

You’re welcome Leah! :)

A vegetable smoothie is a nice snack. Plus points for smoothies that are made from organic, localy grown veggies.

Sugar from fruits is still sugar. While fruits also contain important enzymes, vitamins and minerals that help your body digest it’s sugar content (fructose), try to keep your fruit intake limited just to your post-workout meals.

Or as I like to say … consider fruit as a healthy piece of candy. It’s good to have them once in a while, but not every day.

That’s if you’re going after that mythical six-pack :)

As for protein powders, get one that doesn’t have any carbs in it. To me 15 grams of carbs per serving is a bit too much (Syntha-6). You should try getting this one instead http://bit.ly/ZOd9IQ

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Jake

Will running 3 miles once a week prevent me from gaining muscle mass? I currently weight 140 and would like to get around 165 or 170. I have mma twice a week as well on monday and wednesday. Which days do you reccomend I lift in order to get the proper rest I need to gain ?

Reply

Dejan

Hey Jake!

I don’t think that running 3 miles once a week will do much of a damage to your muscle building potential.

As which days should be your gym days, I’d say to go for those days in which you don’t have your mma practice. Since you’re already practicing a sport (I’m going to assume that mma is your main focus and weight lifting plays a second fiddle to mma) I suggest that you do a full body workout when at the gym.

Your workout routine should have a compound pushing movement with 1 or 2 accessory exercises (overhead press + dumbbell bench press), a compound pulling movement with 1 or 2 accessory exercises (chin ups + dumbbell rows) and squats or deadlifts.

I think a well rounded, whole-body workout routine will do wonders for your mma progress.

And since you’re going to be training for the most part of the week, do your best to get as much quality sleep as possible and eat as much nutritious food as you can. This is a freaking must because otherwise you’re risking overtraining.

Hope this answers your question :)

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Audric

Awesome article mate, hopefully you still do replys as I have heaps of questions! ;-) Firstly I am sad as you so noodles/pasta is bad. Its my favourite food and I take on a 220g pack of noodles for lunch everyday. They have 1 gram of fat and 0.1g of that is saturated. Also they have 50g ofcarbs and 10g of protein. I thought it was a miracle to find them amongst all the high fat noodles. I fry them up with 4 egg whites for lunch each day with no oil and a 0.1g fat pasta source. Its also low sugar overall. This is my staple meal, should I change it? I workout 4 days a week with a body split routine and I think my slow fat loss/ muscle gain is from low sleep and not recording food. Should I quit the pasta noodles? Cheers

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Dejan

Hey Audric, I reply to every single comment I get :)

First of all there’s no need for you to fear fat. Fat is an essential nutrient (especially saturated fat) required for many processes withing the body. Don’t fall for the “low-fat” marketing trick since such products are usually stuffed with sugar.

As to pasta noodles, here’s what I think. If I were you, I’d switch those noodles for white rice and I’d keep my carbohydrate consumption limited to my post-workouts meals. I love pasta too, but with years of experimentation I’ve noticed that pasta is not good for me because it gets me really bloated.

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Audric

I may as well post everything up now rather than wait haha ;-) so I read your article and immediately i know areas that I can improve but theres still a few things I need your help with mate. Im 18, working a 10 hour day as a labourer where im almost always on my feet. Ive been on/off gym in 2012 during school but now ive been fully commited to my 4 to 5 day routine since jan 1st 2013. My eating has improved heaps in terms of protein and carbs plus limiting fat and sugar. I do chest abbs arms obliques on Mondays and Thursdays and legs back and shoulders on Tuesdays and Fridays. I use a whey protein isolate which I think is good for my post w.out shake and a full serve of n.o. explode for preworkout plus a protein and carb meal and some extra creatine. I take on creatine during my workout to. I desperatley need my pre drink for the energy because im exhausted after a 5-6 day week. I weigh 80 kilos consistently over the past 5 weeks or so and have plateaued out. I only get 6-7 hours sleep tops so I think I need bedtime at 8? Also ill begin counting kilojules (aussie) but as a bloke who has cut down from 90kg and fat since last year im stuck at 80. Im not sure ive ever put on mass on the scales but ive improved vissually a little. I definitely hit the weights hard but can struggle with technique on some exercises. Also should I move from my isolation exercises such as chest fly and concentration curls into the compounded ones you reccomend? I workout alone so no squatters and ive never done compound before so I would be starting over again I guess. Also do you think I should cut my 5th day on Sunday out which is 35 minutes hard cardio? I just do it to keep cutting the last of the fat off. Perhaps eating perfectly is a better option and resting as im regularly tied.(5 oclock wake for work and hit gym at 6pm for about 1.5 hours) sorry for the terrible grammar, when I get home ill delete and repost. Im just keen to fix my errors and I know already- compounds not isolations- 2 more hours sleep at least- count kj in food and eat better and more. Please add any tips in you can offer, im happy with my supplements which I changed to recently as they proved a big help. Thanks again!

Reply

Dejan

Love your dedication mate, despite having a tough job! Kudos mate.

I think you pretty much answered your questions. Ditch the isolation work for compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, dips, militray press, etc. Isolation exercises are fine as a supplement for their big brothers (e.g. pec fly can be a supplement exercise for the weighted dips or the bench press).

And probabbly the main reason why your progress has stopped is because the lack of sleep/recovery. Cut the cardio you have on Sundays and change that with an afternoon nap (90 minutes). You should even cut another workout from your weekly load (to 4 workouts/week) to get more sleep in. Keep in mind that you have a tough job.

