Tips For Gaining Weight

A jug fills drop by drop. - Buddha


Randy Santel Gaining Weight TipsThis page is LOADED with tips, secrets, and advice for all the skinny guys wanting to gain weight, pack on muscle, and to get bigger naturally!! As a big man that used to weigh almost 350lbs (~160kg) that now struggles to maintain my low weight (which is my own fault!!), I enjoy listening to a guy complain about wanting to gain weight as much as a larger girl enjoys hearing a skinny girl say she wants to go from a size 6 down to a size 2!! I am well aware of the problem though, and I wish I had that problem as bad as you probably wish you had my problem of being bigger!! Please know that I do know a little about gaining weight though. I walked into high school as a 6'1" freshman weighing only 185lbs, and I walked out as a BIG 6'5" senior all-state offensive lineman weighing over 300lbs. I gained 100lbs in 1 year, going from 235lbs as a junior to weighing over 335lbs as a senior!! I maxed out at 346lbs, but then had to lose 50 pounds to go on my final big trip with my Boy Scout troop to the Bahamas. We stayed on a sailboat for 10 days & I could not be over 300lbs. I also lost it because I needed to ;)

I am a little bit smarter about gaining weight now though. I started really gaining weight for football when I was 16 and I just started my first job at the new Subway restaurant near my house. I worked 5-6 hour shifts about 4-5 days per week making $5.50 per hour. I was young & dumb and "knew" that I deserved more than that, so I made up for the deficit with food!! Every shift, I went in early and ate a foot-long double-meat roasted chicken sandwich just smothered in vegetables. On my break a few hours later, I ate a foot-long double-meat sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich also smothered in more vegetables. Right after my shift, I ate another foot-long double-meat sandwich covered in vegetables!! That was a lot of food, and I only lasted a few months before getting fired. Haha my next job was at Burger King where we actually were supposed to get free food, so I ate even more!! I worked out a lot, but not enough to burn all that!!

I used to always think that more is better. Now I know that most of the time quality is more important than quantity. With food I like a mixture of both quality & quantity. I would rather eat a $10 big bowl of tasty pasta than eat a $10 small, really delicious plate of pasta that looks "elegant" but is basically an appetizer. With gaining weight though, it's all about quality!! More is not always better. Here is a pretty complete list of tips for gaining lean, quality muscle weight:

Gaining Weight Advice For Everyone!!

Understand the 4 basics!! - Gaining muscular body weight and strength is unquestionably not an easy task. It is, however, possible to gain both muscle mass & strength at an impressive rate of speed if you go about it correctly. Gaining muscular mass & strength requires a combination of four very important factors: proper training, proper nutrition, sufficient recuperation time, and the correct attitude.

Gain muscle, not fat!! - Hopefully you have heard of BIG Lou Ferrigno, one of the main guys that put the sport of Bodybuilding on the map!! When he was 19, he went from 220lbs all the way up to 315lbs, a full 95lbs in just 7 months of heavy training and all-day eating. Along with all that weight, he gained A LOT of fat. After 6 hard, struggling months of losing weight to get back into contest shape, he weighed 221lbs. Haha he effectively gained 1lb of muscle mass during that year. As another example, when I first starting gaining weight, I was a fairly lean 235lbs. I got all the way up to 346lbs!! Now I am back at a lean 235lbs over 8 years later. Rome was not built in a day, and you certainly are not going to get HUGE in a day. Gain weight slowly so that you gain mostly muscle and not fat!!

Don't try to gain weight too fast!! - This basically goes along with the point above. Bulking up and training down is not an effective way to gain muscle mass. It can be foolish and a BIG waste of A LOT of time. The mirror will definitely be honest with you and let you know if you are gaining weight too fast. If you have abdominal muscles showing, obviously you are gaining weight too fast if they are starting to fade. By gaining weight too fast, you will gain a lot of fat which just makes you slower. If you see definition starting to fade, definitely cut your calories back!! Yeah you may gain a good deal of muscle along with all the weight, but you also will lose a lot of that muscle weight while burning off all the fat to get back in shape. As an offensive lineman, I can look back and say that I wish I had stayed more lean & quick rather than just focusing on getting bigger & stronger. I would have been a lot more athletic!!

Recognize your body type!! - Traditionally, there are 3 different body types that people can be categorized in, which are the endomorphs, ectomorphs, & mesomorphs. An endomorph is usually sluggish, naturally fat, and typically not very athletic. People in this category can gain weight easily, but most of it is fat. An endomorph has difficulty achieving muscular definition, and is the opposite of an ectomorph. An ectomorph is usually long and lean, is built for endurance more than strength, and typically has a high metabolism that makes it very difficult to gain & maintain weight. A mesomorph is more of a combination between the other two and is a natural bodybuilder, with a frame and metabolism ideally suited for gaining muscle. Mesomorphs typically have shorter and more powerful arms and legs, as well as a longer torso. They usually don't have difficulty gaining weight, but if they are not careful the weight may include a lot of fat. For a great discriptive article about all 3 types, click here.

