Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A refresher on gaining muscle mass with Bodyweight

If I had to peg one issue that brings more people to my site than anything else, it's got to be gaining mass with BW-based strength training. Back in 2007, I made a New Years resolution to get my bodyweight from 157 lbs up to 180 lbs, a gain of 23 lbs of muscle. I've tried to gain mass previously and I had some modest success doing so. When I very first started to train, I was 147 lbs (don't ask my how I remember all of these numbers, I just do) and I peaked at 165 lbs. At my highest point, I was 187 lbs before I realized that I wasn't as quick at my BJJ takedowns as I hoped to be. So, I slimmed down to my present 170-175 lbs. Besides, I got tired of having to buy new clothes. Nobody ever warns you that you're going to have to go shopping when you set out to gain!

So, I've got a pretty good handle on what it takes to gain mass and one thing that so many don't realize is that it's not all about the exercise that you do. It's far more about what you eat. You're not going to get ANY BIGGER if you're not eating to gain. It's a pretty simple premise when you think about it: I couldn't expect you to build the Sears Tower out of the same amount of materials that it took to build the Empire State Building. So, if you want more muscle, you need to pile it on your plate.

The next question becomes: what do you put on your plate? That answer is so horribly answered in so much of today's fitness resources. With all due disrespect to the advertisements that feature John Cena hocking their muscle-gaining powders, that shit isn't going to get you there either. Sure, protein is what you build muscle out of but that's only half of the equation. You can pour all of the protein into your body that you want but if your body isn't sending a signal to turn that into muscle, then all you're doing is creating expensive urine.

In other words, YOU NEED FAT IN YOUR DIET! Yes, you read that right. You see, your hormones are what is going to tell your body to start making muscle in the first place. Your hormones are fat-based compounds. So, eating fat is going to provoke the hormone response needed to tell your body to build muscle with the protein that you're taking in. I first read about this from old Vince Gironda material. Apparently, he got into the best shape of his life by eating steak and eggs for nearly every meal, every day, for months on end.

Another old-time strength training method for gaining muscle was drinking protein powder with large amounts of cream. I tried something similar to this and these concoctions left me feeling slow, lethargic, and gassy during my workouts. I got far better success by eating foods that are naturally high in fat. During my muscle gaining days, I drank large quantities of whole milk while incorporating eggs, peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, avocados, and various seeds into my diet.

Another diet tip that I've failed to give out (and shame on me for not doing so) was to make it a point to eat a bare minimum of two servings of fruits or veggies per meal. This helps maintain an alkaline balance in the body. This is crucial for a lot of reasons. Don't neglect it!

Now, When it comes to how much fat and protein you'll have to take in, I have to plead a little bit of ignorance on this issue. I've worked with myself on gaining mass and helped a few others on the internet. They didn't report back to me how much that they took in either. Besides, I found that the amounts varied anyway, depending on my activity level. From May to July, 2007, I barely gained even though my daily caloric intake was regularly exceeding 4000 calories. I'm sure that the physical labor that I did at work forced me to burn most of the fat I was taking in for energy rather than for hormone production. I'll try to get back to you in a future post with some specifics that yo could use as a starting point.

If I had to leave you with one tip, I'd tell you to drink more milk. It's easier to drink your calories rather than eat them. Nearly every old time strongman drank vast quantities of whole milk to pack on muscle. Since this is an enduring question that I continue to answer, I'll post on it in the future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

150lb talkin body mass?