The Young, Skinny Training With ADD Guy's Guide To Gaining Mass And Strength by Paul Carter

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The Young, Skinny, Training with ADD Guy’s Guide to Gaining Mass 
and Strength

If I could go back in time…

I would heavily invest in Microsoft around 1986 when their stock was selling at $0.09 a share and then sell it all around December 1999 for $58.00 a share. If I had invested $100.00 in August 1986, that would have given me 1111 shares. Because of splits, I would have ended up with…

2222 shares
4444 shares
6666 shares
9999 shares
19998 shares
39996 shares
79992 shares
159984 shares x $58.00 = $9,279,072 = retired

Retired with roughly $10 million in the bank at 24 years old.

What’s that have to do with training? Nothing. I was just thinking that instead of asking for Boba Fett or a Millennium Falcon to play with in 1986, I should have asked for $100.00 in Microsoft stock! Damn it!

Anyway, if I could go back in time, there are a hell of a lot of things I would do differently training wise. Obviously. Namely, I’d have hit my legs harder and more often early on. I got some things right because I did a lot of back work like rows and chins, but I didn’t pull off of the floor enough. I’m convinced that’s the reason my deadlift is so crappy (that’s what I’ll keep telling myself anyway until I pull 700 lbs). I hope I can help some young, skinny, chronic routine changing, training ADD guys avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made and the mistakes I see many of these types of guys make.

Chronic routine changing—the bane of the young and inconsistent lifter
If there is one constant with young guys I talk to on the internet or in real life, it’s that they sweat all of the small stuff in training and never worry enough about the simple shit. And because of this, they’re constantly changing their routine. I don’t know if it’s a “grass is greener” thing or if they see some other kid bigger and stronger than them and want to do his routine thinking it will do the same for them. But there are very few kids who stick with a program long enough to see if it actually works or not. I’ve read guys write, “I did that program for two weeks, and it did nothing for my bench.” Two weeks? So two workouts probably. And because he didn’t turn into a young Bill Kazmaier in those two weeks, the routine must be crap.

Supplements are the other part. Don’t get me started on that. Most young lifters don’t eat enough and worry far too much about throwing something that sounds like it goes into the failed transmission of a race car down their throat. “It gets me pumped, man!” I bet! It’s probably also causing your body to grow a fat baby’s arm inside your small intestine.

Every legit guy I know who has a good training program out there gets asked the same questions over and over again by young guys sweating small details that in the big picture of training aren’t very relevant. Or they want to use a program and call it a “hybrid” routine, but they bastardize it all to hell until it isn’t even close to the original program anymore. When it doesn’t work so well, they say, “I tried that routine for two weeks. It didn’t work for me. I’m using something else now, except instead of doing it exactly like it’s laid out, I’m gonna…” Round and round and round they go…

Your training Ritalin = progression

I believe one reason that many young lifters are all over the map in their lifting is because they read a lot of bodybuilding material and believe they need to hit every muscle from every angle in order to look massive and get strong. This simply isn’t the case. Now I do believe there is some merit to hitting body parts at different angles for the advanced competitive bodybuilder (if you don’t fit that description, you shouldn’t be worrying about these things). To have a very full, completely developed physique capable of winning competitive bodybuilding shows, you can’t really narrow down your entire lifting to squats, benches, deadlifts, and chin-ups. You have to do calf raises, too.

But to quote someone (I don’t know who, but I bet they’re smart), you can’t carve a giant sculpture from a pebble. You have to get the mass in place before you start worrying about side laterals and concentration curls. Your routine should be made up of the usual basics—squats, deadlifts, presses, benches and incline benches, dips, chins, rows, and curls.