Be honest with yourself!! - The easiest comparisons for these three types I listed above are on a football field. Offensive lineman and defensive tackles are more likely to be endomorphs. Wide receivers and defensive backs are more likely to be ectomorphs. Quarterbacks, tight ends, runningbacks, linebackers, and defensive ends are most likely to be mesomorphs. I don't consider myself anything but an endomorph. I was an offensive lineman, I gain weight really easily, and you would know I am not a great athlete if you watched me play basketball. Sure I like to think I am a mesomorph, but I know I'm not. There are different strategies for gaining muscle weight for each body type, just like there are different strategies for losing weight. What are you? For a great article for endomorphs, click here. For a great article for ectomorphs, click here. For a great article for mesomorphs, click here. Along with the informative article, you will find links on the right column to other articles related to your particular body type!! Check out everything to find out tips & advice for revising your particular diet & exercise plan!!

Gaining Weight Advice From Randy Santel!!

By clicking on the links up above that relate to your body type or "somatotype", you will find a ton of information about the diet & exercise plans that you need to adapt whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle weight. Therefore, I am not going to go into many details based on your body type. There is no reason for me to "reinvent the wheel" for you. If you are big like I used to be, I suggest that you strictly focus on losing most of your fat before you think about gaining any muscle weight. That is, of course, if you want any kind of noticeable definition. It is possible to gain muscle while losing fat, but it is really hard. Get lean, and then get BIG!! Here are a few tips that helped me when I was gaining weight for football. Hopefully you find them to be helpful & useful in your life!!

Eat, Eat, & Then Eat More!! - In order to lose weight, you have to consistently burn more calories than you consume everyday. Well to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you burn everyday. Hopefully you knew that!! When I worked at Subway, I ate 3 double-meat foot-long sandwiches within a 6-7 hour time period. That was not all I ate that day!! I usually had 2-3 other meals. I am not a "hardgainer" at all, and I still ate that much!! Especially if you are a "hardgainer", you need to continually eat about every 2.5 hours during the day. Unless you are a big guy, you wont be able to gain much weight eating the typical 3 meals per day. You need to have big snacks in between. You shouldn't have the chance to be hungry!!

Lift BIG, Get BIG!! - You are not going to get BIG doing main lifts with endurance sets of 15 repetitions. To build muscle, you have to build power & strength!! To build bulk, you have to lift more weight with less repetitions. Focus on lifting heavy weights mainly, but don't restrict your workouts to that only. Do a few "pyramid sets" and endurance sets with higher repetitions for maximum growth to keep your body guessing. Heavy lifting will provide the most muscle growth while you are sleeping. Lifting with more repetitions also burns more calories, which you don't necessarily want since you are trying to gain weight. Also, if you are a hardgainer, you don't need to be spending hours in the gym and also doing cardio. Lift BIG, get done, and get out. To get BIG, you have to think BIG all the time!!

Get Enough Sleep!! - If you are wanting to gain muscle weight, and most muscle growth occurs while you are sleeping, common sense hopefully tells you that you need to make sure that you are sleeping your full 8 hours each night. Your body also repairs itself and many other things important for muscle growth while you are sleeping. People that lack sleep are more prone to obesity and storing fat. Not getting enough sleep can be catabolic rather than anabolic. You don't want that!! Turn off the damn TV and get to bed!! Make sure that you sleep enough, and your workouts will be that much better the next day too. I used to sleep 8.5 hours / night.

Rest, But Don't Be Lazy!! - You can't expect to gain much weight if you are up moving around all day & evening, riding your bike everywhere, and working out or doing cardio for hours each day. This is not an excuse to be lazy though. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don't say no to playing in a soccer or basketball pick-up game. Your muscles and body will appreciate the extra work. Just make sure you are eating enough to counter all the extra stuff that you do throughout the day. Sitting on the couch all day playing video games may be resting but there are many better things to do!!

Eat Real Food!! - You are never going to lose weight if you rely on fat-burners and weight-loss supplements. You are also never going to gain weight if you rely on mass gainer supplements and all the other stuff available. Never substitute a supplement in the place of real food. If you are going to use a mass gainer supplement, have it take the place of your whey protein shake right after your workout. Drink the shake right when you get up or before you go to bed (if you are an ectomorph). Mass gainers should not be used as a meal replacement for you. When I was on the set of Spartacus, a few of the gladiators stuggled to maintain their weight, so they would bring a meal to eat during breaks. One of the guys brought a big tray of rice, chicken, & vegetables, and he would eat some at every break they took. He specifically said he always tries to eat real food!!

