4

votes

I want to GAIN weight; what is your recommendation?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 16, 2011 at 4:09 AM

I'm a 25 year old male that has recently started to switch to the Paleo diet (within the past 3 months). I am 5'9" (175 cm) and only 124 pounds (56 kg). I am slender and you can see my ribs when I stretch. I feel like I'm underweight but I think I have a healthy body fat percentage (what is a good calculator for it? I get between 9 and 12 depending on which calculator I use). My BMI is 19. I have always felt like I needed to gain muscle/bulk. I am basically looking for how to do this with diet+exercise. I would like to stick with exercise that uses natural movement--hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, sports, etc. rather than going to the gym and lifting weights; though I wouldn't mind some pointers to a half hour routine I could do at home 2-3 times a week that might include weights. Which types of exercises are best, etc. I am not concentrating on minimizing body fat--just gaining muscle, and even then only enough so that I don't look so scrawny! Specifically looking to target my arms, legs, and maybe tightening my core. My instincts tell me I should aim for a target weight of at least 140 (I used to weigh 130-135 naturally on the SAD diet, but decreased to 125 before I started Paleo due to switching jobs and being more active/don't just sit at a desk all day). I have not lost/gained any weight since starting Paleo, but I'm also not exactly 100% paleo with my diet. Should I expect any loss/gain as I continue to progress my switchover to Paleo?

Pointers? And anything else you think I should be asking? I am open to constructive criticism if I'm a little off-base, I have not been health-conscious until the last year or so. Thanks!

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 19, 2011
at 10:51 AM

@Tom R. - having said that, I haven't done SS in a year or so; but I still carry the book to every gym session I have. It's the best motivational tool I've ever used. Must have read pages 24-5 at least 500times ;)

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 19, 2011
at 10:50 AM

What the book should say is "how to gain 30lbs of muscle, plus at least 30lbs of fat in 6 weeks" lol - since you must must must eat like an absolute horse to manage it 3 times a week!

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on December 17, 2011
at 04:56 PM

@heavyarms, I'd never heard of SuperSquats before. Looks like a great program but perhaps too much for this 35 year old. I'd like to gain 10 lbs of solid muscle, but 1 widowmaker squat session a week is enough to make me cry much less 3 of them. That's for the youngsters...

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 17, 2011
at 10:14 AM

"To build muscle you need to provide the stimulus to force adaption, and lifting heavy is by the far the most efficient way of achieving this." - This. For further info google for how to overload the CNS.

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 17, 2011
at 10:12 AM

@Tom R. - Good shout; refer to Supersquats above ;)

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on December 16, 2011
at 03:29 PM

As heavyarms and others have already said, if you want to gain good weight (and in my opinion you are underweight for your age/height), you will need to lift weights. If you do nothing else, squat. A lot.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on December 16, 2011
at 01:55 PM

Given that the OP enjoys hiking, kayaking, rock climbing etc I would say Pavel Tsatsouline would be a great choice that way he could stay outta the gym and go do the things he loves.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on December 16, 2011
at 05:55 AM

"I am not concentrating on minimizing body fat--just gaining muscle..."

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 16, 2011
at 05:44 AM

Depends how quick you want to do it, and how lean you want to remain. It's not so difficult to gain functional strength in my opinion.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on December 16, 2011
at 05:42 AM

It's generally hard enough to gain significant amounts of LBM by actually trying to do so...

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 16, 2011
at 05:17 AM

If I had access to rocks, I'd be much more inclined to spend time there once a week doing some 'sprint' climbing. Bet you could get some crazy irregular pushup positions too. The additional motivation of using the natural environment would beat the clinical effectiveness of the gym for me in the long run.

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10 Answers

4
B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on December 16, 2011
at 06:01 AM

I recommend acquiring the text Starting Strength (3rd edition if possible) by Mark Rippetoe. It's a strength program for novices and most of the text is spent explaining how to execute the key lifts of the program with the correct form - those lifts being, squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press and the power clean.

I recommend it because I like doing a lot of the things you listed, and I've spent a lot of time doing conditioning work with things like body weight exercises, sand bags, ropes, kettle bells, etc. I was really fit and in great condition, however I didn't put any noticeable muscle on - not that was a goal of mine at the time.

However doing the Starting Strength program my strength rapidly increased and I packed on the muscle. To build muscle you need to provide the stimulus to force adaption, and lifting heavy is by the far the most efficient way of achieving this.

Also you'll want to eat a lot, you'll need a calorie surplus. If you handle dairy I'd recommend consuming raw a2 milk, milk being very anabolic, it seems to aid strength gains better than anything else that isn't a drug.

