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Muscle Building - Weight Gain

Visualization is by far the most neglected by mainstream health and fitness professionals

Weight Gain Principles

weight gain By Gary Mathews
Fitness Instructor for the Royal Australian Air Force and Author of Maximum Fitness

Stop wasting your time, money and effort for nothing. Please have a look at the facts presented in this outline of my weight gain principles and make your own decision. As you will see, my systems do work.

Hello, let me introduce myself. My name is Gary Matthews and I bring over 20 years of experience to the Health and Fitness Industry and to MaximumFitness.com.

My professional career began in the Royal Australian Air Force where I was employed as a Fitness Instructor. My duties consisted of training recruits in various disciplines including strength training and conditioning techniques for weight gain, weight loss and general fitness.

At this time I was very much influenced by the bodybuilders and the training systems of the time. Training five or six workouts a week was the norm, splitting upper and lower body workouts and sometimes working out twice a day.

Every set was taken to positive failure, then three or more forced reps and if that wasn't enough I would do a few negative reps. This sort of training would totally exhaust me and render me sore for days after every session.

This constant battering to my body always made me sick or injured. I would take time off and then go back to it again and all the time I gained nothing in size or strength. Can you imagine years and years of hard work all for nothing and I still see it going on around me now.

Traditional training techniques like this are ineffective and downright dangerous, having been passed down from previous training generations and unquestionably followed at all costs.

The only people making any progress on these systems are the so called 'bodybuilding stars' who have superb genetics (about 2% of the general population) and are taking massive amounts of steroids (very expensive and dangerous).

Please do not fall into the same trap, if you haven't made any gains for a long time now stop!! Stop wasting your time, money and effort for nothing. Please have a look at the facts presented in this outline of my weight gain principles and make your own decision. As you will see, my systems do work.

I have been helping people gain solid muscular bodyweight for years now using the same techniques I outline here.

Before I start on the actual training here are a few Scientific Guidelines for strength training that have always been around but are not followed by many training systems these days. As you will see I have based my programs on scientific principles not hearsay or gymlore passed on from trainer to trainer.

It's an unfortunate reality that throughout the years there has been a growth of training techniques without any scientific proof. As in Life, and in Training: The simplest is always the best.

Scientific Principles

1. Limited Energy Level

A strength training program should be short and simple, you only have a limited amount of energy per training session.

Scientific studies reveal that blood sugar levels (energy) start to deplete after 30 mins, so exercise selection and the time taken to perform them is crucial.

What you should be aiming for is stimulating as many muscle fibres in the shortest period of time available.

Your blood sugar levels deplete after high intensity training (usually between 20 - 30 minutes) and remember that you need energy to recuperate after the workout.

The trick is to give yourself a high intensity workout before your blood sugar level depletes, then you will have given your body the exercise that it requires to gain the maximum amount
of muscle possible.

2. Progressive Overload

Progressive Overload is the main exercise principle you need to be aware of in order to get the results that you're after with strength training.

The three most important points are:
  1. Complete your exercise with perfect technique
  2. Push to total failure when doing a setOverload the weight on the bar progressively. (Overload your targeted muscles to beyond what there used to)
Basically this means that when the body is stressed by high intensity training beyond its normal demands, the body will adapt to these new demands of improved strength.

When I say "normal demands," I mean what level of stress/strength your body is used to now.

An example: The set that you performed last week using the same technique and weight, your body will now have adapted to. If you stay at this level your muscles will not become stronger or
bigger, so this is where the Progressive Overload plays a major part.

Once your muscles have adapted to a particular weight then it'll be time to overload them further (add more weight, speed, repetitions). You'll need to keep on repeating this process of overload and adaption if you want to become stronger.

Remember to always use GOOD TECHNIQUE. Technique must never be sacrificed for extra load.

3. Training Frequency

The sad reality is that the popular high volume type of training that you find in bodybuilding books and magazines (and used by the stars) is irrelevant to the majority of the population and has a shocking failure rate.

What is good for Joe Star is probably not good for you. Everybody has different genetics, most of us have poor genetics and are not taking steroids like the stars.

