A typical strength training program to gain weight almost always includes compound free weight lifts such as squats, bench press, shoulder press, pull-ups (wide grip), and dips. The amount of weight used for each, the number of repetitions, and the frequency of training are adjusted according to your body type, current strength, and strength training goals.
It is also important to note that training too often is both dangerous and counterproductive. More training does not equate to more muscles. The body does not become stronger during training; it becomes stronger during the recovery period between exercises. This is rather non-intuitive, but it is a fundamental scientific fact. As such, it is crucial for people to avoid overexertion and to build in the right rest periods between reps, sets, and training sessions.
Intrinsic motivation and progress tracking
This is perhaps the most neglected part of an effective weight gain system, yet it is easily as important as the other two mentioned above.
The problem of motivation is usually not one of starting. Many people have the will and desire to start a weight gain program, at least for the first few times. Where motivation makes – or breaks – a weight gain program is when it comes to monitoring progress and maintaining muscle building.
This doesn’t mean that people are weak or uninterested in progress; in fact, it’s a little more complicated than that. While 1,000 people can concentrate on getting effective and measurable muscle results on the same day and at the same time, it’s no exaggeration to say that each of these people will experience something different. Some of those differences will be profound and visible, while others will be subtle and difficult to put into words. The dilemma here is that people may start to doubt the validity of their program when their progress (or lack of progress) does not match the results that someone else has achieved. Or worse, some people begin to doubt their ability to “ever gain weight” when they see that someone else is making clear progress toward their weight gain goals.
The cure for this dilemma is contained in the term “perseverance. The key to successful weight gain lies fundamentally in the ability to follow and adhere to a program while making the appropriate adjustments to capitalize on the gains and avoid disappointment. Ultimately, when the nutritional and strength training components are in place, achieving weight gain goals is only a matter of time and effort; and that’s where motivation plays an important role.
Typically proven strategies to keep motivation high and continuous are: adapting training to add variety and avoid boredom; using visuals (such as a before and after image, or a video) to monitor progress; writing down (realistic!) goals; measuring physical improvements on a biweekly basis; measuring mental/psychological improvements on a biweekly basis; staying focused; and of course, taking breaks when necessary.
Putting everything in place and taking action
As noted earlier, there is an alarming amount of poor quality (or no quality) information available that purports to help naturally thin people gain weight. Most of this damaging 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 either to stay thinner than they would like or to eat fat and risk a high body fat ratio or even obesity.
Fortunately, however, nothing needs to be created to help naturally thin people achieve their weight gain goals; there is no need for scientific progress or miraculous healings. Simply, what is needed is action based on what is already available, and what has been noted above: good nutrition, effective strength training, and self-motivation.
Ensuring these three elements are present is the unifying theme common to almost every successful weight gain story ever written, applauded, and admired.
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