Internet forums are now full of keyboard warriors who have mastered the art of putting on muscle mass. These 145 pounders have read every scientific paper on hypertrophy and will give you the most complicated rest periods, tempos, and specific exercises. You, as an aspiring elite athlete, decide that their program is worth the money. You follow their program and drink the prescribed anabolic post workout shake but you still see no results. You’re still small, you’re still weak and now you’re even more confused. This does not need to be the case. Putting on muscle mass is very simple but it’s certainly not easy.
Putting on mass is not about what you do in the gym but what you are doing outside of the gym. All you do is break muscle down in the weight room. You need to take recovery seriously to build yourself back up. You should not lift 6 times a week. This will only break down muscle further and if you're not eating and sleeping enough you will just end up getting nowhere with your weight gain. While some of the best powerlifters and bodybuilders have chosen this strategy, they are able to do this because they have been lifting for decades. They have built up to this amount of volume in a strategic way but none of them started with this amount of frequency. Most of you reading this right now however are novices. Before you get angry at me for telling you you’re not as good as you think you are, I want you to realize that this is a blessing. Let me tell you why.
A novice will be able to add weight to the bar every time they enter the gym You will not need to lift 6 times a week. For you, 3 days a week is ideal. And this is the best part: you will be allowed, even encouraged, to eat lots of food. Real food is the key here.You need to be consuming lots of calories from real food. You do not need to use many different exercises, just master the basics. Learn how to squat, deadlift, press, and pull. Your sets and reps will be the same every time you enter the gym and you will be able to add weight to the bar every time you go back to the gym. As a novice, every time you leave the gym you are able to leave stronger then when you entered, but you will only accomplish this if you take your recovery seriously.
While there are many different recovery modalities, supplements or special diets out there that promise results, recovery is not that complicated. You do not need a stem machine or Macro breakdown. Instead, you need to master eating lots of protein, fats, and carbs and sleep as much as possible. Accept that you will gain some fat in the process, you can always cut this off later in another phase of training. These might sound too simple or boring but they are still the best ways to recover from hard training. Everything else after this is just fluff that you do not need as a novice lifter.
My best gains came in high school when I followed this basic template. Everything was done for 3 sets of 5, my Squat went from 135 to 500 plus pounds by just eating and adding weight to the bar every time I entered the weight room. I mastered the basic movements and recovery protocols and I became a much better athlete as a result. This is a very fun time in the life of a lifter, because you get to see very consistent progress barring any injuries or anything else that might set you out for longer periods of time. My encouragement to you is to enjoy this phase of training very much, because things only get more difficult after this.
While many people are selling you special programs that are specific to your sport, everything else is fluff until you master the basic movements. At the end of the day the weight room is there to get you stronger, and the kitchen is there to get you bigger. It’s as simple as that.