The Other Side of Fitness

Last week we addressed weight loss vs. fat loss. Indeed, the goal of shedding pounds is the most common health and fitness goal.

However, it is important to realize that everyone is different and may have a different fitness goal… that is to say, not everyone is trying to lose weight or fat. Many people do not realize that there is an entire community and industry that is built on the opposite: gaining mass and muscle… and some people (like us) actually struggle to GAIN, believe it or not.

After reading last week’s post, we got an email from one of our readers, Joe, asking for some tips on how to PUT ON a few pounds. He writes:

I go to the gym 5 days a week for about an hour and I switch up my regimen and I think I have a pretty good workout routine. But, I’m stuck at my constant weight of 150 (being 5′ 9″, it’s not too bad) but I’d like to gain more mass. I drink protein shakes after my workout so I’m guessing that helps, and I eat pretty healthy. I’m not big on junk food. So, I guess my question is, do I just have to eat a lot more to gain some weight? Or, what would your advice be?

We laughed when we read this because we both have similar stories and decided to share them this week in order to answer Joe’s questions.

Christopher has been able to gain the weight and keep it on. Here is what he did:

Growing up, I was a twig. Looking back at pictures sometimes I wonder how my legs (as thin as my pinky) were able to hold me up. At the age of 16, I decided to change that and got in to the world of bodybuilding. I spent countless hours researching and working out to figure out what exercises and food would work for me to help me gain some muscle. By the age of 24, I had gone from a scrawny 140lbs to a defined and ripped 160lbs. From there I kept going up, all the while keeping my body fat to a minimum.

Today, at 30 years old, I am 212lbs with 8% body fat. I never thought it would be possible, but it all came from dedication, knowledge, and nutrition. Many people ask how to do it, but what I tell them is that there is no secret method. You just have to eat big to get big. To maintain my 212lbs, I take in at least 4,200 calories a day and sometimes when I was bulking, I would get as high as 6,000 calories.

It is a slow process with a lot of trial and error. You have to find out what works for you, but the overall goal is to get way more calories than you can burn when you are trying to gain, and at least 20 calories per pound of goal weight when you are trying to maintain. Keep eating at least every two hours to spread the calories throughout the day, even if you don’t feel hungry.

Jeff’s story: I have always been the skinny kid that my mom and grandma are trying to feed seconds (and thirds) to fatten me up… and I’m also the one that my friends called the “cry for hunger poster child” when they saw a picture of me at the beach when I was in high school. For a long time, no matter what I did, I was not able to gain a single pound.

My goal was NOT to become a bodybuilder, but to gain enough mass to look good in a bathing suit to keep my friends from making fun of me for being too scrawny. I have been doing the same things as Joe, and continue to exercise several days a week, drink protein shakes, and eat healthy, but, as with Christopher, the key to gaining for me has been eating a lot more… eating more, keeping up the workout routine, and getting a personal trainer.

One of the benefits of having a personal trainer is that he or she can coach you and provide you with an individualized workout plan and nutrition tips to help you achieve your goals, whether they are to lose fat, gain mass, or maintain where you already are. Later this year, your inerTRAIN trainer will be able to provide you with these benefits whenever and wherever you are.

*This post was co-authored by Jeff Marinucci and Christopher Downey