November 25, 2016 | John Paul Catanzaro
I’m looking for a program to help a client gain weight. He loses weight easily, even without cardio, but he’s very strong and wants to increase 10 pounds of muscle mass.
It’s difficult to give a truly individualized approach with such limited information, but I do have some suggestions that should help. Before we dive into the training component, let’s quickly review other factors that are crucial to your client’s success.
It goes without saying that in order to gain weight, you must consume more calories than you expend. From experience, I have found that hard-gainers need at least 7 meals a day consumed every 2 to 2½ hours to put on weight, and 8 meals is preferable. Anything less than 7 meals and they will not make any considerable progress. Of course, it’s difficult to consume that many solid meals every day. That’s where liquid nutrition comes in handy. In fact, alternating between solid and liquid meals will help maintain stable blood sugar levels and stimulate appetite.
For those seeking size, try branched-chain amino acids (20 to 40 grams) during your workout; creatine (5 to 10 grams), colostrum (5 to 30 grams), whey protein isolate (40 to 60 grams) and high glycemic carbs (as much as 200 grams) post workout. Take digestive enzymes with your meals and liver tablets between meals. Yes, you read that last one right! Dr. Eric Serrano considers liver one of his biggest secrets for weight gain. However, you need to take as many as 8 to 12 tablets between meals for maximum effect. Do that during the day, and you should add at least 2 more pounds of muscle just from this tip alone!
Those who live a more regimented lifestyle will achieve greater success. If your client smokes, takes drugs, drinks alcohol and stays out late partying, he’ll have a hard time putting on any appreciable mass. For example, marijuana and alcohol are known to suppress testosterone levels, which will hamper any anabolic response. Sleep is also crucial. To improve quality of sleep, one should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. To increase the quantity, encourage a short nap when possible. Ideally, naps should be taken approximately 8 hours upon awakening and should be for no longer than 45 to 60 minutes to avoid entering REM stage, which will adversely affect your sleep that night.
Obviously, aerobic work is not recommended for this client. Furthermore, any recreational activity, such as skiing, ball hockey, martial arts, and so on, should be limited when trying to increase muscle mass. You indicate that your client is very strong. Most trainers will use typical hypertrophy parameters to encourage size gains with their clients (usually 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps on just about every exercise for just about every program). That’s a mistake! Eventually, you will need to inject intensity into their routine to prompt muscle mass increases. Take advantage of your client’s strength and tap into high-threshold motor units by performing many sets of low repetitions with heavy weights. Remember, these fast-twitch fibers have a greater propensity for size gains. The key is to perform a sufficient time under tension using such high loads, and the way to accomplish that is with many sets.
|Day||Exercise|| Loading Parameters *||Note|
|Day 1 – Chest & Back||Incline Barbell Press||6 x 7,5,3,7,5,3 @ 50X0, 120s||↑ load 2nd wave|
|Sternum Chin-Ups||6 x 7,5,3,7,5,3 @ 50X0, 120s||↑ load 2nd wave|
|Decline Dumbbell Press||4 x 6-8 @ 4010, 90s|
|One-Arm Cable Row||4 x 6-8 @ 4010, 90s|
|Day 2 – Legs||Snatch-Grip Deadlift|| 9 x 3,2,1,3,2,1,3,2,1 @ 32X0,|
| ↑ load 2nd & 3rd|
|Front Squat||5 x 4-6 @ 5010 120s|
|Standing Leg Curls||5 x 4-6 @ 5010, 120s|
|Day 3 – Off|
|Day 4 – Arms|| Preacher EZ-Bar Reverse|
|6 x 7,5,3,7,5,3 @ 50X0, 120s||↑ load 2nd wave|
|Parallel-Bar Dips||6 x 7,5,3,7,5,3 @ 50X0, 120s||↑ load 2nd wave|
|Seated Hammer Curl||4 x 6-8 @ 4010, 90s|
| Decline Dumbbell Rotary|
|4 x 6-8 @ 4010, 90s|
|Day 5 – Off|
* Note: Refer to A Universal Language For Strength Training for help with the loading parameters.
Follow this intensive phase with an extensive phase where a greater volume of work is performed. Charles Poliquin’s German Volume Training, Rob Thoburn’s “The Standard” program and Vince Gironda’s famous 8×8 routine are all excellent options, but I would favor a routine that uses greater loads for your client. Enter George Turner’s Huge Program. Below is a modified version that should work quite well for your client and will complement the routine I outlined above. Believe me, this one’s a killer!
|Day||Exercise|| Loading Parameters||Note|
|Day 1 – Chest & Back||Bench Press||10 x 10 @ 4020, 90s||↓ 10 lb every 2 sets|
|Wide-Grip Pull-Ups||10 x 10 @ 4020, 90s||↓ load every 2 sets|
|Day 2 – Legs||Full Squats||6 x 10 @ 4020, 90s|
|Lying Leg Curls||6 x 8 @ 4010, 90s|
|Standing Calf Raise||10 x 10 @ 2010, 30s||↓ load every 2 sets|
|Bent-Knee Deadlifts||6 x 6 @ 3110, 150s||↑ load each set|
|Day 3 – Off|
|Day 4 – Delts & Arms||Seated Dumbbell Press||8 x 10 @ 4020, 120s|
|Seated Dumbbell Curls||8 x 8 @ 4010, 60s|
| Lying EZ-Bar Triceps|
|8 x 12 @ 3010, 60s|
|Day 5 – Off|
Each routine consists of 5-day cycles to be performed 6 times for a total of 30 days each.
You’ll notice the following:
In the future, when time permits, consider implementing a double or even triple split routine where your client trains multiple times a day. For now, these suggestions should help your client gain that 10 pounds of muscle in no time.