I really want to start working out and put on some serious muscle mass. However, I’m really afraid I’m going to gain too much body fat if I just workout with weights without including any cardio work into my program. I feel like all I will do is just keep eating lots of protein with tons of overall calories and without burning the extra intake with cardio, I’m thinking that this will just pack on additional fat. So I think it might be better to mix my weight training with cardio. I like to run and I can do 2-3 miles easily. Can you give me a workout plan I can do that includes both weights and cardio that will help me pack on muscle mass without getting fat? I also want to start drinking protein shakes because I feel I won’t be able to eat enough calories with regular meals. Should I drink these protein shakes before and after my workouts on both weight training days and cardio days?
If your overall fitness goal is to gain the most amount of lean muscle mass then you want to prime your body for one thing and one thing only which is hypertrophy (growth). You need to do everything you can to focus on muscle growth and this involves heavy lifting with mass building multi-joint exercise, eating a high calorie, nutrient dense diet and getting enough rest to recover and grow from your workouts.
For your concern about whether you should include cardio into your routine, it totally depends on your current body fat level and physique. If you are an ectomorph body type (very lean), then you want to avoid all cardio if your goal is to gain the maximum amount of muscle possible. Focus all of your energy on heavy weight training workouts and limit all other physical activities during the day so you can allow your body to recover and grow.
Ectomorphs have very fast metabolisms and tend to burn lots of calories, so your goal will be to eat maximum calories, with lots of protein to build lean muscle tissue. If you are more of an endomorph body type (carry more body fat), then you probably want to include some cardio into your plan and focus on more low intensity, steady state cardio workouts versus high intensity exercise. An example of steady state cardio would be walking on the treadmill or riding the stationary bike at a very low intensity.
Make sure to closely monitor your physique each week by taking photos of yourself and also using the mirror to assess your current status. If you are packing on fat around your stomach, then cut back a little on your overall calories and increase your cardio by 20 minutes each session. You should always be tweaking and fine tuning your program to “dial in” your physique.
In terms of a workout plan, I recommend using these multi-joint mass building exercises below and make sure to keep your workouts to a maximum of 45-60 minutes per session. Hit it hard and then get out of the gym to rest, recover and grow!
For your concern about protein shakes, these come in very handy when you can’t consume enough calories during the day. They are extremely convenient and cost-effective. You should have a protein drink before and after your weight workouts and focus on whey protein during these times since it’s a very fast acting protein source. During the day, you can choose a blend of slower releasing protein like casein and egg. Your overall protein intake goal should be at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you currently weigh 175 pounds then your overall protein intake each day will be 175 grams. Divide this number into 5-6 meals throughout the day for the best results.