There are a lot of people out there who hit the gym every day in hopes of bulking up. However, too many people end up hitting a plateau long before they reach their ideal mass. The reason is that they are skipping some very important steps in their workout process. Now I am by no means a fitness or weight lifting expert, but here are the top five rules to gaining muscle mass.
Lift as Heavy as You Can
Light weight with a lot of repetitions is great for toning and cardio work. But lifting the heaviest you possibly can, even if you lift very slowly, is what is going to train your muscles to grow and get bigger. Every time you hit the gym, you should be pushing yourself to lift the most weight possible.
Eat a Lot
The caveat here is that you have to eat a lot, and eat healthy foods. Lifting heavy weights 5 or 6 days per week is going to make you hungry. You need calories to keep your body going, but empty calories (like those found in fast food, pizza, and processed foods) will do more harm than good.
Instead, you need to eat a lot of protein (about 2 grams per pound of body weight per day), carbs for energy, and a ton of vegetables and whole grains. Without proper nutrition, you simply cannot gain muscle mass because your muscles wont have the material that they need to actually grow.
Even if you are not feeling thirsty, your body is burning through its water storage. Drinking 8 ounces of water every 20 or 30 minutes will help your body keep going, and it will give you the energy that you need to keep going in your workout.
Your muscles need water to function properly. Without the water needed you will start to cramp up, and the next day you will be incredibly sore. By keeping your body hydrated you help to avoid that.
Eat After a Workout
The best thing that you can do for your body is to eat a light meal right after you workout. Your body wants to replace energy, calories, and proteins immediately. By giving your body food immediately after you get done working out, you make sure to give your body exactly what it needs. Eat something healthy, a slice of pizza and a donut are not going to help you.
Rest One or Two Days Per Week
Your body needs rest. We all have to sleep to recharge, and we all need to take a day off to let our muscles grow. You should have good intense workouts 5 days per week, and take 2 days off. Ideally these are not two days in a row, so shoot for taking Sunday and Wednesday off. No matter how tired you feel on Monday or Tuesday, make sure you hit the gym.
Building muscle mass is a matter of determination and perseverance. You can try all the little tricks like creatine, and testosterone boosters. But the bottom line is that good nutrition (lots of protein), consistent workouts, and lifting heavy are going to help you build mass the fastest.