In this article I’m going to give you a simple framework you can use to pack on slabs of lean muscle.
I call it “Super-Size”.
This is a nutrition template I’ve used for many years with male and female clients. I’ll show you exactly what you should be eating, how much of it, and even how often.
Oh, and the best part?
It’ll work EVEN IF you’re a beginner!
If you combine this with a good weight training program (like my Classic Size plan) you should expect to see the needle on the scales move in the right direction.
1. MOST ADVICE ON GAINING SIZE IS DEAD WRONG!
When you say you want to be bigger, you probably mean having a lot more muscle mass on your body, right?
It’s important to remember that.
You see, we all know someone who doesn’t track their nutrition and rams plates of junk food into their diet under the excuse of “I’m bulking, bro!”
This approach is not optimal, and you’ll notice that the people who do it have one thing in common:
You probably don’t want one of those, and I don’t blame you. This style of eating is about as useful as a whammy bar on a piano, and often traps the trainee in a cycle of cutting (until the diet gets hard) and bulking (until they feel like they’re gaining fat around the belly).
So check this out…
If we want to build the type of body YOU want, we need to prioritize the nutrients that’ll help you to build muscle and minimize fat gain. It’s not necessarily about dieting “harder”, it’s about dieting “smarter”.
So here’s how to structure your nutrition to maximize hypertrophy (while keeping the fat off!).
2. EAT 1.2g PROTEIN PER LB OF BODY WEIGHT
Protein is our best friend for gaining muscle.
Seriously. The amino acids contained in protein are crucial to helping your body recover from training and helping you to pack on muscle mass.
Unfortunately, most people get nowhere near enough protein per day to see any results from it!
(I’ve lost count of the number of times a client has come to me saying they “can’t gain size” only to discoer their post-workout whey protein shake is the only protein they’re getting in the whole day.)
Sometimes this happens because they’re not tracking their nutrition, and other times it’s because they’ve been given bad advice by people who should know better. For instance, government guidelines suggest eating just 0.3g protein per lb of body weight, which is far too low for someone who is training hard and wants to build muscle mass!
So how much protein should you eat in order to maximize your results?
I suggest eating 1.2 grams of protein per lb of body weight. A great meta-analysis published in 2018 on the protein requirements in athletes showed this to be the optimal figure for maximizing hypertrophy. (1)
It appears to fall in line with previous research, too. (2, 3, 4)
(Some ‘gurus’ will tell you to go even higher – 1.5-2g per lb – but this is impractical and unnecessary. It ain’t a coincidence that they also own supplement lines.)
If you ever switch to a fat loss goal, it’s worth knowing that protein’s satiating effect can make it easier to stick to your calorie target, so bumping your protein to 1.2-1.5g protein per lb could be beneficial for a fat loss phase. In that scenario, you’d hold on to as much lean mass as you can (even though you’re in a calorie deficit) while making your diet easier to stick to because you’ll feel fuller after each meal. (5)
>> Setting your protein to 1.2g per lb means a 200lb guy will eat 240 grams of protein, and a 130lb woman will eat 156g protein.
3. EAT 0.5g FAT PER LB OF BODY WEIGHT
Fat is vital to helping you build muscle because of the role it plays in the regulation of key anabolic hormones.
Most notably; testosterone and cortisol. This tag-team literally sets the stage for hypertrophy to occur, and lets you take advantage of all the protein you’re eating!
Unforunately, many people miss out on these results because they still get their nutrition advice from the 1980s when the general belief was that fat is bad for you. Worst case scenario, a heavy training plan which isn’t supported by adequate fat can lead to a crashed endocrine system. This would be catastrophic, so don’t be a d**k.
>> Setting your fat intake to 0.5 grams per lb means a 200lb guy will eat 100 grams of fat per day, and a 130lb woman will eat 65 grams of fat.
4. EAT AT LEAST 1.5g CARBS PER LB OF BODY WEIGHT
Protein and fat are deemed “essential” nutrients because the amino acids and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids they provide cannot be produced by the huan body, therefore we MUST obtain them via our diet.
However, there are no essential carbohydrates.
In the absence of carbs (glycogen) our body can actually create its own glycogen source from protein.
Knowing this information and knowing the important roles played by protein and fat in the muscle building process, it makes sense to prioritize those two macronutrients to ensure you always consume enough to maximize results, leaving carbohydrates as the macronutrient you can “tinker with” in order to either bump your calories or lower your calories depending on your training goal.
Seeing as your goal is to gain size, we need to get ourselves into a calorie surplus. A great starting point is to set your carb target at 1.5 grams per lb of body weight and then reassess every 3 weeks. If you are not gaining weight yet I recommend moving up to 2g per lb, or if you feel like you’re gaining weight too quickly I recommend reducing your carbs to 1g per lb and re-start from there.
Finally, if you’re part of the generation who grew up in the early 2000s when there was a lot of scaremongering about carbohydrates let me lay those demons to rest for you. Science shows us that there is nothing to fear from eating carbs, they will not “make you fat” – the only thing which can do that is eating too much and doing too little! (6, 7, 8)
>> Setting your carbohydrate target to 1.5g per lb means a 200lb guy will eat 300 grams of carbs per day, and a 130lb woman will eat 195g/day.
5. IS MEAL FREQUENCY IMPORTANT?
Meal frequency has been a hot topic in the fitness world for decades, with many coaches believing that eating small frequent meals “speeds up the metabolism” to burn more fat. Studies show this is not the case. (10)
But what about building muscle?
Can eating more frequently improve hypertrophy results?
