how to gain weight fast and safely — 211-87

Shannon Clark, SATI STAFF

Tired of reading information on how to lose body fat? Instead, are you someone who actually wants to pack on the pounds? If you are looking to gain weight to build up your frame, you are in luck because I am going to go over exactly how to do just.

When it comes to gaining weight, you always want to put the focus on gaining quality lean muscle mass. Unless you are seriously underweight and have a very low body fat percentage, fat gains should be kept to a minimum in effort to maintain optimal health status.

Sadly, this is not how the story goes for many. They gain weight and either notice they are not seeing the results they want or they notice they are gaining far more body fat than they are lean muscle mass.

Usually this comes down to a few reasons and areas where they are going wrong. Not to worry – a few changes here and there and you’ll be off to success.

Let’s go over what you need to know.

What is required for lean muscle mass weight gain

First let’s talk about what is required for weight gain to occur. In order to gain weight effectively, you need to do three things:

  • Position your body in an anabolic state (where you are building up tissue rather than breaking it down)
  • Ensure that you sustain a positive calorie balance so that your body has extra energy to build that new tissue with
  • Perform resistance training exercise, which is the stimulus that prompts your body to start building up that lean muscle mass

If any one of these is not satisfied, you will not see the results that you were hoping for.

Let’s look at each individually.

Keeping yourself anabolic

When it comes to weight gain, going into a catabolic state is your enemy. You want to ensure that your body is in a constant position to be building up new tissues – namely, lean muscle mass.

What things put you in a catabolic state?

The primary drivers of going into catabolism include high levels of day to day stress, too much exercise (especially endurance type of exercise), not enough sleep, and insufficient levels of nutrients, namely protein. If you are suffering from any of these, changes must be made.

Next, you need to ensure you are in a positive calorie balance. Look at it this way, you couldn’t build an additional room for your house out of air, right? No, you need building supplies – bricks, boards, hammers, nails, and so forth.

The same applies to your body. If you are looking to build additional muscle mass, you need the raw materials to do that. If you are only eating enough to sustain what you currently have, you can’t possibly build more. Your body is magically – it can’t build something out of thin air.

To that point, note that if you supply your body with the wrong tools that also becomes problematic. It’d be like trying to build that extra room out of sheets of glass. How would you go about doing that? You do need a certain type of nutrients in order to complete the muscle building process. More on that in a second.

Finally, you also need the stimulus of resistance training to promote the growth of lean muscle mass tissue. By doing resistance training on a regular basis, you’ll send the signal to the body that it’s lean muscle it needs to build – not just body fat. If you supply that extra energy to the body and don’t resistance train, chances are, it’ll just get converted into body fat stores instead.

So there are the three main factors that must be considered when your goal is to build lean muscle mass.

Know your body type

On top of this, it’s helpful to know your body type. The three key body types are:

  • Ectomorph
  • Mesomorph
  • Endomorph

If you are an ectomorph looking to build muscle mass tissue, you struggle to gain any weight at all. For you, gaining fat isn’t going to be much of a concern. Chances are, it just won’t happen. You need to eat and eat big and ensure that you aren’t doing any extra activities that are going to cause you to burn up a high level of calories on a day to day basis.

If you are a mesomorph on the other hand, thank your lucky stars because you’re the type of person who tends to build muscle mass fairly easily. You likely won’t have too big of a problem of building muscle tissue, so as long as you get the factors noted above in place, you’ll be off to great success.

Finally, if you’re an endomorph, you are the unfortunate type who tends to gain body fat quite easily. You’ll need to be a bit more careful in how you set things up to ensure that you aren’t just packing on fat mass, but are instead building quality lean muscle tissue.

By understanding your body type before you begin, you can best tailor your approach so that it meets your needs.

Let’s now go over the two important areas to get into place – nutrition and exercise.

If you aren’t seeing results, start here

For those who have tried to gain weight in the past and have failed, chances are, it was your diet that was the problem. Nine times out of ten, the diet is what’s lacking, so always start your assessment here.

First things first, you need to ensure you are eating the right level of calories. If you don’t eat enough calories, you simply won’t build muscle – period. If you eat too many calories, you’ll build some muscle, but also experience some fat gain as well. Remember that your body can only build so much muscle each day, so any energy taken in over and above that will just get tacked on as extra body fat.

Assess your progress. What end of the spectrum are you on? Note that this is where body type can really come into play. If you are naturally thin (ectomorph) and lanky, you’re going to need to eat a lot more than someone who tends to gain fat easily (the endomorph).

If you aren’t building muscle right now, you should increase your calorie intake by 250-750 calories per day. Ectomorphs should lean towards the higher end while endomorphs the lower end. If you are a mesomorph, 500 calories should do you just fine.

Keep eating at this calorie level for a week or two and then adjust based on the results you see. Keep doing this until you find your ‘sweet spot’.

Next, you need to assess your macronutrient intake. To gain weight effectively, you’ll need to eat a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and quality fats. Protein provides the building blocks that lean muscle mass tissue is made up of, carbohydrates provide the energy you’ll use to build that muscle tissue, and fats help keep your hormones in check which direct the entire process.

All three are key for success. You’ll want to shoot for around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day when aiming to gain weight and at least 120 grams of carbohydrates. Most people will take in more than this, but consider it the minimum value to keep yourself in an anabolic state.

Finally, fats should be set to around 0.35 grams/lb. of body weight. This is the minimal amount to keep your muscle building hormones optimized.

