Friday, December 19, 2014

Designing a nutrition and training program

(this post is a natural follow up to my previous post which was: A practical guide to losing fat and gaining lean muscle mass)

Very recently I developed a nutrition and training program for someone (let's call him Mike) who wanted to gain weight and build tons of new muscle. Riding on my previous post (A practical guide to losing fat and gaining lean muscle mass) I thought this would be an excellent idea to show how one can use the Calorie Calculator (which can be found on to develop a nutritional program for those interested in gaining mass and building muscles. 

If you read through A practical guide to losing fat and gaining lean muscle mass, you'll see that there are three parts to the guide. The first part was for those who wanted to lose fat. Parts two and three concerned themselves with gaining muscle while staying lean and building pure bulk, respectively. The answer I gave to "Mike" included the information on parts 2 and 3 of the guide. It goes a little something like this:

(I've included comments in square brackets [*])

Dear Mike 

As promised here’s a guide for you to start building muscle and adding weight to your frame. You mentioned in the beginning that you were at 57 kg’s and that you want to build large and strong muscles. I’m going to assume that you’re about 1.7 m tall and 22 years of age. By using a metabolic rate calculator [can be found here:] I determined that you need about 2186 calories per day for optimal energy and function. But you want to gain a lot of muscle, so we need to add to this amount of calories for you to make gains. Before we get to the amounts to add, I want to explain the program to you.

The program that I've designed for you contains three phases. The first phase is exactly 8 weeks long and is designed to add major bulk to your body. The second phase is also 8 weeks long and is designed to cut away some of the fat stores gained during the first phase, but also develop nice muscle definition and quality. The third phase is simply a rest phase of two weeks long during which no training or dieting will be performed. During phase 3 you’ll just go about your normal life as if you weren't training or dieting for size. At the end of the third phase, you’ll start with phase one again and then work your way up to phase 3. Each time after phase three you repeat the process until you've reached the weight and size you want to be at and then you only stick to phase 2.

These three phases have been designed so that you may first build up a lot of bulk and then secondly cut away fat and develop quality muscle. There is a rest period in between to give your muscles time to recuperate and reset after which you once again focus on bulking up and cutting down. In this manner you progressively add weight and size, while developing quality lean muscle.

Phase one:

In this first phase the focus is entirely on adding bulk, whether muscle or fat, it doesn’t matter. In order to add bulk you need to really spike your calories during the day for weight gain. I suggest that you add 1000 calories to your daily caloric requirement for a total caloric intake of 3186 calories per day.

Since you mentioned that you’re a vegetarian, but that dairy products are OK for you, I've set up your diet for the first phase as follows:

Since you mentioned that you’re a vegetarian, but that dairy products are OK for you, I've set up the diet plan to provide more or less 1305 calories of healthy fats, 141 grams of protein (about 2.5 grams per kg of body weight) and the rest in carbohydrates for energy, without adding other animal products [those that are non-vegetarian can use the Calorie Calculator to select animal foods for their diets]. Total caloric intake during the day would be 3413 calories.

You'll notice on the plan that there are 5 meals to be eaten during the day, one every 3.5 hours. Food quantities have also been indicated. With eat meal you must eat at least one of the following: broccoli, green beans, spinach or green peas. You must also drink a large glass of water with each meal, this is not negotiable.

Please attempt to eat the quantities of food as indicated on the plan. It's going to feel like a lot of food, and you'll most likely feel very full and bloated at times, but you must take in all the calories for weight gain. If you skip some foods or don't eat all of it, you won't be able to gain the bulk you so long for.

I recommend the following for training during phase one:

Day 1: Legs and shoulders
Leg press
Standing military press
Clean and jerk

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: Chest and back
Bench press
Pullups or lat pulldown machine

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Arms
Barbell curls
Bench dips
Tricep cable pushdown

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Start with Day 1 again and repeat

This training has been designed to include all compound movements. Compound movements are very important during phase one because they involve more muscle groups and hence allow you to lift heavier weights for more size and strength. Please always make sure you use the proper form and technique when doing these exercises, otherwise you may injure yourself. You do not do any cardio during phase one.

When you train try to lift as heavy as you can. Each exercise must include 3 sets with 6 to 8 reps per set. Take a log book with you so that you can write down the exact weight you used in that particular set and exercise. You'll need this to select your weights for the next workout session. If you're able to perform more than 8 reps of a particular exercise in a particular set, then that weight is too light and you need to increase it. If you cannot do more than 6, the weight is too heavy and you need to decrease it.

Keep up this program for the 8 weeks of phase one and then switch over to phase two.

Phase two:

During phase two of the program, our focus switches from adding pure bulk, to cutting some of the fat gained during phase one and adding muscle shape and definition. To this end, we increase your daily caloric requirement by only 500 calories, because we still want to have enough energy for building muscle, but not so much that it'll make you fatter.

I've set up your phase 2 nutrition plan to provide 120 grams of protein (2.1 g per kg body weight), and the total daily caloric intake is now 2681 calories. Just as in phase 1 you must eat a green vegetable (broccoli, spinach, green beans or green peas) and have a large glass of water with each meal. There are also 5 meals to be eaten, just as in the first phase.

Phase two training program looks like this:

[this is also the same program as in A practical guide to losing fat and gaining lean muscle mass]

Day1: Legs
Squats or leg press
Lying hamstring curls
Standing calf raises

Day2: Shoulders
Seated or standing military press/dumbbell shoulder press
Lateral raises
Rear delt flyes

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Arms
Standing bicep barbell curls
Hammer curls
Standing tricep cable pushdown
Tricep overhead extension

Day 5: Chest
Bench press
Chest flyes
Dumbbell pullovers

Day 6: Back
Pull ups or lat pulldown machine
T-bar row
Straight legged deadlifts

Day 7: Rest

Day 8: Start the whole sequence from the beginning again

Again, use a logger to log the weights and reps you perform. During phase 2, aim for 10 to 12 reps per set, and three sets per exercise. After each weight workout, perform 20 minutes of low intensity cardio. The same rules governing the weights to be used count here during phase 2 as well. If you cannot do more than 10 reps, your weight is too heavy and if you can do more than 12 your weight is too light.

Follow the program like this during phase 2 for 8 weeks then move on to the third phase, which is your two week resting period. After the two weeks, begin with phase one again. Print out these nutrition plans if you can and paste them where you can always see it. Stick to them diligently and you should be able to gain a couple of kilos in no time.

(Note that this is only a guide and that results may vary, especially depending on how well you perform on the diet and training programs. I urge you to do your research on the exercise movements to learn the proper form so as not to injure yourself. Start with smaller weights and get used to the movement first, and always make sure you have someone around you who can help when you encounter problems. If at any point during this program you feel unwell or if you feel like you've injured yourself please visit your doctor to get yourself checked out and refrain from the program for at least two weeks or as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the plan at your own risk. Stefan Stoman, LYFA! FITNESS or any of it's affiliates may not be held accountable for any injuries or other problems that may arise from participation in this nutrition and training program.)

Best of luck, Mike, I hope you gain tons of new muscle and strength. Please send me a message if there is anything you don't understand or if you have other questions. Also keep me in the loop on your progress. Let me know if this program is working or not.

Warmest regards,

Stefan Stoman

Perhaps you too can use this program if you've ever wanted to build muscle and mass. As for those interested in losing fat, I refer you to my previous post, A practical guide to losing fat and gaining lean muscle mass. Best of luck to all of you!

Until next time friends, STAY TRUE AND TRAIN HARD!

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