Getting big with a lot of muscle is still the name of the game for bodybuilders. Sergio Oliva, 3-time winner of the IFBB Mr. Olympia, perhaps said it best,
There’s only one way to get bigger, eat more! Now that’s elegant in its simplicity.
I graduated from high school weighing a scrawny 126-pounds. at 5″10″. When I started training, two-time Mr. Olympia, Franco Columbu, (the Sardinian Samson), was often pictured with his thick chest distinguished by the deep separation between his upper and lower pectoral fibers. I remember feeling a bit of pride because I had a similar groove of delineation in my chest. Looking back, I now realize that it was not separation of various muscle groups but simply my ribs showing.
From my initial 126-pounds, I gradually built myself up to a top weight of 203-pounds. Every ounce of weight I’ve gained has been a slow, uphill, tooth-and-nail battle. But, as all the months of training rolled on by my 135-pound. squat became 185, 225 and soon enough, 405-pounds. Likewise, my muscle grew even if my metabolism and genetics were stubborn.
In my day
For those with a turbo-charged fast metabolism, adding even a pound of weight is a struggle. My early college years were the late eighties (an era marked by bad music and even worse nutritional supplements).The most popular weight gain products of this time were sugar-packed, low-quality, foul – tasting sludge with small quantities of low-quality protein added in almost as an afterthought.
My ultimate solution was the “then classic approach” to weight gain — gallon of the white stuff–milk! For a period of three years, I consumed at least a gallon of whole milk a day in addition to at least four to five meals. These were huge meals. It was not unusual for me to eat a half a pan of lasagna or a pound and a half of hamburger at a sitting, topped off with six yogurts or a quart of kefir (a yogurt-like beverage with active cultures that assist in health of the digestive tract). To top it off, I added a half-gallon of chocolate ice cream before bed.
Needless to say, consuming all that sugar and lactose gave me world-class flatulence.
Intelligent eating allowed Mark Perry to pack on sixty solid pounds of shredded mass –
twenty pounds in just the past two years.
He was rewarded with an impressive sixth-place finish in the NPC Nationals.
There is no over-training. Only under eating, under sleeping and lack of will– The Barbarian Brothers
The mystery of calories
When someone talks about daily calorie intake, they are referring to the amount of energy they are taking in from protein, carbs and fat. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is an approximate measure of the calories needed to keep our basic machinery running. Also, additional calories are needed for everything else you do. A lumberjack burns more calories than a computer worker. Likewise, clubbing two to three nights a week uses up calories that could have gone to muscle. Stress, such as a divorce, legal hassles, school, financial problems or a new job further bumps up your caloric expenditure.
“Don’t run when you can walk.
Don’t stand when you can sit. Don’t sit when you can lie down.” – Harry Paschall
Strength & Health Magazine
How many calories?
Aproven starting point is 20 calories per pound of bodyweight.
For example, a 150-pound male eats 3000 calories a day.
- Use this chart:
- Weight Factor Calories
- 130 x 20 = 2600
140 x 20 = 2800
- 150 x 20 = 3000
160 x 20 = 3200
170 x 20 = 3400
- 180 x 20 = 3600
Break your daily intake up into five to eight meals so you are not stuffed on three daily meals. You can utilize nutrients with smaller, more frequent meals. After a week on this new caloric level, check if your weight has changed. (Always weigh yourself in the morning before a meal.) If you have gained one to three pounds. continue at that level for another week. If you gained five or more pounds, then you can draw one of two conclusions; you were severely depleted and you really needed the higher calories to fill out your existing muscle, or the calorie level caused you to retain water or add a large amount of body fat.
If you have followed the starting calorie intake listed on the chart and have not seen an increase in your bodyweight in the first two weeks, jump up your daily calorie count by 500 calories. If, after a week’s time, this does not cause an increase, add another 250 calories.
