Who is Chris Aceto? Chris has been around the bodybuilding world for a very long time. Once a competitor – Chris now works with top bodybuilders around the world and has a pretty impressive track record for getting them in the best possible shape. We’re talking top IFBB pro’s – some of which (Jay Cutler) have seen the highest ranking the sport has to offer, the Mr. Olympia crown. Here Chris takes us through 20 tips to gain mass.
1) Pre-Training Punch
Hitting the iron like a pro? Take in hefty dose of easy to absorb proteins and carbs 60-90 minutes before gym-time. The combo exerts anti-catabolic effect protecting your hard earned muscle while sparing muscle reserves of energy called glycogen. Good bets: 25-35 grams of whey protein mixed into a large bowl of cream of rice cereal or plop ¾ cup of fat free cottage cheese on top of a large baked potato.
2) Gouge After Training
Done training? Hit the kitchen! Training initiates a state where large amounts of carbohydrates and protein can be absorbed and utilized for muscle growth – more so than any other time of the day. Try eating 40 and up to 65 grams of protein – depending on your size – and .5 to .6 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight
3) Cycle Carbs
Really hard trainers need roughly 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight daily, though some will need 3. The best approach: eat 2 grams per pound of bodyweight daily for 4 days and on the fifth day, go to 3. The reason: cycling carbs not only helps keep you lean, but can keep growth supporting hormones like insulin, GH and thyroid levels mildly higher translating into grater growth.
Pro Bodybuilders often take a cheat day – they’ll pick one day out of every 2 weeks and just go wild – eating anything and nearly everything they want. The results? They grow even better. Why? When calories zoom upwards, the body responds by increasing insulin –like growth factor (IGF) which not only help repair muscle tissue but assists in creating brand new muscle fibers, called satellite cells.
5) Creatine Load
Case closed; creatine works. It increases muscle strength and size. However, cycling it, 2 weeks at 5 grams a day, followed by 4 days off then 2 days at 20 grams might trick the muscles into holding greater amounts. How so? With a creatine “deficit” the machinery within the body that stores it, works overtime. With a greater dose – 20 grams – muscles sop the stuff up and retain larger amounts.
Leucine is one of the three branched chain amino acids, but this one takes top billing. It increases insulin – the muscle building hormone – independent of carbohydrates- helping to reverse muscle breakdown. Try taking 5-7 grams 20 minutes before the gym and another 5 grams after.
7) Lucky Seven
Bodybuilders make better gains eating 4-6 meals a day and even better with 7. Multiple meals supplies non-stop muscle building nutrients without setting off fat storing hormones and enzymes associated with larger, infrequent meals. The other plus: cortisol control. The many meal approach suppresses cortisol levels, the hormone that can suppress muscle growth.
When dietary fat is kept under control, it makes room for a much higher carbohydrate. Contrary to popular bodybuilding mythology, carbs are essential and are extremely anabolic in that they increase insulin levels, a potent anabolic hormone. That said, don’t skimp on beef – though it’s a little higher in dietary fat. It’s packed with B vitamins, minerals, zinc and iron making it a must-have food for muscle building.
9) Go Fish
What do Tuna grade sushi, baked salmon, and grilled trout have in common? They’re loaded with special fast called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s fight muscle inflammation, spare glutamine levels and increase the anabolic response to insulin. The result: recovery and growth. Try 4-6 ounces 3 times a week.
10) Pump It Up
What do Viagara and the amino acid arginine have in common?. Yep, they both work at, well, you know. They do so by increasing nitric oxide production, a compound in the body that allows blood to flow. Ever hear of the pump, the gorging of blood into muscles when you train? That’s a solid stimulus for growth and nitric oxide is a chief facilitator for better pumps.
11) Crush The Cortisol
What’s the opposite of anabolism? Catabolism – losing muscle – is accompanied by a rise in cortisol, a stress hormone that chews apart your hard earned mass. A trio of supplements taken after training can squelch its devilish rise. Try 1000 mgs of vitamin C, 400 ius of vitamin E and 800 mgs of the quasi fat called phosphatidylserine.
12) NightTime Morsels
What’s the best thing to eat before bedtime? You need protein to help repair tissue and 2 sources lead the pack. Casein can linger in the body for up to 7 hours – delivering sustained release amino acids for nighttime growth. Omega-3 proteins are a close second. The fat content delays the absorption of all the amino acids – providing constant delivery while the special fat is reported to support growth hormone release.
13) Glutamine and Sugar
Try this post training drink within 5 minutes of your final set. Ten grams of glutamine and 30 grams of carbohydrates – from dextrose or even sugar to kick start growth. Glutamine supports the carb-up process which signals an end to muscle breakdown and sugar kicks up insulin levels, the potent hormone that is extremely effective in reversing tissue damage.
The single most important factor in growth, protein supplies amino acids, the building blocks the body uses to repair, rebuild and mend damaged muscle tissue – the result of training. Aim for at least 1 grams per pound of bodyweight per day and for maximal amino acid uptake, break your protein meals into 5 to 7 servings.
15) Play With The Protein
Did you know reducing your protein intake that to .6 grams per pound of bodyweight for 4 consecutive days out of the month might be helpful? During the shortfall, the body “fights” to protect its muscle by releasing enzymes and messengers that oppose muscle loss. When you return to a higher protein intake, the body overcompensates and retains more protein for added growth.
16) Carbs are Essential!
Don’t you let anyone tell you, you don’t need carbs for growth! Heck, they play an essential role in muscle building. First they provide fuel – and repairing the body is a fuel-requiring process. They also increase insulin, which, in turn increases other growth promoting hormones and enzymes. Carbs are also stored as muscle glycogen the essential form of fuel for brutal workouts.
What’s the most underrated nutrient for mass building? Zinc. It helps the body make insulin, testosterone and it supports the immune system. It also is required for over 200 other enzymatic reactions in the body. Not bad huh? Problem is; it’s sometimes hard to get a full 18-20 mgs a day. Best bets; oysters, beans and seafood.
Low fat or skim, milk is a complete source of protein, and highly anti-catabolic. The amino acids in milk digest slowly – which makes it ideal in preventing muscle breakdown. Plus, milk exerts a repartioning effect – where calories become less efficient at making body fat – which means they are either used to build mass, or simply burned off the body.
Potassium helps muscles contract and assists in the manufacture of muscle glycogen, the reserve fuel tank within muscles and liver that supplies energy to muscles. A low potassium intake can short circuit your ability to carbo-load your muscles. Since potassium is stored within muscles, it’s speculated that – like creatine and glutamine – it adds to the total amount of water muscle can retain and store. The benefit; more water in muscles facilitates an anabolic environment causing greater muscle growth. Good sources include lean meat, yogurt, bananas and potatoes or try supplementing with 1000-1500 mgs daily split over 5-6 meals (200-300 mgs over any 5 meals)
Water is the medium for metabolism; getting nutrients to muscles and helping to detoxify the body of metabolic waste products that can put a drag on growth. Water builds glycogen reserves, blood volume, and directly supports growth by signaling anabolic mechanisms in muscles for greater protein synthesis. A gallon a day is what the big boys drink; from Cutler to Coleman, you’ll find water is not for wimps.
Article written by Chris Aceto.