The only way the majority of us can make any gains at all is to perform short intense workouts followed by long periods of rest so that you don't overtrain.

If you follow the training techniques in this course, you will experience big gains in functional strength and muscle size without wasting years in the gym training incorrectly.

4. Over-Compensation

Many studies at universities, conducted around the world have shown clearly that recuperation from strength training requires far more rest time than previously thought.

Infrequent, short, high intensity weight training sessions, followed by the required amount of time to recover and become stronger is necessary for you to increase your functional muscle.

The Strength Training Techniques in this course have been scientifically proven using Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness and Muscle Biopsies.

Here's what you need to do - allow your body enough recuperation time for over compensation to take place, so that the muscles can adjust to their new strength and growth.

5. Exercise selection for intensity

I can't stress enough of how exercise selection is absolutely crucial. There are only a few exercises that you really need to perform. These exercises consist of multi-joint movements.

These particular exercises are far superior to that of isolation exercises (working 1 muscle group at a time) because you are required to use more muscles from every muscle group.

By using these exercises your whole body will be worked hard.

6. Visualization

Over my 20 years in the industry, I've noticed that this area is by far the most neglected by mainstream health and fitness professionals...

Most books or courses concentrate on the physical side of muscle gain or fat loss and completely neglect the mental side of things.

By training your mental state as well as your physical body you can even further progress in muscle growth.


Here we discuss the training strategies involved in the Maximum Fitness system. I have developed this system to be the quickest, easiest and most productive way to gain the Maximum amount of muscle in the shortest time possible. Ok, now let's get into the nuts and bolts of the program.

1. Training Frequency

The two main components of strength training are the intensity of the exercise and the recovery after the exercise. Infrequent, short, high intensity weight training sessions, followed by the required amount of time to recover and become stronger is what is needed to increase functional muscle size in the shortest period of time.

The latest research has repeatedly shown that muscles over-compensate (become stronger) up to a week after the previous workout, provided that the muscles are trained to failure.

Remember it's not the training volume but the intensity and recuperation that's important when it comes to gains in strength and muscle.

2. Exercises Per Session

Tests under strict gym conditions have revealed that you've only got a limited amount of (readily available) energy to use for a weight training session. Blood tests on individuals have also revealed that blood sugar levels (available energy) drop dramatically after 20 to 30 minutes of high intensity training.

As we only have a short period of time to train before our blood sugar level drops, "Exercise Selection" is crucial. We have to use Multi-Joint or Compound movements, as these offer the most training stimulus for the available amount of time. In other words, we can train many muscles simultaneously and thus use our energy more efficiently.

Performing three to four exercises with high intensity during a session are what most people are capable of. All the main structures of the body are worked hard during this time. Working on these big compound movements has a knock-on effect throughout the whole body, there is no need for specialization techniques or isolation movements.

The fact is, the whole body is worked hard, rest and recuperation is allowed to take place and at the next exercise session we push out a few more reps than before with the same weight, then we have gotten stronger i.e. more muscle.

3. Number of Sets per Exercise

After performing one complete set a compound exercise to total failure, it should be just about impossible to generate the same force and intensity for another complete set of the same exercise.

If you're able to generate the same force and intensity for this second set then it'll be pretty obvious that not enough effort has been put into the first set. Thus you'll have to raise the intensity level you put out for the first set.

If you give the first set 100% effort and work the exercise hardto total failure (eg. you cannot move the bar after the last rep) then there will be not more requirement for further muscle stimulation on that specific exercise.

If you think that volume training (multiple sets) is more effective then you're wrong! The latest research shows that single set training is as beneficial as multiple set training. Training one set will decrease the chances of over-training. It will also allow you to save more energy for other exercises required during the workout.

4. Number of Repetitions per Set

The development of muscle and strength is interrelated, it always has been. Strength training Sessions produce increases in strength that are equal to increases in functional muscle. (you'll become stronger and grow muscle).

Cycling intensity through changes in repetitions and weight throughout a ten-week program is an effective way to maintain progression and avoid training plateaus (slumps in strength).

Repetitions can be cycled, the higher repetition range will stimulate the slow twitch muscle fibers and promote endurance. Moving further down the scale, the lower repetition range will activate the fast twitch muscle fibers and increase strength and muscle size.

