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While most of the health industry is focused on weight loss, believe it or not, there is a subset of people actually looking to gain weight. Blame it on genetics, a high metabolism, or what have you, for some, gaining weight can be a huge struggle. If that applies to you, in this article I am going to outline some of the safest, yet most effective workouts to gain weight and bulk up.
Why Can’t you Gain Weight?
There are a few reasons why you might not be able to gain weight.
Reason you can’t gain weight #1: High metabolism
One reason could be that you have a high metabolism. Metabolism refers to the body’s process of breaking down food and converting it to energy.
There are a variety of factors that affect the metabolism, including:
- Muscle mass
- Activity level
If you have a high metabolism, it means that your body is good at converting food to energy, which can make it difficult to gain weight.
Reason you can’t gain weight #2: Not eating enough
Another reason you might not be able to gain weight is that you’re flat out not eating enough calories. Whether you’re accustomed to it or you body simply does not require a lot of calories, increasing your caloric intake is almost always a must.
Reason you can’t gain weight #3: Activity level
Whether it’s due to your job or an already active lifestyle, you might be burning more calories than you’re taking in.
Best Exercises for Gaining Weight
If you want to bulk up, you need to focus on exercises that build muscle. Muscle is heavier than fat, so by building muscle, you’ll be able to add weight to your frame. There are also plenty of other benefits to strength training. The best exercises for gaining weight are compound exercises, which are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
Some examples of compound exercises are:
These exercises are great for gaining weight because they allow you to lift heavy weights and put the maximum amount of stress on your muscles which is key for muscle growth. Another benefit of compound exercises is that they help improve your strength and power, which is of course beneficial if you’re looking to build muscle.
In addition to compound exercises, you can also do isolation exercises, which are exercises that focus on one muscle group at a time. Isolation exercises can be helpful for targeting specific muscles that you want to grow.
Some examples of isolation exercises are:
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extensions
- Leg extensions
If you want to focus on building a certain muscle group, isolation exercises can be a great addition to your workout routine. However, if you’re looking to add weight overall, your priority should be with compound exercises, especially if you’re a beginner.
Best Workout Routines for Weight Gain
Now that we’ve discussed the best exercises for weight gain, let’s talk about workout routines. A good workout routine for weight gain should consist of compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups.
One of the all-time best workout routines for gaining weight would be the Push/Pull/Legs routine which means you alternate between focusing on a different muscle group on different days.
When you’re trying to gain weight, it’s important to lift heavy weights and do fewer repetitions. This is because by lifting heavy for fewer repetitions, you will increase your strength at a faster rate compared to doing more repetitions at a lower weight. This will force your body to react to this situation by packing on more muscle and who doesn’t want to be stronger anyway?
Related Reading: Light Weights Vs Heavy Weights: Which Is Better?
Research to back this up was published by the National Center For Biotechnology Information in 2016 here. The study compared men lifting ‘heavy’ (in the 2-4 rep range) and men lifting in the ‘moderate’ rep ranges of 8-12. The conclusion of the paper was that the closer to one’s 1 rep max (the biggest weight you can lift), the greater the strength related adaptations the body goes through.
Training Frequency and Structure
A good workout routine for weight gain should also have you training each muscle group at least twice a week. This will ensure that you’re giving your muscles enough stimulation to grow while also giving time to recover and grow.
Your workout routine should also be structured in a way that allows you to progressively overload your muscles, which means gradually increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting over time. This is important for muscle growth because your muscles need to be constantly challenged in order to grow.
If you’re not sure how to structure your workout routine, there are plenty of programs available online that can help you out.
Diet/Nutrition Tips for Gaining Weight
Of course, working out is only half the battle when it comes to gaining weight. The other half is diet and nutrition.
To gain weight, you need to be in a calorie surplus which means you’re eating more calories than your body burns in a day. This can be difficult for some people because they feel like they’re already satisfied by the amount they eat and feel like they’re forcing it if they eat more.
Aim to eat 300 to 500 more calories per day if you want to gain weight slowly. It’s better for your body to gain weight slowly than to put on weight quickly. Eating a surplus of 500 calories a day more than you burn results in a new pound of body mass per week.Cleveland Clinic
A good way to make sure you’re getting enough calories is to eat more frequently throughout the day. This doesn’t mean that you need to stuff yourself at every meal, but rather just add in a few snacks throughout the day to help increase your overall calorie intake.
Another way to make sure you’re getting enough calories is to eat more calorie-dense foods. These are foods that are high in calories but relatively low in volume. Examples of calorie-dense foods are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty red meats such as pork or beef
- Whole milk
- Pastries and cakes (although not very healthy!)
Calorie-dense foods are a great way to increase your calorie intake without feeling like you’re eating all the time.
Focus On Your Protein Intake
It’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough protein when you’re trying to gain weight and muscle. Protein is the building block of muscle and without enough of it, your muscles won’t grow. There is much debate about how much protein you should be consuming in order to optimally gain muscle but a good general rule of thumb is to consume somewhere in the region of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Related Reading: The Best Whey Protein For Muscle Growth And Getting Lean
So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be consuming approximately 150 grams of protein per day in order to optimally encourage muscle growth, and therefore weight gain.
