How To Gain 20 Pounds In 28 Days: The Extreme Muscle Building Secrets of UFC Fighters

Nate Green's muscle building experiment

The following is Part 2 of a two-part guest post from Nate Green, who works with John Berardi, PhD, Georges St-Pierre’s nutritional coach.

Part 1 detailed how top UFC fighters rapidly lose weight before weigh-ins for competitive advantage.

Now, in Part 2, Nate shares how he gained 20 pounds in 28 days, using techniques an elite fighter such as Georges St-Pierre (GSP) might utilize to move up a weight class. This is a very, very comprehensive post.

If you’ve ever wondered how to quickly gain muscle — or how a GSP versus Anderson Silva super-fight could happen — you’ll want to print this out and refer to it often.

Let’s jump into the detail…

Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva: The Superfight

For the past couple of years, there have been rumors of a super-fight between current UFC Welterweight champion Georges St Pierre and current Middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

If the fight becomes a reality, it will easily be the biggest fight in UFC history.

Fans want it. Sponsors want it. UFC president Dana White wants it. The only people who seem like they don’t want it?

St Pierre and Silva.

And it’s easy to see why when you look at the stats:

St Pierre, who’s 5’10″, fights in the 170-pound division. Silva, who’s 6’2″, fights in the 185-pound division.

After reading Part 1, you know how elite fighters use weight manipulation to strategically lower their body weight before official pre-fight weigh-ins. You also know that they quickly rehydrate to get back up to their real weight.

In GSP’s case, that would be about 190 pounds. In Silva’s? 230 pounds.

So for the super-fight to go through, and for it to be a reasonably fair fight, one of two things would need to happen: either St Pierre would have to gain 20-30 pounds to move up a weight class, or Silva would have to lose 20-30 pounds to move down a weight class.

Both are very difficult.

In fact, it’s enough of a weight disparity to make even the most enthusiastic MMA fans chalk up the super-fight to a pipe dream, something that will likely never happen.

But here’s the thing: That kind of extreme weight manipulation isn’t impossible. Far from it.

In fact, it’s entirely possible to gain 20 pounds of quality mass in as little as 28 days.

That’s what Nate did recently with some help from GSP’s nutrition coach, Dr. John Berardi and Martin Rooney, a strength coach who regularly trains UFC athletes.

And in this post, we explore how a guy like GSP could gain 20-30 pounds in a short period of time, increase his power, boost his strength, and maintain his athleticism and (mostly) endurance.

And maybe — just maybe — these techniques will make this super-fight a reality.

Take it away, Nate…

Enter Nate

I recently decided to try and gain 20 pounds of quality mass in 28 days.

Why?

For starters, a lot of people in the fitness world don’t think this is possible without taking steroids. Fortunately, this isn’t true. With the right program and world-class advice, it’s attainable. I wanted to prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Dr. John Berardi wanted a guinea pig to show exactly how someone like GSP could–if he wanted to–gain enough muscle to move up an entire weight class and take on a fighter like Anderson Silva.

I started the official experiment at 169 pounds and 28 days later, weighed in at 190.

This post detailed exactly how we did it.

Nate Green before muscle-building experiement

Here’s a breakdown of the strategies I used to put on 20 pounds in 28 days.

6 Strategies for Rapid Muscle Gain

[Note from Tim: Nate shares the exact meal plan and workout program after outlining the six strategies/principles. Again, after reading once, this is probably a post you’ll want to print out for reference.]

STRATEGY #1: CYCLE THE AMOUNT OF FOOD YOU EAT.

We kept things simple here. My nutrition plan was split into two different kinds of days: High-Calorie or Low-Calorie.

On my weight-training days, I ate more food. This ensured I was getting a huge influx of nutrients on the days where my muscles could put them to use. On the days I did interval workouts or took off from the gym, I ate a little less food. This helped me to add weight without adding lots of body fat.

It’s important to note that even my “low calorie” days still involved eating more food than I was previously used to. So, no matter the day, I was always in a positive energy balance. Except for Sundays. Which brings me to the second strategy.

STRATEGY #2: USE INTERMITTENT FASTING.

Every Sunday I did a 24-hour fast to offset the inevitable fat gain that would normally come with an eating plan like this. The goal was for me to be in a caloric surplus – an anabolic state – six days per week, eating more calories than I burn which would lead to muscle growth.

And then I’d be in an extreme caloric deficit one day per week, which would help reset my insulin sensitivity, boost growth hormone secretion, and help stimulate fat loss while preserving my lean mass.

STRATEGY #3: GIVE YOURSELF ROOM TO GROW.

Making a big change is all about small incremental improvements. You try something for a little while, see how it works, and if you need to, make a small change and repeat the steps.

For this experiment Berardi started me off with a lot of food, enough to where I’d be in a caloric surplus and gain muscle. But he didn’t overload me as much as he could have. Not at first, at least. He wanted to leave a little wiggle room to make changes if needed.

In both Weeks 3 and 4 we strategically added more calories to help push me past a plateau when my weight stalled at 178 pounds. (You’ll see how we did that below.)

STRATEGY #4: EAT MORE FOOD. MUCH MORE.

My weight-gain nutrition plan called for way more food than I was used to eating. So instead of focusing on counting calories — which would have been a nightmare — we turned our attention instead to making sure I was in a positive energy balance.

When you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Dr. Berardi knew all I’d have to do to gain weight was eat more food than I was eating before we started the experiment. And that was easy to do, since I was eating enough to only maintain a 170-pound body.

So how much food does it actually take to gain 20 pounds? I went through and added everything I ate in 28 days. Here it is:

  • 65 pounds of meat
  • 54 bananas
  • 84 scoops of protein powder
  • 72 pieces of bread
  • 36 sweet potatoes
  • 7 jars of almond butter
  • 5 jars of fruit jam
  • 8 jars of sauerkraut
  • 144 cups of vegetables
  • 36 pieces of fruit
  • 72 squares of dark chocolate
  • 8 bags of frozen blueberries and raspberries
  • 7 cans of coconut milk
  • 4 cartons of heavy whipping cream

STRATEGY #5: TRAIN YOUR ASS OFF.

Most guys think the training program is the most important part of gaining muscle. Well, most guys are wrong. If I didn’t eat enough food I could have trained as hard or as long as I wanted and not much would have happened.

Of course, the workout program is important. So Martin Rooney hooked me up with a variation of his Training For Warriors routine that he uses for high-level UFC athletes like brothers Jim and Dan Miller.

Here’s what it looked like:

Monday: Upper Body Strength

This workout focused on compound exercises and used heavy weights to build strength and target fast-twitch muscle-fibers, the ones most primed for growth.

Tuesday: Hurricane Day – Sprints

An intense total-body workout that promoted rapid fat burning and power development. Martin calls them “hurricanes” because the workouts are like a brief, powerful storm that create disruption in the muscular, cardiovascular, and neurological systems.

They’re also some of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done in my life. (I nearly passed out after my first Hurricane session; I took a 5-minute nap next to the treadmill.)

Wednesday: Off – Recovery

A much-needed rest for my muscles and mind.

Thursday: Hurricane Day – Energy Circuit

A brief, intense workout comprised of five unconventional exercises (like sledgehammer slams, medicine ball work, and rope climbs) all done in circuit fashion.

Friday: Upper Body Hypertrophy

A second upper-body day that used less complex exercises and higher reps to promote more muscle growth.

