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How to Gain Weight –the Final Answer

August 19, 2005 09:35 AM

Time and again on Internet forums, in gym conversations, and e-mails the same question pops up, "How do I gain weight?" This question has been answered far more eloquently than I ever could, but Pavel asked me to cover it once more in an article, hopefully for the last time.

The way to gain weight is eat more and train more and heavier. Pretty Easy, huh? ?Not really! Any other questions? The problems I can hear already are the old reliables, "?but I eat so much and so much more than my friends, and I am so busy and it is so hard wha, wha, wha?", "?I only want to gain lean muscle", and "I just can't eat breakfast". Let me shoot holes in these arguments. First of all, if you are not gaining weight or strength, what you eat relative to everybody else is unimportant. Who cares if you eat way more than your friends, or that you just can't eat any more? There is no such thing as Oral Relativism, what YOU need is about YOUR caloric needs, not anybody else's. The scale does not lie. If the needle isn't moving, you aren't eating enough. You are lying to yourself and others if you say you can't eat more. You need to make your foods more caloric ally dense, eat more meals, and eat a big breakfast. You need to also always have food with you and NEVER miss meals. As JM Blakely says, "bathe the cells in nutrients", making sure you have enough food for recovery, repair, and growth. Don't try to micromanage this, because you will mess it up. Eat it all and let God sort it out.

In the May and June 2001 Powerlifting USA JM Blakely wrote a two part article on gaining weight. This is serious hardcore stuff and I highly advise getting a hold of these articles if you are waffling. Eat a waffle or three when reading it. This lays it out better than I can and much more in depth. (BTW, June 2001 has the infamous Russian Super Squat cycle article by Pavel)

You can't gain just muscle while maintaining super leanness. If you take 12-16 weeks to gain 20-25 pounds, maybe 12-15 is muscle. If you can hold 8-10 pounds of that, you are doing well. Sorry, no miracles here. You will have to train as hard as you ever have in your bulking cycle, adding more weight to the bar and food to your plate as a friend likes to say. You also will be keeping a low level of GPP work in the cycle. The low level of GPP is to conserve energy but also to keep a base level of GPP to tap into when we start to cut up a bit. In the "cutting cycle" you eat less and do more GPP work, more KB swings, more sled dragging, more hiking or incline treadmill, and eat less food, but cleaner food, dense with nutrients not just calories. If you want to hold muscle you will need to maintain the volume and intensity you used to build it. You may need to add sets and drop reps, and extend rest periods. 5x5 done crisply after 6-8 meals in a day may need to be 3x8 sets dragged out a bit with longer rest periods in the cutting cycle of only 5 meals.

If you don't eat breakfast, you might as well give up now. Eating breakfast stokes the metabolism fire. It takes a big metabolism to recover well, but it also takes more food. Deal with it. In the cutting cycle doing GPP in the morning on an empty stomach is a neat trick, but that means an early wakeup to get the work in and the food in the gut by 0800. I didn't say this was going to be easy.

A few tips:

  • No liquid without calories. Milk, Gatorade, or soda, but not water. Sugar in your ice tea or coffee. Lots of liquids!

  • Breakfast every day before 0800 or just stop training. A big nutritious breakfast. Then a second breakfast at 1000. 5 meals minimum. No maximum.

  • If you are not taking two dumps a day re-read the first two.

  • Never get caught without food. Meal replacement bars, bananas, PBJ sandwiches, Chunky soup travel well. If really screwed stop at a store and buy a half gallon of milk or chocolate milk. Bottoms up. Thin sliced Turkey Breast, a chunk of Cheddar, and some fruit is fun to eat and a great conversation starter.

  • Eat a snack before bed. I have set an alarm to eat, but if you drink enough you will need to wake to pee anyway, so wash your hands and go make snack before going back to bed.

  • You have only about 15 minutes until you feel full, so don't waste time yapping when you are in the see and consume mode. Eat it fast and eat more. Yeah, thanks, Mom, chew it all thoroughly.

  • If you must restrict something to alleviate your guilt, limit the fried foods. You need healthy fats to get bigger and stronger. You don't need freedom fries or pork rinds. Feel better?

  • Easy on the strenuous cardio. Do you want to fix your problem or are you addicted to the runners high?

  • Rest. 8 hours sleep a day and what you get at night is a bonus. Ha-ha, but 8 hours at night helps, as does a power nap. Sunday power naps register for me consistently on Monday on Max effort BP day. Sunday is the day of rest, so rest!

Those about to dine, I salute you!




Jack Reape is an Armed Forces Powerlifting Champion.
 

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