How to increase muscle mass
Статьи партнеров - Сборник 1
22.04.2020 22:34

Why can't you gain muscle mass? The starting point to put muscle mass: the normobaric diet how to increase muscle mass: 5 types of effective dietsTraining card to increase muscle mass: conclusions

To increase muscle mass it is essential to understand how to set up an effective diet to provide the body with the energies necessary to increase lean body mass. For this reason, it is important to focus not only on training, on the cards for gaining mass, exercises, repetitions, and series, but also on diet and correct nutrition.

In fact, if the training of a body-builder does not provide for such a clear dividing line separating the different phases (mass-definition), the power supply and the related energy supply can create deficits or surplus capable of determining unequivocally the goodness of our efforts.

So let's see where to start and then how to continue, to set up our diet for muscle mass and get now it.

Why can't you gain muscle mass?

In these two videos, you will find out why you can't grow. Look at them carefully and then continue the article to find out which are the most effective strategies for gaining muscle mass.

The starting point to put muscle mass: the normobaric diet

The first thing to do to increase muscle mass is to understand our starting point from an energy point of view. Translated: what is the total calorie that allows us to keep the weight stable?

To do this, leaving out more complex methods and certainly not within everyone's reach, the easiest way is to use an online calculator (available on the Project since September) or find out your own energy needs.

Although each of the formulas you find inside has obvious limits and a margin of error more or less coarse, it will be useful to us only to have a first rough idea. In fact, we will start from that theoretical value and then go to test it practically.

Let's take an example to better understand:

Mario is a boy who works as a worker 8 hours a day and who trains 3 or 4 times a week. So it is a subject that we can define as moderately active. It is 180 cm tall and weighs 80 kg. Of this 70kg, 10% is fat mass (8kg). Mario's dream for this year is to become huge, and therefore he wants to better set his diet for the mass.

First, we use the data to be able to estimate Mario's daily energy expenditure. We opt for the more classic Harris-Benedict.

The overall value, also taking into account the activity factor, which results in approximately 2700 calories. This value will represent, in a very rough line, our norm caloric. At this point, we decide to go and test it experimentally. We will follow a 2700 kcal food program for 15 days. Obviously we have to organize the energy amount in terms of macronutrients.

The following table indicates what could be acceptable ranges within which to work and customize one's path. We will always divide proteins first, then fats and carbohydrates by difference.



1.6-2.5 gr / kg


0.6-1.5 gr / Kg


By difference from the total calorie

In our example of 2700 kcal we could have:

  • PROTEINS = 80 Kg * 1.8 gr / Kg = 144gr
  • FATS = 80 kg * 0.8 gr / Kg = 64 gr
  • CARBOHYDRATES (by difference) = 387 gr

For exactly two weeks this will be our diet. No cyclization. We will write down the weight every day, measured in the morning on an empty stomach after having fulfilled our physiological needs. We understand that there will be 3 possible scenarios at the end of the indicated period of time:

  • I gained weight.
  • I went down in weight.
  • I stayed the same.

In the first two cases, we will adjust our norm caloric by default or by excess according to how much we have deviated from the theoretical value.


assuming that the initial weight was 80 kg and the final one 81.3 kg, we took 1.3 kg net weight. Assuming for absurdity and simplicity of calculation, that all this kg was acquired in the form of fat, it means that we have assumed 7000 kcal more in 15 days. Therefore:

  • 9000 kcal / 15 days = 600 kcal
  • 600 kcal more per day. At this point, we must remove them from our 2700 theorists

Result: 2700-600 = 2100 kcal

Our excess calorie corrected by mistake will be 2100 kcal. If, on the contrary, our calculations were correct, and our weight has remained identical, we are sure to be in the presence of an energy input value that reflects and equals the caloric value at the output. The first 15 days have therefore already passed. At this point, we are ready to begin our journey towards the magical and enchanted world of muscle mass.

How to increase muscle mass: 5 types of effective diets


We will illustrate different methodologies to face this delicate period. Why delicate?

