How to Gain Weight Quickly: 12 Tips On What to Eat & How to Train

SteveBeforeAfter

So you want to gain weight fast (and safely)??

You’ve come to the right place, because this is what we do!

This guide covers the exact weight gain strategies I’ve used to go from my “before” (on the left above) to reach my “after” (on the right above). Believe it or not, that “before” photo is me after a DECADE of strength training and trying to get bigger.

It’s the stuff in this guide that finally allowed me to actually get results (the after).

It’s also exactly how we help our online coaching clients: nutritional guidance and workout plans that line up with their goals.

Oh, and if you sign up in any of the yellow email boxes throughout, you can download our “gain weight and build muscle” shopping list and cheat sheet to hang on your fridge!

Let’s start putting on weight right NOW.

These are the 12 lessons I wish I knew when I started trying to get bigger (click to jump right to that lesson):

NUTRITION

  1. How to eat to gain weight.
  2. What foods should I eat to gain weight?
  3. How much protein do I need to gain weight?
  4. How many carbs and fats should I eat to gain weight?
  5. How fast can I gain weight and get bigger?

STRENGTH TRAINING

  1. What exercises are best for weight gain?
  2. How to get stronger and build muscle.
  3. How many days should I exercise to gain weight?

RECOVERY

  1. How much sleep should I get to gain weight?
  2. Should I do cardio while trying to gain weight?
  3. Can you build muscle without gaining fat?
  4. Gain weight, get bigger, and supercharge your results.

Let’s get to it!

Rule #1) How to eat to gain weight.

Like this turtle, try to eat slow for a weight loss strategy.

As we cover in our “Ultimate Skinny Guy’s Guide to Bulking Up Fast,” there’s one rule you need to know above EVERYTHING else.

“If you’re not gaining weight, you’re not eating enough food.”

It’s science and thermodynamics.

Allow me to explain: depending on your current size and level of activity, your body burns 1200-2500+ calories every day just doing all of its daily processes:

  • Breathing.
  • Keeping your heart beating.
  • Powering your liver, kidneys, and brain.
  • Powering your movement.
  • Rebuilding muscle.

And dozens of other things.

Here’s the problem: because your body efficiently uses up all of the calories you consume every day, there are no calories left over to build muscle (or get stored as fat).

Want to know how many calories you burn every day? Check out our Total Daily Energy Expenditure TDEE calculator:

Total Daily Energy Expenditure Calculator
Male/Female
Use age in years.
Use pounds (lbs). If using metric system, multiple kg times 2.2 for lbs.
Use inches. If using metric system, divide cm by 2.54 for total inches.
Your BMR is an estimate of the total calories burned a day, while in a state of rest.
For "Activity Level," veer toward the side of less active. Studies consistently show that people are not as active as they self-assess.
Your TDEE is an estimate of the total calories burned during a single day, when exercise is factored in.

Use the metric system? I wish we did too here in the States! Click right here for our Metric calculator.

Note: we have used The Mifflin-St Jeor Equation to create this calculator! [1]

Hooray! You now know estimates of your Basal Metabolic Rate (calories you burn existing) and TDEE (calories you burn while moving throughout the day)![2]

So, in order to get bigger, you need to eat ABOVE this TDEE number consistently.

Beavis and Butthead saying "we need more food."

That’s it.

This is the NUMBER ONE mistake skinny people make trying to get bigger:?

We think we have an overly fast metabolism.

Although there is SOME variation with regards to metabolism variability, it’s insignificant when compared to the effect of the more important part of the equation:

We overestimate how many calories we’re eating each day, we don’t account for the calories we burn through movement or exercise, and there aren’t enough calories left over to create a “caloric surplus.”

And without that surplus, we’ll never gain weight or get bigger.?

Look at me all big and strong!

MY STORY: I had been training in a gym for 6 years without gaining size.

I then worked with a great trainer, who had me DOUBLE the amount of food I was eating.

I thought he was out of his mind.

Until I did it…and it worked.

I put on 18 pounds in 30 days [3], and I realized I had been severely undereating for my goals:

I a

In order to gain weight, target an additional 300-500 calories above your Total Daily Energy Expenditure[4]:

  • If you have a TDEE of 1800 calories: target 2100-2300 calories per day to gain a pound a week (0.5 kg per week).
  • If you have a TDEE of 2000 calories: target 2300-2500 calories per day to gain a pound a week (0.5 kg per week).

Want to gain weight even faster? As long as you know you’ll also be gaining lots of fat, you can target 800-1000 calories above your TDEE.

