Ask Dr. J: Getting Huge – Weight gain tips for aspiring beefcakes

In this society that is crazed with size-zero models, you’d be surprised how often I get asked to help people put on pounds. If you are one of those aspiring Hawkeye linebackers looking to bulk up that muscle, just follow these few simple rules and you’ll be the beefcake of your dreams in no time.

One: Avoid carbs. Ask any farmer how they fatten up their animals and they will tell you the same thing: grains. Why we, as humans, think that we are somehow exempt from the simple science of fat-creation is beyond me. Just avoid them and move on to rule number two…

Two: Eat protein. You can’t expect to build muscle—made of protein—without consuming protein. In fact, if you don’t eat enough protein, your body will actually begin to break down your muscles to get the nutrients it needs to survive. How much is enough? A general rule of thumb for bodybuilding is about one gram of protein intake per day per pound of body weight.

Three: Lift weights. There is no question about it, lifting weights beats everything else for putting on muscle mass. Cardio is good for the body, but for mass, you need to lift—and lift correctly. You need to continually push your upper limits, forcing your body to adapt by ever-increasing the demand (i.e., the weight you are lifting). No increase = No growth. It’s that simple.

Four: Train for Hypertrophy. This means, exercise in a way that forces growth of the muscle, not just strength. To do this, combine compound and isolation exercises during a workout. Compound exercises involve multiple muscle groups at once, while isolation exercises focus on one. Don’t buy into the one-or-the-other B.S. that’s online—do both for bulk.

Five: Train to Failure. You need to push those muscles until they cannot lift any more. The necessary recruitment and fatiguing of maximum numbers of muscle fibers comes in that last, almost-impossible, rep of a set. Always remember that building muscle is a defense mechanism by the body. Basically this means that if there is not a good enough reason provided, you will bulk.

Six: Rest and Rotate. Take a break between bulking days and rotate what area of the body you focus on regularly.

Seven: Hydrate. With even a 3 percent drop in hydration, you will experience a 15 percent loss in strength. No strength = no increase in demand = no growth.

And it goes without saying: Stay away from the steroids. They ultimately don’t work and give you a good chance of winding up with cancer.

Good luck, and as always, be well.

When Dr. Jason Bradley isn’t submitting photos of himself to, he can be found practicing Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine at the Washington Street Wellness Center in Iowa City. (Photo by Andrew Sherburne)