Protein – Fat – Carbohydrates
Typically, diets are designed by listing a precise ratio of protein, carbs and fat and serving sizes. Every meal you eat should be rich in protein. For a weight gain diet, I recommend two to two and-a-half grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This should equal 30-50% of your daily calorie intake. This can be acquired from eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, fish and quality protein powders. High intake of water is also important. A gallon a day (not counting what you use in your shakes) should keep you well-flushed.
Fat intake should be at least 20% of caloric intake, as lipids promote general health and immune function as well as providing many of the necessary components for testosterone production. Fats are a great, highly concentrated source of calories. As such, they are indispensable in a weight gain diet. Good sources of fat include olive and canola oils, omega 3 supplements, nuts, flaxseed oil or special blended oils, and peanut butter.
Of the three macronutrients carbohydrates are generally the most inexpensive and, therefore, also the most abundant in our food supply. They provide quick and easy energy. The downside of this is that, depending on your sensitivity to carbs, too many carbs can lead to quick gains in bodyfat. Adjust your carbohydrate intake to allow for steady gains with acceptable increases in bodyfat. Fiber is not normally mentioned in weight gain diets. High levels of fiber are generally a staple of fat loss programs, since fiber tends to be quite filling. A moderate amount of fiber is essential for a weight gain program. Fiber helps optimize the digestive tract. A serving of whole oatmeal, salad and green beans or steamed fibrous veggies will do it.
Mass Maker and Ultra Size:
one-two punchin the battle for muscle mass.
|Weight||2 Grams Protein||2.5 Grams Protein|
Our 150-pound future Mr. Olympia uses: (150-pounds x 20 calories per pound, daily calorie count of 3000). Protein intake: 300-g a day (2 g per pound). This provides 1200 calories a day from protein or 40 percent of the daily total. (4 calories/g: 4 x 300 is 1200.)
Prince Fontenot made the jump from the middleweights to the top of the ligh-heavyweight class. A high protein diet helped make it possible.
Protein timing is important. Divide your daily protein into tenths. In our ongoing example of the 150-pounder, let’s go for broke and use 2.5-g protein per pound of bodyweight. This gives us a 375-g daily protein intake. That is 37.5-g per serving, round to 40-g).
For each meal, consume a 40-g serving of protein. Double this to 80-g for his breakfast, since it is listed as 20% of daily intake. The post-workout shake (25%) is a whopping 100-g serving.
This is an extremely comprehensive program. For most athletes it will be a surefire – guarantee of growth IF stuck to consistently. During the workout, you will see an asterisk listed in your protein percentage column. As another option, you may want to consider taking 15-25 branchedchain amino acids or protein hydrolysate tablets during your workout. This seems to improve energy levels and discourages the breakdown of muscle tissue during training. We won’t even bother to include this in your daily protein intake. Adjust these as needed to fit your lifestyle but try to keep them as stable as possible.
Weight-gainers can keep that 28-inch waist and still gain up to 60-pounds by eating small quantities of food five to six times daily, rather than stuffing themselves at one sitting.
– Vince Gironda, Blueprint for the Bodybuilder
Meal Scheduling Rationale
AM TRAINING: 6:00 Breakfast/ Pre-training meal 20% 7:00 TRAINING 8:30 Post-training shake 25% 9:30 Post-post-training meal 15% 12:30 Lunch 10% 3:00 Mid-day snack 10% 6:00 Dinner 10% 9:30 bed snack/shake 10% (2:00 Mid-sleep shake – optional)
PM TRAINING: 6:00 Breakfast 20% 9:30 Mid-morning snack 10% Noon Lunch 10% 3:00 Pre-training meal 10% 5:00 TRAINING 5:30 Post-training shake 25% 6:30 Post-post-training meal 15% 9:30 bed snack/shake 10% (2:00 mid-sleep shake – optional) –
NON-TRAINING DAYS: 6:00 Breakfast 20% 8:30 Mid-morning snack 10% 11:00 Lunch 10% 2:00 Mid-afternoon snack 10% 5:00 Dinner 15% 7:30 Evening snack 10% 10:00 Before bed shake 15% (2:00 mid-sleep shake – optional) – MEAL SCHEDULING RATIONALE
Your body has just gone 4-9 hours without nutrients (depending if you get up in the middle of the night). I recommend Ultra Size a mixture of casein and whey isolates, egg and beef that gives you an immediate influx of amino acids as well as some sustained slow proteins. It is not wise to have all whey without food on an empty stomach. Also, include a serving of oatmeal for healthy fat, fibers and slow carbs.