  • If you have a TDEE of 1800 calories: target 2600-2800 calories per day to gain 2 lbs a week (1 kg per week).
  • If you have a TDEE of 2000 calories: target 2800-3000 calories per day to gain 2 lbs. a week (1 kg per week).

Question: What about meal timing?

Does it matter WHEN I eat my meals?

A clock on the wall

“Can I eat now?”

Answer: “WHEN” you eat doesn’t matter nearly as much as “HOW MUCH” you eat.

Your body will process all calories efficiently[5], so focus on total calories consumed.

Depending on your schedule, you can:

  • Eat 3 big meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Eat 6 regular sized meals throughout the day.
  • Skip breakfast and eat two MONSTER meals (this is what I do).

It comes down to your personal preference. You might struggle to eat 3000 calories in 3 meals, so having 6 500-calorie meals throughout the day might make you feel less bloated and full.

Your value may vary!?

See the next section for tips and tricks on WHAT foods you should eat to gain weight.

If you want somebody to help keep you accountable and help you actually bulk up safely and quickly, we have a pretty great online coaching program that has helped people reach their weight gain goals safely and quickly.

Rule #2) What foods should I eat to gain weight?

Someone eating a healthy breakfast

If you want to build muscle, target whole foods that come from high quality, high-calorie sources whenever possible.

Sure, you could obtain 3500 calories eating Taco Bell, Twinkies, candy, and Mountain Dew. However, this isn’t a good long term solution to gaining weight and building a good physique (goodbye health).

Trust me, I know. I put on 18 pounds in 30 days by eating meatball subs from Subway, drinking whole milk, eating McDonald’s, and drinking weight gainer shakes.

I certainly wasn’t healthy, and today I’m much more intelligent and knowledgeable about how to bulk up safely.

HERE’S HOW TO EAT TO GAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT:

  • Calculate your (Total daily energy expenditure) and add 300-500 cal over your number for sustainable weight gain.
  • Consume at least 1-1.5g per pound (2.2-3.3g per kg) of body weight in protein daily.
  • Consume .25-.4g per pound (.5-.8g per kg) of body weight in fat daily.
  • Consume the rest of your calorie goals from healthy carbs.
  • Eat vegetables so that your body can process all the extra food.
  • If you are not gaining weight, add more carbs and/or fats to your meal.

We’re going to start building a plate, like so:

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for weight loss.

The most important macro we’re going to focus on is protein.[6]. Studies show you’re more likely to put on the right kind of weight with a high protein diet compared to a low protein diet.

So that’s where we’ll start.

FOOD PRIORITY #1: PROTEIN

 

Protein can come from any number of sources, including:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Fowl (chicken, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![7]
  • Cheese and dairy.
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).
  • Other vegetarian protein sources here.

If you’re curious, from our healthy eating article, this is what a portion of protein looks like:

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

Also, here’s how much protein is in a serving of food:

  • 4 oz (113 g) of chicken has around 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein.

We’ll cover below the answer to the question “How much protein should I eat?

PRIORITY #2: CARBS

 

In order for you to gain weight, you need to consume plenty of calories, so the remainder of those calories will come from carbs and/or fats.

Here are whole foods full of carbohydrates:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Legumes and lentils
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Regular potatoes
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain bread

To help you get better at eyeballing serving sizes:

Showing you a serving of carbs

1 serving of a starchy carbohydrate is 1 cupped hand (uncooked), or your two hands forming a cup (cooked).

Here are some images to help you learn proper portion sizes (thanks to?SafeFood):

This picture will help you determine proper serving sizes for carbs!

In addition to consuming carbohydrates from these sources, it’s okay to consume plenty of fruit while trying to bulk up!

You can read our full “Is fruit healthy” guide to learn more.

PRIORITY #3: FAT!?

 

Fat is a macronutrient that can help reach your surplus goals, as fat can be higher in calories. Plus, you can eat lots of it without feeling full.

Healthy fat can be found in foods like:

  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter

Saturated fats[8] can come from things like:

  • Whole milk
  • Full fat dairy
  • Coconut oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Lard

To help you gauge: a serving size of fat is roughly the size of your thumb!

A serving of fat should be about your thumb!

For reference, this is a single serving of almonds (162 calories):

Knowing the correct amount of almonds to eat can help you with your calorie goals.

THIS is a serving of olive oil (60 calories):

A thumb sized portion of olive oil is around 60 calories - from Runtastic

As you can see, you can eat an extra 500 calories of “healthy fats” by eating lots of “heart-healthy” fats like nuts or adding more olive oil to your meals.

PRIORITY #4: VEGETABLES!

 

Last but not least, you need vegetables in your diet.

