Packing on mass

Above is a picture of what I should probably describe to you as one of the main reasons I am where I am today, these men where who inspired me as a youth to pursue my eventual career as a personal trainer. If it was not for Arnold I probably would not be as happy as I am these days. When I was younger my focus with regards to exercise and fitness was soley based on looking a particular way and as a result my training and diet was simply aimed at lean muscle. My gym hours were spent bodybuilding, and all other times I was focused on how much I was eating, how much protein I was consuming and searching for the gym routine that would get me that extra mass that I so desperately needed. These days my routines are far from what they used to be, now aimed at health, strength, function and my diet is minimal to keep my weight down. I was recently asked by my nephew to look at his friend Connors training routine and his diet as he said he is having a hard time packing on any mass. This is not something I have had to do for a long while as I do not train people in this way anymore and do not follow this training structure. But it does however interest me as I still have the greatest respect for the bodybuilding culture and now looking back to my earlier years am wondering what I would do differently if I could go back with my current knowledge.

So here goes.

When you are young and lean it seems like muscle comes slow and your weight never seems to go up, you eat tons of food and spend hours in the gym doing routines you recently pulled off the internet or read in muscle and fitness. The thing is though you never seem to get anywhere fast and it is very annoying.

From looking at Connors routine and his diet and also knowing what he looks like he would fall into the category of what the internet likes to call the HARDGAINER, this basically means he is super lean and finds it hard to put on even a few pounds. His routine is typical for someone that is totally committed to the goal of mass and that was one of the mistakes if I could go back I would correct, he is quite simply doing to much of everything and not enough of the stuff that counts. Spending hours in the gym doing hundreds of sets per body part might work for some older  people but when your young it just aids to the calorie depletion and the muscles are just getting broken down far to quickly for them to rebuild and grow. Less is more is very important here, my suggestion might seem far to simple and if you would have told me this when I first started training I would have listened, nodded, smiled and gone straight back into the gym and done my usual 2 hours a day of breaking to much muscle down.

So my suggestion to him and my earlier self would have been this, concentrate first and foremost on getting your technique PERFECT on the exercises that actually count

  • Squats (Overhead, front, back)
  • Deadlifts
  • Standing Military press
  • Dips
  • Pullups
  • Olympic lifts (Cleans, Snatches etc)
  • Bench press

When I say PERFECT TECHNIQUE I mean perfect, setting yourself up In your earlier years will pay you back in years to come, seriously if you can’t do these movements like a pro then keep practising, pay a trainer use less weight and when you have perfected them you will be able to EFFICIENTLY start piling the weight to that bar and working the correct areas of your body and not messing yourself up or being restricted by you shit technique.

So when stage one is over and you are the master of the basics you will probably notice that you have started to grow a bit, and that will continue now give that you can actually start to progressively lift heavier.

lifting heavier is key here, you might think that thousands of sets is going to eventually make you look like a monster but when you are young and lean its simply wasting your time. So sort out your lifts, then progressively with some form of structure start to focus on getting stronger on all of them, this means making sure that every week something is going up. Along side this you need to be eating enough whole food to raise you weigh slowly. This probably means eating more food than you could possibly imagine but unless you are not putting in weight you are not eating enough.

Cardio at this point needs to be regular but only focused on performance and not take up much of your week, interval training is the best so lots of sprints, intervals on the rower will keep your cardiovascular system healthy and will help with your lifting.

When it comes to all the little exercises that you think are making the outer head of your bicep more pronounced etc, you need to leave them alone until you have created some solid mass. If you aim to double all of your lifts within one year guess what ? if you manage this you will be MUCH MUCH BIGGER, if you aim to spend hours and hours in the gym doing different variations on a bicep curl guess what ? in a year you are gonna look pretty much the same maybe a little leaner.

So here are my basic rules


Monitor everything, this enables you to be the judge of how your diet looks and your training looks because that article on the internet was probably written by some dude on steroids that has no problems putting on size. So monitor your food and if your not putting in weight adjust it by 500 calories and then give it a week and see where your at, eat clean foods and don’t worry to much about the exact protein just make sure that every meal has some meat or fish and some simple carbs along with a ton of veg and amp up your calories with good fats from nuts and seeds, leave the protein shakes for when you really can’t get a good solid meal,  with regards your training it would take me to long to write out exactly how you should structure it but quite simply get your technique perfect then lift heavy weights at low reps making sure every week your weights or reps increase a little. As soon as you can rep a weight for more than 6 reps increase the weight. With legs still keep a few exercises in there with high reps (15) they seem to respond well to high reps but don’t forget your heavy low rep squats and deadlifts as they will stimulate a ton of growth.

And thats it really just progress your strength and eat everything.