Ok, I've posted this a lot on the "Post Your Pictures" forum, so I thought I'd make it permanent here:
Due to the complexity of muscle tissue, it often takes years to develop quality muscle mass. The key is to be consistent and be aware of the following principles:
Bodybuilding & body shaping are built on three factors:
2. Consistent and Intense Exercise
If you leave out any of those 3, your gains will be minimal.
Nutrition is the most important factor, and sadly most people neglect that part of it. I did for years when I started. The majority of people focus soley on weight training. Although weight training is a large component of adding musculature, better than average nutrition is extremely important as well.
By going to the gym frequently, and training your muscles to the point of "momentary muscular failure", you create microscopic tearing in the muscle tissue and this stimulates them to grow, strengthen and improve. You want to hit failure at some point between the 8th and 12th rep. If you're using a weight that you can do 15 reps on before failing, the weight is too light. If you can barely get 6 reps before failing, the weight may be too heavy. As your muscles get stronger, you can add more weight to keep you in the 8-12 range. Frequently you can switch your routine so you do heavier weight with fewer repetitions, but make sure your form stays strict. Consistency is also very important. Weight training gains are analgous to pushing a car up a hill. If you stop, the car starts to roll back. Muscles only grow and improve if they're constantly stressed. When the stress stops, or stays the same, they stop improving or even shrink. Change your routine frequently, but don't take too much time off from the gym. At most a week or two if possible.
Here's a website with great information about muscle groups and the exercises that train them:
Now that you've stressed your muscles in the gym, you have to provide them with quality building materials to repair. This is where the nutrition comes in. Building muscle is like building a house. The food you eat are the bricks and mortar for building the house. If you plan out your meals in advance, eating every 2-3 hours while you're awake, and carefully monitoring your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake, you can maximize your muscle growth without gaining noticeable bodyfat. You've heard the saying "you are what you eat". What would you rather build your house with, concrete or PlayDoh?
Here are two websites that you may find useful regarding nutrition:
Lastly is rest. The "builders of your house" need time to make the repairs. Not only do you have to allow at least 48-72 hours between sessions where you train the same muscle groups, but you should do your best to get a good 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Your body starts releasing growth hormone about 2 hours after you go to sleep. This prompts the body's systems to repair themselves. The more you sleep, the more work can be done.
To help you organize all this, make sure you keep two journals. One for your nutrition, the other for your workouts. A simple spiral notebook will do (however if you want to be fancy, you can use a spreadsheet program on your computer). In the nutrition log, you'll keep track of the meals you eat, the times you eat them, how many grams of protein, carbs and fats each meal had, and by doing that you'll be able to know at a glance how many calories you're taking in and you can adjust it accordingly if you're planning to gain, or lose weight. The other journal will help you keep track of your workouts, poundage, exercises, # of reps per exercise, muscle groups trained, etc. This will allow you to see how you're progressing and help you avoid plateauing or having stagnant workouts.
To get you started, here's an additional article written by Matt Danielson which goes into more detail regarding the concepts I've mentioned above. Matt's a professional personal trainer and he writes articles routinely for bodybuilding.com. His article is particularly great for beginners or bodybuilders who've been away from the gym for a while or might be plateauing and trying to get a new routine going:
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/printworklog.htm - Bodybuilding.com's Free Printable (and customizable) Workout Log
Anywho, I hope all this helps. Keep on working hard. Remember, we skinny guys can get big too! We just have to work a lot harder at it.
This was me at 16:
This was me 7 years later (at 25):
This is me today (over 18 years later, at 36):
Hang in there, you can do it.
Need one more piece of motivation? Here's a before/after video that Fletch made using my progress pictures and some well chosen music:
Oh, and here's one final movie I put together for fun:
- Skip "Applied knowledge is power!"