Gaining muscle can be helped by strategically over-feeding after a calorie reduced diet.
Many of you know I took a recent break leading to a trip to Las Vegas and discovered that the famous “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” motto does not apply to weight gain. Who knew?!? All the force-feeding at the breakfast-brunch-lunch-dinner buffets combined with sweet sweets, desserts daily and nightly, plus a little alcohol thrown in here and there are simply too much for a mere mortal like me. A general lack of sleep never helps the body and one returns a tired, beaten, not-so ripped shadow of his former self.
In my case this isn’t entirely all bad. Huh. How so Brent?
Over-feeding in binges like this actually can help the calorie restricted dieter by refueling the body and bumping up muscle stores of energy – in the form of glycogen, which comes from carbohydrate intake. While I did make my Vegas return 9 pounds heavier – after only 6 days in Sin City – I also came back fuller and looking bigger all around having gained both muscle and fat. Muscle gain comes when the body is fed sufficient nutrients, a loack of calories can limit your lean muscle gains. The fine line between fat accumulation and glycogen over-compensation is delicate one, just like what the exact calorie requirement and macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate, protein) ratios is from one person to the next – nothing beats trial and error, then trying again, until you get it right. But glycogen over-compensation can make you bigger and stronger for your return to the gym, whereas fat is just that, fat.
I’ll admit that I am in an advantageous spot with respect to the weight I gained. Because I have managed to streamline my profile to within 7-8% body fat for close to a year now, there is a theory that one’s body has a Set Point where it will work towards getting back to the weight it is at most often, sort of a muscle-fat comfort level. In my case, my body has grown more accustomed to having lean muscle and in the range of 7-9% body fat. So if my goal was to get back to that level it would in fact be quite easy with basic exercise and calorie maintenance with proper macronutrient ratios.
This is where the new Plan B (yes, B for Brent, Plan A was for Abs) comes in. My intention now, as I have managed to get down close to 7% body fat just for fun, is to mess around a bit and try to maintain my weight around 5 pounds heavier than in the past while keeping my body fat at around 8%. To do this is will be continuing my Las Vegas culinary debauchery by eating more than I have in the past, especially on workout days (likely 4 or 5 days of the week) trying to maintain that added weight for a thicker bigger version of me. The difference from the vacation though will be trying to do so with a clean diet and not force things too much. Each a lot early in the day will be a big part of this. The exercise component to gain muscle will be a strict heavy program using a rep range of 4-6, and adding weight to the bar constantly in order to initiate muscle growth.
Adding calories through sundaes, desserts, alcohol, liquid calories such as sodas, sugary juices and snacking on junk is fairly easy – but junk in your body is reflected in a body that looks like what you ate. If you want to be lean and mean, or big and strong, you have to eat that way. To look soft and round, ice cream, chocolate bars and cakes will get you there in no time, to look lean and mean it is lot of eggs, chicken, beef and fish.
So this week it was back to the gym with a killer new exercise program geared to gain muscle by lifting heavy for 5 sets of 5 reps during which I will try to eat 3300 calories on workout days and 2900 calories on non-training days. My typical calorie intake in the past was around 2600-2800 on gym days so I’m trying now to bump that up by 500+ calories in a healthy manner should help me gain muscle quick . Eating 3300 calories sounds like a lot of fun, but doing so with lean proteins, heart healthy fats, and low glycemic carbs is a task that requires planning and discipline – and the help of whey protein. Also, cardio is out the window as is usually the case for me, none of that for me, but once per week I likely will incorporate some Crossfit/High Intensity Interval Training circuits.
Here goes – wish me luck!