This research paper published in 2018, concluded that consuming more than 1.6 g of protein per kg in body weight (in other words, 3.5g per pound) has increasing diminishing results, so there’s not really much point going above that.
You can get your protein from a variety of sources including:
- Soy products
- Nuts and seeds (including peanut butter!)
- Protein supplements
Getting enough protein is essential for gaining muscle, but it’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough of the other nutrients as well. This includes carbohydrates and fats.
Should You Eat Carbs and Fats Too?
Carbohydrates are important for providing your muscles with the glycogen they need to perform during your workouts. Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrates and it’s used for energy during exercise.
Fats are also important for a variety of reasons including:
- Hormone production
- Joint health
- Brain function
A good way to make sure you’re getting enough of all the nutrients your body needs is to eat a variety of healthy foods from each food group. This will help ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to grow and perform at its best. You could also take food supplements such as vitamin tablets to help with this.
Should You Do Cardio if You’re Trying to Gain Weight?
There is a lot of debate on whether or not cardio exercise is beneficial for people who are trying to gain weight.
Some people believe that cardio exercise burns too many calories and therefore makes it more difficult to gain weight. Others believe that cardio exercise is essential for good cardiovascular health and should be included as part of a healthy lifestyle regardless if you’re trying to gain muscle or not.
The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer to this one. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what you feel is working best for you.
If you enjoy doing cardio and it doesn’t seem to be affecting your ability to gain weight and hit your goals, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue doing it. However, if gaining weight is your #1 priority and you find that you’re not gaining weight or you’re struggling to consume enough calories to support your weight gain goals, then you may want to cut back on the amount of cardio you’re doing or even eliminate it altogether.
Can You Lose Fat and Gain Muscle At The Same Time?
The simple answer to this question is yes, it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time through strength training. However, it’s important to understand that this isn’t always going to be the case.
There are a number of factors that will affect whether or not you’re able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time including:
- Your starting point: If you have a lot of fat to lose, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. However, if you don’t have much fat to lose, it’s going to be more difficult to do both simultaneously.
- Diet: Eating the right foods is essential for both losing fat and gaining muscle. If you’re not eating enough calories or you’re not consuming the right ratio of macros (protein, carbs, and fat), it’s going to be very difficult to do both at the same time.
- Training: You need to make sure you’re doing the right type of training in order to lose fat and gain muscle. Doing too much cardio can make it difficult to gain muscle, but doing too much weight training can also make it difficult to lose fat.
- Genetics: Unfortunately, some people are just genetically predisposed to gaining muscle or losing fat more easily than others. If you have trouble gaining or losing weight no matter what you do, it’s likely that your genetics are at least partially to blame.
If you’re able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, it’s going to require a lot of hard work and dedication. However, it is possible to do if you’re willing to put in the effort.
When To Stop Trying To Gain Weight
There are a few different scenarios where you might want to stop trying to gain weight.
If you find that you’re not gaining any weight after several months of consistent training and eating, it’s probably time to reassess your goals. It’s possible that your body has reached its natural limit and that further gains are going to be difficult to achieve.
If you start to notice that your health is suffering as a result of your weight gain efforts, it’s also time to stop. Gaining weight should never come at the expense of your health. If you’re not sleeping well, if you’re constantly tired, or if you’re having digestive issues, it’s time to back off on the weight gain.
Related Reading: Signs Of Overtraining
Finally, if you’re noticing that your body fat percentage is starting to increase and you’re not happy with the way you look, it’s time to stop gaining weight. Remember, the goal is to gain muscle, not just body fat.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, it’s time to stop trying to gain weight and focus on maintaining your current weight.
Maintaining Your Weight
Once you’ve reached your desired weight, it’s time to focus on maintaining that weight. This is going to require a different approach than what you used to gain weight in the first place.
First, you’re going to need to make sure you’re still eating enough calories to support your weight. If you start to lose weight, it’s likely that you’re not consuming enough calories. On the other hand, if you start to gain weight, you’re probably eating too many calories. It’s all about striking a balance.
Finally, make sure you’re monitoring your body fat percentage and weight so that you can make adjustments as needed. Remember, it’s much easier to prevent weight gain than it is to lose weight once you’ve gained it.
Gaining weight is not as easy as some people make it out to be. In order to gain muscle (and not just fat!), you need to eat enough calories, lift heavy weights, and be consistent with your training. Additionally, genetics play a role in how easily you’re able to gain or lose weight so it’s going to be a different journey for everyone.
If you find yourself struggling to gain weight, it’s important to reassess your goals and make sure you’re doing everything you can to achieve them. Additionally, make sure you’re monitoring your body fat percentage and weight so that you can make adjustments as needed. And finally, don’t forget to focus on maintaining your weight once you’ve reached your desired goal.
I hope this article was helpful in understanding the best workout for weight gain. Remember, it’s not impossible to gain weight, but it does require dedication and consistency. With the right approach, you can achieve your desired weight.
The authors and editors that comprise the Recovatech Team have 20+ years of combined experience and knowledge covering the topics of strength, fitness, and recovery. We are impassioned in our pursuit of presenting the most up-to-date information on strength training, cardio fitness, physical rehab, functional movement, nutrition, workout recovery, and best-in-class reviews. Should you feel inclined, please reach out to us at admin[at]recovatech.com.