As for keeping track of your food intake, I strongly recommend that you use an app on your smartphone to do that. Apps like FatSecret, LoseIt!, MyFitnessPal should make the task of logging your daily food intake a breeze. Try them out and reap the rewards that come with logging the food you eat:)

Reply

Audric

Oh actually I’m getting an appraisal before my w.out today so I can see the 1 year difference since 17 and started the gym. I just thought I’d add that I dont have noodles every meal. Just lunch/pre/dinner. I take my mineral tablets, berocca and immune boosters daily with oats porridge and weatbix haha. Another couple of questions, I take 2 wpi shakes a day, first thing morning, straight after w.out and sometimes half a shake before w.out. No additives just lots of whey protein and bcaas. Should I take on more? I guess I’ll see if I need it when I count calories. How much kilojules should I consume daily? How much protein, carbs, fats? So far I just max the first 2 and limit fats a.m.a.p. Lastly I struggle with my left arm at concentration curls which use to train my biceps. Im 5 kg less (12.5-15kg) than my right arm (17.5-20kg). I feel the gap is widening and soon ill be leaving my left arm behind as its rising slowly. It doesnt look any smaller, in fact until recently I thought my left bicep was bigger. Any tips on what to do about this? I’m using the same technique, but I use my right arm for daily use so is this why its lifting more? Sorry for so many posts, I’ll clear it up into a single big one when I get home, keen for tips. Thanks for the guide to.;-)

Reply

Dejan

Hey Audric, just keep the questions coming ;)

In order to get your biceps to the same level of strength and size, I’d suggest that next time you’re doing concentration curls, start with the left arm and finish the set with the right arm (use the same weight). If you’re for example able to do 15 reps with the left arm, then with the right arm do 15 reps with the same weight and stop at that (even if you could do 15 more reps with the right arm). This way both of your arms will get an equal amount of work so that your left arm can catch up with the right arm.

As for your caloric intake, start with eating 2500 kcals (cca. 10500 kilojoules) and slowly adjust the total amount of calories per day based on your progress (if you’re gaining weight, decrease the number and vice versa). On your non training day eat as much protein and fats, while keeping the carb intake low. On training day keep the protein and carbs (eat carbs after your workouts!) high while keeping fat relatively low.

Reply

Simon

If I were to follow a training plan, with supplements and whey protein to enhance muscle growth, and then I decided I was happy with my body mass and wished to maintain it, is it possible to come off the supplements and do it naturally??

Reply

Dejan

Hey Simon!

The great thing about muscles is that maintenance requires a lot less effort than trying to build muscles from scratch. So to answer your question, you should be fine if you drop your supplements once you’re happy with your body mass.

Hope this answers your question :)

Reply

Audric

Hey Dejan, thanks for the replies! I’ll move more towards rice when im out of food next time ;-) I had my 2nd appraisal since joining the gym a year or more ago and have great news. Firstly I was 95 (clothed) early 2012 and now im 85 (clothed) kg. I have a bit more to strip off but the abbs are starting to come through. I also was fitness tested again and had risen from fair to very good which is alright. More importantly part of my membership is that the personal trainers make me up a program for what I want (mass) and I have only just found out about this, 1 year late haha. So now I think you’d be happier with my program, I think it looks decent. 4 days, 1 – legs & abbs. 2 – shoulders and biceps. 3 – pecs and triceps. 4 – back and abbs. Squats and bench are the compound additions with a mix of body weight, free weights and machines to round each workout off. My challenge will be perfecting technique haha. The additional sleep is already doing wonders to my average day! I’ve been using myfitnesspal on my phone since Monday and I’ll show this to the bloke whose helping me out with everything to see where to change. Apart from an xxl update post I wanted to ask you how to figure out how much calories I need per day? The apps all seem to focus on weight loss and the web calculators seem to all focus on 3700 calories for maintenance! That must be wrong.. because I hear you need 500-1000 extra for mass gaining. Thats almost 5k calories.. im 188cm, 80kg (no clothing) and 18 years old. (Male) any tips on figuring out how many calories I need? I already pump in 3300 – 3500 a day with 6 meals. Cheers for any help with the food problem mate.

Reply

Dejan

Ok, in my previous comment I told you to eat somewhere around 2500 kcals … I thought you were kind of small and that you were going for fat loss (don’t know why I thought that :).

Anyway in order to get your caloric intake, just multiply your weight in pounds and multiply that number with 18 (176 pounds/80 kilograms x 18). This gives you 3200 kcals you need to eat every day in order to gain weight. Same rules apply … this is just a starting point and adjust your caloric level based on your progress (if you’re gaining too much fat, decrease the number a little bit and vice versa). On your non training day eat as much protein and fats, while keeping the carb intake low. On training day keep the protein and carbs (eat carbs after your workouts!) high while keeping fat relatively low.

And btw, kudos for making such an awesome progress with your fitness level :)

Hope this answers your question … if you have anything else left unanswered, let me know :)

Reply

Audric

Cheers for the awesome feedback man, im taking away the last of any processed foods and am hitting about 3.3k a day in calories. Ill get in touch in a month to let you know my progress if you like. :) mass gains should be heaps quicker anyway.

Reply

Dejan

Please do keep us updated with your progress :)

Reply

Akshay sahni

Dear Dejan,

I worked out for 6 months at a stretch last year but due to some reasons I stopped my workouts.
Now from last 1 week I am going to gym.
My diet:
3 eggs(egg white only) in the morning with regular breakfast at 8 am and a multivitamin tablet.
2 eggs and my lunch at around 1 pm.
2 boiled potatoes for energy before going to gym and a calcium tablet.
4 eggs after workout.
white rice in dinner at around 8 pm.

