Muscle Mass 101: How To Get Bigger With A Fast Metabolism
For some, it doesn’t get any better. For others, it’s a nightmare.
Being genetically gifted with a fast metabolism might have the majority of people green with envy, but the constant challenge of maintaining an ideal weight and getting bigger can grow tiring (especially for hardgainers).
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as there are various tactics and strategies you can use to ‘outsmart’ your body in order to grow in the way you want. So, i
f you’re struggling to pack on large slabs of muscle on your slim frame, chances are, you need to re-think and re-configure your approach in order to catapult your mass gains.
Conquering your fast metabolism once and for all
1. Be in a calorie surplus throughout the day
Being in a calorie surplus means having a ‘positive calorie balance’. In other words, the amount of calories you are eating from food throughout the day should be greater than the amount of calories you burn from physical exercise.
You should aim to eat an extra 250 - 500 calories above the average amount you need to maintain your normal weight, where, for men, it’s roughly 2,500 calories and 2,000 calories for women.
For a more accurate picture, use a calorie calculator to work out your maintenance level and go beyond this number.
Below are a few handy tips of getting in those extra calories:
Use a mass gainer supplement
Supplements are a great way to sneak in a few additional calories in your diet and bump up your macronutrient intake if you’re unable to get the majority of them from food alone.
Thus, what better way to get in those calories than to add a high-quality mass gainer to your daily routine!
Mass gainers are great at ensuring you’re hitting those additional 250 - 500 calories a day as every serving is measured allowing you to track and monitor your progress without going overboard.
The best part?
Using a mass gainer is extremely convenient as you can simply drink it on the go without having to find the time of day to sit down and consume it.
If that wasn’t enough:
Most brands (including GoNutrition) also offer various supplement discount codes as well which you can use to save some extra cash if you are on a tight budget.
Aim to have at least one scoop of a high quality mass gainer as part part of your post-workout recovery or up to 2 hours before you go to sleep to allow your body to continually metabolise amino acids while resting.
Eat more ‘calorie dense’ foods
The quickest and healthiest way you can gain weight is to focus on the quality of the food you’re eating rather than the quantity.
For example, 1 cup of white rice contains roughly 130 calories whereas the same cup of brown rice contains 216 calories.
In essence, it’s important to include more whole-based foods which contain more calories, nutrients and vitamins into your diet in order to assist your weight gain goal.
Below are just a few more foods which are nutritionally dense that you should be eating more of:
- Seafood (including shrimp, squid and mussels)
- Poultry meat
- Lean beef (including all cuts of steak)
- Full fat milk
- Full fat yoghurt
- Pulses and legumes (including lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans)
- Tofu and tempeh
- Wholegrain rye bread and barley
- Whole wheat pasta
- Wild rice
- Rolled oats
- Potatoes with the peel on
- Sweet potatoes
Whilst the above list is by no means exhaustive, it does get you off on the right foot and allow you to speed up the weight gaining process.
Nevertheless, be sure to control and measure your portions of these foods because not doing so could catch you off guard and cause excessive weight gain in the long-run.
It is also crucial to incorporate as much fruit and vegetables in your diet where you can in order to keep your metabolic health and other bodily functions in check.
- Virgin and sunflower oils
- Coconuts (including coconut oil and coconut milk)
- Nuts and spreads (including almonds, peanuts, cashews and walnuts)
- Seeds (including flaxseeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds)
Become a heavy hitter
2. Focus on high volume, high frequency training
A big mistake a lot of hard gainers make is assuming that high volume and high frequency training will burn more calories and be counter-intuitive to getting bigger.
This couldn’t be any further from the truth. The fact is: Many former professional bodybuilders including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Reg Park utilised high volume and high intensity training to build the ‘foundation’ of a big and muscular physique which they could later build on with other routines.
Because we tend to get too fixated on what some of the biggest guys are working on today, we often forget what they were doing when they were starting out and how they got to where they are now.
If the average lifter is doing 4 sets per exercise, you should always be striving to do one or two extra sets to continually push your body (which includes lifting as heavy as you can handle as well).