Lifting for mass

The real key to hypertrophy is getting stronger but within a specific repetition range. This is something sometimes lost on young lifters and skinny guys (these terms will be used in a synonymous fashion throughout this article by the way). Getting bigger from a training standpoint is about pushing heavier weights for medium to high repetitions. Doing singles, doubles, and triples will most definitely get you strong, but it won’t get you big. Gaining mass is a byproduct of moving the heaviest weights you can within the 8–20 rep range (and sometimes higher for legs). Yes, sets of five build mass as well but not quite as well as sets that go to eight reps and above in my opinion. The only exception I will add in here is the deadlift. Many guys will continue to pull well after their form has broken down and grind out reps. I advise against this for injury prevention purposes. When you feel you can no longer maintain your arch, that’s it. End the set.

The other common pitfall young lifters fall into is that they believe they need to train 5–6 days a week. I have no idea why. Training three times a week is plenty and very ideal.

The split I recommend to a young lifter trying to gain as much mass as possible is as follows:

Workout A (warm ups are included)

  • Squats, 5 sets of 10 to a top set of 10
  • Deadlifts, 5 sets of 3 to a top set of 3
  • Dips, 4 sets of as many reps as possible for each set. If you can’t do 8 reps per set, have someone hold your legs. If no one is there to hold your legs, set your feet up on a bench behind you. This works for both dips and chin-ups.
  • Chin-ups, I don’t care how many sets it is, but equal the number you did for dips. Yea, I know dips are easier than chin-ups, but almost everyone has shitty chin-up strength so remedy that early on. An easy way to do this is to do a set of dips followed by a set of chin-ups. Don’t go back to dips until you hit the number you did for that set of dips.

Rest 1–2 days between workouts.

Workout B (warm ups are included)

  • Bench press/incline press (alternate these two from workout to workout on this day), 6 sets to a top set of 8
  • Clean and press, clean every rep (so clean, press, lower, clean press, lower), 5 sets to a top set of 6
  • T-bar rows, 6 sets to a top set of 10
  • Curls, 3 sets of 8

Rest 1–2 days and repeat.

When you start the program, a “top set” for the first week should be something where you still have two or three reps in the tank. If you go too heavy early on in the cycle, you will stall early and the program won’t work to its potential. Be patient and start light. You will understand why you must do this in the next section. Log all of your workouts in a training log.

Spare me the crap about how you can’t do squats and deadlifts in the same workout or how it’s too much work for your low back. Squats work as a great warm up for the deadlift, and plenty of world class powerlifters squat and deadlift in the same workout.

The 2/5/10 progression scheme
So now that you have a training plan in place, understanding how to work some simple progression is the next key. Some guys don’t really understand when to up the weight or what to do when a lift goes stale or stalls for too long. I will make this simple for you. Add a rep each week to your top set until you’re getting two more reps than listed. Then up the weight by 5 percent for the next workout.

For example, let’s say you squat 225 X 10 in your first workout, 225 X 11 the second, and 225 X 12 the third. Up the weight by 5 percent (roughly 10 lbs) and start over at 10 reps. Continue with this progression until you stall for three consecutive workouts. In other words, you get to 275 X 10 and can’t get to 11 for the next two workouts. At that point, reduce the weight by 10 percent and start over. So it could look like this in your training log:

  • 275 X 10
  • 275 X 10
  • 275 X 9
  • 245 X 10
  • 245 X 11
  • 245 X 12 increase by 5 percent

This is why it’s important to start off and work up to something where you know you have quite a bit left in the tank. The more conservative you are in the beginning, the longer the gains will come. This plan will work. If you’re a skinny and weak stick dude and you work up to handling 315 X 10 in the squat, 405 X 3 in the deadlift, and 275 X 6 in the bench and can do a crap load of dips and chins, you will be significantly bigger, especially if you’re eating enough, which brings me to my next point…

Chowing down
Ok, I’ve already written about this in another article, and I highly suggest that you read it (Blue Collar Training for Mass and Strength). Eating for mass is simple, but it’s very difficult at the same time. You have to be willing to endure some pain. Let me add that even if your goal is just to add 10 lbs, this will still need to be done. Skinny young guys tend to have out of this world metabolisms. I don’t even advise counting calories. I just advise eating every three hours as much as humanly possible.