Now the thing is,I am looking forward to gain muscles.
I have bought “ON SERIOUS MASS GAINER(Each serving offers 1250 calories – with 50 grams protein and 250 grams of carbohydrates.)”.

According to you at what time should I take my supplement and how much in quantity?
Should I take it after my workout and before going to bed?

Also,should I take my supplement on my rest days?(i work out 5 days a week)

Should I add or subtract anything to my diet in order to gain muscles?

Reply

Dejan

Hey Akshay,

First of all I’d suggest that you ditch the gainer for some wholesome foods. By stuffing your face with weight gainers there’s a high chance that you’ll just gain extra weight in the form of fat.

With that said (and since you’ve already bought the thing) drink your mass gainer after your workouts and make sure that your workouts are intense because otherwise, there’ll be no need for all that sugar. No need to take the mass gainer on your off days.

Keep the diet as it is and make corrections as time goes by. If you see that you’re not getting stronger after a few weeks of regular weight lifintg, try boosting your calories by adding 3 extra eggs to your diet (can also be something else that has the same amount of calories).

Hope this clears things up :)

Reply

Audric

Hey Dejan, hows things?
Im a little lost on the correct macronutrient ratios for nyself while cutting and bulking. Im only at 17.7% body fat now so ive got a long way until 12% which is when I plan on switching for a period to bulking. I currently take on 3350 calories daily and the split is 220g of protein, 470g of carbs and 40g of fats. My sugar is below 40g to. Do I need to up the fats and down the carbs? My results show ive slimmed but if it could be improved ide make a change. Also its about 15 mono 15 poly and below 10g for sat fats. Thanks for any help!

Reply

Dejan

Hey Audric, don’t obsess too much over numbers. Eat as you’ve already started and see how it goes. If you find out that you’re gaining excess fat then cut on the carbs.

If you don’t see any strength/muscle gains, increase your caloric intake a little bit (preferably with protein or fat).

Reply

Marco

Hey man, really nice elaborated article. Im not northamerican so pardon my english.

First of all im quite overweight, i’ve been working out for 9 weeks with 45mins of cardio and an hour of 15lb dumbbells chest presses on mondays, biceps/triceps/shoulders on wednesday and shoulders/chest on saturday and i focus on chest because I used to have man boobs but lost them with the chest workouts. I really like cardio and i kep a clean, strict diet. My only bad habit is i go to sleep really late, and i often workout a 9 or 10pm. Should i do cardio on morning (i do cardio every single day, only rest on fridays and sundays) and lifting on the night?

Problem is i still have small love-handles and a little fatty belly. I just track my success on the mirror since i dont really care about weight just sizes. Any suggestions and/or recommendations?

Reply

Dejan

Thanks for the kind words Marco :)

No need for morning cardio since getting more sleep will help you burn more body fat (better hormonal profile). Ditch the cardio for now, continue to weight train and get more sleep. I suggest that you move your weight training in the morning hours so that you’ll be able to go to sleep a bit more earleir.

As for the love handles, just keep on training and focus on eating wholesome and nutritious food. Love handles are the last ones to go so a bit more effort will be required on your part.

Reply

Udeit

Hi Dejan
First of all I would like to say, amazing article. You have just made it so simple to understand, which usually would be so complicated in the bodybuilding books and online forums.
Secondly, I would like to ask a question. I am 30 years old, I have been lifting weights for 14 weeks now, but like you said, I just saw the beginners difference. I saw my body change a little bit and then it stopped completely to show any improvement. Now I know the reason can be that I am not taking in enough calories( thanks to you, I can figure that out now), but my question is how much calories should I be looking at a day to take to start putting on some muscle mass slowly?
Is it something to do with my BMR?
I am 30 year old, 6.0 feet tall, 180 pounds in weight.
Is there any specific calorie amount you can suggest along with carbs and fats as well for me? I am so confused in this area of nutrition.
Also, I have heard that after a certain age i.e 30-33 your body produces much less amount of testosterone than what it used to. Do you think I should try some testosterone supplements or they are just waste of money?
Thanks a lot in advance and am sorry everyone for being such a long question guy, but I would really appreciate.
Thank you

Reply

Dejan

Hey Udeit!

First of all, I love long and detailed questions like yours … thy bring value to the blog and the community :) Keep them coming!

To get to your questions …

1. How much calories should I be looking at a day to take to start putting on some muscle mass slowly?

An easy way to start is to take your body weight and multiply it by 15.

180 pounds x 15 = 2700 kcals/day

This is how many calories you’ll be eating on your training day. The protein requirement is 120 grams/day (480 kcals/day) regardless if you’re training or not and the same goes for fat which is 100 grams/day (900 kcals/day). The remanining calories (1320 kcals/day) should come in the form of carbohydrates 330 grams/day in the form white rice, potatoes, yams, etc.

For your off days, just ditch the carbs and add protein and fat liberally. Don’t count calories on your off day, just make sure that you’re eating wholesome and nutritious foods.

2. Do you think I should try some testosterone supplements or they are just waste of money?

It’s true. As we grow older our bodies start to produce less testosterone, but that’s nothing to worry about since the decrease is measured in miniscule percentages as I can recall.

If you’re involced in strength training and have a clean diet, your T levels can be as high as the T levels of a 20-year-old guy. Definitely no need for testosterone supplements of any kind.

