Lifting weights and exposing our body to tortuous resistance on a daily basis is what we go through to accrue even the smallest amount of muscle gain. As much as we would like to see ourselves grow at will, it just doesn't always happen as such. Whether you are a beginner just starting out, someone who is tired of getting bullied at school and you see muscle as your way out, or you're trying to be Mr. Olympia, packing on serious muscle mass should always be your ultimate goal. This desire to achieve a certain level of muscular development isn't going to be easy, nor is it going to happen overnight. To help lessen the degree to which you have to wait for this phenomena to happen, here are 4 key strategies for packing on mass regardless of which level you're at. I always say, "Time is Muscle" so in the spirit of that, let's get right to it!
Eat Big to be Big
Back in the days when I first got into bodybuilding, which many now refer to as the best competitive era that ever existed, the nutritional approach that was used by the best was to eat their way to ungodly size in the offseason so that when they cut down for their contest, they would be bigger than the previous year. To grow insane amounts of muscle mass you have to eat insane amounts of food. People today are too worried that they're not going to be able to post pictures of themselves on their social media because they might look out of shape. That's fine if being an IG star is your goal, but if you're serious about growth, you need surplus calories, allow for yourself to add a little bit of fat during the process and keep feeding the machine until you hit whatever number on the scale you're trying to reach.
Who doesn't love an awesome pump in the gym, right? That overwhelming feeling of your muscles being inflated to skin bursting size with veins running all through your chest and arms is always a welcome occurrence by anyone who loves to train. But is that enough for ultimate size? Can you get as big as possible when your main focus in the gym is achieving the best pump you can get? My first response to this would be no, it's not enough and focusing on the progressive overload aspect of training is probably your best bet for packing on muscle. If you can get stronger within your lifts with each successive training session, you will add significant size much quicker than you will if you're always going for the pump. Muscle must get broken down and then heal for hypertrophy to occur. Massive pumps won't always do this for you so instead, lift big and lift heavy, break down that muscle tissue and then feed it to grow.
Rest and Recovery
One of the biggest mistakes I see beginners make is overtraining. This is mostly due to their overzealousness and excitement for training. When your enthusiasm for packing on muscle makes you train body parts that haven't sufficiently healed, you're just going to end up spinning your wheels and delaying the process of growth. Here's a simple rule of thumb to abide by; if a muscle group is still sore or stiff when you go to train it again, it hasn't fully healed yet and there's no need to break it down again yet. If you do, you'll never give your body a chance to reach its full potential. This would be no different than going to lace up your Heyday Footwear Super Shifts only to find that someone swapped them out for a pair of lesser quality shoes; it just isn't ideal whatsoever.
Be Extremely Consistent
Finally and perhaps most importantly, consistency in your approach is going to be key. You have to be willing to do the same things over and over again for extended periods of time to will your body into new found growth. Never miss a meal, never miss a training session, improve your sleeping habits and get to bed at the same time every night, make sure you always train in your Heydays and never lose sight of your goals. Consistency in all facets of the bodybuilding lifestyle is what makes the difference between champions and chumps; and I'm pretty sure I know which one of those you want to be.
Packing on serious muscle isn't something the body naturally wants to do so you're always going to be fighting biology and physiology, but that's fine. Inserting key strategies like the ones mentioned above will help you win this fight and will help propel you to the heights of what your genetics will allow. Work hard, stay the course and be unrelenting in your pursuit and you'll add the mass that you've always wanted; I'm sure of it!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.