Can you believe there are people out there who are actually trying to gain weight? Further, they find it hard to! Sounds pretty enviable doesn’t it? Well, it is a challenge in itself to gain weight. It requires a certain methodology that is not as well understood.

Weight gain that occurs primarily from overeating without also regularly exercising will result in increased fat mass. It is estimated that for every 1 pound of body weight gained while sedentary, about two-thirds of the gain is in the form of fat storage.

That doesn’t sound as enviable, does it? The primary focus then is to add more lean body mass and minimize fat gain.

Resistance Training

If your goal is to gain lean body mass then resistance training is fundamental. This means the focus should be on hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy occurs from the synergistic interaction of feeding (i.e., caloric intake) and resistance exercise, which together stimulate the cellular process of protein synthesis.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, progressively overloading the muscle by increasing the load 2%–10% as the muscles adapt will sustain the stimulus for muscle hypertrophy. Designing a hypertrophy resistance program will be covered later.

Vary Protein

Amino acids are essential for protein synthesis and therefore must be available in sufficient quantities to support muscle hypertrophy. However, the body is extremely good at recycling amino acids, and research suggests that regular resistance training enhances the way the body uses protein.

Protein requirements for athletes who engage in strength training may be as high as 1.6–1.7 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. To ensure that intake of dietary protein includes all the required essential amino acids, it is best to eat a wide variety of protein-rich foods.

Count On Carbs

Although it is not necessary to amp up protein intake to gain lean mass, carefully timing when other specific nutrients, such as carbohydrates, are ingested can indeed stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

The time periods immediately before and after strength training appear to be optimal for ingesting carbohydrate and amino acids to enhance muscle protein. Studies have shown that supplementation with essential amino acids (i.e., those not produced within the body) immediately after resistance exercise can significantly increase net muscle protein synthesis.

Monitor Progress

You should aim for 1/2 to 1 pound of weight gain per week. Remember that slow gain is best: Rushing the process just increases the chances that most of the weight gained will be in the form of fat mass instead of the desired lean body mass. The maximal rate of lean body mass that can be sustained over a 1-year time period is approximately 0.4 pound per week although larger weekly increases may be seen during the initial phases of training.

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