I’ve always been the skinny type. Despite being a martial artist for years and loving sports. I guess like many guys I’m just a hard gainer. Before I started to get serious about working out I could not get myself to weigh more than 145 Lbs.
Half of my problem was my diet. I rarely ate more than maintenance. And I still don’t alway. I don’t get all that hungry during the day, and only start to really want to eat once it’s around 11:30. And even when I do get hungry it’s hard to get the calories I need down.
The other half of my problem was how I exercised. I have always been more of an endurance athlete. I ran the 3200m during track along with the 800m. Conditions that don’t lead well to muscle gaining. And I had the same mistaken broscience brainwashed ideas about working out that everyone else does. If you didn’t sweat it wasn’t a good workout (no correlation), no pain no gain ( a slight burn is ok, but any other type of strain or pain can put you out for weeks), and Arnold Schwarzenegger was natural ( not even sort of). As a result, I didn’t gain much size or weight my first times around, and even less weigh. It wasn’t until I made myself a student of the science and art of building muscle did I start progressing. And these are the steps to get on track so you don’t waste precious time in the beginning making the same mistakes.
Step 1: Determine your goals.
I have always loved being physical. But I have never really been a fan of the idea of lifting weights. Not to mention when I started I didn’t have the money to buy weights. So I decided to go the bodyweight route. I started out with the basics things and gradually progressed. But then I discovered street workout/freestyle calisthenics and it changed the way I worked out. Now I didn’t just want to be big. I wanted to be able to do all the cool explosive and static moves. Size was no longer my main goal, explosive strength was.
My goals are to reach 165 Lbs (to be more competitive during the summer sevens rugby series), and achieve the tiger bend push-up, front lever, muscle up, and flat backed planche.
But your goals may be different. But like I said in my first post, they must be specific. Saying lose or gain weight isn’t enough. You have to think of how much you want to lose/gain. Saying you want to be bigger isn’t enough, you have to say how much you want to grow and where you want to gain it.
Step 2: Figure out what your goal is and what your caloric intake should be.
While there seems to be this whole idea that some calories somehow give you superpower while others will kill your hopes of what you consider a perfect body image indefinitely, the truth is a calorie is a calorie. It’s what’s attached to them that makes the food item special. You could lose weight with a McDonald’s only diet. But, you will be losing much in the way of micronutrients and you would be screwing yourself over in the long run.
I’m also not a big fan of “diets”, I’m a fan on nutrition. Meaning finding out what it is your body needs to grow and fight. Eating to meet your goals in a sensible fashion. That’s not to say I don’t like the idea of ones like the Paleo diet, as long as you understand why it works and why it’s sustainable.
I follow IIFYM, I eat just about anything but I try to balance out my Macronutrients (Carbs, protein, and fat), while making sure I eat enough in the way of leafy greens and fruit. And I used this ( http://iifym.com/iifym-calculator/ ) site to figure out that balance based on my goals, and Myfitnesspal to track what I eat. This arrangement works well for me because when I can see the numbers I can easily adjust and make rational decisions.
But like I mentioned earlier I have a hard time getting the calories down sometimes. But after I found this video it made it so much easier.
Basically, what I do now is I make more smoothies to get more calories in. I find that soups can have the same effect. I also try to eat after I workout because i’m hungrier. And I workout at night to increase that effect knowing that my appetite will kick in as the night progresses.
Step 3: Plan your workouts
There are so many different workouts and workout variations available it’s hard to pick out one that works. You get caught up in trying to find out what will work for you and separating the broscience from the real science. I was the same way, but i combed my way through the articles, and through the scientific papers to try to figure out what was the right way. Only to find out there was a guy who made a video that summed it up in under 8 minutes.
This is the same workout structure that I use now and I have been making steady gains in both my size and my skills. I work on my skill strength first, then size training on the main worked muscle group. Monday/Thursday is push work, Tuesday/Friday is pull work, and Wednesday/Saturday is leg work. For legs I do agility, plyometric, and sprint training.
Step 4: Adjust over time
Your workout is not a static thing. It won’t remain the same always, not even from month to month. And as important as it is to stay consistent and stick to your workout, sometimes you will hit plateaus, and you will gain strength and need to progress to harder exercises or more weight.
The best way to keep on track is to keep a workout journal either on paper or on evernote. A workout journal is more than just notes on what you did. It’s also a way of recording how you felt that day, how you feel you did, and how you believe your life is effecting your workouts. Here is a good article on the subject, http://acrobolix.com/training-journals/ .
As a side note to that it helps to take photos every month. There is no motivation like seeing how you have changed over time, and it’s also a good way of seeing where you might be lagging.
Conclusion: Once you have your workout plan and nutrition figured out all you need is to stay determined to achieving your goals. Just remember you have all the hard things figured out already. Now you just have to execute and remember where it is you want to be. And if ever you feel unmotivated take a look at how far you have come in photos and in your journal.
Losing and gaining weight can be hard. But I hope this article made it a bit easier. Below are some of the websites I frequent for motivation and new information on how I can improve my workout.
Not to mention the other links I provided.