Because during a mass period it is clear that an energy surplus is necessary. We are therefore creating a perfectly anabolic environment. Anabolic, however, both for the fiber cell and for the adipose tissue. We should be good at making sure that the proportion of growth is in favor of the first subject ( myocyte ) at the expense of the second protagonist ( adipocyte ). This environment is, from a hormonal point of view, extremely delicate, so in my opinion, it will be decidedly more important to pay attention during this phase, compared to the subsequent weight loss phase. Also because a good mass phase simplifies, and not a little, the task during the cut phase (the period in which we try to maximize the loss of fat mass ).

One last consideration before starting. It is always convenient to rely on weekly or monthly and never daily calorie intake. They will allow us more flexibility, adjustments and the possibility of variations during construction.

To decide how much to increase our energy intake weekly, a good rule of thumb is to predict a weight gain of about 0.5% -1% compared to your body weight per month. Why so slow? If you look at the above it is clear We only need to grow the portion relative to the lean mass, trying to get as close as possible to these proportions:

  • 1/3 of fat mass
  • 2/3 of lean mass

Let's take our example of 80 kg, we are talking about an estimated increase of around 350-700g / month.

Turning it into kcal we are talking about an energy surplus of between 1400 and 2800 kcal per month.

Now let's see how to behave and what possibilities are presented to us.

Diet for muscle mass: classic linear high calorie

I state that I do not like linear diets, of any mold, especially if inserted in construction contexts. The body really fits in no time. But it's an option so let's illustrate it

You will remember our subject that started from a norm caloric of 2700 kcal/day. Expecting to have chosen an increase of 2800 kcal per month, approximately 94 kcal per day will now be added to our 2700 (2800/30). Understand how difficult it is to keep up with these small increases. Just one day more eventful than another and the surplus will be canceled. The advice I give you is to provide a range in which to move, the minimum limit of which is given by the calculated 94 kcal and the maximum limit is given by the value corresponding to 10% of your normal calorie. So 270 kcal.

In summary, your classic linear high-calorie diet should be between 2794 kcal and 2970kcal. As always, after setting the total Kcal, we have to think about:

  • protein intake (1.6-2.5 gr / kg)
  • lipid intake (0.8-1.5 gr / kg)
  • carbohydrate intake by the difference

With reference to our example, admitting that we have chosen a hyper at 2970 kcal, we will have:

  • PROTEINS 2.2 * 70 = 154 gr
  • LIPIDS 1 * 70 = 70 gr

Diet to gain muscle mass: high calorie with caloric cyclization

In fact, rather than talking about second chances, it would be correct to talk about the normal development of the previous option. A simple cyclization as you like it and as it is more comfortable.

Do you want to plan days corresponding to your workouts in which you increase your calorie count?

Well, we will create a simple division ON and OFF maybe, with a 10% -15% gap in favor of carbohydrates (in general, when in a context of high-calorie diet we lower the kcal, it can be useful to sacrifice a share of carbohydrates, but when we increase them, in order to avoid excessive imbalances in the CHO / FAT ratio, beyond a certain quota of carbohydrates reached, it is better to distribute the additional calorie surplus equally between these two macronutrients. Obviously these are extremely general indications that must be absolutely personalized in the detail).

So, for example, with an average of 2970 kcal and 4 weekly workouts, we could create:

  • ON days at 3200 kcal with 154 g of protein, 70 of fat and 488 of carbohydrates.
  • OFF days at 2663 kcal with 154 g of protein, 70 of fat and 354 of carbohydrates.

Do you prefer, instead, to leave the weekend a little more elastic for any outings in the company?

Well, then we will decide to spread the calorie surplus of 1890 kcal (270 * 7) on Saturday and Sunday. So from Monday to Friday, we will follow a norm caloric diet while on Saturday and Sunday we will bring our intake to the value of 3645 kcal (maybe we also plan to leave us a training on Saturday).

These illustrated are just two of the endless possibilities you have of cycling the kcal of your mass diet on a weekly basis. Enjoy yourselves!

Increase muscle mass: classic high calorie with synchronization of macronutrients

Just as it is possible to cycle calories, in the same way, it is possible to obtain different stimuli simply by cycling the macronutrients. Let's see it practically.

We always start from our classic high calorie at 2970kcal with 154g of protein, 70g of fat and 431g of carbohydrates. This, as we said, is our weekly average. Nobody forbids us to create for example 3 different stimuli on the same isocaloric.

