Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Muscular Weight Gain - By Jay Trigg

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.

Alright. Enough Harry Paschall and J.C. Hise talk. How do you do it? How does a guy who wants to pack 20, 30, 40 lb. of muscle weight on a body that is reluctant to add 5 lb. do it? How does a rank beginner pack on the pounds? And how can you, Mr. Trigg, with your prime physique (ha-ha-ha) tell me how to do so, when you have never experienced such frustrations? I may tell my story later, but today I will tell the story of Mr. DB (Delibabu) Chakrapani. DB is one of my trainees. DB is 25 years old, Indian (not American Indian, but India-Indian), and started training at a bodyweight of 118 lb. at 5’ 9" in height. This was a gentleman well past his puberty, and into adulthood. He had never had any significant bodyweight, and was not recovering from a lingering illness. His joints are all small, and his bone structure is quite light. He is a textbook case of ectomorphia, and he wanted to get big. When he walked through the door, I gulped hard, because this was a test case of any "weight gain" program I could devise, and there would be no hiding the fact if it didn’t work. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to dust off any tomes to find and old-school program for weight gain. Those books are always open around here. Here is the very basic program that DB began on, and utilizes today.

Two days a week

Day one:

Stiff Deadlift
Nautilus pullover
Overhead press (parallel grip "log bar" from Reflex)
Chins (assisted in the beginning)
Dumbbell bench press
Curls with Apollons Axle

Day two:

Nautilus leg curl
Nautilus pulldown
Nautilus overhead press, Duo-Poly
Nautilus compound row, Duo-Poly
Nautilus preacher curl
Bench dips
Side bends

Yes. DB is squatting twice a week. Yes, he is overhead pressing twice a week. Yes, he is using "foo-foo" or "pumping" exercises like leg curls, pulldowns, and preacher curls. Yes, he is also busting his buttocks under a real live bar, in squats and overhead presses.

He is using a "15 or 20" rep scheme on the squats. Meaning we worked him up from 10 reps to 20 reps in the squat at his initial weight. We then added 5 lb. and had him do 15 reps. Next workout we had him do the same weight for 20 reps. Next workout we added 5 lb. and had him do 15 reps, and the same weight for 20 the next workout, and so-on. He DOES NOT work to failure on the squats, although his last 3 reps are generally reps that the average human being would quit on. He works a strict 15 reps ONLY on the stiff deadlift, adding 5 lb. per week. Everything else (abs excepted) he works to absolute failure, or in the case of the Compound Row, until he can no longer hold the handles back, in the Duo-Poly fashion. What has all of this accomplished for DB? What has our ectomorphic poster boy been able to claim as his reward? The obvious is strength increases from workout to workout. He is getting the perfect (for him) mixture of intensity and rest. He is currently being neither underworked nor overworked. He would tell you he is being overworked every workout, but that is the nature of the task at hand. But his recovery abilities are not being taxed at this time. DB is also registering a 3 lb. gain a week in bodyweight. I know. It amazes me as well. In fact, it makes me supremely jealous. And his diet is "fair" at best, as culturally and physically he is not a big eater. He doesn’t tolerate milk well, and beef causes him digestive problems. So he eats lots of fish, chicken and vegetables. I can only imagine what his weight gains would be if he went on an "American Style" food blitz. But, as well, his dietary practices are very healthy and are minimizing fat gain. So we can assume that his weight gains are almost all muscle.

There is nothing "magical" about the above routine, other than the magic of the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. And the routine is definitely a routine that caters to the new trainee. It might not work as well for the more advanced trainee, although the principles are ironclad. But we are speaking of the new trainee. As well, DB invokes more intensity and effort in the workout then he has ever done physically in his life before. It is very much work for him, and exhausting work at that. He is constantly pushed, as around here we live and work by the mantra "at least one more rep or one more pound than last week". So, DB gains. He isn’t ready for a magazine cover. He will not be lifting in the Senior Nationals this year. And he isn’t the strongest guy in town. Yet. But he has gotten a handle on what it takes to succeed in the weight game, and is succeeding as a result.

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