Gaining muscle mass is nothing short of being the most widely debated and controversial topics among those in the Calisthenics/Body Weight Training community.
I would like to start off by stating that no two people are exactly alike, so what may work for one person may not work for another. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to speaking about the differences that it would not be wise nor a proper use of this article and your time not to mention my time in covering them.
In gaining muscle mass I would say that there are really 8 main areas that comprised from my book, “Eight Easy Keys To Have A Healthy Prosperous Life”:
3) Environment Clean Air, Sunshine
4) Exercise: Variety, Intensity and Consistency
6) Relationships: Personal & Professional
Let’s first talk food.
It is by far the most important area in gaining muscle mass. The phrase, “you are what you eat,” is probably apropos. The food you choose to eat, the quantity, and the frequency are all extremely important toward gaining muscle mass. Supplementation is also an important factor that you might want to consider as well. Let’s start with the food you choose to eat.
You are what you eat (What you eat)
Repetition being the mother of skill, let me reiterate, you are what you eat. If you choose to put processed, saturated fatty, chemically preserved, genetically modified, refined salt and sugar laden foods into your body you will get back a body that will be running on less than sub-optimum performance levels.
In other words, garbage in garbage out. However if you choose to put whole, unsaturated fatty – either monounsaturated (olive oil and avocados) and or polyunsaturated foods (salmon and walnuts), pro-biotic rich, organically grown, naturally occurring high iodine rich or unrefined sea salt (Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt) and naturally occurring sugar (or Stevia) your body will not only thank you, you will have a smooth running machine that will easily pack on the muscle mass.
Six is the magic number (How much and How Often)
If gaining muscle mass is your goal, than eating often and often is your best friend. I eat 5-6 times a day. Always striving for 6 meals however as I am no animatron, I sometimes come up short of my goal.
But I always make it my goal each and every day to get to 6. Six is the magic number. The meals are not huge.
Remember the size of your stomach is the size of your fist and when your stomach is full the size of your stomach is the size of your hand spread open. So meals tend to consist of portions of about three fists, yet its really the frequency that counts.
I have found that the mid morning to evening meals are the most important for gaining muscle mass. (I eat at 9 AM 11 AM 1 PM 3 PM 6 PM and 9 PM.) Giving myself 2-3 hours between meals.
The post workout meal is always most important. I generally have a banana after I workout, maybe 10-15 minutes after I finish, then I follow-up with a smoothie of Vitamineral Green, Liquid Vitamin, Mango, Apple, Banana, Kiwi and some bread with olive oil. After this meal I am pretty good to go until my next meal.
Adding something extra
There seems are two main schools of camp when it comes to supplementation. One group that wholeheartedly believe its pointless and we end up just pissing it out in turn creating expensive urine. And the other that believes that foods are nutrient lacking because the soil has been deprived and is no longer rich in probiotic and life and that we must supplement to make up the lack of vitamins and minerals that a typical meal make not include.
I am in the later camp. Truth be told we haven’t been the most respectful and to Mother Earth. The majority of the topsoil has been seriously poisoned and polluted. For this very reason, I choose supplements as a part of my daily routine.
I don’t care what the mainstream media or supposed experts say about the quality of water. Along with the degradation of the quality of our food supply and the proliferation of packaged, boxed, processed, and preserved foods; water has become our signal most precious commodity. If you do not drink water you will die. Water helps to cleanse the body, nourishes the cells, and can boost your energy. You could go weeks without food, but without water for more than 3 days, you are toast.
One of the best things to do is to first calculate how much water you need normally with minimal activity. A good rule of thumb is take your bodyweight and divide it in half.
So if you weigh 150 pounds than you need 75 ounces of water a day based on if you live a sedentary lifestyle. For those reading this, you are unsure how much you need to replenish here is a great website: http://www.camelbak.com/hydrationcalculator
If you’re working out, hiking, running, etc you’re going to need to add to those 75 ounces.
