A lot of people–maybe you included–look at their bodybuilding role models and they think to themselves, “I wanna be like that!” Massive, vascular, and muscular: That’s probably the end goal for anyone who has made bodybuilding their lifestyle.
If this is the case, you’re different from someone who is looking to optimize their body composition–for example, someone looking to get leaner and add muscle while staying at their same weight. You’re looking to get big!
We get a lot of people just like you who are looking to add on size. Maybe they want to reach 180 lbs from their previous 160 lbs weight, or even reach 250 lbs from their 225 lbs starting point.
We answer all of their questions, and we help them reach their goals. However, probably the first thing they ask is how many calories is it going to take for them to get bigger. And that’s the golden question right there.
However, even if we answer all of your fitness, nutrition, and weight lifting questions, there are certain things you need to know before you embark on the road to be as massive as possible.
You’ll know all of them by the time you finish this article.
The first thing to mention is that when you ask yourself, “How many calories do I need to put on a massive amount of size?” you’re actually asking an extremely complex question. The easiest thing would be to say, “It depends.”
However, before you find an answer to your question, you need to ask yourself a different one.
How Many Calories Do You Need to Maintain?
You need to understand that everybody has a different body and metabolic rate, and the first thing to understand is what your maintenance calories are. That’s how many calories you need to consume for your body to not be in a calorie deficit.
We wouldn’t recommend using any of those online calorie calculators, as they’re rarely ever accurate. And unfortunately, while you’re welcome to join us at ASPI, where we can give you an accurate reading of your calorie needs in real-time, not everyone is going to be able to come to Tampa!
The next best thing to do is to monitor your calorie and weight gain over a period of time. Keep in mind that we’re talking about your calories in a normal work environment, in your normal training program.
That state would be called homeostasis, the point at which your body regulates your weight. So you should weigh yourself at the beginning of the week, and log your calories every day. If you haven’t gained any weight, then the average amount of calories you consume per day are your maintenance calories.
Now that you’ve got the first step done, you’re still a bit further from understanding how many calories you need to gain size. That’s because your body falls into certain categories that determine your caloric intake.
Which Category Does Your Body Fall Into?
What we mean by categories is how well your body stores fat and gains muscle. You might’ve seen somebody who could gain weight just by looking at a delicious cupcake and similarly someone might not gain much weight even after a binge eating session.
In a general sense, your body might fall under one of these three categories: endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph. Endomorphs have a tendency to put on fat extremely easily, and they often gain muscle at a moderate pace. Ectomorphs on the other hand are usually really thin, and they find it very hard to put on size. However, mesomorphs find it extremely easy to put on muscle, as perhaps only 15%-20% of the weight they gain is fat, with the rest being muscle.
Once you figure out what category your body falls into, that’s when you start adding calories over your maintenance levels.
How Many Calories Should You Add to Gain Size?
If you’re an endomorph, you’re going to find yourself putting on fat extremely easily, so you should start by adding around 250 calories above your maintenance. In order to limit your fat gain, try having those extra calories come from low-carb protein sources such as meat and chicken. If you find yourself gaining around 0.25 to 0.5 lbs a week, that’s completely fine.
What if you’re an ectomorph or mesomorph? We recommend aiming for 0.5 lb to 1 lb a week. Start by adding 500 calories above your maintenance levels. Still not gaining weight? Bump that up to 750 calories. Still? You can bump that up to 1000 calories above your maintenance levels.
You need to find that weight gain threshold, as those are the average calories you will consume in a day.
The key point to keep in mind here is that if you stay at a caloric surplus every single day, it might actually have negative effects. Your cells might become insulin resistant, even if you’re eating “clean.”
Even worse, your mitochondria, which are your body’s machines that burn fat and give you energy during your pumps, will start de-adapting. Your body would find that it doesn’t need to create any energy from your fat stores if you’re always stuffing calories in your cell.
Eventually, you’re going to lose things like vascularity, and even your pumps will start faltering. This is why we recommend going back to maintenance around two days a week, followed by one day going below maintenance, with the rest being in a caloric surplus.
Are You Willing to Go the Distance?
Here’s where we get to the factor that’s going to help you gain the type of size you want. If you’re doing your regular workouts, and are hoping that increasing your calories will help you gain mass, you couldn’t be more wrong.
If you want to gain hard core mass, you need to have a novel and unfamiliar training program. You’re simply not going to grow if you’re doing your regular workout in the weight room–you’ll just be putting on a lot of fat.
Studies show that people on a hardcore training program needed to increase their calorie intake by 15% just to maintain their training.
We hope this article helped you understand just what you need to do to gain mass!