T Nation

How to Gain Muscle?


ive been lifting for around a year and a half now , ive made some decent gains but mostly during my noob stage. Im currently 17 years old , and hoping of adding much more size throughout the next year. I believe my problem stems from poor programming. I eat healthy , count my calories / macros , however i have poverty numbers (200x1 bench , 365x1 sumo deadlift , 185x1 squat) - the correlation between my deadlift and squat is pathetic , i do go ass to grass on my squats , warm-up proper , etc. Ive been on madcow’s 5x5 gaining up some strength because of a recent vacation which left me with a lot of strength loss. Also , i was wondering , im always hearing - “get stronger , get bigger” however i really havent noticed much size difference from when i hit a 1 plate bench or a 1 plate squat , or hell even a 2 plate deadlift. Am i doing something wrong ? ive been in a caloric surplus for almost a year now. Ive definitely gained weight but i still look like a frail grandmother. HELP


Now if I was asked by someone wanting to build a more muscular physique what I would consider to be the key things they should be doing to achieve that goal, based on them being a lift long skinny bugger I would answer…

  1. hit your calorie targets

Work out what your daily calorie intake should be and consistently eat above that day in day out no excuses.

  1. eat mostly whole foods

Lots of good meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, good quality carb sources like rice, potatoes, brown variations of foods, whole grain stuff ect… You don’t need to be 100% clean, just eat as good as you can but if you need some crap to hit your calorie targets, so be it. Hitting the target will make or break you.

3 drink lots of water

No explanation needed!

  1. follow a simple routine

A simple push/pull split is ideal.
Push day
Squat, bench, overhead press, leg kicks, tricep isolation.
Pull day
Chin up, deadlift, row variation, ham curl, bicep isolation.

5 . 8 to 12 reps

The 8 to 12 range is ideal, most of your time should be spent here.

6 slow eccentric

The magic happens lowering weights, use a 4 second controlled negative on all but deadlift. Stick with it every rep, if you can’t maintain it lower the weight until you can do every rep of every set in this fashion.

7 forget your ego

Having an ego will severely hinder your ability to carry out point 6. You will be disappointed with how little you can rep for 10 with a 4 second negative, you will feel like everyone is looking at your puny weights, you will want to forget tempo and form and prove you can lift heavy. Don’t do it, stay strong and stick with the plan. It’s all in your head, Nobody actually cares what your lifting, and if they do that’s there issue not yours.

8 leave the gym feeling trained but not half dead

Stick to your program, don’t add more because you still feel fine, don’t do 100 extra sets because you can still feel your arms. Don’t aim to leave the gym beat, anyone can tire themselves out.

9 progression

You have to be making progress, you could progress by doing more weight, more reps,more sets, less rest. Pick a preferred method of progression that works for you, just make sure there is one. If your following a tried and tested set program, use the progression they prescribe.

10 keep a journal

This will help with progression and self assessment. The faintest of ink is clearer then the most vivid memory. Not sure where I read that but I like it.


than change your program…

your bench is even more than your squats… sounds more like a form issue if your working your squats hard.

for clarification what is your height and weight?


6’2 , 185


Do this…


(can and should substantially up calories for this one)


Correct me if I’m wrong but madcow is:

Ramping to 1 top set of 5 for squats, bench and row/clean on Monday

A midweek workout that is light except for 1 top set of 5 deadlifts

Ramping to 1 top set of 3 for squats, bench and row/clean on Friday

Basically low volume on a bunch of lifts notorious for not adding on muscle mass. Can’t see the issue here.