The number one mistake that people who want to gain weight and muscle make is that they simply aren’t eating enough. Most of the time they don’t even realize that they are making this mistake. They might think that they are stuffing themselves, however in reality they are not eating the amount required for them to gain weight.
In order to gain weight, you need to eat more than your maintenance calories. This is the most important advice that anyone can give you. Most people always want to know what kind of a routine they should do, how many reps, what exercises and stuff like that. It doesn’t matter what type of a routine you are doing, if you are not eating enought. Eating above your maintenance level is the basic prerequisite for any routine to work.
For most beginner and even intermediate lifters, basically any type of routine will help them pack on weight and muscle. Of course some might be better at it than others, however if your routine meets some basic principles, then it will help you. It’s the eating part that will be the main difference maker.
The importance of eating cannot be understated. Most of the time when people failed to gain weight, it is because of the fact that they were not eating enough. If you are lifting hard and still fail to make progress on gaining weight, then you need to reexamine your diet. Track it for a week and see what you are eating and how many calories per day in total it is.
Based on this tracking, you can then prepare your diet plan. Calculate your maintenance calories and try to eat anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories above that one. Start off slow, the first week, maybe add just 250 calories above maintenance and consistently keep adding more, until you reach an optimum level, where you are adding weight, but not too much fat. When packing on weight, you are bound to gain fat as well, however by eating clean, you can minimize this fat gain. You can always lose a lot of this fat in a fat-cutting phase later.
It is amazing how much of a difference your diet makes. I had an ACL surgery back in September of last year and during that month I lost almost 8 kilograms, a lot of it being muscle.
I basically stopped eating the usual amounts and just lay in bed. For some people, the lack of activity causes them to eat more and gain weight. For me, it had the opposite effect. Since I am still in rehabilitation mode, I am concentrating on getting my knee stronger and so am not really watching what I eat. This means I am way below the weight I was before my injury.
During this period I lost a lot of weight, but unfortunately, the fat that I had on my stomach stayed. 🙁
Even a lot of skinny (skinny-fat) people, have this layer of fat around their stomach. Some of them even go on cutting diets to try to lose it, which just ends up making them look even thinner, but the fat stays. If you are skinny fat, don’t worry, just go on a gaining routine (with the same nutrition, workout, lifestyle components as a skinny person).
You will gain weight and then can go on a cutting phase where you will lose that extra fat. This cutting routine will have you lift heavy as before, however now you can also incorporate HIIT elements, such as short intense sprints, or hill sprints. This way you will get bigger and lose fat at the end too! 🙂
However before any fat-cutting phase can occur, you need to have added a good solid amount of weight and muscle. This means that you have to eat, eat and eat. This is the hardest part for most people.
Many so-called hardgainers are not used to eating that much food. So that’s why when they start eating more, they might feel full quickly and think that they are stuffing themselves. In reality, it’s just their perception that makes them think that they are eating a lot. One strategy that you can adopt to overcome this problem is to eat more smaller meals spaced out evenly throughout the day, instead of 3 big meals as tradition dictates.
So remember, if you are not gaining weight, the most likely problem is your diet!