If you start to eat a lot more food, your “indoor plumbing” is going to really benefit from eating some high-fiber veggies with each meal:

A serving of veggies is about the size of your fist:

A serving of veggies should be the size of your first (or greater).

Here’s a quick, non-complete list of veggies that you can choose:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Asparagus

“BUT STEVE, I REALLY STRUGGLE TO EAT ENOUGH CALORIES FROM WHOLE FOODS EVERY DAY!

I do as well. It’s why I consume a good portion of liquid calories every day too.

A blender can help you obtain more calories for weight gain.

It’s a surefire way to make sure you hit your calorie goals.

As I lay out in our massive?Protein Shake Guide, creating high-calorie protein shakes to eat between meals can be the game changer (make sure you check the recipe in that article for my “Powerbomb Shake!”).

Also, download our Skinny Guy Guide which has both lessons and a shopping list you can use to prioritize eating the right high calorie, high-quality foods!

Rule #3) How MUch Protein to Eat to Gain Weight?

Even this LEGO character knows to eat plenty of protein to gain weight

Let’s answer the question: “How much protein do you need every day?”

The current international Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.4g per pound of body weight (0.8 g per kg of body weight):[9].

In our opinion, and as pointed out by this study[10] the RDA # for protein is too low and should be higher regardless of your body composition.

But you don’t care about that. You just want me to know how much protein to eat, right?

The Doctor saying "tell me NOW"

I figured.

Here is our recommendation[12]:

If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to?build muscle, aim for 1 g/lb (2.2 g/kg).

If you’re going to be strength training while getting bigger, intakes up to 1.50 g/lb (3.3 g/kg) may help you minimize fat gain.[13]

Let me simplify it for you: target at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight?(2.2 grams per kg).?

Provided you’re a healthy individual with a healthy liver, you don’t need to worry about eating too much protein[14] – you should be more concerned with eating too little protein.

Long story short: studies suggest you will not put on the right kind of weight without consuming enough protein!

Okay, so let’s talk portions. Here’s how much protein is in a palm-sized serving of food:

  • 4 oz (113 g) of chicken has around 30 g of protein.
  • 4 oz (113 g) of salmon has 23 g of protein
  • 4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein.

EXAMPLE TIME!

It's now time to show you some examples for how much protein to eat.

Let’s say you weigh 150 pounds (68 kg).

That would mean a day of eating could be:

  • 1 serving of protein with breakfast: protein shake (30g).
  • 2 servings of protein with lunch: 2 chicken breasts (60g).
  • 2 servings of protein with dinner: 2 portions of steak (56g).

As we cover in our Ultimate Guide to Protein Shakes, a protein supplement can help you reach your protein goals for the day.?

Creating a high-calorie protein shake with foods like frozen fruit, oats, milk, and a scoop of protein can be huge.

It’s how I hit my goals every day!?

MY STORY:?I am currently bulking up, and according to my online coach, I need to eat 3200 calories with 240g of protein on workout days (I weigh 172 pounds).

That much protein and calories helps me do things like this:

Rebel Leader Steve showing how to do a 420 lb deadlift at the gym.

After fasting until noon, here’s how I get 240 g of protein daily:

  • LUNCH: Double chicken bowl at Chipotle for lunch (rice, chicken, guac, lettuce, cheese): 77g of protein.
  • SNACK: 2 servings?Optimum Nutrition Whey in my powerbomb shake: 70g of protein.
  • DINNER:?8 oz of grilled chicken, 2 servings of rice, lots of broccoli: 62 g of protein.
  • SNACK: 1 serving Optimum Nutrition Whey in my 1/2 powerbomb shake. 35g of protein.

Total protein intake for me: 244 grams. Adjust to fit YOUR goals!

RECAP ON PROTEIN INTAKE: Target 1-1.5g per lb of bodyweight (2.2-3.3g per kg) while trying to gain weight.?When in doubt, eat more.

Rule #4) How Much Carbs and Fats Should I Eat to Gain Weight?

This LEGO knows that if you want to gain weight and muscle, carbs will be your friend.

If you are trying to put on a lot of weight, then carbs and fats are your friends.

They have a high-calorie count and you can eat lots of them without getting as full as some other things (like protein-rich foods).

Here are foods full of carbohydrates you can prioritize for bulking up:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Legumes and lentils
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Regular potatoes
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain bread

Healthy fat can be found in foods like:

  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole milk
  • Full fat dairy
  • Coconut oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Lard

Once you know your Total Daily Energy Expenditure + 500 cal (for weight gain), and you know how many grams of protein you need to eat every day, then the remainder of your daily calories can come from carbs and fats.

