Complete Guide to Getting Swole
A swole man’s back is stacked with lean mass, his chest broader than an army tank, and he’s riding vascular tree trunks for legs. He’s the epitome of huge – if this were ancient history, he’d be a real-life
- Training and routines
- Final word
Step 1: Mindset
Take the most infamous swole-bros on the planet. Next, ask yourself what the likes of The Rock, Jay Cutler, Hafthor Bjornsson, Calum Von Moger, and Arnie all have in common? One word – mindset.
Just as Hafthor ‘Thor’ Bjornsson says; “always be yourself, unless you can be huge.” For these guys, being big is not just something for the weekend. They live, eat, breathe, and even sleep everything swole.
This means total dedication to the iron life. Each one of these stacked men spends hours every week bending the barbell to build monstrous muscle. They prioritize hard work first and foremost, which is something you will need to do too.
So, before you get started, encompass the swole AF mindset. Concentrate on cutting out any temptations, problems or stresses that pull you away from your cause. Believe in yourself and the power of a loaded bar.
Let’s do this!
Step 2: Planning
Ideally, you want to plan your quest to massive muscle around the time you can be consistent. Size isn’t added overnight, so it’s best to attack any bulking program for a minimum of six weeks.
For more optimal results, a minimum of eight to twelve weeks is more realistic. By this time your central nervous system will be better adapted, meaning you’ll start to see serious size gains.
Most bros on a ‘get swole AF’ mission do it during the winter months. This when almost all lifters start to feast on extra calories and worry less about being beach-ready. After all, part of getting big is eating big, which is pretty much impossible on a cut.
That being said, you can get swole any time of year. You’ll be good to go so long as you can maintain consistency in your workouts and diet. You’ve probably heard of this period being called a ‘bulk’.
Step 3: Training & routines
Those muscles aren’t gonna grow themselves, bro. What they need is a good *ss kicking in the weight room to provide a stimulus for adaptations. In layman terms – you’re gonna need to lift.
How to build muscle
Lifting weights inflicts damage to muscle fibers, which results in tiny microtears. With the right nutrition and rest, the body can then repair this tissue.
Imagine it like rebuilding a torn down wall. Only you’re trying to stack it bigger and stronger than before. Rather than create a brand new one, you just patch up the brickwork and add to it. We’ll touch on the exact nutritional science later.
Another key aspect of building muscle is progressive overload. This is when you continually challenge a muscle by adding weight to the bar (or increasing intensity elsewhere) when needed.
Without progressive overload, your muscles would simply adapt to the intensity you’re using. Yup – no gainz for you friend. You’ll pretty much just stay the same.
Don’t sweat – it’s super easy to gauge. Once you start smashing the entire rep range of an exercise it’s time to up the numbers a little. If the workout calls for 10 bench presses and you know you’ve got 12 in you, increase weight until you can only hit 10.
For size goals – you’ll be working to achieve hypertrophy. This is when the cross-sectional area of muscle increases in size, therefore making the area appear bigger. It just so happens that the key to this ‘swelling’ phenomenon lies in total volume.
Volume is the overall amount of work done within a specific period – say a single session. To work this out you’ll typically multiply; load x reps x sets. Gone are the days when it was all about hitting the eight to twelve rep range. Now is the time of total volume-load.
The right amount of volume for guaranteed gainz depends entirely on the individual. However, aiming for 15-25 total sets per muscle group every week suits most bros.
Of course, beginners are always gonna adapt quicker than experienced lifters. So, consider your experience when equating your total volume so you don’t over- or under-do it. If you’re starting to feel weak, excessively sore, or low you might be at risk of overtraining.
If you know us at all you understand we’re not about “broscience”. So, we’ll not tell you that a bro-split is the only way forward to get swole. More so if you’re a beginner.
Instead, we’d recommend hitting the iron with a full-body assault. Rather than take on individual muscle groups a session at the time, we say target them all.
Benefits of full-body workouts for hypertrophy include:
- Studies indicate full-body workouts can influence size better than splits 
- Elevated levels of testosterone and growth factor hormones – caused by greater amounts of muscle activation 
- Faster recovery due to a lower number of sets per muscle
- Lower load-volume per workout equates to less soreness
- Fewer exercises needed in comparison to stereotypical bro-split
Training with full-body routines also allows you to hit bigger compound lifts. These are multi-joint movements that require a ton of energy, use stacks of muscle fiber, and make you damn huge.
When writing your own workouts, it’s key to put the big lifts first. You’ll be at your freshest when you hit them, allowing for bigger numbers to be lifted. You’re here to get swole, right? You’ll never get there messing around with the little boy weights.
Then, add in your isolation exercises to supplement your growth. You’ll most likely want to drop the weight a little here and increase the reps to give your CNS a break.
Example full-body workout to get you swole
- Back squat – 4 sets of 6 reps
- Bench press – 4 sets of 6 reps
- Dumbbell Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Lat pulldown – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Bent over dumbbell flyes – 3 sets of 12 reps
- Seated cable row – 3 sets of 12 reps
For a more detailed workout plan check out our ‘Total Body Training: A Full Body Hypertrophy Workout’.
