Gaining muscle mass for dummies... (need it broken down a bit)

(Brian) #1

I hope I can ask this correctly. I’d like to put on some muscle mass and increase both size and strength. I’m not looking to be the next Shawn Baker, nothing like that. But I’ve done a lot of the diet stuff and wanna take the next step.

I’m already quite active physically. I have a small farm operation and am often working quite hard, tilling, digging, sweating, seriously. But it’s not targeted towards either strength or size of muscle on my frame, it’s targeted towards getting my work done. LOL!

I’m pushin’ 60, good weight (I’d say on the high side of normal), no meds, eating good fats and proteins, not quite carnivore but sometimes very close to it. I have a simple weight bench and some free weights. That’s it for equipment.

I guess what I’m looking for is some really basic stuff. I get overwhelmed. I need some input to just get me started, i.e., “Day 1. Do xxx, then yyy, then zzz.” Day 2. Do aaa, then bbb, then ccc." Etc.

I kinda think once I get into a schedule or routine, it’ll get easier to continue forward.

What I don’t want to do is to waste a lot of time and energy that does not really move me towards my goal of more muscle size and more muscle strength. Are there some sweet spots that I need to find? Too much weight vs not enough weight? Too many reps vs not enough reps? Too little time between workouts vs too much time between workouts?

I know for some of you guys, this is probably like kindergarten 101. But if ya don’t mind some suggestions to get me started, I’m interested!


(Peter - Don't Fear the Fat ) #2

I’m watching this with interest. It’s a question I could easily have asked.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #3

For this, you need amino acids (protein), particularly the branched-chain amino acids, which facilitate muscle growth. You also need plenty of fat to fuel the muscle growth. (Breaking down proteins and reconstituting them takes energy.) You can get all the amino acids and fat you need from eating meat.

Dr. Anthony Chaffee says that, in his experience, muscle growth does not required carbohydrate. He says that, while it can bulk muscle by creating intramuscular fat and by means of the water-retention promoted by stored glycogen, then you have to remove all that fat and water during the cutting phase. He says it’s easier on the body to simply not use carbs in the first place. He recommends bulking by targeted exercise. It may be slower, but it leads to real muscle growth, not bulk from fat and water. Check out Dr. Chaffee’s YouTube channel. He has more information there. Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery of the Applied Science and Performance Institute say their research shows much the same thing.

(Bob M) #4

Are you working out at home? This guy has a youtube channel that’s helpful:

You don’t need to do much initially, a few days a week, 20-30 minutes each time.

(Brian) #5

Thanks! I’ve seen a few of his videos but they were mostly interviews of other people and this wasn’t the topic. Actually, I appreciate where he appears to be physically. There is obvious muscle mass but he makes no appearance of trying to be ripped, kinda a direction I’d like to move more towards.

Interesting about the intramuscular fat. I’d not really thought much about that.

(Brian) #6

I’m not “working out” in the traditional sense of actually targeting anything in particular. I do, however do quite a bit of manual labor just with the course of the things that I do day in and day out. I go through shovel and digging fork handles pretty regularly. But that’s not targeted towards building muscle or strength, just gettin’ the farm work done.

Thanks for the link!

(Peter - Don't Fear the Fat ) #7

I have a packet of Creatine, might that be of any help?

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #8

As I understand it, the interviews are a later development, after he felt he had covered all the necessary items in earlier videos. So look among the earlier stuff on his channel. I’m sure you’ll find something.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #9

I do believe so, though I am not an expert in any of this.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the BCAA’s are three of the essential amino acids, and they are leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. They are not needed in any great quantity if one is not trying to build muscle, though they are a great help with muscle growth.

The only real problem with getting too much of the BCAA’s, if one doesn’t need them, is that they are broken down in the liver, by the same pathway that handles ethanol and fructose. That pathway is easily overwhelmed, and overwhelming it leads to fatty liver disease. So it pays to pay attention to how much of the BCAA’s, ethanol, and fructose we are getting in total, and how fast.

(Michael) #10

Here are some of the basics which might be what you are looking for.

Your workouts should contain as many whole body and large muscles as possible in each exercise. So for example, squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, chin-ups and even push ups are all very good, while isolation of smaller muscles are not nearly as useful if you are not a competitive bodybuilder. While some people like to work on a muscle group, if you are looking for overall strength and muscle growth, I have found that doing everything in one workout can work fine as well. Here is a sample workout, depending on your equiment.

Calf Raises


one arm lat pull X 2
shoulder press
reverse pull up

That’s just one example, and depends on what equipment/weights you have. You could do half of that easily enough as a workout.

In the end however, if you want to be shredded as well, that is all about having low fat. The strongest men have lots of fat as well, while bodybuilders build muscle and then cut fat hard for shows.

I am sure others will have different routines, but I suspect all will agree that the most composite exercises/whole body are the best - if possible.

(Bob M) #11

Another exercise you could do is called a Farmer’s Walk, where you pick up something in each hand and walk with it. Due to body building and other events, I screwed up both shoulders. Tore muscles in both. Had one surgically repaired and one not. I can still do the Farmer’s walk.