Hope I answered your questions. In case you have more questions just ask :)

Reply

Skinnynerd

Hi I have just been going through this site and wow I respect your effort on this website. Most people don’t bother answering so much questions from people. I’d like to thank you on behalf of every one lol. My question is I’m a skinny guy, my wieght is around 130 pounds or about 60 kg i think. Im really insecure about my body, ive always been skinny. When i was 17 i tried lifting free wieghts i did it for about 3 months after only achieving minimal physical gains and probably only doubles strenghth i have up. At the time i nothing about calories oh and i would drink wieght gainer thinking its some sort of miracle juice. Im now 21 for the last few months iv been severely ill but since have recovered i really want to change my physique, i was told i should eat about 2700 calories a day, problem is i dont know of any known problems i have with diary product but i just cant stomach too much, even when i was 17 the weight gainer would give me diarrhea sometimes, even now when i eat crazy amount of fast food i get a bad stomach thats my first worry. I was wondering what i should eat to eat 2700 claries a day because my stomach seems to not be able to handle to much milk or spicy stuff also more importantly im going college in 8 weeks and want to atleast put on 8 pounds by then. Im a student with low cash so i was wondering what cheap foods i could use to sulpplement my diet and should i buy wieght gainer? I know this may seem like nothing but i am really insecure about my body so not only am i low on money im embarrassed to be seen as the skinny nobody struggling to lift baby wieghts so i wanted to start at home and gain mass before joing gym, i have barbell, dumbells at home, i was thinking of starting with push ups, dips, chin ups and sqauts, i was wondering would that add muscle mass ? Also with that in mind what sort of training would you recomend, thanks help would be greatlult appreciated, sorry for typos using a ipod touch

Reply

Dejan

Hey there SkinnyNerd :)

I was once a skinny nerd too and the first thing I must tell you is that you need to change the way you view yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re skinny or chubby or whatever, the only thing that really counts is what’s in your hearth. I’ve seen a lot of “skinny nerds” that sell themselves short, just because they THINK they’re not worth enough when in reality, quite the contrary is true.

The best way to start gaining confidence is to take on new activities in forms of sports or any other hobby that you like.

In my opinion, weight lifting is the best catalyst for personal growth, so kudos for taking that up. You’ll see that the better you become at lifting (or at any sport/hobby for that matter) the more confident you’ll become.

To get to your specific questions …

How much and what should I eat?

My first advice to you would be to eliminate all of the junk and processed foods in favor of wholesome and nutritious foods. Don’t worry about counting calories and what not, just eat nutritios meals that will leave you feeling full. Focus is on proteins (all food sources that at one point in time had eyeballs), leafy vegetables and quality fats (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.).

How should I train?

For starters, every workout should be a full body routine, meaning that you train all of the muscles of your body in a single workout. Focus should be on big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pullups, dips, etc and for the fisnish you can do some arm exercises to get that oh-so-desired pump :) Start with a training frequency of 3 workouts per week and see where that takes you.

Hope I answered your questions :)

Reply

Richard

I’m 5ft 8 36 yrs old 187 lbs with 28.4% body fat. I eat super clean and I eat 1604 calories a day to lose weight. I believe I need. 2100 to maintain. Just started lifting last 2 weeks. The guy who is training me has me doing 3 day splits. I’m not losing any weight. I also get 8 hrs of sleep 11 pm to 7 am. Need some help.

Reply

Dejan

Hey Richard!

I’d suggest that you ditch the three day splits in favor of full body workouts, that focus on big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pullups, etc. In my experience begginners benefit greatly if the focus on getting stronger on big compound movements first before moving on to more advanced stuff.

Ask the guy who’s training you to make you a routine that has you moving weight in all planes of motion (vertical pushing, vertical pulling, horizontal pushing, horizontal pulling, knee dominant exercise, hip dominant exercise).

Reply

Richard

I’m also just starting to daily IF basically skipping breakfast. I was wondering if this was a good idea. I eat between noon and 8 pm.

Reply

Dejan

If you’re trying to lose weight then IF is a great thing to try :)

Reply

westley

Hi Dejan. Thanks a lot for the info. another thing I find to work very well is to only go to gym 3 times a week when bulking, I have seen great gains from this. What do you think?

Reply

Dejan

If you’re experiencing great gains from what you’re doing than definitely keep on doing that :)

Reply

Tyrone

Hi. I’m 22 and I’ve been working out for a couple years now. I started of quite slim and I’ve managed to build strength and muscle over the years. My biggest problem is that I keep getting stronger as I lift the same or even more than the huge guys in my gym but I find it hard to bulk up. I often have people tell me that my strength don’t match my size that I should take protein shakes and stuff. I don’t really believe in supplements. Protein powders and the rest and I try to each as much as I can. Chicken and the rest of it as I’m a terrible hardgainer but I decided to try it 3 months back. I just ran out couple weeks ago and I still lift the same weights but withing days of running out I noticed my arms are sort of thinning out again even though I haven’t slowed down my training pattern which is the reason I don’t believe in those supplements because I think they are temporary. What can I do to see permanent results especially with arms training as this is the first part I notice when I lose size. Thanks!

Reply

Dejan

Hey Tyrone!

I’m in the same boat as you (my strength doesn’t match my size) because I can out lift far bigger guys than me in most of the big lifts yet my muscle gains seem to be much smaller than theirs.

The only good advice I can give you is that you should focus on getting stronger in your lifts and if arm size is what you’re after then you should also focus on doing some direct arm exercises like dumbbell curls and skull crushers. Get good in those lifts and I’m pretty sure you will see some improvement in your arms.

And also make sure that you diet is full of nutritious foods to support that muscle growth.

