Saturday, January 14, 2012

gaining muscular bodyweight by bill starr

Gaining Muscular Bodyweight

by Bill Starr 1985
gaining muscular bodyweight

A warm breeze, coming directly off the blue Pacific, made its way up the side of Mt. Haleakala and flowed into my room. I was at my typewriter, attempting to catch up on my correspondence. By glancing to my left, I could see over the tops of the eucalyptus forest and pineapple fields to the Pacific coastline that makes up the back of the neck of the island of Maui. It is a splendid scene to behold.

I was on a good roll when a blue pickup pulled in the lane of Camp Coryell and the seven resident dogs went into a frenzy of yapping. Camp Coryell isn’t actually a camp, but rather the residence of my hosts. But they have so many visitors of late that the name seemed most appropriate.

Arthur, the son of one of my friends, got out of the pickup and tapped on my open door.

“Come on in Arthur.”
He stepped inside and said, “You busy?”
“Writing letters. Never seem to be able to actually catch up. Can I help you?”
“I’m hoping you can. Dad said I should talk to you. I need to put on some bodyweight. I have one more year to play football and if I’m going to have any chance at all of getting a college offer, I just have to get bigger.”

I pulled the finished letter from my typewriter and turned my attention to Arthur. “How much weight are you wanting to put on?”
“As much as I can. Hopefully, 15 or 20 pounds. I weigh just over 180 now and really need to be at least 195-200 when summer camp opens.”
“What position do you play?”
“Linebacker. They’ll probably put me in the middle this year, since I’m the only senior linebacker.”
“Are you lifting?”
“My Dad bought me your book (The Strongest Shall Survive) about two months ago and I’ve been following your program ever since. I just started on the advanced program last week.”
”Are you getting stronger?”
“Oh yeah, my squats are up 100 pounds for five since I began. I’m doing 275 for five and I’m benching 225x5 and power cleaning 195x5.”
“That’s excellent progress and good balance in the lifts. OK, you stick with the program in the book. Let’s talk about your diet. Are you eating lots?”
“My folks are about to disown me,” he chuckled. “Dad keeps talking about putting a lock on the fridge door. I eat plenty but my bodyweight seems to stick at 180.”
“How often do you eat?”
“Whenever there’s food in front of me.”
“Be a bit more specific. How many meals or snacks in a given day?”
“Let me think,” he studied my wall and counted on his fingers as he spoke, “I have three eggs, toast, milk and juice for breakfast. I carry three sandwiches, a piece of fruit and a quart of milk for lunch. Then at supper, I eat whatever my Mom cooks. And usually a snack before going to bed.”
“What sort of snack?”
“Usually cereal. Shredded Wheat, or a peanut butter sandwich.”
“Do you get plenty of protein at supper?”
“I guess, although Mom cooks a lot of casseroles and sometimes they don’t have much protein in them.”
“Anything else?”
“Not on a regular basis. On weekends, when I’m out on the beach I might get a bit extra, or sometimes less, depending on what’s around.”
“OK, Arthur, I’ll give you a few suggestions on how to put on some bodyweight.”

I made my usual blend of high-powered bean, added a generous portion of coffeemate and honey, leaned back in my wicker chair and savored the smells that filtered in my room. The plumerias were in full bloom and the air was thick with their rich fragrance.
“One other thing you need to know,” he said as he pulled up a chair across from me, “I know a few of the guys on the team are using steroids to put on weight, but I decided not to use them.”
“Good decision. You’ll really be ahead in the long run. Now let’s talk about your diet. The basic rule for gaining bodyweight is that you have to take in more calories than you are burning off. From what you told me, this is not happening. That leaves two courses of action. One being to cut back on your energy output, the other being to take in more calories.”
“I don’t think I can, or want to, cut back. I have my job, mostly yard work. Then my training. And I don’t want to give up my weekend surfing.”

“So we proceed in the other direction. During the next few days, I want you to keep an accurate record of just what you do eat. Put down exactly how much you eat and when you eat it. Note every apple, hamburger, potato chip, no matter how small. That will help give you a picture of your current food consumption.
I want you to start eating more often, not necessarily a lot at a time, but more often. When you eat a huge meal, much of the value may be lost because each individual’s digestive system can only handle so much at a time. It’s a lot easier to assimilate food when it’s taken in small doses.”
“But I’m on the job all day. There’s no stores where I work.”
“I’m not talking meals, per se, but food that’s easy to carry with you when you go to work. Fruit, for example. You can put a half dozen bananas in your lunch bag, can’t you?”
“Yeah, sure. There’s loads of bananas around our place.”
“And you can hard-boil a dozen eggs the night before and take them with you, can’t you?”
“Yeah, I can do that. I see what you’re getting at. That many eggs a day?”
“The top bodybuilders of the pre-steroid era used to eat as many as three dozen eggs each and every day to put on pounds. Eggs are one of the most economical high quality foods available. Everything in them is nutritious. A real plus for the strength athlete.
So start eating more of them. Have four or five for breakfast, instead of your three, along with two glasses of milk, two pieces of toast, and juice. Lunch as usual as you eat a lot anyway. Any more would most likely be wasted. Midafternoon, eat 2-3 more pieces of fruit and another 3-4 eggs. This will increase your daily food intake considerably.”
“I like that idea. I was getting hungry at midmorning, but didn’t want to pack more sandwiches. How about at night, after I train?”
“Supper as usual. On the nights that your Mom fixes one of those high-carb casseroles with very little protein, just eat a can of protein with your meal. That will cover that. Have your Shredded Wheat in the mid-evening and then a protein milkshake just before going to bed.”

