How much muscle is realistic for most guys to gain in one year of weight training? I'd say on average about 30 lbs of muscle mass.
You can effectively gain about 30 lbs of muscle with consistent workouts and eating. Workouts don't need to be elaborate, the basics have always worked for most guys!!
The quickest way to build a starting level of strength is with some staple bodyweight movements with a few small weights combined, and then transitioning into full blown weight workouts will be much easier.
Pushups are highly underrated and probably the most effective way to get your chest to grow for a beginner.
The reason why is because it's a natural movement and targets all of your upper body muscles, including your abs.
Think of the pushup movement for a minute. Your abs need to tighten like performing a plank to keep your body straight, then your lats need to engage as the antagonist muscle for the chest to perform the work, then the triceps get hit as well.
To this day I still perform many pushups on top of weight workouts because of the pump I get in my chest.
I started my journey in fitness with the pushup as my #1 go-to exercise.
Try to perform 5 sets of 25 reps every day for 6 weeks straight until you see your chest begin to stick out.
If you fail before reaching 5 sets of 25 reps, take as much rest as needed and pick back up until 5 sets of 25 reps are completed.
You do not need an entire rack of dumbbells to start getting biceps. I started with just a couple handles and weight collars to make adjustable DBs out of.
A cheap at-home starter weight set combined with bodyweight movements will be plenty to start with.
The point to what I'm saying here is even if you only have 2, 15 lb dumbbells, you can be on your way to getting some biceps.
If you have an at-home starter weight set then you can adjust upwards as you get stronger.
You have the ability to perform standing curls, seated curls, hammer curls, barbell curls, and concentration curls all in the comfort of your own home, bedroom, garage, or dormitory.
Ab training to me isn't just about abs as it is a measure of overall athleticism and what type of shape you're in.
Think about it, you don't see fat guys belting out 5 sets of 25 crunches, so doing some sort of ab routine like this was a solid way to know I was staying in shape and not getting fat.
To this day I still use abdominal work as a measure of what type of overall condition I'm in.
An old time bodybuilder named Serge Nubret used to do the same thing, only he would perform 1,000-2,000 situps every day, 7 days a week!! He said he did it not just for abs but “for overall health and conditioning.”
My advice is to sit lay on the floor and pound out your crunches or sit-ups with each workout.
The beauty of abdominal training is that it can be performed anywhere!!
When I first began building my body all my ab training consisted of was 5 sets of 25 crunches on my bedroom floor. Remember that you're hitting abdominal work in all of your exercises as well.
You can use your dumbbells for lateral raises, front raises, and overhead presses.
All you need is a sturdy wooden chair. Hell, you could probably find someone giving one away and get your shoulder press station for free!!
That is exactly what I did my first year and it worked fine.
Your shoulders will also be getting bigger from performing your pushups each night. You could even do inverted pushups against a wall to build some big deltoids!!
Pull-ups or chin-ups are the #1 way to a wider back.
Don't be fooled by anyone telling you that lateral pull-downs are superior to pull-ups because they're not!!
Think about it for a second, which one is more difficult to perform?
Get a chin-up bar that goes in a door frame or a rafter in the garage, not complicated.
1 arm dumbbell rows can be performed with adjustable DB's and just something to set your hand on. Your wooden chair will work fine, this doesn't need to be some weight bench that you have to set your knee on!!
Hell, I can remember putting my hand on a firewood pile outside to perform these at one time!!
Bodyweight squats work wonders for a beginner. You can also do some light-weight squats with your at-home barbell set.
Just pick it up over your head and rest it on your shoulders and start squatting. Too light? Do more reps
Jogging outdoors or running stairs can also build your legs and help give you muscle definition.
I used to jog for about 20 minutes each day on a route I made up around the neighborhood. I remember even doing it through snow sometimes during the winter.
I wanted to be big and strong more than anything!!
FREQUENCY OF TRAINING
In the beginning your muscles will respond to almost anything because you don't have any muscle on your frame yet. So almost any stimulus gears a positive response to resistance training.
Yes, you'll hear me talk about over-training and recovery in many of my articles here, but this doesn't apply to a new trainee in my honest opinion.
I say to take full advantage of stimulating muscles frequently in your first year of training.
I did pushups, crunches, curls, overhead pressing, and jogging almost every single day my first year of working out, and I was still able to gain roughly 36 lbs of muscle.