Being from Los Angeles, I can attest to the challenges one faces trying to find a breath of clean air. The search for clean air can certainly pose a problem if you live in a major metropolitan area. My suggestion is that you spend time and exercise at the local park.
At least you will be in the company of oxygen producing life, aka trees and grass. Not only will a breath of fresh air do wonders for your body it will also help to lower your levels of stress.
As for sun. We are dependent on the sun, especially for that amazing little vitamin that we are all capable of producing within our own bodies known as vitamin D. Just 15 minutes in the sun of unprotected sunshine can really do wonders. If you don’t trust me about the benefits of Vitamin D go and Google it yourself. And best of all it costs nothing.
I also want to briefly talk about your work and home environment. If you live in a stressful environment such as loud neighbors, traffic, etc. it will make your rest and recovery periods quite difficult. Your home should be your sanctuary. In addition, your place of work also can be a major reason. If you have noisy and negative co-workers, lack of ambient light, re-circulated air thru the air vents, or your office space is not supporting you this too can be a cause for change or improvements. Plants are a great addition and can dramatically change the ambiance of any room.
4) Exercise: Variety, Intensity & Consistency
The time you spend training and exercising is fundamental to any amount of muscle mass you want to gain. One of the most important lessons that I incorporate into my fitness routines I learned from Tony Horton, founder and creator of P90X, variety, intensity and consistency.
Variety means to change-up your workout regimen often, otherwise, you risk not only your muscles being bored, but you as well can quickly lose interest and hit a plateau.
Intensity is an essential to working out, if you are just going thru the motions without any drive then you are just wasting your precious time, put 100% into your workouts and you will reap what you sow.
Consistency is another one of those, that fall under the auspices of, one knows what to do but one does not do what he or she knows. Training on a regular basis helps to train the muscles and send signals both to the brain and body that change is eminent, without consistent exercise the brain and body will revert back to its old ways.
5) Sleep: You Gain Muscle When You Rest
In today’s frenetic culture, with smart phones, tablets, laptops, smart televisions, etc, it’s no wonder that sleep has become such a prized commodity that we often take for granted. I thought I would share some of the benefits that costs nothing and is worth everything.
Here are just some of the benefits:
1) Improves memory
2) Live longer
3) Reduces inflammation
4) Increase creativity
5) Improved recovery time
6) Better attention/focus
7) Maintain healthy weight
8) Lower stress
The most important aspect to you gaining muscle mass is to rest and get 7-9 hours of sleep everyday. Your muscles grow when your are resting and not when you are in the gym. The time you take to rest is the time your body uses to repair and grow.
6) Relationships: Personal & Professional
The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of your relationships.
We can’t choose our family, we are born with the family that we have. We can however decide how we choose to spend our time and most importantly who we spend it with.
If there are people in your life either personally or professionally that are not positively supporting you, you must walk away. Life is way to valuable to spend time with those that just zap your life energy.
What you focus on you tend to get more of it. And if those around you choose to focus on the negative of life, it might be time to re-assess those relationships.
Natural hygiene is paramount to good health. A clean house and work place are critical to one’s well being and positive growth. Your cleanliness is a reflection of what is going on inside. Those that are tidy and organize and above all clean on the outside tend to be the same on the inside. Your body is your temple, it’s just that some people to let their temple go into complete disarray and it begins to reflect on the outside.
Being clean is not a matter of obsessive compulsive, it’s just the basics. If you let one area go in your life the others will soon follow.
I can not stress the importance of the mind. What we tend to focus our minds on we tend to create more of in our life.The choice is ours where we direct the camera of the lens of our minds.
Each of us has been given the gift of choice. We decide what we wish to focus on and what not to focus on. It is through our choices that we begin to shape our destiny. For some their choices lead to wide and expansive highways with spectacular landscape views. For others they create self-imposed limitations on their choices and view the world of possibilities through a tiny porthole.
So there you have it, 8 keys to gaining muscle mass. I hope you enjoy and make the gains you have always wanted.
Take care and all the best.