Gaining mass isn’t simply just about calories in vs calories out. There needs to be a basic understanding of body types, trainer experience level, nutrition and correct supplementation.
Firstly we must acknowledge the three different body types that are most common among users seeking a mass gainer and a gainer diet/training regime. Firstly although there are mainly three body types that exist among humans, it should be noted that rarely do they exist only in their purest forms. A good majority of the time people will fall between the categories and thus, will have to tweak their dieting and training methods accordingly. As with genetic benefits and shortfalls you will need to figure out what you are and customize an approach to gain the desired result.
Ectomorph: They are particularly stringy in build, sometimes quite tall and will boast a very low body fat percentage; but by the same token will have a very difficult time building lean muscle mass or even just weight. They have longer extremities which means their muscle gaining process takes longer. Ectomorphs will need to become grounded in reality and understand that their basal metabolic rate will be working against them: 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year. This in term means if you are closer to this body type and are serious about seeing a change, you will need to be working at the same rate, this means that you cannot have a lazy attempt at train to increase size and only work out 1-2 times a week, miss your calorie surplus day after day and then complain because you haven’t gained any weight. This is by far one of the more harder body-types to change, but by no means and excuse or a way out of trying.
Mesomorph: The most desired physic by most of the men in the gym. They will have a relatively low body fat percentage, and an easy time gaining muscle. Mesomorph’s usually have medium sized bones and extremities which means the muscle gain process is a lot faster than the other types. While their basal metabolic rate is usually quite efficient it seems that it is never so high as to inhibit muscle gain as well as being low enough to trigger unwanted fat gain.
Endomorph: They are usually much shorter in stature, working an uphill battle to lose body fat. Endomorph’s can sometimes have a little trouble gaining lean muscle mass as well. But they need to double their efforts with fat loss, focusing on fat loss as much as their counter-part the Ectomorph focuses on weight gain.
Letting you know about the body types isn’t intended to give you an excuse or a crutch to explain why you aren’t getting the results you would like. This is intended to give you an idea as to what you might be, and how you can best approach the situation.
Slow Twitch (Type 1) – These fibers shuttle more oxygen and sustain longer periods of aerobic cardiovascular activity.
Sports: Long distance running, Cycling, Soccer, Track and Field.
Body Types: Most common in Ectomorph’s.
Fast Twitch (Type 2b) – These muscle fibers will carry far less oxygen and work far better in short higher explosive bursts of anaerobic energy.They will have the easiest time gaining size.
Sports: Because of their composition it allows them to be a top canidiate in any sport they choose. Quite often as they gain or lose weight they can adapt to different sports.
Body Types: Common in Mesomorph’s.
Fast Twitch (Type 2a) – They are a mixture of type 1 and type 2b, they can be used for both aerobic and anaerobic sport performance.
Our RMR is the standard number of calories that our bodies burn when at complete rest. The functions your body’s caloric intake will need to function when are complete rest are: Breathing, Circulating blood or basic brain functions.
On the other hand our BMR is the standard number of calories our bodies need to utilize to support basic life functions and is usually measured under strict conditions in a lab.
As you can see they are basically identical. IF you want to lose body fat or increase muscle mass, it’s important to know your own Basal Metabolic Rate. However getting it testing in a lab can be costly. You have two methods you could use an online calculator or you could use the Harris-Benedict equation, this is a good way to estimate your BMR.
Body size – Metabolic rate will tend to increase as your body size and weight increase.
Body Composition – Fatty tissue has a lower rate of metabolic activity compared to leave muscle tissue. As you decrease your fatty tissue you will see an increase in your bodies Metabolic Rate.
Gender – Metabolic Rate will typically average 5%-10% lower in women than men. Because women will carry less muscle mass than men and more body fat.
Climate and Body Temperature – The BMR of people who are in warmer, tropical climates will typically generate 5%-20% higher BMR than their counterparts in more moderate and cooler environments because it takes more energy to keep the body cool in warmer climates. Performing sports and exercise in warmer environments also imposes additional metabolic load.
Age – A slow decrease in lean muscle mass during adulthood of about 0.3% after the age of 30. This can be avoided by strength and conditioning training through adulthood.
Hormone Levels – T4 is the key hormone released by the thyroid gland which has a significant effect on the metabolic rate. Quite often people with thyroids that under-function will have a very difficult time losing fat tissue.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the body types that exist, Basal Metabolic Rate and Resting Metabolic rate. You should know by now where you sit in terms of what sort of approach you will need to take to gain mass.
Tip 1: Perform shorter workouts in the gym, this might seem counter-productive or counter-intuitive. However keeping your workouts shorter and under 60 minutes will mean you have a less likely-hood of breaking down too much muscle. Remember just because you are skinny it doesn’t mean that you have a different recovery rate, yours is just the same as the average person. I would recommend training for around 45 minutes at a time with about 3-4 sessions per week.
Tip 2: Track your calories. This isn’t something only Endomorphs wanting to lose weight should be doing but in fact you are just as likely to make a mistake and not see results .IF you aren’t getting the desired results it’s likely because you are not eating enough and do not have enough of a surplus to support your bodies BMR.
Tip 3: Sleep well, and deep every night. Your body will recover best at with about 8-9 hours of sleep and with deep sleep. As your body enters into the non-REM deep sleep stage, your pituitary gland releases a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Not enough sleep causes a sharp decline in growth hormone
Tip 4: Enjoy high calorie snacks such as: Nuts and Nut Butter, Weight Gainer Shakes, Bagels, Dried Fruit, Avocados, Salmon and Grass-fed Beef.
Tip 5: Eat every few hours. IF you have to eat around 4000 Calories per day, which is no uncommon for an ectomorph then it’s going to be a lot easier for you to fit it into 4-6 meals spread out through out the day, rather then 1-3 meals. Although there is no difference to the effect you will get in relation to how often you will eat, it’s just easier to spread things out.
Tip 6: Take advantage of shakes. Another great way to increase your bodies caloric intake and help support the intended muscle gain is by utilizing shakes. They are a quick convenient way for you to increase your calories without having to spend countless hours cooking. Having said that, you shouldn’t rely on supplementation. You will still need to make sure that you are getting as much whole foods as possible. You can add these into shakes as well and blend them up.
7:00am – Breakfast
10:00am – Mass Gainer Shake
1:00pm – Lunch
4:00pm – Snack
5:30pm – Workout
6:30pm – Mass Gainer Shake
9:00pm – Snack
As you can see it’s still ideal to eat whole foods at least 3 times per day, and then adding on-top of that your extra caloric intake with shakes.
Recommended Supplementation for Gaining mass are split up into two categories
If you have a habit of gaining body fat, and you still want to explore a mass gain diet. Remember to use water with you shakes. I would recommend using:
Because you might have a habit of gaining body fat there are some quick tips you can follow that will reduce likely-hood if you still wish to go on a mass gain journey. Always use water with shakes. Cut the shake serving sizes down to from 4 scoops to 2 or even 1.
If you on the other hand are an ectomorph and you have no issues gaining body fat, then I would recommend using:
As with the previous category you might really want to increase your caloric intake which you can do through adding wholefoods. Wholefoods you can add as a base are:
Other additives might include:
If you work with what you have, know you’re bodies strengths and weaknesses; how to tackle them in the gym and with correct nutrition and supplementation you will see a return on investment. But it’s not going to be easy, and it won’t happen over night. It will require you to commit 7-days a week, 12 months of the year. With real commitment, comes real results.
By Adrian Ambrose