Want even simpler info?

Target 2 portions of carbs, and 2 portions of fat in your meals.

Remember, our portions look like so:

Remember these are your servings of carbs and fat!

If you’re not gaining weight, increase those numbers even more.

This is all about math! Not getting bigger = need MOAR food.

If you're not bulking up, eat more, like Kirby here!

What about other foods like pizza, pasta, candy soda? Sure, you can get away with consuming less healthy things ON OCCASION (pizza, subs, etc.) but avoid fueling yourself with ONLY junk food.

If you’re not sure specifically what you should be eating for protein, carbs, and fats, download our “Get Bigger” Shopping List by putting your email in the box below:

Rule #5) How Fast Can I gain Weight?

This pencil is a perfect tool to track your fitness progress.

Depending on your training, genetics, how skinny you are, and how much muscle you need to obtain, you can decide how much weight you want to gain each week.

Everybody’s results will vary, and thoughts are mixed on how quickly we can build muscle:

  • Under optimal conditions, some say you can expect to gain 1 pound (.5 kg) of muscle per week,
  • My results have shown that 2 lbs (1kg) per month is more realistic.
  • A 2016 study[15]revealed that strength training produced a 2.2 lb increase (1kg) increase in lean mass in 8 weeks.

Now, depending on how thin you are currently, you might WANT to gain weight even faster and put on a bit of fat.

If you want to gain more weight, some of it will be fat. It's okay, you won't end up like Big Hero 6 for a while.

If you target 500 calories above your Calorie Expenditure every day, you’ll gain a pound a week.

  • If you have a TDEE of 1800 calories: target 2100-2300 calories per day to gain a pound a week (0.5 kg per week).
  • If you have a TDEE of 2000 calories: target 2300-2500 calories per day to gain a pound a week (0.5 kg per week).

If you target 1000 calories above your TDEE, you’ll gain 2 pounds per week:

  • If you have a TDEE of 1800 calories: target 2600-2800 calories per day to gain 2 lbs a week (1 kg per week).
  • If you have a TDEE of 2000 calories: target 2800-3000 calories per day to gain 2 lbs. a week (1 kg per week).

Yes, it is possible to put on even more weight than that in a short amount of time, like when I gained 18 pounds (8.1kg) in 30 days.?

This was due to consuming 1500 cal above my TDEE, heavy barbell training, targeting lots of protein, and carrying extra water weight (from supplementing with creatine):

I put on 18 pounds of weight in 30 days

My advice: Rather than chasing massive weight gain over a month, you’d be much better off gaining .5-1.5 lbs. (.25-.75 kg) a week, every week, for six months…and keeping the weight on!

So, how do you know if your efforts are working? Simple.

Taking measurements, take photos, and weigh yourself daily:

  • Take front and side photos every Monday.
  • Track your meals every day.
  • Weigh yourself every other day.

If the scale is moving UP, keep doing what you’re doing.

If the scale is NOT moving: EAT MORE.

If you’re ever unsure if you’ve eaten enough that day, eat more.

Once you start to get a good feel for how many calories you eat each day, try to eat the same meals to keep it easy.

Still convinced you can’t gain weight even after tracking things? Let us help. I too was convinced that it was my “fast metabolism,” until I learned from my personal trainer that I simply wasn’t eating enough.

Rule #6) What Are the 10 Best Exercises For Weight Gain?

storm troopers hit the gym to gain weight and bulk up

Up until this point, we’ve only talked?about the weight gain portion.

Do Steps 1-5 above, and you’ll put on plenty of weight.

HOWEVER, if you’re not also training correctly, you’ll just be getting fat, and not building muscle!

Dr. House knows that temporary changes create temporary results

That’s where strength training comes in!

If you want to bulk up correctly, you need to be strength training with heavy weights and bodyweight movements.

As we lay out in our “Beginner Strength Workouts” guide, these are the BEST exercises you can do to gain weight:??

A squat is a life changing exercise

I promise you, learning how to deadlift will change your life.

One of the staple exercises to develop a chest area.

  • INCLINE BENCH PRESS:

A variation of the press that will help develop your chest area.

The overhead press is a great way to strengthen your chest muscles.

This gif shows Staci doing a push-up in perfect form.

A weighted pull-up is great for progressive overload on your muscles.

A chin-up is a pull-up, but with your hands facing towards you.

Bodyweight dips are a great exercise to include in an strength training practice.

Alternate between an overheand and underhand bodyweight row.

Get as strong as possible with these exercises while eating enough calories and protein, and you will gain the right kind of weight! It’s how I bulked up correctly:)

Here’s a sample workout to gain weight, though you can follow our 6 level gym workout routine too.