Interestingly, there is some research which suggests it can. The idea of breaking our protein into smaller portions in order to frequently spike muscle protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown does hold some weight, but the overall difference in results is so tiny that it’s not something I recommend stressing over. (11, 12, 13)
I recommend structuring your meals in a way which fits your day. If your approach works for you, then there’s a greater chance you’ll stick to it. That’s the REAL key to nutritional success! (9, 14)
>> The number of meals you eat per day isn’t very important. Eat as many meals as you prefer, just hit your calorie and macronutrient targets.
6. WHICH SUPPLEMENTS WILL HELP YOU GAIN MUSCLE?
I can guarantee almost everyone reading this has gambled on an over-hyped supplement before.
Whether it’s a suspicious-looking bottle of testosterone booster pills ordered via the internet, or a pre-workout drink that claimed it would give you “an avalanche of muscle!”, us humans just have to learn the hard way and waste our cash.
That being said, there are a few useful supplements which can help improve hypertrophy results.
- Whey protein
If you struggle to hit your daily protein target then a whey protein supplement is very convenient because it has zero prep-time and is fast-digesting so it won’t fill you up quite as much as protein-based food (useful when trying to eat a lot of calories per day!).
- Creatine monohydrate
Creatine is the best-selling bodybuilding supplement of all time for good reason: it works! It’ll improve explosive strength, power, and build significantly more muscle mass. (16)
Omega-3 is one of the most under-rated supplements around, and that’s usually down to terrible marketing as opposed to the actual benefits it offers. You won’t see any claims of “skin-splitting pumps” on the packaging but these little bad boys will DEFINITELY support muscle growth and faster recovery.
- A good multivitamin
Even if you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (which most of us do not), you’d still be unlikely to get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients are massively important to our body, not just in the gym but also in terms of our mood, skin, even the strength of our hair. Grabbing a good multivitamin & minerals supplement is a super simple way to tick this box.
A good pre workout supplement will help you train harder, which is always a good thing. If you get a top of the range product it’ll also be equipped with several ingredients which can lead to better muscle growth (such as citrulline malate & beta-alanine).
- Here’s a list of supplements you don’t need…
My list above may seem short, but that’s because I’ve cut it down to only the stuff that works.
You will DEFINITELY be recommended other supplements (mostly from gym bros who rattle when they walk) so let me round-up a few popular supplements that you do not need because they do not work. These include BCAAs, glutamine, fat burners, any type of creatine other than monohydrate, and testosterone boosters,
7. HAVE A DAY OFF EVERY 2 WEEKS AND ENJOY IT!
Going “too hard” on a diet usually ruins your chances of success.
Think about it…
How many times have you heard your old mate Lisa say “That’s it! By the time Monday comes will be no more junk food or alcohol in my new diet!!!”… only to find her four days later licking the windows of the local cake shop.
Don’t make the same mistake.
Honestly, whenever I see people posting about “100% or nothing!” on social media I cringe, because this approach doesn’t work and most of these people are CONSTANTLY on a diet without ever seeing the results they want.
Instead, I want you to focus on sustainability. Any diet takes time to work, regardless of whether you goal is to lose weight or gain weight, so we need something you can stick to for long enough to unlock results. That’s why I recommend scheduling a day off every so often. It gives you a chance to reset, gives you a short-term target which you can use to make your diet more sustainable, and works wonders for your mindset because you’re not f**king punishing yourself. (13)
>> During a fat loss phase (calorie deficit) I recommend taking a day off every 10-14 days and bump your calories up a bit. During a muscle building phase you won’t need to increase your calorie target because you’re already in a surplus, so aim for your normal calories without tracking macronutrients.
… AND NOW YOU’RE READY TO BUILD MUSCLE!
That’s it! We’re done!
Get started on applying the information above and I look forward to seeing your transformation.
This simple framework is highly effective, and it’s something I have used with countless male and female clients in my years as a trainer in the mighty Powerhouse Gym. Now it’s yours.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right for me to leave it there without telling you to TRAIN HARD! If you want to maximize your muscle building results, you need to provide the stimulus for your body to use these nutrients and you can do that by pairing it with a solid training plan like Classic Size or Biceps Boom.
Get More From Russ!
I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.
My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.
I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.
- Thomas D. T., et al. American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc (2016).
- Jäger R., et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr (2017).
- Morton R. W., et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med (2018).
- Witard O. C., et al. Effect of increased dietary protein on tolerance to intensified training. Med Sci Sports Exerc (2011).
- Leaf A., et al. The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition – A Narrative Review. Int J Exerc Sci (2017).
- Leibel R. L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition. Am J Clin Nutr (1992).
- Golay A., et al. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr (1996).
- Golay A., et al. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord (1996).
- Schoenfeld B. J., et al. Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews (2015).
- Munsters M. J. M., et al. Effects of Meal Frequency on Metabolic Profiles and Substrate Partitioning in Lean Healthy Males. PLoS ONE (2012).
- Norton L., et al. Optimal protein intake to maximize muscle protein synthesis Examinations of optimal meal protein intake and frequency for athletes. Agro Food Industry Hi Tech (2009).
- Moore D. R., et al. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr (2009).
- Stewart T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite (2002).
- Bandegan A., et al. Indicator Amino Acid-Derived Estimate of Dietary Protein Requirement for Male Bodybuilders on a Nontraining Day Is Several-Fold Greater than the Current Recommended Dietary Allowance. J Nutr (2017).
- La Bounty P. M., et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: meal frequency. J Int Soc Sports Nutr (2011).
- Butts J., et al. Creatine Use In Sports. Sports Health (2018).