To achieve your bodyweight goal in a predictable, methodical fashion, keep a food diary. Do it for four days: Write down everything you eat, and, at the conclusion of each day, sit down with a good calorie-counting book and tally the daily total. After four days add up the daily sums for a grand total, divide by four, and you'll have your daily average calorie intake. If you don't lose or gain weight during that four-day period'and the four days reflect what you typically eat'use that daily average as your maintenance level of calories.If you want to gain weight, you have to increase your calorie consumption. Let's assume, hypothetically, that your daily maintenance level is 2,200 calories. Upon embarking on a training routine, make a disciplined effort to consume 300 to 500 calories above maintenance levels, or 2,500 to 2,700 daily. Remember that you'll be training to failure, where another full rep is impossible despite your greatest effort. That's what nature requires you to do to activate a strength/size response. Turning on the growth mechanism is not sufficient, however. You must then provide it with enough nutritional values to support the increase. Start by adding an extra 300 calories. If you haven't gained a pound after 10 to 14 days, go up to 500 calories a day beyond maintenance. I've noticed with my personal-training clients that guessing the calories rarely works. Keep a food diary at least long enough to make sure you're eating enough.
After a period of gaining weight and muscle mass, your maintenance level of calories will go up and your gains will slow down and eventually come to a halt. When you see that your weight gains have ceased for some time after weeks of hard training, increase your daily intake of calories another 300 or so. Personal experience and common sense will help tell you exactly how much more you must eat. Never shovel down large excesses, as that will invariably result in fat deposition.
Mike Mentzer, Muscles In Minutes
Editor's note: Mike Mentzer's book Muscles in Minutes is available for $19.95 plus shipping and handling from Home Gym Warehouse, 1-800-447-0008, or visit www.home-gym.com.