WEIGHT GAIN MONDAY WORKOUT:

  1. Squats (4 sets of 8 reps)
  2. Benchpress (3 sets of 8 reps)
  3. Pull-Ups (3 sets of 10 reps)

WEIGHT GAIN WEDNESDAY WORKOUT:

  1. Deadlift (3 sets of 5 reps)
  2. Overhead Press (3 sets of 8 reps)
  3. Inverted Rows (3 sets of 8 reps)

WEIGHT GAIN FRIDAY WORKOUT:

Here are some resources to help make heads or tails of the above:

Important point: don’t worry about isolation exercises like triceps extensions, shoulder shrugs, bicep curls, or crunches.

You don't need to play with tricep curls like this man is trying. Stick to big compound movements to bulk up.

You can certainly do them, but only AFTER you’ve done your heavy lifts for the day!

All of the compound exercises listed here use every muscle in your body, and when you overload your body with calories and protein, those muscles will grow.

  • Want more workouts to follow??Read through our Strength Training 101?series that will answer all your questions!
  • Terrified to even step foot into a gym? We understand! Check out our Beginner’s Guide to the Gym article for some basic strategies and workouts.
  • Want somebody to tell you EXACTLY how to exercise and how to eat? Check out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program.

Your NF Coach Can Help you build a workout

Rule #7) How to Strength Train to Gain Weight

Coach Staci doing a barbell lunge, an advanced lunge variation.

If you are going to get bigger, you need to consistently increase the difficulty with every workout.

Every time you train, your muscles break down and have to rebuild themselves.

You are teaching them to say “I must get bigger and stronger in case I have to do that again!”[16]

This is called “progressive overload,” and it’s the foundation of strength training.

This Muppet knows he needs to eat plenty of protein to meet his goals.

So how do you progressively overload your muscles?

  • Lift more weight than last time.
  • Do more sets or reps than last time.
  • Wait less time between sets than last time.
  • Do a more difficult movement or variation.

If you did 3 sets of 5 reps of squats at 95 pounds last week, go for 3 sets of 5 reps at 100 pounds this week!

Did knee push-ups last month?

Knee push-ups like this are a great way to progress to a regular push-up!

Great, try to do regular push-ups this month.

Coach Jim breaks down the ins and outs of progressive overload for you in this video:

The trick with progressive overload is to continuously increase the challenge, and the best way to do that is by tracking your workouts!?

Write down how you train, so that way you know exactly how to get stronger next time. I use Evernote on my phone, but you can use an old school notebook or whatever floats your boat.

Write down exactly:

And then next time?

Pick up more.

Gonzo knows he has to eat protein to match his strength training goals, but he doesn't eat chicken, for obvious reasons.

In addition to the protein shakes mentioned back in Rule #3, consider a creatine supplement – it allows your muscles to store more water – which will both help you potentially lift heavier and improve your performance in the gym!

If you don’t want to build your own workout routine, or you’re not sure how and when to scale up your workouts for the best results, let us build a routine for you!

Our coaches will build a workout program for your goals, and every day you can check your coaching app and know?exactly what to do:

Rule #8) How Many Days Per Week Should I Exercise to Gain Weight And Get Bigger?

Make sure you prioritize rest like Jiminy here if you're trying to bulk up and grow muscle.

Muscles are made in the kitchen and while sleeping, NOT in the gym.

When you train, you are essentially ripping apart and breaking down your muscles.

Then, during the next 48 hours, as you are eating a caloric surplus and recovering, your muscles get rebuilt bigger and stronger.

Cartman flexing in mirror

For this reason, never exercise the same muscle before it’s ready.

In other words, try not to exercise the same muscle on two consecutive days.

Here are the best common practices for weight gain: Do a gym workout 3-4 days a week with a day off in between each (while consuming plenty of calories). This is plenty of training to promote muscle growth and weight gain.

Long story short: pick up a heavy weight in the gym 3-4 days a week for an hour.

Go HARD, go HEAVY.

And then come home, eat, and rest. If you are interested in doing some active recovery on your off days, that’s fine too.

Skinny people usually don’t need to train more, they need to eat and rest more!

Rule #9) How Much SLeep SHould I get To Get Bigger?

Of course this dog gets enough sleep, because he is trying to gain weight.

You should get at least 6 hours of sleep to function as a human, but getting 7-8 hours of sleep will help aid in building more muscle.[17]

This study[18] also found:

“Inadequate sleep impairs maximal muscle strength in compound movements when performed without specific interventions designed to increase motivation.”

