heavy dumbbells on rack

by Jason Stallworth

September 23, 2020

Okay, so I don’t literally mean ‘double your muscle mass‘ as in if you weigh 150 lbs now that you’re going to be a 300 lb monster in 4 weeks…lol!

What I do mean is that you can substantially boost your potential for muscle growth, and I’m going to show you how in this post.

To be transparent, there are no secrets to bodybuilding. Rather, there are principles to building muscle, many of which have been lost and forgotten.

These are all practical tips that you can start using right now. And when you combine them all together you’re going to experienced unimaginable mass gains.

Are you ready? Let’s go…

1 – Start Heavy

incline barbell press chest day chest exercises

There are two rules for starting your workouts:

  1. Do a compound exercise for the specific muscle group your training for that workout
  2. Work up to a heavy weight on that exercise

Now, you’re not going to go as heavy throughout the rest of your workout. But your goal for this first exercise is to lift some serious weight.

Why?

Because this is the strength-building part of your workout. And the stronger you are, the more weight you can lift, thus the more dense, quality muscle mass you will build.

This is also going to make you stronger for the remaining exercises in your workout (we’re going to go over that next).

Below are the basic heavy compound exercises for each major muscle group:

Basic Heavy Compound Exercises:

  • Chest: bench press, or incline bench press
  • Back: barbell rows, or deadlifts
  • Legs: squats
  • Shoulders: overhead press (seated or standing)

The rep range you want for this first exercise is between 6 and 8 for your working sets. Of course, you’ll warm-up thoroughly before your first working set.

Here’s an example:

  • Set 1 (warm-up): 135 x 10
  • Set 2: 185 x 10 reps
  • Set 3: 225 x 8 reps
  • Set 4: 245 x 6 reps
  • Set 5: 275 x 6 reps

You won’t go to failure except for that last set – make sure you have a spotter!

**There’s also a technique where you will do an isolation exercise before your first compound exercise. This is called pre-exhaust training.

The idea is to pump that muscle full of blood before lifting heavy. This method can help you develop a better mind-muscle connection, which will help you pack on more size.

You can read more about re-exhausting training in this post: How to Pre-Exhaust Your Muscles for Bigger Gains

2 – Focused Reps

Cable flyes crossovers for ripped chest

You went heavy for your first exercise but now it’s time to force your muscles to work harder by doing focused reps.

The goal is to exhaust that specific muscle. You want to break it down so that it can grow back bigger and stronger by doing focused reps.

Focused reps mean controlling the weight rather than letting the weight control you. You’re not just lifting the weight from point A to B.

Rather, you’re taking more time throughout each rep, and you’re concentrating on that specific muscle to move the weight.

  • You’ll want to spend 2-3 seconds pushing (or pulling) the weight from the starting point to the half-way point.
  • Then you’ll take 4-6 seconds on the negative part of the rep (you may have done negatives before, which are great for building muscle!).

What does this mean?

Increased time under tension. Focused reps essentially keep your muscles working for a longer duration during each set. And that’s how you build muscle size.

Here’s how your workout will look (using chest as an example):

  • Bench press – heavy (3-4 sets of 4-6 reps)
  • Incline dumbbell press – focused reps (3-4 sets x 8-10 reps)
  • Dumbbell flyes – focused reps (3-4 sets x 10-12 reps)

You can add another exercise if you wish. But if you do this right, and force your muscles to work on those final two exercises, you’re going to exhaust the muscle and this workout will be enough.

**You will see many bodybuilders doing faster reps and this is okay, hence their physiques. Experienced lifters have learned how to force their muscles to work harder in every sense, even when it may not look like it.

3 – Early Morning Workouts

early morning bodybuilding workouts

Though it can be difficult for some to get used to, early morning workouts can really boost your muscle gains.

I’ll get into the many benefits of training in the early mornings, but here are two key factors for me…

  1. You eliminate any excuses to miss a workout because it’s the first thing you’re going to do upon waking.
  2. The other, and this is just from my personal experience, is you have more focus at this time.

Sometimes things can happen throughout the day that screws up your schedule or mess with your psyche. Training first thing in the mornings leaves no room for those possibilities.

