It's time to bulk! You're motivated and have been hitting the gym hard, you’re killing your training sessions, pushing heavy weights, and busting your a** rep after rep, set after set, only to see that you're not making any gains in size, the scale hasn't moved an inch, and you seem to be stagnant with your lifts. You feel as though you're pounding back food all day long, but still nothing, and now obtaining that size you set out for just seems impossible! What gives!?
Sound familiar? Well, you are not alone! This is an all too common story for people with little to no experience or knowledge on how to build muscle and gain weight properly. Most believe if you train hard and eat lots of food you will instantly start to see results. While those 2 things are definitely part of the recipe, it's much more intricate than that. Today, we are going to discuss the top 3 reasons why you aren't seeing progress, and how to correct them.
Mistake #1. You're just not eating enough!
I know... I know... you're eating 3 to 4 meals a day and snacking some as well. The simple truth of it is, you just aren't eating enough to facilitate muscle growth and weight gain. You're probably frustrated just reading that last sentence because you think you already do eat a lot, but you're just going to have to deal with the fact you're going to have to eat more! Building quality muscle requires quality food, and LOTS of it! As the saying goes, “Eat Big to Get Big!" Calorie consumption is the solution to about 90% of the complaints lifters have about not being about to get bigger and/or stronger.
Hearing this, it's easy to turn to high calorie foods that re easy to eat such as pizza, burgers, donuts, etc.. Let me 100% clear, these foods are great for a cheat meal to rapidly increase your calorie intake and shock the metabolism, but those foods should be consumed sparingly and only for cheat meals. Too much of these kinds of high calorie, fatty foods can wreak havoc on your digestion causing issues such as bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. If your digestion is off your workouts will start to suffer and you won’t WANT to eat more. Digestive issues will also cause poor nutrient absorption so the foods you do consume, you won't get nearly as much out of them, and you can forget improving your strength or building muscle.
95% of your daily calories should come from lean proteins such as chicken breast, tilapia, salmon, lean red meats, eggs, etc.. and nutrient rich fats like avocado, almonds or other tree nuts, MCTs, etc... and nutrient dense carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, etc... If you're struggling to consume enough calories, and cooking and eating all that food is starting to feel like a chore, there are much better options out there than turning to those fatty foods. One option is a high quality meal replacement/weight gainer shake. These are shakes you can drink on the go that lets you rapidly ingest a ton of nutrient dense calories from high quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. You can utilize these shakes to fill in the gaps of calories you're not getting through your meals.
Quickmass is the pinnacle of quality in the world of "Mass Gainers." Coming in at a whopping 1,010 calories and 64 grams of high quality protein per serving, Quickmass utilizes a specific blend of fast-absorbing and sustained-release proteins (Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, and Milk Protein Isolate) designed to work continuously all day for you to RECOVER and GROW!
How do I choose what meal replacement/weight gainer to use? Well, as I stated above, you'll want to select a meal replacement/weight gainer based on how many calories you'll need to fill in from what you're not getting from your meals. For example, if you're eating 4 meals a day and getting 2,200 calories, but you need to hit 3,200 calories every day in order gain weight, you will want to consume 1,000 calories from your shakes. 2 great options for this are Quickmass by Allmax Nutrition and Home Made by Axe & Sledge. Both consist of very high quality ingredients and are comprised of nutrient dense whole foods.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line meal replacement that will make it easier to hit your macros and daily caloric needs, then Home Made by Axe & Sledge is a must-have. Each serving of Home Made contains around 420 calories that are comprised of 46 grams of carbohydrates, 48 grams of protein and only 6 grams of fat. This means that you’ll get all the nutritional benefits of a meal in the convenient form of a meal replacement powder. What’s more, Home Made comes in two delicious flavors.
How do I utilize a meal replacement/weight gainer into my diet? Well, this will look a little different for each person, and will depend on a few different factors. Do you have a very fast paced job where you barely have time to eat, how many meals are you eating in a day to meet your daily caloric goals, how many calories do you need to supplement in with your meal replacement shakes. You can consume them between meals (which is the ideal method) for a quick and easy way to boost calories throughout the day, drink one in the morning and before bed, or drink one with your meals for an easy way to add calories to every meal. Bottom line, figure out how many calories you need to consume daily in order to gain mass, and figure out how many calories you'll be consuming through your meals, and consume the remainder of your calories through your meal replacement shakes. Figure out which method works best for your schedule, and let the gains commence!