A protein snack.
Training has a profound effect on how our body makes use of calories. The physical demands of an intense workout allow your muscles to soak up nutrients like hungry sponges. This is an ideal time to dose up on protein. I recommend a big protein meal (50- 60-g) right before training. This can be a protein shake, an egg omelet or even meat and it should be entering your muscle cells about the time when you are just finishing training!
Post-workout also is a key time to get protein. I recommend you give yourself a huge, more than double-dose (60-85-g) of protein, consisting mostly of fast proteins, such as whey. (Muscle Provider is good). This is the single most important time to get muscle fuel. Alternately, you can make a shake with three or four scoops of a low-sugar weight gainer (Beverly’s Mass Maker is in a class of its own in this category) and add some whey to it. Ready-to-drink protein shakes are weaker but might be used if you are not able to get to your blender for an hour. At any rate, use about 4 scoops derived from two powders, such as Muscle Provider and Mass Maker. Glutamine, BCAA and Muscle Synergy make a nice add on here. Try to get this protein within 15 minutes after you set your last weight down.
After my post-workout protein shake, I generally drive home, shower and then immediately prepare a whole-food protein meal. For me, this is roughly an hour after my post-workout protein shake. This should provide you with a second surge of slow protein. Good choices are steak and eggs, cottage cheese (a great source of casein), or some lean grilled hamburger.
Before going to bed at night is another crucial time to pound the protein. Obviously, since it will be a number of hours until you are able to feed your muscles, you want to give yourself a slow protein, either in the form of an egg white or milk protein/casein shake or whole foods. Adding some fats into your shake (in the form of added flax oil or half-and-half cream) will give you concentrated calories for growth.
MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
If you choose to try a middle of the night feeding, go for a smaller but nutrient dense double-dose of protein with some fat (once again, flax oil or cream) added.
Protein was mentioned above since it forms the foundation of a bodybuilding diet. At least 85% of your supplement expense should be proteins. Most of this should be protein blends for shakes with possibly some for liver and amino sources. The balance should just be spent on items to reinforce general health, such as vitamins, minerals, or flax oil.
Avoid the more popular meal-replacement products that contain fillers and thickening agents, which are very filling. These products are designed for the fat-loss market. Those trying to knock back big calories and huge doses of protein would be wise to steer clear of them.
Avoid fad products. In particular, avoid wasting your money on products like pro-hormones, GH secretagogues, myostatin inhibitors, and the like. Even if the companies selling these products show convincing research or list impressive increases in hormone levels from studies done on their products, this DOES NOT necessarily directly relate to an increase in muscle size. Your money is better spent on boosting your daily gram intake of protein. As I mentioned earlier, the ready-to-drink shakes are a waste of money for you. Ditto for protein bars. These are strictly for the tourists. Hardcore lifters know that they can not only get more bang for their buck with protein powders, but they can
custom mix them to fit their individual needs.
“I always fed on high-protein liquid foods during a workout, and large quantities of protein food immediately afterwards in an attempt to match the food intake to the peak demand periods of the body”.
— Michael J. Salvati,
The Production of Muscular Bulk
Six for size!