Think of it this way:

Building muscle is hard work, your body can use all the help (and calories) it can get. Your body is doing nothing but lying there and building muscle while you’re sleeping. [19]

If you are only getting 6 hours or less, you’re not going to get all the benefits of your exercising and diet, and not giving yourself the best chance to gain weight and grow bigger.

So don’t make these sleep mistakes!

We often spend quite a bit of time with our coaching clients working with them on their sleep and environmental habits!?From turning off the TV an hour earlier to even becoming a morning person, we build fun missions and challenges for our clients around stuff like this to get results.

Rule #10: Should You Do Cardio While Trying to Gain Weight?

As we know now, running won't help this lizard go from skinny to bulky.

Depending on how you currently feel about running, this next sentence will either make you happy or miserable:

“Running might work against your efforts to gain weight and build muscle.”

When you run, your body uses up calories to fuel your runs.?This leaves fewer calories left over to build muscle.

Now, nobody will refute the benefits of improved cardiovascular health, nor would I EVER tell you to not do an exercise that you find fun.?

In addition, a 2016 study[20] showed that doing endurance training AND strength training actually created larger muscle hypertrophy in untrained subjects than just resistance training alone.

What this means:

As this gif explains, you do you when it comes to bulking up.

If you’re somebody that runs and enjoys it, great!

If you’re trying to get bigger, here’s what I would recommend:

  • Find a way to increase your food intake, and still know that you might be building muscle slightly slower than if you ONLY did strength training.
  • Cut back on running until you reach your goal weight/size, and then introduce it back into your routine.

Is your SOLE focus on getting bigger? Do 3 things:

  • Eat (a lot).
  • Lift (heavier).
  • Sleep (a lot).

Interested in giving your heart a workout without steady cardio?:

Want to incorporate cardio the RIGHT way into your life, along with strength training, to start gaining weight?

Our coaching program builds custom programs to help people just like you reach your goals.

Rule #11: Realize you will put on some fat, and that’s okay.

This LEGO knows if he follows the tips in this article, he'll gain weight successfully.

With all of this eating, you will probably put on some fat along with your muscle.

That’s okay!

You might even be skinny enough that a bit of extra “cushion” on you is a good thing!

If you are trying to put on MOSTLY muscle and minimal fat gain:

  • Target at least 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight (3.3g per kg).
  • Eat a caloric surplus that is 250cal over your current TDEE.

And then fine-tune it from there:

An engine being fined tuned.

You’re trying to thread the needle of “only build muscle, don’t add fat” which is fairly advanced and challenging.

As this 2017 study points out[21], “Protein overfeeding or the consumption of a high protein diet may not result in a gain in body weight or fat mass despite consuming calories that exceed one’s normal or habitual intake.

This is incredibly challenging, and you do run the risk of not eating enough to build muscle. In addition, you might build less muscle than had you consumed a larger surplus of calories.

Now, what if you’re “skinny fat?”

What if you have a gut/belly, and thin arms??

IF YOU ARE “SKINNY FAT”:

Then, once you get to a low enough body fat percentage that you can see some abdominal muscle definition, you can get back to bulking up.

Rule 12: SuperCharge Your Weight Gain Results (Build the Habit)

Steve Kamb turning into Captain America with the help of an intermittent fasting plan.

These are the 11 rules I’ve followed multiple times in my life whenever I have decided to gain weight.?

There’s a 12th rule I want to share with you too:

Build the habit of eating and exercise:

It’s important to build a system that sets you up for weight gain success.

It comes down to two things:

  • Don’t miss workouts.
  • Don’t miss meals.

So do whatever you need to do to make those things happen!

Here’s my final piece of advice: If you want permanent success, stop thinking in terms of “How fast can I gain weight?” and instead think:

“What can I do today that feels sustainable enough that I can stick with it for a year?”

This is how I get results, and how you can use the tools and tips in this article to get results too.?Build small habits that become permanent parts of your life, and the results you’ll get will be permanent too.

Now, if you’re somebody that wants even MORE guidance, and specific instructions to follow, I got you:

1) Our 1-on-1 online coaching program,?work with a member of Team Nerd Fitness that gets to know you and your situation. We’ll provide expert guidance and accountability, a custom workout, and regular ongoing support:

Your Nerd Fitness Coach can help you build muscle

2) Exercising at home and need a plan to follow? Check out Nerd Fitness Journey!

Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).

Try your free trial right here:

3) Sign up for our free email list, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion! Join a few hundred thousand rebels just like you and I’ll send you a bunch of free guides too. I’m nice like that.