Saturday: Lower Body Strength

Just like the Upper Body Strength day, this workout focused on compound exercises and used heavy weights to build strength and target fast-twitch muscle-fibers.

Sunday: Off – Recovery

Another rest day.

So when you put it the weight-gain nutrition plan and workout program together, this is what you get:

Monday: High Calorie / Upper Body Strength

Tuesday: Low Calorie / Hurricane Sprints

Wednesday: Low Calorie / Off

Thursday: Low Calorie / Hurricane Energy Circuit

Friday: High Calorie / Upper Body Hypertrophy

Saturday: High Calorie / Lower Body Strength

Sunday: Fast / Off

STRATEGY #6: USE STRATEGIC SUPPLEMENTS.

We like to say “Supplements are supplements.” In other words, they’re ingredients you add to a smart eating and training program. They don’t replace them.

Despite what the supplement ads say, no guy has ever built a good body by taking a weird powder with a stupid name and doing nothing else.

For this experiment, however, Dr. Berardi decided I should use a few supplements strategically to maximize the amount of muscle I could build on such a short time-frame. With only 28 days to gain 20 pounds, I had to look at every opportunity to take in more calories.

The following surely didn’t “make the difference”. But they did help.

Multivitamin: Helps fix small decencies of vitamins and minerals and enhance energy metabolism. I used Optimen Multivitamin.

Protein powder: Makes eating large quantities of protein easier. I used Optimum Gold Standard Casein (for my Breakfast Pudding) and Jay Robb Egg-White Protein (for my Super Shakes).

Vitamin D: Even though natural sunlight allows our body to create Vitamin D, many of us are still deficient, which can lead to loss of muscle strength and mass and low levels of immunity. I used Vitamin D3 by NOW.

Creatine monohydrate: Helps regenerate muscle energy stores and can improve strength, boost performance, and increase muscle mass. I used Biotest creatine monohydrate.

Liquid fish oil: A key source of omega-3 fatty acids that helps improve mood and motivation while boosting fat-burning and dampening inflammation. I used Carlson’s Very Finest Liquid Fish Oil.

BCAA capsules: Helps reduce the chance of muscle tissue breakdown while stimulating protein synthesis, leading to better recovery and preservation of lean muscle mass. I used Optimum BCAA capsules primarily on my fasting days.

Greens powder: Veggies, fruits, algaes and/or grasses that have been compacted and distilled into powdered form and contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. All good things for a growing man. I used Biotest Superfood.

Peri-workout drink: Supplies essential amino acids to help re-build muscle and acts as a performance-enhancing stimulant. I used Purple Wraath by Controlled Labs.

Post-workout drink: A mixture of high-quality protein and fast-acting carbohydrates that helps your body recover and rebuild quickly. I used Universal Torrent.

The Weight Gain Menu – Weeks 1 and 2

Now that we know the strategies, let’s get to the actual menu.

HIGH CALORIE DAY (MONDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY)

Breakfast

Breakfast pudding

The following was all put into a blender and blended into a pudding.

2 frozen bananas, blended until creamy

1/4 cup of almond milk

3 scoops casein protein powder

2 squares high cacao chocolate

Side dish

4 pieces whole grain bread

2 Tbsp peanut or almond butter

2 Tbsp jam

multivitamin

3,000 IU vitamin D

1 tsp creatine in coffee or green tea

Immediately Pre-Workout

500ml water

10 grams BCAA’s

Sip During Workout

1L water with

1 scoop of workout drink

Immediately Post-Workout

1L water with

3 scoops post-workout drink

Post-Workout Meal

1.5lb any type of lean meat

3 cups of favorite veggies

½ cup sauerkraut*

2 large sweet or white potatoes

1 Tbsp Udo’s 3.6.9 oil

Anytime Meal

1lb any type of lean meat

3 cups of favorite veggies

½ cup sauerkraut*

2 servings of your favorite fruit

1 Tbsp fish oil

*Your body has a mixture of good and bad bacteria in it. Fermented foods like sauerkraut are rich in enzymes and help increase the amount of good bacteria in your intestines. You’ll notice my diet contained a cup of sauerkraut per day. That’s not in there by chance.

LOW CALORIE DAY (TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY)

Breakfast

Breakfast pudding

2 frozen bananas, blended until creamy

1/4 cup of almond milk

3 scoops casein protein powder

2 squares high cacao chocolate

Side dish

2 pieces whole grain bread

1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter

1 Tbsp jam

multivitamin

3,000 IU vitamin D

1 tsp creatine in coffee or green tea

Lunch

1.5lb any type of fattier meat

3 cups of favorite veggies

1/4 cup mixed raw nuts

½ cup sauerkraut

1 large sweet or white potato

1 Tbsp Udo’s 3.6.9 oil

Dinner

1lb any type of fattier meat

3 cups of favorite veggies

½ cup sauerkraut

1 servings of your favorite fruit

1 Tbsp fish oil

FASTING DAY (SUNDAY)

I fasted every Sunday with the goal to reboot my insulin sensitivity and carb tolerance before another 6 days of big eating. The rules were simple:

Rule 1: Stop eating by 10pm on Saturday.

Rule 2: On Sunday, have 3 “meals” consisting of the following:

  • 1L water with 1/2 serving greens powder
  • 15g BCAA’s
  • 1 cup of green tea

Why have these fake meals? According to Dr. Berardi, we release a hormone called ghrelin about 30 minutes before our normal meal times, which stimulates hunger pangs and gets us ready for the upcoming meal.

So it was psychologically comforting to have some kind of eating routine. The BCAAs and greens powder made it feel like I was still “eating”, which helped curb those hunger signals. (Plus the BCAAs helped preserve my lean muscle mass.)

Also, the caffeine in green tea (or coffee) helped to liberate stored fats. This helped my body eat the “food” that was stored in my love handles instead of requiring me to actually have a meal.

Rule 3: Break the fast at 10pm Sunday night by eating 1 pound of any protein with 3-4 cups of veggies.

Nate Green's high calorie breakfast

Nate Green high calorie lunch

Nate Green dinner

The  Weight Gain Menu – Weeks 3 and 4

My menu on Weeks 3 and 4 followed the same base menu as above but we strategically added calories. In Week 3, we introduced a Super-Shake (basically a fancy protein shake) because by this time I was tired of chewing. Drinking a shake was much easier.

Here’s what we added:

WEEK 3 ADDITIONS

High-Calorie Day Super Shake (Monday, Friday, Saturday)

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream/whipping cream
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • Handful frozen raspberries
  • Handful frozen blueberries

Low-Calorie Day Super Shake (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 oz coconut milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp cacoa nibs or 99% chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp favorite nut butter

WEEK 4 ADDITIONS

We continued to add more food to my existing meals in Week 4.

Additions to High-Calorie days

  • 1 banana to my breakfast pudding (for a total of 3 bananas)
  • 1 chocolate square to my breakfast pudding (for a total of 3 chocolate squares)
  • 1 scoop Purple Wraath to my workout drink (for a total of 2 scoops)
  • 1 scoop Universal Torrent to my post-workout drink (for a total of 4 scoops)
  • 2 Tbsp nut butter to my breakfast toast side-dish (for a total of 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp of jam to my breakfast toast side-dish (for a total of 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream to my Super Shake (for a total of 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 scoop protein to my Super Shake (for a total of 2 scoops)

Additions to Low-Calorie days

  • 1 banana to my breakfast pudding (for a total of 3 bananas)
  • 1 chocolate square to my breakfast pudding (for a total of 3 chocolate squares)
  • 1 Tbsp nut butter to my breakfast toast side-dish (for a total of 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 oz coconut milk to my Supe Shake (for a total of 4 oz)
  • 1 scoop protein to my Super Shake (for a total of 2 scoops)
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate to my Super Shake (for a total of 3 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp nut butter to my Super Shake (for a total of 2 Tbsp)

These were seemingly small changes that made a big impact on how much weight I gained this week.

