A good body image is paramount in the mental and physical well-being of any person. Everyone has a different definition of the perfect body and people work hard to achieve that.
However, what’s more important is that the attempts made to alter the body are done in a healthy way.
The healthy weight for a person depends on the height and the sex of the individual. The body-mass index is a comparative indicator of the weight to height ratio of a body. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal.
Exercises are a great way to get to the body that you want, and in this article we’ll find out the best exercise to gain weight.
Whether an individual wants to gain weight or lose weight, proper exercises are recommended along with a suitable diet to achieve desired results. While a majority of the population strives to lose weight, there are a few who wish to put on healthy weight.
In this article, I’ll talk about why exercising plays an important role in your fitness goal of gaining weight or building muscle, what is the best exercise to gain weight, and what factors you need to consider while working out to maximize the output. Let’s begin by talking about how you gain weight:
Weight Gain 101
Exercising just makes a small percentage of your routine, and hence there are many other factors that add up when you wish to gain weight. To explain in one line, you gain weight when you consume more calories than what your body burns.
What this means is that you have to keep your body in a calorie surplus, by eating more than what you usually do, and the extra calories will help you put on weight. The amount of fat or muscle that you gain will depend on factors like your activity levels, amount of calorie surplus that you maintain and the nutrition profile of the foods that you consume.
Now, where do exercises fit then? When you workout, you create tiny micro-tears in the body. These tissues need to be fed in order for them to grow stronger and better.
Once this process of damaging and repair goes on for a period of time, you start to build muscle and ultimately gain weight. While you can easily gain by just eating more and not exercising at all, most of the weight you gain will be in the form of fat, which causes more harm than good in the long term.
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Hence, it is important that you exercise, and focus on specific exercises that help you gain weight. Most of the exercises listed below are compound exercises, which help you boost testosterone and help you build muscle. If you aren’t sure what compound exercises here, the next section is going to help you learn more about it.
Compound vs Isolation Exercises
- Compound Exercises: In simple terms, compound movements are the exercises that target and involves multiple major muscle groups and joints at a single time. These exercises do not specially focus on isolating a single part but focus on more than one muscle group at a particular time. In short, working on compound movement is a great weight gain exercise.
Examples: Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench Presses.
- Isolation Exercises: Simply put, isolation movements target a specific muscle or muscle group at a single time. These exercises pay attention to one single body part at a time, and isolate that muscle to help it grow significantly.
Example: Bicep curls, for instance, focuses majorly on the bicep muscle. While it may be good for isolating the bicep muscle, it is definitely not the best weight gain exercise.
When you’re looking to gain weight or build muscle, you will notice that most of the recommended exercises fall under the category of compound exercises. The reason is simple, these exercises focus on multiple groups of muscles and joints at a time, resulting in overall growth and mass.
Here’s a complete article on how to gain weight if you have a fast metabolism.
The Best Exercise to Gain Weight
Now that you already know how you gain healthy weight and what role do exercises play in helping you reach your goal, let’s take a look at some of the best weight gain exercises.
Last, make sure that you acknowledge that there is no single best exercise to gain weight. Make sure that your weight gain workout consists of some of the below mentioned exercises to get the maximum output.
Gaining weight involves a calorie surplus, and these weight gain exercises are only going to recruit your muscle fibers and increase growth hormones, helping you reach your weight gain goals faster and more effectively. Here’s the list of some of the best weight gain exercises:
- Bench Dips
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
Push-ups are great for the shoulders, the triceps, and the forearms. They are one of the simplest and easy-to-do exercises on this list. With this simple exercise though, you can attain a lot of positive results.
- Lie on the ground, back facing up.
- Place your palms, flat, on the ground by your sides, and your arms apart.
- Keep your body and legs straight and aligned. Push up until your arms are fully extended. Take a deep breath before pushing yourself up. Exhale while pushing up.
- Lower yourself until your nose almost touches the ground.
- Repeat. Make sure that you do your push-ups slowly.
Squats help you build your legs and quadriceps femoris muscles. Squats can also be referred to as sit-ups and are a great warm exercise before playing sports like football.
- Stand up with proper posture with your feet hip-width distance apart.
- Put your hands on your hips and flex your abdominal muscles.
