I'm going to lay out 8 ACTIONABLE tips that will help you to consistently pack muscle onto your frame. Forget the complexity, and stop worrying so much about every little detail in your program. Just follow these steps for a bigger, stronger physique…
1. Get stronger
Whether you're using a body part split, an upper-lower routine, or even full-body workouts, the one thing that must be present in any muscle-building routine is PROGRESSION
Unless you've nearly maxed out the muscle your frame can carry, your strength gains will determine your mass gains more than anything else! The pump, the burn, the next-day soreness - these things are all well and good, but if you're not getting stronger, you're not growing.
2. Do the big lifts
While you want to gain strength on pretty much every lift you perform, it's the basics that really count. Squats, deadlifts, presses and rows should be your mainstays, and they need to prioritized at each and every workout.
Stop overcomplicating things with crazy dropsets, supersets, and other advanced techniques. That stuff is fine for finishing off a workout, but pretty much every training session should start with some hard-ass work on the basics.
3. Pack in the protein
Whether you're using high carbs, high fats, or both, you need plenty of PROTEIN to recover from your workouts and build new muscle tissue. If you're not getting about 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, you need to eat more! Meat, eggs, and fish are your primary sources, and milk is great if your digestive system can handle it.
At the same time, you don't need to break the bank by following the crazy high protein recommendations you'll see from some trainers and diet gurus. You might have the "more is better" mentality, but most of the excess protein you consume will just be converted into glucose (carbs).
4. Control your calories
You may be trying to build muscle, but that's no excuse to get fat! I've seen all sorts of crazy diet programs that promise purely lean gains, but really, the amount of fat you gain will be a function of your overall caloric intake.
Once you've accounted for your protein requirements, eat enough carbs and fats to provide energy and pack on around two pounds per month. Any less, and you're not gaining optimally. Any more, and you're probably just getting fat.
5. Use smart supplements
Forget the expensive supplements, especially the ones that make crazy promises of insane gains. If you're honest with yourself, you know you're not going to gain 10 pounds of muscle tissue in a month, nor are you going to increase your strength by 15% in one workout.
Stick to the essentials - protein powder, fish oil, vitamins, and maybe some creatine and amino acids. Any money you have left over will be better spent on more quality food.
6. Stick to a budget
Speaking of money, bodybuilding can get expensive! I can't tell you how many times I've seen guys take weeks or months off from training and quality eating because of financial issues, but this is problem you can easily avoid.
Stick to cheap foods like tuna, ground beef, and whole eggs if you have to, and buy anything you can in bulk. Also, don't eat out unless you're going somewhere that's going to provide a BIG portion of that day's calories - a buffet, a Mongolian grill, etc. Last but not least, control your lifestyle expenses!
Partying and drinking are terrible for building muscle anyway, and they'll certainly sap the funds you'd otherwise spend on food.
7. Don't skip!
No matter what you do, don't skip workouts, and don't skip meals! Even a half-ass effort is better than nothing, and it's rare that you'll actually regret going to the gym. This is the part that takes some serious willpower, though, and it'll really set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Nobody has great workouts and perfect diets 100% of the time, but the biggest, strongest guys are the ones that put in the work day in and day out.
8. Get motivated