If you’re struggling to put on size, whether it’s 5 kilos or 15, this is for you! I could drag on about this topic for days but I’m going to keep it short and sweet. There are three key ingredients we need to apply when trying to gain size; diet, training and consistency.
Essentially, you want to eat (a lot), lift (heavier and more often than you are now) and sleep (more than you think).
In this blog I’ll share with you my top tips for each category as well as my favourite gainer shake recipe in the hopes of making your journey a little easier.
First and foremost, you need to be in a caloric surplus when you are trying to put on weight. What this means is that you need to be eating more calories (energy) than you expend (more calories in than out). If you think you’re eating a lot currently and still aren’t gaining weight or you aren’t growing as fast as you would like, you just aren’t eating enough. Period. A super easy method which you can apply, if you aren’t working with a coach is to add 500 calories to your daily diet. For example, if you are currently eating 2500 calories a day, eat 3000 calories every day of the week instead.
This brings me to my next point; track your food. You need to know your calorie and macro targets and be hitting them consistently to make progress. When trying to gain mass, you may initially feel very full with the new caloric volume; stick with it, your body will adjust to the new food quantity.
Small meals are easier to consume than large ones as you won’t feel overly full and stretched. Instead of eating 3 large meals, try eating 6 meals spaced evenly throughout the day. Intermittent fasting isn’t suggested when bulking for this reason; start eating early in the morning and space your meals more frequently.
Another tip here is to eat foods that are calorically dense. Nuts and nut butters, dried food, pasta dishes, bread etc are high in calories for a relatively low food volume; 100g of nuts can exceed upwards of 500 calories so nibble on trail mix for quick, delicious calories that won’t fill you too much.
Shakes are also great for this. Blending your food in to a liquid form makes it much easier to digest than consuming solid food. The blending acts as pre-digestion and as such, you don’t feel full for as long and thus, can eat again sooner.
Here’s my go to Snickers Popeye Shake:
You will need:
- 2 scoops of chocolate ONEST WHEY ISO PRO
- 80g of quick oats
- 150g banana
- 40g of peanut butter
- 15mls teaspoon of maple syrup
Blend it up with some ice and a liquid of choice and you’ve got yourself Popeye in a cup.
On the subject of protein, make sure you’re getting enough. If you are trying to gain muscle eating 2.2kgs of protein per kg of lean body mass is a great start! Your muscles need protein for muscle building and recovery.
A question I get all the time when I have clients bulking is “does it matter where our calories come from”. It does. Macros matter, yes, however micronutrients do too. When bulking, you will have plenty of calories to play with, so you could pretty much eat whatever you like but is junk food going to help you feel your best, train like a beast and recover efficiently? No. I suggest getting the bulk of your calories from quality, whole food ingredients and then incorporating some fun foods of your choice.
The concept is simple; lift heavy and often. The heavier the weights you lift, the stronger your body becomes, and the bigger your muscles grow. In a gaining phase I like to opt for bigger, compound lifts and adding in only a couple of isolation moves. Why compound exercises? They utilise several muscle groups at the same time, with the heaviest weights. Thus, triggering maximum strength and muscle growth in your entire body.
In addition to just lifting heavy, you want to have a plan. Progressive overloading is key; you want to ensure that you’re always pushing a little more in your training sessions; increase the intensity, weights, rep range, play with tempo etc.
Easy on the cardio. Cardiovascular health is very important so I’m not saying just sit on the couch all day. What we don’t want however, is you out there running marathons if you want to put on size. Cardio burns calories, right now, you need those.
Let’s discuss babies for a second… they grow rapidly, daily, ever changing and developing. You know what else they do? Sleep. A lot. Sleep and recovery is the key to growth. You can only train as hard as you can recover. If you want to grow, you can’t be moseying around the gym. You need to go full beast mode. You cannot do this on poor quality sleep. Aim for 8 -9 hours a night, you grow when you rest my friends.
I talk about the benefits of sleep and muscle mass in much greater detail in my last blog so be sure to check it out.
To summarise; sleep more, lift big to get big and eat like you’re going into famine.
Don’t give up too soon either; in order to be successful, you need a plan. Follow this plan; be adherent consistently and you will see results.