Healthy Weight Gain

We received a curious email the other day. A friend’s younger brother was going back to school in September and he was looking to gain between 15-20 pounds; he wanted some help. Keep in mind it’s late July. He asked if we had any suggestions for a way that he could put on some healthy pounds. After thinking about it for a while, we concluded that there were a number of things that his brother could do; and some were better options then others.

It may baffle some to know that certain people spend their whole lives trying to gain weight, but it’s true. This is especially true in the young male demographic, especially between the ages of 15-25. Males this age are often pressured by coaches, friends, and an omnipresent media culture to look big; big biceps, big shoulders, big chests and more. Some males can go through remarkable transformations in puberty and can come back from a High School summer break looking like Rambo; without ever touching a weight. This is part of the male transformation that occurs somewhere between the ages of 13 and 17. Most males gain pounds of muscle; without having to do much of anything.

But that’s not the case for all. Everyone has different genetics and there is a chance that some will see no noticeable difference in the appearance of their body, even as they go through puberty. This doesn’t mean that they’re sick, or they have something wrong with them. Everyone has a different body type. And that’s so crucial to remember when you’re focused on getting a body like Arnold. Genetics is about 90% of the way you are going to look. You can workout for years, following all the workout trends, eating right, but you might never obtain that intimidating look that you’re after. You’ll be in great shape, but not everyone can look like Popeye. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Often time’s young males are so focused on gaining weight because they hope to achieve an advantage in a sport. Males participate in contact sports, and in these sports the bigger, stronger boy has the advantage. Football especially places a premium on size. Even in High School you’re going to be slamming into 250 pound linebackers. Force equals mass times acceleration, and if you want to come out on the winning side of that collision, you better get your weight up. But make sure you do it in risk-free and healthy way.

Keep in mind what we mentioned earlier about genetics. If you have small frame, and walk around at about 140, there is little chance you’re going to be a 220 pound linebacker come next season. Still, there are certain things you can do to help put on some needed weight.

First: eat. Plain and simple. Most young kids eat junk. Candy, pizza, potato chips, and they don’t do anything for you. They’re not going to help you gain weight, and they really have no re-deeming value. You should focus on eating your weight in protein. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds make sure you are consuming at least 150 grams of protein a day. Also, remember to eat every 2 hours. Three meals a day just isn’t going to cut it if you’re looking to pack on the pounds. Make sure you’re consuming protein at every meal, and remember to drink lots of water.

Second: carbs are NOT the enemy; especially for a young athlete. You need carbs for energy as you combine your diet with a rigorous workout regime. Look towards whole wheat carbs, including wheat bread and brown rice. These are more easily digested in your system and will give you the energy you need to get through your workouts.

Third: consider taking a protein supplement (shake) or even creatine. We’re not endorsing any product, and we absolutely do not support any illegal performance enhancing drugs, but a protein shake and even a cycle of creatine can help you gain some weight. There are some draw backs to creatine (water retention leads to cramps) but it’s a safe supplement that does work. You can find creatine in a steak; you’re just taking it a different way when you supplement with it. Speak to your doctor first to see if he thinks that taking creatine could benefit you. It’s not for everyone and you should do some research before you start any new supplement.

Finally, make sure you workout. If you have an off-season conditioning program, make sure you adhere to it. It was probably drawn up by a strength coach who knows what he is talking about. And if you’re not a team, and just looking to put on some mass, cut out the cardio and focus on doing heavy weights with low repetitions. That’s the best way to put on some mass.

We let our friends brothers know about some of our ideas and suggested he start eating more, and lifting heavier. Combine that with some of our other points and he should be able to gain some weight; even if he has a small frame. Just keep in mind that not everyone can pack on 30 pounds of muscle in a summer. Be happy with who you are and keep your goals realistic.

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