Many of your have probably heard the expression “abs are made in the kitchen.” This is absolutely true. So are muscles! We may create the demand and the need for the muscle in the gym, but the building blocks for recovery start with good nutrition and sleep. I hear from many athletes that they need to get stronger but they don’t want to put on weight because they don’t want to be weighed down
After all, overcoming our own mass is a bus part of jumping high and running fast! I get it, makes sense. It’s just a bit short sighted. The wrong type of mass will absolutely hurt your athleticism. Mass that contributes to your athleticism is a different story.
Our goal for you skinny guys is not just to be as strong as we can at the lowest weight possible. Our goal is to stay lean while we build functional and contributing mass. I know it’s true because I have done it. Being the skinny kid who couldn’t gain weight, I know how hard gaining muscle could be. With consistency and time invested I put on a bunch of muscle. In fact I gained 40 pounds. Now, I know what you are thinking 40 pounds is a lot, and there’s no way that helped. In reality not only did it help but it completely transformed me to the type of athlete I didn’t even dream of being. To be fair, it wasn’t just 40 lbs, it was a very lean and dense 40 lbs. My body fat percentage even lowered while gaining weight.
At my peak times I was 5-7% body fat year round at 200+ pounds. My pant size hasn’t changed the entire time. 50 pounds and 22 years later, I can still wear the same jeans I had my sophomore year of high school. My case is extreme, I don’t think many of you will be looking to put on that much muscle, but I am just using it to show you that even at the extremes it can be done. So let’s get you an extra 5 pounds of good clean useable muscle mass.
Now as for the tips on how to get there:
1. Be Consistent
Diet is a lot easier when we eliminate choice and temptation. It sounds boring, but people who can stick to a consistent menu have a much higher success rate. For example. Maybe you pick 3 different meal types each for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When it’s dinner time, there are only 3 meals on your menu. You lose the distractions, and endless bad courses by simplifying your available choices.
This is the same tip I would use for those needing to lose weight. In your case the only difference is increasing the calories.
2. Meal Prep
Tagging along to consistency is preparing ahead of time. When simplifying the menu, it’s easy to pre prepare ready to eat meals once or twice per week. With the meals ready to go, it takes away the convenience temptation, that picking up something off menu may have. This also allows you to control portion sizes easier.
Again, this is the exact same tip I’d would use for losing weight, only in your case we can control the ingredients better. We can opt for calorically and nutrition dense foods. We don’t have to “dirty” bulk, getting in calories by any means. We can choose to eat food that are better for us, and supplement them with peanut butters, almond butters, red meat, etc. things that are more calorically dense.
Rather than making every meal bigger, we can start by adding in a couple of small 2-300 calories snacks. Lean towards high protein options, as we want to have an excess of available protein available for our body to build new muscles. We don’t want to build poor over eating habits, so smaller supplementary snacks that get in a few hundred calories can do the trick and get us into a slight caloric surplus.
4. Don’t Try to Gain It All in One Day
It’s best to let consistency do it’s thing. If you stay consistent for the long haul you can’t have to binge and overeat to gain weight. You will spend more time building sustainable habits and putting on lean mass that we won’t have to lose. Like food itself, slow cooking your process will often lead to better results.
5. Don’t Eat and Drink Empty Calories
It’s easy to find some foods or drinks that aren’t serving a purpose to help us. They are simply there because they taste good. Sodas or juices are often an example of this. They are full of high amounts of sugar and empty calories. Deserts and fried foods are another example. Alcohol as well for those of your who are of age. These drinks and foods do much more harm than good in most cases. We are choosing to get further from our goal each time we give in to these types of foods/drinks. When adding lean muscle mass, your food and drink choices make all of the difference. We don’t want to get in empty calories and build up poor habits. You can do both, eat clean and eat to gain mass.
Work hard, eat well, sleep well, hydrate and the results will come.
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