IT'S not often that we hear people complain about being too skinny; well, not until now. With thick being the new slim, more women are desirous of thicker or fuller bodies and those of us with high-revving metabolism might believe it to be a curse, especially if no amount of junk seems to help us bump up the numbers on the scale.
This difficulty with gaining weight often forces women to explore fast-gain supplements that are not medically recommended. But personal trainer and fitness expert Gisel Harrow said that while it may be a challenge, bulking up is still possible by very healthy means.
“A lot of people think that exercise is for persons who want to lose weight, but there are many (including myself) who struggle to gain a pound and keep it on. To gain healthy weight (muscles) it's a bit harder than shedding some pounds, but with a proper diet and heavy weight training one can achieve the desired gains (bulk),” Harrow told All Woman.
She said that she, as well as a number of her clients, uses a three-pronged approach — a carefully planned diet, weight training and rest and recovery — to counter this challenge and has seen and continues to reap the rewards of this strategy. Below, she gives a breakdown of how each contributes to packing on pounds.
It's all in your diet
One of the most important parts of gaining weight (muscle) is your diet — what exactly are you consuming and how often? She said while you are generally encouraged to eat more and try to incorporate as many calories as you can, you are required to keep it as clean as possible.
“This is not a free pass to have fast foods for every meal of the day or plenty sugary foods and desserts,” Harrow warned. She said for healthy weight gain, without risking other health complications such as diabetes and high cholesterol levels, you should consume more protein-rich foods such as lean meats, beans and protein supplements. “You should also choose carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams and still consume a lot of vegetables and good fats such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and fish,” Harrow advised.
She also recommends that while you want to eat more, you should still eat in moderate portions, just more frequently, which would be about six meals per day along with plenty of water.
Focus on weight training
Training exercises are very crucial to weight gain because they build strength, condition and bulk. Weight training exercises that you may want to explore include squats, dead lifts, presses, pull-ups, rows, dips, snatches and clean and jerks.
“These exercises will help in engaging multiple muscles while triggering your hormonal response systems. You should set up a workout programme for at least three days per week that targets each of the major muscle groups, doing two to three exercises per muscle group,” Harrow advised.
Rest and recovery
This is the third part of this strategy to healthy weight gain, but Harrow says that many people underestimate its benefits.
“What many people fail to understand is that the muscles are not built while they are doing the exercises, but when the body is recovering,” Harrow advised. She explained, too, that you should also avoid overtraining and while you may believe that this will add to your gains, what it does is to cut into recovery time and delays the muscle-building process.
“The recommended period of rest is six to eight hours sleep, so aim for the minimum at least. While you are resting make sure that you continue to feed your body well with lean proteins and complex carbohydrates because your body will need these as it works to build muscle,” Harrow advised.