Reply

Jessica

Hello, Dejan, my question is in regards to muscle gain on my thighs, I’m 136 pounds, 5/3 36 years old, I want to know how can I tone an build muscles so I can get rid off flabby thighs also how can I tone my belly, I will love to lose some weight, but not much, just 10 pounds. Please help. Thanks in advance, Jessica.

Reply

Dejan

Hey Jessica!

The answer to your problem is simple … SQUATS. By working your legs with big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, leg presses you’ll be able to build up the muscles in your legs and this will give you that nice looking curves you’re so after. And remember as you’re building muscles you’ll also lose some fat in that troubled area :)

Reply

Tyrone

Thanks alot Dejan for your reply. Needed to hear that there’s someone else out the in the same boat as me. One more thing is when I go to te gym and put in work, I see results there in the gym as my muscles get so tensed up and I so big but when I sleep and wake up next morning, I feel as if my muscle relaxes way too much It’s quite frustrating and I sometimes think that working out for me is just a back and forth thing where my muscles just contract and relax without any visible growth

Reply

Dejan

Tyrone, when you’re working out, your muscles get flushed with extra blood, making them feel more tense and bigger – in the fitness world, this phenomenon is known as “the pump”. Unfortunately, the pump only lasts for about 30 to 60 minutes, which means that after your workout is over, your muscles are quick to return to their normal state.

Reply

Jessica

Thank you so much, Dejan, I Also have a question in regards to dieting should I have a diet with out carbohydrate, or should I just avoid sugar, I have a hard time knowing what is a good diet for me, also if I follow your plan with those exercises, how long should I see any results, I know it won’t happened overnight, but just wondering. Thanks again in advance, Jessica

Reply

Dejan

Jessica, to see results, you’ll have to put in the work over the long term. I really can’t tell you how fast you’ll be able to gain muscle mass since this depends on a lot of factors. But make sure you show up to the gym every time you’re supposed to train, because that’s the only way you’ll be able to tell your body to grow.

As far as the carbohydrate in your diet goes, limit your carb intake to your post workout meal. And be sure to avoid the sugar as much as you can :)

Reply

John

Hi. Im 18 year’s old. I mostly just work out my arms by using dumbbells. I dont pay attention to my eating that much since my mom is CRAZY about health(to the point that i dont want to make it seem like im bs’ing but she reads about health at least 4 hours a day) when it comes to cooking thats another thing.. She will wash a tomato at least 5 times before she cuts it. She knows im trying to build arm muscle, so she reads mostly about that since 2 years ago when i started. She makes me eat salmon fish most the time sometimes 4/7 days a week. She also gives me all these kinds of vitamins everyday bla bla bla.. So i dont worry about my eating that much. I did see alot of different in the 8 months that i worked out but then i quit for about 6 months. I was wondering how much muscle have i lost in that period of time? (not worked out at all, maybe 5-6 times) now i started lifting again and of course im not trying to be huge in a week or a month. Im curious of how much muscle i lost and how long would it take me to get the lost muscle back and build from there..? I lift about 3 times a day, about 45-60 mins each. Now i KNOW that it is pointless to workout if you dont sleep and rest in between each.. BUT i get at least 1 to 2 hours of sleep (sometimes more) in between of each workout session. Im really not trying to gain muscle and be buffed in a few months. Its just theres nothing to do and i mean theres NOTHING to do (even though i am working mostly on weekends) thats why ive been curious if the sleeping between each workout is OK? and how long would it take to get all that muscle i had that i lost? (i see a HUGE difference in arms when i work out now but its like a balloon.. it gets really buffy after each workout like how it was 6 months ago but then dissapears in about 30 minutes)
Just curious :)
THANKS and A GREAT ARTICLE. (my English is not perfect sorry)

Reply

Dejan

Hey John!

The experience that you describe (your muscles being pumped after your workout) is called the pump. It usually lasts approx. 30 minutes after you finish working out. It’s a nice feeling, but it’s only temporary.

Great to hear that you have a health conscious mom :) There aren’t that many of them in these days.

As for how much muscle mass you’ve lost during the time you haven’t been working out … there’s no way to know and it really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you’re back in the gym, focused to get your strength and size back. Due to muscle memory, your progress will be much faster this time, but I can’t give you any concrete number as for when exactly you’ll regain your old strength and size level.

Keep on lifting brah :)

Reply

Jacob

I’m gonna start going to my college gym trying to build up my arm muscle mass how long do u think until it show results if I’m doing that 3 times a week for 5 months

Reply

Dejan

Hey Jacob,

While there’s no way for me of knowing how much muscle mass you’ll be able to put on in that time frame, I can tell you with confidence that you’ll see great results if you really dedicate yourself to a good workout routine.

Reply

brendan

Hi dejan I’m 15 years old and I’ve been trying to gain muscle weight I worked for 3 months and was at 115 now I’m at 130, the past three weeks I hit a wall and haven’t gained any weight at all I eat as much as possible but It still hasn’t helped

Reply

Dejan

Hey Brendan,

Just make sure you’re focusing your effort on getting stronger on the compound exercises. This will definitely help you gain some muscle size.

Reply

Furqan

HELLO
I am 19 years old.I have started gym 2 months ago and also used protein supplements( nitrotech hardcore). But not gained size as compared to earlier. I have a good physique. Please help me why protein shakes didn’t worked on my muscle growth. I have done all of my best on increasing weights but still no result.

Thanks

Reply

Dejan

Hey Furqan,

Just like I told to Brendan, make sure you’re focusing your effort on getting stronger on the compound exercises. This will definitely help you gain some muscle size.