You Can Use Supplements!! - I am not a big promoter of using supplements, but it's not a bad idea to use a mass gainer if you want to. Like I said above, they are not meal replacements though!! Mass gainers are just filled with more protein, carbs, & fat than regular protein drinks, so substitute them for your regular protein drinks that you were taking. Take one after your workout, and maybe when you wake up. I have never done this, but I used to have a roommate that actually had a problem gaining weight. He used to drink a mass gainer shake at night right before going to bed. Have you tried that? If you are gaining weight too fast though & you notice a little fat being gained, make sure supplements are the first thing you cut.

Eat Peanut Butter & Other Dense Foods!! - When I was gaining weight in high school, I used to go through an entire value-sized package of peanut butter per week. Don't worry about buying the expensive natural stuff if you are trying to gain serious weight. Go big & save money. I used to eat peanut butter sandwiches that were 1 inch thick, and I had to drink water or milk after each bite. I used to toast Eggo Waffles in the mornings & smother them in peanut butter & jelly. If you are not a peanut butter fan, try other calorie dense foods. Do you like other nuts like almonds? Almonds can be used for losing or gaining weight. There are also many calorie dense foods, especially meats & whole-grain foods. For a list, click here!!

Drink Water!! - Just like the rest of your body, your muscles are mostly water. Never let your body get dehydrated, and it should always have a surplus of water. I drink over 2 gallons per day. Put down the soda, sweetened drinks, and even many other low-calorie drinks, and consume more water!! This will definitely keep your body strong and more energetic so that you can keep building mass.

Diet vs Regular, Pick Regular!! - For almost 50% of foods in the grocery store, you can choose between different options for the same item. Foods can be regular just like they were originally created, but they can also be reduced-fat, light, sugar-free, fat-free, just labeled low-calorie. With some items like milk, there are even different levels to choose from. You can have whole milk, 2%, 1%, or skim milk typically. If you are on a diet, most of the time, you should go for the lower calorie options. If you are wanting to gain weight, go for the real thing!! Drink 2% or whole milk with your protein drinks. Go for the regular cottage cheese or yogurt. Some regular foods are shown to provide a lot more nutrition than the low calorie options. Some people trying to gain weight even go with chocolate whole milk after workouts. These extra calories will help maximize protein synthesis. This isn't an excuse to eat like crap!! ;)

Maintain a healthy diet!! - Even though you are trying to gain weight, stay far away from all the completely empty calories. It's not an excuse to chow down on fried foods, big desserts, and then chug a big bottle of soda. You still want to keep your carbohydrates complex by eating brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, oats, and potatoes. For a list of great sources of complex carbs, click here. If you are a hardgainer, yeah you can treat yourself to ice cream, brownies, and all that stuff every now & then, but it's not really gonna help your muscle mass goals. With foods, try to stick to unprocessed foods. As raw food gets processed, it continually loses some of the nutrients that it originally started with. That is why many processed foods are "enriched" or "fortified". Stick to cooking raw meats when you can. Stay away from processed meats like bratwurts, hot dogs, and sausage when you can. I even try to pick deli meats over packaged deli meats. Really, you want to stick with a lot of the foods that would be acceptable on a diet to lose weight, but you can eat more & more often, depending on your body type.

My Conclusion

The most successful people in the world are that successful because they think BIG, and they built their empire slowly over time!! They followed a strategic business plan and many great things happened for them along the way. As one of the 4 main pilars of building muscle mass, you have to have the correct mental attitude. You have to think BIG!! At the same time though, remember my quote at the top by Buddha that "A jug fills drop by drop". Don't try to get BIG too fast. Businesses that expand & get BIG too fast always fail. You will just get fat!! Getting BIG takes proper training, proper nutrition, sufficient recuperation time, AND the correct mental attitude. You cannot focus on 3 of them but slack on the 4th. If you want to read a great book, check out Lou Ferrigno's Guide To Personal Power, Bodybuilding, And Fitness. I have read it 3-4 times now from cover to cover. There is A LOT of helpful information that you can learn from.

Hopefully you learned something by reading all the information up above. Gaining a lot of muscle is not easy, but it is definitely possible through dedication and hard work. Just be smart about it. Combine the information above with the rest of my Fitness & Nutrition Advice section, and you are well on your way to success. Also feel free to check out my Fitness Training section and my Nutrition & Diet section. Have you checked out the links that I included above that relate to your body type? Make sure to check those out for more tips.

Finally, if you are trying to gain weight, try a food challenge!! For food challenge advice, check out my BIG Randy's Challenge Advice section!! If you have any questions related to anything up above, or if you question my advice, please contact me. Thanks for reading!! :)


Randy's Sponsors: