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How to Gain Weight

By Kim Nunley

Gaining weight by putting on body fat increases your risk of serious health issues such as heart disease. If you wish to gain weight, focus your efforts on increasing weight through muscle mass gains. Put on muscle by participating in a muscle-building weight-training program and increasing your daily caloric intake by consuming nutritious, calorie-rich foods.

Strength Training for Weight Gain

A weight-training program that’s designed to help you put on muscle mass features a relatively high number of exercises, sets and reps. The goal of each workout is to break down and damage your muscle tissue. Then, on your days off, your body works to heal the damaged tissue and, during this healing process, increases the size of your muscles. Lift weights two days per week, giving your muscles two to three days off in between each session. If you’re just starting out, perform two to three sets of five to 12 reps of each exercise. After 10 weeks of consistent training, or if you’re already an advanced lifter, perform two to five sets of three to 12 reps of each exercise. In between sets and exercises, rest 1 to 3 minutes. Always begin each workout with a 10- to 15-minute dynamic warm up of light jogging and low-intensity bodyweight squats, walking lunges and arm swings.

Exercises in the Weight Room

There are certain types of exercises in the weight room that are more effective than others for putting on muscle mass. Compound exercises, which involve more than one joint and thus more than one muscle group, elicit a greater response from muscle-building hormones and are better than isolation exercises, or ones that involve just one joint and thus isolate one particular muscle group. Therefore, to most effectively build muscle and thus gain weight, perform a workout consisting of compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, pushups, chest presses, shoulder presses, bent-over rows and pullups.

Extra Calories for Weight Gains

To build muscle mass and gain weight, an increase in daily calorie intake has to accommodate your weight training program. Increase the number of calories you consume by 500 per day so that you’re providing your body enough calories to fuel your workout and the muscle-building process. Men should be getting at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories, and women should take in at least 1,200 to 1,500 calories every day. Protein should make up 10 percent to 15 percent of your total calorie intake, while carbohydrates should make up 55 percent to 60 percent and fat should make up 25 percent to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake.

Timing and Planning Your Meals

Increase your daily calorie intake by planning out four to six balanced, nutritious meals every day. Space them out evenly so you’re eating every three to four hours. To facilitate muscle growth, focus on consuming foods that are energy-dense and also rich in nutrients, such as fruits, dairy and nuts, rather than junk foods that are high in fat and sugar. In addition, have a meal ready to consume immediately following your weight training workouts, as your body is ready to absorb nutrients meant to support muscle growth. Eat a meal with a combination of carbohydrates to protein, such as a piece of toast with peanut butter, within 45 minutes after lifting

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