So you want to learn how to gain weight fast? Chances are good, you’ve read a magazine or online article on this before. You know the drill. Lift big. Eat big. Be patient.
Seems simple enough, right?
And the fact is, if you really want the basics on how to gain weight fast, this does generally sum it up. It’s a very brief overview of the main steps required to start seeing results.
But what if you’re someone who doesn’t just want average? You want serious results. When you hit the gym, you want to ensure that every rep – every set – every ounce of energy you’re putting in is making you stronger (and bigger!)?
The truth is until I dialed in all the details that I’m about to lay out for you I saw every slow results with my weight gain goals. As a naturally skinny guy there are a few obstacles you have to overcome. Check out how I looked after 3 years of trying to gain weight fast on the left. Little to no results, huh? The picture is me on the right after gaining about 40 lbs. of pure mass from the picture on the left – 100% steroid-free I might add!
Learning how to gain weight fast is very much a science because there are proven methods that do work to help you achieve greater results. I’ve done the research and also done plenty of trial an error (an equally important part!) to find out exactly what should be done to maximize weight gain potential.
Let’s get started and discuss the steps you must be taking.
Tip 1 – Dial-In Your Calories
When many take the approach of learning how to gain weight fast, they often put themselves on a ‘see-food’ diet. Meaning, they eat it, they see it. There’s no holding back.
And while simply eating as many calories as you possibly can is a surefire way to gain weight, it’s not necessarily the best approach if you want to gain lean muscle. You’ll gain mass, but it’ll likely be a good combination of fat and muscle tissue.
To promote lean gains, which is what most of us are here for, you’ll want to dial in your calories and eat enough to provide the fuel for growth, but not so much that you start seeing excess fat gain.
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Tip 2 – So what’s your magic number?
This is the tricky part. Everyone will have a different number as no two bodies are entirely alike and likewise, no two lifestyles and activity levels are the same either.
It’s a process of guessing and testing. You’ll need to pick a calorie level and then eat at that for a few weeks and see how it goes. Then adjust and adapt from there. People who are tracking their calories (and macros – more on that in a second) are almost always going to have better results.
If you are reading this article chances are that you are an ectomorph and you have a fast metabolism, so the quickest way to figure out how many calories you need to eat each day is to figure out your maintenance calories.
A quick way to guesstimate this number is to take your weight and multiply by 16. If you weigh 200 lbs. you take 200 x 16 = 3,200 calories. Then you add a small amount onto this number to be in a surplus.
I recommend starting with a surplus of around 350-500 calories per day. Lean towards the higher end if you’re a naturally skinny individual with a fast metabolism and you are really active.
Some research1 has provided estimates of strength-trained individuals needing up to 20 calories per pound of body weight a day to successfully maintain lean muscle and/or build it depending on your unique metabolism, so keep these numbers in mind. If you are concerned about fat gain, always start on the lower end of the spectrum and work your way up.
For reference, I can lean bulk on about 3,500 calories and I weigh between 195 – 205 lbs. throughout the year.
Tip 3 – Remember To Bring Health Into The Equation
I say this because often in the journey of learning how to gain weight fast, people forget about focusing on health. Even if you don’t feel you’re really focused on health promotion at this time, simply thinking about it will help you get better aesthetic results.
This is because when you focus on health, you’re going to be eating nutrient-dense foods that are naturally occurring. Basically, you’ll ditch the processed junk for foods that actually fuel your body well.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my junk food and will consume a giant donut or fruity pebbles cinnamon roll a few times per week. The rule that I apply to focus on my health is 80/20. At least 80 percent of my food choices are one ingredient foods that are nutrient dense like chicken, grass fed beef, turkey, organic eggs, rice, potatoes, veggies, spinach, all greens, oats, nuts, fruit, and coconut oil. Then the other 20% I try to knock out some of my cravings, as you can see below!
While macros do play the biggest role in your body composition – it’s true, the micronutrients you eat, that is the vitamins and minerals are going to come in helpful for improving your recovery and optimizing your performance. Basically, while eating the right macros does impact weight gain, eating the right nutrients impacts how you feel and perform on those macros2.
Focus on eating at least 80% wholesome, single-ingredient foods and keep a food journal so you stay on track. The rest of the time if you want to have a little fun with your foods, feel free to do so to keep your diet interesting.
On top of that, if you can put the less healthy foods (especially any high carb ones) in the post-workout period, that will be most ideal as this is when the body can actually benefit from a bit of sugar. Just today I enjoyed some frozen yogurt post workout, as insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the human body and will help you get faster results.
Tip 4: Use Combination Training
The third thing you need to know about how to gain weight fast is that you should be using a combination of training for best results. Some people just hit the gym and focus on lifting as heavy as possible and while that’s a good approach, the body responds best to a variety of training stimuli.
That’s why I created my balloon method training. It works off a few different factors that will help explode your muscle growth while getting you stronger.
You’ll still have some focus on adding more weight to the bar with your heavy compound lifts, but you’ll also do some metabolic work, including drop sets and time under tension sets to help force your muscles into changing3.
