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Beginning Muscle Building. What Should I Eat?

skinny-boy-1198045_1280

Skinny? Can't gain weight? Read up.

will k asked: I'm planning to start working out again at the gym. I'm 14, around 6 foot and I weigh about 145 lbs. I'm skinny, so I'm mostly muscle and no fat. I'm very athletic so I can't really gain weight. Before or after my workouts, what should I eat or drink? Should I buy muscle building supplements?

My answer: You have to begin eating a lot. You have to create a positive caloric balance – which simply means eat more than you expend.

And it's hard. It really is. Believe me when I say I used to be like you – all muscle, no fat, but the muscle I had was little. I was skinny.

It felt like I was going to eat until I exploded. I'd go periods of time where I just wasn't hungry, followed by times where I couldn't get enough to eat.

My metabolism was on a roller coaster. I couldn't gain a pound.

And if I gained a pound, I'd lose it just as quickly as I'd gained it.

It sucks.

So I began eating 8 times a day, about 30-40 grams of protein at each feeding. I stopped running. I stopped moving almost entirely. I had to stop worrying.

I thought more training was better. It's not. I cut my training down a lot – down to 3 times a week on a split routine, so in any given week the MOST I trained any bodypart was twice.

But I lifted heavy. Few sets, low reps, high weights.

Focus on getting stronger. Once you're stronger, you can lift heavier weights in your bodybuilding routines.

But the key is eating a lot. Supplements are your friend.

But don't eat weight gainers – they fuck up your metabolism. The sugar kills your gains. Use something like MetRx instead. Trader Joe's carries it and it's not terribly expensive.

Mix one scoop with 8 ounces of whole milk. Drink one before and after your workout.

And eat all damned day long! Try GOMAD.

Consider eating right before going to sleep, too. Doing that will usually make you hungry in the morning, so you can eat more.

The name of the game is calories, and protein is your friend. Sugar is your foe.

FYI – Lou Ferrigno was 6'5, about 140 pounds when he started bodybuilding 🙂

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Bodybuilding for Beginners

beginning bodybuilding

Everybody starts at the beginning

Bodybuilding for beginners is where you start your muscle-building future. You'll want to start out with the right exercises, the right diet, and the right recovery programs.

Muscles grow as a result of overloading them, feeding them, and letting them recuperate, so that they grow stronger and bigger over time. You need all three components (exercise, nutrition, and rest) to make any gains. Two out of three is not good enough.

It is at this stage where you learn the basics of bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding Basics

First things first! You want to hit the weights, and I don't blame you. Just don't forget about the other two pillars (and don't forget about mindset – which won't be a problem when you're starting out but it will when you hit your first sticking point).

Exercises

In your first month, these are the exercises you want to do (just watch, don't necessarily listen to the recommendations):

Lift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or every other day. This gives your muscles time to recover, adapt, and grow.

On your rest days, do your normal thing. If you like to run, run. If you ride a bike, ride a bike. On your workout days, try to just lift weights.

Of course, this may be a bit impractical. If you're on a high school football team, you will practice every day. There's no getting around that.

However, this makes it all the more important to really do nothing on your off days (like Saturday and Sunday).

Your body and mind need the rest. There is a strong central nervous system (CNS) response to weight training.

After one month, add one set to each exercise and stick with that for 3 months. Add weight when you can, in the smallest increments possible.

In many cases, beginning bodybuilders find that they can add weight every single workout to almost every exercise. If you can – great. If you can't, that's great, too.

Everybody gains strength at different rates. Consistency at this point is king.

Diet

My experience tells me that eating a “normal” diet is best, supplemented as needed with in-between meal snacks. Stick to wholesome, whole foods. Organic when possible.

Eat a variety of foods, like beef, chicken, eggs, milk, and fish for your protein sources. Grains, vegetables, and fruits for your carbs. You needn't worry much about fats, as if you cover the protein category, you most likely won't be lacking in fat intake.

Do not, however, try to go on a low- or no-fat diet, even if you're overweight. That's a really bad idea. Once you begin limiting your fat intake, your body goes into survival mode and begins hoarding the fat you do eat. Worse yet, it begins conserving your body fat.

The results are often counter to your objective – you gain fat.

To summarize: Eat 3 meals a day with 2 or 3 snacks in between. If you feel hungry, eat more often. If you can't eat that often, do the best you can. If time isn't on your side, mix up a meal replacement shake (MetRx is great) in the morning and carry it without you throughout the day.

At this point, supplements aren't really necessary, outside of a good protein supplement (like the aforementioned MetRx – pick it up at Trader Joe's) and multi-vitamin/mineral tablet.

Rest & Recovery

This is one of those very “iffy” areas. Everybody – and every body – has different needs when it comes to rest and recovery.

So these are general guidelines:

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Rest as much as you can when you're not working out, unless you're overweight
    • In that case, do some steady-state cardio on off days
  • Don't do any “extra” weight training – stick to the guidelines above
  • If you feel like you're tired all the time, get more rest – you will find a way (take a nap)

 

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