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How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

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How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 15:14

(While strength and size are not always the same thing, they are closely related. So I will just generally cover the basics of both together in this thread. You will find more detail about how to train for strength and/or for size below and in the questions further in this thread, as well as in the next thread I will make on exercising)


How to gain muscle:


1- Eat a slight caloric surplus that allows strength gain. Do not exceed 1 lb weekly bodyweight gain.
(Note: If you do not wish to gain weight, skip this step. But be prepared for slower strength gains than you'd get with caloric surplus)

2- Resistance training 3-4x per week for about an hour. (2x per week if you do lots of other training such as MMA) Make sure you're adding weight to the bar over time.

3- Eat at least 1 and at most 1.5 grams of protein per 1 lbs of your bodyweight per day. And at least 0.4 grams of fat per 1 lbs of your bodyweight per day. Fill the rest with carbs and/or more fat and/or protein according to your preference, tolerance and needs.


FAQ:



Q. Can I get stronger without getting bigger?
A. Of course! But at some point you will start to max out your strength potential and will have to get at least a bit bigger (aka eat more calories than you burn) to make further strength progress.


Q. Can I get stronger without eating more?
A. See the answer above. yes you can, but at some point you will hit a wall, and will have to eat more to make further progress.


Q. What lifting routine should I use?
A. Any legit program like 5x5, Lyle McDonald's generic bulking routine, Iron Addict's SPBR, SS by Mark Rippetoe etc will work. Take notice of what the program is for (ex: Lyle's is for bulk, SS is for strength for beginners etc) and select one for your goals. If you do other training such as MMA you will usually have to reduce lifting to 3 or even 2 days per week to allow recovery.


Q. I'm not adding weight to the bar (aka not getting stronger), what's wrong?
A. You're either not eating enough, not resting enough or are using a non-effective program in the gym.


Q. Are weight gainers needed to gain weight?
A. No. Weight gainers are simply over-priced low quality calories from carbs and protein. You can get same results by eating cheaper more natural calories from real food.


Q. Should I do cardio when trying to gain weight?
A. You should, but a little bit. 2-3x per week ~30 minutes moderately is a good starting point. More if it's part of your MMA training of course. But then calories will have to come up to compensate.


Q. Can I gain muscle without gaining any/much fat?
A. Yes, but then you have to gain muscle VERY VERY VERY slowly, at a rate of about 5-10 lbs per year. This is what male fitness models often do, as they can't gain fat due to being photographed often for a living.


Q. How much muscle can I gain per year naturally?
A. Anywhere between 5-10 lbs depending on your age, genetics and current weight. Skinny teenagers of course can gain a lot more, while already muscular fit adults should be delighted to gain 5 lbs per year.


Q. Kusok, you're an idiot! I know a guy who gained 20 lbs in 2 months!
A. No he did not. He either REgained muscle after a cut (diet) as old muscle comes back fast when you begin eating more, or he gained about 10 lbs of water, about 6 lbs of fat and about 4 lbs of muscle :) Or he was a skinny beginner teenager with raging hormones. Or he used steroids. Or he is lying. Muscle building is a SLOW process regardless of what we're being promised by the commercials and advertisements.


Q. What's faster? To bulk up a LOT and gain some fat in the process and then trim down, or to gain muscle slowly with minimal fat gain?
A. Lean slow gains are better. "Bulking and cutting" is for bodybuilders, especially steroid-using ones who use steroids to hold muscle in place as they diet down. A natural trainee will lose lots of muscle if he diets down like a bodybuilder does from being fat to being really lean in several weeks. Natural and anabolic bodybuilders can also afford to be fat on "off-season", but if you want to look good year round do NOT bulk and cut extremely/excessively! Have patience and do things slowly and gradually.


Q. I eat a LOT but am not gaining any weight! Help!
A. Simply eat a little more and/or cut back on cardio, and then check your weight again in 2-3 weeks. Continue adjusting as needed.


