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The “Secret” to Mass Building

Here for your benefit is an email exchange I had today with a friend. While it only scratches the surface of a popular topic and prefaces a drill-down into specifics, it’s a window into a sound philosophy. Magic pills and more-is-better are short-term strategies. Resist those avenues and focus on your fundamentals for results that last. Unmodified cookie cutter plans are also short-term strategies. Practice self-awareness and adapt them in the name of consistency and personal interest.


I just started working out again (probably since college) with the goal of putting on some size.  Any workout schedules/tips would be a huge help – I’m kind of making it up as I go.  Also, I know there’s a ton of BS with supplements – but wanted to ask if you had any recommendations before I go into GNC and get worked over by a sales rep.


Your strategy to put on mass is simple and two-fold: (1) increase strength volume and (2) increase eating volume. I know that sounds outrageously minimal, but it is the time tested formula. Allow me to expand…

ANY improvement over your current baseline (what you’re currently doing) produces results. Period, end of story. The actual results depend on your programming and level of improvement. Too little produces a minimal change. Too much crashes and burns you over time.

Strength Volume:
Start slow. If you’re picking up from way back in the college days, begin with 2x/week total body strength with ample rest between workouts. Include upper body pushes and pulls and lower body presses/squats/lunges (pick one) and deadlifts. 3-ish sets of each, 8-12-ish reps per set. Keep it vanilla. Focus on redeveloping your fitness habit and using strict form. Feel free to conclude each workout with the bro muscles (arms, calves, etc.) you’re interested in and a challenge along the lines of a farmer’s walk.

Get several weeks under your belt before advancing. When you advance, you’ll have a decision to make. How many days do you realistically want to workout and how singularly do you want to focus on size? The answers to these questions determine whether you begin splitting up the body and whether you layer in conditioning work (sprints, etc.) We can always revisit then.

Eating Volume:
Keep it simple. Eat more. You’re also lean to begin with, so don’t skimp. Stay well rounded and prioritize a blend of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. If you can handle lactose, a fantastic post-workout beverage is grass-fed full fat milk. Which brings us to…

Keep them simple as well. Most are junk. Protein and creatine are the two backed by data and geared toward your needs. I don’t like getting crazy with creatine quantity, and if I’m using it I’m on 5g/day. Here’s my preferred protein due to quality, simplicity, and its blendability (I doubt that’s a word).

Bottom Line:
The harder you hit the fundamentals, the stronger your house’s foundation. The simpler you keep things, the more likely you’ll see the project through. Go get it.

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