Bodybuilders eat five or more times a day to increase muscle weight.
When you have your sights set on competing as a bodybuilder and are just starting out, your body probably needs an overhaul. Whether you're overweight and need to cut down or are a 90-pound weakling, converting either body type into a sculpted mass involves building muscle. At first it might be possible for you to gain about 4 pounds of muscle in a month, but optimal muscle growth requires the right kind of training.
Whether you choose super sets, muscle confusion, mini sprinting sessions or a combination of them all, you probably wonder how long it will be before you've gained 20 pounds of muscle. Idaho personal trainer and former bodybuilder Matt Siaperas says that it's different for everyone. Some people might be able to put on 20 pounds of muscle in as little as six months while others won't see that kind of gain for a year or more. It has as much to do with your genetics as it does with how you train and what your diet consists of. It can be discouraging to see other bodybuilders making progress if your gains slow down, but Siaperas encourages bodybuilding clients to remain dedicated, stick with their diet and to make changes to their workouts when they start to plateau.
Acitvating GH Response
Your body has always produced a hormone that builds muscle and burns fat. Growth hormone production kicked into high gear when you hit puberty and then immediately began declining. But by working out in the right way you can ramp up growth hormone production to start putting on pounds of lean muscle. In his article for Military.com, defense author and military instructor Jeff Anderson recommends lifting as heavy as you can with eight to 12 reps and super-setting your workouts. That means working between two exercises, doing one set of one exercise and going to the next without resting in between. You can take about a 60 second break after the second exercise, but then jump right back into your next super-set with the first exercise again. Because they're structured similarly to super-sets, circuit training workouts are also ideal for activating your body's GH response.
Mix It Up
Muscle confusion is the bodybuilder's secret weapon when it comes to packing on muscular pounds. It keeps your muscles in a state of growth-inducing confusion by changing the amount of weight and reps you lift each time you work out. For example, you could lift lighter on your first workout day, doing 12 to 15 reps, then increase the weight and decrease your reps to eight to 10 for your second day, lifting even heavier with only five to seven reps on the third day. Go back to lifting light again on the fourth day of your workout. Use a chart to keep track of how much you lift each time and how many reps you do.
Add a Sprint
You won't want to do much cardio when you're trying to gain weight for a competition, but you do need to include some, not only for cardiovascular health but also to help increase your body's production of growth hormone. In his 2010 book "Eat Right for Life," Dr. Raymond A Schep advised that you could stimulate production of growth hormone for muscle-building effects by spending at least 10 minutes on high intensity exercise. Tack on 10 minutes at the end of your weight lifting session to wrap up your workout and program your body for maximum GH production. In his article "Master Hormones to Build Muscle" for Military.com, Jeff Anderson recommends doing 30-second sprints alternating with 60 second intervals at a slower pace to complete your end of workout sprints.