If you need a plan, here’s a quick and dirty plan that even a young kid in school could work:

Breakfast

  • Large bowl of cornflakes with whole milk
  • Two bananas
  • Two breakfast bars

Mid-morning: Pick an option or have all three; I don’t care

  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Two Snickers bars
  • Two or three chocolate milks

Lunch

  • If you bring lunch, bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some apples and fruit
    If you’re eating school lunch, see if you can get double servings or load up on as much whole milk as you can and drink it with your lunch
  • Finish every lunch off with dessert if you can

Afternoon

  • Same as mid-morning

Dinner

  • Approach it like it’s the last meal you will ever eat before a long starvation diet. That’s the only way I can explain it. You might not feel hungry, but you had better chow down. If you have a lot of siblings and one of them is eating more than you, eat that sibling. That’s a two for one right there.

Two hours post-dinner

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (see a trend here?)
  • Whole milk
  • Apple

Calories, calories, calories. A skinny guy with a Ferrari fast metabolism isn’t going to gain mass on chicken breasts and rice. Calorie dense foods are the key. I won’t get into the whole cholesterol/fat debate on this. If you’re obese, worry about it. If you’re young and a stick, don’t.

One thing I used to do to gain weight was use my insomnia to its advantage. I sometimes wouldn’t sleep for 24–30 hours at a time (not because I didn’t want to sleep, but because I couldn’t). During those times, I would make a plan to eat every two hours. And I’m not talking just potato chips either. I would eat all of the leftovers that there were. Then I’d go through sandwiches of various kinds, peanut butter on crackers and vanilla wafers, a gallon of milk with cookies, packages of ramen noodles, protein shakes, microwave pizzas, hot dogs, and more. I don’t recommend this unless you too have insomnia. I was just using it to my weight gain advantage. If you’re going to be awake, eat. If not, sleep is more important. I grew far more the summer I made sleep a real priority than the other years where I winged it on sleep. Just get in plenty of food before you do crash for the day.

Conditioning
I’m not talking about that crap you put on your hair after you shampoo. I’m talking about conditioning as in running, pulling a sled, pushing a Prowler or car around, running hills, and doing sprints. After each squat/deadlift session, pick one and do it. Not for time. I hate that. Do it until you feel done or pick a number of sprints/hills/pushes that you want to do that day. This will vary depending on your well-being that day. Just don’t be a sissy and talk about how worked you are from squats and deadlifts. There are bigger and stronger guys who move more weight than you and still do plenty of conditioning on wobbly legs. Your lifts, especially your squat and deadlift, will take a bit of a dive at first. Don’t fret this. They will come back once your legs harden up to the running and conditioning work. You will actually get stronger over the long run.

You don’t have to go crazy and throw the hell up all over the high school football field or in front of your mom’s house. I mean you can and this is cool, but it isn’t a requirement. But do some hard conditioning. When you’re done, you should be able to say, “That was hard.” There—that’s your gauge. And don’t lie to yourself about it.

Gaining mass and strength isn’t worth anything if you become a fat lard ass that breaths heavy sitting on the couch. Don’t be that guy. The lifting world is full of those guys. Be better than that. Get big and strong while keeping a solid level of conditioning under your belt. Your work capacity will improve more quickly this way, your body will absorb Snickers better this way, and when you have to throw down after school over a “he-said-she-said” incident, you’ll have the upper hand over the fat ass (unless it’s Roy Nelson’s son) or at least feel damn good about your chances. And if you’re not still in high school, it doesn’t matter. The feeling of being in shape and being strong is unbeatable. Strive for the whole package.

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About the Author

Paul Carter has dedicated more than 20 years of his life in the gym, on the football field, and in martial arts. His goal is to total elite raw this year in the 242-lb class and do chins-ups with 100 lbs for six reps because that’s one more than Jim Wendler can do. Paul currently writes on training, diet, and conditioning at his blog functional-strength.blogspot.com.

Submitted by DMorgan on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 9:35pm.

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