By Brandon Cook
“We are all brainwashed to believe that you can get bigger and stronger and leaner in a very short time, with very little effort and even less dedication. But nothing could be further from the truth, my friends.” – Jason Ferruggia
If you want to gain weight fast and have made up your mind to transform your body once and for all, then you’re in luck.
Today, I’m going over the top 10 tips that I’m personally using to gain another twenty-thirty pounds of muscle. These tips may seem simple and that’s because they are. However, applying them to your life is definitely not easy.
If you want to gain muscle fast, then you need to make this your primary mission (at least for a little while.)
I used to weigh 130lbs at 5’11” tall and through training, persistence and hard work I’ve gotten my weight up to 165lbs. However, adding another 20-30 pounds of muscle would be pretty awesome. That’s why I’ve made that one of my prime missions in life.
This blog exists to keep me focused and accountable to that mission and so that I can share with you what I’m learning along the way.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to gain weight fast, then let’s do this!
Here’s 10 Tips to Gain Weight Fast
1. Eat Big: In order to get big you’re going to have to eat big. The truth is your life is going to revolve around food and eating during this growth period. There’s no way around it. You may start out eating 3,000 calories and gradually have to increase the calories every month to keep growing as your body mass climbs the scale.
In a month or two you may need to be eating 3,500 calories, then 4,000 calories. Some super scrawny hardgainers may need to work up to 4,500+ calories to keep gaining. I know this sounds crazy, but you can’t build a house without the materials and food is the material from which you build your muscular house (body!)
The younger you are and the faster your metabolism, the more calories you will need to eat. If you’re in your thirties, like me, you may not require as many calories. Keep a close eye on your waist measurements to make sure you’re not overeating and plan on gaining at least 2-5lbs of muscle a month if you incorporate all of these tips.
2. Eat Enough Protein: Protein, or rather the amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of your muscle cells and really, every other cell in your body. Athletes and those training like athletes will need to take in more protein than a sedentary person.
This is especially true for those lifting weights, as these individuals are purposely breaking down the muscle tissue in an effort to build it back up. The amino acids found in protein are needed to repair the muscles and cause them to grow back larger.
You will need about 1 gram per pound of bodyweight a day. If you weigh 150lbs, then eat 150 grams of protein each day divided between 5-7 meals.
A little more or less won’t hurt you, yet don’t fall for the gimmicks of people advocating super high or super low protein diets. This is excessive and completely unnecessary.
The word “protein” is derived from the Greek word “protos”, which means “of prime importance”.
The best forms of protein contain all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to repair its cells. Whole eggs are considered to be the standard to which all other proteins are compared. Eggs are highly usable and quickly absorbed by the body. They have a very high biological value of 100, meaning that your body is able to quickly assimilate almost all of the protein the egg contains. Hint: eat whole eggs!
Other forms of protein like chicken, sockeye salmon, lean steak, tuna and other forms of animal protein are also good choices. However, their biological value is lower than eggs, so less of the protein is fully digested. These are still great choices and for best results it’s best to get your protein from a variety of different sources.
3. Increase your fats: This society really messed up by making fat the enemy! Fat is not evil and is a vitally important macronutrient that is highly needed by the body, especially to build muscle. Not only is fat important for a healthy brain, it also plays a role in the production of hormones like testosterone. Just make sure you’re eating the right kinds.
Fat is also calorically dense, meaning that there are more calories in 1 gram of fat (9 calories) than in protein or carbohydrates (4 calories.) You can dramatically and easily increase your calories simply by adding olive oil, flax seed oil, or hemp oil to your protein shakes. During your bulking phase, put grass-fed, natural butter on your veggies, fish and meats. Eat a variety of nuts and seeds as snacks. Eat natural peanut butter and almond butter or mix them in your shakes as well.
Please remember to take your fish oil pills! Fish oil contains DHA and EPA, which are two omega 3 fatty acids that recent scientific research determined to be extremely important to maintaining overall health and vitality. Fish oil is also great at reducing inflammation and aids in the recovery of your muscles, joints, and ligaments.
If you’re struggling to get the higher calorie consumption needed to build muscle, then taking in more of the healthy dietary fats is the answer to your dilemma. Since a lot of fats are in liquid form it is easy to down a tablespoon here and there and dramatically increase your calories. Typically, one tablespoon of fat can contain up to 120+ calories. Increasing fats is one of the secrets for how to gain weight fast by providing the higher calories your body needs to grow.
4. Eat ‘Man’ Salads: No, I’m not talking about “tossing salad”
I’m talking about turning a salad into a healthy, testosterone boosting, cancer fighting, muscle-building part of your meal.
