I'm 39 and just joined my first gym. I'm 5'10" and weigh about 150#. I'd like to gain 10 to 20 pounds of muscle over the course of several months. The problem is I have to eat so much, as my metabolism has always run ultra-high. The reading and research I've done is always about those people who need to lose weight. What about those of us trying to gain weight? I've heard that I should stay away from cardio. Is this true? And what about protein loading? Should I be doing this too? Finally, your last post suggested that we eat small portions five to six times a day. I work in a job where I get two 10-minute breaks and one half-hour lunch. What should I be eating during those times to maximize my food intake? Any help you could give me would be great!
OK David, I was actually in the same predicament as you. Though I was younger (22), it was very difficult for me to pack on any size on my 5’10” 125-pound body. I was EXTREMELY active, which I’m sure didn’t help any. What I want you to do for one week is write down EVERYTHING you eat and at what time. Buy a calorie-counter book so you can estimate how many calories you are taking in. Now, whatever your caloric intake currently is, I want you to try to add 500 more calories a day to that number. One pound of body weight is estimated to be 3,500 calories, so if you add 500 calories a day, multiply that by seven days in a week and you should be consuming 3,500 more calories a week, which theoretically should add one pound to your weight. You say your metabolism is fast, so you might not gain that much weight in a week. It might take two weeks.
Yes, you should be eating five to six times a day. I suggest that on your first 10-minute break you drink a weight-gain shake to load up on calories, and then on your second 10-minute break drink a regular protein shake to make sure you are consuming enough protein to build muscle. Make sure you start off your day with a well-balanced breakfast consisting of protein, carbs and healthy fats. I would also suggest you bring your lunch to work. Consider a turkey wrap, turkey chili or a chicken and spinach salad to ensure you eat healthy. Dinner should consist of lean meats and veggies. If you like, you can have one more protein shake before bed. I know, it’s pretty much sounds like nonstop eating, but for us “hard gainers,” that’s what we have to do.
At the gym you want to lift HEAVY to stimulate those muscle fibers to grow. As far as cardio, you might want either to cut down how much you do or take a break from it for a few weeks to see how your body responds. But BEWARE!! When you eat more and you don’t use those extra calories they will end up as fat. About two years ago I wanted to gain weight, so I drank a weight-gain shake (1,800 calories loaded with sugar) five days a week for seven weeks, after my workouts. I gained 15 pounds, and though I LOVED how my upper body filled out, I HATED my belly and had to go up one size to get my big ass into a pair of pants! So remember, you will gain weight, but that weight goes everywhere on your body, and not all of it will be muscle.
And to be completely honest, it took me a lot longer to burn the fat off than it did to put the weight on, and I was VERY thankful in the end that I never had that problem to begin with. Good luck!
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A.C.E.- and N.A.S.M.-certified, Bobby Solorio has been personal training for over 10 years. You might recognize him from Bravo TV's "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List," where he trains his now-A-list client. For more info check out Bobby's website.