Results From My 5 Week Muscle Building Experiment…


Muscle Building Experiment

For the past five weeks, I’ve been experimenting with a new workout plans and diet that was intended to pack on some muscle. I weighed in today at 169.2 lbs, a gain of about 7 pounds (I’m not posting a picture, cause I gained a bit more fat than I care to show :).

I used a 3 day per week training schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and I alternated between training lower body and upper body each session. I kept the rep range between 6 – 12 for most exercises. And I used supersets quite often, especially for the upper body training. Oh, I also used single joint movements including biceps curls and triceps extensions.

I based many of my workouts off of Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secret’s Manual…  Although I put a bit of my own twist on it…

Below are two days of my actual workouts:

Wednesday August 19, 11:49am – 12:18pm

Bench Press: 135lb x 8, 165lb x 8, 175lb x 6, 170lb x 4, 155lb x 6.

Superset Strict Pull Ups, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, and Body Rows with heels elevated.

Pull Ups: 11, 5, 4.

Shoulder Press: 40lb x 10, 40lb x 7, 40lb x 6.

Body Row: 4, 3, 3.

Superset 75lb Cheat Curl with Close Hand Push Ups.

Curls: 6, 6, 4.

Push Ups: 7, 5, 7.

Friday August 21, 4:17pm – 4:34pm

Squat: 135lb x 10, 135lb x 10, 165lb x 10, 165lb x 8.

Single Leg Deadlift: 135lb x 3, 135lb x 3.

Sit Up Stand Up w 20lb medicine ball: 10 reps.

Hanging L-sit hold: max effort, but not timed.

My diet was pretty regimented when I started this little experiment. But after actually LOSING weight the first two weeks, I threw the rules out the window and started eating as much as I could. And I ate everything! Cheeseburgers, pizza, french fries – you name it I ate it.

Oh and beer. . . there was definitely more beer than usual. Once I started following the advice I usually give to hard gainers, “eat like it’s your job”, my weight started going up – But so did my body fat percentage.

So did I actually pack on some muscle?

Well, not much. I’ve had a few comments that my arms look  bigger and my shirts do fit tighter across the chest. But as far as any major changes in muscle gains, it just didn’t happen… But in 5 weeks, I really wasn’t expecting a ton of progress.

So where was the flaw?

There is no doubt in my mind that the missing link was diet. Even with my see-food diet (if you see food, eat it), I still wasn’t getting enough calories. Certainly not “good” calories. I’m a fan of prepping and planning meals ahead of time for the week. I only did this once during the five-week experiment and it took me nearly 4 hours to get everything ready – about twice as long as it usually takes me to prep meals for the week. And for me to get a solid 4-hour block of time each week is just no going to happen with my hectic schedule.

If I had to do it over again, I’d consume more dairy as my body tolerates it well. I was consuming a pint of chocolate milk after each training session, but that’s the only time I was drinking any milk. I’d also eat a lot more nuts between meals. When I did eat some almonds or walnuts, I didn’t limit the amount I had. But I didn’t exactly push myself to eat a lot of them either.

So What Did I Take Away From This Muscle Building Experiment?

Dieting for fat loss might be more difficult from a mental aspect, but eating for muscle gain is definitely harder from a logistical standpoint.

I missed the high impact movements like burpees, box jumps, and skipping rope.

Cheat curls were my favorite single joint movement. And I might actually still do them from time to time.

My training sessions did not take that much longer – most were about 20 – 30 minutes long.

My cardiovascular conditioning suffered, as I found out in my return to high-intensity training today.

I think If I continued this for 12 weeks with a better diet, I would have seen some solid results.  I certainly would have put on a few more lbs of muscle, then I could have started leaning out with more circuit training after the 12 weeks.

If you’re skinny, and looking to put on some size I definitely recommend Jay’s manual Muscle Gaining Secrets…  It works, just make sure you eat, eat, eat!

Let me know if you have any questions about the plan I did by leaving me a comment below…

– Vic

Results From My 5 Week Muscle Building Experiment...
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Results From My 5 Week Muscle Building Experiment...
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  1. Personally, I tihnk 7 lbs of LBM in 5 weeks is pretty good. Even with the fat gain, I think you topped off your muscle building potential. Surely, eating cleaner would have prevented fat loss but I don’t think it would have increased muscle gains, because the body can only build muscle so quickly depending on your level of training. So 7 lbs is great for a guy with your experience.