Workout Program – Week 1

MONDAY – UPPER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

3 sets jumping jacks x 10

3 sets pogo jumps x 50

3 sets of wide outs x 10

2 sets of 20 yard skips

2 sets of 20 yard side shuffle

2 sets of 20 yard carioca

2 sets of 20 yards backward run

1 set of fire hydrants x 8

1 set of forward hip circles x 8

1 set of backward hip circles x 8

1 set of side leg raise x 8

2 sets of band shoulder external rotation x 10

2 sets of band shoulder row x 10

2 sets of band shoulder extension x 10

Weights

Bench Press

Warm-up sets of 5 reps up to the weight of your 5RM (5 Rep Max)

Perform 5 sets of 5RM.

Weighted Chin-up

Warm-up set of 8 reps.

Second set with 25 pounds of 6.

Perform 4 sets of 6 reps with 6RM.

Weighted Dips

Warm-up set of 10 reps.

Second set with 30 pounds for 8.

Perform 4 sets of 8 reps with 8 RM.

Overhead Press

Perform 4 sets of 10 with 10RM.

Barbell Curls 

Perform 4 sets of 10 with 10RM.

Abs of your choice

(I did 3 sets of 8 reps of weighted crunches.)

TUESDAY – HURRICANE SPRINTS 

Warm-up

3 sets jumping jacks x 10

3 sets pogo jumps x 50

3 sets of wide outs x 10

2 sets of 20 yard skips

2 sets of 20 yard side shuffle

2 sets of 20 yard carioca

2 sets of 20 yards backward run

1 set of fire hydrants x 8

1 set of forward hip circles x 8

1 set of backward hip circles x 8

1 set of side leg raise x 8

5 sets of quick steps for 5 yards

5 sets of high knees for 5 yards

Hurricane Category 2

Round 1

Sprint on treadmill at 10 mph and 10% grade incline for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill and perform the following:

1 x 20 regular crunch

1 x 20 table-top crunch

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 rounds.

Rest 2 minutes before moving on to Round 2.

Round 2

Sprint on treadmill at 11 mph and 10% grade incline for 20 seconds.

Jump off treadmill and perform the following:

1 x 20 knee-grab crunch

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 rounds.

Rest 2 minutes before moving on to Round 3.

Round 3

Sprint on treadmill at 12 mph and 10% grade incline for 20 seconds.

Jump off treadmill and perform the following:

1 x 20 bicycle crunch

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 rounds.

WEDNESDAY – OFF

THURSDAY – HURRICANE ENERGY CIRCUIT 

Warm-up

3 sets jumping jacks x 10

3 sets pogo jumps x 50

3 sets of wide outs x 10

2 sets of 20 yard skips

2 sets of 20 yard side shuffle

2 sets of 20 yard carioca

2 sets of 20 yards backward run

1 set of fire hydrants x 8

1 set of forward hip circles x 8

1 set of backward hip circles x 8

1 set of side leg raise x 8

5 sets of quick steps for 5 yards

5 sets of high knees for 5 yards 

Training For Warriors Circuit 

Complete each station of the circuit for 1 minute for 5 total minutes. Rest for 3 minutes and repeat.  Rest for 3 minutes and perform the last round for 30 seconds each station.

1. Rope

Begin standing holding one end of the rope in each hand. Start by performing 10 double arm swings by bringing the arms up and down as violently as possible. Then perform 10 alternating swings by bringing each arm up and down one at a time. Then perform 10 rotations by bringing each arm up and out to the sides and back down. Once all 30 reps are completed as fast as possible, start back at the beginning for the allotted time.

2. Kettlebell Swing

Begin standing with the kettlebell in both hands. Swing the bell between the legs. Extend at the knees and hips and swing the bell forward to shoulder height.  Repeat for 10 reps.  Then perform 10 more reps using each arm (single-handed swings). Once the 30 reps are completed, start back at the beginning with two hands for the allotted time.

3. Medicine Ball Slams

Begin holding the medicine ball in both hands overhead. Fire the ball into the ground as hard as possible. Recover the ball and repeat for as many reps as possible in the allotted time.

4. Sledge Hammer Swings

Begin facing the tire with both feet forward holding the hammer. Bring the hammer back and over one side of the body and hit the tire as hard as possible. Return the hammer over the other side of the body and repeat for as many reps as possible in the allotted time.

5. Ladder

Begin standing inside of the ladder with both feet.  Jump and land with your feet outside of and forward one box. Jump your feet back into the box and repeat for the length of the ladder and back.  Once completed, begin running with high knees using one foot in each box, down and back the length of the ladder. Once this second set is finished, perform side steps through the ladder using two feet in each box down and back up the ladder.  Once the third set is completed, start at the beginning and complete as many reps in the allotted time possible.

FRIDAY – UPPER BODY HYPERTROPHY

Warm-up

3 sets jumping jacks x 10

3 sets pogo jumps x 50

3 sets of wide outs x 10

2 sets of 20 yard skips

2 sets of 20 yard side shuffle

2 sets of 20 yard carioca

2 sets of 20 yards backward run

1 set of fire hydrants x 8

1 set of forward hip circles x 8

1 set of backward hip circles x 8

1 set of side leg raise x 8

2 sets of band shoulder external rotation x 10

2 sets of band shoulder row x 10

2 sets of band shoulder extension x 10

Weights 

Close Grip Bench

Do 3 warmup sets of 5 reps.

Perform 4 sets of 8 with your 8 RM.

Cable High Pull

Do 4 sets of 10 reps after a warmup set.

Band Triceps Pushdown

Do 4 sets of 15 reps.

Cable Rows

Do 4 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

Dumbbell Curls

Do 3 sets of 8 each arm.

Abs of your choice.

(I did 3 sets of 5 reps on each side of half-kneeling chops.)

SATURDAY – LOWER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

3 sets jumping jacks x 10

3 sets pogo jumps x 50

3 sets of wide outs x 10

2 sets of 20 yard skips

2 sets of 20 yard side shuffle

2 sets of 20 yard carioca

2 sets of 20 yards backward run

1 set of fire hydrants x 8

1 set of forward hip circles x 8

1 set of backward hip circles x 8

1 set of side leg raise x 8

Weights

45-degree back raise

Perform 1 set of 10 with bodyweight.

Perform 1 set of 8 with 25 pounds.

Perform 1 set of 8 with 45 pounds.

Perform 1 set of 8 with 70 pounds.

Barbell Squat

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

Deadlift

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

SUNDAY – OFF

WORKOUT PROGRAM – WEEK 2

MONDAY – UPPER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

Same as Week 1.

Weights

Bench Press

Warmup sets of 6 reps up to the weight of your 6RM.

Perform 5 sets of 6RM.

(The goal is to use heavier weight in last few sets than Week 1 at 5 reps.)

Weighted Chin-up

Warmup set of 8 reps.

Do second set with 25 pounds for 8 reps.

Perform 4 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

(The goal is to use heavier weight in last few sets than Week 1 at 6 reps.)

Weighted Dips

Warmup set of 10 reps.

