As much as blogs and the media focus on losing weight when they discuss fitness, many people with a keen interest in health and nutrition actually want to gain weight. For those who want to create a more impressive physique by building muscle mass, you are almost certainly going to have to put on some weight.
For some individuals, even putting on a couple of kilos can be extremely challenging, yet for others they just have to look at a takeaway and the scales start to increase. Your body type genetics play a vital role in how fast your body gains weight and muscle.
|Flat chest & narrow shoulders||Well defined muscles||Soft, round physique|
|Tall & thin||Athletic, well-proportioned body||Undefined muscles|
|Difficulties gaining weight – ‘hardgainer’||Gains muscle easily||Gains fat easily, hard to lose|
|Fast metabolism||Gain fat faster than ectomorphs||Slow metabolism|
Despite the difference in the body types, if you train correctly and eat correctly, gaining muscle mass and weight is possible for everyone, even the ectomorphs amongst you.
Gaining Weight & Muscle
In a nutshell to pack on some weight and increase your muscle mass you need to:
- Consume excess calories than you expend
- Do heavy weight training
- Eat the correct macronutrients
- Be patient and consistent
- Consider using supplements
Let’s take a closer look at each point.
Science: Eat More Than You Burn
Simple science tells us that you will put on weight when you eat more calories than you expend. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will gain muscle automatically by following this method – you have to incorporate the other tips below to achieve this – but to gain weight and build size you will have to be in calorie surplus.
Calories are units of energy. If you eat more calories than you burn, your body will have an excess of energy, which needs to be stored. Excess calories are first converted to glycogen, a complex carbohydrate, which is then stored primarily in muscle and liver cells. When your glycogen stores are full, the energy gets stored as fat.
If you have just one day of consuming more calories than you burn, you won’t put on weight; your calorie intake will eventually just level out over a week or so. To achieve weight gain you need to consume extra calories steadily over time.
Weight Training – The Correct Way
This doesn’t mean doing 4 sets of 15 arm curls to get a temporary pump. This isolated movement, and others alike, aren’t going to get the big muscles firing, which you need if you are serious about putting weight on. Even if you are just looking to put on weight but not achieve a substantial physique, compound movements are essential. Compound strength training, such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, bent over rows, pull-upsand presses, require a larger range of motion therefore recruiting more muscle activation, meaning your big muscles suffer micro-tears, which when combined with excess calories, will grow back bigger – and we all know muscle weights more than fat. I’ve found that compound sessions always make you feel hungrier after!
Of course bicep curls, calf raises, frontal raises and other isolated exercises can have their place in your weekly routine, just don’t build your sessions around them and always do your compound training at the beginning of your workout (after a warm-up) when you are the freshest to lift heavy.
Macronutrients & Calorie Dense Foods
aining weight means you’re going to have to eat big, which undoubtedly means you are going to take on a bit of fat as well. Don’t despair about this, it is fine. You will always be able to shed this slight fat gain further down the line. However, this is not to say that you should be eating the biggest, fattiest burger or pizza every meal of the day. Eat big, but eat as clean as you can. The simplest way to do this is to consume calorie dense foods to circumvent excessive fat gains.
Some of the best calorie rich foods include:
It’s also integral to eat almost constantly throughout the day, as soon as you get up in the morning and then every two hours after that is ideal. If you’re working full time, or at university, organisation is going to pay off big time as without you’re going to be chasing your tail, and your gains.