Q. I refuse to count calories. What can i do to track how much I eat?
A. You can ballpark your calories (roughly estimate) or create a sample diet plan for yourself and then follow it daily with minimal changes (this way you only have to count calories one time)


Q. Can I gain muscle without being in a caloric surplus? (eating more calories than I burn per day?)
A. No, unless you're a beginner.
Think about it: human body works by laws of thermodynamics just like anything else in a universe. The law says a unit of energy enters a system, heats it up and leaves. If a system gives away more energy than it takes in the system will get smaller, and if the system takes in more energy than it uses the system will get bigger. Human body is just another system, and a calorie is a unit of energy :) Where do you think your new muscle is going to come FROM? Thin air? It comes from extra calories that you have not used (burned) that day.


Q. How much more should I eat?
A. For most people weight gain happens if they eat about 200-500 calories above their maintenance. Use this to get an idea:
http://www.freedieting.com/tools/weight_gain_calculator.htm


Q. How many carbs do I need to gain weight?
A. Carbs are useful for gaining weight. But determining how many carbs you need will depend on what sports if you you're involved with, and how your body responds to carbs. For those of you who are athletes and wonder about how many carbs you need, read this:
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/how-many-carbohydrates-do-you-need.html


Q. How should I lift weights in a gym?
A. Generally to gain muscle go heavy weights and with low repetitions (under 12), with preference for free weights.
Strength and power are better trained at REALLY low repetitions like 3-5 with bigger breaks between sets of up to 3 minutes or even longer, and you can even cheat on your form and use explosive movements (safely), while size is better attained with higher reps (5-8, but also 8-15). Muscular endurance is better trained at 15-25 reps with short ret periods of 30-60 seconds.
People seeking conditioning for sports like MMA should go easy on weight lifting! The more muscle you have, the more oxygen you need, the worse your cardio may be, the slower you will become (unless you're a genetic freak)


Q. Should I use creatine?
A. Creatine is somewhat useful but not essential. Some people don't tolerate creatine well. They may get bloated or restless and have trouble sleeping. Creatine has been around for MANY YEARS, and it appears to be safe for long term use. Creatine is something that is found in foods like red meat, just in smaller quantities.


Q. Why should I increase how much I eat slowly? Why can't I just begin eating more right away?
A. Because there is a chance your body will store fat (it depends on other things that I don't want to bore you with) Play it safe and increase your caloric intake slowly and gradually.




That's all. Fat loss section has no doubt addressed many other issues, as these two topics are closely related. Feel free to ask questions, or to ask for resources for my claims above. And remember: muscles are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. Exercise breaks muscle down, so that you can rebuild it stronger by eating.

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Last edited by kusok on Aug 16. 2010, 21:41, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby The Oct » Aug 9. 2010, 15:28

How do i get stronger, without building the appearance of muscle?... You already probably answered it above, I just wanted to be clear...

Also, What uses up more oxygen, actual strength? or toned muscles?
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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby lasni » Aug 9. 2010, 15:37

Great stuff! This is why you're one of my favourite posters Kusok! Also, could you please explain creatine cycling and how it should be done, since it's a topic of many disputes.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 15:38

The Oct wrote:How do i get stronger, without building the appearance of muscle?... You already probably answered it above, I just wanted to be clear...

Also, What uses up more oxygen, actual strength? or toned muscles?



To get stronger you should lift weights and use bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, dips etc)

Concentrate on training for strength rather than for size. Use low 1-6 reps and heavy free weights (training for size like bodybuilding generally uses a bit less weight and higher repetitions of about 5-12). Focus on big exercises such as squat, dead lifts, pull-ups and bench press.

Also, train your core and abs.

Regular caloric surplus will no doubt allow you to become stronger every 1-2 weeks, you should see your lifts improve by a couple of lbs every 1-2 weeks.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby Vlimmen » Aug 9. 2010, 15:43

holy shit I need to eat 3600kcal a day according to that site
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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 15:44

lasni wrote:Great stuff! This is why you're one of my favourite posters Kusok! Also, could you please explain creatine cycling and how it should be done, since it's a topic of many disputes.


Thanks! I will get to your question tonight. Gotta run.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 15:47

Vlimmen wrote:holy shit I need to eat 3600kcal a day according to that site



3500 calories is not that much, especially if you're a big young guy who is active.