Do second set with 30 pounds for 10.

Perform 4 sets of 10 reps with 10RM.

(The goal is to use heavier weight in last few sets than Week 1 at 8 reps.)

Overhead Press

Perform 5 sets of 6 with 6RM.

Barbell Curls

Perform 5 sets of 8 with 8RM

Abs of your choice

(I did 3 sets of 10 weighted crunches.)

TUESDAY – HURRICANE SPRINTS 

Warm-up

Same as Week 1.

Round 1   

Sprint on treadmill at 9.5 mph x 10% grade for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, grab a 65-pound barbell and do the following:

Push Jerks x 10

Close Grip Snatch x 8

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Rest 2 minutes before performing Round 2.

Round 2   

Sprint on treadmill at 10.5 mph x 10% grade for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, grab a 65-pound barbell and do the following:

Wide Grip Bent Over Row x 10

High Pull x 10  

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Rest 2 minutes before performing Round 3.

Round 3  

Sprint on treadmill at 11.5 mph x 10% grade for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, grab a 65-pound barbell and do the following:

Biceps Curl x 10

Cleans x 10

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Curl into a ball and try not to throw up.

WEDNESDAY – OFF

THURSDAY – HURRICANE ENERGY CIRCUIT 

Warm-up

Same as Week 1.

Training For Warriors Circuit 

Complete each station of the circuit for 1 minute for 5 total minutes. Rest for 3 minutes and repeat. Rest for 3 minutes and perform the last round for 30 seconds each station.

1. Farmer’s Walk   

Begin standing holding a heavy dumbbells in each hand with the elbows extended. Walk for 20 yards down and back as many times as possible in the time allotted.

2. Sandbag Drag   

Begin facing the sandbag while gripping the bag with both hands.  Drag the bag backward for 20 yards, using a toe-heel foot contact. Repeat for the distance as many times as possible in the time allotted.

3. Hand-Over-Hand Rope Pull 

Begin standing with the single rope in each hand. Pull the rope to the hip with the far hand and then grab further down the rope with the opposite hand. Repeat for as many times as possible in the allotted time.

4. Prowler Push or Sled Push

Begin using the high grip on the Prowler. Taking as big of steps as possible, push it 20 yards. Run around to the other side and push it back using the low grip. Repeat for as much distance as possible in the allotted time.

5. Tire Flip 

Begin facing the tire. Bend down and grab both hands under the bottom rim. Using the legs, lift the tire onto one side while keeping the elbows extended.  Turn the hands over and push the tire down as hard as possible. Run to the opposite side of the tire and flip it back to the other side. Repeat for as many reps as possible in the allotted time.

FRIDAY – UPPER BODY HYPERTROPHY

Warm-Up

Same as Week 1.

Weights

Close Grip Bench

Do 3 warmup sets of 5 reps.

Perform 4 sets of 10 with your 10RM.

Cable High Pull

Do 4 sets of 8 reps after a warmup set.

Band Triceps Pushdown

Do 4 sets of 20 reps.

Cable Rows

Do 4 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

Dumbbell Curls

Do 3 sets of 8 each arm.

Abs of your choice.

(I did 3 sets of 6 reps on each side of half-kneeling chops.)

SATURDAY – LOWER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

Same as Week 1.

Weights

45-degree back raise

Perform 1 set of 10 with bodyweight.

Perform 1 set of 8 with 25 pounds.

Perform 1 set of 8 with 45 pounds.

Perform 1 set of 8 with 90 pounds.

Barbell Squat

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

Deadlift

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

SUNDAY – OFF

WORKOUT PROGRAM – WEEK 3

MONDAY – UPPER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1 and 2.

Weights

Band Bench Press

Warmup sets of 5 reps up to the weight of your 5RM.

Perform 5 sets of 5RM.

(I used mini-bands. Here’s a video of how they work.)

Alternating Grip Weighted Chin-up

(One hand using a overhand grip, and the other hand using an underhand grip.)

Warmup set of 8 reps. (4 reps with each grip.)

Do second set with 25 pounds for 8 reps. (4 reps with each grip.)

Perform 4 sets of 8 reps with 8RM. (4 reps with each grip.)

Weighted Dips

Warmup set of 6 reps.

Do second set with 40 pounds for 6 reps.

Perform 5 sets of 6 reps with 6RM.

Overhead Press

Perform 5 sets of 5 with 5RM.

Barbell Curls

Perform 4 sets of 8 with 8RM

Abs of your choice

(I did 3 sets of 10 of reverse crunches.)

TUESDAY – HURRICANE SPRINTS 

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1 and 2.

Round 1   

Sprint on treadmill at 9.5 mph x 10% grade for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, grab a 65-pound barbell and do the following:

High Pull x 10

Bent-over Row x 8

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Rest 2 minutes before performing Round 2.

Round 2   

Sprint on treadmill at 10.5 mph x 10% grade for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, grab a 65-pound barbell and do the following:

Close-Grip Snatch x 10

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Rest 2 minutes before performing Round 3.

Round 3  

Sprint on treadmill at 11.5 mph x 10% grade for 25 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, grab a 65-pound barbell and do the following:

Cleans x 10

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

WEDNESDAY – OFF

THURSDAY – HURRICANE ENERGY CIRCUIT 

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1 and 2.

Training For Warriors Circuit 

Same exercises as Week 1 but with different time parameters  Complete each station of the circuit for 30 seconds for 2.5 total minutes. Rest for 1 minute and repeat. Do 4 total sets.

FRIDAY – UPPER BODY HYPERTROPHY

Warm-Up

Same as Weeks 1 and 2.

Weights

Incline Barbell Bench Press

Do 3 warmup sets of 5 reps.

Perform 4 sets of 10 with your 10RM.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Do 4 sets of 8 reps after a warmup set.

Cable Triceps Pushdown

Do 4 sets of 12 reps.

Bent-Over Reverse Fly with Dumbbells

Do 4 sets of 8 reps with 8RM.

Dumbbell Curls

Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Abs of your choice.

(I did 3 sets of 8 reps on each side of half-kneeling chops.)

SATURDAY – LOWER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1 and 2.

Weights

45-degree back raise

Perform 1 set of 10 with bodyweight.

Perform 2 sets of 8 with 45 pounds.

Perform 2 sets of 8 with 90 pounds.

Barbell Squat

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets x 6 of 6RM.

Deadlift

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets x 6 of 6RM.

SUNDAY – OFF

WORKOUT PROGRAM – WEEK 4

MONDAY – UPPER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1, 2, and 3.

Weights

Band Bench Press

Warmup sets of 8 reps up to the weight of your 8RM.

Perform 5 sets of 8RM.

Weighted Pull-Up

Warmup set of 8 reps.

Do second set with 25 pounds for 8 reps.

Perform 3 sets of 6 reps with 40 pounds added.

Weighted Dips

Warmup set of 6 reps with 25 pounds added.

Do second set with 40 pounds for 6 reps.

Perform 5 sets of 6 reps with 80 pounds added.

Overhead Press

Perform 4 sets of 8 with 8RM.

Barbell Curls

Perform 4 sets of 10 with 10RM

Abs of your choice

(I did 3 sets of 12 of reverse crunches.)

TUESDAY – HURRICANE SPRINTS 

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1, 2, and 3.

Round 1   

Sprint on treadmill at 10 mph x 10% grade for 30 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, and do the following with light weight:

Cable Row x 10

Cable Triceps Pressdown x 8

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Rest 2 minutes before performing Round 2.