Once these are set, remember that food quality also matters. If you put junk food into your body, you are going to essentially get ‘junk’ results back. You want to be eating nutrient dense foods that are in their most natural state. These are the ones that will supply you with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to nourish the body, protect against disease, keep your energy levels up, and ensure that you recover as best as possible from each workout that you do.

Avoid processed foods. While you may think these are okay to eat since you have so many calories to consume each day, they aren’t ideal for safe results. To gain weight safely, you only want nutrient dense foods.

Finally, be sure that you are placing good nutrition around the workout period. Since your workout is where you are giving your body the stimulus to build muscle, you want to ensure that it’s prepared to exercise as optimally as possible and recover well also.

About 1-2 hours prior to your workout, make sure that you get in a quality source of lean protein along with some healthy, slower digesting carbohydrates. Then after the workout is over, once again, you need this same protein/carbohydrate combination. Only this time, you can focus on faster digesting sources so that the nutrients get into the muscle tissues as quickly as possible. Aim to keep fat out of the diet at this time as fats will only slow you down and cause you to become sluggish.

Once your diet is in check, then take a look at your workout program.

Adjusting your workouts accordingly

On the workout side of things, you’ll want to ensure that you are setting up your plan properly. You’ll want to ensure four main things:

  • You’re lifting a heavy enough weight to provide an overloading stimulus
  • You’re doing enough reps to evoke the muscle building response
  • You’re resting enough between sets and workouts to recovery
  • You’re changing your workout regularly so that your body doesn’t adapt and hit a plateau

These are the four key factors that will determine whether or not you gain weight effectively.

First, ensures that you are lifting heavy. You want to be reaching a point where you are fatigued by the time you get to the last rep of each set you perform. If you feel like you could keep going, that is a good sign you aren’t lifting heavy enough and need to challenge yourself further.

Next, check your rep range. You should ideally be lifting in the rep range of 8-15 reps for lean muscle mass gain. While using a maximally heavy weight and lifting in the lower rep range of around 5-6 reps is good for building strength, it tends to be less ideal for actually building lean muscle mass. A higher rep range is needed.

This said, avoid taking the reps too high. If you are doing 20+ reps per workout, you are taking an endurance focus and this won’t provide the overloading stimulus in terms of weight lifted to build muscle.

Rest is also key to building muscle. Resting enough between the sets you perform ensures that you are recovered enough that you can go on to do your next set and see maximum levels of progress.

On the other hand, resting enough between workouts will also be critical to your progress. Each time you go into the gym, you are going to be breaking muscle tissue down. It’s when you come out of the gym and rest that your body grows stronger, ensuring that you continue to see results.

If you aren’t resting enough to allow this recovery process to take place, you’ll only be getting weaker, rather than stronger. So for this reason, training too often, despite what many believe, is not ideal. If you are exercising at a frequency level that is too much for your body to handle, it can actually take away from the progress you hope to see.

Finally, you need to create change regularly in your workout program to see results. Your body adapts to whatever it is that you are doing and once that adaptation process occurs, you won’t get any stronger or fitter. And, chances are, muscle growth will slow.

Try new exercises, add more reps, use a different type of machine – just do something to change it up regularly. You’ll see better progress if you do.

These are the key points that need to be in place to build muscle optimally from your workout program. Remember to focus on the compound movements as these work the largest muscle groups in the body and hit the greatest total number of muscle fibers all at once.

This means squats, deadlifts, bench presses, bent over rows, shoulder presses, pull-ups, walking lunges, and leg presses. These should form the foundation of your workout routine and after that, then you can focus on the isolation moves like leg extension, hamstring curls, bicep curls, tricep extensions, and so forth.

Other points to remember

Finally, beyond your nutrition and diet plan, you also need to remember to look at your overall lifestyle in order to optimize your results.

If you want to gain weight and build muscle effectively, you need to be:

  • Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night: sleep is the time when the recovery process really occurs, so needs to be maximized. In addition to this, it’s also when you release growth hormone and testosterone, two of the most anabolic hormones in the body.
  • Keeping your stress levels low. Stress causes the release of cortisol in the body, which is a catabolic hormone that will counteract the anabolic results that you want to be experiencing right now.
  • Not overdoing extra-curricular activities. Now is not the time to train for a marathon or anything else that will burn up a lot of calories and decrease your recovery. When you’re out of the gym, relax and rest up. This will help improve your performance when you go back into the gym again.
  • Avoiding alcohol. While it may be fun to indulge, drinking is going to decrease your testosterone release and will further lower your overall muscle building potential.
  • Monitor your progress regularly. This is the best way to adjust as you go to ensure that you see optimal results. Don’t let yourself go for months on end without seeing progress. If you aren’t making improvements within 2-3 weeks, change something so that you are.

While these factors may not be quite as important as getting your diet and workout plan in check, they definitely will influence progress nevertheless. Be sure that you aren’t overlooking them.

The Sati line

If you can keep these tips in mind and apply them to your program, you should have no problem seeing the weight gain results that you desire. Keep in mind that no two people are alike. What works great for one person may not necessarily work for another, so you want to customize your approach to your own body type and needs.

Never underestimate the importance of nutrition though when it comes to gaining quality weight and muscle mass. 99% of people who state that they can’t build muscle and are using a good workout program simply aren’t eating enough food. They either aren’t tracking their intake and don’t realize they aren’t eating enough of they are tracking incorrectly. Keep adding more food until you see the scale going up and are noticing favorable changes in your body.