How To Gain Mass the Right Way: A Guide for Newbies

How To Gain Mass the Right Way: A Guide for Newbies

11 min read


06 May 2024

Grab your cheat sheet

  1. The golden rules for gaining mass
  2. How to build muscle mass the right way
  3. What to look for in a mass gainer
  4. How to use a mass gainer for best results
  5. The keys to fast muscle growth

When you first start hitting the gym and working out, thinking about all the muscle gains you’re going to make is exciting.

You feel pumped up, eager to pack on mass, and looking forward to getting absolutely ripped.

Then, you quickly find out it’s actually harder than it looks to bulk up and build the body you were dreaming about.

But like some sort of fitness Frankenstein, you just need to find that spark to bring all of that hard work to life and unleash your monster potential.

In this case, the spark is multiple things—and we’ve got the details you need to make them happen.

So, let’s look at how to bulk up and put on muscle mass the right way, along with what not to do—and a few tricks to speed up your progress so you can get hench a lot quicker.

man and woman lifting weights

The golden rules for gaining mass

Building muscle mass is not just about lifting heavy weights up and down, over and over again. No, it's about understanding how your muscles grow and adapt so that you can train them in the most effective way.

When you hit the gym and challenge your muscles through resistance training, you create micro-tears in your muscle fibers. 

As these tears repair, your muscles grow larger and stronger, better equipped for lifting heavy weights in the future.

This process is known as hypertrophy, and it’s the key to successfully building muscle mass.

To make sure you go about this properly, here are a few crucial dos and don’ts to bear in mind when it comes to strength training.

The dos of muscle building…

First up, a few things that you should be doing as part of a solid workout routine.

  • Follow a structured weight-training program: Make sure you have a plan and know what you’re going to do in the gym. The routine you follow should suit what you’re trying to achieve and should be trackable and measurable, especially as this helps with the next point…
  • Prioritize progressive overload: Gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts over time is the way to continually challenge yourself and stimulate that muscle growth. This might be through upping the number of sets and reps per session, decreasing rest times between exercise, or simply lifting more weight than before.
  • Consume adequate protein: Ensure that your diet includes enough protein to fuel the repair and growth of your muscles. Eat plenty of lean protein sources like chicken, fish, and eggs, or plant-based proteins like lentils and quinoa to stimulate that muscle repair and make quality gains.
  • Rest and recover: It’s not just what you do in the gym that counts; it’s also what you do after—as it’s actually during rest that your muscles do their growing. Your muscle tissue tears while lifting, and then the protein you eat helps to build and repair your muscle cells, making them bigger and stronger than before (the muscle hypertrophy mentioned above). So rest days and adequate recovery time are essential for muscle development.

The don’ts of muscle building…

Along with the things to do above, there are a few things that you shouldn’t do on your muscle-building journey.

  • Avoid overtraining: While consistency is important, overtraining can lead to injury and hinder muscle growth. Listen to your body, manage your training frequency, and allow for adequate rest between intense workouts.
  • Steer clear of unbalanced diets: A well-balanced diet should consist of a variety of macros, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, that provide the necessary energy and nutrients to maximize muscle-building potential.
  • Don’t go overboard with cardio: While cardiovascular exercise has plenty of health benefits, excessive cardio can potentially hinder muscle gain if it’s not balanced with the right amount of resistance training.

Following these dos and don'ts will help you establish a solid foundation for building muscle mass effectively and safely. You can then take the next steps to help you really bulk up and pack on more muscle.

Let’s look at how to do just that.

hand gripping barbell

How to build muscle mass the right way

The goal is not just to gain mass and build muscle in any way possible—it’s to do it in a way that’s healthy and sustainable, and that actually works.

Sure, you could just stuff your face and go berserk at the gym a few times a week, but that will only take you so far. Real results require smart strategies.

The following tips should form the basis for your muscle-building plan if you’re serious about making massive gains and increasing muscle mass.

1. Compound exercises are king

The core of your gym sessions should be focused on compound exercises that hit major muscle groups at the same time. There are plenty of reasons for doing so, such as compound movements…

  • Burn more calories
  • Stimulate extra testosterone and human growth hormone release
  • Enhance core strength and stability
  • Help iron out muscle imbalances
  • Improve muscular coordination and increase flexibility
  • Elevate your heart rate
  • Increase overall muscle growth

So, starting your workouts with some of the big boys, like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, lunges, overhead presses, dips, pull-ups, and push-ups is the way to go.

You can then round out each session with relevant isolation exercises for the specific muscles or muscle group you’re focusing on that day. For example…

  • Biceps: Dumbbell curls and hammer curls
  • Triceps: Rope pushdowns and kickbacks
  • Shoulders: Lat raises and reverse flyes
  • Back: Cable rows and dumbbell rows
  • Chest: Cable crossovers and incline dumbbell flyes
  • Legs: Seated hamstring curls and calf raises
  • Abs: Crunches and leg raises

2. Train hard

This one should go without saying really, but half-heartedly lifting weights is not the play. “Go big or go home” might sound like a bit of a cliche—but it’s never truer than in the gym.

Bring high intensity to your workouts. Keep increasing the volume, and continue to test yourself. Because if you’re not working hard enough, your muscles have no incentive to become bigger and stronger than before.

You should leave absolutely everything on the weight room floor. Train to failure, push your limits, and walk out of that gym dripping in sweat, knowing that you gave it your all.

3. Get eccentric

A good way to challenge yourself during workouts and progressively overload your muscles is to increase their time under tension.

This just means that your reps are slower and more controlled, as they take longer to complete—which is taxing on the muscle group you’re working out.

One of the best techniques for increasing that time under tension is to slow down on the eccentric (lowering or “negative”) part of an exercise.

Compared to the muscle-shortening, concentric parts of a rep, eccentric contractions (like dropping down into a squat or returning the weight to starting position in a biceps curl) lengthen the muscle, recruit a larger number of muscle fibers, and generate higher levels of mechanical tension. In turn, this makes them key parts of a lift for triggering hypertrophy.

So, instead of lifting up and down at the same tempo, try for around two seconds for the concentric movement, pause for a second at the top of the lift. Then slowly perform the eccentric phase for around four seconds. You'll really feel the burn and pack on some serious mass.

man eating protein bar

4. Eat, eat, eat

Be honest, this is one you really wanted to hear, isn’t it?

Packing on mass is the perfect excuse for being able to chow down and fill your boots (and face) at mealtimes. And snack times.

Your muscles can’t grow if they’re not getting enough fuel and the right nutrients to feed them in the first place, so it’s vital that you eat in a calorie surplus if you want to bulk up in size.

But the types of food you eat matter.

Sure, you can just eat whatever you like to get big quickly. This is known as “dirty bulking”, which is all about consuming more calories, no matter what the source. So burgers, fries, pizzas, chocolate, ice cream—everything is fair game here.

But the mass you gain following this approach will not just be muscle. It will also become body fat. So once you've put on that weight, you’ll have to deal with that at a later date.

Your other option is “clean bulking”, which is a much more measured approach. It does take longer—but it’s a far more sustainable and healthy way to go about building mass.

Instead of cramming in as many calories as possible each day, you’ll be tracking your macros to ensure you take in the optimal amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates you need for steady growth.

How many calories you consume will depend on your approach, goals, body composition, and timeframe.

If you want to do a quick and dirty bulk, you might end up eating around 500 to 1000 calories more than usual every day (or maybe even more than that). 

Whereas a clean bulk over time will only require around 300 to 500 additional daily calories from whole food sources that are full of healthy nutrients.

PRO TIP: If you struggle to consume enough calories each day to put on mass, a daily protein shake or high-protein smoothie can be a really tasty way to hit your targets.

5. Rest, rest, rest

We mentioned this already, but we can’t stress it enough: You need to give your muscles time to recover in order for them to grow.

That muscular damage you did in the gym will make them heal bigger and stronger than before—but only if they’re given the necessary time and protein required to do so.

This isn’t just about taking rest days (although you do need to take a couple each week); it’s also about getting enough sleep.

When you’re asleep, your body does a lot of internal work to keep you in good health. One of its tasks is maintaining hormonal balance.

By releasing hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH), your body can heal, and your muscles are able to achieve that growth you’re striving for.

Around seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep each night is what you should be aiming for to increase muscle mass, regulate your hormone levels, and prevent physical and mental burnout.

6. Take a mass gainer

Supplements are your friends. When you choose the right ones to support your gym goals, they can transform modest results into incredible gains.

One of the best for gaining mass is (unsurprisingly) a mass gainer.

High-quality mass gainers can provide the extra calories and nutrients you need to bulk up effectively and in a healthy way.

Mass gainers are such a great tactic for building muscle mass that we’ll cover them in a little bit more detail below—so you know just what to look for in a decent mass gainer and how to use them for best results.

Along with mass gainers, other supplements can also take your muscle-building workouts further…

  • Protein powders (like whey, pea, or hemp) can help you hit your daily macro targets, support muscle growth, and boost protein synthesis for faster gains.
  • Creatine can enhance your workout performance by increasing your muscle strength and muscular endurance in the gym. This means you’ll be able to lift heavier, exercise for longer, and lift weights more explosively—leading to an increase in lean body mass.
  • Pre-workouts can get you pumped up, energized, and fully focused on your training sessions, so you’ll never feel the urge to quit early (or skip the gym completely).
  • Testosterone boosters can enhance hormone production to further maximize muscle growth and improve your strength-training abilities.

Adding supplements like these into your daily and weekly routines can complement all of the hard work you do in the gym and the foods you eat to bulk up and gain muscle.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what the best main gainers can offer.

man drinking mass gainer

What to look for in a mass gainer

Like all supplements, the ingredient profile will differ from mass gainer to mass gainer. But the very best ones will have the following key qualities…

  • At least 30g of protein per serving
  • A source of complex, low glycemic carbs (like oat flour)
  • A bulking agent (like maltodextrin)
  • Healthy fats (like MCT oil, CLA, or omega-3s)
  • Added vitamins and minerals (like zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins)
  • Delicious flavor options

How to use a mass gainer for best results

If you want to get the most out of your mass gainer, there are a few little tricks that can make it go further and really enhance your ability to build muscle mass…

  • Work out exactly how much you should be eating each day based on your workouts, goals, and body type
  • Account for your mass gainer in your daily macro and calorie counts
  • Start off slowly and increase the amount gradually over time to avoid bloating
  • Time your mass gainer shake around your workout
  • Blend it up with other ingredients to make a super shake or smoothie
  • Take as part of a stack with other supplements
man lifting heavy weight

The keys to fast muscle growth

Gaining muscle and bulking up isn’t just a matter of turning up to the gym a couple of times a week. 

It’s about training hard, eating enough calories (and plenty of protein) to stimulate muscle synthesis, and getting the recuperation necessary for your muscles to heal and grow.

Dirty bulking will help you gain mass fast. But clean bulking and following a strong workout plan will ensure that it’s muscle you’re packing on, not body fat, too.

And the easiest way to ensure those calories are clean is to supplement your diet of whole foods with a quality mass gainer.

That’s exactly what the Crazy Nutrition Mass Gainer gives you—the complex carbs, vital nutrients, and extra protein to get you smashing your muscle-building goals.

Just go hard in the gym, up your protein intake, follow the tips above, take your daily mass gainer—and you’ll be well on your way to earning immense muscle growth the smart way.