Take 36 lbs of steak and put it on your chest, arms, legs, and back. It makes a big size difference if you think of it this way!!
The food doesn't need to be anything fancy. Whole eggs, ground beef, oatmeal, milk, and homemade weight gain shakes were the bulk of my nutrition when I started out.
These foods were more affordable for me to purchase and they went further off a buck than fish and chicken did.
Calories is what you're looking for right now if you're looking to pack on muscle mass!!
Milk nowadays isn't what it used to be and most people chalk it up as shit, but it's liquid calories and it's substance!!
Protein powder isn't the cheapest thing in the world, but it's convenient and it makes it easier to get your protein intake higher when you're trying to grow some muscle.
Nowadays I mix 2 scoops per serving w/ water, but as a beginner on a tight budget and trying to grow, I used to just use 1 scoop mixed with whole milk, a couple whole eggs (you don't even taste them) a little chocolate syrup, and a scoop of oatmeal. Presto, you've created your own weight gain shake!!
Protein powder has come a long ways since I first started using it, and my suggestion is to try out Red supplements Elite whey protein.
I myself would go with chocolate since I'd be using it with chocolate syrup, a couple whole eggs, and milk and oats, and chocolate just sounds more appealing to me than trying to mix with a different flavor to nullify the eggs.
But I assure you that all of the flavors taste really good, chocolate is just my preference for the homemade weight gain shake.
Red supplements protein is a solid 24 grams of protein per scoop and my body utilizes it very well. Some protein powders just send you to the bathroom but I digest this one very well.
When you use just 1 scoop combined with 2 whole eggs, some oats, and whole milk, you're talking like 50 grams of protein and around 700 calories a shake.
When doing this 2-3x a day in between your major meals, it's a great way to boost your daily intake by about 1,400- 2,100 calories a day!!
Using just 1 scoop at a time makes it last longer, which is why I suggest that if you're using it with the other ingredients.
I'm going to be brutally honest here, if you're trying to grow some solid muscle then FUCK DR. QUACK'S JUICE GREEN SHAKES!!
Remember, you need consistent calories to grow!!
Also, what you'll find happening is the caloric adjustment will directly reflect in your strength gains, so as you put on more muscle mass you'll naturally burn fat quicker since muscle is a fat metabolizer.
Doing all of this isn't going to just throw a bunch of fat on you, especially if you're a hard-gainer!!
What you're going to see is some solid gains and a new build that will bring you a shit-ton of compliments and command a little respect!!
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT WORKING OUT AT HOME
I liked the fact that I started at home. I liked it because there was nobody to compare myself to and no distractions around me.
It also allowed me to focus more and just think about what I hoped to look like one day.
I had pictures of all of my favorite bodybuilders on the walls of my room for motivation too.
I used to do a set of pushups and then look at a photo of Arnold on the wall, and just be thinking to myself “Ok, he would have done another set of pushups so I need to hit all 5 sets of these!!”
Working out at home was simple!! The simplicity of it all allowed me to stay focused.
There weren't all of these fancy machines and people walking around, it was just my cheap set of weights and my wooden chair!!
Oh yea, I also can't forget my Casio cassette player boombox and my favorite workout cassette tape of all time, “Metallica's Kill em' all” tape.
Right after my workouts I instinctively walked straight to my kitchen to eat dinner.
Milk, oats, hamburgers on the George Foreman grill, or whatever the hell I was eating that night!!
After a solid few months performing that style of working out in my bedroom I upgraded to my basement dungeon workouts.
This was when I traded my bicycle to an older fat guy for a weight bench with a tricep pressdown attachment.
Half the bench was duct-taped together and the rusty tricep pressdown made 20 lbs feel like 100 lbs!! But that's another story…..
Train hard- JD
PS – For more info on my beginner workout and how I eventually transitioned into the gym, check out my ebook Becoming the Bull.
Becoming the Bull is unlike any workout book/guide you'll ever read!!
It's a transitional book that goes from beginner to advanced bodybuilding with different diets and workout routines, along with how I changed as a person from utilizing bodybuilding as my foundation in life.
It's part bodybuilding, part autobiography, 100% honesty in what worked for me as I moved from one step to the next!!
It also covers some exciting journeys along with trials and tribulations that I think a lot of us go through in life.