by Mike Roussell
At the most basic level, when you begin your quest for more muscle, it's important to be in a caloric surplus, as succinctly described by 6-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates: "If you're maintaining your weight, then you're burning roughly the number of calories you take in on a daily basis. If you're gaining weight, then, obviously, you're burning less; if you're losing weight, then you're burning more."
It's important to keep in mind that the goal is to build as much muscle as possible. Getting fat is easy: anyone can do it, and most people do. Getting huge and staying lean is the holy grail of bodybuilding: that's where you're headed.
Don't just haphazardly increase your caloric intake. Bump up your calories by 300-500 calories per day for a couple weeks, preferably in the peri-workout window, and see what happens. Are you growing? How has your body composition changed? If you're putting on muscle and not very much fat, then keep increasing your calories. Once your fat gains start to increase, then you've found your muscle building "sweet spot."
Most people would stop there, but you're not most people. Your mantra needs to become "More metabolism, more muscle." Increasing your food intake (or "overfeeding" as scientists call it) will cause your metabolism to increase. You can also cause your metabolism to increase through increasing your training. Once you've reached your caloric sweet spot, it's time to manipulate your training variables.
Strength and conditioning research shows that increased training frequency trumps all other variables in regards to size and strength. If your schedule allows it, increase your training through increased frequency, and watch to see how your body responds. If you increase the rate in which you were gaining muscle, stick with your new routine, and give your calories another bump up.