My fellow ectos, this is for you. Putting on mass and size is hard for us, I know. Rest easy you won’t hear snarky comments around here like, “How nice it must be to have a high metabolism.” The struggle is real.
The most common question I recieve to date is “How do I build more size?” Here in this article, I’ve consolidated what I believe to be all you really need to focus on in order to build not just size, but solid muscle. As well as how to maintain it.
Growing up I was the skinny kid – and nope, it wasn’t fun. For awhile the joke in my family was, “He has a hollow leg.” I could eat and eat and not gain a thing. Clothing hung on my frame – it did not “fit,” and I was picked last for dodge ball in P.E. class every time.
Our success story begins with what is known as a calorie surplus. In layman’s terms: We need to take in more calories than we are burning off. And since our workouts are monsters designed for us to go heavy and use a lot of energy, we need as much fuel as we can get – hence more calories. Powering through these heavy workouts requires more than just a proprietary blend of pre-workout. Does “bulking” mean we can go to Denny’s every day? No, we still need to make wise choices as we look for more calorie to devour.
Eating for more muscle isn’t easy. Some days your not going to want to eat like a beast. I would never recommend waking up one day and deciding to go eat 4000 calories. For one you won’t eat the right stuff and two, you will probably get nauseous. Gradual, strategic increases are the “Ah ha” takeaway here.
I will go ahead and put this out there, because I feel I need to. If you are vegetarian, against animal proteins, or otherwise have an aversion to meat, this probably ain’t gonna happen the way you want it to. I should say, I’ve yet to see it. Quinoa and Portobello’s just aren’t going to get your sleeves popping – I love both, but protein is a key ingredient in this puzzle and the more lean sources the better.
Turkey and chicken have always been the main players and 1 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight a safe standard by which to follow. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Attainable? But of course. To help put things in perspective, one turkey patty from Costco has 35 grams of protein. I”ll eat two at a time, sometimes twice a day totally 140 grams. Currently, I am at 194lbs and holding, so with the aforementioned formula – I’ve got 151 grams to go.
Chicken breasts are no longer as expensive as they used to be, knock on wood, and even more budget friendly -thighs and parts. Take the time to trim them, however as a hard gainer, we also need a certain amount of fat. But more on that in a bit.
“The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket.” Considered the perfect protein source, eggs are a mass gainers staple and I go through an epic amount of them. My cholesterol has been checked, so hardboiled, scrambled, poached, I’ll take em’. One egg contains roughly 6 grams of high quality protein.
Finding a good protein supplement is always a good thing. I always say, “If you can’t eat it, drink it.” Whey protein, a fast digesting protein full of essential amino acids that aid in recovery, is among the best for us. Caesin, a slow digesting protein, acts in a sort of time-release way. Bodybuilders will commonly eat cottage cheese at night before sleeping as it releases over time. Tip: After drinking it, don’t forget to wash your shaker. Trust.
I’ve never been a carb-hater. As we know, as a macronutrient, carbohydrates are the bodies natural go to source for energy. For some they are the struggle, however ectomorphs’ are a bit lucky in this area. Finally. We need as much help as we can get, both in the form of slow digesting and fast digesting carbs. In the early days I couldn’t understand why my workout partner insisted on eating white rice after a workout. White rice replenishes glycogen stores. Something depleted when working out harder.
My personal favorite? Spuds. aka Breakfast potatoes.
Mass building diets often require us to consume things many would otherwise try to cut back or try to eliminate.
I can’t remember the last time I had a stick of butter in my fridge. Monostaturated fats, like those found in olive oil are in my cabinets though. Fat is an energy source and ectos looking for mass need them. Save the saturated fats like onion rings, the no-no’s, for a cheat meal.
Timing is everything
In real estate it’s all about location, location, location. When it comes to building muscle the frequency of meals is equally as important.
Once, during what I call my “Golds Days” I remember bodybuilders sitting on the Calf Raise machine eating egg salad out of their Tupperware containers. That might be taking things to a new level, but they where dedicated and I respect that. Gains take discipline, dedication, and strategically placed meals.
While waiting 20 or even 30 minutes post workout to get your grub on probably won’t stop your gains, there is a “window of opportunity” to replenish. Over the years I worked as catering staff for large events – weddings, fundraisers, that sort of thing. Once, working an event at a beautiful winery a coworker, a young woman, asked me if I would keep an eye out for a supervisor. Why? She went on to explain she was a Women’s Physique Competitor and it was time for her to eat. And out she produced a ziplock bag with 2 cooked chicken breasts. She won her first competition out. Just saying.
Meals need to be as evenly spaced throughout the day as possible. It’s been said that after doing something for 21 days it becomes a habit. Get in the habit of consuming some form of high quality protein and carb every three (3) hours or so. I learned to keep powder for a shake as well as a carb supplement (that tasted like chalk) on hand as often as possible. Particularly while I was at work, or if I had to skip a meal.
No longer strictly a bodybuilder or physique competitor practice, meal prepping has caught on and rightfully so. For us average folks that just want to build solid muscle, it is just as important and works the same. By trading the mobile device for a few pots and pans just a couple of hours each week, meal prepping is one habit that done correctly, will not only keep your taste buds satisfied, but keep you on the fast track to success out of the gym.
Lower Rep Ranges
Here’s the thing: Mass building requires stimulating the muscle fibers differently than say, someone trying to get leaner. Workout routines are not a one-size-fits-all. In an attempt to keep this as simple as possible I’ll put it like this: Fast twitch fibers or IIa. those that use fat and glycogen stores for energy, recover quickly. We’re talking deadlifts, squats, and keeping rep ranges below 10. Ectomorphs also can train more frequently. If we don’t use it we lose it.
When we are young, burning the midnight oil isn’t difficult at all. I remember working double shifts in a restaurant, hanging out late, and then doing it all again the next day. And then again.
As a serious weightlifters we want results, so while everyone else is out popping bottles, we’re at home chillin’ like a villain – feet up, and ready to count some sheep. Dead-lifts and mass building workouts are taxing, not only on our bodies but our central nervous systems. Overtraining is real and the more you give yourself time to recover, the more you give yourself the ability to keep building.
Back in the day, before things got so “scientific” legends like Frank Zane, were on a simple mission. The plan was workout hard, eat whole foods, and win the trophy.
My fellow ecto’s, have a plan, adhere to these basic principles, and I’m telling you there will come a day when you do go out, and people say:
“Damn, you’ve been working out.”
6AM – 8PM Monday – Saturday