How to gain muscle fast for skinny guys: Hard-gainers rejoice!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is muscle-man.pngMaybe you’re tired of ill-fitting clothes. Maybe you’re tired of low self-esteem and confidence. Or maybe you’re just tired of being out-muscled by beefier guys in the gym, on the job, on the playing field and around women. Whatever the reason, you want to ditch the baggy t-shirts and learn how to pack on slabs of lean muscle, fast.

But forget about your alleged raging metabolism that incinerates calories on impact, any man can add lean muscle mass to his frame. Those who can’t gain muscle weight are simply eating and exercising the wrong way.

And who can blame them? If you listened to all the flawed advice out there to build lean muscle you’d be popping every pill and doing bench presses until you passed out. You must be a “hard-gainer” with no chance for muscle growth, right? Doomed to a lifetime of scrawniness? Stuck skinny, with only steroids to change that, right? Wrong.

Enter our ‘bony to brawny’ action plan designed to help you unlock the secrets to getting the body you never thought you could have. Built using scientifically-proven principles, this plan will not only make your muscles bigger, but do it faster than ever. Motivated yet? Great! Your quest for more-muscle begins below.

Weapons of MASS construction!

bench press exercise demonstrationWhen it comes to laying down slabs of lean muscle fast, not all gym exercises are created equal. To help you pick the moves that will make you grow like a weed, and ditch those which leave you looking like one, stick to our exercise arsenal below for maximum results.

Isolation exercises: Forget about bicep-curls, axe the triceps extension and ditch the dumbbell-fly from your routine. While these exercises which target (isolate) small, single muscle groups are great for zoning in on specific areas and adding eye-popping definition, they don’t offer the same overall brawn-buffing benefits as their compound counterparts.

Compound exercises: Identified by their ability to target multiple muscles simultaneously, compound exercises offer the greatest rewards for your muscle-building efforts. Allowing you to lift heavy, these multi-muscle moves trigger the greatest release of muscle building hormones which act as the fuel for bigger gains. The result? You’ll shave minutes off your total workout time while working your muscles with maximum efficiency.

The maxi-muscle combo: There’s no faster way to build muscle than with low-repetition heavy resistance compound exercises: Use these tips to master three of the best for adding size.

  • Squat: Keep your chest up and your back naturally arched, and turn your knees out. Push up through your heels and your head neutral.
  • Bench press: As you push the bar, keep your shoulder blades back and down and tighten your core and leg muscles. Keep your elbows in.
  • Deadlift: Keep your chest up and your back flat, squeeze your glute’s and push from your heels.

In addition to these power-moves, add pull-ups, bent-over rows, dips, and military presses to your workout. Do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, with 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

Mix it up: The two most important ingredients for more muscle are continual variation and progressive overload. Use any one exercise with the same weight and repetitions for too long and you’ll put the brakes on your brawn-buffing efforts. THE FIX: Use heavy compound moves as your base, but also include isolation moves to alter the angle of attack, vary weight and repetitions and increase workout intensity. The result? You’ll keep your routine fresh and your muscles primed for growth.

More muscle with rest & recovery

man sleeping in bedBest news you’ll hear all day? There’s more to adding beef to your frame than bench pressing and protein shakes. If you ever want to stand a chance of achieving your dream body, provisioning it with dedicated down-time to recoup and regenerate is a must. Here’s four of the top ways to time your rest and recovery periods to perfection and get bulging muscles while doing absolutely nothing! Here’s how to take it easy:

Between sets: Think you grow in the gym? Think again. You get big by recovering from training, not from the training itself. Take 45-60 seconds rest between each exercise set. Any less than that and you’ll have too much lactic in your muscles.

In your bed: Consider a sleep in your morning workout. Your muscles repair twice as quickly when you’re asleep. Eat a boiled-egg sandwich before bed with some milk. Protein and carbohydrates combine with milk’s casein protein, drip feeding your muscles as you dream.

Lying down: After a post-workout shower, treat yourself to a rub down. You’ll help flush out waste products, lengthen and relax your muscles and speed recovery. Aim for at least thirty minutes to really get the blood flowing.

Between exercises: Unless you’re super-setting (pairing two exercises together without rest), rest for 2 minutes. This will give you enough time to recover and re-hydrate.

Wake up to muscle on-a-plate

eggs, bacon and toastStart your muscle building day on the right foot by making time for breakfast every morning. For the most well-rounded breakfast, oats are king. But make sure you steer clear of the pre-sweetened variety, as they’re often loaded with sugar and other store-bought preservatives. Instead, buy the plain ‘steel-cut’ variety and flavor them yourself with fruit, honey and cinnamon. You’ll feel fuller for longer and have energy to burn.

What you’ll need: (1) 50g of plain steel-cut oats, (2) 300ml of water, (3) 50ml of milk, (4) A handful of almonds, (5) 2 tbsp. of low-fat yogurt, (6) 1 handful of strawberries.

