There’s a reason I don’t read mass-building articles anymore: 90% of them are total horseshit.


I take that back. Horseshit is actually useful. At least you can fertilize your lawn with it. The latest “18 Ways To Build Super Size” article only wishes it was so effective.


 The worst thing about them is that they’re all the same. The same bullshit tips, over and over. It’s like one moron coach (who never got anyone big) came up with a list and the rest of the industry (who also never got anyone big) started parroting it.


A lot of the stuff is contradictory or just doesn’t make sense. For example, I always read, “if you wanna build mass, you have to make it your focus and not do anything else.”


 Really? Well then how did every football player I know gain weight without stopping football?


Or, “You need to use progressive overload.”

Okay, but that runs out. Otherwise a 14-year-old kid could add two and a half pounds to his squat every week and be squatting 1400 pounds by his 25th birthday no problem.



Next is, “you gotta do compound lifts.”

Yes, compound lifts are the bread and butter of strength training, but hypertrophy requires intense contractions and tension. For that reason, “isolation” movements are arguably better than compounds. Certainly you’d want to include both.


Then there’s stuff getting repeated that doesn’t even qualify as advice.


You’ve read it: “You need volume….but not too much.”


“You need to attack the weights…but not too hard.”


“You need some cardio….but not a lot.”


This is advice?


What really drives me nuts is the painfully obvious shit that anyone with three brain cells can figure out. “You need time under the bar” and “you need to eat a ton” and “you need to sleep.” Wow, really? To gain mass I need to eat and lift and recover? No shit.


If that’s your angle then let me add to the list: To build mass, you need to breathe and piss at least once a day. And take a shit.


Because believe me, if you aren’t breathing and pissing, you will not build mass. At least not for very long. You can even check WebMD, I’m sure that’s in there. Because if you aren’t breathing and pissing, you will be fucking dead.


The end of these articles is always the final kick to the balls.


“But now my last words on bulking… “


Your last words? Hey asshole, how about your first words? ‘Cause you haven’t said shit yet.




All this nonsense usually leads to a program the coach is selling. And the sales copy for said program is always the same as well.


They’ll talk about how they were 130 pounds and skinny. Then they did the “see-food bulk” and got all “fat and bloated” at 180. And then they dieted down and lost “all their gains.”


But that was before they discovered The Secret which got them to a “massive 170 pounds” of freaky ripped muscle. And guess what? They can sell you that secret.


Do you know what never gets mentioned? Lean body mass.


What was their LBM when they were starting out? At the end of their “see-food” bulk? When they started their secret way? When they finished?


For all anyone knows, they could’ve lost lean body mass after their initial bulk. We’ve only read, “I was skinny and then I got fat and then I dieted and then I found my secret way. Buy my eBook.“


Sorry, that’s not good enough.


And really, if the rest of your advice is to lift weights, eat, sleep, drink water, take a piss, and breathe, I’m not sure your “secrets” are that noteworthy anyway.


So I’m going to give you something more.


Here are a few methods to help beginner and experienced lifters build greater muscle size.


I will assume that you’re doing all the obvious shit already to get big (training with weights, eating protein, sleeping, blah blah) but now need some real help. On top of breathing and pissing, here’s what you need to do.




For beginners, eating to gain mass is a real pain. Those that try to do it with just “clean” foods rarely succeed, especially those with super fast hummingbird metabolisms. The volume of food just makes their engines run even hotter.


However, those who rely too much on junk food are rarely successful, either. Many get too fat too fast, resulting in having to shut down their bulk so real health issues don’t arise. No bodybuilder should look like a fat pig, ever.


 To overcome this hurdle, I have two cutting-edge tools. They’re called a scale and a tape measure.


Weigh yourself. Not gaining any weight? Then eat more. Gaining 1-2 pounds a week? That’s about right. Weight shot up 3-4 pounds? I’d ease off the calories a bit.


In terms of food “cleanliness,” watch your waist. Give yourself an inch or so of play. If you gain that inch relatively fast you can probably assume you are eating too many calories and likely need to cut out some junk.


You’re going to gain some fat. There’s no such thing as a “clean bulk,” but it should always be slow and manageable so you can still do what you need to do. The weight has to work. A lineman can easily gain 50 pounds in an off season and come back to training camp a bigger, slower, shittier lineman.


You have to have performance measures, which can be difficult for a bodybuilder as opposed to a powerlifter or football player. Since a bodybuilder is all about muscle size it’s likely best to measure bodyparts while keeping an eye on strength levels. Just don’t let your strength be the only measure.


