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How I Gained 20 Pounds Of Muscle In A Year

How I Gained 20 Pounds Of Muscle In A Year

Over the past ten months i’ve experienced more muscle growth & strength gains than I did the past THREE years prior to moving to Indianapolis. This is a result of proper nutrition, training, sleep & recovery.

In this article I want to share with you mistakes that lead to a lack of progress over the past three years & what has lead to the growth you’ve seen me achieve here in Indy.

What a year it has been. I Made the Jump to Indianapolis nearly 10 months ago. Receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from all of you when I made this leap. I’m forever grateful for the love that I received. Thank YOU.

The past ten months have been quite an experience. I’ve been blown away with the growth that i’ve undergone. Mentally, physically & spiritually. I feel like a completely different person. Literally (which we’ll get into in this article) and figuratively.

When I moved to Indy in late November I was weighing around 175lbs. I had just come off of a prep that I had done for a photoshoot in Los Angeles at Muscle Beach.

One of the first things that Zach Homol said to me when I  arrived here in Indianapolis was “You’re about to start EATING. There will be zero dieting down for at least a year”.

I quickly agreed of course. There were a number of reasons for my move to Indianapolis, but one of them was to learn & be coached by Zach Homol. One of the brightest minds in the fitness space. I told him that I was an open book. I just wanted to learn & grow.

From there we were off to the races. It was time to GROW.

Before I jump into explaining the physical growth that i’ve seen my body undergo over the past ten months and what i’ve done to achieve those results, let me preface by explaining to you some of the mistakes that I have made in the past when it came to bulking & growing my body. My goal is to help some of you avoid the same mistakes.

The “Be Lean Year Round” Fallacy

Prior to moving to Indy, I had done five long preps where I was extremely calorically deficient throughout the process. Taking my body down into single digit body fat %’s. Something that’s very difficult to do & is also very hard on the body. For reference, someone that’s in pretty good shape & is active in the gym is probably 14% to 18% body fat.

All five of these extended diets occurred within a 2 ½ year span. Each one lasting 8-16 weeks long. There are only 52 total weeks in a year. That doesn’t allow for a lot time to eat & grow.

I was constantly cutting down. Eating like a bird. Doing a TON of cardio. Unable to train heavy & move weight because my body just couldn’t do it. I was physically exhausted all the time.

Other than a few short bulk phases, two to four months at a time, I was constantly trying to keep my abs peeled.

I began to wonder why I wasn’t putting on any size? I was training 6 days a week every single week.

Every time I would cut down I weighed about the same. Right around 160 lbs. Therefore over a 2 ½ year span I put on ZERO muscle mass technically. I had essentially just maintained. Which is really frustrating when you’re spending over ten hours a week in the gym.

On top of this, my strength had actually digressed over the past three years. My numbers on the squat & deadlift had dropped quite drastically. Which didn’t make any sense because I was much more intelligent with my training & was working harder than ever.

On top of this, I felt drained ALL THE TIME. I felt exhausted. Foggy brain. Had zero motivation to do anything physical.

Well, it turned out I had completely depleted my hormones. Which was causing me to feel like absolute shit a majority of the time. When I finally went into the doctor to get my blood work done they couldn’t believe how low my testosterone levels were.

I began working with world renowned Doctor Dr. Eric Serrano in Columbus, Ohio. He knew what the issue was right away. I wasn’t eating nearly enough food. He increased my overall calories quite drastically. Adding in a lot of complex carbs & healthy fats.

Within five weeks my hormones were better than ever. I began feeling exponentially better. My strength began to increase quite quickly in the gym.

He recommended that I spend some time bulking. Focusing on recovery & sleep. We’ll get into the details of the sleep, nutrition etc later in the article.

Does any of this sound familiar?

I often talk to people on social media dealing with similar struggles. They wanna put on muscle mass, get stronger & look bigger overall. But they also wanna keep their abs looking shredded.

Quite often these same people deal with a lot of hormonal issues. They report low sex drive, low energy output & feelings of lethargy in the gym. Wonder why?

Unfortunately it just isn’t possible for *most* people to maintain a shredded look while getting stronger & putting on size. I say most, because it really depends on your genetics & the amount of muscle mass that you already have.

Some people are genetic freaks. They’re able to eat whatever they want while maintaining peeled abs. This is a very small percentage of the population though.

Even if you aren’t one of these genetic freaks, you WILL be able to stay lean all year round as you pack on more muscle mass. As your muscle mass increases your body composition will naturally improve. You will also begin to burn more calories as a result of the increased muscle mass. So a short term sacrifice of your abs right now will ironically lead to you being able to stay leaner all the time while packing on muscle mass & eating MORE.

Short term sacrifice = long term reward.

I’ve Grown More the Past 10 Months than I Did Over the Past 3 Years

Life’s all about learning from your mistakes & then correcting course. Sometimes you’ve gotta learn the hard way. Or you learn from others mistakes so you can save yourself some time. That’s my hope for all of you reading this article.

Over the past ten months i’ve experienced more growth & strength gains than I did the past three years. This is a result of proper nutrition, training, sleep & recovery.

As I mentioned, I was weighing around 175 lbs when I first arrived in Indianapolis. My body was broken down. I was frustrated with the lack of progress that I had seen over the past few years.

Here’s an approximation of where my main lifts were at when I arrived in Indy on Day One;

Squat: 365 x 1

Deadlift: 385 x 1

Bench: 215 x 1

These were rough looking lifts as well. The deadlift was a grinder 385. I wasn’t using my leverages at all. This was before I really began learning from Zach.

Fast forward to today. It has been nearly ten months exactly since I began this new journey here at Iron Valley Barbell with Zach.

I’m currently weighing around 195 lbs. My strength has increased exponentially.

Here are the numbers that I have hit this year along w/ an approximation of what I plan on hitting in competition the next few months;

Squat: 405 x 3 (Plan on hitting a 475+ squat this year)

Deadlift: 505 x 1 (Plan on hitting 550+ this year)

Bench: 255 x 1 (Still a work in progress .. Plan to hit 300 this year)

To give you an idea of how much i’ve grown physically, i’ve included a picture below. The picture on the left was taken about three months after I moved here, so it doesn’t do it justice completely. I was weighing around 180-185 lbs on the left & 195 lbs on the right.

As you can see, my body has grown quite substantially. Both in strength & size. My composition has actually slightly improved as i’ve put on 10-15 lbs the past six months between these two pics.

I never knew that this type of growth was even possible in such a short period of time. I would have been PUMPED about this growth over a 2 year span. I’ve been able to achieve this in a ten month span though.

Do I have your attention now?

I’m not here to share my results with you to make myself look cool or to make others jealous. I wanted to go in depth & share those results with you in order to gain your respect before I share with you what I did to achieve those results.

There are three key components that we need to focus on in order to maximize your growth over the next six to twelve months of bulking.

  • Nutrition / Hydration
  • Training
  • Sleep / Recovery

I’m already pretty deep into this article, so here’s what i’m gonna do. I’m gonna be releasing a two part series going in depth on those three components. In these articles I will break down what my nutrition, training & recovery have looked like in order to help me put on what will end up being about 20 lbs of lean muscle mass in a little over a year span when I cut down for my next show heading into the New Year.

Stay tuned for part one coming in a week or so.

Until next time,

Much love.

Jay

 

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