For all the hardgainers out there trying to get big but can't figure it out, this one's for you. Before you scour the site in search of the best muscle-building workout routine, your first stop is here—with the basics. We asked our own training director, Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S., to answer five beginner questions to stacking on size.
1. What is the best way to work out for building more muscle?
"As for training, vary up the reps you perform each workout so you have a heavy day (low reps), light day (high reps), and medium day (in-between). This approach targets all your muscle fibers and keeps your body adapting."
2. What should I eat to get big? And how much is enough?
"Eat more food than you're currently taking in. Start with 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight and 2g of carbs per pound. Eat about a 1/2g of fat per pound. Your protein should come mainly from lean sources such as chicken and fish, and your carbs from rice and potatoes. Your fat intake will come largely by way of your protein foods, but you can eat nuts in moderation and supplement with fish oil."
3. Are there any specific exercises I should focus on?
"Compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, chinup, and row should be the foundation of your workouts. These allow you to use the greatest amount of weight and work the widest range of muscles, stimulating the release of muscle-building hormones. They're also more time-efficient than using isolation exercises."
4. Does how much I rest in-between sets really matter?
"Yes. Heavier sets will require rest times of 2-3 minutes or longer. Lighter ones can be done with shorter rests. Studies have shown that rest periods of 30-90 seconds are best for pure muscle gains, so most of your exercises should be done with these intervals."
5. How soon should I expect to see results?
"A few weeks. This is dependent on your genetics, nutrition, and how well you're recovering in general, so make sure to get eight hours' sleep as often as possible, and minimize stress as much as you can."