Round 2   

Sprint on treadmill at 10.5 mph x 10% grade for 30 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, and do the following with light weight:

Cable High-Pull to Chin x 10

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

Rest 2 minutes before performing Round 3.

Round 3  

Sprint on treadmill at 11.5 mph x 10% grade for 30 seconds.

Jump off treadmill, and do the following with light weight:

Cable Lat Pull-Down x 10

Repeat from beginning for a total of 3 sets.

WEDNESDAY – OFF

THURSDAY – HURRICANE ENERGY CIRCUIT 

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1, 2, and 3.

Training For Warriors Circuit 

Same exercises as Week 2 but with different time parameters  Complete each station of the circuit for 30 seconds for 2.5 total minutes. Rest for 1 minute and repeat. Do 4 total sets.

FRIDAY – UPPER BODY HYPERTROPHY

Warm-Up

Same as Weeks 1, 2, and 3.

Weights

Incline Barbell Bench Press

Do 3 warmup sets of 5 reps.

Perform 4 sets of 6 with 6RM.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Do 4 sets of 8 reps after a warmup set.

Cable Triceps Pushdown

Do 4 sets of 10 reps.

Bent-Over Reverse Fly with Dumbbells

Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Dumbbell Curls

Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

Abs of your choice.

(I did a basic plank for 3 sets of 30 seconds.)

SATURDAY – LOWER BODY STRENGTH

Warm-up

Same as Weeks 1, 2, and 3.

Weights

45-degree back raise

Perform 1 set of 10 with bodyweight.

Perform 2 sets of 8 with 45 pounds.

Perform 2 sets of 8 with 90 pounds.

Barbell Squat

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets x 10 of 10RM.

Deadlift

Do 3-4 warmup sets.

Perform 5 sets x 8 of 8RM.

SUNDAY – OFF

Girth, Body Fat, and Performance Metrics After Gaining 20 Pounds

Nate Green after muscle-building experiment

So let’s say Georges St Pierre wanted to put on 20 pounds to move up a weight class to fight Anderson Silva. (Granted, he probably wouldn’t do it in 28 days.)

What would happen to his performance? Would he get slow and fat? Or even more powerful and agile?

We can only speculate with GSP, but here’s what happened to me.

Baseline After Weight-Gain
Weight 169.6 190.2
Girth Measurements
Neck 15.25 15.38
Shoulder 48 49.25
Chest 41.5 44
Upper Arm 14.75 16
Waist 31.5 32.25
Hip 38 39.5
Thigh 23.13 24.25
Calf 15.5 15.38
Body Fat Measurements
Mid-Ax 2.8 3.8
Cheek 2.8 5.7
Chest 2.8 4.7
Ab 7.6 3.8
Subscap 5.7 7.6
Triceps 2.8 3.8
Suprailiac 2.8 4.7
Knee 5.7 2.8
Hamstring 3.8 4.7
Calf 9.5 6.7
Body Fat (%) 3.03 (probably ~6) 4.1 (probably ~7)

GIRTH MEASUREMENTS

Expected: We were confident every part of my body would increase in size, and for the most part, that was true.

Surprised: My calf measurements actually went down. We believe it had something to do with the resultant fat loss from doing the Hurricane sprint days.

BODY FAT PERCENTAGE

A quick note about the body fat test: We used calipers and a 10-site skinfold test. All measurement days were done at the Missoula Underground Strength Training Center and performed by trainer Mike Scialabba.

When testing body fat with calipers, there’s always a 2 – 3 percent margin of error. Mike, who’s done this same test on hundreds of his clients, ended up with skinfold measurements that indicated the obviously wrong numbers of 3.03 and 4.1 respectively. Adding a 3% margin of error, the real numbers were probably more like 6-7% and 8-9%.

All of this to say, my body fat percentage went up, but very minimally.

Surprised: I expected to gain more body fat than this (but was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t). Also, while most of my individual sites increased, there were a few that went down (ab, knee, calf). Those were three of the places that had the highest body-fat percentage on the initial Day 0 test.

And here are the performance metrics:

STRENGTH TEST: DEADLIFT MAXIMUM

Baseline: 405 pounds

After Weight Gain: 475 pounds

POWER TEST: VERTICAL JUMP

Baseline: 28 inches

After Weight Gain: 31.7 inches

STRENGTH ENDURANCE TEST: 225-POUND BENCH PRESS

Baseline: 8 reps

After Weight Gain: 15 reps

ENDURANCE TEST 1: MAX VELOCITY ON TREADMILL (VMAX)

Baseline: 9 minutes and 32 seconds of sprinting at 8mph, working up to an incline of 8%

After Weight Gain: 7 minutes and 38 seconds of sprinting at 8mph, working up to an incline of 6%.

ENDURANCE TEST 2: MAX TIME ON TREADMILL (T-MAX)

Baseline: 3 minutes and 11 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 6% incline

After Weight Gain: 3 minutes and 14 seconds of sprinting at 8mph with 6% incline

STRENGTH/POWER/MUSCLE ENDURANCE TESTS

Expected: We expected to improve performance dramatically in all three of my non-endurance tests (vertical jump, 225-bench, max deadlift).

Surprised: No surprises here.

V-MAX AND T-MAX

Expected: I wasn’t too sure what to expect here, honestly. I felt like I was in better shape than on our baseline testing day, but I didn’t know if my short duration Hurricane sprint training (25 second sprints) would translate to better endurance.

Surprised: What surprised me about both the VMax and the TMax was that I actually felt like I had more endurance. However, I was much heavier and I felt it during the endurance testing. Perhaps I didn’t have enough time to adapt to my new body weight.

Now, this is something GSP may not have to deal with, since he’d likely gain weight over a longer period of time and his body would have more opportunity to adapt.

Closing Words

During each phase of my experiments, I pushed my body to its physiological limits.

I ate as much as I could for 28 days straight. I fasted for a full 24 hours multiple times. I purposefully dehydrated myself and robbed my body of water. I lifted heavy weights and sprinted as fast as I could.

I proved that it’s possible to for a regular guy to gain 20 pounds of (mostly) lean mass in a month. That it’s possible to then lose those 20 pounds in a week. And that it’s possible to gain them all back in a day.

In the process, I hope I’ve demystified the process of muscle building, weight cutting, and rehydration. In the end, there’s no voodoo and witchcraft here. Just the right advice, expert guidance, and a ton of hard work.

+++++

For more about Nate and his writing, check out his blog. And for more on Dr. John Berardi and his work, check out Precision Nutrition.

Additional resources: You can download the entire weight-gain nutrition plan Nate used here: Muscle-Building Nutrition Plan. And you can download the entire training program he used here: Muscle-Building Workout Program.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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373 Replies to “How To Gain 20 Pounds In 28 Days: The Extreme Muscle Building Secrets of UFC Fighters”

  1. Cool program, but I find it to be too extensive and complicated for my tastes. I found the Occam’s Protocol from 4HB to set the standard for all I really need. After a 6 month retirement in Asia I lost about 14 lbs (165 to 151), but since coming home regained 10 within 3 weeks. And I hope to plan to gain 10 more within the next 60 days.

    Only requires 1 hour of gym time per week and eating more good high quality proteins, in a greater portion and a lot more often. If the plan is too complicated I won’t stick to it.

  2. I am curious as the the initial and final hydration levels during this experiment. It is clear that you gain quite a bit of muscle but I wonder how much of it was really added to your frame in a usable sense.

