We're always bombarded with tips on how to lose weight, but for many people the problem is just the opposite.
People who struggle to maintain a healthy weight often have health issues, lack of appetite, or are trying to build muscle for sports. And while exercise is key to building muscle mass, overall weight gain starts with a healthy plate.
"Proper diet is crucial for the development of muscle mass," says personal fitness trainer Jason Gee of Personal Fitness Consulting in Toronto. "Most scientific research suggest protein intake on a daily basis between 1 gram per kg to 1 gram per pound of your body weight."
For example, if you're 165 pounds and trying to bulk up, you should be eating 75 to 165 grams of protein per day, Gee says. That's equivalent to more than three whole chickens a day.
But studies have shown that for some people, it's nearly impossible to get obese or overweight, according to the BBC. One study following slim non-dieting volunteers found that people struggled to gain weight for genetic reasons — no matter how much junk they filled their systems with.
Gee says for most, there are alternatives. A combination or proper rest, good nutrition and key muscle building exercises will help most people bulk up.
LOOK — 10 ways to gain weight including the five best exercises for increasing muscle mass:
Eat More Protein And Carbs
This may be an obvious one, but for those of you who are looking to bulk up, it starts with what you eat. "Along with an increase in protein, carbohydrates are also necessary for increased muscle mass," says personal fitness trainer Jason Gee of Personal Fitness Consulting in Toronto. Carbohydrates provide muscles with energy before workouts and should be consumed 45 to 60 minutes before working out, and 15 minutes after. Gee also recommends healthy fats like almonds, walnuts, avocado, olive oil, fish oil, sunflower seed oil or flax seed oil.
Increase Your Repetitions
Lower reps (between three to six) are better for developing overall strength, but if you're looking for ways to gain muscle mass, Gee recommends sticking to seven to twelve repetitions per exercise.
Get Proper Sleep
Snooze time is essential when it comes to gaining weight. "The majority of muscle repair and growth of the muscle itself is done while we sleep. This is why proper rest days and sleep is crucial for the development of muscle mass," Gee says. Trained muscles should be given 48 to 72 hours for full recovery and you should be aiming for eight hours of sleep per night.
Target Large Muscle Groups
If you want to see big results, you need to start training large muscle groups. Gee says focus on the quads, hamstrings, back and chest. "Training these larger muscle groups will also promote your body to burn more calories and therefore cut down on your body fat."
When it comes to increasing muscle mass, water intake is key. "Water is retained within the muscle itself, so when we don't drink enough water for the muscle mass the size can appear to decrease," Gee says. Not only this, but staying hydrated is also beneficial for overall bodily and muscle function.
Squats help focus muscle development on the largest muscle mass in our bodies, the lower extremities. When you're doing squats, remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward and torso upright. For the best results, do squats in front of a mirror — this way you can watch the movement of your knees.
TRY: Bench Press
The bench press promotes muscle development in the chest, shoulders and triceps and can be done on a bench, stability ball or with different angles and hand positions. While doing a bench press, remember to keep your hands comfortably on the bar and push up in a "C" shape as opposed to going up and down.
Pull-ups target the majority of the upper body, training the back and biceps. "Varying the hand placement will have slight variance on the degree to which certain muscles are involved. Hand placement could be palms facing you, palms facing away or palms facing each other," Gee says.
TRY: Interval Sprint Training
Interval training focuses on a short duration of about 80 per cent maximal speed followed by a duration of rest. Studies have shown this method can increase muscle building hormones within the body and keep them elevated for a duration of time post exercising, Gee says.
TRY: Dead Lifts
Dead lifts are considered an advanced exercise, so if you are a beginner, consult with your trainer first. Dead lifts use more muscles during a single workout than any other exercise, toning your back, core, legs, glutes, arms, traps and shoulders. To prevent injuries, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and face forward. Hands can be placed either underhand or overhand on a bar or you can try a dumbbell in each hand. When you're lifting, remember to keep your core tight and push up through your heels and legs.