What is the best way to gain muscle mass? | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

What is the best way to gain muscle mass?

There are many mass building programs that claim to be the best muscle building workout routine or best muscle building diet plan.  However, a lot of these programs either tell you to simply eat all day and exercise all night to gain muscle mass or are so detailed that there is no room for flexibility.  So what is the best way to gain muscle mass then?  Put simply, slow and steady wins the race.

Bulking and Cutting

If you’ve researched mass building, you’ve no doubt come across the bulk and cut method.  This is highly touted by bodybuilders as the best way to gain muscle mass.  Essentially, you focus on gaining as much mass as possible for a period of time and then cutting as much fat as possible for another period of time.  On the surface, the approach makes a lot of sense because you don’t focus on conflicting goals of gaining mass and losing fat; instead you do each independently.

We can argue about whether bodybuilders represent an ideal body (I’d say no), but the bottom line is that this approach generally seems to help them gain muscle mass and lose fat over time.  Let’s just say that my experience with bulking and cutting has taught me that I’m certainly not a bodybuilder.  Perhaps if I had truly been able to dedicate myself to this method, I would have found success.  However, for the average individual with a family and other obligations, this approach doesn’t cut it (no pun intended).

There is such a thing as too much muscle mass...

I started by bulking.  While I put on a lot of weight, it was a mix of muscle and fat.  No doubt I looked bigger in my shirts, but my stomach was busting out of my pants.  Plus, I felt lethargic from carrying around so much extra weight.  Trying to eat the recommended calories proved challenging as well since I was constantly eating and worrying about protein.  I was thankful to change pace and move on to cutting.  However, that required a significant caloric restriction and a lot of exercise, both of which cut into my social life.  I lost a lot of weight, but not all of it was fat.  At the end of a few months, I was right back where I started with no more muscle and no less fat.

The Best Way to Gain Muscle Mass

Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact Muscle Building offers a much more practical way to gain muscle mass.  There are still phases but they’re not focused on rapidly trying to add 20lbs of muscle and then cut 10lbs of fat.  Rather, the goal over 6 months is to add 5-10lbs of lean muscle mass without adding any fat.  Done strategically in this manner, you will look significantly bigger.  Below is a brief outline of the program.  Rusty outlines the optimal way to exercise and eat during each phase.  The workout routines are flexible, allowing you to incorporate any number of exercises as evidenced by 200+ page exercise demonstration guide included with Visual Impact.

Phase 1: Add Volume to Muscles
Workout: sarcoplasmic hypertrophy; cumulative fatigue; high rep training; very short rest periods
Diet: calories slightly above maintenance

Phase 2: Increase Muscle Density While Maintaining Volume
Workout: mix of myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy; 5 rep range; brief rest periods
Diet: calories slightly above or at maintenance

Phase 3: Increase Muscle Density While Burning Fat
Workout: myofibrillar hypertrophy; low rep, heavy weight training; HIIT
Diet: calories well below maintenance

Bonus Phase: Rapid Increase in Muscle Mass
Rusty describes the shrink wrap effect and how Hollywood stars get really tight looking muscles with maximum definition.  For the time being, Rusty is allowing me to distribute his 9 page report on the shrink wrap effect for free.  Download it here before he comes to his senses and pulls it off the market.  It’s a really cool technique to quickly gain muscle mass and get really defined muscles.

Check out 4 free videos that will teach you how to gain muscle mass and get lean, defined muscles

The great thing about the above approach is that you can customize your own body.  If you want to add a lot of muscle mass, then maybe you do Phase 1 longer.  If you want to increase muscle definition, then maybe you do Phase 3 longer.  Visual Impact doesn’t provide a strict set of guidelines; the goal is to give you enough information to help you build your ideal body.

The Best Muscle Building Workout Routine

So, back to the original question: what is the best way to gain muscle mass?  If you don’t mind carrying around a lot of extra weight and cycling through times where you are continuously eating followed by times where you are barely eating, then maybe you can try bulking and cutting.  However, if you want to pursue what I think is the best way to gain muscle mass, then try the muscle building workout routine and diet plans outlined in Visual Impact.

24 Responses to “What is the best way to gain muscle mass?”

  • I remember when I tried bulking and cutting. I, too, realized my body wasn’t built for this. And I’m kind of glad it’s not. That look (like the one in the picture) is utterly unappealing.

    But if my goal was to put on mass, I’d stick with compound lifts – exercises that target multiple muscle groups such as squat, bench and deadlift. This will get my testosterone levels high and, with proper nutritioning, I can put on some decent amount of muscle.

    The Visual Impact program is a great one and I recommend anyone to give it a shot.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Dave,
    I was in a different situation. I was a bigger guy (chubby) most of my life. My friends used to tell me that this was great, because I could just easily turn my fat to muscle! What a joke that is. In any event, I have tried many things to gain mass and cut fat. Once I was able to control my body weight with a paleo style diet, and intermittent fasting I began Visual Impact. I ended up losing too much muscle mass after a year of paleo and minimal activity, so I stayed in phase 1 of this program for much longer than recommended (it was nice to eat more than normal!). I am currently in phase 2 and can really see results. I can’t wait to finish the program, because I am so confident it will get me the look I want. I encourage others to try this program too!

  • I have been involved in martial arts training for 20 years and have always liked playing basketball too. Because of this, I have always needed to be lean and agile, so, I have never really had the desire to put on too much bulk. Rusty is a big advocate of developing lean dense muscle and strength. He has good stuff.
    And since I have read a lot from Rusty I can say that anyone should jump at the chance to see what he has to say.

  • It depends on your goals so I try to never say “what’s the best” but more “what’s the best suited!” … but Visual Impact in my opinion is an excellent program due to its effectiveness for building a lean and muscular body.
    I like it because it doesn’t rely on bulk and cut methods so you get to have abs reasonably intact while building a hot looking beach body.