Many top athletes take in 5000.... Michael Phelps takes in about 6000 and burns it all off swimming for 5 hours daily, and then is thin like a pencil... Calories in, calories out.

Of course that website is just an estimate. You have to adjust it to YOUR individual needs. Sometimes that website is off by 400 calories in either direction... it's just a rough estimate to give people an idea. Everyone's metabolism is different.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby ztc540 » Aug 9. 2010, 16:14

When you say 1 - 1.5 grams of protein and .3 - .5 grams of fat per lbs, do mean per day or for every meal? (3 meals a day)

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby Mr. Yooper » Aug 9. 2010, 17:04

Very interesting read. Thanks for posting these topics.
Last edited by Mr. Yooper on Aug 9. 2010, 17:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 17:09

ztc540 wrote:When you say 1 - 1.5 grams of protein and .3 - .5 grams of fat per lbs, do mean per day or for every meal? (3 meals a day)



Per day.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby The Oct » Aug 9. 2010, 17:24

kusok wrote:
The Oct wrote:How do i get stronger, without building the appearance of muscle?... You already probably answered it above, I just wanted to be clear...

Also, What uses up more oxygen, actual strength? or toned muscles?



To get stronger you should lift weights and use bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, dips etc)

Concentrate on training for strength rather than for size. Use low 1-6 reps and heavy free weights (training for size like bodybuilding generally uses a bit less weight and higher repetitions of about 5-12). Focus on big exercises such as squat, dead lifts, pull-ups and bench press.

Also, train your core and abs.

Regular caloric surplus will no doubt allow you to become stronger every 1-2 weeks, you should see your lifts improve by a couple of lbs every 1-2 weeks.


Thanks..... What about the strength/cardio deal though?...

What hurts your cardio more: Actual strength? or Muscle size ("Fake muscle" as i call it)?
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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby traeblack » Aug 9. 2010, 17:25

why is Kusok not a VIP member? real talk......

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 17:34

lasni wrote:Great stuff! This is why you're one of my favourite posters Kusok! Also, could you please explain creatine cycling and how it should be done, since it's a topic of many disputes.




Technically speaking using latest scientific info we have today there is no need to cycle creatine. While in some animals creatine intake "downregulates" the creatine transporter, it does not do so in humans. There was a study that proved this in 2003.

However, being a "nature knows best" guy I would not stay on creatine for long, if at all. There is much we don't know still. But as far as we know today creatine IS perfectly safe.

Creatine IS effective, there is no doubt. The data proving it works is just overwhelming. BUT you have to think what is right for YOUR goals. Creatine makes you stronger and about 1 kg heavier... (due to water) So it has been found that it can thus potentially make you slower (more weight) and compromise your endurance... (just ask Bob Sapp :D

Finally notice that some combat athletes on creatine get off it about a month before weigh-ins. This way they can lose the water that comes with creatine, and make weight requirements.

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Re: How to gain muscle (easy guide and FAQ)

Postby kusok » Aug 9. 2010, 17:43

The Oct wrote:
kusok wrote:
The Oct wrote:How do i get stronger, without building the appearance of muscle?... You already probably answered it above, I just wanted to be clear...

Also, What uses up more oxygen, actual strength? or toned muscles?



To get stronger you should lift weights and use bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, dips etc)

Concentrate on training for strength rather than for size. Use low 1-6 reps and heavy free weights (training for size like bodybuilding generally uses a bit less weight and higher repetitions of about 5-12). Focus on big exercises such as squat, dead lifts, pull-ups and bench press.

Also, train your core and abs.

Regular caloric surplus will no doubt allow you to become stronger every 1-2 weeks, you should see your lifts improve by a couple of lbs every 1-2 weeks.


Thanks..... What about the strength/cardio deal though?...

What hurts your cardio more: Actual strength? or Muscle size ("Fake muscle" as i call it)?




Definitely size hurts cardio more! Think about it, the bigger your muscles are the more oxygen they need.

There are people with freakish strength (Aleksander Emelianenko for example) who doesn't look muscular at all, Looks thin in fact. But to a degree size and strength are related and go together (TO A DEGREE)
If involved in a sport one must find a perfect balance for himself between strength and cardio.

Training your core and abs will add dramatically to your strength.


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