How Do I Gain Weight?
By JP Clifford
Try asking people how to gain weight and you'll likely see some
bewildered faces staring back at you. For the majority of people,
hearing that question is akin to hearing the questions, "How do
I stub my toe?" or "How do I run out of gas?"
Those confused faces not withstanding, the question is a legitimate
one and one that frustrates those who find themselves on the light
end of the scale. While those on the heavy end can't get through
a commercial break or flip through more than five pages of a magazine
without someone offering up a solution to their weight problems,
it can be a lonely struggle for those who want to put on weight.
If you are lucky enough to get a reasoned response to your question,
it will probably involve the words "eat more." That, despite being
obvious, is great advice. Quite simply, to gain weight you will
need to up your calorie consumption to the point where you consume
more calories than you expend. Couple an increased caloric intake
with a little weight training and you have the recipe for healthy
You may think you eat a lot, even enough to keep pace with your
more weight-furnished friends, but you are probably over-estimating
your intake. After a trip to the doctor's office to rule out medical
causes for your inability to bulk up (thyroid disease and other
medical problems can hamper weight gain), a first step to designing
an effective weight gain program is to journal your eating habits.
Counting calories for a week will give you an accurate view of
From there, increase your daily caloric intake by about 300-500
calories until you start putting on the pounds. Keep in mind though,
while your caloric intake will directly influence your bodyweight,
it will be other factors like the types of food you eat and your
weight training regimen that decide the type of weight you are
putting on. So if you are after an aesthetically pleasing weight
gain, that of lean muscle weight as opposed to just some extra
body fat to lug around, it will be important to pay attention
to these factors.
To get the most muscle out of your weight gain, avoid the junk
food and focus on eating whole foods. A good weight gain diet
should be composed of 30-50% protein, 20-50% carbohydrates and
20-40% fat (the majority of which should be essential fatty acids).
Different ratios within these ranges will work differently for
different people. Keep up your food journal and experiment to
find the ratios that work best for you.
Providing your body with the materials it needs to build muscle
is only one piece of the puzzle. A weight training program designed
to give the body a reason to add some muscle will be very important
to achieving your goals. Your workout routines should concentrate
on compound weight lifting exercises (those that involve multiple
muscle groups like the squat or bench press) with weights that
allow you to do 6 to 12 reps per set. Higher rep ranges will tone
your muscles but may not sufficiently signal the body into muscle
growth. Try to either increase the amount of weight lifted or
the reps completed with each workout.
Don't go overboard with your workouts. Two or three one-hour
workouts per week done with intensity should do the trick. Too
often those that have trouble gaining weight (hardgainers) spend
too much time in the gym. This can be counterproductive in two
ways. First, it means you are burning off a lot of the calories
that could otherwise be used to build muscle and, second, you
can over-train your muscles by working them too hard, basically
making them unresponsive.
If you are looking for some company in your quest to gain weight,
venture into the bodybuilding community. There you will find many
people also seeking ways to put on lean muscle mass. You will
also find many products marketed to help you gain weight. Be very
cautious when looking at these products. Gaining weight may not
be as in demand as losing weight but it is still big business
and there are a lot of companies out there looking to take your
money. While some of these products can help, others aren't necessary.
With a little motivation, a weight gain diet and a solid weight
training program in place you will have all you need to achieve
your gain weight goals. Better yet, you will never again have
to ask that question that gets all those funny looks aimed back
at you. •
© 2005 JP Clifford
About the Author
JP Clifford is an avid natural bodybuilder and creator of The Build Muscle
and Gain Weight Fast Guide, a free online resource for those looking to gain
muscle mass. Visit the site at www.gain-weight-muscle-fast.com for
more tips and advice on bulking up.