Many beginning trainees desire to increase their Lean Body Mass, and have this as the primary, if not only, goal in mind when beginning a training program. I suppose it is human nature to want to have large muscles and the appearance of power and capability. It was certainly the reason I started lifting weights (at a measly 115-120 lb.), and is the reason that a great majority of men start lifting as well. There has probably been more ink spent on this subject in muscle mags than any other topic, from Bob Hoffman, Peary Rader, and Charles Atlas all the way to Joe Weider and the supplement muscle shams of today. Muscle gain comes hard for a natural lifter, and anything over the "normal" level of BW is extremely difficult for most lifters to achieve without resorting to steroids and other drugs. Not difficult in the sense of "it can’t be done", but difficult in paying the price under the iron to get it and keep it. This is particularly true of the ectomorphic lifter. This is the type of male whose "normal and untrained" bodyweight might be 130 lbs., or less, at a height of 5’8" or taller. This is not an individual who would be sick or ill at this weight (although they may look sickly), but the individual whose body type and genetic makeup have him "locked into" a body frame and metabolism that does not support much in the way of muscle mass. For these lifters, it can be extremely frustrating to train with weights, to seemingly no avail. Frustrating when their lifts fail to increase after weeks of trying, and the lifts were not much to begin with. Who, reading this, can identify (whether from personal experience or observation) with the lifter who joins the gym and begins a simple (or very complicated) routine? His friends, also beginners lift much more than him even initially. He can barely bench press the bar and a few 5 or 10 pound plates. They manage to throw up 135, so it at least looks like they have something on the bar. Our lifter can manage 3-4 reps in an awkward squat with 60-70 lb. His friends, within weeks, have 150 and 160 on the bar, and are getting 10, 12, even 20 reps. If the lifter is typical, he will quit the gym and never return. If he is tenacious or hardheaded, he will almost certainly (without common sense to be a foundation to his will) fall into the trap of super supplements and super routines. He will, as many including myself have done, be an avid student of supplement advertisements and the various soft cover training books put out by the muscle publishers. He will be a veritable expert on the benefits of various foot spacing on Smith Machine squats. He will know why it is better to supinate, rather than pronate, the hands when performing a set of concentration curls. He will know the proper dosage, frequency, and contraindications for every pill, powder, and potion sold on the "muscle shelf" of his local health food store. And, likely as not, he will not gain a pound of muscle for it all. In all reality, I can hardly blame this individual for this plight. Having "been him" at one time, I can certainly understand how one gets there. It speaks of a certain level of sincerity and desire, but also of a level of ignorance and possible laziness, that is deadly to his goals.
There is, however, hope. He is looking for a home, and he is in the right town (the gym). He merely needs to find the correct address and to move in. He will likely need to find the "old neighborhood", the one where the houses were built back in the 40’s and 50’s. Where the houses, albeit dated and old fashioned, are also still standing after 50 or 60 years of weathering the storm. It is here, and likely only here, that he will find the comfort of making gains.