How To Gain Lean Muscle Mass with P90X
“How to gain muscle mass with P90X? I thought it was for people who want to lean down only”
The truth is, P90X is not a weight loss program. It is a well-designed program for anyone, whether your main goal is improving your fitness level, getting more lean, being ripped, or adding lean muscle mass.
The program works to get you to your most optimal physique – if you’re on the flabby side, you’d be losing weight. If you’re on the skinny side, you’d gain lean muscle mass. However, if you want to know how to gain lean muscle mass, you will need to stimulate your muscle tissue properly to spur the growth – you need to lift heavy!
Method #1: Gain Muscle With The “8 Reps” Rule
There’s a reason why Tony Horton mentioned on the video that if your goal is to gain lean muscle mass and to be big, lift around 8-10 reps. In my own experience, I only follow the 8 reps rule.
It works like this: The moment I can lift weights at 8 reps in proper form, I try to force myself to do 1 more rep. The moment I can do the 9th rep – even a sloppy one – it’s the sign I need to start increasing my weight. The heavier I lift, the more I stimulate my muscles, and the bigger my muscles get (but only if I do everything in correct form!). I believe doing 8 reps while on P90X gives me great results and I’m a hardgainer.
Method #2: The 5×5 Workout Plan
Although I started with my whole transformation with Power 90 back in 2004, I have to give credit to my best friend in college, Senor’ Peter Maes. He taught me almost everything I know about traditional weight lifting, which I later incorporated into my hybrid Power 90 workout. When I started my first round of P90X, I figured, ‘why not mix traditional weight training with P90X to create a hybrid mass building program?’ After 2-3 rounds of hybrid experiments, I found that adding a few 5×5 routines to the P90X equation seems to work well.
This system has worked wonders for hundreds and probably thousands of weight trainers and bodybuilders alike in both building muscle and gaining strength. No matter how long and how fast bodybuilding evolves, the 5×5 system will ALWAYS be a proven way to stack on gains like nothing else.
The 5×5 Plan
Pick an exercise. Because compound exercises work the best, we will pick the bench press for this example. Start off by doing 5 reps with relatively light weight to warm up.
Next, add some more weight, and do another 5 reps. Now that you are warmed up, jump to your working weight that you can do for 5 reps and do 3 sets with this weight. Since you are looking to gain more mass, then keep your rest periods between 1 and 2 minutes. If you want to build more strength, then 3 minute rests would be more fitting.
Next time you do the bench press, add 5 more pounds to both your warm-up sets and your 3 working sets and do it again. The key is to keep adding five pounds each workout until you can’t complete 5 reps for one of your sets. What you would do is stay at that same weight until you can complete the 3 sets of 5 reps in good, clean form.
Remember to always keep your reps no higher than 5, even if you can do more. Staying with the 5×5 system is one of the best proven methods for building size and strength as fast as possible.
Method 3: Hybrid P90X + 5X5 (okay for a beginner on 1st Round)
In traditional weight training, the main compound exercises we need for gaining lean muscle mass are:
1) bench press
6) weighted barbell squat
P90X has all of these compound workouts except for the bench press and weight squat, which I added into my custom hybrid routine, usually on Leg & Back day.
Here’s an example of Phase 1 of P90X
Mon : Chest/Back/ARX
Tues : Plyo
Wed : Shoulder/Arms/ARX
Fri : 5×5 Bench Press/ 5×5 Barbell Weighted Squat / 40 min of P90X Leg & Back / ARX
Sat : Kenpo
Sun : Rest!
The only flaw with this design is that not everyone could do this hybrid at home since you’d need a bench, barbell, and weight plates. If you have access to a gym, you could always do P90X at the gym, or else, just do whatever you can at home with regular P90X – it still works as it is! Now you know how to add lean muscle mass using P90X.
For those who want to do P90X at the gym, check out the post on How to do P90X at the gym. If you think that you still have some bodyfat to shed down, it is recommended to focus more on leaning down first, and do the recommended 12-15 reps weight lifting. If you are unsure on what steps to take, just ask!
Tips for Gaining Mass
So, now that you know some great methods for gaining muscle mass, lets take a look at some general guidelines to follow if you want to bulk up:
- Take The Appropriate Break. When you’re lifting heavy with 8 reps, you will be out of breath and need to take longer breaks to recover. Take that break and pause the DVD as you need to regain your strength for the next routine. Keep your break around 1-3 min.
- Shorten Your Routine. When you take your break and are doing the whole workout routine, it can take you 2 hours to complete the entire program. You grow your muscles when you’re resting, and not when you’re working out. Keep your lifting routine to 60-70 minutes tops. Just do about 80% of the routine. It is OKAY to skip the rest of the routines.
- Don’t Skip Cardio. Cardio is still essential as it helps to sculpt and give your muscles that defined look. So, do not skip your cardio workouts. Consult with your coach on the necessary cardio that you should be doing, and if you should skip any cardio at all.
- Keep Good Form. Forget about the ego. Focus more on proper form. Someone who only curls at 30 lbs can have bigger and more defined arms than you (who can curl 40 lbs), simply because he focuses on proper form. It’s OKAY to lift heavier as long as your form is correct. FORM IS EVERYTHING.
- Follow Your Diet Religiously! Diet is the key. Many fitness professionals out there agree that diet is 70-80% of the results. The only way for you to build mass is by eating – a lot! The food has to be healthy and clean – no junk food please! The Phase 2 and Phase 3 diet plans are more appropriate.
- You Need Supplements! If you’re skinny to begin with, chances are your body is not that efficient at absorbing nutrients. There is only a small percentage of the human population who can get ripped and muscular by eating regular food. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not one of them. So you need to take your supplements, as no one can get proper nutrients from regular food anymore, especially living in the USA. Read more about nutrition to build muscle.
What sort of tips do you use to gain muscle with P90X? Have you developed a new routine that works well for you?
Looking for a way to earn some extra cash by helping others get in shape? Join my fitness team and become a beachbody coach!