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SIX WEEKS TO SICK ARMS: NUTRITION

The 6 Weeks to Sick Arms meal plan will have you packing on tons of muscle.

SIX WEEKS TO SICK ARMS: NUTRITION

To put real size on your arms takes an intense, smart training plan and a smart nutrition plan. After all, it takes adequate calories, protein, carbs and fat to build up the arm muscle mass you're constantly breaking down with intense workouts. Here, I break down these four key components of mass-gaining nutrition:

1 Calories are King

Building mega mass takes mega calories. The first thing you need to focus on is the amount of calories you take in. If your body is in a calories deficit, it is less likely to expend energy on building muscle.

To ensure that you have a surplus of calories to maximize your muscle-building efforts, you need about 24-25 calories per pound of body weight on workout days, which equates to about 4,300-4,500 calories for the 180 pounder. On rest days, you will expending fewer calories, so you will only need to take in about 20 calories per pound to stay in a calorie surplus, or about 3,600 calories.

2 Protein Packs on Muscle

As long as you have ample calories, the majority of your protein intake will be put to use building up muscle size. The protein you consume from food and protein powders gets broken down into individual amino acids in the body that travel to your muscle cells (fibers) and are reassembled into muscle protein that add to the size of the muscle cells.

On workout days, you will need 1.5 - 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or about 270-360 grams of protein for the 180 pounder. On rest days, you won't be consuming pre- and post-workout shakes, so your protein intake will be down at the 1.5 grams per pound level.

3 Carbs Can Build Muscle, Too

Yes, I just told you how protein gets digested and then rebuilt into muscle protein. But carbs are also essential for building serious muscle. One way that carbs help build muscle is by signaling your body that you are in a calorie surplus. Carbs get stored in muscle cells and in your liver as glycogen. When your liver and muscle cells are fully loaded with glycogen, muscle protein synthesis (the building of amino acids into muscle protein) is allowed to move along at maximal levels. When liver and muscle glycogen levels are low, muscle protein synthesis can be limited, and therefore, so can muscle growth.

Another way that carbs increase muscle size is also due to muscle glycogen levels. Glycogen pulls water into muscle cells, filling them up like a balloon. This not only makes the muscle bigger temporarily due to the higher water levels, but it also can lead to long-term muscle growth. When the muscle is full of water, it stretches the muscle membrane. The stretch placed on the muscle membrane is sensed by the muscle. To accommodate the higher water levels, the muscle cells grow bigger by synthesizing more muscle protein. On workout days, make sure to take in about 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight, or 360-540 gram per day for the 180 pounder.

On rest days, since you will be doing less work, and not eating pre- and post-workout carbs, you can shoot for just under 2 grams per pound, or just shy of 360 grams for the 180-pound person. Except for after workouts, when you want a VERY fast-digesting carb source, you should be eating mainly slow-digesting or low-glycemic carbs, such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, fruit and sweet potatoes.

4 Don't Forget the Fat

You should know by now that I am not one to warn you to limit fat intake. The only fat I'll tell you to avoid is trans fat, which can decrease muscle size and pretty much kill you. But you need ample amounts of fat, especially monounsaturated and saturated fat, as well as omega-3 fats. Research shows that men getting in higher amounts of monounsaturated fat and saturated fat maintain higher testosterone levels -- and higher testosterone levels can lead to higher muscle mass.

You can get monounsaturated fat from peanut butter, olive oil, and nuts. Saturated fat will come from beef, dairy and egg yolks. Omega-3 fats, such as those found in salmon, sardines and fish oil supplements, are good for muscle and joint recovery. Shoot for about half your body weight in grams of fat, which would be about 90 grams of fat per day for the 180-pound person.

Meal Plans For Mass

The following meal plans are samples using a 180-pound person. These will also work for those around 160-200 pounds. If you weigh less or more than this range, adjust your macros and calories to hit the numbers I discussed above. The meal plan is a sample of only one day. This does not mean that you should eat these same meals every day.

See my list of alternative foods here.

Sample Six Weeks To Sick Arms Menu for those who train first thing in the morning:

Pre-workout snack (30-45 minutes before workout)

  • 1 scoop of a protein blend (such as Pro...

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