Here’s what you do:
Get some romaine lettuce, spinach, collards, or other leafy greens. Add broccoli, brussell sprouts, cabbage, radishes, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables.
For salad dressing use 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon honey. Eat as part of a meal or add some chicken or fish directly to the salad. Enjoy!
The leafy greens are highly alkaline and especially important for health, while the cruciferous vegetables help increase your testosterone levels by lowering estrogen levels and reducing your risk of prostate cancer.
The olive oil dressing adds over 300 calories to the salad. If you want more calories, add more olive oil which as we just discussed contains about 120 calories per tablespoon.
Who says salads are rabbit food??? Not this guy! Eat them and grow into the Jolly Green Giant! Ho, ho, ho.
5. Lift Heavy Weights for 5-8 reps: Most personal trainers and bodybuilders will tell you to lift in the 8-12 rep range because that is the hypertrophy zone. Well, that rep range may work wonders for them, but skinny guys need to build a solid foundation of size and strength.
One can do this by lifting heavy weights in the 5-8 rep range for most of your compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. This is highly recommended by strength coaches like Jason Ferruggia, Mark Rippetoe and other competent coaches known for transforming hard-gainers into hard-bodies.
If you lift in the 8-12 rep range, you will not be able to use as much weight and this will not have the same effect on your body and endocrine systems. If you lift in the 1-4 rep ranges you will be stimulating your nervous system more than anything. This is the power rep range where most powerlifters train.
As you get stronger and put on some muscle, you’ll begin to work in different and higher rep ranges, but for the sake of getting massive, start lifting in the power/hypertrophy zone of 5-8 reps. This will increase your strength and size more efficiently and allow you to make great changes to your physique at a faster rate.
Make it your goal to get STRONG in the squat.
First, spend at least a week learning the proper technique with an empty bar. Then lift weights three days a week (MWF) and make the squat your primary lift. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to increase the weight by 5 pounds each workout. Let’s say on Monday you start with 135lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps (after your 3-5 warm-up sets), then on Wednesday, increase the weight to 140lbs for the same amount of sets and reps. On Friday increase it to 145lbs and so on. Keep doing this for as long as you can progress in this linear fashion.
This linear progression in the squat is the foundation of Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength Program. This program has become quite popular because of its ability to add thirty pounds of muscle to most novice weight lifters.
Once you’re squatting more than Pauline in the pic above (225lbs), you’re starting to make good progress. By the time you can get three plates on each side (315lbs) you should see some major improvements to your body’s musculature.
Here’s my personal program that I’m using to transform my body using squats as the foundation and Olympic Rings (suspension training) for my upper body:
- Squats: 3 x 5
- Inverted Rows on Rings: 3 x 5-10 *
- Push-ups on Rings: 3 x 5-10 *
- Squats: 3 x 5
- Hand-stands Push-Up progressions: 3 x 5-10
- Pull-ups on Rings: 3 x 5-10 *
- Squats: 3 x 5
- Dips on Rings: 3 x 8-12 *
- Chin-ups on Rings: 3 x 5-10 *
* Use a weighted vest, back-pack or chains to increase the resistance as necessary
Note: I’ll describe this program in more detail as time goes on and talk more about the benefits of ring training.
6. Take Advantage of the Window: Of course, I’m referring to peri-workout nutrition here and the “window” of opportunity this time period presents for increased gains in muscular size and strength. Peri-workout nutrition is what you eat before, during, and after your workout to give your muscles energy, prevent catabolism (muscle breakdown) and promote anabolism (muscle buildup.)
Your best opportunity for promoting muscle growth is during this “window” before, during and after training. Take full advantage of this period of time. Here’s how:
Okay, obviously many companies make “recovery” drink supplements for this purpose. While many of these supplements are pretty good and better than doing nothing, I am of the belief that whole natural foods are always ten times better and more effective than ANY supplement. So, I use a mixture of real food and supplements for my peri-workout nutrition.
If you want a supplement, I’d recommend Biotest’s Surge Recovery. It’s one of the better ones as far as ingredients, although I’ve never personally used it. You may want to do some of your own research to find the best recovery supplement for you and your budget.
Here’s how I make my own recovery drinks:
15 Mins Before Workout: Drink Protein + Carb drink #1- Using a manual juicer I juice an orange, lemon and a lime. I mix in 20 grams of Optimum Nutrition Liquid Aminos and down the hatch. This is a sour drink, but I like it!
