For some people, gaining weight and building muscle is simple. They eat one or two meals a day, sleep a few hours a night, don't bother lifting weights and they walk around muscular and toned. These people are the genetically-gifted. For the rest of us, though, we need to be dedicated and clever when it comes to training, nutrition, supplementation and rest.
Gaining weight is simple, not easy. From a mathematical standpoint, all you have to do is consume more calories than you burn, and your body has no choice but to store that energy as bodyweight. You could eat burgers and pizzas non-stop and you would get heavier. But most of us who want to gain weight want to gain muscle, and not fat, which makes the equation a little more difficult.
Probably the biggest mistake people make when trying to gain weight is not measuring and keeping track of measurements. This means your food intake, your bodyweight and your body dimensions. So many people claim they're hard gainers and can't gain weight, but simply don't eat enough calories to grow. If you've been trying to gain weight for a while and have been spinning your wheels, keep a food diary for a week, then work out how many calories you've been eating. Chances are it's not enough. By measuring everything, you're able to work out whether your diet, training and supplementation is working. Did you gain two kilos in a week? Chances are it's mostly fat, so back off a little on the food intake.
This tip seems a little obvious, but if you want to gain weight, you need to give your body more energy to store. Look at your food diary for the previous week - if you haven't gained any weight or size, then you need to increase your intake. Try adding snacks between larger meals, or add some healthy fats such as nuts or avocadoes to your meals to boost your calorie intake.
Your body releases the bulk of its hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone during the deepest parts of the sleep cycle. If you want to build muscle, you need to rest enough for your muscles to repair from exercise and for those hormones to do their job and help you grow. Aim for 8 hours a night, and nap if you get the chance too!
Building lean muscle requires your muscles to be pushed to their limits. It's when they're damaged through heavy weight training that they're most likely to grow larger, especially if you're eating right and resting up. Don't overdo it and injure yourself, but aim for 3 or 4 x 60 minutes sessions of weight training per week.
Your body is really good at adapting to stresses so you might find that within a week or two, it stops responding how you want it to. Patience is the name of the game, and if you do things right for a long period of time (months and years rather than days and weeks), you'll see the rewards.
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