    When you started the experiment vs. when you ended the experiment, what would you say hydration levels were as a percentage. Let’s say when you began the experiment you were right at 50% of your hydration (a normal baseline amount). Meaning that you were not dehydrated or over hydrated at 170 lbs. When you finished at 190 lbs what would you say that percentage of hydration was at?

  3. This is awesome. I’ve been scrawny ever since High School and reading this article gives me hope. I will definitely consider using this in the next coming days to get some fat on my body!

  4. An excellent article with head-spinning amount of information. I originally came across this as part of reading to find out more on IF which I intend to trial next week and tweak until I find something relatively sustainable with my training and work schedule that will be appropriate for my competing.

    This article is doubly exciting to see how to combine some IF with a diet appropriate for lean gains. I don’t intend to carry out quite such a drastically fast gain, but this article is going to be amazingly helpful for me in the coming months where I hope to bump up my competing division to figure.

    Thank you again for such an interesting share.

  5. Great article! I train in BJJ 2 to 3 times a week. What workout in ground zero training program in S2B can i do if i only have 2 days a week for workout?

  6. greaat stuff…so detailed…

    only question – iam a 5’8 120 pound ectomorph .. can I try this or should I wait to gain some muscle

    also subsitutes for sauerkraut ‘ beef ‘ steak…dont have it here in india

  7. Amazing article. Like a book. As with lots of this information I try to pull out the details that might help me, if I just us some, and not a whole crazy program. On the surface, it seems like Tim’s article Geek to Freak provides an easier path to fast, extreme, lean weight gain, any comments on that?

  8. Hi Tim,

    I am starting out on the 4HB, but I am not joining a gym. I have invested in aTRX suspension training kit, and plan to work out at home. Do you have any advice to give as to its use in terms of the 4HB regime.

    By the way just started learning Spanish, and loving it. Started with Duolingo, doing great and I am supposedly crap at Languages.

    Thanks Tim

  9. Sick how you put on that much weight in such a short period of time. I’m really interested in such gains etc and this detailed diet but my gym doesn’t have the facilities to perform the warrior and hurricane parts of the workout, do you think I’d still have decent results replacing them with a circuit and maybe some HIIT?

  10. Hi! ^^ I’m skinny since I was young and want to gain some weight too. I want to eat more but the problem is, I feel nauseous afterwards. And I have also tried some food supplements before, however it makes me feel sleepy at work and some food supplements like those commercially made as shakes makes me even feel full and I don’t want to eat some meals anymore. Despite those supplement shakes, I’m still skinny and maybe just gain 1-3 kilos. I am not anorexic.:) Do you have any advice?

  11. Hello there, I was reading most of the posts and it actually sounds like your conditions are familiar to what I am going through. It truly is hard whenever you continuously have bodyweight in your thoughts and you keep going top to bottom with your weight. Anyways I really desired to leave a little gem that we realise it may perhaps be tempting to light up or to miss meals to shed pounds, however in the long run it genuinely sets you up for gaining more weight. Your body thinks it won’t get any food and therefore it starts to store fat.. A Few Things I can advise you is to be aware that you are not alone, reach out and talk to someone that may be able to help you. May Christ bless all of you, and I wish you all the best in recover

  12. When i look at all the supplements and all the stress he put on his body, i can’t help but ask myself: wouldn’t it be healthier to take stereoids?

    1. That is the dumbest comment I’ve read in a while. These supplements are natural – steroids are not! Plus these supplements are only a small part of the whole process, if you had read properly the diet part is the most important.

  13. Interesting read, thanks. Might be useful for a Jon Jones who will eventually jump up to heavyweight and might want to bulk up.

  14. Thanks man! I need to gain 20 lbs for a photo shoot, but I am finding it hard.

    There are some unique ideas here, and I am excited to try your meal plan… Although I am nervous about fasting for 24 hours.

    I’ll definitely give it a shot because I was really worried about bulking and getting fat.

  15. This looks like a good experiment. Maybe it’s just confirmation bias, but I have been doing Paleo and adhere to the “no grain” rule and have had great results. This follows that fairly closely with the exception of breakfast. Is there a substitute or am I loco for not eating grains?

  16. Well, I must admit I was quite skeptical that this could be done in such a short period of time. This is fantastic work! Also, the food looks fantastic. It would be a great motivator for me to stick with it.

  17. Hi, I’m Lailani and I’m eager to share the site which i saw. Hope it can bring knowledge about muscle fitness. thanks

  18. Do you think genetics play a role in how much of these gains are achievable following this protocal? Also, how much would gains slow down if one continued to train like this indefinitely?

  19. That was good information may I ask one ? I50 pound body builder trying to be I’m 16 do u think bu eating all that food and following it just right would I but on mass but only lefting weights

  20. Hey I have one ? I’m 150 pounds if I eat like the

    meal plan would I put on the same

    amount of mass but only weight lifting

    I train to be a bodybuider I’m 16

  21. i had a ques how you use creatine in coffee or green tea because,scientific study says that “caffeine counteracts the effects of a creatine loaded muscle”

    then both will not work well for gain muscle…..please explain your experiment

    thanks

    regards

    aashsih

  22. Man that’s a lot of useful detailed info and I want to take time going through. I have been learning and consider other workouts I have seen and this is among the best so what ever I have to do to bulk up that mass and burn fat.

  23. This is bunk. In your weight loss, part 1 article you started at 190. You dropped to 170 to just go back to your normal weight for this article. Journalist integrity hmmmmmm

  24. I’m starting this quick weight gain plan this week. I was consuming 3,000 cals a day and didn’t see much gain over the past 6months. I found the 4HW site last week and I’m starting this week. I am focusing on hitting 4,300cals a day and adding 500cals every two weeks. My plan for the work outs is a mix of what GSP did with the multiple sets per exersice and Tims plan with the 5/5 single set, depending on the muscle group.

    I weighed and took measurements for my entire body…cant wait to see the results in 6weeks!

  25. Well here goes nothing lol I read the article and began googling the exercises and I am ready to start tomorrow. I am currently 165-170. (I bounce at a club at nights) eating for me is the hardest thing I work 12 hour shifts and I’m constantly on my feet moving. I’ve always been a smaller guy and used to fight at 135 but I have slowly packed on pounds in the last eight years and to me at 5’10 170 I still feel uncomfortably small. I will give u guys measurements and updates every week and hopefully and great fully show you guys an increased size backed by my hardwork and your science

  26. Hi Nate & Dr. JB,

    Great work on this! I would have loved to have this 20 years ago.

    At 41, I’ve worked hard and struggled to put on mass and keep it on. I seem to have a “set-point” at around 172lbs, but I’ve weighed as much as 187. My bf% is always between 8-12%.

    When I start to gain weight now, my feet get really sore, especially first thing in the morning. Is that something you’ve seen before? Any thoughts on preventing foot pain?

  27. thanks for the post i just started the diet but is it essential to have the BCAA and in place of taking green powder could i just eat vegetables, I don’t like the idea of taking fake meals. Thanks for the post I could send a before and after of my results if it works.

    1. Definitely not an issue. You can get all your amino acids and micro nutrients from whole foods, just make sure to time your eating schedule so as to have the food available right away after the workout. The advantage of powders is their digestibility and portability. The disadvantage is their potential effect on your kidneys and price.

  28. Hi Doctor,

    Do you think natural aminos make good safe supplements for adding mass? I am thinking of anything that ignites greater testosterone production in your body.