During Workout: Drink Protein + Carb drink #2- After I drink the first drink I prepare my “during” workout drink. I add another 20 grams of Optimum Nutrition Liquid Aminos, 5 grams creatine, 5 grams BCAA and a couple of ice cubes. Then, using an electric juicer I juice 1/3 of a pineapple, red seedless grapes, cranberries and a stalk of celery. You can use other fruit/vegetable combos if you wish. I sip this concoction as I workout and make sure to finish by the time my workout is over.
15 Mins After Workout: Drink Protein + Carb drink #3- For my post workout shake I get crazy! My goal is to take in a ton of calories so I make a huge protein packed shake. I use two scoops (40+ grams of protein) of Optimum Nutrition’s All Natural Whey Protein, 5 grams creatine and 5 grams BCAA I add 1 teaspoon of baking cocoa, 1 tablespoon of Nutiva’s Hemp Protein and 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (grind your own with a coffee grinder.) Then I add some blueberries, 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey or black-strap molasses, a couple spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream to reward a job well done and then fill it up with chocolate almond milk. For extra calories you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive, flax, or hemp oil as well. Mix this sucka up really good and enjoy! Tastes great!
I also take Optimum Nutrition’s Multivitamin called Opti-Men, 2000 IU’s of Carlson’s Vitamin D3, 500mg of Vitamin C, and 400 IU’s of Vitamin E. This gives my body even more nutrients and antioxidants that are important for eliminating free radical damage.
If all this seems too complicated, the simple method is to drink a bunch of Chocolate Milk (before, during, and after.) Of course, that’s if you do the dairy thing and you can keep it down. I’m not too big on milk these days, so I prefer my method for this and for several other reasons. It’s definitely not the easiest method, yet it packs a powerful punch of vital nutrients that my body needs.
I’ve given you three options here, so there’s no excuses buddy:
a. Recovery Drink Supplement – The easier method
b. Chocolate Milk- The cheaper method
c. Make your own Recovery Drinks- The healthier method
7. Take it Easy: Don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy. If you goal is to get BIG and gain some muscle, this process is going to have to be your focus for a little while. There’s no way in hizell that you’re going to succeed if you’re trying to do a million different things at once or have conflicting goals. The secret to gaining weight is to Eat, Train with intensity, Eat more, Sleep and repeat. That’s the Cliff Notes version anyway.
As an ectomorph, you need extra rest because your metabolism is in overdrive. If you’re running around day and night, playing sports, jogging, partying, climbing Mt. Everest and living life full throttle… when will your body have time to repair itself, recover and grow from those intense squat workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Hmmm, it isn’t going to happen! Take it easy for a while. Focus on your goal to gain weight fast. Work with your body and give it what it needs to grow.
You need to relax, chill and remain calm at ALL times. Stop taking things and life so seriously! Not only will this make you more attractive to women by portraying alpha male behavior and body language, it will also have a positive effect on your endocrine and hormonal system.
When you’re stressed to the MAX, you’re body is pumping out cortisol. You should know by now that this is a muscle destroying hormone that has negative effects on your muscles and your health. Begin practicing meditation, tai chi, or yoga to create a relaxed and centered demeanor.
In fact, take a minute and just focus on breathing nice and sloooowwww. Do it now! Simply put all of your attention on each breath and nothing else. Fill the air being drawn in through the nose, the lungs expanding, the belly rising and finally the slow exhalation through your mouth or nose.
Notice the changes that take place in your mind and body after just one minute of breathing deep and slow in this manner. You will notice that thoughts may enter your mind uncontrollably. See if you can NOT think about anything, only one breath at a time. It’s not as easy as you “think!”
Do this as often as you can remember or take 5 or more minutes a day to just breathe and clear your mind. This process is pure meditation. In time you will develop an awakened presence and this seemingly unproductive activity ironically yields a ton of desired benefits. It could even change your life!
8. Walk, don’t Run: If you want to minimize the fat you gain while you’re bulking up consider walking instead of jogging. The human body was designed to walk for long distances or sprint for shorter distances. Our paleolithic ancestors had to walk long distances in the search and gathering of food and they had to sprint to save their asses from predators doing the same.
Jogging at moderate intensity levels for medium or long distances uses up a lot of energy and eats into your muscle cells. Back in college, I was training to run the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC with my father. I was running every day, often for more than six miles at a time. It was a great experience and definitely helps to develop persistence and mental toughness, but I was also the skinniest I’ve ever been during that time.
We’ve all noticed the differences between how a marathon runner looks and how a sprinter looks. Sprinting is really good for burning fat and also helps to build huge muscular legs. However, it is also very hard on the body. It’s great to utilize during a fat loss phase, yet during a muscle building phase you may want to save your energy for all that squatting.