DAY 1 - 2970 KCAL

  • PROTEINS = 2.2 * 70 = 154
  • FAT = 1.2 * 70 = 84

DAY 2 - 2970 KCAL

  • PROTEINS = 2.0 * 70 = 140
  • FAT = 1 * 70 = 70

DAY 3 - 2970 KCAL

  • PROTEINS = 1.8 * 70 = 126
  • FAT = 0.8 * 70 = 56

We will thus create three different stimuli within the same diet for increasing muscle mass

High calorie diet to gain muscle mass with the cycling of calories and macronutrients

It is clear how a fourth possibility is to mix the two previous options, then provide for a cycle on calories and macronutrients.

We could simply predict, starting from our average of 2970 kcal:

  • A day in which we will increase calories by 10%, thus reaching 3267 kcal.
  • A day in which we will lower calories by 10%, thus reaching 2673 kcal.
  • The remaining 5 days at 2970 kcal.

After creating a calorie cycle, we will create a cycle of nutrients based on the different caloric intake. Therefore:


  • Protein 2 * 70 = 140
  • Fat 2 * 70 = 84
  • Carbohydrates = 488


  • Protein 2.2 * 70 = 154
  • Fat 1 * 70 = 70
  • Carbohydrates = 431


  • Protein 2.5 * 70 = 175
  • Fat 5 * 70 = 105
  • Carbohydrates = 257

I would like to underline how, depending on the individual metabolic variability, mg/kg of the individual nutrients can take on totally different connotations. The one provided is just a simple example of the infinite or almost possibilities that can be thought of, created and included in your mass diet.

Diet for the mass: increasing calorie

In this case, we expect gradual caloric increases on a weekly basis starting from our norm caloric. Therefore:

  • WEEK 1: 2700 kcal
  • WEEK 2: 2800 kcal
  • WEEK 3: 2900 kcal
  • WEEK 4: 3000 kcal
  • WEEK 5: 3100 kcal

What will result will be a caloric average of 2900 calories over 5 weeks, therefore perfectly within the values ​​set initially for our period which had the purpose of increasing muscle mass. Obviously, in this case, too, other scenarios and possibilities open up. In fact, within each week, for example, we could foresee a caloric or macronutrient cyclization, or from week to week to use one or the other strategy alternately.

Training card to increase muscle mass

During a period of high-calorie diet, we can push to increase our muscle mass. We must not be afraid of overtraining because the organism will have all the energies and macronutrients it needs. What we need to worry about is to improve the training parameters (volume, intensity, density), which are the true proponents of muscle hypertrophy. Whether we train at home or in the gym, little changes, there are no secrets to pumping and building muscles quickly.

It takes time and constancy, month and years (other than muscle mass in a short time). The important thing in the muscle mass sheet is that you follow these tips:

  1. do at least half, if not 2/3 of the exercises, with the large multi-particulars (paca, squat, deadlift, military press, oarsman, traction, dip)
  2. use medium-low repetition schemes
  3. use weekly progressions on 2-3 exercises (4 × 6> 5 × 5> 6 × 4> 8 × 3)
  4. do not get to muscle failure, otherwise, progressions will stop
  5. do half if not 1/3 of the exercises with the complementaries, on these use medium-high repetitions (also with failure)
  6. multi-frequency training by hitting the muscles 2-3 times a week

Here's the secret to gaining muscle with training is to improve week by week on at least 2-3 board exercises by adding 1 series or 1 repetition or 2.5kg, etc.

To better understand this part about training watch this video:

Increase muscle mass: conclusions

As you have seen, in order to create your mass diet, you really have countless possibilities, all equally valid. You just have to try and see the one that best suits your lifestyle, your person and your body.

Obviously no one forbids you (indeed it is highly recommended) to mix and alternate the different methods throughout the period of the year that you have thought of dedicating to increasing muscle mass. Always different stimuli to prevent and contrast the inevitable organic adaptations.

Finally, we want to leave you with one of the best videos on hypertrophy and how to put muscle mass :

Notes on the author:

Doctor Marco Perugini class 89 'graduated with honors in the sciences and technologies of fitness and health products at the University of Camerino, graduated with a master's degree in the sciences of food and human nutrition at the San Raffaele University in Rome, certified Personal Trainer.