Sunday, February 1, 2015


Gaining weight is one of those things that seems to be a mystery to many in the land of the internet, and as with things that are mysteries, the methods and ideas employed in this pursuit appear to be mysterious in nature.  I find these most mysterious due to the fact that it is often those who have not gained weight that advise those who wish to gain weight, a repeated trend often observed of the “blind leading the blind”.  The most destructive attribute about this advice is the logic that is employed, which seems rational at its most base level but, through observation, we understand it to simply be false.  As much as we would like to believe that we can simply argue our way to weight gain, the reality is that our results dictate the success of our method.  It is my hope that, by reversing the logic being employed, we can understand the methods one can employ to gain some weight.

About your author, I am certainly not the largest mammal to grace the earth at a staggering 5’9 and 200ish pounds, but I have put on some weight in my time without the use of drugs.  I started weight training in high school at a bodyweight of 150lbs with minimal muscle, and have built myself up to what I am today.  For your sake, I will include photos so you may decide if my opinion warrants your time.

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Age 27, 190lbs
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17th Birthday: The strength obsession already showing


Onto the topic at hand, what I find most prevalent and destructive in the arena of gaining weight is the promotion of slothfulness for the sake of “not losing gains”.  The idea is sound, in that we need a caloric surplus to gain weight, and activity burns calories, therefore we should limit activity to create a bigger surplus.  What this idea fails to understand is the reality that appetite tends to increase exponentially rather than linearly with activity, such that, as we push our bodies harder, our ability and propensity to consume larger quantities of food will increase to the point that we will create our own surplus.  Anyone who has ever spent a hard day laboring in any capacity (working construction, helping a friend move to a new apartment on the third floor with no elevator, shoveling every driveway in the neighborhood after a winter storm, wrestling homeless people in a kiddie pool filled with KY jelly while rich people throw nickels at you, etc) KNOWS this reality.  We come home from our work, rest our bodies, and then proceed to consume WAY more calories than we could have possibly burned.  Whole pizzas, entire cakes, full jars of peanut butter, many liquid refreshments, the list goes on.

It would take about 4 days of training to burn this off

Contrast the above experience with those days wherein you performed minimal effort.  All day video game marathon session, binge watching a TV series, procrastinating from a bigger project by playing Angry Birds, etc, we all have had these worthless days.  In these days, not only is our appetite reduced, but in some cases we may “forget” to eat.  We may mindlessly munch on snacks, but meals go to the wayside, and in general if we ARE to eat a big meal we do not feel refreshed or redeemed, but instead sluggish and miserable.  We feel guilt for our gluttony, while in the above we feel justification, for we “earned” our meals.

This reality is what we must keep in mind when we endeavor to gain weight, and that it is MORE training that makes us larger, not less.  Less training is what we do when we want to lose weight, while more training is what we pursue to gain weight.  I realize this flies in the face of so much dogma about exercising FOR weight loss, but how many people do we know that, upon beginning an exercise regimen have GAINED weight?  “You can’t out train a bad diet” is a maxim developed for those with a poor grasp on nutrition who attempt to lose weight through a caloric deficit from increased activity, but for us it should be our war cry, for it tells us that, no matter how hard we train, we can always eat enough to overcome.  Additionally, for the budding strength athlete, we must understand that while in a caloric deficit our recovery is hindered, and therefore we should consider the notion of INCREASING activity during said time deplorable.  Meanwhile, when the calories are jacked up, we know that we can keep coming back harder and stronger from every high volume insane session we throw ourselves at.

Gearing up for my training

My recommendation to any skinny athlete looking to put on size is to start adding in some heavy conditioning work.  Note that I use “conditioning” and not “cardio”.  For an understanding of the difference, reference my post on the two.  The key here is to do something short and intense that will jack up your appetite without taxing your recovery.  Tabata slam ball slams/front squats/farmer’s carries, carry medleys, sled drags, tire flips, sledge hammer work, etc, get bigger and stronger and develop an appetite.  If you can throw in some more volume into your gym training, even better.  The solution to gaining more muscle is NOT to do less heavy lifting, for if this were true, those who spend all day playing World of Warcraft would be jacked out of their minds while Chinese Weightlifters would look scrawny due to their constant training.

Just imagine how much muscle he could put on if he trained less

Next time, we will discuss the nature of trying to force muscular growth through overeating.

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