To explain: Aim to do 5 or 6 working sets per body part split in the 8 - 12 rep range at least three times a week. This will increase your likelihood of having an ‘above average’ physique and build muscle mass faster.
But that’s not all...
True muscle-building routines primarily focus on those few exercises with limited movement to target multiple areas of the body.
Have you heard the saying that 80% of your results comes from the 20% of what you do? Of course you have!
The same holds true in the gym too, so always keep it simple and basic as this will give you more bang for your buck from a time perspective.
Below are a few vital exercises which will undoubtedly give you 80% of your results if you consistently perform them with progressive overload over time:
You’ll notice that there is nothing ‘attractive’ or ‘flashy’ about these exercises, just pure compound movements which work more than one muscle group.
The name of the game is to get in, lift heavy, get out, eat, rest and repeat.
Nothing more, nothing less.
If you are struggling to add some serious mass to your frame, performing the above compound exercises 3 times a week (as a minimum) will slowly add more weight to your body in no time.
- Pull Ups
- Bench Press
- Military Press
- Bent Over/Seated Rows
- Upright Row
Step away from the bar
3. Rest more than you lift
Provided you are working out at least 3 times a week consisting of heavy compound movements, you should permit enough time for rest outside of the gym to allow your muscles to recover.
Compared to isolation exercises which can be performed through body-part splits, compound exercises will place more stress on your CNS (central nervous system) which means that more rest is needed to get back to an optimal working state.
The truth is: Your muscles do not grow in the gym, they are merely broken down. They do, however, grow when you are not lifting so having plenty of days to rest is a huge investment in your mass gains.
Aim to get a solid 7 - 9 hours of sleep a night as this has been shown to be the optimal timeframe for your body to undergo its natural maintenance work to help your muscles, energy and organs to recover from the rigours of everyday stress.
In addition to resting and sleeping well,
What do you do from a nutrition perspective?
A common mistake a lot of people make is to assume they do not need to eat much carbohydrates compared to when they are training which leads to a lost opportunity to take advantage of a heightened insulin sensitivity for more growth.
The hormone insulin is responsible for delivering glucose (energy) out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells and muscles.
It is a protein consisting of a chain of amino acids which helps to regulate the flow of blood by relaxing and dilating the blood vessels which indirectly affects muscle development through protein synthesis. With that said, insulin is highly anabolic and reverses catabolism (muscle breakdown).
In the absence of insulin, all those nutrients you will be consuming after you workout would simply go to waste as it allows the likes of glucose and other protein molecules to reach your muscles more effectively and efficiently.
For absolute muscle growth, it is crucial to consume quality carbohydrates and protein during your rest days. See each day as an opportunity for you to get bigger and stronger by having plenty of high quality food.
Keeping your protein intake high on these days is also a good idea in order to capitalise on the anabolic state your body is in.
4. Ditch or reduce the cardio
With your metabolism already burning through calories like a hot furnace, the last thing you want to do is perform high intensity cardio.
Although the benefits of doing cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, running, cycling and rowing are vast, it is not very beneficial for your weight gain goals long-term.
Instead, you should aim to focus on lifting weights more as this will do more to put on that much needed mass.
To balance the two, for example, you can reap some cardiovascular benefits from lifting weights by simply reducing your rest periods to 15 - 30 seconds.
The high volume plan mentioned earlier will ensure you’re placing enough stress on your muscles to stimulate growth whilst having a good overall effect on your cardiovascular health.
This will increase the intensity of your workout whilst helping you build muscle and stay lean.
If however, you still feel as if you need to do some traditional cardio work, look to tone down the intensity by going for a brisk walk or jog once a week to keep the juices flowing.
Wrapping it up
Whilst gaining mass certainly comes with its challenges - it is doable, even with the fastest of metabolisms.
Provided you are eating the right foods packed full of nutritious calories, supplementing your diet well (if needed), performing the right compound exercises consistently and having plenty of time to rest and recover - putting on additional size will naturally follow. Period.
With that said, getting the results you crave will not work unless you do.
Discipline, hard work and consistency will always be called upon to get the results you desire but with enough effort, you can begin to tame your fast metabolism once and for all and begin to sculpt the figure you’ve always wanted.