Advice for Gaining Muscle Mass

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I received the following question from a customer interested in gaining muscle mass and thought I would share my response:


I am a 30 year old skinny guy, and I have always had a hard time gaining weight.  I am 5’8″, and I currently weigh 123 (this is high for me – I am usually between 115 and 120).  I have worked out on and off, and I am getting back into working out again.  I have the p90x workouts, and I plan on doing them.

Do you have any suggestions for a guy like me?  I plan on getting your product and hope that it will help me with my recovery.  But if you have any other advice for me to gain some mass, I’d appreciate it.  I’d love to get to 140.


There was a point in my life that I was nearly infatuated with putting on muscle mass. For years, I followed bodybuilding type routines adopted for the masses that had me training frequently (averaging 5 times a week) and focused on numerous sets and repetitions. Unfortunately, even though I worked my ass off I really didn’t put on much muscle and gained very little strength. This sort of training got me ripped, but I was still a weakling. My weight stayed about the same (160 at 5’11”) and I started to assume that putting on muscle was beyond me.

Mike deadlifting in 2000


About this time I was fortunate enough to run into a fellow who pointed me in a different direction. He was a rather large power-lifter in his 50’s and he told me that I, like himself, was a hard gainer and had an ectomorphic somatotype (skinny body-type). He assured me that I could put on muscle but I needed to eat and train differently than the top steroid using bodybuilders whose routines I was religiously following. He recommended reading a book called Super Squats to start me in the right direction. I followed up on his advice and after reading that book I skeptically made drastic changes to my workout routine. This was the catalyst that nearly morphed me into a different human. Five years after my change of training philosophy I weighed 235 pounds and was fairly successful in competitive power-lifting (no drugs). So, in five years I gained 75 pounds of muscle where in the previous five years of training I hardly gained a pound!

Some body types gain muscle with much more difficulty than others and consequently need a different training stimuli to add that coveted mass. Infrequent workouts, multi-joint exercises (squats, dead-lifts, clean and presses), low-repetitions and sets, good form and heavy weights are the training philosophies that allow hard-gainers to pack on quality pounds. At my peak, I was training once or twice a week for around and hour and only doing 3 to 4 exercises with single to triple repetitions and I grew like a weed!

Mike and one of the strongest men to ever live, Ed Coan at the Viking Open powerlifting competition.

There really is no one workout answer for every unique person as individual goals, motivation, and body types differ dramatically. P90X is a good program and seems to be very effective for those who want to lose weight. High intensity circuits of multi-joint exercises burn a tremendous amount of calories and frequent training will reduce body fat considerably while maintaining muscle mass. However, for someone like yourself who doesn’t have extra body-fat to lose, or the muscle mass to maintain, I would question the programs ability to add muscle to your frame. Rejoice in the fact that you aren’t like millions of other Americans faced with the challenge of losing body fat. In my opinion, your goal is easier to obtain, you just need the correct stimuli for your body type.

Another important note on increasing your muscle mass is diet. You must increase your daily caloric intake and the best way to do this is by increasing the number of meals you consume. I ate a tremendous amount of food to achieve my gain in muscle and much of that food was derived from animal sources. I always had food available and seemed to be stuffing my face at every opportunity. Also, don’t forget to take the full three scoop serving of Mike’s Mix after all your workouts.

Protein First Recovery Drink for strength training

Protein First Recovery Drink for strength training

So, I offer the same advice to you that was given to me. Pick up a copy of “Super Squats“. It is an old book by now but good training advice ages well. As I became more experienced, my personal training philosophy evolved. Several different authors with similar but slightly different philosophies as that of “Super Squats” contributed to the knowledge I accumulated in my weight-lifting years.

Some other books that left lasting impressions and shaped my training were: “Brawn” and probably the most entertaining was “Dinosaur Training“. Later, during my competitive power-lifting years, the philosophies of Louie Simmons helped me attain tremendous strength.

Mike and family, 2015

2 Responses to Advice for Gaining Muscle Mass

  1. Harriet

    That can’ really be you?? Wow!

  2. Harriet

    That can’t really be you?? Wow!


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