For most men, it’s the promise of bigger muscles. That, and maybe, girls. That’s why they workout feverishly. That’s why they frequent the all-you-can-eat buffets. That’s why they chug down chalky protein powders. And that’s why they subscribe to those goofy bodybuilding magazines. And still, for most scrawny guys, they stay scrawny.
If any of this resonates with you, you’re in luck. We have nutrition expert John Berardi here to share with us how you can pack on pounds the healthy way. And John should know. He himself was once a 5’8”, 130 pound, 17 year old. Think we’re kidding? Check out the before and after pictures below (nice jacket!), and read on for the top big mistakes little guys make when trying to gain weight.
Mistake #1 – Not Eating Enough
For most guys, this is, far and away, the biggest problem when the goal is healthy weight gain. If you’re not gaining weight, no matter how much you’re now eating, it’s not enough. To gain weight, you need to be at a caloric surplus. You can do this by: increasing your intake while keeping your expenditure the same; increasing both your expenditure and your intake, but still have your intake greater; or by reducing both, but still having your intake higher. Bottom line: you have to start eating more.
Now I know, you’re different. You eat A TON. And you still can’t gain any weight, right? Here’s what you need to do. Log into the free diet and weight loss journal – Fit Day. (If you have to, create a free account). While you’re there, analyze one day’s worth of your meals. Really, do it. It’ll only take 20 minutes.
Fit Day will tell you exactly how many calories you’re eating. And if you’re not eating at least your body weight (in pounds) multiplied by 20, you’re not eating even close to enough. But remember, if you’re already eating that much, what’s the next step? When in doubt, eat more!
Mistake #2 – Having Outdated Food Ideas
Do you believe that it’s inhumane to eat more than two to three meals per day? Do you think that breakfast is optional? Do you think workout drinks are only for serious athletes? Do you think eating too much protein will ruin your kidneys? If so, you’ve got some outdated food ideas, my friend.
To start with, three meals a day will never work for you. You need six meals a day. Also, breakfast is no longer optional. You need a “muscle breakfast,” and it needs to be your biggest meal of the day. In addition, workout drinks aren’t just for the big guys or the sport athletes. They’re for you. And you might even need multiple drinks each day. As far as the protein/kidney thing, well, if you’re a healthy guy, your kidneys are in no danger. So you’re gonna need a lot of protein. And eat your veggies. Eat 'em with each meal. Find a way to get them in, even if it means not getting a wide variety and only eating the ones you like. And also try to incorporate healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil, flax seed oil, etc.
Mistake #3 – Thinking Muscles Happen Overnight
Over 80,000 reps, done over 10,000 sets, performed over 520 workouts, done over the course of two years. That’s what it took for me to transform my body from 135 to 205 pounds. Sure, in retrospect, two years didn’t seem all that long. However, during my transformation process, it felt like forever.
Think about it, in two years, there are 104 weeks. So, although I gained about 70 pounds of mostly lean body weight during that time, it really averages out to just about 0.7 pounds per week. Guys, that feels slow. Like no major change is ever gonna happen. But, just like with banking, small, consistent deposits collected over long periods of time can lead to a big bank account. If you want to build serious muscle, check out the TRX Kettlebell: Iron Circuit Conditioning DVD.
Of course, the key word there is consistent. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Consistency, not novelty, is the secret to uncommon results. If you can figure out how to train and eat right for your body, and you practice doing those two things every day for 720 days straight, you too will go from scrawny to brawny. I promise.
Ok, there you have it. My top skinny-guy mistakes. If you’re looking to build muscle and struggling along the way, make sure you ruthlessly eliminate these three things. Because doing so will likely mean the difference between sporting a super-hero physique, or staying exactly like you are now.
Dr. John Berardi is recognized as one of the top exercise nutrition experts in the world. His work has been published in numerous textbooks, peer-reviewed journals and in countless popular exercise and nutrition books and magazines. Through his company, Precision Nutrition, Dr. Berardi has worked with over 50,000 clients in over 100 countries. These clients span the spectrum from recreational exercisers all the way up to the athletic elite, including: The Cleveland Browns, The Toronto Maple Leafs, The Texas Longhorns, Canada’s Olympic Ski Teams, Canada’s Olympic Bobsleigh and Skeleton Racers, World Champion UFC Fighters, Canada’s Olympic Speed Skaters and more.