Here are some awesome benefits to early morning training:

  • You get it out of the way first thing and don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.
  • There are fewer distractions and less likelihood of something coming up that would prevent you from going to the gym.
  • You’re fresh and have a clear mind.
  • Some experts claim that male testosterone is higher in the morning upon waking. This equates to better workouts.
  • Sets the tone for the rest of your day – you feel like (and ARE) a conqueror!
  • The gyms are typically less crowded at this time; no waiting for equipment and you can be in and out of the gym.
  • This will force you to go to bed earlier and you’ll sleep better at night.

It does take a couple of weeks to get used to waking up early to go to the gym. But I encourage you to power through that!

**Be sure to read my complete on early morning workouts in this post: How Early Morning Workouts Can Help You Build More Muscle

4 – Knowing When to Make Changes to Your Workout Routine

Single Arm Cable Rows Bodybuilding Back Workout

It’s inevitable that at some point your gains are going to slow down. This is normal as you become more experienced in the gym.

However, you never want to remain stagnant for too long. There comes a time when you have to change up your workout routine.

I’m going to cover two parts to changing up your workouts:

  1. How to know when you need to change your workout routine
  2. The types of changes you should make (and I’ll also tell you about how often you should change up your training)

The reason this happens is because our muscles adapt to what we’re doing. So at some point they will simply stop responding.

So, how do you know when you need to change up your workouts? Here are some signs to look for:

  • You find yourself just going through the motions in your workouts
  • You’re feeling fatigued all the time
  • You’re starting to lose interest
  • You’re not getting those pumps anymore
  • You’ve been stuck with the same weights for a while

You may be feeling some of these symptoms now! If not, I’m sure you have in the past.

So, you be wondering ‘What do I do now?’

The beauty is you don’t have to completely change your entire workout routine to make gains. You can break this plateau by making just a few subtle changes.

Here are some simple steps you can take to switch things up in the gym:

  • Switch your workout days around
  • Change the order of exercises
  • Change up some of the exercises
  • Change up your rep ranges
  • Add more volume
  • Use methods to increase your intensity such as drop sets or supersets

Those are just a few things you can do to change up your workouts. And just doing 2-3 of those will suffice.

**I have another post that goes more in-depth about changing up your workouts and I even give you some routines you can do in this post: How Often Should You Switch Up Your Workout Routine for Gains?

5 – Eat 2 Post Workout Meals

food - eggs oatmeal blueberries

If you’re serious about gaining more muscle, then you cannot ignore the most important meal of the day.

Post workout. But there’s more…

I’m going to give you my personal post-workout recipe. In fact, you’re going to get two meals and there’s a specific way to do this below.

  • Drink a post-workout shake as soon as you’re done with your workout.
  • About an hour later, eat a 2nd post-workout meal but make this a whole-food meal.

The reason post-workouts meals are so crucial is because they’re all about helping you replenish lost nutrients and start the muscle recovery process.

Alright, now for the recipes! And I’m not saying you should eat exactly what I eat; this is simply what I choose to do, and it works for me. You can use it as a guide to making your own post-workout meals.

You’ll see that both meals are extremely simple and easy to make.

Post Workout Meal 1: Shake With Creatine

  • 2 scoops of whey protein (about 50 grams)
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen organic blueberries
  • 10 grams of creatine monohydrate
  • 6 ounces of filtered water

Post Workout Meal 2: Whole Food Meal

  • 3-4 whole eggs (free-range, organic)
  • 1 bowl of organic oatmeal with cinnamon extract
  • Cup of coffee

Again, you don’t have to follow these exact recipes. You may want chicken and rice or steak and sweet potatoes for that 2nd meal. As long as you’re getting a substantial amount of protein and good sources of carbs.

Your first post-workout meal is full of fast-digesting ingredients. This is going to shuttle those replenishing nutrients right into your system after your workout, kick-starting muscle recovery.

About an hour later, you’re going to continue the fuel the muscle recovery process with another meal. But this time you’re going to choose slower digesting food sources.

**If you get stuck with cooking and meal prep, you definitely need to check my post: 200+ Bodybuilding Meals and Recipes

6 – Keep Your Meal Plan Simple

We just covered post-workout, now let’s move on to the rest of your nutrition plan.

Nutrition is probably the most controversial topic in the world of fitness and bodybuilding. There are many different theories.

And I’m not going to take you down that path…

Rather, I’m just going to give you some simple bodybuilding meal planning tips you can follow that has worked well for me and for others.

I’m personally not a fan of trendy or fad diet programs. Most of the are not sustainable. I am, however, a believer in using balanced meals for building muscle and strength.

