How To Gain Weight When You’ve Tried Everything Else

by Kilo on January 20, 2011

scaleI get asked how to gain weight by more guys in my gym than just about anything else. They ask me because in 2009 I put on 30 very solid pounds and now I’m simply trying to figure out if I want to keep going. And nobody was as surprised as I was when I started putting on all the weight. I had always been told I was a classic hardgainer and I believed it. After all, I wasn’t putting on weight, so…

Anyway, I put on 30 pounds with very little effort. Did I eat a lot? Yes, but that wasn’t the key. My major association with the muscle gain is that I increased my lifting volume. Previously, I would take some template program, go into the gym, really try to feel the mind-muscle connection I had read about so many times, and I’d make minimal gains.

A friend suggested that I change a couple of things and start tracking the total amount of weight I lifted during a workout. His hypothesis was that if that total number of pounds lifted during any given time period increased, then the muscle and bodyweight would increased as well, given adequate nutrition and sleep (I’m also starting to think these two items are less rigidly necessary that before, that’s for another post).

If I deadlift for 20 minutes today, I will multiply the reps by the weight lifted. If I did 225 x 100 that would put my volume at 22,500 pounds in 20 minutes. the next time I decided to deadlift, if I went for another 20 minutes, I would make it my goal to get at least one more rep in that 10 minute block.

I do this regardless of the exercise I’m performing. There’s nothing magical about the 20 minute block either, my goal is simply at least one additional rep at the same weight in the same time period. Or more reps in less time. So far it applies to pullups, curls, deadlifts, back squats, grippers, and just about anything else I’ve tried.

I eat a lot and I sleep a lot, but my focus is on getting stronger. For me, more volume as often as possible means more strength, and that’s why I keep growing.

If you think you’re a hardgainer and you feel like you’ve tried everything, experiment with volume and see if anything changes.  Or, you can always do what Greg Valentino did.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Patrick Tracy January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

Good job, Josh (Kilo, I suppose I should say). Sounds like work over time is the thing that your body responds to. My training partner all through college was a hard gainer. I saw that kid eat more peanut butter than anyone in the history of the world, and to only modest effect.
I’ve always grappled with the opposite problem…wherein I try, often fruitlessly, to maintain weight or lose. I can assure you that it is an equally thorny problem. I’m just now beginning to figure it out.


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