Although it’s easy to gain weight by eating more calories, gaining 20 pounds of muscle mass is a bit more challenging. A reasonable goal is to gain 0.5 to 1 pound of muscle mass each week, which should take you 20 to 40 weeks to complete. Strength training on a regular basis is essential for muscle gains; otherwise the additional calories you consume may be stored as body fat. Training all of the muscle groups in your body will yield the best aesthetic results.
Diet and Exercise Program
Dumbbell weights or weight machines
Comfortable exercise clothes
To effective gain 20 pounds of muscle, increase your calorie intake by at least 200 calories per day, as recommended by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Increasing your energy intake by 500 calories per day will help you gain muscle at a faster pace. Accomplish this goal by adding high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods to your diet, such as nuts, seeds and peanut butter, and increase the amount of vegetable oils you use while cooking. Two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter provide about 190 calories, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Data Laboratory. Avoid consuming calories from added sugars.
Consume 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, but no more than 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day to help build and repair your muscles during and after workouts. According to a 2011 review published in the “Journal of Sports Sciences,” protein requirements for muscle building are 1.3 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, or about 0.6 to 0.8 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. Researchers who conducted a study published in a 2011 edition of the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” reported that the maximum amount of protein that will benefit a strength-trained athlete is 2 grams per kilogram, or about 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Therefore, a 150-pound adult needs 90 to 135 grams of protein each day to build muscle.
Strength train four to six days per week using weights to break down your muscle fibers, which leads to muscle growth. Train a variety of muscle groups each week to equally distribute your 20-pound weight gain. Complete four sets of 10 repetitions for each strength-training exercise you perform. Work your legs and butt muscles on day one by completing exercises such as lunges, squats and calf raises. On day two, work your back and shoulder muscles. Work your chest and abdominal muscles on day three, and strength-train your biceps and triceps on day four to complete your resistance-training, muscle-building program. Rest on day five.
Perform about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercises three to five times each week to help burn excess body fat while graining 20 pounds of muscle. Examples of effective cardiovascular exercises include jogging, walking, biking, swimming and using a stair climbing or elliptical machine.
Things You'll Need
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Strength Building and Muscle Mass
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Data Laboratory: Nutrient Data for 16098, Peanut Butter, Smooth Style, with Salt
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Data Laboratory: Nutrient Data for 04053, Oil, Olive, Salad or Cooking
- Journal of Sports Sciences: Dietary Protein for Athletes: From Requirements to Optimum Adaptation
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Perceived Protein Needs and Measured Protein Intake in Collegiate Male Athletes: An Observational Study
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.