Everyone has heard the standard cookie cutter answers to gain muscle - get stronger, use free weights, do complex movements, train your legs, do full body workouts, eat a lot.
What do you do when you do that and it all still doesn't work? Here's the no non-sense approach to gaining lean mass and packing on muscles along with common mistakes that athletes make.
BUILDING MUSCLE = Work + Nutrition + Recovery.
MISTAKE #1 - TRAINING
If you want to build muscle, you need to get your ass in the weight room. And you got to be doing things the right way. Skip the curls and get in the big compound movements. We've all heard that before. But to get bigger and gain muscle -- you need to add VOLUME to your workout. You're not going to get BIG by only maxing out. Doing 3-5 sub-maximal sets of 10 reps seems to work alright. Keep it simple. You need 1-2 of these big movement cycles per muscle group or about 50-60 total reps. Add this on after you do your strength/power work.
If you don't have time to do both strength + volume sets then you're gonna have to pull something out of your program. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Cut your strength volume by a couple sets, if you're doing 5x5 strength before your hypertrophy work, do 3 sets of 5 while keeping up the intensity. Just lift those sets heavy and keep the intensity up.
MISTAKE #2 - NUTRITION
This is where a lot of athletes make mistake #2. They don't get in enough calories. Eat a well balanced diet (You can find a well balance diet info anywhere). To gain lean muscle mass -- Drink a gallon of whole milk a day on top of a solid post workout shake. Make sure your shake is packed with muscle building proteins and glycogen replenishing carbohydrates. Adding a creatine blend could be beneficial. Creatine one of the most researched supplements out there proven to improve your power production. Don't make a mistake that most athletes make by only using protein as their post workout shake. You need the carbohydrates coupled with protein and creatine to build muscle. Take a protein-carbohydrate shake before you lift and after you lift. If you still aren't gaining weight, you can add a protein-carbohydrate shake during your lift. This will guarantee that you build lean muscle mass.
MISTAKE #3 - RECOVERY
If you want to gain weight, tone back your other work. I'm talking the supplemental conditioning. Doing some aerobic work like a stationary bike for 20 mins after weights can help with your recovery but the harder shit limit to 1-3 times a week. This doesn't mean you have to take the escalator. Just when you are going to push yourself.. limit that type of work to 1-3 times a week. It's still important to stay athletic and part of being athletic is being in shape. After you do your conditioning, make sure you get in a solid post workout shake that has a blend of carbohydrates and protein. This will turn you from a catabolic (muscle breakdown) state into an anabolic state (muscle building state). I recommend a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein because it has the optimal blend of carbohydrates to protein post workout to speed up your muscle recovery by restoring glycogen and improving protein synthesis. And yes you can build muscle from conditioning.
MISTAKE #4 - THINKING YOU ARE A 'HARD GAINER'
Gaining muscle takes a lot of work. You must be persistent about training hard and getting your nutrition in. Don't have the idea that you are a hard gainer. There's too many guys out there who think they are a hard gainer when in reality they aren't lifting hard enough or they aren't eating enough. You think you are a hard gainer? Add some more volume to your training. Still not gaining weight? Add another shake in after your meal. Keep track of your workouts and your nutrition. You should try to gain 1-2 pounds of muscle a week as that seems the most athletes can gain before gaining fat. Beginners can gain about 3-4 pounds of muscle a week. Set weekly goals and beat your PRs. Keep your workouts fun. If they start getting boring switch your exercises. You aren't gonna get big if you are putting in half ass efforts in the weight room so you might as well do something you'd like to do. Just make sure you get that VOLUME in.