During my time in this profession I have had many young men tell me that they could not gain weight, it was impossible and only an act of God would suffice. Well I’m here to tell you that that is a load of you know what. Just like anything else in life, it comes down to how much work you are willing to put into it. There are two problems facing the supposed hard gainer. First and foremost they need to be eating enough quality food to actually put on weight. This would seem to be pretty straight forward, but most are missing the boat on this one. Second and just as important they need to be on a quality strength and conditioning programs.
Below you will find 10 simple tips for how to gain some quality size.
1. If you are eating all the right stuff and have not gained weight in the last month eat more of what you are eating. If you are eating three eggs, eat four instead. Having a quarter cup of rice, eat half a cup. Just having half an avocado, eating the whole thing. See if just adding more will do the trick.
2. If you are not eating the right things here is a small cheat sheet.
Protein-Eggs, Chicken, Turkey, Milk, Salmon, Steak
Carbs- Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, Rice, Red Potatoes, Black Beans
Fats- Eggs, Cheddar Cheese, Avocadoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Almonds, Salmon
Fruits- Bananas, Strawberries, Oranges, Grapes, Pineapples
Vegetables- Broccoli, Spinach, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Carrots
If you eat a lot of the things on this list you will gain weight.
3. Maybe all the meals are right, but you are missing what should be in between. Some might be able to gain weight with only two or three meals a day, but other need more. Here are a few options.
A. Jerky, Pecans and Banana
B. Hardboiled Eggs, Blueberries and Oat & Banana Cookies
C. Greek Yogurt w/ Homemade Trail Mix
4. Make sure to get a protein, fat and carbohydrate source at each meal. Missing either would be a big mistake when trying to put on size.
5. Meal Prep! If it is important to you, put in some effort! Don’t watch a 30 minutes of television that evening and spend some time prepping your food for the next day. Hard boiling a few eggs take a few minutes and putting a banana in your bag takes seconds. Putting some almonds in a plastic bag doesn’t take too long either. A little effort goes a long way.
Here are some tips I wish I had back in my day from a strength training prospective.
6. Stick to the basics! And don’t only stick to them, master them! Learn how to clean, squat, bench, deadlift and press properly. No, just doing bicep curls does not count as a training session. Stay away from machines and isolation exercises, you will thank me!
7. More is not always better when trying to get your weight up. Extra strength training sessions and large amounts of conditioning will put a quick stop to your efforts. Three or four solid strength training will work great.
8. If size is the goal, the majority of your training should focus on hypertrophy. There is still plenty of room for your 3-6 rep range, but you better be bumping it up a notch as far as reps are concerned if you want to put on size. 8-12 reps should do the trick.
9. Here is a question. When does your body actually build muscle and gain size? Is it when you are in the gym training? No, it is actually when you are home relaxing or better yet sleeping. When you train you are beating your body up. It will need a nap or two and 8+ hrs of shut eye a night to reap the benefits of all that training you just did. Get to bed early!
10. Be Consistent. This goes for everything in life and putting on size is no different. If you really want to put on size you have to be consistent with both your nutrition and your training. Don’t skip meals or training sessions and get to bed on tie every night.
There you have it. Ten tips for putting on size. Now get to work!
A lot of research goes into speed development. Arm action, foot contact points, kinetic energy transfer, spine angle, etc. Let's make speed development simple - the more force you put into the ground, the further and faster you will propel yourself. Yes, all those other items are important, and doing certain drills for them will help, in some cases more than others. But, first and foremost, having a solid strength base from which to create explosive power will yield the biggest dividends.
A lot of folks approach speed development from the perspective of cone drills, agility ladders, and other standard "footwork" drills. I liken those things to driving a car around a race track. The car might be moving as fast as it can, but it's becoming faster. In order to do that, you must make a physical change to the car. That's the same with athletes - without a legitimate physical change (i.e. becoming more powerful), we won't get significantly faster.
To be fair, the analogy of the car isn't completely accurate. Cone drills and running form drills do have their place. If a kid has too short of a stride, then they need to lengthen it. If their arm action is bad, then it needs to be fixed. Sometimes, all that is needed are a few coaching cues. Other times, there is a biomechanical integrity component that is restricting the athlete. Both of those things needs to be addressed. In the case of an athlete who is capable of better form, but just doesn't have it yet, the coach should indeed look at running form, which can be addressed with some cone drills and footwork drills in certain scenarios. But, to do the most good for the most people, create strength and power and you will create more speed, acceleration, and agility. That should be priority one - extensive cone drills are more akin to driving a car around a racetrack - fast, but not faster.
Solid and complete athletic development will always be the greatest component of a proper speed development program.
Many times when you walk into most training facilities, a large percentage of women will be found in yoga classes and men will be near the free weights. Women love holding those poses and men want to lift more weight. What if things were flipped one day? The women were using the free weights and the men were taking yoga classes. Did we just enter the twilight zone? Would this hamper any of the gains the men would see in the weight room? Would the women become bulky and lose all mobility? The answer to both questions is a resounding no. Both would actually move better and feel stronger.
Unfortunately we know something like this is unlikely to happen. Most people like doing what they are good at, not necessarily what they need. Overall, if we look at the sexes as a whole, women will have greater mobility than men and vice versa as far as strength goes. This is the case in most part due to our different hormonal profile. Men and women have different hormonal levels that contribute to certain fitness attributes.
So the question remains, how do you get people to work on their weaknesses? Does the twenty six year old female that can put her foot behind her head need more mobility? No, I don’t think she does. She would get a much greater benefit from spending her time near the free weights. And don’t get me wrong, yoga works on many other things than just mobility, but for the sake of the argument we are going to look at yoga as something that improves mobility.
How about the eighteen year old male that is squatting in the corner? It seems that his hips and shoulders could use a bit more mobility. Do you think he might benefit from some mobility work, perhaps a yoga class? Yes, that would help a lot! Many male squatters that do not take the time to work on their mobility have poor squatting form which will lead to a possible injury and less efficient movement. With less efficient movement usually comes less weight being lifted. Those are both bad things.
The problem is that we like being good at things. It is human nature to gravitate towards things that we do well and make us feel good. No one likes to struggle. As athletes and those still trying to maintain their athleticism we “forget” to include the things that are going to make us better, no matter how bad we might be at them.
If you are lacking mobility work on it, it doesn't necessarily have to be a yoga class , but it has to get done. If strength is a issue, go lift something heavy. The point being, if you do not work on your weaknesses, you will never be as great as you would have been had you done so. Challenge yourself to put your ego to the side and work on your weaknesses to become a better athlete. It will pay off in the long run!
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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