How I Gained 10 Pounds of Solid Muscle In 2 Months

Around January 10 or so this year I decided I wanted to gain 10 pounds of solid muscle, primarily on my arms and upper body, but also on my legs. I have already been going to the gym consistently for about 2 years, but I haven't really gained any weight, I've just maintained a fairly healthy build.

by Quinton Figueroa on February 25th, 2008

I set my goal as something very achievable yet still worthwhile. I said I am 6' and weigh 160lbs now and I want to weigh 170lbs by January 1, 2009. But I also wanted to make sure the weight came from muscle and not fat.

So I set out to educate myself on the best way to do this. My friend had been recommending the Encyclopedia of Body Building by Arnold Schwarzenegger to me for a few months so I decided to start there. I was also recommended by a friend to try out protein powder. I thought that sounded like a reasonable thing to try.

Old Weight / Workout Routine

My Body

My current weight has been around 160 pounds for the past 2 years or so. I think this is a healthy normal weight for my height (6') although I thought it would be nice to have some extra muscle, and I also really wanted to just see if it was possible. I have always been able to eat lots of food and never put on much weight. I have a fairly fast metabolism and a normal/thin build (the technical name is ectomorph). I am also 22 years old which means my body is still somewhat growing and hasn't slowed down by any means.

Old Workout

My old routine consisted of hitting the gym about 3 or 4 days a week. I would work out my upper body one day, do abs the next day, do my legs the next day, and then abs again. This routine was a bit unbalanced, but it still did an okay job for me.

I would do 3 sets of each exercise and spent probably 30 - 45 minutes for weightlifting. One of the things to note here is that I would also do 1 set of each body part and then repeat it 3 times, rather than doing all 3 sets at once. I would also run 1-2 miles after each lifting session and swim for about 10 minutes.

My New Workout Routine

I now weight 170 pounds and have gained 10 pounds of solid muscle. My stomach is just as tight as it used to be and my upper body and legs have a bit more mass than they used to, just as planned. So how did I accomplish this?

Diet

I think the diet was one of the key parts to gaining muscle. As most of you are aware, protein is one of the key components to building muscle mass so I made sure to take this into account.

I purchased some EAS Premium Protein powder from Costco for $30. It recommends you to mix 2 scoops of powder into 8oz. of water or milk 1 to 2 times a day, and preferably once after your workout. Each serving accounts for 27g of protein. I decided to up it a bit and do 3 scoops twice a day. I figure if my body needs it it will use it otherwise I'll just crap it out. I'd rather be on the heavy side with this.

In addition to the protein drink I also try to maintain more calories. Calories are very important when trying to put on weight. Since I also don't want to get fat, I make sure to still eat healthy foods that provide the needed nutrients and no extra fats or sugars.

I had about 4 different meals I primarily ate:

  1. Spaghetti (1,500 - 2,000 calories)
  2. Chicken & Broccoli (1,500 - 2,000 calories)
  3. Noodles (1,500 calories)
  4. Burritos (1,200 calories)

And then I would have snacks such as:

  1. Tuna
  2. Apples
  3. Oranges
  4. Bananas
  5. Shredded Wheat Cereal

And then I drank 2 protein shakes a day. One in the morning and one post-workout.

New Workout

For my new workout I bumped it up to 6 days a week, Monday - Saturday, with Sundays off. I had it broken down like so (as recommended by Arnold):

  • Monday - Chest, Upper Back, Abs
  • Tuesday - Arms, Shoulders, Abs
  • Wednesday - Legs, Lower Back, Abs
  • Thursday - Chest, Upper Back, Abs
  • Friday - Arms, Shoulders, Abs
  • Saturday - Legs, Lower Back, Abs
  • Sunday - Off

The exercises I did are as follows:

  • Chest, Upper Back, Abs
  1. Chin-ups
  2. Pulldowns
  3. Dumbbell Bench Press
  4. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  5. Bent-over Dumbbell Rows
  6. Cable Rows
  7. Leg Lifts
  8. Swim 10 minutes
  • Arms, Shoulders, Abs
    1. Seated Dumbbell Military Press
    2. Seated Lateral Raises
    3. Shoulder Raises
    4. Barbell Curls
    5. Seated Preacher Curls
    6. Incline Curls
    7. Seated Tricep Presses
    8. Tricep Pushdowns
    9. Forearm Curls
    10. Crunches
    11. Swim 10 minutes
  • Legs, Lower Back, Abs
    1. Squats
    2. Deadlifts
    3. Leg Extensions
    4. Leg Curls
    5. Leg Presses
    6. Calf Raises
    7. Crunches
    8. Run 1 mile

    I switched from doing 1 set of each exercise to doing all the sets for each exercise one after another with less than a minute of rest in-between each set. I also went from 3 sets to 4 sets. I also gradually increased the weight and brought my reps down. For some exercises my last set would only be 4 reps of heavy weight. On barbell curls for instance I would do something like:

    1. 10 reps, 80 lbs
    2. 8 reps, 85 lbs
    3. 6 reps, 90 lbs
    4. 4 reps, 90 lbs

    I basically did this same routine for 2 months. I switched the order up a little bit a few times but for the most part I stuck to this routine.

    I also made sure never to stop a set until I couldn't lift anymore. If I counted out 10 reps but was able to do 20 I would do 20 and increase the weight to keep me down to around 10 or so on the next set. After a few days I got my weight figured out better to where I was burning out at around 6 - 10 reps for each exercise.

    As you can see I also cut back on my cardio a little bit. I read that I wanted to be sure not to burn off all my calories so I tried to keep the cardio down a bit. I would much rather put my calories to my muscles rather than just burning them off.

    Sleep

    I also upped my sleep to about 8 hours a night. I used to be a huge fan of as little sleep as possible (5 - 6 hours) but I just can't hang with that anymore. The new workout routine almost demands more rest as my body seems to need it pretty bad. So I upped my sleep a few hours a night. I have to say it seems like a pretty good move.

    So In Short

    • Eat More Food
      • Emphasis on protein
    • Lift Heavier Weights
      • Freeweights if possible
      • Less reps, more sets
      • Lift to failure
    • Workout 6 days a week
    • Keep cardio to a healthy minimal
    • Get adequate sleep

    I am fairly confident pretty much anyone can put on some muscle if they follow something similar to the recommendations outlined here.

    Misconceptions

    You should only work out each body part once a week

    I have heard many people tell me that it is best to only work out a body part, like your biceps for instance, once a week to allow for lots of resting time. While it is true your muscles do need to rest, I think a week is a bit long, especially if you are serious about building muscle. Yeah, you may be sore for up to a week your first few times working out, but eventually your muscles will adjust and so should your routine.

    Arnold's Level 1 beginning workout routine is the one that I listed above, where you are basically working the same muscle twice a week. Once you bump up to his Level 2 routine you are now working out the same muscle 3 times a week (I haven't gotten to this one yet). And these are still his beginner workouts. His advanced workouts talk about working out 2 times a day but I won't even go there yet.

    So I ask the question, who would you rather listen to, everyone else or Arnold?

    Cardio isn't that important

    I beg to differ. I actually think that without cardio, strength training alone is almost useless. Think about it, lifting weights isn't even that healthy and does very little for your heart and longevity of your life. You're basically putting on muscle, which just because it's perceived as being healthy, doesn't mean it is. Sure muscle is better than fat, but if you're not replacing your fat with muscle then all you're doing is putting on excess weight. It is much healthier to be skinny and in shape than it is to be muscular and out of shape. Even while putting on weight I would still recommend a minimal cardio regime, and once you have reached your desired weight I would pump that cardio back up to a maximum.