1. Isolate and Peptide Whey.
Whey protein is commonly referred to as a "fast protein" because it is absorbed quickly. Look for a whey protein blend that contains high quantities of whey protein isolates (since the cheaper whey concentrates are not as well absorbed). The best whey proteins also include significant amounts of whey protein hydrolysates. These are proteins that are "pre-digested" for easier absorption. In weight gain, the digestive benefits of hydrolysates are even more important due to the fact that large quantities of protein will need to be consumed.
2. Casein Protein/Milk Protein Isolate and / or Egg White Protein.
Casein is a “slow protein,” which means it is broken down slowly, which provides the body with a sustained source of amino acids for growth. Because of its “sustained-release” quality, casein is a great before bed and middle-of-the night protein. Egg White Protein powder is also a moderately “slow protein” and is a useful addition because its high content of sulfur- producing amino acids help optimize your body’s production of anabolic hormones.
3. Quality Weight Gainer.
Go for quality not just calories. If a significant number of the calories come from simple sugars, you might be better off with a pint of ice cream. With any weight gain product, I recommend you customize your serving by adding an additional scoop or two of glutamine, egg white or milk isolate protein to transform it into a “super-shake.”
If you are not healthy, you aren’t going to grow. “Sick time” translates into missed workouts and lost growth opportunities. For general health reasons, as well as providing the basic vitamin and mineral needs for maximal growth, the inclusion of a comprehensive vitamin/mineral pack is a “no-brainer”.
5. Beef Liver Tabs.
With up to two grams of quality protein per tablet, plus large doses of iron, minerals and B-vitamins, desiccated liver tablets are an affordable way to boost any meal’s nutritional value.
6. Glutamine Powder.
This cell-volumizing amino acid is also a potent muscle-builder. A healthy five to ten-gram dose once or twice a day will reinforce your immune system and dramatically decrease muscle breakdown.
Typical estimated servings of protein
30 GRAMS T-bone, sirloin/porterhouse steak, 5 oz.
Ground beef, 6 oz.
Egg whites, 9 large
Eggs, 2 whole large eggs plus 5 whites
Chicken breast, 5 oz.
Tuna or salmon (canned)
half cup cottage cheese
1 cup ground turkey breast
4 oz. Muscle Provider
(whey – egg protein blend), 2 scoops
Ground beef, 8 oz.
Ground turkey breast, 6 oz.
Eggs, 2 whole large eggs plus 7 whites
Eggs, 3 whole large eggs plus 6 whites
Chicken breast, 6 oz.
Tuna, canned, 6 oz.
Orange Roughy filet, 8 oz.
Mass Maker protein shake, 6 scoops
T-bone, sirloin/porterhouse steak, 8 oz.
Ground beef, 10 oz.
Ground turkey breast, 7 oz.
Eggs, 3 whole large eggs plus 9 whites
Eggs, 4 whole large eggs plus 7 whites
Eggs, 5 whole large eggs plus 5 whites
Tuna, canned, 8 oz.
Protein shake, 2 scoops Ultra Size,
1 scoop Muscle Provider (Vanilla) Protein
shake, 2 scoops Muscle Provider (Chocolate)
60 GRAMS T-bone, sirloin/porterhouse steak, 10 oz.
Ground beef, 12 oz.
Eggs, 4 whole large eggs plus 10 whites
Eggs, 6 whole large eggs plus 6 whites
Ground turkey breast, 8 oz.
Protein shake, 6 scoops Mass Maker,
1 scoop Muscle Provider
Protein shake, 2 scoops Ultra Size
1 scoop Muscle Provider
Protein shake, 2 scoops Ultra Size
12 scoops 100% Egg
Chicken breast, 12 oz.
T-bone, sirloin or filet steak, 12 oz.
Lean ground beef, 14oz.
Tuna, 12 oz.
Protein shake, 6 scoops Mass Maker,
2 scoops Muscle Provider
More articles by Steve
Part Two: The Kitchen
Simple and Efficient Food Prep for Bodybuilding Success