What does it take to add one pound of muscle? One oft-cited standard has it that to gain a pound in a week, over the course of that week, you would have to take in 3,500 calories more than you burn via activity and normal metabolic processes.
That’s the measure of a pound of flesh, with its accompanying muscle and fat; a pound of pure muscle is a tougher nut to crack. Not only do you need calories above and beyond what you burn, but those extra calories must contain a higher percentage of protein to provide the raw materials for muscle growth, as well as carbohydrates for energy to train — and to fuel muscle building — during recovery periods. You’ll also need those calories at precise times throughout the day: if you don’t eat every three hours, your system could slip into a catabolic state, where muscle tissue is tapped for energy. Lastly, you need to train consistently to break down muscle tissue and initiate the chain of events that prompt them to come back a little stronger and a little bigger.
Before embarking on your journey to five new pounds of muscle, you need to plan for the trip, and you need to determine your specific bodytype to tweak the diet to your particular needs. With those pieces in place, you’ll be ready to follow through to the end without faltering.
MIND OVER MUSCLE
As you probably know firsthand, a bodybuilder can be his own worst critic when it comes to assessing his appearance. It’s a constant pursuit of perfection, and part of it involves keeping a stern eye on the smallest details. To stick with this (or any) specific diet, such a mindset can come in handy. Turn this negative attribute into a positive, and engage in some forward thinking to fuel your motivation.
How? Setting a realistic short-term goal, such as completing the tasks laid out within this article, is an easy and forward-thinking way to stay focused and not become frustrated or give up. Make sure to never skip a meal or a workout, and that consistency will coalesce into results over time.
With such a positive mental outlook, you can settle in and attack your mass-gaining assignment aggressively. You have a deadline and a specific target: gaining five pounds of muscle in 35 days. Focusing with this goal and time period in mind should enable you to get the most out of your workouts. Now is not the time to hold back — push yourself to your absolute limits in your training, always aware that the finish line is within sight.
YOUR NEXT 5 WEEKS
The diet detailed on the following pages is a mix of whole foods, including lean cuts of beef, skinless chicken and turkey breast, certain types of fish, some legumes, eggs and low- fat dairy. When following a strict meal plan such as this, variety helps you avoid ruts that lead to urges to cheat, and may help you dodge development plateaus caused by your body’s incredible ability to adapt.
Supplemental protein sources such as protein powders and weight-gain powders are included for the sake of convenience throughout the day and as a must around workout time. Typically, protein powders are high in protein and low in carbs, fats and calories; meal replacement powders strike a balance of carbs and protein.
Protein provides the building blocks for your body, and carbs give you the energy required to build new muscle and to work out while keeping all your systems humming. Lacking the proper kind and amount of carbs in your nutritional plan can result in disaster — your body will tire quickly and will strip your muscle tissue for energy. In this diet, we keep it simple, recommending basic foods such as rice, whole-wheat bread and fiber-rich vegetables, as well as fast-digesting carbs such as white breads and sports drinks after workouts.
Once you reach the five-week mark and marvel at your progress, remember that the base diet can be used year-round. Consider your ultimate goal (losing more fat or gaining more muscle), and then simply alter the food amounts — a little less, coupled with more cardio during training, to cut up, or a little more, coupled with hard-and-heavy weight training, for more muscle.
Now that you’re headed in the right direction, building a more muscular, leaner you is just a few weeks away.
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