“Lift big, eat big, sleep big” was once the mantra of choice for all aspiring muscle builders. It was a very simple philosophy that stood the test of time, and outlasted all the numerous fads that have come and gone within the bodybuilding fraternity, for one reason. It worked. And if you were dedicated, never missed a protein packed, calorie laden meal, diligently pushed heavy iron until your hands had developed those nice protective callused pads all bodybuilders’ girlfriends like to complain about (am I the only one to have snagged a lady’s tights with a roughly callused hand?), and if you were prepared to spend the rest of your time sleeping and resting, processing all those workouts and excess calories, then it didn’t just “work”. It worked amazing well.
I know it worked – way back in the early 1990s I began the personal journey that has seen me be my own lab rat for any and every personal training/ nutritional concept. I will take what I think is an intelligent and sound idea, apply it to myself, ideally iron out any problems and then be in a position to effectively introduce it into a client’s bag of tricks, and push him / her onto new heights. However, back in 1992 I was less concerned with helping other people reach their goals, and far more interested in my own one overriding aim. TO GET BIG. And when I say “big”, I don’t mean adding an extra 10lbs of muscle onto an athletic frame kind of big. I wanted to be a monster. I wanted everyone to stop and stare at the guy who was so big he couldn’t walk properly because of the size of his gargantuan thigh muscles. I wanted to be so big that when I stepped out onto that Olympia stage people would think I was Arnold with muscles! Now although my priorities may have changed with age, the memory, and dare I admit that little frission of excitement at the prospect of adding real mass, remains the same. My mother still has the photographs of the day when the 210lbs, 6ft 3” Nick Mitchell turned 20 years of age on a weekend’s leave from University; and then one year later we have the same scene, the same people, only Nick Mitchell is definitely looking different carrying 280lbs on his frame. Of course, that 280lbs, that eventually went up to 310lbs, wasn’t what one could ever call quality mass. If you can recall what the Sugar Puff’s Honey Monster looked like you’d be bang on the money. But many younger guys just want size, and there is nothing wrong with that. So I am here to tell you that if size is your one goal in life, go and eat 6-8 calorie laden, protein packed meals every day, follow a smart training programme that emphasises strength and power in compound movements, and be a lazy bastard in everything else – don’t run when you can walk, don’t walk when you can drive, you get the picture.
However, the wisdom of age has taught me that there is certainly a better way. A way that involves a good degree of self discipline (far, far more than merely throwing a load of food and protein shakes down your throat!), a firm understanding of not just what you put in your mouth but also when you eat it, and a tonne of hard work. The BEST way I know to gain quality mass involves a rotation of your carbohydrate intake, 3 very distinct mini training cycles and styles over an 11 day schedule, days of low carbohydrates followed by carefully planned days of high carbohydrates (a real pleasure!), and is guaranteed to hold the interest and enthusiasm of even the most jaded character. This is a method that was personally taught to me by world renowned strength and conditioning guru Charles Poliquin, and I would never be so presumptuous as to ever suggest that I could improve upon his work (the man is THE master of this industry and I highly recommend anybody to go out there and voraciously read all his work, especially The Poliquin Principles: Successful Methods for Strength and Mass Development, but I have modified certain aspects his programme to fit so called regular guys as well as the likes of the elite athletes Charles himself specialises in. Due to the unique way that this system triggers the body into producing cascades of anabolic hormones the success we have had with this programme is manifest. The results of this programme have been outstanding to say the least, with each 77 day cycle yielding an average weight gain of 22lbs of good quality (non water retaining, bloated) muscle mass. In many cases we are seeing clients with shrinking bodyfat readings on the calliper tests who are still registering weekly weight gains on the scales. In short, this is the ultimate weapon in our muscle building armoury and I know of no more effective way to pack on size. It’s not for the undisciplined weekend trainer, and it requires a consistency that will undoubtedly take your training to a higher level, but if you are made of the right stuff its power is unparalleled.