- Lower yourself using only your legs. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your upper body should be still.
- Repeat as many times as you want. Inhale before lowering yourself. Exhale when rising up.
Another great exercise for your shoulders and arms, pull-ups require a fixed horizontal bar placed in a place greater than your height.
- Hold the bar with both hands firmly. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart and your palms should be facing away from you.
- Take a deep breath and exhale while pulling yourself up. Pull yourself up until your arms are straight and your feet no longer touch the ground. Continue until your chin is just above the bar.
- While inhaling lower yourself until you reach the starting position.
Lunges are amazing for toning your legs and for warming up before playing any kind of athletic sports. Lunges also work on the buttock muscles.
- Stand straight in the correct posture while flexing your abdominal muscles.
- Put one step forward and then lean forward in a kneeling manner until your knees make a 90-degree angle.
- Push back to the original position.
- You can repeat this for one leg and then do the same for the other leg.
To do this exercise you will need a weight bar. Choose weights with which you are comfortable with. Do not overexert yourself while doing any exercise with weights. Deadlift is a great exercise for core muscles, hamstrings, and glute muscles.
- Stand straight maintaining correct posture with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the weight bar with a firm grip.
- With your face forward, looking straight ahead and your back straight, lift the weight bar to your thighs. Next, raise them to your hips.
- Gradually bend at the hips and place the weight bar on the ground.
- Repeat the same steps.
6. Bench Dips
Great for your triceps, bench dips are a set of easy steps that give positive results soon after you start doing them. You will need a firm bench to complete these steps.
- Stand with your back towards the bench. Stand straight and perpendicular to the bench top.
- Hold the edge of the bench with your palms facing downwards and your fingers towards the floor.
- Bent at the waist, extend your feet forward and at 90-degrees with your torso.
- Inhale and lower your buttocks towards the ground. You do this by bending your elbows. Continue lowering until your forearms are perpendicular to the ground.
- Exhale and return to the initial position going back the way you came.
7. Bench Press
Another exercise that uses a bench, the bench press works on your shoulders, triceps, and your chest muscles. Apart from a bench, you will require a weight bar. Again, choose weights appropriate for you.
- Lie on your back on the bench below the rack that holds the weight bar. If the bench does not have a rack, you can use a spotter for safety.
- Hold the weight bar at your chest carefully and firmly.
- Straighten your arms towards the ceiling holding the weight bar. Exhale while doing this step.
- Slowly bring the weight bar down to your chest and inhale while doing so.
- Repeat as many times as you want. After completing, place the weight bar in the rack or ask the spotter to hold it for you while you get off the bench.
8. Overhead Press
You will require a weight bar or a set of dumbbells for doing the overhead press which is a great exercise for deltoids, triceps, and muscles of the upper back.
- With your hands shoulder-width apart, squat down and grasp firmly the weight bar.
- Lift the bar gradually to your chest or shoulders, whichever is comfortable for you.
- Take a deep breath and lift it over your head keeping your hands straight. Keep your elbows locked.
- Slowly, lower the bar to the level of your shoulders.
- Repeat in ideal reps of 3.
Exercise like pull-ups, squats, and lunges can be done using weights for maximizing the results of the sessions. For weighted pull-ups, experts suggest using a weight belt that can be worn around your waist. However, before doing any weighted exercises, it is advised to consult a trainer for proper instructions.
The heavier the weights that you use, the faster you will gain muscles. Overdoing it, however, may result in injuries or over-training. The key is to find the right balance and to recognize your capacity.
Maintaining the Lifestyle
- Maintain a healthy diet: While exercising definitely is a huge part of building muscle and gaining weight, it is more important to have quality nutrition. You may see results if you’re nutrition is good and workout is not, but if it’s the opposite, you’re losing out on gains.
When you workout, you create micro-tears in your body that need to be fed with the right nutrition in order from them to grow back stronger. Hence, it is important that you have a proper nutrition plan in place.
If you’re looking for options, here’s a list of best weight gain foods to help you get big!
- Get adequate sleep: The third part of a muscle building or weight gain routine is getting enough rest. When you’ve fed your muscles with enough quality nutrition, it is then time to give them enough time to repair and regrow. This happens the most when your body is resting, typically during deep sleep. No matter which routine you’re following, it is essential that you get at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep every day.
