Monday, September 14, 2009

The Top 10 Ways to Pack on Muscle Mass (Part One)

In this post I will be introducing a three part series from another guest author, Anthony Ricciuto. Anthony is a sports nutritionist working with a variety of professional athletes including bodybuilders, powerlifters, weightlifters, strongmen, arm-wrestlers, football and hockey players, among others.

I asked him to share his expertise on how to gain lean muscle tissue while maintaining one's current body fat percentage. Well, we are in luck, because he has provided us with his article, The Top 10 Ways to Pack on Muscle Mass. For any strength athletes out there looking to go up a class, or anyone who wants to gain some serous muscle without putting on fat, this series is for you!

In fact, most of the information in his article relates to healthy nutrition guidelines for just about any active person.

Here is part one of his three part article:

Tip #1: Eat 5-6 Times per Day

Did you just say eat 6 times per day? Yes, that’s right! Don’t think that you are going to gain quality size eating 3 square meals per day. The only type of mass you will put on eating only 3 times daily will be the fat type, and this is not our objective. There is no way that you can reach your caloric or your macronutrient needs eating 3 meals per day.

If by some magical method you manage to eat enough calories in only 3 meals, than you will be so full and bloated, you won’t be able tie up your own shoes let alone pound out some heavy deadlifts. It’s scientifically impossible to optimize your performance on three meals per day.

When trying to put on size, you just can’t eat when you get hungry, otherwise it will take you a lot longer to get up to your next weight class. You have to eat by the clock, otherwise you will not meet your caloric and macronutrient needs by the time the day is over. With this in mind set a schedule that you will follow and have a meal or protein shake every 2.5- 3 hours. Not 4 or 5 hours but every 3! This is very important in your quest for size. This will make sure that you get at least 5 quality meals in per day.

I know that this sounds a little compulsive but in no time this will just become part of your lifestyle. This will mean that you will need to have all your food prepared the night before so that you will have it ready when you need it. Don’t just think that you will just cook something when the time comes as most likely you will get lazy and you will just skip the meal. You must prepare your meals ahead of time.

Eating every three hours has many benefits. First, it will keep your metabolism elevated. Second it will keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and will prevent you from getting those after lunch energy lows that so many people complain of. Next it will keep you in a positive nitrogen balance and will supply a constant stream of amino acids to your muscles, thereby keeping you in an anabolic state. As you can see eating by the clock is definitely worth it!

Also remember to increase your calories gradually; don’t just jack them up like a maniac after reading this article. Each week try to increase your daily caloric intake by 250-750 calories depending on your weight, energy expenditure, metabolic rate, and level of insulin sensitivity. You have to slowly increase your calories or your digestive system will just get overloaded and will not be able to process and absorb the nutrients from the massive increase in food volume.

Tip #2: Drink Plenty of Water

Water is very important for many reasons. It has many health and performance benefits. It keeps your organs functioning properly, clears toxins, reduces excess sodium from your body, and it hydrates your muscle cells. It even liberates fat stores on your body so they are burned off as an energy source. Dehydration will cause a major decrement in performance. Even a 2% state of dehydration will cause your performance to go out the window.

Water plays a major role in cell volumization. This is where nutrients are pulled inside of the muscle cell causing a multitude of reactions that leads to muscle growth. Water is very important in many processes including digestion, transportation and the absorption of nutrients. So how much water should you drink on a daily basis? You should drink on average at least 1oz of water per kilogram of bodyweight. This is a figure that can be increased depending on many factors that affect your hydration level. This amount will start as your baseline from which you can build upon.

A 220 pound (100kg) powerlifter would need to drink 100 ounces or slightly over 3 quarts of water per day as his minimum daily water intake. There are also many benefits to drinking water. They include lowering your chances for high blood pressure and kidney stones. Both of these nice little health problems can really cause havoc on your training. Try banging out some box squats when you’re passing kidney stones the size of jawbreakers. It’s not going to happen.

Tip #3: Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is not considered a food group so why am I talking about it in my nutritional column you ask? The reason why sleep is going to be discussed here is that it is essential in gaining lean mass. Your body repairs and recovers from your workout as you sleep. During this time, your muscles grow! Remember this, if you aren’t sleeping you aren’t growing and getting stronger. Think back to a time when you couldn’t get optimal sleep either during university exam time, or another time when sleep was of the essence. Think back how your strength level was, or how you were actually losing size. So how much sleep do you need per day? You should be getting at least 8 full hours of sleep per day. If you can get a 1-2 hour nap per day on top of this it would be even better. Getting proper sleep is a must for muscle growth. Without it, you can kiss gains in strength and size goodbye!


Watch for Part Two in my next post, and please leave your comments and feedback below!

Josh Hewett

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