How do I know how many calories I should be consuming? The formula for gaining weight is actually pretty simple: The amount of calories you take in has to be greater than the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. To get an idea of how many calories you'll need to put on weight, start by determining your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
The easiest way is to use a TDEE calculator. You can find one of these on multiple different websites. When you use the calculator, it will ask you for your age, height, sex, some have an optional selection for body fat percentage, and to choose an activity level that best represents your lifestyle. Be honest! If you say you're very active and you're not, it's not going to help you gain quality muscular weight.
Keep in mind this number will not be 100% precise because everyone's body is different, and these won't measure your metabolic rate, but it will be close. Once you get your TDEE number, add 500 calories to it. This is the perfect starting point. Continue eating at least 500 over your TDEE for a couple weeks to see what happens. If you don't notice any change in your weight, increase it to 750 or even 1000 calories above your TDEE. Stay at this number for a couple weeks and continue the process until you are seeing steady weight gain around .5-2 pounds a week. Keep in mind, the faster you gain weight, the more body fat you will gain along the way.
If you start gaining weight too quickly (more than 2 pounds a week for several weeks straight) drop your calories by 200-300 per day. With the right calorie intake and the right workout, you can expect an increase of 0.5-2 pounds in body weight each week. This is the sweet spot and where you will maximize gains in lean muscle mass without gaining too much body fat.
Mistake #2: You're not training for progression/progressive overload
Your training while bulking should be focused one primary goal: PROGRESSSION! Progression builds muscle, without it you won’t grow. Plain and simple! Progression is the constant increase of weight, putting new levels of stress and intensity on the body that tells it that it needs to grow more muscle. When selecting your training program during a bulk phase, either design your program around the principle, or find a workout routine based around this principle to follow.
You should aim to improve at least one aspect of your workout every week. It could be increasing the weight, it could be your increase the reps, but it has to be something. This is where a training log becomes so important. Before every workout you should look back at what you did the previous week, exact weights and reps. Choose the areas you want to improve, and get in the gym and get to it!
Mistake #3: You're not getting enough sleep!
There are 3 key components to muscle growth, muscular recovery, and the ability to keep pushing hard in the gym. These should be your number one focus while bulking: Proper nutrition - fueling your body for muscle growth, a good training program based on progressive overload, and last but most certainly not least.... SLEEP!! If you want to continue to gain muscle and continue to excel in your fitness journey you need to recover as hard as you train.
Out of the trifecta of building lean muscle mass (nutrition, training, sleep) sleep is the number one aspect that is often overlooked and taken for granted on just how vital it is in the muscle building process. Sleep is just as important as training, maybe even more so. Many people believe that muscle building takes place in the gym, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Intense exercise is creating millions of micro tears in the muscle tissue, so you’re actually damaging the muscle while training. It may appear that your muscles have grown during a workout. That pumped feeling is just rushing blood and stretched muscle fibers.
Actual muscle building (repair and growth of new muscle tissue) takes place outside of the gym, when you’re resting and sleeping. The number one reason sleep is vital is because Human Growth Hormone (HGH) rises during deep sleep, which often begins about 30-45 minutes after falling asleep.
Think of sleep as your body’s time to recharge. A lack of quality sleep can lead to a mound of issues including hormone imbalance, chronic fatigue, decreased athletic performance, and body fat gain. The exact opposite of what we're trying to achieve while bulking. You should aim to get a minimum 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you are like millions of other athletes/lifters (myself included) that struggle to get a revitalizing nights sleep, an all-natural sleep aid such as Reststor by Titan Nutrition will help you sleep soundly and peacefully throughout the night, while also aiding in more HGH release for better recovery and more overall growth!
Reststor is a sensational, comprehensive, and 100% all-natural sleep aid, potently dosed with ingredients such as Valarian Root, Kava Kava, and Melatonin to help you sleep soundly and peacefully throughout the night, while also increasing the amount of REM sleep.
If you're eating to fuel muscle growth, training hard for progression, and taking your supplements and you're still not getting stronger and growing, you better start taking your sleep time more seriously because that just may be the anabolic primer you're missing!
There you have it! If you find yourself making any of these 3 crucial mistakes while bulking, fix them now, and watch how quickly your body starts responding! Good luck with reaching your goals, and go get those GAINZ!!