I got some awesome news from longtime client, Tyler Deuel, the other day.
So of course I had to take the opportunity to brag.
According to his recent skinfold measurements, he has gained 29 pounds of muscle in the past 26 months (going from a fat free weight of 197 to 225)!
What’s even more impressive is he put this muscle on with two Division 1 seasons mixed in.
Oh, and he was a starter both years.
And an EIWA champion one of those years.
Interested to learn how he did it?
Well, I hope the principles below can point you in the right direction.
1. Get Stronger
In my opinion, getting stronger should be your first focus.
First of all, there’s nothing worse than putting on a bunch of muscle but not being much stronger.
Remember- you’re training for performance, first and foremost. You want as much “go” for your “show” as possible, not the other way around.
Here are a few of his lifts and how they’ve improved over the last 26 months:
Free Squat– from 335 to 435
Box Squat– from 375 to 475
Deadlift- from 430 to 545
Bench Press– from 275 to 340
But how does that help increase muscle mass?
Well, along with a diet that produces a caloric surplus, you also need a high volume lifting plan.
And how does getting stronger increase your total volume?
For those of you that follow the personalized programs I design, you know that I sometimes use a percentage based system for some of the primary lifts.
For example, one day I may program for 5 sets of 5 reps at 85% of your determined training max.
If you’re using 100 pounds as your training max, that works out to 2,125 total pounds lifted during the working sets (5x5x85).
However, if you increase your strength 27% (about what Tyler did on his Box Squat), your training max would then be 127 pounds which would make the total volume of the same set and rep scheme above total 2,699 pounds.
So, for the same 25 reps, you’re lifting a total of 575 more pounds!
And, as you know, as your squat strength goes up, so will your other lower body lifts.
So, the weight you use for lunges, leg presses, front squats, and other lower body accessory lifts will be up as well. This will further increases your total volume (assuming you keep your sets and reps the same).
Bottom line, if you’re looking to put on muscle, you need to increase your total volume.
On top of that, you only have so much time to devote to being in the gym, right?
Increasing your sets and/or reps may not be feasible due to time constraints.
2. Increase Your Volume
When he wasn’t in season, I primarily had Tyler following a high volume lifting plan.
In a nutshell, I would have him perform, on average:
– 4 day/week lifting program
– 4 accessory exercises per day
– 50-60 total working reps per accessory (so usually 5×10 or 5×12). Note they are working reps. Warm-up sets don’t count.
This equates to 200-240 working reps per day for accessory lifts.
This, of course, comes after about 25 working reps of a primary movement (like a squat).
If you’re currently trying to gain muscle, compare this to your current plan and see how the volume matches up.
3. Eat Food
The second big part of the equation is something every wrestler likes to do.
However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially if you’re trying to gain/maintain weight.
In fact, I would rate Tyler’s eating as “just ok” up until this past Spring.
After his Junior year, he really started to get it. I personally think that made as much of a difference as his training.
Here are some of the things he says helped him the most:
From May-August he allowed himself to eat whatever he wanted. He aimed for at least 6,000 calories a day.
He supplemented with creatine and protein.
During the non-summer months, he says focuses on eating a lot and still shoots for 6,000 calories a day.
However, with the additional practices and workouts, the caloric intake that allowed him to gain weight over the summer, is instead used for weight maintenance.
He focuses on keeping his calories as clean as possible during the season to help maximize his recovery and performance. He likes to eat a lot of meat, whole grains (especially oatmeal), fruits and veggies.
He’s lactose intolerant so getting in extra liquid calories from milk doesn’t fit into his plan, but he doesn’t use that as an excuse.
During the season he supplements with creatine, protein, and beta alanine (because he reads my blog; what a good guy!).
In a way, this post regurgitates info that you probably already knew- if you want to gain weight, you need to lift more and eat more.
But, I hope it gave you a few strategies on how to implement the “lift big, eat big” plan.