Once you reach the strength level you desire, it will be easy to maintain with less work, and you'll be able to do other things you enjoy and hopefully be able to perform a little better at them as well.

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 17, 2011
at 10:14 AM

"To build muscle you need to provide the stimulus to force adaption, and lifting heavy is by the far the most efficient way of achieving this." - This. For further info google for how to overload the CNS.

2
082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

on December 16, 2011
at 09:58 AM

Hi and welcome!

(You???re in a similar boat to me back when I started weight training; I feel I have a lot to offer regarding this particular question, so although I???ll try and be as succinct as possible, feel free to ask anything else or for further explanation).

First off, I agree with 2 of your statements; (1) you???re underweight (or at least, nowhere near your ???natural muscle??? potential), and (2) weight-training, or weight-training style exercises are the best way to go about addressing (1) ??? at least to begin with (further detail below).

To put your ???stats??? in context, I am 5???7??? (168cm), 170lbs (75kg), and around 10-11% BF, with a BMI of around 28 (just to highlight the uselessness of BMI!). So were pretty much the same except I???m 50lbs heavier. It only took me around 9-12months in a gym to go from 60kg->75kg in the same lean state.


Rather than reeling off a list of vanilla (but largely true) statements like ???do compound moves???, ???keep intensity high???, ???eat more calories???, I???ll point you towards some useful online/ paper resources, and invite you to do some reading:


If you take the advice of (what I assume) 99.9% of people will give you (i.e. hit the gym). I recommend you check out all the following resources even if you have no intention of joining a gym; the information around how/why/when to train, and how to best go about it is invaluable:

Specific training methods: stronglifts.com (beginners training, recommended); elitefts.com (& 531 ebook download $19.99); book: SuperSquats by Randall Strossen (brutal, not recommend for at least 6 months, but by far-and-away the best training method for getting big and strong fast)

general resources (my list after years of sifting through rubbish): t-nation.com book: Power to the People! By Pavel Tsatsouline google search: ???Greasing the groove Pavel Tsatsouline??? ??? READ THIS!

while stronglifts 5x5 is a bit of a bland method of training, this is great for ???gym newbies??? as it keeps the volume relatively high, enabling you to focus on muscle size, endurance, correct form, and keeps the strain off your joints and ligaments.

Jim Wendler???s 5-3-1 e-book is fantastic and my preferred method of training. Whether you use the system or not, the reading around assistance exercises, their purpose, and how many you need and when, is again invaluable.

If this is the route you decide to go, I also recommend asking this sort of question on a forum like sugdenbarbell, uk-muscle, or even myprotein (whilst studiously avoiding anything body-building.com related).


If you stick to ???other activities??? and some home-exercise, good on you (probably healthier in the long run!), but progress will be considerably slower. If possible, I recommend you consider gymnastics.

The issue with gymnastics is it also requires a base-level of conditioning; but once you get there you'll get hooked. And things like planches, tucks, leg raises, human flags, hand-stand pushups et seq are, in my opinion, the ideal exercises for paleo-enthusiasts and general health.


All of the above is linked to STIMULATING muscle growth. As mentioned by plenty of others; to actually ACHEIVE muscle growth, simply stuff your face with more food. The more, the better, simple as. I'll leave the question of diet to the resident experts; since my answer would be to start drinking lots and lots of milk (paleo or not :P)


As a final thought: and yes I did promise I wouldn???t give generic recommendations, but I can???t stress enough the benefit of one particular exercise: deadlifting. Even at home, all it takes is a concrete floor, a few hundred kilos of Olympic plates, and a bar. Including deadlifting into whatever you choose, will increase you progress exponentially.

Hope some info linked here you find useful :)

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on December 16, 2011
at 03:29 PM

As heavyarms and others have already said, if you want to gain good weight (and in my opinion you are underweight for your age/height), you will need to lift weights. If you do nothing else, squat. A lot.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on December 16, 2011
at 01:55 PM

Given that the OP enjoys hiking, kayaking, rock climbing etc I would say Pavel Tsatsouline would be a great choice that way he could stay outta the gym and go do the things he loves.

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 17, 2011
at 10:12 AM

@Tom R. - Good shout; refer to Supersquats above ;)

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on December 17, 2011
at 04:56 PM

@heavyarms, I'd never heard of SuperSquats before. Looks like a great program but perhaps too much for this 35 year old. I'd like to gain 10 lbs of solid muscle, but 1 widowmaker squat session a week is enough to make me cry much less 3 of them. That's for the youngsters...

