While maintaining good health… How can I gain weight through exercise?
Can I gain muscle mass by exercising?
Muscle gain is a process dependent on two main factors:
- And Training.
Factors that condition the development of muscle mass
It’s important, in order to gain weight through exercise, to maintain a correctly structured diet, aimed at gaining muscle mass without excess fat, which allows us to maintain good health; for this, it’s important to:
- Maintain a slightly hypercaloric diet, to provide a favourable environment for synthesising new muscle tissue.
- Maintain a high-protein diet, consuming at least 1.6g of protein per kg of body weight to optimise muscle.
- Eat protein of high nutritional quality, or at least make sure to use the full spectrum of essential amino acids (for vegans).
- Use food supplements with a proven positive effect on muscle mass gain, such as creatine monohydrate.
To gain weight with exercise: perform weight training, on a regular basis, close to muscle failure.
Why do I gain weight when I exercise?
Weight training, along with proper nutrition, will make you gain weight by increasing your muscle mass.
Remember your first session at the gym? At that time you were weighed down by the empty bar, but as the weeks and months went by, your strength increased.
What does this mean?
That your body struggles to adapt, and that if you train intensely, you are forcing it to develop so that with the next exposure to the stimulus it’ll be able to handle it more efficiently. If every time you train you increase the load, your body will not stop growing until its physiological limit.
Lipid arrangement (yellow) and intermyofibrillar mitochondrial density (brown).
Weight Gain Exercise Routine
You have a great variety of routines available to gain weight through exercise.
Its scheme is based on:
- Training 3-4 days per week.
- With a full-body or torso-leg structure.
Working the legs, pecs, back, shoulders, without forgetting other muscles such as abs, biceps and triceps.
The training is mainly organised around training with weights: weights, dumbbells, barbells and other materials that you’ll find available in any gym or weights room.
Strength training is based on heavy work, of large muscle groups, mainly by means of free weights with exercises such as:
- Bench Press.
- Military Press.
Multi-articular exercises are superior to mono-articular exercises, although as always, the virtue is in the middle ground, and a combination of global exercises + isolation is the one that will bring you the best gains (Gentil et al., 2017).
Simple classification of multi- and mono-joint exercises.
In the routine you will also find HIIT training (high intensity intervallic exercise).
As aerobic exercise is an important variable in maintaining good mitochondrial health, it maintains efficiency in fatty acid oxidation, and prevents excessive fat gain during weight gain.
Physiological adaptations to different high and medium intensity aerobic training regimens.
High intensity intervallic training (HIIT) consists of a protocol of anaerobic exercise based on the performance of medium duration bursts, with high cardiorespiratory demands, and interspersed rests, allowing the accumulation of a large training load in a reduced period of time.
Tips for building muscle through exercise
The best tips for gaining muscle in a healthy way through exercising are:
- Train with weights, and do it intensively, at least 3 times a week.
- Complement your gym training with aerobic exercise, or be at least physically active with a high NEAT.
- Try to improve in cycles of time (week to week or month to month) by lifting more weights and/or doing more training.
- Get enough rest, at least 6 hours of sleep at night, preferably 8; and good quality sleep too.
- Avoid stress, for which adaptogens such as ashwagandha extract can be a great help.
- Have patience, gaining healthy weight and muscle mass is a slow process.
Diet and weight gain
Diet is a key factor along with physical exercise in gaining weight.
To do this you must:
- Calculate your daily energy expenditure.
You can use our nutritional calculators for this purpose, where we can use a simple questionnaire to estimate your energy requirements very accurately.
Example of results obtained by calculation using the nutritional calculator.
- Maintain a high protein intake.
According to the currently most authoritative meta-analysis (Morton et al., 2016), this should be around 1.6g/kg body weight.
Distribution of fat-free mass response as a function of the total amount of protein consumed per day.
- Consume science-backed dietary supplements.
That is, supplements that have been shown to be capable of increasing the muscle mass of people who train with weights.
- Kreider, R. B., Kalman, D. S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … Lopez, H. L. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1), 18.
- MacInnis, M. J., & Gibala, M. J. (2017). Physiological adaptations to interval training and the role of exercise intensity. Journal of Physiology, 595(9), 2915–2930.
- Morton, R. W., Murphy, K. T., McKellar, S. R., Schoenfeld, B. J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., … Phillips, S. M. (2018). A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(6), 376–384.
- Seibert, J. T., Najt, C. P., Heden, T. D., Mashek, D. G., & Chow, L. S. (2020). Muscle Lipid Droplets: Cellular Signaling to Exercise Physiology and Beyond. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 31(12), 928–938.
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