Most people do exercises to reduce their weight, but there are some people that have the opposite problem. They find it very difficult to put on weight. They are naturally thin and usually have a high metabolic rate that burns off fat as soon as they gain a bit extra. There are ways to combat this and one of them is to exercise to gain weight. This, combined with other measures, will help you gain and retain what you have gained.
Being underweight can be bring serious health problems or be a warning that you already have an undetected health issue, especially if you have suffered from sudden weight loss. Before starting on an exercise plan, either a home workout or at the gym, you need to check see if your weight problem is just a symptom of a medical issue. Also, it has been shown that underweight people are more prone to Thyroid problems, Celiac disease, Diabetes, Cancer and a range of Infections.
Effective Exercises to Gain Weight
Some of these exercises can easily be done at home and don’t require equipment, but caution is advised. Limit the amount of repetitions until you become accustomed to doing exercise. Start slow and work up, without straining yourself. Remember, men and women’s bodies accumulate and store fat in different ways, so not all exercises are one size fits all.
1. Push ups:
To build up muscle and strength in arms and shoulders. Lie flat on your face, arms under your chest, palms flat of the floor. Toes pressed flat on the floor too. Simply push with your arms and raise your body, keeping your back straight and balanced on your toes. When you have raised your body to the full extent of your arms, lower yourself again, in a controlled manner, until your chest almost reaches the floor and repeat.
2. Pull ups:
Essentially the same as push ups. They strengthen arms and shoulder muscles. A variation on push ups. Grasp an overhead bar with your hands a little wider than your shoulders and pull yourself up until your chin is level with the bar. Lower yourself slowly down and start again.
They work out your leg and quad muscles. All you do is lower yourself from a standing position to a sitting position. Once your thighs are perpendicular with the floor, raise yourself to a standing position once again. Squat and rise slowly.
Very similar, they are also for legs and backside. Take a step forward and bend your knee as if you are going to squat and place your other knee on the floor, but suspend the movement before that knee touches the floor. Straighten up and step back to the starting position and step forward with your other leg.
5. Bench Dips:
For triceps and shoulders. Sit on the edge of a bench with your legs stretched out before you. Both hands planted flat on the bench, elbows facing straight back. Shift a little forward so that your body is now suspended on your arms and hands. Using your arms, lower yourself down until your elbows are parallel with your shoulders and then push yourself back up again.
6. Overhead Press:
A more all-round exercise that builds up strength in the back, shoulders, arms, legs and abs. You can use a bar or barbells. Raise your weights to your chest, push up to the full extent of your arms, hold for a second or two and then, lower back to your chest.
This is a heavy-duty exercise with weights and exercises a whole range of muscles. Upper and lower back, various neck muscles, hamstrings and backside. This exercise has two movements. Place a weighted bar in front of you. Bend from the waist and grip the bar, hands shoulder width or slightly wider. Flex your knees slightly. Pull the bar up to chest level, spin your grip so that your palms face up and then push to the full extent of your arms until you are holding the bar over your head. Hold it for a second or two and then lower to chest level, then lower to the floor in a controlled manner. These movements should be fluid.
The exercises above are recommended as a fast track way of bulking up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean you will become all bulked up and muscly after a week in the gym. They are a way to jump start your weight gain. The key to this is consistency. It is an effort over time. The list doesn’t include weight measures and how many repetitions are necessary. That should be left to a professional fitness instructor. Each one of us is different and we all have our own limits. The idea is to find your limits and then, stretch them. Of course, being small and skinny doesn’t necessarily mean that you are weak and don’t have strength, but trying to implement a workout routine when you are unfit or not accustomed to exercise, can cause physical injuries. It is best left to an instructor to recommend a routine based on their experience. A three day routine per week is sufficient. Workout-rest-workout-rest-workout will be fine. Split your workout so that you do different exercises on each day and don’t work the same muscles in the same session.
What Exercises to Avoid
Most cardio exercises are detrimental to those who are trying to put on weight. They are used more for losing weight than gaining it. In themselves they are good exercises for fitness and for people who want to reduce their size by making their heart rate accelerate, sweat and burn off calories, but bulk means muscle to thin people. High intake of food will produce fat that can in turn be converted into muscle and weight gain. Running and other types of cardio and aerobic exercises will naturally burn off the fat you have accumulated. Once you have reached what you believe is the optimum weight for you, you can get into cardio for fitness purposes, but you have to balance how much you do against your bulk training.
Tips to Gain Weight
Along with weight lifting it is necessary to gain extra fat. Without that extra you can’t turn it into muscle, so eating is important too. Your body needs the extra fuel to do the exercises you set it to do. You are setting up a cycle where both components feed each other. Some skinny people can eat seemingly huge amounts and never gain weight, others find that they don’t need to eat much. If you put yourself through an exercise routine to gain weight, then you must supplement that with extra food intake. Hopefully, the exercises will naturally give you a better appetite, so you don’t have to force yourself so much to eat more. Of course, what you eat is also important. A nutritionist or gym instructor can guide you on this. Protein supplements will also help too. These should be taken in conjunction with extra food intake. They are not a substitute for food and should be taken with caution. Not all of these of supplements are easily absorbed into the body and may even have painful effects on people who are not used to using them. Used sparingly, they are a good help to increase bulk, but it is better to discuss which brands or types to use with qualified gym personnel before buying and taking them. Protein shakes and electrolyte drink may be all that your body requires. At some point you may feel that you aren’t gaining ground anymore and that you have reached a weight gain plateau. Weight losers also have this problem. The simple solution is to change your exercises.
1. Healthy Dietary Habits
The aim is to gain weight healthily, the extra food intake you need shouldn’t send you off on a fast food binge. It is necessary to eat healthy, nutritious food in a balanced diet. If possible, eat only organically raised meat and vegetables. Your daily food intake should be a balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Stay away from saturated fats. Include plenty of fresh fruit. Make sure that you consume enough fibre. It may also help to take extra vitamins and minerals.
- Red meats
- Dairy products
- Whole grain bread
One way to monitor your calorie intake is to look up your size on the Body Mass Index, which will tell you how much you should be eating. From there you can figure out how much more calorie intake you need to attain your weight goal. It’s best to aim for small gains and then increment them. A good and simple way to manage this is to write down your normal calorie intake and increased food supplement. With that you can view your weight gain progress over a certain period of time.
2. Keep a Check on Your Lifestyle
Late nights and lack of proper sleep can also affect your weight gain efforts. Sufficient hours of sleep are a must for everyone, but especially if you are trying to gain weight. You may build muscle in the gym, but it is when you are asleep that your body generates fat. Enough restful sleep aids this. Limit your late nights staying up to the weekends, during the week exercise and rest properly. Stress can contribute to weight loss or the inability to put on weight. Stress affects different people in different ways and if you have a hard time maintaining a decent weight for your size, this may be a contributing factor. Anxiety can burn calories. Learn to compartmentalise, relaxation techniques or mediation.