Articles with advice on how to lose weight can be found on the internet without any difficulties. They are constantly being written, but many of them offer various, unfortunately inappropriate, instructions. They lurk on readers from numerous sources, including social media, so it is necessary to carefully consider and choose which ones you allow yourself to be guided by.
But have you ever considered that there are also women among us who are unsuccessfully trying to gain weight? Yes, many of us envy them for their “condition,” but for those individuals, it represents the same problem as for the majority of the female population who are trying to lose weight. And what motivation do women actually have to gain weight when many of us would gladly trade places with them? One of the main reasons (should be) health, another is the desire to build strength, but their main motivation, let's not deceive ourselves, is to develop feminine curves, hypertrophy (gain muscle mass) in the right places, and tone up. And since there is less information written about how to gain weight, I have decided to write something on this topic.
Have pizza, donuts, whatever you want, don't worry about it...
I am surprised that some of my clients received such advice from their previous trainers as well. Is it really enough to start indulging in highly processed and calorie-dense foods (you can read about calorie density in the article “Caloric density - are you using it to your advantage?”) without any control, system, or adjustment of eating habits? Definitely not! Are you wondering why? After all, a person who has trouble gaining weight doesn't have to watch what they eat.
And I disagree with this statement! I am a supporter of the idea that a person trying to gain weight, not fat, but on the contrary active muscle mass, which contributes to a better-looking physique and provides the necessary curves, strength, and health, must pay attention to the composition and tracking of their diet just like someone trying to lose weight. The reason is simple: just like with weight loss, you need to have the correct calorie balance - expenditure versus intake. While weight loss requires a caloric deficit, meaning higher expenditure than intake, weight gain operates on the opposite principle, which is a caloric surplus, meaning lower expenditure than intake. It's logical. How do you expect to gain weight if you burn more energy every day than you consume? And to actively pursue that goal, you must have control over your intake and expenditure. It is important to set your calorie intake initially around 15-20% above your total daily expenditure, taking into account work, activities, workouts, and so on. And let's not forget that the composition of your diet is equally important! You won't build quality on pizza and pastries. Just like with weight loss, it matters what sources your calories come from. Although I agree that a person trying to gain weight, who has a much higher calorie allowance per day than someone trying to lose weight and has to settle for a smaller number, can fit more “junk” in their food intake.
For people who want to gain weight, it is necessary to prioritize the highest possible percentage of basic, nutritious foods in their diet and minimize processed foods. This includes prioritizing proteins (especially those with the most complete amino acid spectrum, such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, whey protein, quality dairy products, etc.), carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, oats, various pseudo-grains, fruits, vegetables, etc.), and fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, hard cheeses, etc.).
Monitor your calorie intake for a certain period and based on that, evaluate whether it is necessary to further increase your calorie intake. If weight gain is progressing according to the plan, continue with the current setting. If not, it is advisable to make adjustments by either reducing or increasing your intake. Unnecessary overeating and the associated excessive weight gain in fat should be avoided.
Training is a crucial component of weight gain, especially if you care about how the final result will look. If you want a firm body and curves – in other words muscles, then strength training should be one of your main priorities on this journey. The benefits of strength training are discussed in the article Benefits of weight training.
First of all, it is important to allocate more space in your training sessions for multi-joint, compound exercises with sufficient load. By “sufficient,” I mean a weight that allows you to step out of your comfort zone while still being able to perform the exercises with proper technique and, of course, through a full range of motion. So, which exercises fall into this category? Primarily, various variations of squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, lunges, pressing exercises, rows, and so on.
These exercises belong to the category of less comfortable but, in this case, also the most effective ones. They engage multiple muscles at once, promote strength and muscle development, and also strengthen tendons, ligaments, and bones. Such regular training consisting of these mentioned exercises stimulates the release of anabolic hormones.
In training aimed at hypertrophy, it is important to monitor the fundamental aspects that make it successful. These include volume, intensity, training frequency, progressive overload, exercise selection, rest periods, pace, and more.
Of course, considering that we don't want “it” to grow in any way, it is necessary to design the training sessions in a way that builds both symmetry and an aesthetic figure. The training sessions must be well-rounded and tailored to your body type and goals.
So how to gain weight and achieve curves?
A properly adjusted diet consisting of quality sources of essential macronutrients - an adequate amount of quality protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as micronutrients, is essential. Don't forget about timing and appropriate, consistent training where you put in the effort, primarily focusing on compound exercises that encompass all the aforementioned aspects. You can also consider incorporating supplements that have proven benefits, such as creatine or whey protein. Lastly, remember the importance of sufficient recovery, as it is often underestimated.
So, the secret to quality weight gain and shaping is revealed! 😊
Author: Michaela Kanuščáková