What you want to avoid is hitting the gym day after day after day all while doing the same thing. Your body will adapt and will stop getting stronger – or larger.
I’ve put together an entire Balloon Method workout playlist on Youtube as well, so you can go through the workouts and understand the intensity factors, sets, and reps to gain weight fast.
Tip 5 – Get Serious About Your Sleep
Here’s one thing that’s often neglected in the mass gain equation – sleep. Sleep is the body’s time to go through the repair process, so when you short yourself on sleep, you can be virtually guaranteed it is going to impact your results.
Sleep is also the primary time when you release growth hormones, which is a powerful hormone that’s needed to help optimize both mass gains as well as overall fat burning.
If you slack on sleep, you’ll also see a drop in testosterone. Some research has noted that those who aren’t sleeping enough at night can notice a 15% decline in their normal numbers. In one study published in the JAMA journal, it was noted that when men slept only 5 hours, after just one week their numbers were down 15%4. This is huge when talking about potential mass gains.
Sleep at least seven, if not eight hours at night and try and focus on quality by setting up your environment. Keep your room cool, turn out all lights, and consider using white noise if it helps prevent wakening’s during the night due to sound.
The best supplement for gaining weight fast and also getting great sleep is Alpha Dreams. This product will help you maximize your anabolic hormones, channel deeper and longer REM sleep and replenish all of your vital electrolytes and minerals that you lose through training. I highly suggest this product for everybody looking to gain weight fast and sleep better.
Tip 6 – Get That Stress Under Control
Here’s another factor that you may not have expected to read about here but stress is another thing that can quickly sabotage your ability to see how to gain weight fast.
When you’re heavily stressed, your body is releasing the hormone cortisol and this hormone opposes that of testosterone in the body5.
While testosterone works to build tissue up, cortisol works to break tissue down. So overall, this is not something that you want to have coming into play. Sadly, many of us lead very stressful lifestyles and it does hinder our results.
Find a method that will help you lower your stress. Whether it’s going for a long walk, writing in a journal, meditating, or going for a massage – any of these can help you see better progress.
Tip 7 – Watch Your Alcohol Intake
The one that no one wants to read about but must be said: alcohol is not going to do any favors for your mission to learn how to gain weight fast. While a drink out with the boys on Friday night probably won’t hinder you that much, if you’re having multiple drinks on the weekend, or you are drinking regularly throughout the week, there is no question this will hamper your ability to grow.
Alcohol impacts your muscles in multiple ways. It will:
· Decrease insulin sensitivity, meaning it makes it harder to utilize carbohydrates for the purposes of restoring muscle glycogen and building new muscle tissue
· Lowers your recovery ability
· Decreases testosterone levels6
· Impairs protein synthesis7
For all of these reasons, it is best to just stay away if possible. If you are going to drink, make sure that you don’t do so immediately following or before a training session as this is when you will experience the most negative effects.
So there you have some of the key steps to learning how to gain weight fast. Remember that above all else, consistency is key. You can have the best workout routine and diet program in the world but if you only follow it 25-50% of the time, you simply cannot expect to see results. Never missing a training session and always meal prepping and sticking to the plan will trump program planning and talent/genetics almost every day of the week, and will guarantee you’ll get big fast. If you enjoyed this article be sure to connect with me on Instagram @TroyShred and drop me a message!
1 Kleiner, Susan M. “Nutrition for muscle builders.” The Physician and Sportsmedicine 25.8 (1997): 145-146.
2 Clarkson, Priscilla M. “Micronutrients and exercise: Anti‐oxidants and minerals.” Journal of sports sciences 13.S1 (1995): S11-S24.
3 González-Badillo, Juan José, Mikel Izquierdo, and Esteban M. Gorostiaga. “Moderate volume of high relative training intensity produces greater strength gains compared with low and high volumes in competitive weightlifters.” Journal of strength and conditioning research 20.1 (2006): 73.
4 Leproult, Rachel, and Eve Van Cauter. “Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men.” Jama 305.21 (2011): 2173-2174.
5 Cumming, D. C., M. E. Quigley, and S. S. C. Yen. “Acute suppression of circulating testosterone levels by cortisol in men.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 57.3 (1983): 671-673
6 Heikkonen, Erkki, et al. “The combined effect of alcohol and physical exercise on serum testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and cortisol in males.” Alcoholism: clinical and experimental research 20.4 (1996): 711-716.
7 Hong‐Brown, Ly Q., Robert A. Frost, and Charles H. Lang. “Alcohol impairs protein synthesis and degradation in cultured skeletal muscle cells.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 25.9 (2001): 1373-1382.
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
I created SuperHuman You to give you access to the most cutting edge information so you can reach your body goals as fast as humanly possible.
I’ve been obsessed with training since 2005 when I attended IMG Academy and got to train alongside NBA, NFL and Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes.
Now I’m on a mission to transform as many lives as possible and I’m so excited you found us!
I’ve been fortunate enough to train alongside and pick the brain of some of the best pro athletes, bodybuilders and trainers in the world – and this site represents over 15+ years of insights from the world’s best.
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