How Did You Get Started?
It started as a challenge to myself. If I took all the knowledge I had about weight gain and put it to work all at once, how much weight could I add to myself in one week?
What would my upper limit be? I had some vacation time coming up where I could do nothing but eat, sleep and train so I decided to do it. This is my story...
I knew from the start that this weight gain certainly wouldn't be all muscle. In fact, it's impossible to gain that much weight in muscle in only one week (unless you're a baby elephant!). I was going to gain a combination of muscle, water and most likely some fat as well. That rapid of a weight gain, however, was going to force a lot of nutrients into my muscles quickly, resulting in some permanent muscle gains.
Changing Your Diet & Goals
To further set myself up, the diet I went on was a two-week carbohydrate-restricted plan, much like the Atkins Diet. For two weeks, I ate less than 30 grams of carbs per day, sticking to meats, eggs, cheese and vegetables.
This cleared out all the glycogen I had stored in my body as well as reducing the amount of water I was carrying (water attaches itself to carbs in your body - when you clear out the carbs, several pounds or more of water will be flushed out with it). It was kind of like squeezing out a sponge you can fit more water into a sponge that's been squeezed totally dry than a sponge that's already moist.
It's important to note that I didn't restrict my water intake at all. That will give you exactly the wrong effect. If you restrict your water intake while dieting, your body will actually hold onto more water. If you give your body plenty of water, it will have no reason to hold onto every drop you give it and will flush it out regularly.
For training during this phase, I did three high-intensity cardio sessions per week for about 20 minutes each. This cardio was extremely tough and designed to burn as many calories as possible as quickly as possible. This would make my body extremely hungry for nutrients and ready to absorb as much as possible. I did high-volume, high-rep weight training (12 to 15 reps per set), 6 sessions per week with very short rest periods to further set up this effect.
After 2 weeks of this training and dieting, I was ready to start my weight gain. On Saturday evening, after my final training session for the week, I weighed in at 192 pounds.
On Sunday morning, I woke up and immediately took my first serving of creatine and glutamine. My focus on this day was to eat as much as possible, load up on creatine and glutamine and drink as much water as possible. Both of these supplements are excellent for forcing water into the muscles. Taking creatine alone can result in a 5 to 10 pound increase in weight over the loading phase of 5 days. To further maximize this effect, I had been off creatine for 3 months prior to this.
I took 4 servings of creatine and glutamine this day, along with eating as much as I could (for example, eggs, oatmeal, meats, potatoes, fruits, rice, etc.) and drinking buckets of water. I would continue loading creatine for the next 4 days, taking glutamine only after each workout from then on rather than with my creatine loading. I would start my weight training program on Monday. I was going to be doing a very demanding program, doing 12 total-body training sessions over the next 6 days.
My theory with doing multiple total-body training sessions is this: every single bodypart was going to get as much breakdown and stimulation as possible to maximize the amount of nutrients being taken up over my whole body. I would do more sets for the larger parts like chest, back and thighs and fewer sets for the other smaller parts.
Every part would get worked twice a day for six days straight. This type of training is not appropriate for a long-term program as it would rapidly lead to overtraining in a matter of weeks. This was a one-week shot for me and I was putting everything into it.
After taking my creatine, I made breakfast, which consisted of 10 eggs and a bowl of oatmeal that would feed a family of 4. For flavor, I mixed in some fruit yogurt. To gain weight effectively, you really need to eat big.
I got to the gym for my first session that day and weighed myself. I had gained 10 pounds in the first day. Not a bad start! All that eating, drinking water and supplementation was paying off. My body was extremely primed for gaining.