Granted, there aren’t many 400-pound benchers who have small triceps, but there are 400-pound benchers with shitty pecs. On the flip side, there aren’t many guys with huge pecs and arms that are weak in the bench press. Size and strength are always closely aligned, though obviously training purely for strength is the quickest way to get stronger.


Bottom line: establish what you’re training for and quantify it. If it’s bigger arms and quads, then measure them regularly. Evaluate and adjust.


For those on the other side of the coin, gaining new muscle requires an entirely different approach.


We’re talking about guys carrying around 185-200 pounds plus of lean body mass. 200 pounds of lean mass is a lot of muscle. Sleeping more and drinking more water isn’t going to do much. Even drugs, at reasonable doses, aren’t a huge factor, as they’ve likely already been a part of their process already.


Three things can work.


1. Diet down.

If you’re in a size slump, stop trying to grow and get lean. In fact, try to get leaner than you’ve ever been. Yes, dieting sucks and you will lose some muscle (especially towards the end) but this suckitude creates an incredible potential for growth when you stop the diet and resume growing.


This is why old school bodybuilding coaches used to tell guys to compete more if they needed to bust out of a slump. It’s also why competitive bodybuilders tend to grow better than recreational perma-bulkers, despite spending so many months of the year in a calorie deficit.


What’s the reasoning behind it? Perhaps it’s enhanced insulin sensitivity; maybe dieting to a low bodyfat triggers a protective mechanism (supercompensation). I don’t know. I just know it works.


Note: You shouldn’t even consider this until you put in five years of training and eating without dieting to gain some actual mass. The world does not need more 160-pound guys with abs.


2. Switch up training.

Do the exact opposite of what you’ve been doing. If you’ve been following a five-sets-of-ten bodybuilding split, switch to low volume, higher-intensity Yates-style work. Or vice versa.


Now there’s a catch: this isn’t the “do something for three weeks and then switch” type of bullshit you read. For this to work, you have to have done a split for months or even years. Milk every last ounce of strength you can out of it until there isn’t one possible tweak you can make -- or maybe until you have to change due to injury or total burnout. Then switch to something completely different.


3. Stop trying to gain mass.

This sounds counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to gain new mass is to stop trying to gain for a while. Instead, settle in at a certain weight and own it. Still work to make improvements in your physique of course, but focus on staying within striking distance of a specific weight. A good comparison is a powerlifter who stays in shape to walk around at 210 so he can compete with ease at 198.



You‘re not taking a break. You’re still training, but you’re not pushing it either.


What you’re trying to do is let this weight become your new status quo, your new normal. Then you won’t have to work or eat like a pig to stay there. Once you do decide to blast up, it won’t be such a reach. Your body will be rested and primed so that even a modest surplus of calories and extra training volume will result in new growth.

 Is there more?


In the age of thousands of Internet experts all quoting the same dumb shit, it’s tempting to kick your computer to the curb and dig up old books, newsletters, and even audiotapes to see what the old school guys used to do when faced with a size plateau.


I have done this very exercise and it’s incredibly fascinating. Not the information itself, but the underlying process. They all practiced something that’s been lost today — the art of figuring shit out for yourself.


No one wants to do that anymore. They all want to read a magic tip or piece of advice that will work instantly for them. But that advice doesn’t exist.


You have to do the work. You have to experiment and figure out what you need and what works for you.


I agree that no one is a special snowflake, but I can’t look at you or review your food log and decide you need 200 extra calories a day to grow. Maybe it’s 300 a day? Or 500?


Tell you what, eat an extra peanut butter sandwich a day for two weeks. See how it affects your body. Are you gaining weight? Great. If not, eat a bit more. Gained a full inch on your waist? Okay, that was probably too much. Adjust.


Figure this shit out on your own. When you do, you’ll finally understand why all these older coaches and bodybuilders are the way they are. Many get to a point of physical development and stop growing, some even get soft or downright chubby.



It’s not that they don’t care or don’t want to keep improving. It’s just that they know what it takes to keep growing: a shitload of work. Most just can’t be bothered anymore. They just don’t want it that bad.


If that line of thinking seems foreign to you, first put in 25 years of training and eating and measuring and problem solving. Then see how stoked you are about the process.


Cause that’s what it takes to build muscle, to build real “non-newbie” muscle. In that way, building muscle is like a marriage. When you first get together, everything is great, you can’t stay out of the bedroom and every problem is an easy fix.


But then the honeymoon phase fades and things start to get difficult — and that’s when the real work of a relationship begins.


So enjoy the easy stuff everyone repeats: train, eat, and rest. But after that, be ready to do the work.