Gaining lean muscle can be challenging, especially for ectomorphs and hard gainers. According to Matt Murphy and Michael Mejia, authors of “The Men’s Health Gym Bible,” you can gain weight and lean muscle mass by working out with weights and eating a balanced diet. Resistance training stimulates muscle growth while the right amount of calories and nutrients from your diet fuels growth.
Measure the circumference of your waist, upper arm, lower arm, thighs and calves. As you gain muscle, your weight will increase while your waist gets slimmer. Your arms and leg circumferences will increase as your muscles grow.
Increase your daily caloric intake by 20 percent from foods that provide a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat. According to Anita Bean, author of “Sports Nutrition,” you need to have a positive energy balance to gain weight from lean muscle mass. Eat 1 g of protein per lb. of body weight, and get 60 percent of your caloric intake from carbohydrates and 15 to 30 percent from fat.
Stimulate muscle growth with weight training. Focus on large muscles such as the glutes, thighs, upper back and shoulders. Those large muscles and muscle groups add weight faster than small muscles. Compound exercises such as squats, shoulder press, bench press and lat pull-downs work these large muscle groups.
Use heavy weights that you can lift for six to 10 repetitions in good form. If you are able to do more repetitions, you improve endurance and strength, but muscle growth will be less. Give each repetition your full attention and perform it at a consistent pace that keeps you from using gravity or performing jerky moves.
Work with weights on four days a week, leaving 48 hours of recovery between the muscle groups. That means you can exercise two days in a row by concentrating on the upper body the first day and on the lower body on the second day.
Tips and Warnings
* Eat within the first two hours of your workout to maximize recovery. For every lb. of body weight, eat ½ g of carbohydrates. Glycogen–your muscle’s fuel for growth–comes from carbohydrates.
* Consult a physician before starting an exercise program.
Things You’ll Need
* “Sports Nutrition”; Anita Bean; 2004
* “The Men’s Health Gym Bible”; Michael Mejia M.S. and Myatt Murphy; 2007