Weigh yourself and consult a weight chart or visit your doctor to determine whether you are within a healthy weight range for your height, age and body type. If not, either gain or lose weight to get to that range per your doctor's recommended method. Ask how many calories you need per day.
Add 500-1,000 calories to your recommended daily intake. This is the amount necessary to gain lean weight, i.e., muscle mass.
Multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.8 to determine how much protein in grams you need to build extra muscle tissue in addition to providing adequate building blocks for the rest of your body. Multiply the number by 4 to get your daily protein calorie count
Multiply your body weight in pounds by 3 to determine how many grams of complex carbohydrates you need. Multiply that amount by 4 to get your carbohydrate calorie count. Some foods that contain complex carbohydrates are brown rice, whole wheat bread, and pasta.
Multiply your body weight by 0.45 to determine the number of fat grams you need, then multiply the result by 9 to determine your fat calories. These formulas will show that fat should form the smallest portion of your diet, according to the University of Arizona Campus Health Service.
Shop for foods and look at the nutrition labels. Use the information to determine the food's effectiveness to your diet. Buy lean meats, whole wheat bread, brown rice, fresh vegetables and fruit, low-fat salad dressing and 2 percent milk as staples of your diet.
Eat three meals per day with snacks in between, no exceptions. If you have to go elsewhere, take a high-calorie, nutrient-dense snack with you to eat on the run. Examples of healthy snacks include low-fat yogurt, sports bars and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Focus on eating a nutritious breakfast more than any other meal. Breakfast wakes you up and fuels your body to to start the day. Vary your menu choices; this helps avoid diet burnout. The USDA MyPyramid website has a utility that allows you to plan daily or weekly menus by searching for foods.
Eat a high-carbohydrate snack an hour prior to workouts and a high-protein snack an hour afterward. The University of Pennsylvania Athletics Department recommends this to maximize muscle growth; protein aids in the muscle-rebuilding process.
Make a workout plan that incorporates all muscle groups, but split each muscle group into different days. Take two or three days of rest between working each muscle group to allow them the time necessary to rebuild.
Start each workout with a 15-minute warmup. Include stretching and light cardio such as jumping jacks or jogging in place. This loosens your muscles to prevent injury and gets your blood flowing.
Use enough weight during workouts to allow you to lift approximately 10 reps per set. You should have a hard time lifting the final rep. Work slowly; focus on proper form instead of speed. Lifting too quickly can tear your muscles.
During exercises, move each muscle through its full range of motion and exhale slowly through the exertion portion of the exercise. For example, if you do pushups, exhale as you rise. If you feel pain in your muscles beyond the expected soreness, rest. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong.
Throughout your workout, stay hydrated. The University of Maryland Medical Center lists several key symptoms of dehydration: fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, thirst, and dry skin.
When you finish your workout, add a cool-down period to bring your body's heart rate and breathing back to normal levels.