How I Trained To Put On 20 lbs. Of Muscle In 1 Year

How I Trained To Put On 20 lbs. Of Muscle In 1 Year

Welcome to part THREE of the guide to putting on lean muscle mass & improving overall health. This will be the final segment in the series. Thanks again to everyone who has been following along !!


Today I wanna dive into what my training has looked like over the past year. It has changed quite a bit from what I was doing leading up to my move to Indianapolis. I’ve been very blessed to be able to learn first hand from Zach Homol over the past 12 months. I truly believe that he’s one of the brightest minds in this space.


I remember the first time I got in the gym with Zach. It was very humbling & eye opening. I realized how next level he really was in that moment. From that point forward I was determined to learn everything I could from him. Which eventually led to me moving here.


I had a pretty solid base level of knowledge when I arrived here in late November, 2017, but man have I grown my expertise since then. I’ve learned so much when it comes to programming, lifting mechanics & the mindset it takes to train at a high level.


I wanna share those newfound ideas w/ you.


All Reps are NOT Created Equally


I don’t say this to be condescending or anything, but most people just don’t lift weights properly. That’s just a fact. You can step foot in any globo gym & see it on display.


Lifting weights is not uniform across the board. There are levels to it. Just like anything else. Something that a lot of people don’t initially understand is that all reps are NOT created equal. Just because you can dribble a basketball doesn’t mean you can play like Lebron James. Lifting weights is similar. It takes time to become an elite lifter.


I use this analogy quite often with my online clients to try & emphasize the importance of proper lifting mechanics; two people can go to the gym for a whole year. Doing the exact SAME workouts. Spending the exact same amount of time in the gym. Even moving the same weight on each movement. The one who is mindfully working on their form & is constantly improving their mechanics is gonna get a whole lot more out of that year of training than the other individual. They’re gonna grow WAY MORE. While spending the exact SAME amount of time in the gym. More bang for your buck.


We really need to work on lifting mechanics. This is a game of inches. For example, on the deadlift, for every inch your shoulders are over the bar, you are leaving 20-30lbs on the bar !! Therefore just cleaning up mechanics, without even increasing your raw strength, can quite drastically increase your numbers.


There are so many resources in today’s world that allow ANYONE to become an efficient & knowledgeable lifter. YouTube is full of quality information. Along with a lot of not so quality information as well. Finding people that you can trust & then diving deep into their content is gonna help you speed up those results that you’re seeking.


I highly recommend that you check out Zach Homols youtube. He not only has an elite level of knowledge, but he’s also able to explain everything in layman’s terms. Making it easy to understand even for someone who’s just learning to lift weights.


Here’s a link to his YouTube: (https://bit.ly/2zv1w59)


As you become a more educated & efficient lifter you will begin lifting MORE weight. Moving more weight ** efficiently ** is going to help you pack on MORE muscle mass while burning MORE calories.


Start Lifting HEAVIER !!


I accredit a lot of my growth over the past year to my improvement on leverages & efficiency w/ my lifts. As i’ve dialed my form in & built up my capacity through accessory work, i’ve been able to move more weight. Especially on my squats & deadlifts.


For example, last week I deadlifted 455 x 3 || 475 x 2 || 405 x 4 || 405 x 8.


When you’re effectively engaging your back, glutes & hamstrings on deadlifts, this kind of heavy volume really packs meat onto that posterior chain. All of these areas have grown exponentially for me over the past 12 months.


Hypertrophy is GREAT & I think it should be included often. We have hypertrophy programmed into pretty much every workout. A lot of people make the mistake of only training hypertrophy though. They neglect their heavy main component work & opt for the easy way out. Lifting light to moderate weight for a TON of reps.


This was me for the most part the past few years. Part of it was that I just couldn’t physically lift heavy weight. I didn’t know anything about leverages & my body was constantly beat into the ground from dieting down. My joints HURT. I basically just skipped deadlifts for a whole year prior to moving to Indy.


This neglect of heavy main component work, along with a chronic deficit in caloric intake was the main contributor to my lack of growth. Ever since I started feeding my body & training heavy i’ve been growing like a weed. It WORKS.

Learn to Control the Weight


This one kinda goes along with the first point. Form is EVERYTHING. We must learn to control the weight. Instead of letting the weight control US.


Take a second & start observing people in the gym the next time you’re working out. You’ll most likely notice that the weight is dictating where the lifter goes. Rather than the lifter dictating where the weight goes.


