Gaining Weight

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In a world where everyone seems totally obsessed with losing weight and being skinny (well, I suppose, let’s face it, an alarming majority in the general population are in terrible shape and could do with losing a few pounds and taking up exercise- but that’s another topic!) What about your typical skinny young bloke who can’t seem to gain an ounce no matter what he does?

Gaining weight?? Why would anyone want to do that I hear people ask? Well, I’m not talking about just turning into a fat blimp, I’m talking about gaining quality muscular bodyweight from an effective training and eating plan. Let’s face it, that’s one of the reasons that many of us started training as youngsters in the first place- because we wanted to be BIGGER!!

Well, with regard to training, you need to train using the best compound multi-joint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, dumbell presses, overhead presses, cleans, bent over rows, chin ups, close grip bench presses, dips, skull crushers, barbell curls, calf raises. You need to dedicate not only months, but years of your life to getting progressively stronger in these lifts whilst using immaculate technique and allowing adequate rest between training sessions and bodyparts. As you become more advanced, then other training techniques and protocols can be explored, such as slightly greater training volume and frequency plus intensifiers, such as drop sets, super sets, forced reps and rest pause techniques. HOWEVER, never forget the tools that built the foundation of your size and strength in the first place!!! No, bodybuilders are NOT powerlifters, but their sheer muscle size will allow them to perfectly lift enormous weights for multiple reps, unlike a powerlifter, who would generally focus on lower rep ranges.

With regards to nutrition, this is probably one of, if not the most important factor in determining if someone remains a 10 stone weakling or if he can become significantly larger. Food is the necessary fuel to power through demanding workouts and the substance from which to create new living tissue- I.e. muscle. Obviously, if you have a poor appetite, then you have to try and train your body to consume more and more calories and protein over time. I won’t go into specifics here about caloric requirements or macro nutrient breakdown etc, but just general guidelines. Just as you wouldn’t in your first few months of training attempt to load up a bar with 3 or more plates a side and rep out on the bench press (unless you were a freak of nature!), you wouldn’t attempt to go from eating barely 2,000 crappy calories per day to consuming 5,500 calories per day. Therefore, just like the body in training, the appetite and digestive tract has to be trained progressively over time to gradually handle more and more calories and protein. Of course, you could go through the McDonald’s drive thru and probably do about 1,500 calories in one hit without even trying, but we want this new weight to be mainly muscle and not blubber! Also, junk food is empty, crappy calories that won’t do your health much good either, so we want to choose wholesome, natural foods that will lead to recovery and muscle growth. Choose starchy carbs, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, rice, occasionally pasta, whole wheat breads and oatmeal. For protein, you want chicken, fish, turkey, steak and steak mince, fish, cottage cheese, natural yoghurt and milk and eggs. YES, WHOLE EGGS AND NOT EGG WHITES! An egg is a complete food, rich in protein, natural fats and fat soluble vitamins too. Let me tell you, in a world where everyone seems to tell you to avoid red meat, if you really want to grow, then you should be consuming good quality, lean steak on a daily basis! Yes, it contains fat, but it’s natural fat and provides plenty of energy, is rich in B vitamins, zinc and natural creatine. So eat steak to grow! For fats, you will probably be getting enough natural fats from all the wholesome food you should be consuming, but you should sometimes eat oily fish like salmon and mackerel and avocados and natural nut butters and oils. What about weight gainers? Well, they can be a useful addition to an already high quality diet. Let’s face it, it is always easier to drink calories than to chomp your way through them. I haven’t used a weight gainer for some time now up until this week, and there are some really good quality ones available at the moment. I have been drinking one serving per day of the Gaspari Real Mass after training and I have already put on about 1.5 kg. Each shake contains 1,000 calories and 47 GRAMS of protein from quality sources. The Optimum Nutrition Pro Gainer is also an awesome product and for those that require even more calories, the Serious Mass is another fantastic product, albeit a bit heavy. I sell all of these products at Titans if anyone wants to give them a try.

Rest, sleep and recovery are next. You should aim to be getting a MINIMUM of 8 hours’ sleep each and every night if you want any chance of growing optimally. Sleep is when your body repairs itself, rejuvenates and natural growth hormone is released, that burns fat and builds muscle and replenishes body tissues. Although not practical for most, an afternoon nap would also be beneficial for recovery. You also need to be allowing sufficient rest between training sessions and body parts, but this is very much an individual thing and different people have difference tolerance levels to exercise and volume and intensity and is another discussion altogether. Also, in my opinion, you can’t be playing other demanding sports if you are serious about growing. For most people, a small amount of low intensity cardiovascular work would be ok but I find personally that, as soon as I start doing any kind of regular cardio, I find it a massive struggle just to hold my weight. Therefore, there are some people who would gain better if they trained harder on the weights and eliminated cardio work, even if it’s only over the short term in a gaining cycle.

Steroids? I hear you ask. Well, steroids certainly would help, but you can forget about getting any benefit if you are not doing all of the above properly. By the way, I am IN NO WAY advocating steroid use!!! The analogy that I use to people is the following: it’s like driving a performance car. The steroids is like putting a powerful turbo on the car, and your diet is the fuel and your training is like the spark plugs and combustion. If you’re not putting premium quality fuel into the car and servicing it properly, then you can forget about the performance!

I hope that some of you have found this information useful for ending the bulking season for this year before cutting down a bit for summer or for the contest season!