What’s your method for building muscle quickly, while staying lean? If you’ve ever felt frustrated about your lack of results in attempt of gaining muscle, it might just be time to try a new method. Today I’ll be outlining my 5 step process for putting on muscle fast, while maintaining leanness.
Before you get into calculating your calorie surplus, it’s crucial you first calculate your calorie maintenance level. Start with the Harris Benedict Equation here, and take into account your activity level as well. Then add on your calorie surplus.
This step is absolutely crucial for building muscle.
In order to put on muscle, we must provide our body with the supplies that it needs to grow. These supplies will come in the form of calories that will contain protein, fat and carbs. AKA the building blocks of a muscular physique.
In order to build muscle, we’ll need to consume more calories than our body needs to maintain its weight on a day to day basis; this is whats known as a calorie surplus.
The calorie surplus sweet-spot is about 250-500 calories.
If your calorie surplus is less than 250 you won’t notice much growth. If it’s more than 500 you’ll likely notice more fat gain than muscular gain. The 250-500 range is optimal for adequate muscle gain without the worry of much body fat.
If you’re a guy who has a bit of a tougher time gaining muscle (naturally skinny; also known as an ectomorph), I’d advise you to stick closer to a 500 calorie surplus
If you’re a guy that’s a little more concerned about gaining fat, I’d advise you stick closer to a 250 calorie surplus.
Once you’ve figured out your calorie surplus, you’ll then be ready to figure out your macronutrient requirements; these include your protein, carb, and fats.
Protein plays a vital role in the maintenance and growth of your muscles. This is because protein is made up of amino acids; the building blocks of muscle tissue. Your other macronutrients (I’ll refer to them as “macros” from now on) will primarily be used for energy. I advise in-taking about 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Start with 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and if muscular growth isn't to your satisfaction after about 2-4 weeks, then go ahead and increase your protein intake.
Fat is important for providing the body with energy; as I’ve mentioned, and should make up a total of 20-30% of your total daily caloric consumption.
This is a great macro for you guys who have a tougher time eating enough food to build muscle. There are a total of 9 calories per single gram of fat; whereas in both protein, and carbs, there are only 4 calories per gram. That’s more than double the amount of calories in fat than there are in both protein and carbs. So if you’re a guy that has a tougher time consuming a lot of food (to hit your calorie surplus), I’d recommend 30% of your total calories come from your fats. That way you’ll be consuming more than double the amount of calories, in the exact same quantity of food (that is when you’re consuming fats).
If you have no problem consuming those extra 250-500 calories, I’d recommend you stick to about 20% of your total daily calories coming from fats. This will provide you the freedom to consume a higher volume of food with a lower caloric density.
Similar to fat, carbs are an important macro that provide the body with fuel.
The intensity, and thus the effectiveness of your workouts will be dependent on your carb intake. Consume enough carbs, and you’ll provide your body with the energy it needs to crush your workouts.
To find your carb intake; simply deduct your combined fat, and protein calories from your total daily caloric needs (with your caloric surplus incorporated as well).
Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
Carbs: 1 gram = 4 calories
For a step-by-step walk-through of calculating your caloric intake, surplus, and macros, watch this video below:
Building muscle is largely a by-product of increasing strength.
In order to increase strength, it’s vitally important that you’re performing the big compound lifts (Squats, Bench Press, Deadlifts, Shoulder Press, etc.) and tracking how much you’re able to maximally lift every single week. These maxes can be recorded in rep ranges of 1, 3 and even 5. It’s important that you revisit these exercises every couple of weeks to re-test your strength. This will gauge how effective your program for strength training is, and how adequately you’ve been pushing yourself every day you’re in the gym.
Some of the most effective strength training routines utilize working sets of 5-8 reps that focus primarily on compound movements, and are consistently challenging you to push your muscles to failure.
Pushing your muscles to failure is probably the most effective training tactic to increase the strength and size of your muscle tissue. Every time you do so, you’ve indicated to your body that it isn’t strong enough to match the stimuli in your environment. As a result, the body will adapt to the stimuli and grow bigger and stronger (that is, if you provide it with a sufficient caloric surplus).
Our body is an incredibly intelligent system. As I’ve mentioned above, it will adapt to a new environment almost instantly. At first this will be beneficial, and will result in significant muscle gain as the body will require bigger and stronger muscle tissue to adapt to its new environment. However, if you spend too long training with the same exercises, weights, routines, and set and rep ranges, your body will reach a point where it plateaus, and slows muscular growth. To prevent this, we must frequently change up our training, thus promoting consistent muscular growth.
Changing up your routine could include cycling through new rep ranges (5-8, 8-15, 15-30 reps), incorporating intensity-increasers (supersets, forced negatives, and drop sets), and maybe even a deload week (a 7-day period where you significantly decrease the frequency, and intensity of your workouts). Keep in mind, the deload week isn’t really a muscle confusion tactic. It’s mostly a method to give your body more rest to fully recover. Unless you’ve been training for at least a few months, at near-max intensity, 3-4 times per week, you likely won’t need a deload week. (Yes, the mention of a deload week should have been included in the recovery section. Unfortunately, I tacked it on with muscle confusion in the video accidentally. To prevent confusion, I’ve kept it in that order)
One of the biggest obstacles that can stand in the way of muscular gains are long-stints away from the gym. Injuries can stop your training right in its tracks, sometimes preventing you from training for a few months at a time.
The time that you take off due to injury is time you’re missing to make gains. Preventing injury will increase the amount of time you’re able to train, and thus increase your rate of muscular growth; that is, compared to a period of time you'd take off from training if you were injured.
The best methods for preventing injury include religious implementation of proper warm-ups, and the use of correct form at all times.
The most important aspect of training is often an area that’s overlooked; recovery.
It’s at this point that our body is re-building our muscles to become bigger and stronger. The benefits excel beyond just giving your body the time it needs to re-build. Recovery also plays a vital role in determining how effective your future workouts will be.
With sufficient rest between workouts, your performance will be elevated. You’ll be able to push your body harder and for a longer duration. You’ll be more physically and mentally alert – and this will also have an effect on how intelligently you train. This training intelligence will actually aid in you preventing yourself from the use of improper form; a major cause of long-term injury.
Your body will need roughly 24-48 hours between workouts of the same muscle group, to fully recover. You must also use a couple of days each week to specifically take time off from training. The purpose of this is to give both your muscles and central nervous system a chance to rebuild and recuperate for future workouts.
It’s on these days that we should actively seek methods to help our body improve the efficiency and speed of our recovery. Such methods include; stretching, rolling-out muscles, deep-tissue massage, icing, heating, etc. This will ensure optimal recovery, prevention of injury, and improved performance the next time we’re training.
Combining the above 5 steps will have tremendous results on your ability to increase the rate at which you’re able to gain lean muscle mass.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth system that lays this whole process out into a step-by-step program, then be sure to check out my Barbarian Muscle Building Program. Owning this program will outline an incredibly powerful training regimen that will guide you through the exact workouts, exercises, set and rep ranges, as well as nutrition that you must follow in order build lean muscle mass as quickly as possible. For more details, click the program picture below!