How I Gained 30 LBs of Solid Muscle in Less Than 2 Years…
Since my last transformation page was such a success, I thought I would document my attempt to gain muscle mass fast…
When my last transformation ended, I was 148 pounds and ~8% body fat.
I loved being that lean and being able to see my abs, but I did not like how small I was. I wanted more size and I wanted it quickly! I wanted to be 180-190 lbs with 8-10% body fat. So I dedicated the next 2 years to trying to get as big as possible.
And boy did I grow. In that span I gained almost 50lbs!! Yea you read that right. And that’s not an exaggeration. I was 200 lbs at my heaviest. And these were not newbie gains! I had been training for years at this point and I had a pretty good foundation of muscle.
Now as you can see, not all of the weight I gained was muscle… Lol. But I didn’t care. I had a goal. I wanted more muscle and I wanted it quickly. Now in hindsight, that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. I should have done more of a lean bulk and tried to keep the fat off, but I’m a very impatient person.
Throughout that time, I experimented with a few different types of workouts. I was lifting some heavy ass weight and I was getting brutally strong! But there was one type of workout that added size and strength faster than any of the others… but we will get to that later.
During this time, I learned a ton about how to gain muscle mass fast. Here are a few things:
You HAVE TO EAT to Grow
I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again, but I can’t stress it enough. If you want to grow… you have to eat! During this whole 2 years of trying to gain muscle mass fast, I was eating my ass off. Probably a lot more than I should have. The only thing I was counting was protein… and that was to make sure that I was getting enough. The rest of the time I was just stuffing my face with whatever I could find.
In hindsight, this is the one regret that I have. I feel like I could have gotten just as good results, without gaining so much fat, if I would have continued to monitor what I ate and counted my calories. Because I know my calorie intake was way higher than it needed to be. But at the time, I didn’t care. I wanted size and strength and I was ready to do whatever it took to get it. I’m very impatient… if you couldn’t already tell.
You think you’re eating enough? Find out if you really are… Get your recommended calories to gain muscle mass here:
Daily Undulating Periodization Works… Period
I spent the first few months of this process hopping from program to program. I was set on finding the best program to help me gain muscle mass fast. You name it, I tried it… 5/3/1, DC training, bodypart splits, upper/lower splits, push/pull splits… I tried them all. And don’t get me wrong… all of these programs work if you follow them correctly. You will see results from any one of them. But I just always felt like there was something better out there and I wanted to find it.
I just didn’t buy the fact that I had to wait an entire week to hit the same muscle group again. I wanted results and I wanted them fast, so waiting that long to train again wasn’t working out for me. It just didn’t make sense to me and I always felt like I could be doing more…
That’s when I discovered Bill Starr’s routine. Bill Starr was a strength coach in the NFL during the 70’s and he created a 5×5 program to get his players bigger and stronger. He had them benching, squatting, deadlifting, and power cleaning multiple times per week. Once I saw this, I was hooked. It was touted as one of the best strength programs every created. His program had a light day, medium day, and heavy day each week. Squats 3 times per week, bench 2 times per week, Rows or powercleans 2 times per week, And deadlifts once per week. Each week the weight would go up slightly.
I felt like this was what I had been searching for. Could I really squat and bench this much without overtraining?
I never do anything without researching it first and as I started looking into it, I discovered that this was a form of Daily Undulating Periodization. This was nothing new, in fact, I had learned about periodization when I was learning to become a personal trainer, but I had never really put it into practice and used it in a daily undulating pattern like this.
So I decided to do just that. I decided to create my own program that was individualized to my needs and desires and to disregard most of the stuff you hear about overtraining, and just listen to my body.
And the results I got were insane:
My maxes in July of 2012 (right at the end of my transformation) were:
- Bench – 280 lbs
- Squat – 305 lbs
- Deadlift- 305 lbs
- Military Press – 160 lbs
My maxes in December of 2013 were:
- Bench – 375 lbs
- Squat – 435 lbs
- Deadlift – 455 lbs
- Military Press – 225 lbs
I know those numbers seem pretty far fetched in such a short time… but they are 100% accurate. Don’t believe me? I have the videos to prove it…
365 lb Bench Press
This is 10 pounds less than my max, but I got 375 a week later and unfortunately, I didn’t video it.
435 lb Squat
Now before everyone starts critiquing my form, yes I probably could have gone a little lower and my set up was a little sloppy, but I’m still pretty happy with the lift. Its the most weight I’ve ever done but I think I could actually have gotten a little more! Now I know that these numbers are not overly impressive and there are many many people who can lift much more weight than that. But for me, that was a huge accomplishment. Especially to see these numbers so quickly.
Recently, new research has shown that this type of training may be superior to all others in terms of gaining strength and size the fastest. And I have to say that, based on my results, I agree with this research.
