The first step on the way to healthy weight gain is knowing how many calories it takes to sustain your current weight. The formulas below will give you that number.

Basal MetabolicRate (BMR) Formula

The basal metabolic rate formula takes several variables like height, weight, age and gender to calculate your calorie needs as if you did not do any exercise.

Harris Benedict Formula

The Harris Benedict Formula takes the number produced by the BMR formula and multiplies it depending on your activity level.

An easy way to calculate the calories required to maintain your body weight is to use Muscle & Strength’s BMR Calculator.

Once you have the amount of calories it takes to sustain your weight you can begin planning your diet to add calories in order to gain weight.

Our muscle tissue consists of approx 70% water, 22% protein, and the remainder is fat, carbohydrates and minerals. By taking away the water content of the muscle which has no calorific value, the total caloric value of one pound of muscle tissue is only approx 700-800 cal.

Studies have shown that between 5 to 8 calories are required to support an additional 1 gram of new tissue during growth. The recommended amount of weight gain per week is 1 lb (1 lb = 454 grams). This gives us an approximate requirement of 2300 – 3500 extra calories per week. This gives us a requirement of an extra 400 – 500 extra calories per day, above our normal calorific maintenance level.

Nutrient Intake For Strength Trained Athletes

Energy Carbohydrates Protein Fat
30-60 calories per kilogram of body weight (needs vary depending on the specific sport) 6-10 grams per kilogram of body weight. 1.4-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight At least 1.0 gram per kilogram of body weight and enough to meet energy demands.

Note: 1 kilogram = 2.2 lbs.

The table above can be used in conjunction with the food recommendations below to plan a healthy diet high in caloric value.

Protein Foods

Lean meats, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Peanut Butter, Beans, Tofu, Lentils, and other Legumes. Grains, including bread and pastas. Nuts and Seeds

Proteins that we eat are digested into amino acids and these are joined along side other amino acids produced by the body to constitute the amino acid poolTissues take the amino acids from the pool to synthesize specific proteins the body needs for muscle, hair, nails, hormones, enzymes etc. Proteins maintain fluid balance and buffer both acid and alkaline environments to maintain blood pH; transporter of vitamins, minerals and oxygen. Proteins also provide a source of carbon for energy yielding reactions by amino acid conversion to glucose and metabolized to provide ATP, while others can be stored as fat.

Carbohydrate Foods:

Rice, Pasta, Bread, Potatoes, Cereals, Fruits, Vegetables, Beans, Pulses, Yogurt, Milk.

Carbohydrates provide energy and muscular fuel for body strength and building muscle. Carbohydrates are converted to stored energy as liver and muscle glycogen, sugars and starch. Carbohydrates act as the perfect fuel to enable you to carry out your physical activities efficiently and effectively. Fiber is important in keeping bowel function going smooth. Carbohydrates aid in regulating blood glucose.

Fat Foods: 

Nuts, Nut oils, flax seeds, avocados, sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil and olive oil spreads, fish and fish oils.

Essential fats (EFAs) are necessary fats that us as humans cannot synthesise and must be obtained though our diet. EFAs are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids. EFAs support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. The human body needs EFAs to manufacture and repair cell membranes, enabling the cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. An important function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception and play a large role of immune function by regulating inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection.

Now that you know how many calories you need and which foods will give you the calories plus the protein, carbohydrates and essential fats. It is time to set up a resistance routine that will work for you.

What is Resistance Training?


Resistance training places a heavy load on a muscle cell and creates an increase in protein synthesis in the muscle cells and the cells increase in size by incorporating more protein. Secondly the myofibrils in each cell may multiply, which will increase the size of the muscle fiber. Thirdly the amount of connective tissue surrounding the muscle fiber and around each bundle of muscle may increase and thicken, again increasing the size of the muscle. Fourth, the cell may increase its content of enzymes and energy storage, particularly ATP (muscle energy) and muscle glycogen levels.

Studies have shown that resistance training with free weights is the most effective method of increasing the size and weight of muscles provided that the basic principle of overload is followed.

The Basic Principles of Resistance Training

Although there is no single best combination of sets and repetitions, the principle of overload is the most important principle in all resistance training programs. Here are some guidelines and additional principles that will help maximize your resistance training workout.

  1. Know your 1RM (Maximum weight that can be used for 1 repetition with strict form) you should be able to do 8-12 RM (repetition maximum) if you use 60-80 percent of your 1RM value.
  2. 2 to 3 sets with 8-12 RM provides an adequate training stimulus for muscle growth.
  3. After a learning period the normal recommended program for beginners is 3 to 5 sets with 8RM in each set.
  4. If you can do more than eight repetitions, the weight is too light and you will need to increase weight.
  5. As you get stronger during the weeks you will be able to lift the initial weight more easily,when you can perform 12 repetitions, add more weight to force you to go back to eight repetitions. This is how the principle of progressive resistance exercise (PRE) works.
  6. If your training routine consists of ten exercises your training routine should be arranged in an order so that muscle fatigue does not limit your ability to lift. This is the principle of exercise sequence.
  7. After you perform one full set of all the exercises, then do a complete second set, followed by a third set depending on how long you have been lifting.
  8. Beginners should start with an all over body routine to help the body adapt to weight training before moving on to a split type routine (splitting the body into different muscle groups to be trained on different days)
  9. For beginners resistance training should generally be performed about three days per week, with a rest day in between sessions. This rest day allows time for the muscles to repair and to synthesize new protein as it continues to grow. This is the principle of exercise recovery states.

Bulk-Up Method of Resistance Training

If your goal is to increase a large amount of muscle mass then you may wish to use the bulk-up method of resistance training. This method involves the use of exercises to stress the major muscle groups of the body.

  1. 3 to 5 sets with 8-12RM is recommended for beginners.
  2. Implement the principle of progressive resistance exercise as stated above.
  3. The bulk-up method should be used for several months to increase the body weight.
  4. Once you achieve the weight that you want to be at, you may then wish to shape the bulk. This is known as “cutting up.”
  5. Once you achieve the reduction of body fat in the cutting phase that you want, you again hit a bulking up phase, this technique is used to both maintain weight and shap

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