How to Gain Weight and Muscle
- Setting Goals
Meet with a doctor. Before you begin a new workout regimen or try a drastically different diet, you need to meet with a doctor to discuss your health.
Talk to her about why you want to gain weight and muscle mass, and tell her about the kinds of things you’re going to change in your lifestyle.
Ask your physician what a safe amount of weight gain is for your age and gender. Gaining too much weight could put your body weight into an overweight category.
Make realistic goals. Everyone’s body has different capabilities. Sit down and write up a realistic long term goal for yourself.
Goals should be measurable and specific. Not just “gain weight” or "gain muscle". Try to be as specific as you can with your goals. Vague goals or out of reach goals are harder to stick to.
Also include a timeline for your long-term goals. For example, I want to gain 10 pounds in three months.
Once you do this, come up with short term goals to help you reach your long term goal. Weekly goals are a great way to keep you on track for this kind of endeavor.
Track your progress. Whenever you've set up goals for yourself, it helps to track your progress. This will help motivate you and also provide you with valuable feedback.
Track a variety of measures that will show your progress. You might track your weight, body fat percentage or circumferential measurements.
Tracking your progress will help you evaluate how your diet and exercise program are working. For example, if you're not gaining enough weight, you might need to readdress your caloric intake or how many calories you're burning through exercise. Reassessing or re-measure every two weeks to get an accurate picture of how your program is working.
Find an accountability partner. Find someone to be your accountability partner. Making lifestyle changes like this can be difficult. Having someone to talk to may help you stay motivated or stay on track.
Talk to friends, family members, your trainer/dietitian, or coworkers about your goals. Ask them if you can check in with them weekly to tell them about your progress.
Take personal accountability as well. It is up to you to make the necessary changes. While your partner is there to help, it is mainly your job to stay focused.
- Eating To Gain Weight and Increase Muscle Mass
Talk to a dietitian. These nutrition experts will be able to coach you on the appropriate diet and foods to eat to help you build muscle and gain weight.
Ask your primary care physician for a recommendation or do a quick online search for a local dietitian. Many specialize in weight gain and/or sports nutrition.
Talk to your dietitian about your goal and how they suggest you reach it. You may ask for a meal plan, cooking advice, and a total calorie goal to follow.
Increase your caloric intake. In order to gain weight, you'll need to increase your overall caloric intake. Increase your caloric intake by 250–500 calories a day in order to gain weight. This will generally result in about 1/2-1 pound weight gain each week.
Gaining weight faster than this or using unhealthy foods to help you gain weight is generally considered unhealthy.
Choose calorie-dense foods. Increasing your total daily calories may be difficult. You'll need to eat more and choose foods that are higher in calories. If you're finding it difficult to meet your calorie goals each day, try adding in healthy, yet higher-calorie foods.
Try eating: full-fat dairy products, olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters.
Drizzle olive oil or put a pat of butter on your foods after you've prepared them. Put avocados on your salad or serve with scrambled eggs in the morning. Blend peanut butter into protein shakes or have it as an afternoon snack.
Avoid eating sugary junk food to increase your calorie intake. Eating cookies, candy, donuts, etc. may help you gain weight, but not in a healthy way.
Eat adequate protein. If you're trying to gain weight and build muscle, you'll need to consume adequate protein to support your goals. Lean proteins (and greens) should be the cornerstone of your diet.
It's typically recommended to consume 0.8 g of protein per kilogram (your weight in pounds divided by 2.2) of body weight.
However, some studies show this may not be enough — especially if your goal is to build lean muscle mass. On the higher end, consume about 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. You should never exceed this amount.
A typical serving of protein is about 3–4 oz. Including a serving of lean protein at each meal and snack will help you meet your minimum goal and most likely provide you with an amount that's slightly higher than your minimum goal.
Focus on both lean and moderately high fat protein sources. Try including items like: poultry, eggs, low-fat or full-fat dairy, moderately lean beef, pork, seafood, or legumes.
Avoid high fat, fried, or processed protein choices. Items like fried foods, processed breakfast meats, or fast foods are not healthy options and should not be used to help you gain weight.
Eat healthy carbs immediately before and after your workouts. Studies have shown that when you refuel with complex carbohydrates after a work out, it helps minimize muscle break down and can help increase muscle mass long-term.
Eat a carb-dense snack 30 to 60 minutes before you work out as well. This will provide your muscles with fuel to power through your workout, keep your blood sugar level, and give you a head start on post-workout recovery.
Healthy post-workout carbs include: fruit, mashed potatoes, whole grain breads or a whole grain bagel, dried fruit or yogurts.
Also include healthy sources of carbohydrates at your other meals and snacks. Whole grains, fruits, legumes and starchy vegetables all are great sources of essential nutrients in your diet. Include a variety of these foods each day.