    And you’re right. On your shredded for summer program, it was more a battle of wills. After healing from my collarbone injury, I tried putting on mass, and went from 143 to 158. Some of that was glycogen and water, but I tihnk I put on some muscle, and I retained if not improved my ab definition, which suggests I didn’t put on too much fat. But I think in my case I definitely could have put on more muscle if I was willing to make the sacrifice of fat gain with it. I had a hard time eating enough. It turns into a full time job.

    Good luck losing the fat!

  2. Hey Vic, love the site. You mentioned the food prep you do once a week taking about 2 hours. I haven’t found any posts or videos detailing your food prep (though I have watched a video where you go shopping). Do you have any tips on prepping healthy food for the week? Some sort of system? I’d love to hear what you have to say on this.

  3. I second Kevin’s request. Prepping food for a week would have many benefits, dietary and monetary. So I’d love to hear more about it!

  4. I see a few flaws in your program:

    1) lack of lifting and focusing on the multi-joint movements you love so much. Why not stick with just squats, deads, bench, and overhead press?

    2) moving too little weight – 40lb shoulder press? even if that’s per arm that’s 80lbs … lower your reps and push more weight.

    3) get more rest IN your workouts. If you can do a decent muscle building workout in 20 mins, your NOT resting enough.

    4) Diet …. beer? ummm the insulin spike is gonna do nothing for you.

    I’m on a gain cycle (it’s been 5 weeks as well) I’ve not seen a large bf increase (at least not an embarrising amount) my lifts are increasing and I’m eating a ton. (not pizza and fries, eggs and milk).

    Plus 5 weeks is nothing. That size will go away (heck it may all be fat) to really gain and keep size you have to get your bodt used to it … 5 weeks is way too short.

    Hope the cutting is more successful brother, You know fat loss like no other, cheers.

    • There were holes a plenty, for sure. Most of what you’ve listed I agree with. Some I do not.

      1) My focus maintained on the compound movements. Squats were in every lower body session. Pull ups, overhead pressing, bench press, dips, and upright rows were the foundation of the upper body sessions. I only did single joint movements at the end of sessions.

      2) Moving too little weight. . . maybe. I’ve used heavy weight and low reps for strength gains plenty of times with success, but not for gaining size. Would the combination of the increased food intake with the high weight low rep lifting yield gains in size? Perhaps it would. But I wanted to work mainly in the mid rep range for this experiment.

      3) I disagree. Although I did not clock the rest periods, I have a pretty good internal clock and I feel confident rest periods were at least 1 minute between sets and usually closer to 2 minutes. Longer than that would lose the “pump” that was part of the experiment.

      4) Can’t disagree on this one. 🙂

      I have something special in the works to report on how the cutting goes. Give me 5 or 6 weeks and stay tuned. Many thanks for your comment.

  5. If you kept the high impact movements in the workout regimen, would that have kept your body fat percentage down? The unwanted pounds that were added?

    • It might have. But then again, it might have hindered muscle building. I’d have to do another experiment to really know. That’s always the real answer – you have to test and track things to see what works for you.

  6. Good to see your still plugging away Vic… it was your site that got me started on the right path of diet, strength training, and a little cardio (in that order) back in March this year… First dropping 22lbs of fat in 2 months to a bodyweight of 152lb with diet, and then starting strength training. I haven’t missed a workout since then (unless I was ill)…

    …and now I’m eating 3700Kcals a day, at 5’10” with a bodyweight of 165lb and squatting 205lbx5x5, and hope to be squatting 250lbs in the first half of next year.

    This 40 y/o body is starting to look really good, and I have ‘legs’ (that I’m not embarrassed about for the first time in my life!), the feeling of strength is also fantastic, and it’s done wonders for my mental health.

    Long term goal is a bw of at least 190lb with BF% around 15%.

    The whole idea that you can completely change your body has been mind blowing, I had always assumed I was stuck with what I had – both body and strength wise, boy was I wrong.

    • Man, I can’t tell you how much your story means to me. And to all of the readers. You’ve shown that the basics work (and in the order you’ve listed). No magic pills, no hocus pocus. Consistent effort with proven basic tactics. Keep it up, Max. And keep us posted on your continued success. Many thanks.

  7. Although part of the increase was due to glycogen and water retention, I believe I also gained muscle and maintained or even enhanced my abdominal definition, indicating that I did not gain an unhealthy amount of fat. However, I believe that in my situation, I could have put on more muscle if I had been ready to accept the additional fat gain that came along with it.


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