What I’m giving you below is also what has worked for countless professional bodybuilders. And it’s not rocket science. It’s just a simple balance of nutrients.

Muscle Building Nutrition Guidelines

  • Eat plenty of quality protein each day
  • Don’t mix high carbs and high fats together in the same meal
  • Make sure you get some form of healthy fats each day
  • Stay away from processed foods and refined sugars, as much as possible
  • Have a few cheat meals (not days) each week

As you can see, I keep it simple. You’ll need to figure out your macros in regards to how much protein, carbs, and fats you require. This is different for everyone.
**You can learn more about macros in this post: 5,000 Calorie Meal Plan for Mass Gains with Macros By Body Type

I personally don’t count calories but if that works for you, by all means, do so. I get close to my body weight in grams of protein each day and try not to let my carb intake go too far over that.

And I typically get some sort of healthy fats in each meal (free-range whole eggs are my go-to source for fats).

Bodybuilding nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Just eat enough healthy foods and listen to your body. Assess the way you feel after eating certain meals.

And be honest with yourself in how you look and how your clothes fit. Your body will let you know if those foods are working for you or not.

**This is a guide that really helps me with meal prep: Anabolic Cooking: 200+ Bodybuilding Meals and Recipes

7 – Keep Your Supplements Even More Simple

Creatine Monohydrate bodybuilding supplements

Bodybuilding supplements can be a double-edged sword. Many will tell you that you don’t need supplements to gain muscle. And there is some truth to that.

If you train hard, get plenty of quality rest, and eat enough of the right types of foods for growth and recovery, you will make gains. Even without taking supplements.

However, bodybuilding supplements can help you take things to that next level. And here’s how…

3 Ways Supplements Can Help You Make Better Gains:

  1. Give you better workouts
  2. Help you recover faster from your workouts
  3. Ensure you’re not deficient in micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants)

All of those benefits an essential part of gaining muscle mass. But before you go rushing off to your local supplement store or shopping online, you need to understand the basic purpose of supplements, which are based on what we just talked about…

  • If you get better workouts, you’re simply going to build more muscle.
  • If you recover faster and more efficiently, you’re going to build more muscle.
  • And if you ensure that you’re getting all of the micronutrients you need, your body will be able to function as it should.

Keeping that in mind, you don’t need to have 20 bottles of supplements sitting on top of your refrigerator.

In fact, if you’re taking a ton of supplements, there’s no way to tell what is working and what isn’t!

However, keeping your supplements simplified will help you pack on more mass and be healthy. So let’s go over 4 basic supplements you should consider:

  • Multivitamin
  • Creatine
  • Pre-workout
  • Whey protein

**You can see the brands I take on my resources page; I keep this updated: What Jason is Taking

Multivitamins will help ensure you’re not deficient in micronutrients. That said, find a multivitamin that is made for bodybuilders and athletes to further ensure this.

Creatine is the most researched supplement in bodybuilding and fitness. It works by giving your muscles more energy (ATP – adenosine triphosphate). And creatine also acts as a volumizer.

Pre-workout isn’t necessarily a must, but you do need to make sure that you have the appropriate energy, both physically and mentally to get better workouts.

Whey protein also isn’t a must but it does come in handy for your post-workout meal, as we talked about earlier. Also, whey protein is one of the purest and most bioavailable protein you can take.

There are many other supplements you can take. But the point of this section is to not get overwhelmed!

If you stick to these basics, you’ll set yourself up for mass gains, as long as you’re doing everything else right. You can always add more stuff later if you choose.

**One awesome pre-workout that I take and promote is Alpha Lion’s Superhuman. You can read more about it here:

Jason’s Experience with Superhuman Pre-Workout

Secrets to Mass Gains

As I mentioned in the beginning, these aren’t really secrets. They are just forgotten principles of gaining muscle mass.

Here’s a quick recap of the 7 secrets to packing on size:

  1. Start heavy
  2. Focused reps
  3. Early morning workouts
  4. Known when to change your workouts
  5. Have 2 post-workout meals
  6. Keep your meal plan simple
  7. Keep your supplements even more simple

I hope this helps you make more gains and stay on track! I know you love training as much as I do, and it’s truly a gift that you and I have.

**Be sure to check out my elite muscle-building programs here: Jason’s Program

Train with Passion,

Jason

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