Rest and recovery
Rest as you need, bro. Forget trying to crush 30-seconds between sets if you need more. Longer rest means heavier lifts, which increases overall volume. Just go again when you’re ready and tear that barbell apart.
In terms of recovery, you should aim to take at least three days off per week. Full-body resistance training at high volumes is tough and needs to be respected. Don’t feel like you’re skipping out on the hard work – downtime is vital to growth.
This time off is when your body rejuvenates and repairs itself. Your central nervous system has time to reset, while your muscles can repair and grow. Enjoy it, bro. Eat plenty of nutritious food and catch up on any missed sleep to support anabolism.
Step 4: Nutrition
Eat big, get big, friend. There’s only one way to stack lean, mean, slabs of muscle and that’s with a calorie surplus. You literally have to eat more than you burn to provide the energy for growth.
Did we tell you getting huge is fun? Just take a look at The Rock’s Instagram and tell us what you think. Talk about epic feasts and cheat meals.
Swole guys are always eating to maintain their mass. Their insane size burns calories like gasoline-fueled furnace, meaning they don’t have to hold back. However, if your plan is to get swole while maintaining definition, it’s better to stick to the cleaner side of the refrigerator.
For a structured approach to building muscle, it’s best to enter a smart-surplus. Adding a 20-25% increase on top of your maintenance level to supply enough energy, without risking too much fat gain.
Eating big with a surplus
Here’s how to find out your calorie maintenance, bro:
First, find your basal metabolic rate (BMR):
BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )
Then, multiply your BMR by your activity level:
Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9
Got it, bro? Sweet. Now add 20-25% to enter a calorie surplus and you’re good to go.
Tip: Keep tracking your calorie maintenance because it increases as you grow.
Muscle building macros
Your body uses three types of nutrients for energy;
- Carbohydrates – 4kcal per gram
- Fats – 9kcal per gram
- Protein – 4kcal per gram
However, it’s only the first two you want to rely on for fuel. That’s if you want a shot at getting huge anyway.
Your body’s preferred source of energy is carbohydrates. After ingestion, carbs are converted into glucose and stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen. Your muscles prefer to use glucose, reformed from glycogen, as energy because it’s the easiest to break down.
Using fats, on the other hand, requires oxygen. Therefore, they’re better at fueling aerobic activities like walking, swimming, and endurance running. Intense swell-inducing lifting? Not so much.
Don’t go throwing away your nut butters and salmon though, bro. Fats are essential for testosterone production, nerve health, as well as being awesome calorie-dense bulking ingredients. Check out these good fats for muscle building.
Protein is your body’s last resort when looking for energy. As a swole dude you should keep it that way too! Reserve your protein purely for building powerful muscle by eating a hearty amount of carbs and fats throughout the day. Here’s why…
Protein is king
When you lift weights tiny microtears occur in the muscle. This is especially true during the eccentric phase of a lift, when the tissue is more relaxed. Plus, on top of this mechanical tension, metabolic byproducts such as lactic acid also cause toxic fiber damage.
Sounds like something from a horror movie, right? That’s because it is. Except instead of your gainz dying a horrible death, protein kicks down the door and saves the day. It uses its amino acids to fix the damaged tissue, allowing it to adapt, ‘swell’, and grow.
Your muscle’s contractile proteins are made of these amino acids. More specifically, they’re constructed using essential amino acids you cannot produce naturally. Hence, the importance of ingesting complete protein sources.
How much should you eat?
According to the ISSN, training individuals should consume between 1.4-2.0 g of protein per kg of body weight every day . However, this number is only to maintain and build muscle, so feel free to go higher.
It should also be said that the book is closed on the 20-minute anabolic window. Studies show that optimal window to ingest protein is an hour after training, when your body is fighting hard to return to baseline.
Tip: Try separating your protein intake evenly throughout the day. Shoot for 25+ gram per serving with a side of healthy carbs to energize synthesis.
Step 6: Supplementation
Supplement stacks are the ammunition tins of every swoledier. Inside them are their favorite compounds employed to support massive muscle growth.
Here are the essentials:
- Creatine – shown to improve overall strength, power, and size gains
- Protein powder – used to conveniently bolster intake throughout the day
- Pre-workout – power through the biggest lifts with a batch of high-quality energy
- Testosterone boosters – taken to optimize muscle building androgen hormones
Tip: Shoot for a premium product over a cheaper, poorly made version. Lower quality supplements are often under-dosed or filled with dangerous proprietary blends. If the manufacturer won’t show it, don’t take it.
Follow this advice and swell yourself into a beast of a man. Lift hard, eat big, and do everything you can to live larger than life.
Fill your mind with everything swole by learning from your favorite giants. Tap into their social media channels for daily inspiration, or even follow their workouts in the gym. Hell, buy their books and learn a thing or two as well.
These dudes aren’t shy about what makes them massive. They’ll post their meals, workouts, and lifestyle simply because they know only brave men dare imitate them.
Do you really think Terry Crews is scared of someone stealing his secrets? No way, bro!
Finally, getting swole is all about making the most of your anabolic state. Eat a sh*t ton of clean, lean, proteins, and hit the sack for a minimum of eight hours. Feel the testosterone surge under your skin as your muscles swell and physique explodes.
Good luck with the gainz, brother. Welcome to the swole patrol.