Growing up, I was the skinny kid–a true ectomorph. It was hard for me to put on weight and even harder for me to maintain it. Fast-forward to the present and the tables have turned. The people who knew me back in the old days often ask how I put on size. And the simple answer is this: I was willing to step outside my comfort zone and put in the work to add quality size.
The first step is to figure out your nutrition and what it takes to maintain your current weight. Jump on a scale and get your baseline. Track your daily calorie intake for five days straight. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to help you keep track. During these five days, I also want you to do five weigh-ins. After the five days, I want you to add up your daily calories and daily weight during that period. Then I want you to divide both numbers by 5 to give you daily averages. The average caloric intake will serve as your baseline caloric maintenance, and the average weight will be what you use as your starting weight for comparative purposes.
Now we can use this starting point to begin adding calories.
Week 1 add 5% to your daily calories. You can use a 33% macronutrient split where you are consuming about 33% of your calories from each of the 3 macronutrients ( Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats). I would use this approach until you need adjustment. Meaning, if you are putting on too much fat too quickly, then I would adjust the formula the following week to subtract 10% of your average daily calories until you are in a positive muscle growth ratio to fat gain. Putting on mass isn't a straight line. You will have to make adjustments as you go. But if you stick with the flow, you'll see results.
Nutrition is important but you can’t undersell the training if mass building is your goal. When it comes to mass building workouts, I follow a principle called ‘Heavy Volume Training.’ The philosophy is simple: recruit as many muscle fibers as possible by working in "heavy" & "volume" cycles.
Sample day-to-day split: This is just an example of a one week split I've used during my mass building phases.
These two days I perform 4 sets of 6 reps for all exercises. I would stick to 5 exercises per day.
On day 1, I perform exercises that fall into a lower body ‘foundation’ category.
On day 2, I group exercises that fall under ‘upper body’.
Day 3 is all about auxiliary training with arms, abs, and calves as the focal points.
Here you will perform 3 sets of 10 for each, followed by cluster sets for each.
Cluster sets give you a very brief intra-rest period within one set (i.e. cluster set of 10 = 4, 3, 3).
Days 4-6 are all about the volume split.
This is categorized by foundation, push and pull.
Each major muscle group gets a heavy volume set. They are max effort sets performed with targeted rest, using a weight that's challenging but comfortable with 3x20, 2x30, 1x60 set and rep ranges.
This is the kind of two-step plan that is needed for growth. In addition, supplementation will also be important for optimal gains.