When young guys start training for muscle, they usually go about it the entirely wrong way. They usually do too much too often and end up injured or discouraged.
I was a skinny kid who was pretty fortunate to have had a few good early influences to put me in the right direction early on. Jim Deaner of the Boys & Girls clubs built my foundation, and Gary Knepper of North Hagerstown High School helped build the house on top of it.
Over the course of the years of ravenous reading, steady training and solid nutrition, I built a respectable physique that I became known for in my professional wrestling years. More recently, beginning to compete in powerlifting has made a difference in my physique as well.
Here's some of what I've learned over the course of my lifetime of building muscle:
If you aren't on steroids, don't listen to guys who are. Anabolic steroids change everything in your physiology to the point that you don't even operate like a normal human being. The training that a steroid user can endure and recover from isn't what the all-natural trainer will benefit most from. Most guys I've known to take steroids do so because of insecurity and not really knowing what they're doing in the weight room, so to take their advice is just goofy.
Low-volume, high-frequency total body workouts work best for growth. When I started training with my friend Jeff, he was shocked when he switched to my style of total-body training, which meant doing fewer sets per workout, but hitting it three days a week. He got bigger and strong more consistently than he ever had before. Muscles don't grow when they are overtrained. They actually get smaller, weaker, and make you more injury prone. Like former Mr. Olympia Lee Haney said, "stimulate don't annihilate."
Most bodybuilding supplements are worthless. The new super-hyper mega-double phosaphysiomax powder you saw in Flex magazine? Worthless. The "independent" clinical study that proves it works? Bogus. Some of these supplement companies make claims that a doctor wouldn't. Don't believe any of it. There are only a few products worth mentioning, the rest is just great marketing, hype and false promises. Many might even be dangerous because the supplement industry has no federal regulation like the drug industry does.
Eat. Growing muscles need fuel and if you're underfed, you won't grow an inch. Fuggedaboutitt. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grain complex carbs and lean protein around the clock. Don't eat a bunch of low quality junk to "bulk up" as you'll more likely end up fat and soft. Lots of good, quality food is the key to getting bigger and stronger, but staying healthy at the same time.
Sleep. Get seven to 10 hours of sleep every night to take advantage of your body's overnight rebuilding cycle. This is when the magic happens. This is the time you grow, not while you are training. Sleep is a huge part of the "get big and strong" puzzle. I'd even say it's at least equally as important as your training. Get your self a mattress and cop some z's.
Learn. Read up on muscle building from guys like Jason Ferruggia, Alwyn Cosgrove, Charles Staley, Juan Carlos Santana, Zack Evan-Esh, Chad Waterbury and Christian Thibaudeau. These guys are some of the leaders in the muscle game, and have written hundreds of articles you can find free online on websites like T-Nation.com. Always keep learning.
Of course, there is a lot more than what I wrote here today, but all you skinny guys will get a lot further than you are now with just these few.
Train hard, eat well and sleep —good for bodybuilding success.
Chad Smith is a FTNS radio show, fitness columnist and co-owner of Home Team Fitness Training. Visit his website www.hometeamfitness.net, or find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/hometeamfitness.