A typical strength training program for weight gain almost always includes compound free weight lifts like squats, bench press, shoulder press, pull-ups (wide grip), and dips. The amount of weight used for each, the amount of reps, and the frequency of training, will obviously be customized to suit your body type, current strength, and strength training goals.
It’s also important to note that training too often is both dangerous and counter-productive. More training does not equal more muscle. The body does not become stronger during exercise; it actually becomes stronger during the repair period between exercising. This is rather non-intuitive, but it’s a basic scientific fact. As such, it’s critically important for people to avoid over-training, and to build in appropriate rest periods between reps, sets, and workouts.
Intrinsic Motivation and Keeping Up Progress
This may be the most neglected component of an effective weight-gain system, yet it’s easily as important as the other two noted above.
The problem of motivation is typically not one of starting. Many people have the will and desire to start a weight gain program; at least, they do for the first few times. Where motivation makes – or breaks – a weight gain program is when it comes to monitoring progress and maintaining muscle gain.
This doesn’t imply that people are weak or uninterested in progress; actually, it’s rather more complex than that. Though 1,000 people may focus, on the same day and at the same time, on gaining weight effectively and with measurable muscular results, it’s not an exaggeration to say that each of these people will experience something different. Some of those differences will be profound and visible; other differences will be subtle and difficult to put into words. The dilemma here is that people may start doubting the validity of their program when their progress (or lack of progress) does not mirror the results achieved by someone else. Or worse, some people may truly start doubting their own ability to “ever gain weight” when they see someone else making apparent progress towards their weight gain goals.
The remedy to this dilemma is contained in the term “follow-through”. The key to successful weight gain lies fundamentally in one’s ability to follow-through with a program, and to stick with it, while at the same time making appropriate adjustments to exploit gains, and avoid disappointment. Ultimately, if the nutrition and strength training components are in place, achieving weight gain goals are merely a matter of time and effort; and that is where motivation plays it’s most important role.
Typical proven strategies to ensure motivation remains high and continuous include: adjusting workouts to add some variety and avoid boredom; using visuals (such as a before and after picture, or a video) to monitor progress; writing down (realistic!) goals; measuring physical improvements on a bi-weekly basis; measuring mental/psychological improvements on a bi-weekly basis; staying focused, and of course, taking breaks when necessary.
Putting it All Into Place and Taking Action
As noted earlier, there is a disconcerting amount of poor quality (or no quality) information available that purports to help naturally thin people gain weight. The majority of this harmful information revolves around “eating more”; which, if it works, simply leads to the creation of permanent fat cells. Unfortunately, for naturally thin people stuck in this cycle of misinformation and misunderstanding, their choices are to either remain thinner than they’d like, or put on fat pounds and risk a high body fat ratio or even obesity.
Thankfully, however, nothing needs to be created in order to help naturally thin people succeed in their weight gain goals; scientific advancements or miracle cures are not required. Simply, what is required is action based on what is already available, and what has been noted above: proper nutrition, effective strength training and self-motivation.
Ensuring that these three elements are present is the unifying theme that is common to almost every successful weight gain story that has ever been written, applauded, and admired.