That’s what’s so impressive about watching an elite lifter. That’s what I was most blown away by when I first worked out with Zach. The way he controls the weight. He puts it where he wants it. Which allows him to be ultra efficient & move serious weight.


This comes down to learning proper mechanics & leverages along with becoming stronger in general. Which ironically results from learning proper form.


Training Mindset


Something that a lot of people overlook when it comes to weight lifting is the mental side of things. They work on their leverages, programming etc but they neglect their mindset when it comes to training. This is a huge mistake.


In order to move heavy weight for volume sets you’ve gotta really bring it mentally. You can’t just be going through the motions. The weight will crush you if you aren’t in the right mindset. You’ve gotta go on the offense & get aggressive. Especially on leg day.


Getting under a heavy squat bar or stepping up to a loaded deadlift bar is gonna take even more focus & intensity. You’ve gotta attack the weight. Or else the weight will attack you.


This is something I really lacked a year ago. I’m naturally a very timid & chill person. So i’ve really had to work on this side of my game. It has come quite a ways the past year.


It’s important to not get too emotional though. It’s a fine balance. Some people get so amped up that they totally forget their cues. Causing them to miss a lift that they should’ve easily completed.


Work on going into the gym w/ an intent every day. Go into every single set with the mindset of giving your 100% effort. You can’t just show up & go through the motions. You’ve gotta really get after it if you really wanna grow & see results.


More Training Doesn’t Always = More Growth


Something i’ve been focusing on over the past six weeks or so since I met with Dr. Eric Serrano is incorporating MORE rest into my training. He was very adamant that I would grow MORE & feel better inside/outside the gym if I backed my training down from six days a week to four days a week.


This is a ‘less is more’ approach. Doing a little less & recovering a little more.


A lot of people like to poo poo “over-training”. I can say from personal experience that it’s REAL though. There’s definitely a point of diminishing returns. Where doing more is actually causing you to grow less. While making you feel like shit too.


The threshold for over-training seems to vary quite dramatically though. Some people can just recover quicker. You’re gonna have to do some trial & error to figure out what works best for you.


Take into consideration ALL of your stressors when you’re thinking about over-training. The time that you spend in the gym is a only a small fraction of total workload each week. You’ve gotta think about work stress, family stress, financial stress etc etc. All of your stressors (& your nutrition) contribute to how well you can recover.


Ask yourself a few questions:


  • Do you lack sex drive or have any issues in this area?
  • Is your brain constantly foggy?
  • Do you feel lethargic ALL the time?
  • Depressed?


These are a few symptoms of overtraining. Just because you experience one of them or all of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re overtrained though. There are a number of factors that can contribute to these symptoms.


What happens when you’re overtrained is your body just gets completely wrecked. Hormones like testosterone plummet. Which is why I asked about sex drive. My sex drive was TERRIBLE for years. Once I started eating better & incorporating more recovery I felt like a new man.


If you think you may be overtrained & are experiencing these issues I would seek out a doctor that works with athletes & get your blood work done. Unfortunately most general doctors don’t work with a lot of athletes & can’t do a lot to help you. They’ll likely refer you to someone else.


If you’re in or near Ohio I highly recommend Dr Eric Serrano. He’s located in Pickerington, Ohio. A quick google search will bring up the office phone #. He’s an elite doctor. Which is why people travel across the globe to seek his guidance. He often appears as a guest speaker at national health conferences. He’s a true 1%’r.


Working with Serrano has been a complete game changer for me. I’m growing more than ever & more importantly I feel WAY better !!


Quit Making Up Workouts As You Go


I was guilty of this for years unfortunately. Showing up to the gym with a very vague idea of what I was gonna do. Making it up as I went.


If you really wanna grow you need to start following a structured program. Zach Homol has really opened my eyes to high level programming. In Zach’s programming there’s a rhyme & reason for EVERYTHING. Each day progresses into the next day. Each week into the following week. Every movement is programmed for a reason.


This type of programming allows you to progressively get stronger & build up your capacity. Following Zachs programs over the past 12 months has been a game changer for me.


If you’re interested in giving our programming a try here’s a link: (https://ironvalleybarbell.net/product-category/e-books/).


We also have a few FREE week programs that you can try:



I hope this helps !! As always, feel free to contact me w/ any questions that you may have.


Instagram: @Jay_Azeltine

Email: JayAzeltineFitness@gmail.com


Until next time,


Much love.




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