    Mark

  29. Nice how you put all the information together to build muscles in 28 days. I like the part were you have to 65 pounds of meat and all other foods just to gain 20 pounds of muscles.

    Protein plays part in building blocks and helps with muscles recovery during sleep, anyways is it neccessary for someone like myself who is 20 years old 5’8″ 142 pounds to start eating 3000 calories a day to bulk up size while performing certain workouts.

  30. I read your first article in this series “How To Lose 20 Pounds in 5 Days”. In the beginning of your cut you weighed 190 and at the end you weighed 169. You only gained the 20 pounds after you lost it. Nate Green you seemed to put a lot of detail into this post, but failing to mention the fact that all the weight you gained was water weight makes your experiment just another hoax.

  31. Everything is listed on how to gain weight with its healthy tips. I will apply this as I have a very slim body. Very detailed information, I am not a fighter anyway but I need this to have fit and to look good. Hope I can do this. This is very interesting and detailed information. Thank you for sharing this.

    Josh

  32. I have been struggling since many years to gain weight but failed miserably.

    IS there any easier way to gain weight?

    1. To gain any weight (aka fat), all you need is to eat lots of junk/packaged/fast foods. That’s the easy way. If you want to gain water weight and develop muscle size, just consume supplements or use steroids and workout with weights. That’s a bit more challenging. To gain quality muscle and develop superior athletic abilities, you would have to workout properly and eat quality food in adequate amounts, staying away from the above two strategies 🙂 That’s pretty challenging and requires a lot of work!

  33. Great post, thanks for your insight!

    Often people really do not realize how much it really takes to gain some muscle mass, whether if it is 20, 10 or only 5 pound, when it comes to working out and eating.

    Your post was really a great, detailed inspiration.

  34. This is a lot to digest; however, you have neatly combined the two key ingredients – “diet and exercise”. Although, this is a bit extreme for the majority of us, it shows what can be done and still maintain health in the short term. I compared your test program with the information in my free report and totally agree with the direction you have taken. The only cautionary note is for folks wanting a long term muscle development protocol; follow the associated nutrition and training plans referred to above.

    Good work guys!

  35. These articles are absolutely fascinating, I hope you’re still replying to them now! You mentioned in the article that 3 big meals a day is the same as 6 smaller ones. I’m wondering if for ectomorphs 3 big meals a day would result in going into a catabolic state (I read somewhere that eating 6 smaller meals throughout the day would help you stay in an anabolic state).

    Thanks, and once again, amazing articles!

  36. For benching your max, did you have a spotter?

    Did you ever have “low appetite” and try something like Fenugreek to increase it?

  37. Very interesting discussion, glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community.Great topic, thanks for lot for sharing a such good post!

  38. Thanks for all the hard work guys. Two questions, do you think this could be modified into something like a 2 month program? so it is not as intense/save me time and money in the kitchen?

    and can pre work out drinks be used? i work 8 hours a day in an office and train mma/thai/bjj at night so i would be using the gym in the morning. my body doesnt exactly wanna work out at 630

  39. Hi, can we get an idea of how many calories you were consuming on your low and high calorie days? You say a lot, but I’m not sure what that means? I’m thinking 3000 on low, 3500 on high?

  40. That was one of the most thorough and informative articles I have ever read. I mean you literally broke it down like I have never see.

  41. This is some great information on advanced muscle building techniques. As a personal trainer in Phoenix and body builder I have used some of these myself.

  42. This is a very interesting artical. The only issue is trying to work it to an actual fighters schedule. The amount of time spent trainingfor actual competition 5+ days a week added on to this makes it nearly impossible to get in all the calories and training with out A-cutting into one of the training times (lifting or mma) or B- cutting into sleep/recovery time. Also this would probably exhaust a fighter greatly and put an extreme increase of strain on their body. I’m not trying to bash you saying you don’t know what you’re doing (I fully respect your knowledge). All I’m saying is you should’ve made/make one that covers a linger span and also includes in the fighting based training gap or any fighter whether superstar, or novice, goes through.

  43. Whoa this is something epic man!

    “Train your ass off” I think this part will be read, but not understood. Training hard is only half the battle, we need to push beyond our limits in order to meet the potential of our abilities.

    It’s crazy how many people go to the gym, and jump on a machine, hoping that it would take them into the future as if it was a time machine. It won’t happen, fitness doesn’t happen over night, and it’s definitely not a 90 day program!

    Once you start, there’s no finish line. It’s like building a house, you build it, but you still gotta improve or at least maintain it!

  44. Dr.Berardi,

    I have a question about the meat that Nate ate.did he ate beef everyday just like what i read?is it healthy to eat red meat 2 times or everyday? What was his blood works?can i replace chicken or fish for the meat?thanks!!

  45. Definitely switch from powder to creatine pills. My husband used to take the Creatine Powders but it was bad on his stomach and his breath was ALWAYS horrible. He switched to the Dr Max Powers Creatine Pills, and he doesnt have the stomach pain, bad breath – and I have even seen an increase in his muscle size.

  46. How is this workout for ectomorphs. I’m 6’1″ 160lb and from my basic understanding, im supposed to cut out cardio. This seems to have a lot of cardio. Great post btw I’m definately following this.

  47. the only thing I see wrong with the article os mixing creatine with coffe or tea as caffeine deactivates creatine you should mix with a fruit juice for better effects

  48. hey awesome article just wondering if I were to put 20 lbs on with this program, and then lose 20 pounds to cut will I be back where i started or will I have more muscle? thx

  49. Thanks for all the information this must have taken forever to come up with. I’m 5’9″ 165 and am currently in a weight lifting class. I’m pleased with my numbers, but am struggling to put on real mass. I’d love to follow this program but because I’m already in a weightlifting class I’m wondering what else I would have to do to my diet to compensate for the extra heavy workout each day. I know other people are in my position as well. Any advice anyone can offer would be extremely appreciated. Again, thanks!

  50. This is a bit dated, but I wanted to know what nate’s calorie increase for high and low calorie days. Also, what is your daily calorie maintenance now? thanks a ton!

  51. I am using a herbal formula testosterone booster containing ashwagandha, mucuna pruriens, gokshura, Chlorophytum borivilianum. I find fascinating the idea of herbs working together in synergy, my mood is better and I have great stamina and energy to get my work done and to make my wife happy

  52. Great article. I believe 100% that this is posable if you put in enough hard dedicated work which I intend to do myself for I too really need to gain 20+ lbs as fast as possible. I just started this Monday and thought I followed the nutrition to a T but I did not feel like I at a lot. I’m thinking it may have been because I had 1.5 and 1 lb of chicken thighs still on the bone.. Do you mean lbs of pure meat without the bone. And is skinless chicken a too lean and low calorie meat??

  53. I’m curious, Tim, have you ever thought (Or maybe you have already done it I just have not come across it yet) testing the absorption of various protein powders. I’m talking whey concentrate, to whey isolate and in particular – the absorption of vegan protein powders. Although the protein content is relatively high in a lot of vegan proteins – what are your thoughts when it actually comes to the results and assisting muscle building?

    Lisa

  54. awesome read, a lot of good information. It makes a guy sit back and wonder about his training routine and eating routine, it made me. I caught myself getting lazy with my diet but not my training. I am 230 lbs. and around an 8 % body fat and i am not making gains as easy as I once had. My question is what is a really high source of protein that I can eat in the morning and not eggs because I cant eat them I have a food allergy, its horrible because I would drink them raw if I could haha. Or do you think it is a carb issue should I consume more carbs?