This dish serves up everything you need to build muscle and stay alert from the moment you rise. You get 52g of energy-sustaining complex carbohydrates to fend of any sleepiness. You also get a whopping 16g of brawn-buffing protein to help your muscles recharge after a long night without any sustenance. Oats are also rich in arginine which helps accelerate protein absorption.

The bottom line: Give your frosted-flakes the boot and tuck into something that will fuel your muscles and stop you chucking your hard earned cash into the vending machine before lunch.

Tired of oats? You can swap them for sausages, bacon and eggs on whole-meal toast. Other breakfast-table winners like low-fat cottage cheese, tuna and avocado are versatile and make for delicious sides too. Alternatively, if you prefer to drink your morning meal, smoothie’ s offer a nutritionally-packed magic bullet which you can you take anywhere, anytime. Use milk and ice as the base and then add flavor and nutrients with muscle-building power foods like milk, honey, yogurt, fruit and whey protein powder.

Pack on muscle with protein-power!

protein foods: red meatProteins are the basic structural components for building and maintaining muscle. And without a steady supply to keep your muscles topped up, you won’t capitalize on your efforts in the gym. In basic terms, protein is the only macro-nutrient that cannot be stored in the body. This means you need regular protein hits for optimal growth and repair. The quality of the protein is also important.

All men, especially guys in their twenties and/or who are regularly active should look to take in at least 30% of their total daily intake from high quality lean-protein sources like meat, fish, dairy and vegetables.

The muscle-up formula: As a general rule of thumb, look to eat ~2 grams of protein for each kilo of your target weight. I.E. If you weigh 65kg but want to bulk up to 75kg, aim to eat at least 160g of protein a day.

protein powder to gain muscleWhat about shakes? The foods that are best absorbed by the body are the ones that don’t just contain essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), but have them in the most favorable ratio’s. Protein shakes contain high-quality proteins designed to increase bio availability.

The best times to have them is any time when you find it hard to prepare or eat a high-quality naturally occurring proteins like cottage cheese, eggs, chicken, fish and chicken (i.e immediately post-workout). Here you need to feed your muscles double-quick. Do this by drinking a shake with 30g of whey protein powder, half a cup of milk & 1 cup of frozen berries to build muscle and fight inflammation fast.

6 pack superfoods: Destroy belly fat, build lean muscle

Healthy man with a selection of 6 pack foods to help him lose belly fat There’s an old saying ‘You are what you eat”. If you think getting ripped is all about exercise, you’d be wrong. Sure, it’s important but it’s the foods that pass your lips that really govern what goes on inside your body.

Getting your diet on-track and provisioning your body with the right foods can do it all – burn belly fat, boost satiety, increase vitality, boost testosterone and exchange flab for lean muscle tissue (providing you hit the gym too, of course!).

Before we reveal what to eat, here’s a quick word on what to avoid. Our food industry is chock-full of pitfalls with processed ‘junk’ and sweet-treats laced with fat, sugar and unpronounceable preservatives seemingly out there to tempt you at every turn.

So, what’s a guy to do? Impose a fast-food embargo? Nah. That’s no fun. Which is why I’m advocating a smarter, more measured approach. One where you can eat what you like and not suffer the health consequences or feel guilty about it. It’s all a matter of balance and perspective. If you eat right 80-90% of the time, the other 10-20% won’t even matter. Simple.

Below you’ll find a breakdown of 6 pack super foods, their all-important macro-nutrients, why they’re important and where to find them, so you’ll know how to eat right for your waistline anytime, anywhere.

Secret weapon: Protein

Of all the nutrients on offer, protein has the greatest gut-busting and appetite-satisfying effects. Although it’s common to load up on protein at dinner time, there are plenty of ways to include it at breakfast, lunch and snack time, too.

When you include a source of lean protein in a meal, not only are you likely to feel fuller for longer and build muscle, you’re guaranteed to reap the benefits of something called ‘postprandial thermogenesis’. It may sound like something straight out of Star-trek, but it’s effects are very real and could be the key to beating belly fat without lifting a finger! It all boils down to heat (thermogenesis) and how it affects the body.

Did you know, your body churns through up to 15% of your daily kilojoules as part of the body-heating process? Digesting protein is up to 50-100% more energy-intensive than carbohydrates and the best part is all of this ‘hard work’ uses up energy in the form of calories. In fact, upping your protein intake from 15% to 30% of your daily kilojoules can help you burn through an extra 750kj per day – the equivalent of 2 ‘lite’ beers!

The secret to burning blubber on autopilot is to start early. Forget about starting your day with a bowl of sugary-cereal and opt for some lean protein instead – eggs on wholemeal toast, a few bacon rashers, an omelette (with veggies), homemade burger, or a few lean chicken/mince sausage will do the job nicely and set you up for the rest of the day.

