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The Get-Big Plan

June 28, 2018

Seasoned bodybuilders know you don’t grow muscle until the workout has ended. So how do you get the most growth potential out of your training? Pack your muscles with the right nutrients. Here’s how.

Packing on muscle may seem like a difficult, complicated process, but you can really break it down to three elements:

  • Eat
  • Train
  • Rest

The details, of course, matter greatly. Your efforts require consistency and patience. Without those qualities in place, you won’t get the results you want.

Vince Gironda
A lot of beginning bodybuilders make the mistake of emphasizing training over nutrition. What they don’t realize is that muscles don’t grow in the gym. Golden Era guru Vince Gironda famously said that nutrition was 85% of success in bodybuilding. Muscles grow during the recovery process. And the recovery process is especially important in the one-hour window after an intense weight workout.

The Post-workout Window

After you train, your muscles are inflamed and hungry for nutrients that will repair the tissue you’ve damaged. The nutrients you ingest post-workout will help you stimulate growth and get the most out of all that work you did in the gym.

So what nutrients should you take? Let’s start with the most important.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Protein is essential for muscle growth. You have a wide choice of protein supplements to choose from, unlike the Golden Era bodybuilders. But athletes in the time of Arnold and Zane knew that dairy packed a powerful punch. Only now, you can take a more refined, purer version of what they used. Starting with…

Beef in the form of steak, hamburgers, and other dishes were extremely popular in the Golden Era. Later, bodybuilders moved more towards chicken (especially chicken breasts) for numerous reasons, including ease of preparation, costs and lower calories from fat. But Arnold and the gang loved to sink their teeth into a nice, hearty cut of beef.

These days, bodybuilders are more likely to reach for a whey or casein shake than a cut of beef. While beef has all the amino acids you need for building muscle—particularly the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine—it’s not as quickly digested as dairy-based protein shakes.

Bottom line: beef is a great whole-food source of protein, especially free-range and hormone-free cuts, but can be expensive and hard to digest.

Whole-milk Proteins

Whole-milk Proteins
Bodybuilders from the ‘60s and ‘70s drank milk by the gallon, and you can’t argue with the results. Whole-milk proteins provide both the benefits of whey and casein proteins. Casein actually makes up 80% of this whole milk. Since they keep a steady surge of amino acids the to muscle cells, this is a good protein for most times of day, such as between meals and especially before bedtime.

Egg Protein

Egg Protein
Egg protein, another Golden Era favorite, is one of the highest quality proteins you’ll find. For many years, eggs were considered the perfect food, largely because it had the highest score on the protein efficiency ratio (PER). Eggs have a particularly high amount of branched-chain amino acids, which are essential for health and muscle growth. If you’re not big on dairy shakes, eggs and chicken breasts are an ideal post-workout meal.


Ingesting carbs after a workout naturally spikes insulin levels, which switches your metabolism into a muscle-building state. Studies suggest that consuming carbs along with protein after an intense workout may increase your recovery response by 38% as compared to consuming protein alone.

Simple carbs reloads glycogen and stores them in target muscles, helping shuttle growth-inducing nutrients into your muscle cells. Your body won’t store carbs after your workout: your body burns them. Not just any old carbs will do, though. You’ll want to consume fast-digesting carbs.

Fast-Digesting Carbs

Fast-Digesting Carbs
For best results, take in 80 g of fast-digesting carbs with 40 g of fast-digesting protein in the one-hour post-workout window. Examples of food sources of simple carbs include sports drinks, fruit juice, or white potatoes. Good supplement sources of fast-digesting carbs include dextrose, maltodextrin, and Vitargo.

Branch-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

BCAAs are crucial for muscle building. Three amino acids make up the BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine is by far the most important. Leucine is the only dietary protein that has the capacity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It’s an essential amino acid, which means that humans cannot synthesize it. You need to ingest it.

While leucine is an ingredient in protein, you’ll gain a lot more benefit by taking a BCAA recovery supplement to stimulate muscle growth. Look for a cutting-edge product that has a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoluceine and valine.


The amino acid glutamine is the most prevalent amino acid in the human body, and provides numerous benefits postworkout. Glutamine helps prevent fatigue; increase growth-hormone (GH) levels; decrease muscle breakdown; and improve digestion and immune function. Make sure you take at least 2 g after training.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine provides a quick source of energy that muscle fibers use during weightlifting, but it also hydrates your cells for optimum nutrient absorption after training. It induces muscle-cell swelling and helps minimize muscle breakdown. Creatine has also been shown to have anti-catabolic effects. Take at least 3 g after training.