  • I agree and coming from someone that has Rusty’s program and definitely recommend it, I made great progress from it. I look much better lean than I do bulky, which I guess you could say that for most people. I spent so much of my life trying to get bigger and then once I got super lean, I actually looked bigger!

    I wish I would of just got super cut years ago and quit worrying so much about how much I weighed or how big my arms were. The lean and athletic look gets my vote over the bulky look like that dinosaur that you have in the picture above!


  • Srdjan,
    Compound lifts are a great way to add mass and get a great looking body.

    You bring up a great point. Fat doesn’t just melt off if you’re chubby. Same goes for adding muscle if you’re skinny. Both require hard work.

    Martial arts reminds me of a Bruce Lee story. Most people said he easily could have been a competitive bodybuilder. He went through a phase where he added 15-20lbs of muscle but it slowed him down so much that he cut back down to his original weight. Speed was much more critical for martial arts than mass.

    Good point about no absolute best method. It’s all based on the individual’s goals.

    I too wish I had figured this out earlier in life. If only I was 10 years younger again…


  • Dave,

    Great summary of Visual Impact. I agree that this program is superior to bulking and cutting because it allows you to build muscle and increase definition while staying lean. Plus, it actually works.


  • Im definitely not one looking to get bulky, I seriously don’t see the appeal in it, unless it would purely be for experimental purposes or to challenge my own body..

    Heck 90% of “superheroes” aren’t even bulky, but rather lean and cut.

    I rather look like a superhero :))

  • Alykhan,
    I agree. Surprisingly, some people don’t mind putting on a ton of weight and trying to lose it…all the while looking terrible. I prefer to stay lean and slowly add mass.

    I personally agree that the bulky look is not appealing. Lean and muscular is the way to go.


  • hey man, I agree with you here, the great thing about visual impact is that it takes you through all the stages as you mentioned and if you’re slim you will grow muscle but if you’re overweight as I was and cut calories dramatically you will get to where you need to be.

    Good details Dave.

  • Alejandro,
    Going through the stages is the way to go, even if you don’t necessarily start at phase 1.

  • I am now in stage 3 and I am already impressed with the results. The bonus phase won’t be until mid march so I can’t wait.

  • Adam,
    I’m cycling back through starting at Phase 1 and have been pleased again. Lifting to failure still feels weird sometimes but I can’t argue with the results. Soon enough, back on to Phase 2 and 3 for me.

  • Dave:


    It’s Dave again, the wrestler you talked to earlier during the year about HIIT. Now I have a different problem. It’s now summer (pre season for me) and I want to know if I should add muscle or should get a low body fat percentage? I want to do a combination of both before the season starts. I have read that you need to eat more calories (500) to build muscle, but wouldnt that also add fat? Thats something I don’t want to do!
    Your advice will be appreciated greatly!

  • Dave,
    Welcome back. The challenge when adding muscle without adding fat is how much muscle and how quickly you want to add it. You can probably put on 15lbs in 3 months but I’ll bet 5 of it ends up being fat. Alternatively you could put on 5lbs in 3 months with almost no fat gain. The difference relates to how many calories you eat and partially when you eat them. I’d advise that the extra calories should be eaten an hour after a strength training workout and 1-2 hours after HIIT. That’s what I’ve been doing over the past couple months and I’ve lost 1.5lbs of fat and added 4lbs of muscle. Given your age, you could try to add muscle a little faster though since your production of growth hormone is a probably a lot higher than mine is. The final alternative is to try to rapidly add muscle and if you find too much fat gain, slow things down or switch to cutting mode later in the summer. Good luck!

  • ahmed:

    hi as i was looking at the artical the product is not seen ;if u can kindly send me the name of the product i will be thankfull to u.1 quari are there any side effects.reply me as soon as possible.

  • Ahmed,
    The product I recommend is Visual Impact Muscle Building.

  • The Visual Impact approach to gain muscle mass is so much better than traditional build/cut phase. I’m like you, I feel horrible during any typical mass building venture.

  • Kevin,
    For a long time, bulk and cut was all I knew about…fortunately there’s a better way to gain muscle mass now!

  • I agree it’s not a good idea to put on too much bulk. Though I think when you are putting on muscle you must be prepared for a slight increase in fat, but this can be soon burned off if you do short cycles.

    If you are lean already you will put on much less fat in a muscle building phase, but if you are overweight you will be more insulin resistant, so excess calories are more likely to be turned to fat rather than muscle. So get lean first :)

  • David,
    I’m in 100% agreement and that’s what’s help make Visual Impact even more effective for me this time around.

  • Rick:

    I’ve tried bulking by lifting weights and eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. It’s a chore. I hated always thinking about getting enough PROTEIN!!!

  • Ravi:

    Hi Dave,
    I am 5 feet 7 inch weighing 65kg. I am lean with little belly and I want to be muscular with good abs(lose belly). What diet and excercise I should follow. Please help. One more thing should i take protein shakes or mass gainer or not, if yes then which company.

  • Ravi,
    It sounds like you’re at the point where changes will be slow so I wouldn’t recommend anything too drastic. Cutting out that stubborn belly fat is really tough. It’s even harder when you want to try to add muscle while losing a little fat. I recommend the Leangains approach for dieting. In my opinion, this optimizes your eating approach so that you can gain muscle and minimize fat gain (or even lose fat):


    For strength training, I’ve used a number of programs. I had good success with Visual Impact Muscle Building despite trying to do it over the holidays when eating was just terrible:


    Combining these two programs works well.

    As for protein, if you can get enough high quality calories from real food, do that. If now, then substitute with protein shakes. I like Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey.


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