Reply

Kevin

Wow, great article. Took me ages to scroll down so I could leave a comment. Thanks for writing this. Just noted some points down. Currently 155lbs and wanting to get to 180lbs.

Getting to my goal slowly. Wish me luck!

Reply

Dejan

Just keep lifting the weights and you’ll get to your goal :)

Reply

James

Hey Dejan,

Great article here, answers a lot of questions so a great help!

If you have a spare minute id like to run my training regime by you. I’m 24 years old, 6’1′ and 173lbs. Because of work I only manage to train 3 times a weeks. I split these into chest/abs, bi’s/tri’s and back. I play a lot of football which helps with leg gains. My body fat is around 13% so I’m happy with my definition but struggle to add any noticeable gains to my upper body. I can only bench around 55kgs which is not good enough. I mainly work out using dumbells and cables, I’m due to change my routine and wonder if you have any tips? My diet is relatively healthy, I eat a lot of chicken, rice, eggs and whey protein shakes.
Any advice would be appreciated buddy!
Thanks again.

Reply

Dejan

Hey James!

What I’d suggest to you is to ditch the isolation and cable exercises for basic compound lifts like chin-ups, dips, bench press, military press, deadlift, dumbbell rows, etc. Probably the reason why your upper back is not growing is due to the fact that you’re failing to give the upper body muscles a strong enough signal to grow.

Reply

Slav

Hey Dejan,

I am 20 years old and a pretty advanced weight-lifter. I weigh 200 pounds. I am up to 235 pounds on the bench press and I am up pretty high on every other exercise. I almost feel like just by looking at my physique, noone could tell that I can do such high weight. The reason why I say this is because my friend is the same height as me (6’4″) and about 205, but his arms are just bigger, his legs are bigger, yet I do a lot heavier weight than him.

I understand that my genes have a big role to play here, but theres got to be a way for me to break that barrier.

Thanks!

Reply

Dejan

Hey Slav!

I know how frustrating it can be when you’re able to outlift somebody, yet they have more developed muscles overall. The only thing you can do here is to continue on getting stronger and try to put some of your focus on doing some direct arm work (biceps: hammer curls, pull-ups, dumbbell rows, etc. while for the chest: close grip bench press, skull crushers, lying dumbbell extensions, etc.). Add to that a nutrient rich diet and a sound sleeping schedule and hopefully, then you’ll be able to gain some inches on your arms.

One more thing to make sure is that you’re not being overly critical with yourself. If you’re lifting that much weight, then you’re probably showing noticeable results, but the thing is that we don’t notice the gains in ourselves as other people do (especially the people who haven’t seen in you in quite some time), since we’re checking our physiques every day in the mirror.

Be patient my friend and keep on lifting them weights! :)

Reply

Jon

I seem to get bigger easier when I train each body part only once a week,. When I train a muscle twice a week , I physically lose 1/4″ instantly, does this make sense?

Reply

matthew

hello i am 19 nearly 20 6 foot 12 stone i was wondering if you could give me some advice as i recently went from 18 stone to 11.7 in fat and have been stabalized at 12 for a year now i have quite alot of loose skin which i would like to try to fill out into with muscle but other then push ups and pull ups i do not know much about weight training also how many calories would you recomend i consume daily as i am currently a meat picker walking for 9-10 hours a night at a fast pace in a fridge and climbing in and out of fridges / usually carrying 20 +kilo on average

Reply

Dejan

Hey Matthew,

In order to get the amount of calories you need, just take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 14 or 15. At at hose levels and see where it takes you and then adjust as needed. Check my previous comment for a more detailed explanation (check also the question from the reader).

http://nobrainermuscle.com/gain-muscle-mass/#comment-287

Hope I helped :)

Reply

Moody

Hello there Dejan, very useful article and comments answered are very helpful also. You rock :D Anyway lets get to my question.

How do I lose body fat but still gain muscle and get big? I know if I want to lose fat I should consume more than my body burns but wouldnt that make me just lose fat and not gain muscle? Because obviously I would need to consume more than I burn in order to get big, right? This is so confusing.. I’m 21 yo, 5’9, 143 lbs and about 13-14 bf. I want to get to 9-10 bf but gain size and be like 165-170 pounds so how many cals I should consume in order to gain weight and lose fat at the same time?? Right now I workout 6 times a week hitting every muscle twice.
Thanks in advance.

Reply

Dejan

Hey Moody,

When you’re starting out, building muscle mass and losing body fat is kind of the same thing. If your training is OK, then you’re going to gain muscle mass while losing body fat at the same time – focus on building strength and both things will follow (but really, lift with intensity) :)

Reply

Moody

It makes sense that when you get stronger you get bigger muscles. I will watch my rest periods between sets and add a little superset or dropset .
Thank you so much! Just read the email you sent :)

Reply

Dejan

No problemo Moody, I’m here to help :)

Reply

Ivan Stanchev

Hello Dejan, thank you for your wonderful advices.
I started working out like 3 months ago with the goal to build muscles. I havent set any particular goals not to feel frustrated or disappointed if things dont work out well. I just train hard and I see some noticable effects so far. I am now ready to bring things to the next level.
I decided to purchase the Optimum nutrition pro complex mass gainer. The thing is, I hear constantly different ways to take it. While everybody agree I need to take a dose after work out and before bed, how should I take it during non work-out days ?

Reply

Dejan

Ivan,

Weight gainers are imo just a waste of your money. The only thing a weight gainer will help you do, is get fat.

If lean muscle mass is what you’re after, focus on making your workouts count and really flood your body with wholesome nutrients.