Eat fruits and vegetables. Although you may be focusing on protein and higher calorie foods to help reach your goal, it's still important to get in adequate servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
It's recommended to consume five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Including a fruit or vegetable at each meal or snack can help you reach this goal.
One serving of fruit is considered 1/2 cup chopped or one small piece. One serving of vegetables is considered one cup, or two cups of leafy greens.
Consider drinking a protein supplement. You may want to consider drinking a protein shake during the day to help meet your daily protein goals but also to help build muscle faster.
You can incorporate your protein shake at any point during the day. However studies have shown that if you consume a 20 g protein shake prior to your strength training workout, you'll have increased protein synthesis.
You can also use your protein drink to help increase your total overall calories. You can mix it with higher fat milk, add in fruit, peanut butter, or even avocado to help boost calories.
Start a food journal. Starting a food journal may be a helpful activity to do when you're trying to gain weight. You'll be able to see exactly what you're eating and how that's affecting your weight.
Be realistic about your intake and write it down. Invest in a a food scale and measuring cups to help yourself be more accurate. These tools are extremely helpful when trying to determine how much to eat.
When you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to keep track according to your goals—especially if it’s a big change. Use your workout journal, or buy a separate one, to make yourself aware of how much and how often you’re eating.
Revisit your food journal if you're not gaining weight, losing weight, or gaining too fast. Make any necessary changes to your diet plan as needed.
- Exercising to Promote Weight Gain and Increased Muscle Mass
Meet with a trainer. Once you get the OK from your doctor, consider meeting with personal trainer. The trainer may recommend a variety of exercises to help support your weight goal and fitness goals.
These fitness professionals have the job qualifications that can allow them to help you with your workout goals.
Talk to your trainer about your goals and ask how they can help you build muscle mass. You may even want them to set up a weekly plan for you.
You may be able to work with a trainer that is at a local gym or find a consultant trainer that works independent of gyms and fitness facilities.
Work every major muscle group. To increase your muscle mass, you'll need to work each and every muscle group.
It's important to strengthen all muscles including your core, lower body, upper body, arms and chest.
You can choose to do three to four days of a total body workout. This is where you'd spend time working every major muscle group in one day. Ideally, you follow this with a rest day.
You can also do strength training on most days if you choose to work separate muscle groups each day of the week. Ensure you're not working the same muscle group two days in a row.
Include rest days. Although working out regularly is essential to increasing muscle mass, having one to two rest days each week is equally important.
Much of your muscle growth and strengthening actually occurs during the resting phase of your work out.
If you don't include regular rest days, then do not work the same muscle group two days in a row. For example, do not work arms and chest on Monday and Tuesday. Try doing arms and chest on Monday and legs on Tuesday.
Log your progress. Keep track of the exercises you’re doing by keeping a journal of your workouts. This may help keep you motivated and also give you a guideline for your week.
This will ensure that you’re increasing weights during workouts. Also, it will help you keep track of what workouts you’ve done on what days. This is important because you need to include rest days.
In addition to tracking what you've done each day or week, look at how far along you've come and how far you still need to go to hit your long-term goals.
- Incorporating Specific Exercises to Increase Muscle Mass
Do heavy-weight core exercises. There are a few studies that suggest using heavy weights for this exercise to maximize muscle mass and definition in your core.
You use your abdominal muscles on a daily basis. Since they are used regularly, you'll need to increase the weight or resistance with your exercises to help increase muscle mass.
There is no set answer on whether you should do a few reps or do many reps for your abs. However, it's suggested to do the exercise until your muscles are very fatigued.
Make sure that you do slow, controlled exercises whenever you're working your abs.
Don't forget to breathe!
Include upper body exercises. To gain muscle mass in your upper body, you'll need to include a wide variety of exercises to work the muscles in your chest and arms. Use a heavier weight and lower reps with these exercises:
Incline bench press
Dips and pull-ups
Do lower body exercises. To enhance muscle mass in your lower body, it's recommended to do isolation exercises first, followed by heavier strength training exercises. Incorporate some of these exercises with heavy weights and moderate reps:
Seated leg curl
Take it slow. Whenever you're starting with new exercises or a new strength training plan, it's important to take it slowly at first.
Even if it's recommended to do very heavy weights at first, you'll fare better if you choose lower weights as you build up your strength and fitness level.
You may also need to include more frequent rest days if you're a beginner. This will help allow your muscles to rest and repair appropriately.
Plan to do about two weeks of strength training in which you gradually increase weight. After this period, you'll need to hit it heavy to gain significant muscle and weight. You can add more or longer rest periods, but you'll need to start working with the heavy weights to gain that lean mass you're after.