Contrary to popular folklore in the training trenches, gaining weight isn’t all about calories. Although calories play an important role in adding mass, there are four other factors that are equally — and sometimes even more — important.


The protein you consume, whether it’s in the form of protein powder, chicken, red meat, fish or low-fat dairy products, is broken down into smaller particles called amino acids. These minute protein fragments ultimately become new muscle tissue. Collective wisdom says you need about one gram per pound of bodyweight per day, which is, in my opinion, accurate. However, hardgainers sometimes need 1.5-2 g per pound of bodyweight. If you fall into that category, experiment with protein at those levels.


If your testosterone levels are flat, you won’t grow. Here are some tips to keep your test up.

  • Eat at least six solid-food meals every day. Multiple meals prevent a rise in levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that competes with testosterone.
  • Use supplements like Tribulus terrestris, a natural herb that directly increases your own production of testosterone.
  • Don’t treat dietary fat like the plague. Extremely low-fat diets can decrease your test levels.


No other meal of the day is as important as the one immediately following your training. Eating enough of the right stuff at that time drives up insulin levels, helping to halt muscle breakdown and setting the stage for growth over the coming five to eight hours. You need 40-75 g of liquid protein (i.e., protein powder mixed in water or a premade protein drink) combined with 60-120 g of fast-digesting carbohydrates like white bread or white rice. (Taking a page out of Jay Cutler’s book, you’ll get 50-60 g of fast-digesting carbs if you drink a large regular soda.)

Powders are extremely easy to digest; so are the “fast-acting” carbs listed above. Together, they immediately flood the body with glucose (the byproduct of carbs that exerts a strong impact on the hormone insulin) and amino acids. Extremely elevated levels of insulin after training drive muscle growth and support testosterone levels.


GH spares the body from tearing down its own muscle tissue for energy during training. The net effect: if you tear down less tissue, it’s easier to work the other way and build up more tissue. You can’t underestimate the impact nitric oxide boosters (i.e., arginine supplements) have on GH levels. Put in the simplest terms, arginine is a noted GH releaser, and the more GH you can release, the more you’ll grow. – FLEX