You can get your protein two ways – ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’. Animal protein is complete in that it contains all the right ratios of essential amino acids and while things like eggs, meat and fish are the best sources of protein, combining ‘incomplete’ protein foods, like nuts and lentils at one meal or throughout the day can provide a good dose of protein, too. Let your food keep torching calories long after it’s vanished from your plate by regularly including these protein power-foods as part of your diet.

Animal protein sources: White meat, red meat, seafood, dairy, eggs and whey protein powder. Vegan protein sources: Leafy green vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, broccoli, lentils, chia seeds and peas and beans.

A quick word on protein powder: I’m all for getting protein through the ‘whole foods’ listed above, but sometimes it’s just not possible, especially if you’re too tired to cook and prepare food, a protein shake can be just what you need meet your quota. Look for either a whey protein.  Your best bet is high-quality ‘whey’ protein powder (derived from milk). It’s absorbed quickly by the body and promotes protein synthesis needed for cellular repair and muscle growth.

Secret weapon: Healthy fats

It seems obvious, if you wanna’ ditch the fat, don’t eat it, right? Wrong. Testosterone – that all-important male hormone responsible for building muscle and keeping you lean – is actually made from fat. But it’s not simple as drinking a gallon of cooking oil to carve out a sleek set of abs. Fat comes in a few different guises, so its important to know the differences and how they affect the body. First, let’s start with the bad-guys, aka trans-fats.

It should come as no surprise that the biggest sources of trans-fats come from ‘big’ food companies who, always keen to save a buck, use the hydrogenation of vegetable oils to prolong shelf-life and cut-down processing costs. The problem is that trans-fats not only lower “good” HDL cholesterol and promote inflammation in the body, they lower testosterone levels, too. So, health-wise it’s best to keep your consumption of trans-fats to a minimum by replacing processed and packaged crap (fast-foods, cookies, cakes, muffins, doughnuts, microwavable meals, margarine and oil spreads) with natural whole foods.

On the flip side, to boost your testosterone levels you’ll want to eat plenty of saturated and monounsaturated fats, which you can find in the foods below. But remember, if you’re struggling to lose weight, fat itself is not the culprit. It’s carbs that are the likely problem (see below). Fat will help keep you full, while carbs can put you on a blood-sugar roller coaster that leaves you irritable and ravenous.

Saturated fatty acids: Dark chocolate, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese, butter, red meat, salmon. Monounsaturated fatty acids: Avocado, peanut butter, nut oil's and coconut

Secret weapon: Carbs & fiber

Carbohydrates are essential for energy, building muscle and even brain power. Protein might help you build bulging biceps, but no amount of grilled chicken will get you lean on it’s own. The bottom line is, you need carbs, especially after hitting the gym. Carbs are broken down into glucose, one of your primary fuel sources, so if your stores are depleted there’s a good chance you’re not going to be at your best and suffer the effects of fatigue, malaise and low motivation. Carbohydrates are also essential for day to day living – whether boosting your mood or making sure you keep a full head of hair.

Carbs can be broken down according to their place on the glycaemic index (GI). Your body stores some unused sugar as glycogen in the liver and muscles, but converts the rest to fat. Low GI carbs, like those listed below, avoid being stored as fat by breaking down more slowly, resulting in a ‘smoother’ more long-lasting rise in blood-sugar and energy levels.

On the flip-side, high-GI carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed faster by the body, providing a spike in blood-sugar levels and a quick ‘hit’ of energy. This makes them excellent post-workout and helps release insulin, putting your body into an anabolic, muscle-building state. But it only works when you take in protein and fat, too. A protein shake made with whole milk and some fruit – which hits all 3 – is perfect, as is chocolate milk.

Low-GI Carbohydrate Foods: Oatmeal, sweet potato, quinoa, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, bran cereal and beans. High-GI carbohydrates: Apple, banana, orange, berries and watermelon

Secret weapon: Caspaicin

Chile Pepper It’s no coincidence that peppers and Chile’s are hot, their thermogenic effect on the body can literally boost fat burn. In fact, scientists have found cayenne pepper to increase the rate at which you metabolize fat by 15-20% for up to 3hrs after eating. Plus, it boosts satiety.

Granted, these subtle fat-burning effects aren’t going to transform your body overnight, but they do provide a great reason to add them to meals, either cooked or raw. Other spices and condiments like cinnamon, mustard and ginger are great metabolism boosters, too.

A quick word on the ‘bad guys’

I’m not going to bore you by listing every ‘bad’ food out there, here’s all you really need to know. Refined carbohydrates (think white bread, donuts, bagels, chips, muffins, cakes), liquid calories (alcohol, soda, sports drinks), lollies or any other heavily-processed food you get in a box or bag generally spells bad news when consumed in excess. Treat these as a ‘sometimes’ and not an everyday staple.

*This is a guide, not a comprehensive list. Eating a variety of natural, whole foods is the key to a healthy, balanced diet.