Last week we had some of the boys come in and do a mass gain camp during the school holidays. The biggest takeaway from the whole thing for me (and now I think the boys too) is that it doesn't matter how hard you train, to gain mass, you have to eat all of your meals and have them at a consistent time. This is something I stress often but was highlighted a lot last week. In my opinion it is one of the biggest thing missing in most people's plans, along with lack of sleep.
The boys train really hard but where they tend to fall down the most is with their nutrition. Lack of planning is one thing, but just eating the shear volume of food needed to grow day in and day out seems to get them. Most people don't realise how far off they are until they really try to put on some quality lean mass. I find it to be much harder than fat loss for the majority of people. It takes a lot of discipline as you can't get away with missing meals.
If you don't eat consistently, you won't grow. It is as simple as that. You can't build muscle without eating.
When I question the boys meals, asking what they have eaten, they will say they ate heaps. Then I ask a few more questions and they may have missed breakfast, that's not in the plan. Or they say I had eggs, and I say how many? 2. Well you need more like 6-8 whole eggs to grow. So, what the problem is, is that often people think they are eating a lot when in reality they aren't.
For mass, most people aren't eating enough and they aren't eating frequently enough.
I tend to recommend 5-7 meals a day when trying to put on mass. This include a post-workout shake. Now I know people say you don't need to eat that frequently but from experience with clients, that amount of meals tends to work best. The only time we have shakes is post workout. No substituting shakes for solid meals. As Charles Poliquin said in a seminar, you have to eat solid food to get solid.
If you want to gain mass, my advice is to eat frequently, eat a lot, and be consistent with it.