That's it for the strength training strategies... Just remember that there is a trade-off between proper form and lifting heavier weights. We can all become stronger faster (who doesn't want that?) however being obsessed with lifting more weight or performing more reps will most likely result in injury.

I'm not asking you to take it easy, training to failure never is. But make sure that proper form is your number 1 priority. Here are some other important factors to watch out for while training...

Cool down properly after a workout.

When you perform a strenuous workout, the blood vessels in your muscles dilate to deliver more blood for the muscles to function under heavier loads and higher intensity. The skin vessels also dilate to increase the heat loss from your body, which is why your body tends to become flushed after performing exercise

If you don't give your blood and skin vessels enough time to recover, and jump straight under hot water your skin vessels will dilate even further. Then your heart goes into overdrive trying to pump blood throughout the body.

Ultimately you might notice symptoms like faintness, dizziness or at worst, you could even collapse.

Avoiding Soreness

If you want to avoid post-exercise muscle soreness, take a tip from the experts and try the "hot and cold threapy".

There is evidence that having a 30 second hot shower and then dunking in an icy bath for 30 seconds may assist muscle recovery.

Never train with the Flu

This is one of the biggest exercise blunders you can make. A number of temperature raising viruses, including the flu can affect the muscles.

People often forget that the heart is also a muscle and can be weakened by the flu virus. Normally our hearts can cope with the strain of this, but exercising on top of an already
weakened heart is potentially fatal. After a bout of the flu, you should wait at least 48 hours before exercising again.

Don't skimp on water

One of the biggest mistakes people make in their workouts is under-estimating the amount of fluid they need. Our bodies don't tell us when our water reserves are low and by the time you're thirsty you are already dehydrated.

This presents two problems. The first is that your muscles fatigue reducing your performance and increasing your risk of muscle strain. A more serious risk is overheating because your body's coding mechanism isn't working as well.

Don't eat before exercising

Always try to eat two or three hours before your exercise and not after that. If you do eat before exercise you can develop what is known as "dumping syndrome" where the blood supply that normally goes to your muscles during exercise is diverted to your stomach.

This means that your not getting enough blood to your muscles which can cause you to become lethargic and faint.

There are three different programs in total. Each is to be performed for a ten week period, followed by a two week break.

The body adjusts (gets used to) the training stimulus every eight to ten weeks. By changing program after a ten week period, the body will need time to re-adjust to the new training sessions. Between this time the muscles will over-compensate and promote new muscle growth (you won't fall into a plateau).

The system is complete and easy-to-follow with unique techniques used so you don't have to live in a gym or endure major disruptions to your lifestyle.


Now we'll discuss how training the abdominals, performing cardio work and stretching can compliment the Maximum Fitness weight gain system.

1. Abdominal Exercises

Traditional abdominal exercises can cause back problems. Sit-ups, leg raises and other exercises fail to train the abdominal muscles in the most effective way.

Your abs receive a good workout by providing mid-section stability when utilizing the compound exercises mentioned previously. If you've done heavy exercises before, you'll notice that your abs play an important role in supporting your back so you can hold the heavy weights.

The safest and most productive way to train the abs is to use the brace and hollow technique. Try this easy to use routine first, standing normally, breathing normally, suck your stomach in towards your spine and hold, remember to breath normally, hold for seven seconds and release, now do this exercise 10 times.

This is a basic brace and hollow routine that helps strengthen the abs and the muscular girdle that surrounds your waist. For a more advanced techniques please consult the Maximum Weight Gain in Ten Weeks eBook.

2. Cardio Work

While it's important that calories are burnt whilst performing the actual exercies, the increase in your metabolism especially after a strength training session continues long after the session has finished, burning calories at the same time.

Whilst you are taking part in this Weight gain course, I'd like you to forego aerobic activity as it will mar your strength training progress by taking a bite out of your recovery reserves.

Your body adapts best to a stimulus when it only has to adapt to a single stimulus, and the main priority here is strength training so please keep all incidental activity low.

If you want to gain more muscle, you have to try to get more sleep. Go to bed early whenever possible and sleep late whenever you can.