Post-workout Shake

Here’s a good guide for what you should have loaded in your post-workout supplement arsenal. Put it altogether in one shake, or take a quality post-workout product with your protein and carbs.

Vintage Build, the 3-in-1 Essential Muscle Builder, contains all of the nutrients listed along with the protein and carbs. Take it post-workout with your macronutrients to get the best bang for your buck after intensive training.

40–60 g protein

60-80 g fast-digesting carbs (sugar)

3 g creatine

5 g BCAAs

2 g glutamine

Remember: Patience and Commitment are Key

You’ll want to adjust these nutrients if you’re a hardgainer or find yourself having problems digesting these nutrients. But you can’t miss the opportunity to push these proven muscle-building powerhouses into your muscle cells. You want to make your training count: This nutrition plan will do that for you. Stay patient and consistent, and you’ll get the results you want.

What is your post-workout nutrition plan? Do you agree with Vince Gironda that nutrition is 85% of bodybuilding success? Let us know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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Old School Labs™ is the maker of premium supplements that carry on the fitness values of the “Golden Era” of bodybuilding. Old School Labs™ products do not hide behind proprietary blends, contain no artificial sweeteners or artificial flavors, and are manufactured using only high-quality ingredients.

  • Nutrient timing and what you’re taking is sp important i remember during my first self bulk i thought i was doing everything right because i was eating the right foods just not measuring. I eventually started gaining weight but it ended up being more fat than muscle even if it was a slow bulk. My second time bulking I dirty bulked and that was a nightmare tons of food eaten a day and i almost got to 200lbs but it was terribly uncomfortable. I didn’t gain real results until i started working with my coach where EVERYTHING was detailed and i gained 5lbs of quality muscle! I was high on carbs (good sources) 1.5g per lb for protein and LOW on fats! It was awesome but, eventually became too much food to eat HAHA. But, what you’re eating is literally 95% of Bodybuilding!

  • Many people seem to make the mistake and forgetting that muscle isn’t built in the gym, it’s broken down in the gym and recovered after. The three things that help recovery, calories, sleep and stress management. Master these things while training smart and you avoid overtraining.

  • The first and the last are the most important and rest is often neglected.
    Fueling your body accordingly isn’t always done, but rest is forgotten and where many struggle.

  • The proof is definitely in how a person looks; even without having the best of genetics as tom platez preachs. A person can reach a different level in life in or even outside the gym. Those 3 key elements can define someone; and can tell you if there really following them religiously or just half assing. Awesome article !

  • I love eggs and I love steak, two great sources of protein. Nothing beats natural sources of protein, especially organic. Of course, I supplement with OSL products like Vintage Build and Vintage Brawn.

  • Being allergic to the proteins in dairy forced me to broaden my horizons on protein choices. Definitely prefer to eat my macros, and I love love love steak and eggs. Absolutely agree with the diet:gym at 85%:15%

  • I think you have given meaningful information to easily understand the methods of gaining your muscles pack.

    So, I want you to describe these ideas and tips in the Australian bodybuilding forum.
    An Australian bodybuilding forum is a place where the online community discusses their experiences related to bodybuilding for the beginners.
    Join the discussion through Australian Bodybuilding.

  • Getting all three things are the trifecta! But I don’t think we should be drinking milk. Casein can always be supplemented through protein powders!

  • I realized the benefits of nutrition when i first got with my coach. For a while i was just lifting weights eating whatever and not seeing any results. Once i started actually paying attention to my diet and making sure I got the right protein is when i saw results so I agree 100% with this article!

  • Love this article. Nobody really dives into Nutrition it’s all try this excercise but knowing this info will help. Definitely gonna save this and refer to it often

  • I think the most important thing on here was the importance of glutamine. You can have proper nutrition but I feel it’s crucial to make sure you have proper digestion.

  • Great article and a lot of really important information. Took me a long time to start timing my nutrients to get the maximum benefit from my workouts. Extremely important stuff!

  • A lot of nutritional facts here on this blog. For me I use Brawn 15minutes postworkout. Within that hour (postworkout) I will consume about 1 cup egg whites with jasmine rice (6oz) cooked. I tend to stay away from red meat because of the longer digestive process. I tend to stick with organic ground turkey or chicken for meals 3,4,and 5. It is essential to have your BCAAAs post workout as well, I was never a firm believer of this until I actually did the research myself, and yes it helps with recovery of muscles. For the rest of supplements I try to stick with the basics usually adding creatin to my preworkout. Eating resting and trying are the building blocks or growth

  • The three most important things! Training eating and sleeping! Eating and sleeping seem to be the most neglected!!

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