Now that we know size is important (Go read parts 1 and 2 of Why Size Matters if you haven’t already), you hopefully have now bought into the concept that being small and weak doesn’t help your baseball performance. If you put in the work to add both size and strength, your doubles will turn into home runs and the dream of throwing 90 MPH might actually happen. (A quick side note: Being weak doesn’t help any aspect of life. Go get big and strong and find out how much easier life is.) You might now be wondering to yourself, “How do I put on slabs of muscle?” and similarly, “How can I add hundreds of pounds to my lifts total?”. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s quite simple, but definitely not easy.
Here are a few Simple rules to follow
Eat, eat, and eat some more.
If you are looking to add size to your frame, you should never be hungry!
Sleep, sleep, and sleep some more
Eat in a calorie surplus
You might lose your abs but if you’re under 200 pounds they don’t count anyway.
Eat all the foods that people have scared you into not eating.
Lots of cholesterol, saturated fat, and carbohydrates.
Maximize your time in the gym, but don’t spend a lot of time in there
Don’t spend hours in the gym.
Don’t lift 6 days a week. This will be detrimental to your mass goals.
Add more weight to the bar (5 lbs or more) every new training session
Now that you understand the basic rules of gaining weight, I will go into more detail on the three most important aspects of gaining weight.
Sleep is crucial for recovery. There are hundreds of studies suggesting that athletes that sleep more will have a greater chance of success. This simple reason is because of the added recovery you get from sleeping. Throughout a night’s sleep, your body releases many hormones that allow you to regrow tissue so that you can gain strength and muscle. If you don’t take sleep seriously, your gains will be stunted no matter how much you’re eating and lifting.
Taking Sleep seriously means at least getting 8 plus hours of quality sleep, and maybe even a nap in the middle of the day. The quality of the sleep is just as important as to how much you’re getting. Quality sleep means you don’t wake up in the night, meaning that your room is quiet, cool and dark. If your house is loud wear ear plugs, if it’s too light, buy black out screens or wear a night mask. If it’s too warm crank up the AC, buy a chillipad, or put a fan on you. Go to bed before midnight, every hour before midnight is like two hours in the bank. If you can’t go to bed before midnight, then become more efficient with your time throughout the day. Turn off your television, put your computer and phone away an hour before bed, take a cold shower and sleep like a baby. If you follow these rules you will have a good night’s sleep, if you still don’t you might have something wrong and should probably get it checked out, you will thank me later.
Now the second most important step to putting slabs of muscle on is eating enough food. Some basic templates to shoot for are as follows:
Eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
Eat double your bodyweight in grams of carbs.
Don’t count your fat because it will come from the eggs, red meat, oil, butter and cheese you put on your meals.
Yes, I said red meat--not chicken. Have you ever seen a big chicken? Other than the absurdity of this chicken, I bet you have not.
Crush whole foods , avoid the boxes and shop the perimeter of the super market. Your shopping list should include red meats, eggs, whole milk, rice, potatoes, cheese, olive oil, and butter. Throw in some greens so that you visit the toilet once a day. If you still can’t gain weight, it’s very simple: you need to eat more food.
Sometimes athletes just struggle to gain weight. A few ideas for getting over that hump are as follows:
Ditch all cardio, especially poles. If you have to do poles in college, pick a different school.
Drink a gallon of whole milk a day, GOMAD!
Eat a pint of ice cream every night before bed.
Add butter and Olive Oil to the rice and beef that you make or protein shake that you drink.
If you still can gain weight follow an obese person around the grocery store and buy everything they buy.
Ultimately, you just need to burn less and consume more calories. It is that simple but again, it won’t be easy. This might sound very unhealthy and it probably is (especially following the obese person around), but once you’re at a good weight you go back to maintenance level calories. This is a diet that you get on to help you reach a goal and then you get off of it. This is not meant to be done for years on end.
Now that your sleep and nutrition is dialed in you will be growing like a farm animal and the lifting will make sure that’s mainly muscle. You need to lift three to four days a week, and don’t spend more than an hour in the gym. This means that you need to be wise with what exercise that you choose. The best way to do this is through compound barbell and dumbbell movements.
Here is a basic list of some common compound movement: Straight bar deadlift, trap bar deadlift, back squat, front squat, barbell bench press, barbell row, pendlay row. Your assistance lifts should include the dumbbell row, pull-ups/chin-ups, DB bench, incline bench, RDL, glute-ham raises, and farmer’s carries. Pick a few lower body exercises to complement your squat and deadlift. Pick a bench press and row variation. Choose a few assistance exercises for both your upper and lower body, and write in rep ranges. For the compound lifts do a few sets of 5 reps and for the assistance do a few sets of 8-12 reps. If you’ve just done this, congratulations! You have just written your own workout plan.
The most important goal for the compound movement is to add weight to the bar every time you perform that movement. If you add as little as five pounds to the bar each week, that will add up to be 20 pounds a month for that lift. For the assistance lifts add additional weight, reps, or sets each session. Every time you leave the weight room you should be better than the session before.
This might sound very basic and bland, and it is. You can go buy the magic mass gainer and strength guru program and you will still be in the same spot you were before. Getting strong and adding muscle isn’t complicated. Please don’t make it more difficult than it is.
This might sound hard which it will be, but you will be consuming so much food and sleeping so much that your body will have no choice but to grow. Yes, it is this simple. If you’re not giving a reason for your body to grow, it won’t. If you stall, don’t look at some fancy new program. Instead, look at your food intake and sleeping habits, your answer is most likely there. Now go put some weight on your back and crush some whole milk and real butter.