To recap our full article, here are the “12 Rules To Gain Weight Quickly”:

  1. Eat more food to create a caloric surplus
  2. Eat mostly high quality, high-calorie food.
  3. Eat enough protein to promote muscle growth.
  4. Eat enough carbs and fats to reach your goals.
  5. Track your progress to make sure you are getting results
  6. Strength training is the key to the RIGHT weight gain
  7. Get stronger to gain weight.
  8. Strength train 3 days per week with plenty of recovery.
  9. Get at least 7-8+ hours of sleep for optimal growth.
  10. Decide if cardio belongs in your workout routine.
  11. Learn how to build muscle with minimal fat gain.
  12. Build the habit of training and eating.

If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer them when I get a chance!

You can do this.

Both BIll and I know you will use your TDEE to reach your fitness goals to go from skinny to muscular.

Go eat something.

Learn how to do squats and deadlifts.

Do lots of push-ups and pull-ups.

And then eat some more.

-Steve

PS:?If you want to read more about this stuff, make sure you check out the following in-depth resources too:

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photo credit: Marina Pissarova ? 123RF.com, LEGO Grocery store, I love bread,?pencil,? W_Minshull Hardcore Stormies Hit The Gym,?Speed

 

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13 Tips For Guaranteed Weight Gain – The Skinny Nerd Manifesto

SteveBeforeAfter

So you’re skinny.

If this were an RPG, you’d be an elf.? If this was Maniac Mansion, you’d definitely be Bernard. In the fitness world you’re called a “hardgainer.”? You weigh 125 lbs., you eat whatever you want, and you still can’t gain weight.? You’re ready to bulk up, build some muscle, and get strong like a mofo…but you have no freaking cue what you’re doing.? Luckily, you’ve found this site, and I’m here to help. I used to be a skinny guy too (see above). And it wasn’t that long ago!

I’ve spent the past 15 years?struggling to get bigger and only in the past few years have I finally cracked the code. I still am working on getting bigger and stronger, but.

I dig into this in WAY more detail in the?following (more recent) articles:

But these 13 tips will get you started down a path to a stronger physique.

13 Ways to Get Bigger

1) Eat a lot – This sounds much easier than it really is, but it’s the truth.

If you’re not getting bigger, you’re not eating enough.

It’s that simple. When I first started exercising and trying to get bigger,?the personal?trainer in my gym had me DOUBLE the amount of food I was eating. I thought he was crazy…until I did it and it worked. I had tried unsuccessfully to get bigger prior to that, it was simply because I wasn’t eating enough food. You might eat 3 MONSTER meals, 6 big meals, or any combination of?whatever works for your schedule.

These days, I eat all my calories between Noon and 8pm (this is a type of Intermittent Fasting).

This is going to be difficult for a while, because your body isn’t used to eating this much food, which means you’ll?have to force yourself to eat even when you’re not hungry. 500 extra calories a day = 1 extra pound gained per week.? Whatever you’re eating now, add an additional 500-1000 calories (spread throughout the day).

Need a bit more guidance? Check out this quick article about determining your caloric needs, based on your body and your activity level. Get a caloric number for each day (rest day, training day, etc) and then eat MORE than that.

2)?Eat a lot of good things – You need to eat a ridiculous amount of calories if you want to gain weight (depending on how skinny you are), but you want to make sure most of those calories are GOOD calories.? You could easily get 3500 calories eating Taco Bell and Twinkies, and drinking Mountain Dew, but?your body will hate you, you won’t put on muscle, and that’s not a good long term solution (goodbye health).? If you want to build muscle, you want to eat healthy calories that are loaded with good protein, good carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables to help provide nutrients and move all that food through your internal plumbing…which brings me to my next point:

3) Protein = building block for your muscles. Chicken, fish, meat, eggs, milk, almonds. ?Aim for .8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You don’t need to overdo it with 300+ grams of protein like you’ll read in fitness magazines – they say that so you buy their protein powders and go through it quickly.

4) Carbs are your friend when?you need to put on weight?–?rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, etc.?will help you put on weight. You can also eat a lot of it to get your calorie goals. You can get away with eating less healthy things like bread, pasta, and even snack food ON OCCASION, but try to avoid those things most?days. Also, as previously stated, ?every meal should have vegetables?when possible so your body can properly manage all those calories as they move through your body.

In addition to carbs, eating lots of nuts (high calorie, high fat), as well as using healthy oils in your cooking and eating (coconut oil, olive oil) can easily help you reach your caloric goals too.

