by Blane Morton
Gaining weight is easy, most of us know that. Sit down and eat pizza, ice cream, and cookies every night for dinner and you’ll be packing on the pounds in no time. But we’re not looking for sloppy weight; we want to do it the right way, the healthiest way possible. There are several techniques I’m going to outline in this article that should put even the hardest of hard gainer down the right path towards adding at least a good ten pounds of lean muscle tissue to his frame this winter.
What’s one thing most hard gainers use religiously? Protein drinks and weight gainers. The reason most of these small guys can’t gain size in the first place is because they are not big eaters. Most little guys have the appetite of an 11 year old girl. Fine, that’s nothing to cry or complain about. Just like a muscle can be trained, so can an appetite – it just takes work. But until you’ve retrained your mind and stomach to crave the chicken and rice like a super heavyweight bodybuilder, there are a few things first I want you to try.
Next time you’re taking scoops of weight gainer or whey protein out of the tub and into your shaker cup or blender, add extra virgin olive oil into the mix. Just 1 tablespoon of the heart healthy oil offers up an extra 170 calories to your shake. If you’re one of those guys that take 3 shakes a day, you’ve now added approximately 500 extra calories to your day that you otherwise never would have known existed. Over the course of a week you’ve now added 3500 additional calories to your diet. Dietetics 101 tells us that 3500 calories is equal to one pound.
Night time eating is next. Whatever you’re used to having as your biggest meal of the day needs to come no more than 30 minutes before bed. This meal needs to have copious amounts of calorically dense macronutrients. A good 8-12 ounce piece of red meat, with pasta, white rice, or potato, and topped off with 2-3 heaping scoops of natural peanut butter are the first things to come to my mind. Now, that’s not to say you can’t still double up and do that same meal for your lunch, dinner, or post workout feast, but you should be mindful and enter it into your meal plan just before bed as well.
And speaking of late night eating, you should consider eating round the clock. Setting the alarm clock and waking up around 3am for food is another great method to increasing overall caloric intake. It has added benefits on top of just more food per day. It will also increase your metabolism by stoking the fire, and therefore making your new weight gains much leaner. If you’re the type who is knocked out cold at night, just prepare a shake to sit next to your bed. If you’re a light sleeper and can get up and heat something up even better. I would recommend a precooked Tupperware meal that you can stick in the microwave. You want to get right back into your REM sleep as quick as possible after eating, so being up for an hour preparing food and eating isn’t the best idea. If you can warm up your food, eat, and be back in bed in less than 20 minutes, you’re on the right track.
The often counterintuitive hidden secret to the clean bulk is doing cardio. One of the most challenging things about being on a diet for easy gainers is that they are forced to do cardio and it makes them extremely hungry when they step off the treadmill. The same rules apply to hard gainers, just with a blunted response. By doing as little as 15 minutes of walking after a workout, you can increase your appetite. Suck down your whey protein isolate immediately after you’re done lifting and then hop right on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike. You don’t even have to go fast; just enough to cool down and let the adrenaline from a hard workout subside. In most cases, this always increases appetite.
Give one or a few of these ideas a try. There’s no excuse to not being able to gain 10 to 15 pounds of new tissue every off season. Most guys can gain double that amount if they’re doing the necessary things to increase their odds. The key is and always will be consistency. If you’re diligent about your eating for 3 days and then slack off for 3 days, you’ll be spinning your wheels all off season. Your diet needs to be 100%, you’re training needs to be 100%, and your rest needs to 100%. There are no shortcuts on either three.