I’ve move to almost all body weight exercises. I do use a few exercises weights now though, dumbbells only so far.

A leg routine might be like:

Shrimp squats:

Pistol squats:

Bulgarian split squat (I use weights but started with none, it’s #8 on this list):

And many more.

I have to say that I’ve been doing these exercises for a long time now (years), and I STILL cannot get my knee in contact with the ground (Shrimp squats) or my butt in contact with my calf (Pistol squat). These are challenging exercises to do well.

(Brian) #12

It’s funny you mention that.

Part of a routine that I have is hand watering. I’ve neglected a proper irrigation system in my big greenhouse (30’ x 96’) and have been hand watering everything. In hot weather, that’s pretty much every other day at a minimum. I have two watering cans both holding about 2.5 gallons. I have a larger “tub” that I let a hose fill by gravity from a pond that’s higher in elevation so the tub refills as I dip those watering cans in and fill. I carry them out, one in each hand and go down the rows watering the plants. Some require bending over, some not, but I also feel it in my lower arms from having to tilt the can to pour water at a consistent rate and putting it in the proper place as some of the “target” spots are only a 3" or 4" hole in plastic ground cover.

So I guess I’ve been doing that one all along without even realizing it. Probably not as heavy of a weight as I might use if I were “working” out" but after a bunch of repetitions, I do feel like I’ve been workin’. :slight_smile:

Thanks for sharing, this and more.


get your total and free Testosterone levels checked. for me personally going on TRT was a game changer. at some level it is extremely hard to boost your T levels regardless of diet. I don’t think that keto on its own will do much if your T levels are low


I suspect working on the farm is giving you more exercise than you realize. Having said that, here is a strength program based on the 80/20 principle. 20 percent of your effort will produce 80% of the results.
Approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour per day. Stretch after.
Monday: Heavy Squat
Tuesday: Heavy Bench Press
Wednesday: Heavy Deadlift
Thursday: Light squats, 80% of heavy
Friday: Light BP 80% of heavy
Weekends Off: This is when you fully recover and the muscles gain strength and size.
Heavy days: 5 sets of 5 reps; rest 5 minutes between sets.
Light days: 4 sets of 4 reps; rest 4 minutes between sets.

Estimating your heavy weight is pretty easy. Start with a weight and do all of the required sets. Next week, add to it, and if you are able to do it again, add to it. Once you have it dialed in, you will know. It should be hard, but not impossible, for the last set of 5. If you sense doubt, stop. There is no point in getting injured. Take a week off every 4 weeks.

Your muscles will not be sore on this program. Your strength will exceed your expectations. In the very beginning get your form dialed in so as not to cause you any issues. Again only add weight if you can accomplish all 5 set or 5 reps. (10lbs max added). Never do weights to failure as you will be out of commission for a number of days with sore muscles. Not good for a farmer.
Good luck.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #15

Two potential issues are (1) whether we have enough cholesterol, which is the precursor from which testosterone is made (and another reason not to worry about LDL), and (2) whether or not a lower level of testosterone works okay on a keto or carnivore diet. What I mean by the latter point is that there are indications that the reason thyroid hormones drop on keto/carnivore, is that they work more efficiently, so the body doesn’t need so much. I wonder whether that might also be the case with testosterone on keto/carnivore, but I haven’t come across any data to confirm or deny that notion.

In any case, I’ve seen posts here and there about guys getting worked up about “non-symptomatic low testosterone,” and I’m wondering what the problem is, if libido is still up and the plumbing is still working right. Symptomatic low testosterone is a wholly different matter, of course, and should be dealt with. That goes without saying.

Okay, I’m rambling. I’ll stop now.


i think you are right. in my personal case I had all the low T symptoms. many people contribute those to other causes, since HRT isn’t really advocated for a lot in the medical field. it won’t hurt to test levels.
my cholesterol intake was fairly high, as I did mostly carnivore when mi initial labs were taken 2 years ago. one could argue that at some level, lets say below 200 ng/dl of total T (where I was), you will definitely experience positive effects from TRT, even if the perceived low T symptoms don’t exist. not being able to gain muscles could definitely be a low T symptom, not saying the author has this issue yet.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #17

Good points all. Thanks for posting that.

(KM) #18

So we have people running around treating symptoms instead of causes, and now we have people running around treating “Non symptoms” as well? Marvelous.

(Brian) #19

Fascinating discussion.

FWIW, the libido and the plumbing are both working quite well, perhaps better that many in my age group. No meds of any kind, and certainly not any little blue pills.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that. (Forrest, Forrest Gump.) LOL!

(Denise) #20

Hot damn, this is the book for me!! :rofl: I definitely want a little mass to cover my teenie bones, ok, skinny :wink: I don’t want Shawn Bakers muscles either, lol, I’m a lady so want ladie-muscle-mass. I’ll got check out the whole thread @Bellyman and thank you for posting this! Denise