A: For starters, this has been a long “off-season” for me. I haven’t competed in about 18 months, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been eating like a pig. Gaining mass and getting fat are two totally different propositions. It’s okay to increase your calories when you’re trying to add size, but there’s a point of diminishing returns for all of us—and we all know when that is. When your stomach sticks out farther than your chest, it’s a good indication you’ve gone past the point of no return.
Weight gain (like weight loss) comes down to calories in vs. calories expended. If you take in more calories than you burn off in exercise and activity, you will gain weight—and if that excess is far above your basic sustenance level, you’ll gain more fat than muscle.
The key to doing it right is to eat clean and on a regular schedule. Yes, that’s right—gaining quality mass requires a plan as much as losing fat during your precontest phase does. If you add quality calories on a regimented basis throughout each day, you’ll be on the right track. Don’t use “bulking up” as an excuse to get fat. In the end you’ll have to drop most of that weight anyway.
Instead, do this: Add about 500 to 700 calories above your basic maintenance number. It will come to 3,500 to 4,900 extra calories a week. That should be enough to fuel about a pound of extra bodyweight—and it’ll probably be split evenly between muscle and all the other weight components, like fat and fluid. Obviously, the less fat you gain, the better. With this course of action you will add about 10 to 15 quality pounds over the course of a few months.
One tool I recommend to everyone for quality weight gain is MHP’s Up Your Mass, taken one or two times daily. It’s a very clean mass gainer that supplies a sustained-release protein blend and quality carbohydrates—without the added sugars that make you fat. Mixed with whole milk, Up Your Mass can add 810 calories per serving to your diet, which will add up to greater gains, faster.
Editor’s note: Ben White won his first IFBB professional bodybuilding contest, the Tampa Pro, in 2010. He is also a champion powerlifter and frequently competes in the World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest at the Olympia. His best competition bench press is 711 pounds. He is an MPH athlete, www.MHPStong.com. IM