What Happens If You Spread Your Workout Throughout the Day?

What if, instead of doing your workout all at once, you spread your sets or exercises over the day? Maybe that means doing your squats before work, your push-ups before lunch, and your chin-ups before dinner. Or maybe you spread your five sets of chin-ups throughout the day, resting a few hours between each set.

There are many different ways you could split up your workout. How will that affect muscle growth, muscle recovery, fat loss, and your health?

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Cartoon illustration of a bodybuilder going for a jog to improve his cardiovascular health.

How Does Calorie Intake Affect Cardiovascular Adaptations?

We need an abundance of calories to build muscle. We use it to convert protein into muscle mass. Without it, we won’t build muscle. To get those extra calories, we can burn excess body fat or eat more food.

It’s less clear whether we need extra calories to make cardiovascular adaptations. Will eating in a calorie surplus help us build more blood vessels? Will a calorie deficit interfere with our ability to build a stronger heart?

Let’s dive into it.

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Illustration of a bodybuilder jogging to improve his cardiovascular fitness.

How to do Cardio While Building Muscle

In this article, we’ll teach you how to improve your cardiovascular fitness while building muscle and getting stronger. We want the health benefits of doing cardio, but we aren’t trying to lose weight. We’re trying to build muscle. That changes things.

  • You need to schedule your cardio and muscle-building workouts. That means you’ll need to schedule your cardio somewhat carefully. Otherwise, the so-called “interference effect” can interfere with the muscle-building adaptations you get from lifting weights. Some people downplay this effect, but the latest research shows it can cut your rate of muscle growth in half (study).
  • Lifting weights improves cardiovascular fitness. Lifting isn’t ideal for improving cardiovascular fitness, but it’s not too bad. If you lift weights, you’re probably in significantly better shape than the average person.
  • If you’re trying to build muscle, you’ll have different questions about cardio. What type of cardio should you do while bulking? Will doing cardio help you build muscle more leanly? Can weight training count as cardio? How can you maximize cardiovascular and muscle-building adaptations at the same time?
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Cartoon of protein powder and mass gainer supplements.

Will Mass Gainers Make You Fat?

Mass gainers are near and dear to my heart. They’re the only supplement on the entire supplement market that’s designed specifically for skinny people who are trying to gain weight. For a naturally skinny dude like me, sick of drowning in an ocean of fat-loss supplements I couldn’t care less about, that was a big deal.

I find the marketing for mass gainers appealing, too. Instead of needing to force down an extra meal, all we have to do is drink this high-calorie, high-carb, high-protein shake that’s specifically designed to help us pack on muscle quickly and leanly. No cooking, no cleaning, no chewing, and no eating. That’s pretty tempting!

On the other hand, mass gainers are packed full of cheap, highly processed carbs. It’s like cake mix with a scoop of protein powder tossed in. It’s processed food. Won’t that make us fat?

Let’s dive into it.

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How to Build Muscle if You’re Skinny

To build muscle as a skinny person, you only need to focus on three things. You have to stimulate muscle growth by challenging your muscles. Then you need to fuel that growth by eating enough calories and protein. And then you need to rest and recover.

We’ve helped over 10,000 skinny clients bulk up over the past 10 years, ranging from everyday people all the way up to college, professional, and Olympic athletes. This is what we live and breathe, all day, every day. It works every time, guaranteed.

But there’s nuance here. Some types of resistance training are better for stimulating muscle growth than others. Some types of calories can help you make faster, leaner gains. And you don’t want to eat so much that you get fat.

So, how should you train, eat, and rest to build muscle? Let’s dive in.

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Illustration of a bodybuilder building muscle after working out.

How Long Do You Build Muscle After Lifting Weights?

When you lift weights, you stimulate muscle growth. How long does that stimulus last? And how long does it take for your muscles and tendons to recover between workouts? If you can figure that out, then you’ll have a better idea of how often to train each muscle.

If you’re bulking—gaining weight to build muscle—you also want to make sure that your body is primed for muscle growth before you shovel down all of those extra calories. So again, it helps to know how long you build muscle after working out.

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Illustration of a bodybuilder doing giant sets.

How to Do Giant Sets

Giant sets are one of the best methods for gaining both muscle size and strength. They aren’t better than straight sets or supersets, but they are more efficient, allowing you to stimulate more muscle growth in a given amount of time.

Giant sets are also great for your overall health and conditioning. Because you aren’t resting very long between each set, your cardiovascular system is getting a hearty workout, too. And because each individual muscle is still getting plenty of rest before being worked again, giant sets are still great for gaining muscle size and strength.

So, what are giant sets? And what’s the best way to program them?

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Illustration of a "hardgainer" with a fast metabolism who can't gain weight.

How to Gain Weight With A Fast Metabolism

Skinny people often have a few traits dragging their weight down: thin bones, narrow frames, small stomachs, meagre appetites, and fast metabolisms. In this article, we’ll focus on that very last piece of the puzzle: how to gain weight with a raging metabolism. This is something we know all too well. I’ve lived it. So have Marco and Cassandra. And so have the 10,000 clients we’ve coached through it.

It’s not quite as simple as people often assume, though. Your trouble gaining weight probably has less to do with having a “fast” metabolism and more to do with having an “adaptive” metabolism. As in, the more food you eat, the more your metabolism revs up, and the more calories you burn. This is what the term “hardgainer” refers to. I think it’s also why some skinny people are dubbed “non-responders” when they first start lifting weights.

So, how can you gain muscle, strength, and weight with a fast metabolism? Let’s dive in.

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Illustration of a man lifting a calf to progressively overload his growing muscles.

The Progressive Overload Guide

Progressive overload is one of the foundational principles of both strength training and hypertrophy training. It’s the idea that as we get stronger, we need to gradually lift more weight to continue challenging our muscles. And then, as we continue challenging our muscles, we keep growing gradually stronger.

  • To keep getting stronger, keep lifting more weight.
  • To continue lifting more weight, keep getting stronger.

Kind of chicken-and-egg riddle, yes, but it’s also the most crucial principle of gaining muscle size and strength. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to do it.

We’ll also teach you about the least-talked-about aspect of all—how to progressively overload your calories to continue gaining weight and building muscle. Not understanding this part is why most skinny people struggle to become big and strong. It held me back for many years.

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Diagram showing how our muscle insertions affect our strength.

Muscle Size vs Strength: Is Gaining Muscle Mass Good for Gaining Strength?

Many people start weight training because they want to improve their appearance. They focus on building bigger muscles. Hypertrophy training. Bodybuilding. And that’s great. Building bigger muscles can make us look bigger, stronger, and healthier.

But how well does that extra muscle size translate to our strength? What if we follow a bodybuilding routine that’s designed purely to build muscle mass. Will that make us strong? Or will it make us big but weak?

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