Just 10 years ago, you could have made the argument that there was too little information when it came to building muscle. In this day and age, you can do the exact opposite. There’s an information overload and many times having too much information is as bad as having too little. In my last newsletter, instead of taking just one question, I opted to take some of the more frequently asked questions when it comes to building muscle.
Staying focused on a goal was always the hardest thing for me to do. Once I buckled down and learned about just one aspect of bodybuilding the doors swung opened and all I can describe the sensation as is “fresh.”
In the last 22 hours, I’ve counted over 14 e-mails on the subject of gaining weight. It’s obvious to me that so many are still struggling to find the answers.Â
In a few 3 minutes you’ll learn:
- where you should focus your time – training or nutrition?
- the big supplement secret and why you must avoid falling prey to glossy ads
- what’s the biggest mistake I made when I tried to gain weight
Question #1: Where should I be focusing most of my time in
trying to build muscle?
There’s really two major areas of focus when it comes to
building muscle. They are:
1 – Nutrition
2 – Training
Almost everybody asks which is more important and it’s pretty
common to see an attempt to put numbers against these. Vince
Gironda, The Iron Guru, used to say that “Bodybuilding is 80%
Let’s skip trying to figure out a scientific number and just say
that which one you focus on depends a lot on your level of
experience and how well you understand and apply the
If you are beginner, it’s critical to learn about and apply the
basics of nutrition. At this point, nutrition is critical and
the most important.
Many times, beginners focus on the gym time, the weights and what they can lift, all the while their nutrition is really the aspect that is keeping them from making the gains they want. In the early stages, your nutrition is the most important part.
I’ve seen some really awful training programs being done but the
person’s nutritional program is so tight and finely tuned, they
And the reverse is true, I’ve seen people working out so hard
you’d think they were Olympic level athletes and yet they don’t
look it because their nutrition was horrible and they just
couldn’t seem to get it right.
Once you are more advanced, there’s only so much tweaking you
can do to your nutritional program. At this point, training
becomes more important. If you’ve finely tuned your nutritional
program, now it’s time to focus on making your workouts more
For the advanced bodybuilder, training is more important
assuming they have mastered nutrition and have applied the
fundamentals and make significant progress.
Depending on who you are and your level of experience, you
should focus on nutrition or training when it comes to building
Question #2: What’s the one secret to supplementation that you
really don’t want to share?
For starters… there’s no real big secrets!
Recently I attended the International Society of Sports
Nutrition conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After all the presentations on nutrient timing, L-Arginine,
Creatine, recovering from muscle soreness and genetics and
bodybuilding the ONE thing that was clear…
Nutrition and exercise work and this other stuff we’re not so
Yes, there are supplements that work without a doubt. But
consider this fact: Most of my own personal muscle gains have
come from tweaking my nutritional program and training than any
The #1 forum on my bodybuilding message boards is: The
Supplement forum. Not nutrition and certainly not training.
You’ve seen numbers before that might say your nutrition and
training are 98% of your success and supplements are 2%.
If you are working at your peak performance levels, there are
some supplements that can push you over the edge.
Most people don’t reach this level. Their nutrition is sub par
and their training could be vastly improved but they spend over
$300 a month on the latest pre-workout drinks, post-workout
shakes and 23 pills a day in hopes these things will pack on the
muscle they want.
In reality, it won’t and at some point when life gets in the way
and you have bills to pay, you’ll stop buying all that stuff and
what you’ll have left is your nutrition and your training.
You can only hope they are 98% of your gains so that it won’t
make a difference to your progress.
I’ve spent my fair share on dietary supplementation and I’ve
never made more progress in my life than when I started eating 5-
6 whole food meals a day and focused on improving my intensity
in the gym.
As I said…
People spend too much time on the little things and not enough
time on the areas that matter and will skyrocket your progress
in the gym.
Question #3: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in trying to
gain weight?Â How can I avoid it?
Want to gain weight? Then figure out how many calories a day
you need and eat 5-6 meals of real foods. And don’t skip meals.
My biggest problem with weight gain was that I labeled myself as
a hardgainer. There’s simply no such thing. Sure I was
classified as an ectomorph and I could eat anything I wanted
without putting on an ounce but when it came to healthy weight
gain I was clueless.
My Mistake #1: Not eating enough. I only ate 3 meals a day at
best, but not enough food per meal to make a difference. I
didn’t eat high quality muscle building foods (low quality pasta
and peanut butter and jelly is not how you get huge).
My Mistake #2: I’ve always had plenty of food options around
me.Â Even while growing up the cupboards were stocked and yet I
acted like they were bare. Only eating when I was truly hungry
and not choosing the best foods to eat when I needed a meal.
My Mistake #3: Meal planning never occurred. Growing up at
home, I ate when dinner was served. I didn’t plan meals and I
certainly didn’t eat 5-6 times a day, smaller but more frequent
meals. When I started planning my meals and eating them on
time, my body exploded in new growth.
My Mistake #4: Eating infrequently was a big problem. If you
want to gain weight, you must eat and you cannot skip meals.
Once you start skipping meals, the weight will never come and
you’ll just keep on believing that you are some kind of
hardgainer. As I mentioned, I ate when food was served and then
only when I was hungry. Weekends I barely ate at all. It’s not
really a shock I wasn’t able to gain healthy weight. I wasn’t
eating to get big.
You can easily avoid these mistakes simply by knowing how many
calories you need to gain healthy weight, planning your meals
and then eating frequently. Carry your food around if you are
in college. Buy a cooler if you don’t have access to your
fridge 24 hours a day. But making excuses about how you can’t
eat is exactly why I didn’t gain the weight I wanted.
You must eat and you must eat high quality foods to gain weight.
Drinking a bunch of protein shakes, weight gainers and eating
randomly is absolutely the path to stick to if you want to be
Here is Your Next Step:
Sign up for the Newsletter below and grab the 19 Tips ebook I’ve put together to
answer many more questions you are bound to have regarding how much to eat, how much protein to consume and loads of other questions. The book is free. The newsletter contains such things like:
- bodybuilding programs I’ve tried and reviewed
- tips and tricks to optimizing your workouts
- nutrition guidelines and overviews to ensure you understand it enough to make the right choices for yourself
Be Fit, Stay Strong!
Marc David – CPT