It’s as simple as that :)

Reply

zahab

Hi Dejan, Great article!!

I have been hitting the the gym for the last 4 months. I gained muscle mass in the starting 2 months but I didn’t see a major change from then. The amount of weight I am able to lift has also halted. I am not able to lift heavier, it kinda frustrates me. Apart from this, I have little more than average wide hip bones nd some fat on it which makes it look too bad. Will be greatful if u can help.

Reply

Dejan

Thank you Zahab! :)

Man just keep on persisting, for good things come to those who hustle. Eat big (wholesome foods), eat a lot and focus on bringing your squat/deadlift/pull-up poundages to respectable numbers.

Reply

James Marley

Hey great artical ! im actually trying to go to school right now to become a personal trainer and i am very interested in putting on some muscle mass. I was curious if muscle milk is a good source of protein to take pre-workout and post workout.

Reply

Dejan

Hey James!

Don’t worry about pre/post-workout meals too much.

Just make sure that after a grueling workout session, you eat a ton of wholesome foods that are rich in good carbs (e.g. white rice). No need for muscle milk.

Reply

Miles

Hi there.

18 years old. Lifting consistently for 3 months using machines because i am too intimidated at the gym. I find both the free weights/barbell and the big men around them intimidating.

Anyway, I really want to start doing the standard exercises everyone does. Like dead lifting, bench press etc. Problem is, I don’t know what weight to start at. I don’t want to start doing free weights and lose muscle because I was originally lifting more before on the machines.

Also, it’s going to feel so awkward using the bench press/dead lifting for the first time. It’s going to take a lot of getting used to. What is your best advice with dealing with this – while all the bulky men laugh at me struggling.

I have never found such helpful and relevant questions and answers to similar things I’ve gone through on a site, thanks so much.

P.S My strength has almost doubled in the three months I have started lifting (with machines). Eg, the machine that you sit and pull down weights, I started with 30KG, and am now lifting 80KG (5 reps, 5 sets). Do you think I would have gained muscle? I *think* my whole body format has changed, my shoulder seem wider, i can feel my chest is more solid. But there is no six pack, my arms dont seem any bigger.

Reply

Dejan

Hey Miles,

Machines can be deceiving mate. While you’re able to move a ton of weight on machines, a lot of the weight is taken upon by the pulleys. I’ve seen a lot of people brag about how much weight they can move on the machines, but once they tried to do exercises that target the same muscle groups, but using the free weights, they quickly realized that the strength gained was an illusion.

And relying solely on machines is also dangerous because with machines you don’t have to stabilise the weight because the machine does that for you. With free weights, the stabilisation of the weight is taken upon by the big and small muscles in your body.

Free weights will help you develop your body as a whole, which is the best way to go imo.

And nobody is going to laugh at you for lifting small weights, quite the opposite will most likely happen … experienced lifters will help you out if they see you struggling or if you ask them for help.

To sum it all up … fight your ego and really put some energy into learning the right exercise technique for the major exercises (deadlift, squat, bench press).

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Jack H

Great Article,
I have been working out for a year now. I used to be very skinny, about 140 pounds, now I have bulked up a lot and now weigh around 165 pounds. I had abs when I was skinny but now I only have upper abs and no lower ones and by body fat has only went up about 1%, what do you think I should do to get those abs back?

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Dejan

Hey Jack,

Judging on what you’ve written, I’d say that you’re fairly lean so imo there’s no need for you to start cutting. Continue on building muscle so when it’s cutting time, you’ll have some muscles to show :)

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adil ganzel

excuse me dejan…av been training hard for mass and happy with the results…for nw a want to get da cuts ready for summer..I used to believe dat light weights gves u da cuts bt a dnt see them workin..wat cn u advice me?

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Dejan

Hey Adil,

If you want to cut the fat you’ve gained during your bulking, you need to eat the right foods and train the smart way.

I’ve already answered this question several times here in the comments … below’s the link to one of my answers that will suit you well.

http://nobrainermuscle.com/gain-muscle-mass/#comment-287

Hope it helps :)

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James

Anything past 120 gram of protein is a waste. Sure you can keep feeding the muscles, but it does not mean it will make them grow any faster or bigger for that matter. Creatine will help the process as it makes the protein synthesis utilise the protein better, as with the anabolic state the body is put in from resistance workout which increases the protein utilisation. Don’t be fooled by the magazines and supplement shops. You don’t need to eat protein every 2-3 hours… there is a 24 hour window. 80-120g protein is enough. It is all put together from a lot of research by Brad Pilton.

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Dejan

James, very nicely said … couldn’t have said it better myself :)

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Frank

Dejan I have a question, ive been working out at home because I have a bench and a set of dumbells but when I bench press the maximum weights I have go to 100 lb all togther

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Dejan

Frank, I’d strongly suggest that you join a gym since they have enough weights to stimulate muscle growth.

100lbs just won’t cut it.

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Frank

Dejan i workout at home since I have a bench press and 2 dumbells at home, but my dumbells are only 20lbs each and my weights for the barbell on the bench press only go up to 100 lbs max, im trying to grow my chest and I havent really seen gains. Ive been using the same weights (since thats what I have) for about a year now. My chest did get bigger when I started working out but now I havent seen it get bigger. Is this because I need to workout out with heavier weights? Thanks.

Reply

Dejan

You got it Frank … you need to progress with the weights, no way around it.

That’s why I strongly recommend that you join a gym.

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Gyu

Wow this is by far the most useful information I have found on the web :) THank you sooo much… Hopefully I will get there one day.. :)

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Dejan

Thanks Gyu!

