When it comes to working out at the gym, it is many a man's goal to gain weight or "bulk up" as it is commonly called. For some this process is easy, but other people struggle to gain even the slightest bit of weight. It really all comes down to a well thought out game plan in the end.
Lift heavy. One of the quintessential components of gaining weight in the gym is progressively overloading the muscles. This means that weight needs to be continually increased over time or the muscles will adapt to the current stress and there will be no more growth. Aim to increase maximal poundages by 5 to 10% each week.
Focus on multi-joint routines. These type of routines require a lot of work and recruit the most amount of muscle fiber. Some exercises worth noting are power moves often times seen in the Olympics. These would include the clean and press, bench press, dead lift, squat and snatch.
Do high sets of low reps. Perform multiple sets of 3 to 5 reps with weights that are heavy. This is a tried and true strategy for getting the maximum amount of muscle recruitment. Aim for 8 to 10 sets.
Take long rest periods. When it comes to pushing and pulling heavy weights, it is a good idea to take long recovery breaks in between sets to make sure you are fully rested. These rest periods should be 2 to 4 minutes long.
Avoid high amounts of cardiovascular training. Doing a lot of cardio will burn a lot of calories and defeat the purpose of putting on weight. A better idea would be doing high intensity interval training. This can be done for 20 to 30 minutes 3 times a week on alternating days of weight lifting. An example of this would be wind sprints. Do a 5 minute warmup on a treadmill, then sprint all out for 30 seconds. Slow back down to a jogging pace for 1 minute then crank again for 30 seconds. Follow this pattern just like following reps. Do 10 to 12 sprints then finish with a 5 minute cool down.
Flex your muscles. This may sound crazy, but flexing your muscles just like a body builder actually promotes muscle growth. Find a quiet spot in the gym after a workout and go through a series of poses flexing the biceps, triceps, chest, legs and abs. Yoga and fitness rooms are usually good places to go when there are no classes going on.
Fuel your body. To gain size it is imperative to eat enough, and at the right times. One of those times is immediately after working out. It is at this point that your muscles are like sponges and they are thirsting for nutrients. Walk up to the smoothie bar and have a shake that contains a high amount of carbs and a good amount of whey protein. Whey protein is easily assimilated and this helps to regenerate damaged muscle cells. The carbs in the shake are the delivery system of the protein to the muscles. Here is a good recipe:
12 ounces of vanilla soymilk
1 tbsp of peanut butter
1 tbsp of honey
1 scoop of whey protein powder.
It comes out to about 580 calories.
Tips & Warnings
- Do weight training 3 times a week on alternating days for maximum recovery and gain. You can split your routines so you're doing upper body twice a week, lower body once a week, then alternate. Here's an example: Upper body - Monday and Friday Lower body - Wednesday Alternate every other week.
- Make sure to consult with your doctor before engaging in any high intensity activity. This especially holds true if you are new to weight training or are de-conditioned.
- Photo Credit Kevin Rail, Scott Heller, Jessica Maya, Jared Gard
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