In order to get shredded or pack on stacks of lean muscle mass you need to understand the principles of nutrition, training and recovery.
There's many endeavours that you can get through in life with sheer luck, guesswork or otherwise.
Bodybuilding and transforming your physique from skinny-fat to superhuman or fat to fantastic are not one of those endeavours.
When I mention the term supply and demand you probably think of basic business economics, however it's time to discuss how this ties in with building a great physique.
When it comes to building your body unless you have both the supply AND demand under control you're wasting your time as you'll hit plateau after plateau and your willpower will only take you so far.
Read this article and make sure you have both sides of the deal sorted in order to build a beastly physique.
The primary purpose of your body is to survive - it does not want to voluntarily build excessive amount of muscle or shred into the single digit body fat range as from a survival standpoint this isn't particularly efficient (as your muscle mass increases so does your TDEE i.e. the number of calories you need to consume to maintain your physique) in ancient times having to eat more often was seen as a disadvantage and a slow metabolism was favoured as larger periods of time could be spent between feeds when hunting.
Therefore in order to build that muscle mass and shred that fat you need to create the demand for your body to do so, after ongoing demand your body begins to adapt - in the form of growth.
The demand is solely created inside the gym - i.e. lifting heavy weights!
An exercise regime based on compound movements such as Victor Pride's Body of a Spartan will force your body to adapt - heavy squats, deadlifts, bench presses and overhead presses in the low rep range will create the demand far better than any isolation based workout regime based around light dumbbells or machines.
As a newcomer you will find the demand is quite easy to create as your body has never experienced such stress before... however as time goes on you must apply progressive overload in order to keep the demand going. Increasing the weight you're lifting, increasing the time your muscles are under tension, adding in a few additional reps - these techniques are designed to place an increased load on your muscles each and every workout.
In essence, the demand must become greater and greater with each workout, when you're demanding the same from your muscles week after week (same weight, same reps, same time under tension) the demand to go above and beyond has vanished, and so will your progression.
Spending time in the gym banging around with heavy weights in the easy part for most gym-goers, however that's only the first half of the equation...
Now that we've created the demand we need to back it up with the supply, the tools your body can use to fulfil this increasing demand of increased muscle mass and lower body fat (or whatever your goals are in terms of body composition).
The supply is the food you're eating, more specifically the calories.
If you're lifting heavy as hell in the gym day after day yet your body is in a calorie deficit (consuming less calories than your body requires on a 24 hour basis to maintain its currently weight, let alone add additional muscle mass) you're shooting yourself in the foot if your goal is to gain additional muscle mass... you've created the demand in the gym however you're falling short in the supply department.
In order to create adequate supply based upon your goals you need to understand the following:
- There is no such thing as a 'clean' or 'dirty' food, yes, certain foods are healthier than others and will leave you feeling better however from a body composition standpoint and for the purpose of this supply and demand concept the calories and macronutrient breakdown of the food in question is all that matter, this is known as flexible dieting or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM).
- Your favourite fitness model's diet will not get you the same results it got them - a diet is like a finely tailored suit... what works and looks best for me may be acceptable for you to use however it certainly isn't ideal... you need to have your own suit tailored if you want to get the maximum bang for your buck and create the optimal supply for your body to grow and progress.
- Calculating your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and tailoring your caloric intake is a simple process, if you're unfamiliar with these be sure to give it a go with my guide here.
The disaster of poor bodybuilding economics
No Demand & Over Supply
With no demand and an over supply of calories the only result will be excess stored body-fat.
Big Demand, No Supply
You may be giving it your all in the gym every single day however without the second vital part of the equation - the supply you're going to be hitting plateau after plateau in terms of both strength and size gains - especially if you've been going to the gym for more than 6 months.
Summary of supply and demand in bodybuilding
Follow a proven regime with progressive overload.
Calculate your caloric goal and hit it, daily.