You’ll definitely get there if you apply yourself. :)

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Gianni

Hi Dean
good article..I m 43 years old and I have five workout of cross fit a week..I m trying to lean mass ….but after one year …nothing..
My nutrition is no so regular , is a good idea to try with a daily diary…
Do you think is to much workout ?
What kind of supplements could i use ?
Thank you

Reply

Dejan

Hey Gianni,

You’re probably failing to give your body enough of a stimulus to build new muscle tissue. The main culprit for that is probably the lack of intensity in your training, combined with not eating enough foods.

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michel

Hey ..
can i take the same mass gainer twice i have been working out for 2 month know and i jst finshed my serious mass gainer and it rlly helped me should i buy other other type of gainer or it ok to buy it agin ??
thnx you

Reply

Dejan

Hey Michel,

No need for muscle gainers if you’re eating good foods and you’re putting the effort in the gym.

IMO weight gainers are just a waste of your money.

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Lloyd

Great read, thank you

I would like to ask for your thoughts on my issue, Ive been training hard for 6 months now, while eating 2500cal, required is 3100, im trying to get my body fat down from 16%.

4 weeks ago I decided to try build muscle and have been eating 3500cal per day, with all the extra food, my cm measurements on my body have all gone down and my stomach has gone up.

I try to do about 10-15min cardio after a workout, I eat 6 times per day and its all clean good food, could it be too much carbs maybe and why would I lose cm on my legs and shoulders, chest and arms, maybe water retention? I drink about 2lt of water a day?

Thanks

Reply

Dejan

Hey Lloyd,

It could probably be that maybe your training volume is not up to par with your diet. If you’re eating 3500 kcals every day, which is heck of a lot, you also need to radically increase your training volume.

In this post, which is all about pull-ups, I also talk why very frequent training is actually good for you. You might want to read it since I think will come in handy to you.

http://nobrainermuscle.com/how-to-do-a-pull-up/

Reply

Blake

What are those 3 main pillars of awesome physique you mention earlier in the comments.

Great article, thanks!

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Dejan

Hey Blake,

The 3 main pillars are the squat, the deadlift and the bench press/dips :)

Reply

Erika

Hey I really enjoyed your article,and truly support all the things you mentioned.
I worked really hard for 6 months and manage to loose 8 kilos,but now I am on this vacation and I have already gained back 4 kilos and none of this is water weight,I have been eating like crazy,I keep a track of my Kcalories,And there have been days where I had more than 7,000 Kcalories a day.Could you please help in any way?

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Dejan

Hey Erika,

Yes, I got some advice for you …

MODERATION.

And I’m not sure if you’re really eating 7,000 calories per day … that’s A LOT OF FOOD. You’re probably eating a lot less, you’re overestimating your caloric intake.

Try to do as many air squats as you can next time you’re about to down so much food :)

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John

Some of the most solid advice on the internet. Unfortunately I’ve committed each of the 7-Deadly sins mentioned, they can really sabotage progress if you don’t correct yourself. Great read!

-John

Reply

Dejan

Thanks John!

And you’re not alone. I was able to write about these mistakes because I did them myself as well :)

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Craig

Some great advice on here bud.

I’ve always struggled with gaining muscle, I’ve always been scrawny, narrow shouldered and have zero fat to my name. When I was 20, I hit the gym hard with my buddies, doing heavy compound lifts and eating as many clean calories as possible. I put on a good amount of muscle and for the first time I felt happy with the way I looked. I’m 25 now and am back at square one. I had a serious back injury which put me out of the gym for 7 months and I lost all my weight, I’m possibly worse than before. Also it seems to hurt still when I do train. Now I’m in a different job that involves around 10 miles of walking a day and a lot of lifting, which leaves me too exhausted for the gym. I also swap shifts every week which messes up my sleeping pattern, and I only have two 10 minute breaks over an 8 hour shift which makes eating a lot impossible. I know I need to lift heavy and consistently and eat right, but my situation just seems impossible right now

Reply

Dejan

Hey Craig, thanks for the kind words!

And it sucks to hear about your back injury. The best tip I can give you is to do exercises that don’t cause you any pain.

If you feel pain while doing deadlifts and no pain while doing pull-ups, then ditch deadlifts (until your back gets better) and do just pull-ups instead. I’m sure there are exercises that don’t aggravate the pain in your back … use only machines if you have to, anything really to keep working out.

And as far as being tired after your shift, that’s normal mate.

If you feel too tired, just do a light workout. This won’t cut too much into your recovery.

Hope I helped :)

Dejan

Reply

Ryan Leiderman

I am 6’3″, around 170 lbs, with about 12% body fat. I am interested in eating to increase mass with my workout. Normally I highly restrict refined sugars and flours in my diet; I’m also a pescatarian. When paired with my workouts, do you think I should consider eating more of these simple carbohydrates in order to up my calorie intake and mass?

Reply

Dejan

Hey Ryan,

I recommend you increase your intake of white rice … this is by far my favorite food to eat while I’m working to gain muscle mass.

Reply

Ryan Leiderman

What is your opinion of ice cream within 30 minutes of a work out?

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Dejan

I’d much rather eat it immediately after my workout. Keep sweets and stuff like that as a reward for working your ass off in the gym.

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Dejan

No need to fast every day if you’re having a tough time getting your macros. Maybe a 24-hour fast once a week is more ideal for your situation. You eat your lunch and then you don’t eat anything until your next lunch (the following day).

Eat as many meals as you want, just make sure you’re getting your nutrients from whole foods.

Reply

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