  55. How much “Surplus” in terms of calories over maintenance are we talking about here?

    Also would this work if one would like to do a recomp? – as one would fluctuate calories daily to create high/low days but still maintain caloric maintenance?

    Thanks

  56. I have a question on the fasting day how many of the BCAA pills did you take and are you suppose to have 3 servings of all of those items or are those individual meals

  57. I think it’s awesome how UFC fighters have given publicity to a bunch of trainers and training methods that we would likely never know about otherwise.

    These fighters train like crazy just to be the best they can be in a fight. The cool thing for us fans is that we can still build a body the looks like a UFC fighters body without having to train in MMA. So it’s really a great thing for everyone. I love it!

  58. the diet plan talks about fruits and vegetables in units of cups. Is that a unit of volume or a unit of weight? as in are you eating 3 cups aka 24 oz or should i be filling a measuring cup with vegetables till it hits the 3 cup mark?

  59. You wanna gain weight? Look up poi it’s taro root ground up and we eat alot of it here on Hawaii. Makes you gain weight fast aha believe me.

  60. Great Information, I like the detailed approach though to the fourth week. From my experience setting goals and keeping the eyes on the prize is the best motivation for great results. This kind of schedule will help em a great deal in improving my workout regime. Thanks for such great info.

  61. Hi,

    Two questions –

    1) At what time of the day were the workouts for High Calorie days? The article mentions two meals – one post workout meal and another being anytime meal. Is this assuming some time around noon? Just trying to work this into my routine but I have a 9 to 5 job.

    2) Where did the Super Shake fit into the meal plan? Was that also part of Post workout?

    Thanks!

  62. Any way this type of weight gain could be done without the use of ANY supplements (i.e. protein powder, creatine, multivitamins etc.) and only consume all nutrients via natural foods (assuming the regimen was spread out over a more reasonable time frame)? Or are supplements absolutely essential for a weight gain of this amount? Also, the workouts seem very intensive each day, wouldn’t over-training and resulting lack of sleep become a factor?

  63. Hey John, I’m a 14 year old kid that wants to get better at his sport. Would you recommend this to a baseball player? I’m 5’8 150 pounds and feel kinda weak when I’m around my Teammates because there all bigger than me. I need to gain 25 pounds before the season and I think I’ve found my workout routine. 🙂

  64. Hi Guys, A great insight into the “cutting” and “gaining” of an athlete. One thing I don’t understand and maybe you can fill me in. Nate started his cutting at 190lb and reduced it to 169lb in 5 days. Then gained the most of it back to his original weight in 1 day. experiment 1 over.

    Experiment 2 started with him at a weight of 169lb. was his walking around weight not 190lb, hence if was to put on 20lb he was to go to 210lb. am i reading this correct or am I wrong. Cheers guys. Brian

  65. I don’t see any eggs in this diet. I thought those were still kind of a bodybuilding staple. Any particular reason or just preference?

  66. So pumped to try this system! I already made some of the banana pudding for breakfast, I havent started yet though since I read the article last night. Monday will be day 1 for me! Thank you for the great info!!!

  67. Am I the only person who noticed the same photos were used for “How to Gain 20 Pounds” and “How to Cut Weight” or did someone else see that as problematic as well?

  68. Hey. Guys that have never touched a dumbbell, barbell or did a pull-up can easily gain 20lb. in 4 weeks. I went in weighing 155lb. and got out of boot camp after for months of PT weighing 193.5lb. Skinny guys gain weight fast!

  69. Quick question on the fasting. Are all 3 items consumed together 3x a day or are they split per “meal”: meal 1 greens powder/meal 2 bcaa’s/meal 3 green tea??

    Thanks

    Really liked this article.

    Graham

  70. What were you macros? I know you didn’t count calories but I’m sure you have figured out the macros. In 2.5lbs of chicken you have 340g of protein… After your shakes and pb you are looking at 500g of protein a day. Lol how about carbs and fats? What the total caloric intake… Looks like 6k…

  71. I am a big fan of the article! So big in fact that I decided to try it for myself. I was at a point in my training where I wanted to add some extra muscle mass to make moving heavier loads easier (duh). I have been kind of stalled out for a while now not really making any gains in strength. I had been on a lower calorie diet (around 2,000 a day) to try and trim out some body fat (I dropped from 18 to 14% BF in about 3-4 months). This plan was quite a change for me. It over doubled my calorie intake per day. Over the course of the month I only gained 1 pound of lean muscle mass and 0.7 pounds of fat following the meals and workouts as listed. While I did not obtain the results that I wanted it did teach me that I should be eating a lot more. I am still trying to figure out how to increase my lean muscle mass 7-10 pounds and decrease my body fat 4-6%??? Looks like it is back to the drawing board.

  72. One BIG question. In the previous article, Nate had a starting weight of 190 lb and did a SEVERE WEIGHT CUT to get to 169. Meaning that put him well below his normal weight . So isn’t this pretty much a total sham that you used the 169 as the baseline ???? This would be validated only if you used the 190 as the baseline. Although great info, very disappointed in this post

  73. Probably one of the most in depth articles I have written in a while! I am a little confused, though. Isn’t that a lot of cardio involved in the whole process or is that just a way to ease in to the whole thing and also how much fat does it accumulate approximately from the diet that you have given as an example. I understand that it’s absolutely necessary to include a little bit more fat in your diet to improve testosterone levels and HG, but how much is it exactly, because let’s not forget that fat (especially when coming from animals) can be quite dangerous for the heart and can lead to some serious problems. Thank you in advance for your response and again, amazing article!

  74. I was wondering if this would work for trying to gain weight for football, I’m a defensive end and I need to gain 25 pounds. I’m at 220 lbs right now and I need to be around 245 lbs.

  75. I have been taking Sunestron for a week now, I have noticed I have a lot more energy during my work outs and have been able to push further on my finishing reps. I have not seen a huge physical change but again it has only been a week. I like the energy I get from the product and have even seen some improvements in the bedroom ;-).

  76. is this not just the 20 pounds he lost in part 1??? which was dehydration, in that guide he said he started at 190lbs?

  77. 45g of BCAAs on the fasting days (15g/meal x3 meals/fasting day)? Is that a typo? Using the Optimum Capsules he recommends, that’s 90 pills in a day (2 capsules = 1 serving = 1g)!

  78. Awesome article. I am 152lbs and I look 170lbs but I would like to get to at least 160lbs. That should suffice but I would eventually like to stay at 170lbs. I will try this. I will start eating more everyday. My goal is 20lbs by June so not 28 days ha. Not so much of a hurry.

  79. So nate gained about 10lbs in that month, that is about 35,000 surplus of calories, or 8,750 per week. That is over 1,200 calorie surplus per day.

    Should the fasting Sunday net a negative calorie count for the day, or would the only meal add up to the 1,200+ calorie surplus?

  80. Hey Tim,

    I remember reading this awesome article years ago and thinking how great it was (and also the one on weight cutting). They have both really helped me refined my training and nutritional protocols.

    I want to guest-blog for your site. My article would be titled: “How to build muscle eating organic foods at less than $4/meal.” This would be a cast study of how myself, a professional MMA fighter (fought in the UFC), and strength & conditioning coach went about doing this. This is something unique and different that your readers would enjoy. If you are interested and would like further details, how should I reach you?

    THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    (also referred to you via Ramit Sethi’s programs)

  81. What is your opinion on performing Hurricane Sprints twice a week? My goal isnt weight gain but increasing speed & endurance.