Study after study has shown that VOLUME is the single most important factor to gaining strength and size. And we aren’t just talking about volume on a single day. Volume is cumulative and adds up over time. So try to think of it as a weekly volume and not just a daily volume.
Volume = Weight x Reps x Sets
So think about this. If you go on monday and kill your chest. And you do a volume of 5,000, but then you don’t workout your chest again till next monday… thats a weekly volume of 5,000. But if you hit your chest three times a week but don’t kill it and you end up doing a volume of 2,000 per day… that would give you a weekly volume of 6,000. Studies have shown that option number 2 would give you the greater gains in muscle size and strength.
DUP is set up to allow you to do the most volume possible in the shortest amount of time. I would encourage you to research and learn more about DUP. Some great people to learn from are Dr. Layne Norton and Dr. Mike Zourdos.
But having said all of that, as long as you stick with a program and continually progress and lift heavier over time, you will get bigger and stronger. Just be patient and don’t give up!
You Have a TON of growth potential in your legs
Most new lifters don’t focus enough attention on their legs. Everyone wants the nice chest and big arms, and totally ignore the bird legs. I was one of them. I was always the type of person who hated leg day. It just wasn’t any fun to me and it was hard to find the motivation to go to the gym on these days.
Then when I actually started focusing on improving my squat, my quads EXPLODED. My legs got so big, so fast, that I actually had to start scaling back on my squats so my upper body could catch up.
During this time, I didn’t do any leg extensions, leg presses, lunges, or any other leg exercise. The only thing I did was SQUAT!
Moral of the story?
If you want your leg muscles to grow fast, start squatting some heavy ass weight!
Don’t Be Afraid of Overtraining
“I just worked out my legs 6 days ago, I can’t hit them today or I’ll be overtraining”…
This is the typical “bro” mentality. They listen to all of the muscle mags and believe that if you hit each body part more than once or twice per week, you will overtrain and your muscles will fall off…
Overtraining can happen, but its much harder than most people think. The simple reality is that most people don’t hit their muscles with enough frequency. If you’re following the workouts from the muscle magazines and only hitting each muscle group once per week… you’re probably not doing enough.
Those programs are designed for professional bodybuilders with superior genetics and lots of steroids, they aren’t tailored for the normal drug free population like me and you. So don’t be afraid to hit your muscles more frequently and listen to your body.
If you’re overtraining, you will know it. You will feel sluggish. Your workouts will suck, you will be sore all the time, and you won’t be progressing in strength. But most of the time, this can be fixed by just eating a little more or getting more rest. And many times, its just a sign of your body trying to adapt to the stress being put on it.
Now of course I’m not telling you to go and kill your chest every single day. You have to be smart about it and use failure as a tool. Don’t push yourself to failure on every single set or you will be severely limiting the amount of volume you can do. And as you read earlier, volume is the single most important factor for muscle growth.
Try to Keep the Fat Gain as Minimal as Possible…
So as I said, I spent the first 18 months of this transformation trying to gain as much mass as possible. I was eating everything I could get my hands on and I wasn’t counting anything.
At first, this strategy was working out great. I was gaining size very quickly and from what I could see, I wasn’t putting on much fat. But eventually it caught up with me. The fat gain creeps up on you and it almost seems like it happens overnight. One day you’re feeling big and full, then the next morning you wake up feeling flabby.
So at the end of those 18 months, I was weighing in at around 200 lbs. I had gained 50 lbs in that time period and unfortunately, a good bit of that was fat.
My abs were long gone and my stomach was much bigger than I ever wanted it to be. That’s when I decided my bulk was over. I had accomplished a lot during those 18 months and reached goals I never thought I would. But I had gone much further than I wanted to and I knew I had a long road of dieting ahead of me… which I wasn’t very excited about…
I spent the next 6 months in a calorie deficit. I used the exact same system as I outlined in the Blueprint to Six Pack Abs. I was slowly lowering my calories over time, trying to lose the fat while holding onto as much muscle as possible. I continued doing this until I finally reached a weight I was happy with. As I said before, I didn’t want to be lighter than 180 lbs so once I hit that mark I stopped. This was the final result:
I didn’t check my body fat, but I estimated that I was around 12% or so at that time. I knew that in order to get down to around 8% I was gonna have to lose at least 10 more pounds, and I didn’t want to be that small. So my long term goal was to stay around this weight and slowly trim the fat away over time.
All in all, I feel like my journey was a success. I gained a lot of muscle mass fast and my strength went through the roof. I set new PR’s and was bigger than I had ever been before.
If I could do it all over gain. I would have figured out my calories and ate just slightly over my maintenance calories and slowly added the mass while keeping the fat to a minimum. This would have prevented me from having to spend half of the year dieting to trying and get rid of my gut.
Start your own transformation now!
Step 1: Figure Out What You Need to Eat to Build Muscle