5) Keep track of everything you eat – Sign up for a site like?MyFitnessPal?(it’s free), input your stats and start to track every one of your meals.? It will tell you if you’re eating enough calories, enough protein, and enough carbs. Once you start to get a good feel for how many calories you eat each day, try to eat the same meals to keep it easy. If the scale is moving up, keep doing what you’re doing. If the scale isn’t moving. EAT MORE.

If you’re ever unsure if you’ve eaten enough that day, eat more.

You can always scale back the calories later if needed. YOU WILL NOT GET TOO BULKY. Trust me. That should not even be a concern in your mind. Remove “I don’t want to get too bulky” from your vocabulary.

 

storm troopers hit the gym

6) Compound exercises are your friend – Up until this point, we’ve only talked?about the weight gain portion. Do the above, and you’ll put on weight. HOWEVER, if you’re not also training properly, you’ll just be getting fat, and not building muscle.

And that’s where training comes in!?Concentrate on complex, compound exercises that recruit as many muscles as possible: bench press, dumbbell presses, squats, deadlifts, pull ups, chin ups, and dips.? Do these exercises, and concentrate on lifting as much weight as possible.

Don’t worry about isolation exercises like triceps extensions, shoulder shrugs, bicep curls or crunches right now.? All of the compound exercises listed here use every muscle in your body, and when you overload your body with calories and protein, those muscles will grow.

Not sure where to start or what to do? We’ve put together an assessment quiz, as well as numerous progressive workouts – for both the gym or home – in our comprehensive?Nerd Fitness Academy.

Terrified to even step foot into a gym? We understand! Check out our Beginner’s Guide to the Gym article for some basic strategies and workouts.

Want to really start diving deep into exercise technique? Read through our Strength Training 101?article series that will answer all your questions!

7)?Appearance is a consequence of fitness – This is the mantra of the actors of who trained for the movie 300 – would you be okay looking like a Spartan?? Concentrate on being really strong and lifting heavy weights, and your body will follow suit.? It doesn’t matter if you can only bench press 10 lb dumbbells right now.? Wherever you’re starting out, concentrate on being stronger each and every time you exercise.? Push yourself, get stronger, lift more, and before you know it you’ll be ripped.

Just like tracking your eating is important, so is tracking your workouts! We talk more about that halfway through?this article.

8) When exercising, keep your rest between sets to a minute or two, and don’t do more than 12 reps in a set – Keep your range of reps between 6 and 12, and try to keep the time you rest between sets to a minute or two.? Example: incline dumbbell chest press – 12 reps of 50 lbs, wait a minute, 10 reps of 55lbs, wait a minute, 8 reps of 60 lbs.

9) Let your muscles rest –?Never exercise the same muscle two days in a row.? Your muscles get rebuilt (larger) during your days off, so never exercise the same muscle before it’s ready. Training 3-4 days a week with a day off in between each (and plenty of calories) is plenty of training. Skinny guys often don’t need to train more, they need to eat and rest more!

10) Sleep –?You need to be getting at least 7 hours of sleep, but 8-9 hours of sleep every night for maximum gains.? Your body is doing nothing but lying there and building muscle while you’re sleeping.? If you are only getting 6 hours or less, you’re not going to get all the benefits of your exercising and diet.? I know it’s tough, but those 3AM raids on Runnyeye need to be put on hold for a few months.? SLEEP.

11) Cardio is your enemy – Running long distances isn’t going to help you.? If you’re going to run, do sprints or run up a hill. If you love to run, that’s fine, but understand you’ll need to eat even more calories. Think about it: would you rather look like a sprinter or a marathon runner?? Keep your distance cardio to a minimum if you want to put on some pounds.

12) Make it part of your routine – It’s okay to skip a workout here and there, but it is NOT okay for you to skip a meal if you’re serious about weight gain.? You need to be always eating.? It sucks, it’s practically a full time job, but it’s what you have to do.? Eat.

If you “swear” you’re eating all the time, then you should start tracking things (as we mentioned earlier!). Are you actually skipping lunch a few times a week when work gets busy, or skipping breakfast on the weekends when you sleep in?

13) Realize you will put on some fat – with all of this eating, you are going to be putting on some fat along with your muscle. That’s okay! Trying to lose fat (when you’re skinny) and put on muscle at the same time usually results in neither been done well.

Figure out what your goal weight is, and then add another 5-10 lbs on top of it.? Once you get to that weight, cut back on the calories in your diet, do more sprints, and keep exercising: you’ll shed the fat quickly and be left with a killer figure.? Eat all the vegetables you want, but cut back on breads, pasta, rice, and oatmeal.

Now go eat something!

-Steve

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photo credit: W_Minshull Hardcore Stormies Hit The Gym

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