    The Future

    Since I have already achieved my new years resolution I am probably going to bump my weight up a bit more to 175 lbs. Once I get there I am going to focus much more on cardio and getting ripped. I will probably do the same workout routine and diet, but also bump running up to 1-2 miles everyday. I will also swim everyday as well. I figure if I up my cardio I will probably drop a bit of weight and may even out at a healthy, cut 170 lbs.

     Filed under: Health / Fitness, Gym, Weight Training

    About The Author

    Quinton Figueroa

    Quinton Figueroa

    Los Angeles, CA

    I am an entrepreneur at heart. Throughout my whole life I have enjoyed building real businesses by solving real problems. Business is life itself. My goal with businesses is to help move the human ...

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    12 Comments

    Anonymous: I Need help to gain weight but not fat muscle like you did.

    how can i gain 25 pounds of muscle in 2 months?

    peters: I never thought that gaining

    I never thought that gaining muscles can be so difficult... Just like you, i had set a goal, but despite working out everyday, when the time came to measure my body weight i had the surprise to discover that it remained exactly the same. I don't know where did i go wrong, i heard countless theories but not none seem to apply to me. I think i will just buy steroids and get over it, i am sick to work in vain and i want to see some results already!

    ammar: How To Burn Calories

    1 beginning workout routine is the one that I listed above, where you are basically working the same muscle twice a week

    silence: Pretty informative quinton...

    Pretty informative quinton... although I disagree on the cardio bit...

    Cardio isn't really too necessary if you have a proper diet... Eating clean foods on a strict calorie diet, along with proper lifting should be good enough for the skinny people looking to bulk up. Cardio will just make this more difficult.

    Some people use cardio as a warmup to get their heartrate up, which is smart. You can do the same thing with low weight though. Just bang out a few sets at a lower weight before you start the real workout. Working out with your heartrate in the optimal range is important.

    In the end, cardio is going to burn a lot more calories and might even lean towards catabolic (muscle-wasting). Heavy lifting is already going to burn enough calories and speed your metabolism, sufficiently enough for most people.

    Bottom line: Look to a high-protein, low-fat, low-sugar diet. Also find your optimal calorie range based on your RMR. Too many calories and it's going to be converted to fat (3500 calories = 1 lb, supposedly), too little and you're going to start eating away at your muscle.

    Quinton Figueroa: Great information. Thank you
    @silence (view comment)

    Great information. Thank you for sharing! :)

    Emily Newman: Spot on with Cardio for Longevity

    Quinton, you are spot on about cardio. I agree 100% Some people advocate cutting cardio out or to a minimum when trying to gain muscle
    but what is the point of looking good if you don't feel good and if your body is not operating smoothly. One thing you can do though is go about your cardio in a more interval high intensity way. For instance sprints, particularly the 400m sprint, really helps me get more cut but doesn't seem to affect my weight training significantly.

    Joey Cortez: Deadlift Workout Programs

    Very spot on! That is a nice gain within 2 months!

    Diana: Very nice post, i really

    Very nice post, i really enjoyed by reading, great experience too, Just , Congratulation, i really like it, i'll add somethings, in my workout program

    Ruth: Workout

    Very informative.. I think I need to do this for my workout.

    serimein: sa1

    Well I would always recommend any sort of body exercise to any person as it is essential on daily basis to stay fit and healthy. It should be made compulsory to people who are used to office work, as they do not engage in any sort of movement.

    Mukesh singh: Gaining Muscle is not Difficult

    Gaining muscle is not difficult nowadyas, Whether you are looking to burn fat or build mass, protein supplementation can help you reap faster results. protein is used for the production of muscles. It is also used to manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components.

    Chris Wiltshire: Packing on lean muscle

    Very interesting and informative article. Your overall new workout plan is fine and should in theory help you pack on the muscle. Like you I also struggled to increase muscle mass and put on that last 10 pounds I wanted.Then I discovered the secret, forgotten for over 100 years to sculpting the perfect physique.Within 3 months I had gained 15 pounds of lean muscle. Was I happy or what??.Check out what i discovered here.

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