Where Strength and Size are the only goals

Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle #1

You’re not eating enough.

It really is as simple as it sounds! If you are not eating enough how can you hope to get stronger or build muscle? Without the necessary calories and macronutrients your body simply doesn’t have the energy or the materials to repair and grow after training. Do you even know how many calories your eating each day? Do you know how many grams of protein/carbohydrate/fat your eating? I’m not saying you need to be as meticulous as a competing bodybuilder and weigh and measure every single thing that passes your lips, but a basic idea for a day would at least be a start!

Firstly you need to try and calculate your BMR – basic metabolic rate. This will then give you an idea of your maintenance calories, how much you need to consume just to maintain your current muscle mass. Then simply you need to increase it to create a calorie surplus. This excess in calories, as long as your diet includes good quality protein will be used as raw materials to build new muscle.

There are various BMR calculators available online, but for ease I’m going to use a simple formula (well simpler than most) called the Harris Benedict Principle, should you want a more accurate version try here.

Step 1: Calculate the appropriate formula for your sex (Please note that this formula applies only to adults): MEN: 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years). For WOMEN: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

Step 2: Incorporate your activity level by adding a number from below to your BMR.

If you are sedentary: BMR + 20%, If you are lightly active: BMR + 30%, If you are moderately active (You exercise most days a week): BMR + 40%, If you are very active (You exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods): BMR + 50%, If you are extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training): BMR + 60%

So for a 34 year old, 190lb, 68″ male (me!), with a moderate to high activity level (so I will go with 45%), maintenance calories would be 66 + (6.3 x 190) + (12.9 x 68) – (6.8 x 34) = 1909, increase this by 45% and you get 2769 calories. However this is just maintenance so to build muscle increase by maybe 200 calories for a few weeks and see how it progresses. If there was no weight gain after this time, increase by another 200 – You get the idea.

If you want to gain mass quickly then obviously increase by even more calories, however you may then accumulate some bodyfat alongside this weight gain. A lot of people want to get big without fat and although I believe this is possible, it is a slow process. You ask any accomplished bodybuilder and they will talk about bulking and cutting. That is because it is well known that building muscle is difficult, whereas leaning out is easier to accomplish – So they smash as many calories down their face as possible for a space of time whilst training hard, then go through a phase of ‘clean’ eating and cardio etc to strip fat and leave the muscle that was gained during bulking. Although this is not a perfect way to do it as it’s quite harmful to the body, it works and has been working for many years!

You want to ask yourself this – Are you a competing bodybuilder? Is a sub 10% bodyfat level necessary? How often do you strut around with your top off flexing, by comparison to how often you walk around clothed? Do you want to look skinny in your clothes but have that six-pack on the rare occassion you’re topless? or do you want to walk around looking ‘Hench’ all the time, top on or off?

Getting big is about getting strong, once you have a good amount of muscle it is even easier to strip the fat, plus if you’re really that concerned about a bit of bodyfat, you’re probably not that committed to gaining muscle anyway.

Jay Cutler in ‘Bulk Mode’ – That’s commitment!

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