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10 tips to gain mass in the new year

Were you successful in gaining a lot of muscular size in 2011? If not, then I am sure that you must be preparing yourself to make it big in 2012. After all, a whole year of dedicated hard work, is bound to give great results. So with that in mind here are 10 simple tips to help you get big:

1) Eat big- you will not believe how many people out there are extremely dedicated when it comes to training, but are completely ignorant when it comes to eating big to create the mass that they want. Remember at the end of the day it is the food that you eat which is used by the body to get big. So eat big! Start with about 18-20 calories per pound of bodyweight and include a healthy balance of all nutrients. A good breakup of the nutrients would be 45-55% carbs, 20-30% protein, 20-35% fat. If you tend to gain fat easily then eat a little lesser on the days that you don’t train.

2) Lift heavy in compound movements- if you want to get big then do real mass building exercises like squats, deadlifts, chins, rows, bench press, military press, etc. Build some impressive numbers in these exercises and see yourself grow huge! You can continue to do the curls, lateral raises, etc, but keep them to no more than 20% of your workouts.

3) Focus on progression- if I see you bench or squat in the first week of Jan, and then see you do the same exercise again in mid June, I would expect you to be lifting a lot more weight. While you maybe thinking that lifting more weight with time is an obvious thing, you will be surprised how often in gyms, trainees keep moving the same weight for years! The main culprit for this is that before they can make any progress in an exercise they will end up changing the routine and the exercises that they do, or add too many new ones to focus on the old ones. Yes, variety is good, but variety without progression means the same lack of progress. So make it your goal to either get more reps or lift more weight almost every time you do an exercise.

4) Keep working sets to under 20- workouts lasting 90 minutes and more may seem to be the perfect answer to getting big, but in reality the intensity of your training is more important. When you lift heavy weights, you will find that you will be able to do fewer sets. If you can do 30 or more sets, then either you are not lifting heavy and/or are cheating to make it easier. Plus too many sets end up making your body more catabolic than anabolic, so when you rest you fail to build muscles, and instead only end up feeling tired and worn out. Avoid all that and lift heavy weights and limit your total working sets to 20 or under for best mass building results.

5) Keep training to failure in check- since you are keeping the working sets to under 20, do not be tempted to take every set to absolute muscle failure. Training to failure needs to be kept in check, to be able to get stronger and bigger consistently. If you train to failure all the time, then you will soon start feeling burned out and feel worse instead of feeling strong and powerful. You can still train to failure once in a while, and if you do, then do so for the sets where you perform more than 6 reps and preferably for dumbbell or bodyweight exercises.

6) Train in various rep ranges- popular wisdom on many websites seems to suggest that doing 3 sets of 10 is the ultimate way to get big. While 3 sets of 10 is a great way to add mass, the best way would involve a variety of rep ranges for best results. You need some sets in the low rep range (3-5) to build strength, and surely some sets in the conventional “hypertrophy” range (6-10) to get a good training response to build maximum size. And yes, occasionally a higher rep (15 or more) set or two can also be useful. Good choices for such repetition work would include bodyweight and dumbbell exercises. Overall, emphasize most on the 6-10 reps range.

7) Cardio- if your bodyfat is 10% or less, then avoid any cardio work for best results. While we all love to be athletic, in your case it might not be the best idea till you have atleast gained about 15-20 pounds. On the other hand if you tend to gain fat easily then some amount of cardio could be useful. Again, the idea is not to do as much cardio as a fat loss trainee would do. In this case I would recommend 2-3 sessions of 10-20 minutes of higher intensity cardio should be good enough. Good choices would include kickboxing, sprinting, rope jumping.

8) Sleep at least 7 hours each night- again, a basic rule that should not be broken if any health goal is to be achieved. A good night’s sleep is essential to improve our hormonal profile, recovery from workouts, etc and most importantly in this case to grow big.

9) Keep track of progress- this will help with tip # 3. Use a blog/diary/excel sheet/MS-Word page or whatever you want, but make sure that you can keep track of what you did in the gym. Even if you cannot or are not interested in recording the entire workout, atleast try to record your heaviest sets and how many reps you got with that weight. Overtime you can compare to see if you have actually made any progress since you started.

10) Pay more attention to warm up- as you must have understood by now that to get big you will need to lift heavy weights. And when lifting heavy weights proper warm up is very important! If you fail to do so then your chances of injuries go up, and if you actually get inured, then either you will end up having to skip a workout or work with much lesser weights, and in both cases progress is halted. Start with a basic 10-15 minutes whole body joint mobility warm up focusing mainly on the muscles you will be working. Then do a few warm up sets for the major heavy exercises before you do them.

In the end I would like to conclude by saying that getting big is not easy, but neither is it impossible. There is a method and some requirements that you need to follow to be successful. These time tested 10 tips will certainly help you as long as you follow them. So incorporate them into your training and I hope to hear about your success in 2012.

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