Long Term Program
Adding enough lean mass in the form of muscle will take some time, with the average lifter seeing good results in 3-6 months. This means that your approach towards such a goal requires you to consistently be training hard, consuming enough calories, and getting enough rest. It doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect all of the time, but it should mean that you’re at least aware of what’s required from you and be committed to the entire process.
I’ve found it to be extremely useful in getting a large desk calendar (where all the days of the months are laid out with each day), and planning out 3 months of training. This doesn’t mean I have to write out every single workout but just an idea of when my workouts are scheduled, what muscles I’ll be focusing on, and when my rest days are. I can use this timeline to also check on my progress, by including progress shots every few weeks along with overall body weight, body composition (if known), and some of my big lifts: to see if my strength is increasing.
I would also track each of my lifts (and overall weekly eating habits) through any number of apps available through your smartphone (I have one myself that includes a full 12-week training schedule, and can be found here: http://ftpln.com/rob). I also often use a journal so I can keep detailed notes of everything from my weights lifted, any shocking principles used within the workouts, reminders for future workouts (such as switching out certain exercise for others). By doing this you’re also taking accountability on your actions, and committing them to paper, which helps to reinforce your overall goal.
Another thing I’ve found to be beneficial is to remain motivated and inspired to continue to commit and stay on track with my goals. I do this by constantly reminding myself of what I’m working towards and why. I do this by writing my thoughts and reasons down and placing them around the house, such as on the refrigerator door, within some kitchen cupboards, at my office desk, and even somewhere in the bathroom where I’ll see it daily. Besides this, I’ll reinforce my goal within my training journal and create a motivational gallery on my phone of anything that further drives my motivation. (I’ve included my Instagram for you to also check out, as I strive to post informative and motivational videos that may help you towards your own training goal: https://www.instagram.com/robrichesfitness/)
Now that I’ve covered all of the areas that I feel to be the most beneficial towards the goal of gaining muscle size, I can now move on to the subject of supplements. I’ve left this until last not because they’re the least beneficial, but to show that all the other muscle building tips mentioned from 1-9 should be put into effect first before focusing your attention towards supplements.
One of the most frequent questions that I’m asked is which supplement they should take to build muscle. My answer is never as simple as perhaps they were expecting because no supplement alone will cause the muscle to just grow bigger or stronger, without these other factors having first been employed (I’m talking about nutritional supplements that can all be purchased from your local sports and health stores, and can even be found in many local supermarkets. I’m also an advocate for drug-free training, so everything that I’ve always done, and have always stood behind is about my focus and commitment towards weight training and solid nutrition, with a few strategic nutritional supplements to help support such efforts).
Only once you have all of the steps listed from 1-9 put into place would the right supplement support become apparent to you – in the sense that it supplements the rest of your efforts, and may help towards areas of focus and energy, as well as recovery.
Below is a list of my top 5 recommended supplements for muscle gain:
- Multi-blend protein powder
- Post-workout carbohydrate (waxy maize starch)
- Micronized Creatine
- ZMA (to help aid night time recovery)
- Intra-workout BCAA’s complex.
And there you have it. My top ten tips towards gaining muscle. Remember that this is not a race, so be prepared for the long run if you want real results. It’s taken me many years to build the physique I have today, and even to this day I am still learning and growing. Remember also that we all have our own individual goals and that each person may respond in a slightly different way, so if you and a training partner start a muscle-building routine at the same time and both follow the exact same approach, don’t become alarmed if one starts to gain muscle at a faster rate. It just means that the other one needs some fine-tuning to get them on the right track.
Progress doesn’t need to be along every step of the way. Don’t become disheartened if after several weeks you’re not seeing the expected results. Give it time, and be aware of what factors you have control over. It may be something as simple as adding in an extra rest day or increasing your daily calories by a couple extra hundred. By at least keeping notes on your weekly activities, you’ll be able to see which areas may need more focus on than others, which all help you become more self-aware of changing what’s needed to be changed, and what is working well for you.
Good luck, and remain focused and determined. You will get there.