- Drink plenty of water: Hydration is the key, and it’s not just important for muscle building, but for your overall health as well. Getting enough water is crucial to balance your body’s systems, including your muscles, brain, heart and other body parts. Water is also important for the absorption of nutrients and many other chemical reactions in the body. Lastly, since water is required to transport nutrients to the cells and remove the waste out of your body, you need to make sure that you’re keeping your body hydrated. How much is that? It depends on a lot of factors. Try to aim for at least 2-3 liters a day!
- Consider taking supplements: While you can definitely get a good body without using supplements at all, taking some supplements can surely help you reach your goals faster and more effectively. Supplements like whey protein and creatine can help you either complete your protein profile or give you a push during working, and help you lift more. However, given that there are hundreds of supplements available in the market, make sure you do your research and only invest in the ones that are highly important in helping you achieve your specific goals.
For gaining weight, I’ve done the research so that you don’t have to. Here’s a list of best weight gain supplements that you can consider along with a high quality diet.
- Do not stress out: Stress is no answer, and can actually affect the ability with which you can build muscle or gain weight. During mental or physical stress, your body releases Cortisol hormone to suppress the problem. While this isn’t exactly something that you should know, what you should know is that cortisol is also associated with a decrease in protein synthesis. If you’re spending time working out in the gym and then feeding your body with enough nutrition, you do not want to lose even a bit of your hard-work by doing anything that can slow down your weight gain process. Hence, it is important that you try to minimize your stress levels.
- Stay focused: Just like in the case of everything in the world, you might want to stay focused and have a goal in mind before you start working towards anything. There may be ups and downs, and times where you do not feel like working out, having a meal or eating something you’re literally craving for. It happens with everyone, and it’s okay to make mistakes. The only part that you should remember is to get back on track as soon as you’re done, and stay focused!
What to Avoid
- Nutrition: There are a lot of don’ts associated with nutrition. It is important that you know the benefits of nutritious, high-quality whole foods in comparison with junk food and sodas. While it is definitely easy to fulfill your calorie surplus goal by eating pizzas and soda all day, this would automatically mean that what you gain is bad fat. This fat is definitely worth something putting on, and might cause more harm than good in the long run. Hence, make sure that you fulfill most of your diet requirements with good quality cheap whole foods. Here’s a great list of weight gain foods that you can incorporate in your diet.
- The Supplement-Only Approach: While mass gainers are great supplements to complement your diet, depending solely on them would both waste your money as well as time. Mass gainers are loaded with carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and are to be used in conjunction with a high-quality diet, in order to get the best results. However, if most of your diet doesn’t come from high-quality whole foods, you would only gain a high amount of fats or not see any progress at all. Here’s the best way to use mass gainers.
Hence, it is important that you first put all your focus on maintaining a high-quality diet, and then use supplements to fill in the gaps. This is true for every supplement, ranging from whey proteins to creatine monohydrate.
Related Read: Mass Gainer vs Whey Protein: How to Make a Decision?
- Too much Cardio: Since cardio is essential for overall health and performance, it is important that you include it in your workout. However, while putting on weight and building muscle, it is important to focus on one thing: to stay in a calorie surplus. Hence, it is important that you either balance your workout, or keep cardio to a minimum. One one side you are trying to eat a lot, and on the other side burning these calories doesn’t seem like a good option. Make sure that you’re not overdoing it, and you’re good to go!
The fact that exercising is necessary for a healthy and fit body is no surprise. The benefits are many and if done properly, the negatives are none.
Besides helping to gain weight, exercises are an amazing way to build up a good immune system and even give a boost to life expectancy. Hence, incorporate the above mentioned exercise to gain weight in your workout plans, and you’re bound to see results.
Every goal has many ways of reaching it. There are shortcuts that will take you there but rob you of all the benefits along the way. A systematic and balanced approach will lead a long way and the results will be sweeter.
You won’t see results in a single day or even in the first few months after hitting the weights. But we can vouch for the fact that if you keep going for it, patiently and steadily, and work with these great weight gain exercises, you will get there. And trust me, It’ll be worth it.