You can’t put on the amount of muscle that’s advertised by celebrity trainers who say that their clients gained 20 to 30 pounds of mass in three months for whatever superhero film is set to release this month.
“I’d say a pound or two pounds of muscle is very attainable to do naturally,” says Sebastien Lagree, a former competitive bodybuilder, the creator of the renowned Lagree Fitness Method, and the inventor of the Megaformer and Supra machines. “Ten to 15 pounds in someone’s first year of weight training is realistic for anyone.”
Also, the more experienced you are, the harder it becomes to force your body to grow. Celebrity fitness and nutrition expert Obi Obadike says that 1.5 pounds of muscle per month is more like it.
Our point is that putting on mass means playing the long game. If you’re nowhere near your goal weight (say you’re 185 pounds and hope to be 220 one day), then you’re better off abandoning the idea of a caloric deficit and extra cardio just to sport abs for three months. You’ll look better, sure, but you will also be robbing yourself of about four to five pounds of potential muscle mass.
Got it? Good. Now you’ll need a plan, which is where strength coach and bodybuilding prep coach Eric Broser (@coachericbroser) comes into the equation. He’s created this bulking program that uses heavy weight, low reps, high reps, and a ton of tension through tempo control to really stress your muscle fibers. Feel free to change up the accessory movements every eight weeks for similar exercises, as long as you stay the course.
Keep eating and keep grinding, and by the time next summer rolls around, you’ll be the biggest guy on the beach.
FD/FS: The Muscle-Making Program
FD/FS, short for “fiber damage/fiber saturation,” is one of four, specialized training protocols I have developed as a trainer and a coach.
I find this program particularly useful for heightening hypertrophy while I’m in a caloric surplus. While I cannot explain the entire concept here, suffice it to say it’s a very intense and grueling training method. At the core of the program is using techniques that are best for causing muscle trauma (fiber damage), such as heavy weights for low reps, and emphasizing eccentric contractions and stretching under tension. This is followed by very high-repetition, constant tension work to display as great a muscle pump as possible.
When a muscle is damaged, it sets in motion a cascade of physiological events that lead to a very profound anabolic response. In fact, without creating damage, there is no reason for your body to respond by building bigger and stronger muscles. Once you have caused the necessary fiber trauma, it is vitally important to let your body repair it.
By flooding the muscles with blood (fiber saturation) via high-rep training, you can bathe them with nutrients, oxygen, hormones, amino acids, antioxidants, and more. This will facilitate the recovery process before you even leave the gym. But instead of just talking about it, let’s get to it!
Tempo refers to the speed at which one completes the various contractions within each repetition.
In the workout below, it is expressed in seconds, with X meaning “as explosively as possible.” The first number is seconds for the eccentric (negative) contraction; the second number is seconds at the midpoint; the third number is seconds for the concentric (positive) contraction. Check the tempo for each move in fine print next to each exercise.
Because of the extremely intense and grueling nature of FD/FS training, it is easy for both the muscles and the central nervous system to become overworked, which will serve to slow down progress. After three straight weeks on this program, take one week to train with lighter weights in the range of 12 to 15 reps to allow for active recovery.
Eating for Mass
Follow these guidelines to make solid gains in muscle while keeping your waistline in check:
- Eat smaller and more frequent meals, so calories are high at the end of the day but without the bloat that occurs from overly large single feedings.
- Increase high-quality carbohydrates to encourage an anabolic response; however, make your largest carb-containing meals breakfast and at the post-workout feeding.
- Limit cheat or “junk” meals to one to two times a week. If possible, have these off-plan meals post-workout, when the body is physiologically set up to push calories toward muscle cells and not fat cells.
- Eat a variety of high-quality proteins, carbs, and healthy fats to take advantage of the nutrient and amino acid profiles in each.
- Prepare a protein shake in ice to keep by your bed while you sleep for when you wake up.