“You wrote about protein shakes in The Strongest Shall Survive. Do you really think they help?”
“I do. I know a number of hard-training strength athletes who have added up to a half-pound a day just by including a daily protein shake in their diet.”
“Wow, that would be super. Any special kind of protein powder? My budget is kind of thin, I’m still paying off that truck.”
“Almost all of the commercial protein products are excellent. The basic formulation is very similar in all of them. Price is generally the primary factor in selecting one over the other. If loot is tight, I suggest that you simply use instant dry milk solids as your protein source. A cup of dried milk contains over 30 grams of protein and, along with the milk in the milkshake, you’ll have all the protein that your system can assimilate at one time. Dry milk is about one-third the cost of most protein powders.”
“That’s what I’ll use for now, until I can get a bit ahead. I’m putting some dollars into my vitamins and minerals now. Any special formula for the shake or should I just throw anything and everything into the blender?”
“I’ve found that a simple, good-tasting shake is the best. When they’re overly thick, with too many ingredients, people get tired of them more quickly. Mix together things that you like the taste of separately and the end result should be favorable. My personal favorite is a mixture of whole milk, protein powder, a cup of blueberry yogurt and a couple of scoops of chocolate ice cream. It’s not too thick and I can drink it easily.”
“Why the yogurt?”
“Yogurt contains acidophilus, which aids in the digestive process. Which, by the w ay, is a very important aspect of putting on weight. It’s not just how much you eat, it’s how much is finally utilized by your cells.”
“Is there anything else I can eat to help my assimilation?”
“Papaya are plentiful around here. They are excellent digestive aids. Start having one after breakfast and supper. Also, I want you to increase your B vitamin intake. How much B are you getting now?”
“I’m just taking a multiple, which has lots of Bs in it.”
“Go ahead and invest in a bottle of high potency B-complex vitamins.”
“They really help?”
“Here’s a thumbnail sketch of what some of the Bs do. Thiamine, B1, riboflavin and B2 are vital for the metabolism of carbohydrates. Pyridoxine, B6, biotin and folic acid are essential for protein and fat metabolism. The Bs, in a nutshell, are responsible for converting the bananas you eat into usable energy and the hamburgers into muscle cells.”
“OK, I see what you’re driving at. How many should I take?”
“The Bs are water-soluble, you flush them through your system rather rapidly. I would take two in the morning following breakfast, two more after lunch and one after supper. You do have to be aware that they are, in effect, energizers. So, keeping this fact in mind, I don’t recommend taking them too late in the evening as they may keep you awake.”

“OK, I have the program. Anything else I should know?”
“Try to get lots of rest. The more the better when you’re trying to gain bodyweight. Try to reserve your energy for the essentials at this time – your job and lifting. I know you love surfing, but until you get your weight where you want it to be, you might have to sacrifice some time on the waves.”
His brow was set in a deep frown. “I can’t give up surfing.”
“I didn’t say that you should give it up. I know how much you love the sport. I’m suggesting that you merely cut back on how much time you spend in the water for a while. Instead of three hours in the surf, cut it to two and relax on the sand more. Just for a time.”
He didn’t seem at all pleased with this idea. Surfing is almost like breathing to a youngster on Maui. “Should I alter my weight program at all?”
"No, continue with the advanced program. Work hard on your squats and on your back work. You can pack a lot of good weight on your legs, hips and back. Give these muscle groups priority. Your chest, shoulder and arm work are not nearly as important just now.”

Arthur got up and put his chair back against the wall. “Thanks for your time. I’m going to stop at Foodland on my way home and pick up some Carnation Dry Milk, some yogurt and ice cream and start on my milkshakes today. I wonder if that health food store in Makawao carries a good B-complex?”
“More than likely. You can also check the shelves at your grocery store as they stock vitamins too.”

Arthur left, in the wake of more barking from the mutts, and I decided that I’d written enough people and turned instead to the final pages of The Last of the Mohicans. Uncas was in serious trouble, having been captured by the dastardly Huron. But Hawkeye was on his way to rescue his friend.

Some three weeks passed before I heard anything from Arthur, but one sunny, Aloha Friday, I was lazily contemplating a full rainbow in the valley just below the house, when I saw his blue pickup truck kick up a cloud of red dust just as he pulled up the driveway. The dogs sent up their usual chorus of yapping as he walked up the steps.

“So, how’s it going?” I asked.
“Can’t you tell,” he replied and did a full-on double biceps pose for me. “I gained twelve pounds!”
“Well, now that I’m looking closer, I can see it. You look good. Your legs must have grown a couple of inches.”
“Three, to be exact. I’m squatting 325 for five now too. I brought you that list of stuff I ate. Do you still want to see it?”
“Not necessarily. I mainly wanted you to be aware of your daily consumption. Did it help you any?”
“Yeah, it did. I actually wrote down what I ate the week before I talked to you and then recorded what I ate during the next week. I just about doubled my food intake. The fruit and hard-boiled egg idea worked great. I can peel and eat an egg while I’m pushing a mower and never miss a beat.”

“Still doing the shakes?”
“You bet. I figure they’re the biggest reason I’m gaining. And the papayas. I didn’t have any the first two days and I had an awful lot of gas. But as soon as I got into the papayas, no more gas. I’ll tell you one plus that I didn’t expect. I’m full of energy all day long. That’s the Bs, right?”
“That’s the Bs. Looks like you’ll reach your goal.”
“I think I will. Even if I come in at 195 or so, it’ll give me a big edge over what I could do at 180. I took your advice and cut back on my surfing. Now I just watch the girls instead of surfing every set. And that’s not too hard to take. So, thanks for all your help!”
“My pleasure. Not quite the girls of Baldwin Beach, but my pleasure nonetheless. Good luck with your football season and enjoy the scenery.”


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