That's how much I gained.
And clearly, in the world of people who are genetically inclined to gain muscle, I'm the least gifted. All the way up through 21 years old I was six feet tall and 135lbs. As an adult, I filled out to a whopping 150lbs.
Lifting kettlebells, I went from 150lbs to 170lbs, but then I plateaued there at 170 for years.
Muscle Gain and Talking About What You Know
Ok, I don't talk about muscle gain alot.
Acutally, I don't talk about muscle gain at all. Mostly 'cause I suck at it.
In fact, when I was a Master Trainer at 24 Hour Fitness, I referred any muscle gain clients that came my way to another trainer. At the same time, he referred his fat loss clients to me. It worked really well, and it was smart of us to both stick to what we were good at.
Unfortunately, with myself, I wasn't quite that smart.
I figured 'cause I was a trainer and all that I "knew how to lift." It's true, I do know how to lift… for fat loss. But lifting for fat loss and getting muscle gain results are completely different things.
Has to make you wonder – how long can a person go "working out really hard" with no results before they start looking for advice from an expert? I went about two years.
Then I got really lucky: I got to hang out with Dan John when he came to Denver.
Huge Muscle Gain Key Dan John Taught Me
First, if you don't know Dan John, author of Mass Made Simple:
- Dan is a Senior RKC Kettlebell Instructor.
- He writes for Men's Health and T-Nation.
- He's a Multiple-State Champion in the Discus, Hammer, Shot Put, Highland Games and Olympic Lifting.
- Dan is a National Masters Champion in the Discus, Olympic Lifting and Highland Games, and he's the Current American Record Holder in Masters Weight Pentathlon.
- He's been a high school strength coach, and he's coached Olympic Athletes.
- For being a strength training genius, he's one of the nicest, most humble dudes you'll ever meet.
Dan said, and I paraphrase:
"You don't get big lifting heavy weights for low reps. You don't get big lifting light weights for high reps. You get big lifting heavy weights for lots of reps."
It sounds wicked simple. And it is. But right then I realized how completely different fat loss and muscle gain is.
The fat loss programs I've written are famous for being low volume (workout volume = sets x reps). It's literally the least amount of work a person could do and have awesome results.
You can do low volume fat loss. My readers and clients thrive on it. On the flip-side: Low volume muscle gain = epic fail muscle gain.
Using the principles Dan talked about with me, I gained 18lbs (14lbs of it was muscle) in about 8 weeks. I went from 170lbs to 188lbs, and at 188lbs I was at about 12% bodyfat.
Again, this was after two years of no results at all. To go from 2 years of not gaining a single pound, to gaining 18lbs in eight weeks was unbelievable.
Also, even though the program wasn't designed an increase in strength, I managed to military press the 80lb kettlebell right after that. For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you know I'd been working like a dog on that for a long, long time. That was just a bonus.
I also have to give some massive credit to my wife Lais. I took what Dan said about eating (including the super secret between meals super snack) and she was amazingly cool about preparing that for me for the whole week every Sunday. She gave me a lot of support in following the food program, which was amazing.
Dan John's Book: Mass Made Simple
Mass Made Simple is AWESOME.
It really is the next level in terms of "here is what to do, step by step." By comparison, most other muscle gain books look like just lists of sets and reps.
Mass Made Simple tells you exactly what to do, how much weight to use, when to add weight, and how to self regulate the sets so you get the most out of each workout.
If you just fill in the training log (example to the right), the workouts work all by themselves. You just A.) Go in the gym, B.) Fill in the boxes, and C.) Gain mass.
Plus, it's just badass. It's a heavy, high volume mass program made up of the most hardcore exercises for muscle gain there are: Bench, Squat, Military Press, and Barbell Complexes. Expect to get a barbell, add some plates, and lift it a lot.
Another interesting and fun thing – no small jumps. You aren't ever going to be adding five or ten pound plates to the bar. Expect to use 25lb plates and 45lb plates only. In the old school of kettlebell training, large jumps were the norm. It changes the game in some really cool ways – most importantly, it simplifies it considerably.
Almost even more powerful than the training program, it's awesome to get a handle on what it really takes to eat for mass. In fact, it's possible that one tip from the food section made all of the difference for me. I won't spoil the surprise, but it's a food recommendation you've never seen in any fitness book ever before.
My Recommendation: Listen To Dan About Mass Gain
Seriously, if you want to know about mass gain, I'm the last person to go to. My clients lose fat. They get smaller.
Go to Dan John.
Dan's athletes gain mass. He's trained football players to gain mass like clockwork for years. He's got it down to a science. If you want to know about mass gain, go to Dan.
To get his book, Mass Made Simple, click here.
-By Josh Hillis, RKC2, CPT, PES, ZMIS