Gaining weight can allow the body to look larger, fuller, and in some cases, become healthier. It’s valuable to know how the body can gain weight so you can use that to your advantage, should it be applicable.
Of course, in order to gain weight, you will need to eat more calories than you burn. Most people who are looking to gain weight want to gain lean mass, meaning that they would prefer to gain muscle than fat. Diet is the biggest factor in determining if the body will gain muscle or fat. In order to gain muscle, it’s helpful to eat healthy (we will learn more about this soon) and choose foods that are high in protein, as protein is the main building block of muscle.
Lift Heavy Weights
In order to gain weight, and assuming that you want much of that weight to be muscle, you’ll also need to lift heavy weights in the low-repetition range. This means lifting at 90-100% of your maximum effort. That means that on every lift, you should be close to muscle failure. It may be helpful to have a spotter when you lift weights this heavy!
Building powerful muscles is done by completing three to six repetitions. This type of lifting allows the body to develop its larger, powerful muscle type, called fast-twitch muscle. Remember to get a lot of rest—at least eight hours a night—to allow for muscle growth and repair. If you would like a basic framework for designing your strength-training plan, customized to gaining weight, check out the previous lesson (“Building Strength,” Episode #4) and swap out the higher repetitions for the lower.
While most people can gain muscle and weight without the use of supplements, many athletes choose to use supplements to help them gain weight and nourish their muscle growth. The most common supplement (for anyone, not just weight-gainers) is a post-workout protein shake. Different protein powders have different absorbency rates within the body. A good type of post-workout protein is a whey isolate protein, which is absorbed into the muscle quickly after a workout. Some athletes also choose to use a whey casein protein at nights, which is a slow-released protein that is released over the course of many hours and can provide the muscles with a constant, slow source of protein throughout a night’s sleep. Aside from protein, some athletes use creatine, which is an amino acid that causes a slight bloating that draws more water and nutrients into muscle, to nourish growth.
Another weight-gaining supplement is a testosterone booster, which stimulates the body to release more if its own testosterone and increases muscle growth and recovery. Illegal steroids are sometimes used by people looking to gain weight quickly, and come with many serious health and legal risks. Please keep in mind that some athletic programs test for the use of creatine, hormone boosters, and steroids. Before you take any type of supplement or performance-enhancing drug, it’s important to do your research and understand the risk of side effects of each.
In order to gain weight, the body will need to consume more calories than it burns. In order to convert food into muscle, you should lift very heavy, low-repetition weights. While supplements are not required to gain weight, many athletes choose to use them to maximize their weight and strength gain.
In the next lesson, you will learn recommendations of how and what to eat in order to support your specific fitness goals.
Cheers to your health,
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