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 19, 2011
at 10:51 AM

@Tom R. - having said that, I haven't done SS in a year or so; but I still carry the book to every gym session I have. It's the best motivational tool I've ever used. Must have read pages 24-5 at least 500times ;)

082bf04a7486991c5e573a66f1404b3e

(813)

on December 19, 2011
at 10:50 AM

What the book should say is "how to gain 30lbs of muscle, plus at least 30lbs of fat in 6 weeks" lol - since you must must must eat like an absolute horse to manage it 3 times a week!

2
2ab6415f5f20b8fe1d34a94c7be85e6a

on December 16, 2011
at 05:19 AM

Eat calorie dense hyper-palatable foods. Fatty seasoned meat, some nuts, guacamole, buttered cinnamon covered mashed taters, coconut milk smoothies etc.

1
Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 16, 2011
at 04:27 AM

I wouldn't get too bogged down in the numbers while you're changing things, pretty much all measurements for body composition that'll be easily available to you are too variable in the short-term. Focus on how you feel, and understanding when/if you're hungry, what your energy levels are etc.

Hiking, kayaking and rock-climbing are all excellent things to be doing, but I expect it would take a while to see significant muscular development. Your body is more interested in increasing efficiency, and between that and improved technique, you'll find it difficult to gain the progression you really want with those activities. So I'd say it's definitely worth utilising high-intensity weight workouts. These can be bodyweight based, and endlessly modifiable so that 15-30 minutes once a week is sufficient if you go for maximum intensity. In fact it should be all you can manage.

So low volume, high weight is the way to increase muscle size. The fundamental movements to work with are pushups, pullups and squats. There's variation in the recommendations but it's mostly detail - you should be creating a good environment to build. Don't hold back on the steaks. If you're not progressing try eating more. There's no particular reason to load up on carbs for the sake of it - if you only have one 'intense' workout a week then 100g carbs should be plenty. But if you're out every other day trekking or on the river then you might as well eat as much as you possibly can of solid whole foods. And really make sure you get good sleep every night, and don't push your muscles hard while in recovery. It doesn't take much if you give your body the opportunity.

0
4359ded83fc58bdcf7f825a49d4e2bc8

on December 16, 2011
at 08:02 AM

Can I suggest you look up "Convict Conditioning". It's. A great body weight training manual, even with the slightly off-putting title.

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on December 16, 2011
at 07:20 AM

Lift heavy with your biggest muscles. ALso continue the exercise you mention. Lots of protein and dairy (eggs, meat, whey protein and cottage cheese).

0
E87e6799f0aa0a3f8f3072cbb3c1fe53

on December 16, 2011
at 05:37 AM

Yes, eat dairy. Don't do intermittent fasting, as it will be tough to get enough calories in to really gain weight - instead eat many LARGE meals a day, push yourself. If you tolerate lactose then drink milk post-workout, if not you can still consume large quantities of cheese, an extremely protein and calorie dense food.

Starting Strength (startingstrength.com) is a great training plan to follow until you are normal weight with muscular build. Its basically three working sets of five reps of each basic compound barbell lift (deadlift, squat, benchpress, overhead press, and power cleans).

0
25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on December 16, 2011
at 05:13 AM

I would like to stick with exercise that uses natural movement--hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, sports, etc. rather than going to the gym and lifting weights; though I wouldn't mind some pointers to a half hour routine I could do at home 2-3 times a week that might include weights.

While there are good bodyweight exercises such as dips and pullups, your task would be far, far easier if you joined a gym or had access to one...

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 16, 2011
at 05:44 AM

Depends how quick you want to do it, and how lean you want to remain. It's not so difficult to gain functional strength in my opinion.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on December 16, 2011
at 05:55 AM

"I am not concentrating on minimizing body fat--just gaining muscle..."

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on December 16, 2011
at 05:42 AM

It's generally hard enough to gain significant amounts of LBM by actually trying to do so...

Dfada6fe4982ab3b7557172f20632da8

(5332)

on December 16, 2011
at 05:17 AM

If I had access to rocks, I'd be much more inclined to spend time there once a week doing some 'sprint' climbing. Bet you could get some crazy irregular pushup positions too. The additional motivation of using the natural environment would beat the clinical effectiveness of the gym for me in the long run.

-1
D45c351ce339271fb099c69f5c4c8159

on December 17, 2011
at 02:56 AM

After reading the post with good tips, I thought it would be good to mention that a person should also gauge the amount of calories they eat by the amount of calories their body burns. There actually is available an online calculator that will tell you how many calories your body is burning and how many calories you should eat per day to gain or lose weight. For anyone interested the weight gain calculator is located at http://howtogainweight123.com . This could help you to know how to adjust your diet to either gain weight or lose weight

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