To have a fully rested body every day is a giant step towards big progress in muscle gain. High intensity workouts can be maintained for longer periods and more energy is there for you during a workout.

3. Stretching

The latest revolution in stretching is called Active-Isolated Stretching (AI). Olympians have been employing this technique for about 10 years now, but it has only recently been brought to the general public's attention.

I have used it on my clients with great success, adding renewed life and energy to tired out muscles. AI stretching also helpsprevent injury, as conventional stretching can cause real harm such as muscle pulls and tears.

AI stretching does what stretching is supposed to do, it transports oxygen to sore muscles and quickly removes toxins so recovery is faster.

It also works as a deep massage technique because it activates muscle fibers during the actual stretch.

[Rob's Note: Learn more about conventional stretching]

4. Nutrition

Small frequent meals should be consumed during the day each containing protein to promote muscle gains and maintain energy levels. A range of high quality vitamin and mineral supplements should also be taken on a daily basis.

A very important part of this evaluation is to find out your daily calorie intake. To do this jot down your daily calorie intake (truthfully) for seven days, now divide this figure by seven and you have your daily calorie intake.

How can you determine how many calories you require?

A quick and easy method to find out how many calories you require per day for weight gain and maintenance, is to calculate a calorie value with a multiplier as set out below.

Weight gain = Multiply your bodyweight in pounds with 18 calories (18 x lb).

Maintenance = Multiply your bodyweight in pounds with 15 calories (15 x lb).

Remember that you will be losing fat while gaining muscle and the scales might not have changed but you will see the difference in the mirror. As before, obtain calories from high quality food but if you can't then utilize a blender to make concoctions from skim milk with whatever nutritious additives you want to use, as long as you keep count of the calories for your daily total.

Spread your food out over many small meals a day instead of the traditional three meals a day. If you're rushed and can't eat solid food then use a blender to keep your daily calorie intake up.

Try not to go hungry if possible, at the first sign of hunger have a nutritious snack, be it a solid or liquid meal.

Other considerations are:
  • More carbohydrate eating sessions, rather than larger meals.
  • If protein requirement is large, split intake over the day.
  • High energy drinks - fruit smoothies.
  • Decrease food bulk by choosing lower-fibre carbohydrate foods.
  • Keep food on hand at all times.
  • Record food intake to identify problem areas. (eg. overeating)
  • Consider appropriate energy supplements.

5. Putting it all together

The core of this weight gain course is the strength training component which when using compound movements should take between 20 minutes and 30 minutes to complete and no longer.

Add on another couple of minutes if calf work is required. Remember to change the program after ten weeks and importantly have a two-week break between programs.

After entering the gym or beginning the workout, a warm-up is required, be it walking, rowing or cycling. This should only be 5 to 10 minutes at a pace where you are mildly puffing (Not flat out, conserve your energy for the strength training component). Once you're warmed up, you'll reduce the chance of injury in the next component.

Now for the strength training component, remembering that you can only perform one set for each exercise, so you'll need to focus very hard at the task at hand and complete each set to total failure while keeping good form.

Before the actual set to failure, I'd like you to do a six-repetition warm-up with half the weight you would use for the failure set.

This is to oil the body for the large set coming and for adjustments to be made to equipment and technique. This warm-up set should not tire you out before the failure set.

After the first failure set, you'll move onto the next exercise ~ (make sure your breathing has returned to normal first)

When the strength training component has been completed, you'll perform a brief cool-down session. Five to ten minutes rowing, cycling or walking at a slow to medium pace is all that's necessary.

After the cool down you can do the Active-isolated stretching exercises or leave them until another time. Remember try and stretch at least once a day if you can.

Finally you can do the Abdominal Bracing techniques described earlier, these should take about 10 - 15 minutes. Also try to brace and hollow every day if possible with you're stretching, either before or after would be a good idea.

Gary Matthews is a trainer from "down under" who has been coaching clients from athletes to bodybuilders for two decades. You may contact Gary directly at trainer@maximumfitness.com and visit his website at www.maximumfitness.com.

The two main components of strength training are the intensity of the exercise and the recovery after the exercise.