5 Essential Tips for Building Mass

September 13, 2021 5 min read

5 Essential Tips for Building Mass

Building slabs of lean muscle (hell, putting on even a few pounds of lean mass) is a feat that doesn’t come easy -- hence why you see so many people that look the same (or worse) year after year at the gym.

Truth be told, massing properly requires time, dedication, effort, consistency, and above all patience.

If you think you’ve been doing everything right, but you’re still struggling to gain the kind of size you want, here are five essential tips for building mass.

 

#1 Utilize Progressive Overload

The fundamental principle that drives muscle building is progressive overload.

To many individuals, progressive overload simply means “adding more weight.”

And, while that is one way to implement progressive overload, it is by no means the only way in which to accomplish it.

At its core, progressive overload simply means forcing your muscles to do more than you did last time.

Adding weight to bar is certainly one way to force your muscle to do more work than last workout, but there are several other ways to accomplish that as well, such as:
  • Increasing the number of reps with the same weight
  • Increasing range of motion
  • Reducing rest periods
  • Increasing time under tension (e.g. 1-½ reps)
  • Increasing the frequency that you train the muscle throughout the week
Now, you don’t have to implement all of these tactics in a single workout or an entire mesocycle, but over the long term, your training should be getting progressively harder.

In other words, this time next year, if you’re lifting more weight for more reps, you should be bigger.

This brings us to point number two…

 

#2 Consume Enough Calories

Next to not utilizing progressive overload, the second biggest reason that many individuals struggle to gain any appreciable amount of size is that they simply don’t eat enough to support muscle building.

You have to remember that at the end of the day, gaining/losing weight is about managing energy balance (calories in vs calories out).

In order to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you burn (i.e. a calorie surplus).

Far too many individuals are concerned about gaining meager amounts of body fat and trying to hold onto their six-pack instead of maximizing their muscle building potential. By and large, the whole “main-gaining” or “gain-taining” approach is a waste of time for individuals who are serious about building real size.

One of the most powerful weapons you have when trying to build size is a surplus of calories. Why would you intentionally hamstring your gains by overly restricting your calorie intake and trying to recomp?!

It just doesn’t make sense.

Yes, it is possible to lose body fat and build muscle (gain-tain or main-gain), but it is a very slow and arduous process (even more so than building muscle naturally in a surplus). Plus, this approach is typically most effective if you are very overweight and/or inexperienced from a training standpoint.

Therefore, if you’re really serious about building muscle, you need to eat to support your lifting efforts in the gym.

Eating sufficient calories will help you train harder, recover faster, and promote a more anabolic environment, all of which adds up to better muscle gains!

A good rule of thumb is to consume between 10-20% above maintenance calories, as this provides enough calories to support muscle gain without verging into the “dirty” bulk arena where you follow the “see food, eat food” approach -- which more often than not results in the same amount of muscle gain as a “lean gain” diet, but considerably greater fat gain.

 

#3 Consume Enough Protein

Protein supplies the body with the essential building blocks (amino acids) it needs to support muscle repair and growth.

After ensuring that you’re consuming enough daily calories, you also need to make sure you’re consuming enough total protein (from high quality sources) each day. Failure to consume sufficient protein, impairs muscle recovery (which limits your ability to train hard) and hampers muscle growth (which is the main reason you’re probably hitting the gym in the first place).

The current body of evidence indicates that 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day is sufficient to maximize muscle building potential.

So, if you weigh 180 pounds, then you’ll want to consume roughly 180 grams of protein each day. Ideally, you’ll divide that amount of protein evenly across 4-6 meals throughout the day, as research suggests that an even distribution of protein throughout the day is more favorable for muscle gain.

The best protein sources for muscle building include:
  • Lean beef (steak)
  • Chicken (white and dark meat)
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Fish (salmon, mackerel, mahi-mahi, etc.)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, oysters, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Milk
  • Whey protein powder, such as Commissary
In addition to consuming whole protein sources throughout the day, for added muscle recovery and growth support, you can also utilize an essential amino acid supplement, such as Confined EAA/BCAA, which supplies all of the critical building blocks your body needs to optimize repair and lean mass accretion.

 

#4 Get Enough Sleep

Another key area where many individuals struggle is getting enough quality sleep each night. Quite simply, if you’re not sleeping well, then you’re limiting your recovery and growth potential.

This can happen for any number of reasons, but by and large, poor sleep is attributable to two main causes: stress and excess blue light exposure.

Stress is something we all have to face daily, and while it’s not entirely possible to remove it completely from our lives, there are steps we can take to improve how we deal with stress.

Activities such as breathing drills, meditation, yoga, journaling, going on walks, or simply having a cup of tea can all have a tangible effect on lessening the effects of stress.

Additionally, many of us also need to learn to “unplug” in the evening before bed. Generally speaking, it’s best to start powering down your electronics about two hours or so before bed. Electronics emit blue light which impairs melatonin secretion. Melatonin is the hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycle and stunting its release only serves to hamper your efforts to fall asleep at night.

As such, aim to limit/eliminate your exposure to blue light-emitting devices beginning around two hours before bed. This includes all manner of TVs, smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.

When you start prioritizing sleep and de-emphasizing late night Netflix binges, you’ll see massive improvements not only in your recovery and growth, but also your mood, daily energy levels, and mental performance.

 

#5 Use the Right Supplements

Many of you reading this may be already doing the “basics” -- eating right, training hard, and sleeping soundly each day.

You may be wondering “what else can I do?”

Well, once all of the basics are covered, you can then look to further augment your performance, recovery, and results with supplements.

At the top of the list is creatine monohydrate -- far and away the most scientifically researched and safe supplement there is for supporting lean mass gains and athletic performance. Creatine has stood the test of time and continues to be a staple for athletes of all walks of like looking to maximize their results. We’ve included the full, research-supported dose of 5,000mg creatine monohydrate in every serving of LOCKED DOWN.

In addition to creatine, you can also consider using a pre workout supplement, such as Convict Stim.

Convict Stim was specifically created to help you train harder and last longer in your workouts, enabling you to bang out more reps for more sets (i.e. progressive overload) and get the results you want from a lifetime spent battling the iron.