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How To Gain Muscle Naturally With Small Changes

Apr 14, 2008
Gaining weight is not that hard. Gaining muscle, however, and gaining muscle naturally, is.

When I was a high school wrestler, some of us had to lose weight and some of us had to gain weight. The advice for gaining weight that we always got was, "drink lots of rootbeer shakes and eat tons of pizza." Was the advice accurate? Yes, it was. That crap will help you gain weight. But unless you're an actor preparing for a role as a fat fella, you probably don't want to gain just any kind of weight; you want to gain muscle. And if given the choice to gain muscle naturally or not, you will usually choose naturally. The problem is, most people don't know what "naturally" means and, more importantly, how you can eat naturally?

Well, let me tell you how I gained weight naturally this past year -- more specifically, 12 pounds of muscle. I'm not going to bore you with calorie and gram specifics in this article; that will come in the next one. My point is how simple changes can make a huge difference.

For the past 3 years, I've been trying to add another 10 pounds of muscle to my lean 160-pound frame. But it's been tough. Very tough. Even though I've been a personal trainer and nutrition coach for 5 years, adding muscle to my body was difficult. I did weight-resistance training 4 times a week, each time for about an hour, and I switched up my workouts every 6 weeks or so. I ate six meals a day and kept track of my calories. I even made sure the amount of protein grams I was taking in matched my body weight. Now I did not want to lose my cardio health, so I did sprints 3 times a week first thing in the morning, but only for about 20 minutes.

Then last March, I was asked to come on staff at a large Christian church in Los Angeles. Although I loved my clients and loved seeing them grow, my heart was in full-time ministry, so I took the job and cut my personal training down to 5 hours a week. What does this have to do with me gaining weight? Everything!

I still hit the weights 4 times a week, but now I kept it to about 45 minutes...simply because my free time diminished quite a bit and I didn't want to cut out my relationships. And because I have to be in to the office early, I no longer do cardio first thing in the morning more than once a week. I still eat about 6 times a day, but now I simply eat as much as I want, and don't really count calories or grams or worry much about it. If I put on a few pounds of fat, oh well. Essentially, because I love the work I do so much, I stopped "trying so hard" to gain lean muscle, and just let the muscle do its thing. I wasn't against it, but I just didn't try so hard, anymore.

And after 3-4 months, I had put on a solid 12 pounds of muscle naturally, with only 1 or 2 of them being fat.

No creatine, no mass-gain shakes, no crap. Just eating natural, calorie-dense food and cutting back on the workouts (though they are still intense).

So what can you learn from my experience? A few things:

1) I stopped doing cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. When you're lean, you burn muscle by doing this, and it makes adding muscle very difficult.

2) I ate more carbs...simply because I stopped keeping track of what I "thought" should be my carb limit. When you're putting on muscle, don't worry about keeping your carb count low (if they're natural carbs).

3) I worked out less (about 4 sets less each time I hit the weights). So if you've been trying and having trouble, try cutting back.

Now I realize this article does not get very scientific, but hopefully it makes you think about what you're doing and the small changes you can make to your routine and lifestyle if you want to increase your success with gaining weight naturally. My next article will go more into detail about the actual workouts and foods I ate, so stay tuned.

Copyright 2007, Masszymes Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Chris Francis is a serious bodybuilder who has built serious muscle mass fast using the revolutionary new weight-training system, Freaky Big Naturally. Get a FR-EE shocking Insider Report on Natural BodyBuilding, a Muscle-Primer Program and more at http://natural-bodybuilding.freakygrowth.com .
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