Attention Hard Gainers and Dudes Who Want to Gain 10 lbs of Solid Muscle!
You use protein shakes. You eat lots of food. You workout like a maniac. Yet you still weigh 50 pounds less than your goal weight. Sick of skinny wrists and stick figure calves? Stop making the mistakes that compromise your weight gain strategies.
There are several components that go into a proper weight gain cycle. Nutrition is most important, exercise is next, and lifestyle can make or break you. Today we will cover some nutrition mistakes you might be making. Fix them today so you can gain muscle tomorrow!
Here are the first 5 points in my list of 10 mistakes you could be making to sabotage your weight gain.
Eat Enough Calories
Figure out what you normally eat each day to maintain your current weight and add 500 calories to it. If that’s too difficult, try this formula that I use to calculate calorie intake for Werewolf Muscle Training.
Calculate your metabolic co-efficient (M) based on your body type and past history of gaining muscle and losing fat. If you need help determining your body type, read A Body Type Analysis
- Endomorph (hard to lose fat, easy to gain muscle) – M = 8.5
- Mesomorph (moderately easy to gain muscle or lose fat) – M = 9.5
- Ectomorph (easy to lose fat, hard to gain muscle) – M = 10.5
Consider a 160 lb ectomorph with a goal body weight of 180 lbs. He has always been thin with little to moderate muscle development, but it is difficult for him to gain considerable muscle mass without drinking weight gain shakes all day long. His metabolic co-efficient (M) = 10.5.
Calculate total number of hours of training weekly.
For this example consider 4 days a week at 60 minutes a session; 4 hours.
Daily calories = Goal Weight X (the number of hours you workout per week + M)
Example: 180 lbs X (4 hours + 10.5) = 2610 calories per day
That number seems a little lite for an extreme true hard gainer, so if it doesn’t work, add 100 calories per day until you start to gain weight. Folks with an average metabolism will gain weight by using this equation.
Eat Enough Protein
Amino acids are the building blocks of new muscle tissue. Ingested protein is broken down into amino acids. Therefore, if you want to have lots of new new muscle tissue, you should ingest lots of protein.
Without being on any serious supplements, you should get 1 gram of protein per pound of goal body weight each day. Consider our 160 lb ectomorph with a 180 lbs body weight goal.
Example: 180 lbs = 180 g protein per day (180 g protein X 4 calories = 720 protein calories)
Incidentally, if you are on powerful muscle building supplements or using steroids, you should get at least 1.5 grams of protein per day to accommodate increased protein synthesis.
Eat Many Times a Day
Intermittent Fasting (IF) gurus will disagree with me, but in my opinion you should eat 5-6 meals a day if you are trying to gain weight. The IF guys rave about ‘fasted training’. I’ve never tried it on purpose, so I can’t comment on it, but I can tell you that when I train with high intensity on an empty stomach, the sparse contents of my empty stomach usually ends up in the toilet.
I no longer agree with eating 6 small meals spread throughout the day to lose fat, but if you are a hard gainer then I highly recommend eating 6 large meals each day in order to get enough protein, carbs, and calories to grow.
Drink Protein Shakes
Whole foods are not always the best solution to gaining weight. I do recommend you get most of your calories from whole foods, but immediately before your workout, during your workout, and immediately after your workout, is when you should rely on protein shakes. Food just takes too long to digest. During these times, a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal.
Pre-workout is not as important. Whether you drink a protein and carbohydrate shake 20 minutes before working out, or eat a protein and carbohydrate meal at least an hour before working out, the results will be the same.
During the workout you want to sip on a drink with some calories in it, to give you continued nutrition and stamina. I usually choose Gatorade, but there have been advancements in recent years, such that some companies will sell you a specifically formulated pre-workout shake. I think chocolate milk works just fine.
Within 20 minutes post-workout you want to consume a full post-workout shake of at least 40 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein. Choose fast-digesting ingredients if possible: dextrose for carbs, and protein isolates for protein.
Lifestyle and Recovery
Ideally you should get 8 hours of sleep each night. Some people can get by on as few as 6, but 8 is ideal. You can’t really make up missed sleep, but if you do run short one night during the week, try to sleep in at least once on the weekend.
Highly intense training should be performed only a maximum of 5 times per week. For most people, 4 intense workouts are enough. Always give yourself 48 hours of rest before training the same muscle twice. However, don’t feel bad about training a sore muscle as long as the soreness is just DOMS related, and not due to injury.
Try to stay free of stress and use relaxation techniques to calm yourself down. This will also help you sleep. Stress elevates that catabolic hormone cortisol, which helps your body to store fat and burn muscle – the opposite of what you are trying to do.
Try these suggestions to chill yourself down:
- Practice Yoga
- Practice Tai Chi
- get a massage
- use a melatonin supplement 30 minutes before bedtime
- use a white noise generator or a fan
- turn all the lights off
- relaxed breathing – breathe in slowly, hold for 3 seconds, blow out slowly, repeat
Tune in a day or two for 5 more reasons that you are not gaining weight. This time we focused mainly on lifestyle and nutrition. The next time we will focus more on exercise and fitness.