Ask the trainer:Building mass

Question- I have been weightlifting for some time now and I’m looking to build more mass. What would you suggest  to help build mass, food wise or via supplementation?

Answer- A diet geared towards building mass is one of the most challenging things because it really requires consistency, especially if the person has trouble building/ keeping on weight. As with any diet, it is first important to look at calories going in vs. calories going out. You need to be at a caloric surplus, meaning that you need to take in more calories than you burn every day. Without meeting in person it is difficult to get an exact number but this site will help get a good estimate.

Once you have your daily caloric estimate (the amount of calories you burn in a given day), you need to add another 3-500 calories. This number will be your target. One pound of muscle is about 2,500 calories so you would need to add on 2,500 calories a week to build a pound of muscle a week.

Once you have your target calories, things become a bit of trial and error. I always recommend that people divide their calories up over 5-6 meals but if you find that you are still not putting on the muscle, you may want to limit it to 3-4 meals (same total calories though). Every meal should be balanced with protein, carbs and fat.

The next step is determining the breakdown of calories you will be taking in. When building muscle, I would say a 40/30/20 split is good. 40 percent protein, 30 percent carbs and 20 percent fat. The protein is needed for recovery but the carbs and fats are necessary sources of fuel and nutrients so don’t skimp on them.

In addition to the diet, some supplementation may be helpful. An amino acid complex is great for recovery and moderate use of creatine will help give you a boost. You can click here for good deals on supplements.

Obviously the second part of the process is weight lifting. It’s important that you apply the overload principle which is that each workout gets progressively harder. This increase in intensity is what will cause your body to adapt and grow. I would recommend working each bodypart 2 times a week and doing 5 exercises per bodypart with a rep range of 7-12.

It is important to note that when putting on muscle, there is a good chance that you will add some pounds of fat, that’s normal and is a necessary part of the process. The most important thing is that you maintain consistency. When it comes to putting on weight/ muscle, 1-2 bad days can be disastrous.

Here is an example of my diet when I’m focused on putting on size:

Breakfast: oatmeal w/ dried fruits, nuts and 2% milk.
Snack: whole wheat pita with 2 slices of turkey and a slice of low fat cheese.
Lunch: chopped steak over rice with broccoli.
Pre-workout: fruit smoothie, 2 hard boiled eggs.
Post workout: isopure protein shake with milk, strawberries, banana.
Dinner: grilled chicken, barley, small salad with oil and vinegar.
Snack: handful of peanuts.


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