That’s were walking comes in. You can walk daily without having a negative impact on your muscle gains. In fact, it will help to circulate and pump the blood (and thus nutrients) into your legs and speed the healing process along. If you really want to burn some fat, you can walk early in the morning in a fasted state before breakfast. This will cause the body to burn fat specifically for fuel. You can walk about 15 to 60 minutes to keep fat at bay.
Personally, I walk my dogs for 15 minutes BEFORE breakfast every morning. Then another 15 minutes in the evening when I have time. On Saturdays, I’ve been taking them hiking near my house for 1-3 miles in a fasted state.
9. Get 8-10 Hours of Sleep each night: Quality sleep is vital and a necessary component of any mass building program. Most guys, including myself, have to learn this the hard way. To make the fastest progress, to reap the full benefits of the hours you’re putting into training and all of the food you are buying and eating, please make sure to get 8-10 hours of sleep every evening.
I know that in today’s fast-paced, work-yourself-into-the grave mentality, sleep is a luxury many people go without. After all, you work all day and then once you get home there are tons of things, duties, and responsibilities that are also clamoring for your attention. Plus, sometimes you just want to take some time to zone out and do absolutely nothing for an hour or two.
Hey man, I feel you! However, you have to prioritize. There’s only 24 hours in a day and 8-10 of them should be designated for sleeping. That leaves 14-16 hours to work, eat, train and do whatever else needs done. If getting BIG is a priority of yours you’ll make it happen, otherwise you’re destined to remain scrawny forever.
The reason sleep is so vital to the muscle building process is because that’s when your body is dumping testosterone and growth hormone into your body. The sleep cycle is when you’re body is in repair and recovery mode. This is the prime time when your muscles are healing and growing back larger.
Getting plenty of quality sleep is an often underestimated factor for how to gain muscle fast.
If you short circuit this process, not only are you decreasing the amount of time your body has to repair itself, you are also throwing your hormonal system out of whack and decreasing your testosterone levels. I don’t need to tell you that that’s a bad thing do I?
Sure you can be a tough guy who smirks and utters “Sleep… haha, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That’s fine by me, tough guy, as long as you realize you’ll be living a tired, puny and unhealthy life until that final day comes when you take your last breath. Daaaaamn, told him.
10. Pray to God: “Pray to God? What?!?!!? How’s that going to make me bigger, faster and stronger? Dude, are you serious?” Hey dude, you gotta have faith; If not in a higher intelligence that governs the interactions of the universe, then at least faith in your self and your ability to achieve your goals and dreams. In other words, you have to believe that this IS possible for you. If not, you’re wasting your time.
If you’re a religious type of guy, then have faith while praying to God to help you on your mission.
If you’re a scientist, an atheist or one of the “non-believer” type of guys, use visualization like the top athlete’s do or quite simply just focus on success.
Whatever “type of guy” or person you are, YOU MUST BELIEVE in yourself and in your ability to succeed at whatever goal you set for yourself.
Program your mind for success by using positive self talk. Tell yourself that you are getting stronger every day. Look yourself in the eyes in the mirror and encourage yourself to stay hungry, to keep after your dreams, to never settle for mediocrity, to never give up, to be the man you know you were meant to be. Affirm that “I WILL squat 315lbs or more within six months.”
This may seem silly at first, until you realize that this is what successful people do naturally. That’s why they’re so successful!
Never make any excuses, never put yourself down, never beat yourself up, never belittle or doubt yourself in ANY way, shape or form. If you have negative thoughts like this you will NEVER succeed.
Realize that these were never your thoughts anyway. Somewhere in your past these doubts or fears got programmed into your mind, probably from your parents, teachers, peers, the media or culture. You just picked them up. Now, let them go, replace them with new thoughts, faith, and belief in yourself AND in your ability to kick some f**king ass.
Here’s a quick recap:
1. Eat Big: Take in tons of quality calories
2. Eat Enough Protein: At least 1 gram per pound of body weight
3. Increase your fats: Add olive oil to shakes, snack on nuts and seeds
4. Eat ‘Man’ Salads: Eat cruciferous vegetables to increase testosterone
5. Lift Heavy Weights for 5-8 reps: Squat, Squat, Squat
6. Take Advantage of the Window: Drink Protein + Carbs during workouts
7. Take it Easy: Meditate, breathe, and expend less energy
8. Walk, don’t Run: Walk in a fasted state to keep fat at bay
9. Get 8-10 Hours of Sleep each night: This is when you grow!
10. Pray to God: Believe in yourself and program your mind for success
You got this!!! Now go make it happen because you’re the only one that can!
PS: I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope these tips help you out. If you have some tips of your own or any lessons you’ve learned about how to gain weight fast, please share them below in the comment section. All of us will appreciate it!
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