I’ve been told many times that one of the main parts of gaining weight (along with lifting of course) is eating. I’m working out five days a week and I’m getting a lot stronger, but I haven’t gained very much weight. I’m eating more than I usually do and everything. Is it possible that I’m not working out hard enough or is the calorie intake a bigger part of it?
4,000-5,000- calories a day with 1 or more G of protein per pound of body weight and you will gain.
It’s possible that you just have an extremely high metabolism, so don’t worry about it. I remember years ago when the Yankees had a third baseman named Andy Carey; he was a very fine third baseman, and he also was the biggest trencherman in the majors. Six-three, 190 pounds, not an ounce of fat on him, and he ate and ate and ate and where did it all go? There was a story about him that one evening before a game he polished off, as was his custom, two complete dinners WITH DESSERT, and then he saw Yogi Berra sit down to a delicious steak dinner. He went over and said to him, “Oh, Yogi—don’t tell me you’re going to eat that huge steak all alone?” Yogi looked at him and growled, “Of course not—I’m having potatoes with it!” So—if you’re getting stronger, just relax.
Yup the few times I’ve successfully put on weight as a “hard gainer” or “ectomorph” I had to eat until I was uncomfortable for the first week or two. Eventually you get used to it, but man it sucked at first. Don’t let it bother you when people say “man you’re lucky to not put on weight.” People don’t realize it’s the flip side to the same weight change coin from the perspective of a skinny guy like you or me.
Weight gain supplements do help. I had one that was a quick 900-1000 calories with some milk, and it did wonders. I got from 6’2 165 to 185 and never felt better about myself. Yeah it was probably full of fats and sugars, but I say there’s room for it when you are thin.
Eat roughly 5 meals a day. I usually ate at 8 AM, 10:30 AM, Noon, 3 PM, and 6PM then always had a snack before bed. Lots of nuts, yogurts, and PBJs between meals.
It is tough for hard gainers.
The main thing is being consistent. A weight gainer should be used to supplement good eating, not to replace a meal. Elite Mass has a gainer that tastes decent. Four scoops mixed with whole milk and a banana would get you to 1,000 calories. Half a bottle of Nestle Honey Roasted peanuts is about 1,200 calories, add in a glass (2 cups) of whole milk and you have a snack that is 1,500 calories.
Like with anything else you can ease you way into it. Eating what you eat now and adding two extra snacks week one, the adding another shake week two, that kind of stuff.
Astro, here is an example of a guy who thinks he is eating a lot:
Breakfast; 3 eggs, 2 pieces of toast and a turkey sausage paddy for breakfast: 490 calories
Lunch; Chicken sandwich, banana, milk: 800 calories
yogurt snack: 120 calories
Dinner; steak, mashed potatoes, veggies, milk: 1,150 calories
Total: 2,660 calories.
Now add in the snack with the peanuts and milk and a weight gainer shake and he would be closer to 5,100 calories.
Remember, whether the goal is to gain weight or lose weight at some point eating is training. As Sidewinder said, getting to that point to gain weight is not comfortable, especially at first.
You really need to ACCURATELY track you calories. There are many free apps for a phone that will work well enough. Most guys don’t take the time to track their calories and they are eating less than they think.
@Astro25 - Are you new to lifting weights? The first 6-8 weeks of resistance training adaptations are mostly neural in origin and so, while you may be getting stronger, you might not gain much in terms of muscle. But stick to your guns, it will happen in good time.
I’m happy to address specific questions but I thought I would post this for reference. I posted this as a reply to a question on the forum a few months ago…
How I Gained 60 Pounds and 7 MPH on My Fastball
I am a former skinny kid.
I think I graduated high school weighing in at a buck-fourty-five, soaking wet. When I earned a scholarship to play Division 1 baseball I decided it was time to learn how not to be so damn skinny. I spent the next year teaching myself to lift weights and eating enough food to feed a small army.
My hard work paid off and, a year later, I flew the coop 30 pounds heavier. Since then, I’ve managed to put on another 30 pounds. And my velocity went from sitting in the mid-80s to the low-90s.
Let’s face it: if you’re a skinny guy and you want to throw harder, gaining weight can be one of your greatest velocity “hacks”.
Here’s (more-or-less) how I did it…
I lifted weights.
When I started my weight-gain journey I was embarrassingly weak. I remember the first time I got on a leg press and barely managed to lift the cage (without any additional weights) for 10—maybe 15—repetitions.
Resistance training (i.e. “strength training” or “lifting weights”) is a potent stimulator of something called muscle protein synthesis (in other words, “muscle growth”) and will be an important, if not vital, component of your own weight-gain journey.
When you first start lifting weights almost anything will work. But that doesn’t mean you should just do “anything”. If you want to ensure constant steady progress over the long-term and avoid injury you have to approach your training in a strategic, intelligent manner.
While it’s difficult to give personalized training advice in the context of an article like this*, the ideas I’ve outlined below are a good place to start. At the beginning, take the time to learn the technique that’s right for your body and use loads that are challenging but within your capabilities. Getting bigger and strong is a marathon, not a sprint. Treat your workouts as such.
- These are really simplified recommendations. Designing strength and conditioning programs for baseball players (or any athlete for that matter…) is a highly-individualized process. Just like no two pitchers should be expected to throw exactly the same way, no two pitchers should be expected to train exactly the same way. (Nor should they.)
Split your week into two lower body days, two upper body days and two sprint days*. It’ll look something like this…
Monday: Lower Body
Tuesday: Upper Body
Thursday: Lower Body
Friday: Upper Body
*Note that this is just one option. There are many ways to split up your training week.
Each workout should include at least one multi-joint exercise (e.g. squat/deadlift variations for the lower body and pressing/rowing variations for the upper body) as well as an additional 2-3 “accessory” exercises (e.g. lunge/bridge variations for the lower body, shoulder/scapular stability exercises for the upper body). I also like to do some kind of corrective or core stability work during my “rest” periods.
Putting this altogether, a lower body day might look like this:
*After a good warm-up…
A1. Deadlift Variation: 4 sets of 6 reps with 2-3 minutes rest between sets.
A2. Corrective Exercise
B1. Lunge Variation in Sagittal Plane: 3 sets of 8 reps/side
B2. Anti-Rotation Core Stability Exercise
C1. Unilateral Bridge Variation: 3 sets of 10 reps
C2. Corrective Exercise
D1. Lunge Variation in Frontal Plane: 3 sets of 10 reps/side
D2. Anti-Extension Core Stability Exercise
Each week you should be trying to increase (1) the number of reps you do or (2) the amount of weight you use. This is a goal not a requirement. Judge your abilities on any given day and adjust accordingly. Don’t be afraid to push yourself but stay sensible and know when to back-off. The number one thing that’s going to hold you back from getting stronger is getting hurt. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
A note on aerobic training
“But there’s no running in your program. What gives?”
When I was growing up, many pitching coaches considered long-distance running to be the Holy Grail of physical conditioning for pitchers. We would run poles until the cows came home. I was so awful at it that Eric Cressey has done a fantastic job dismantling this dogmatic approach to training pitchers. According to Cressey, a repetitive motion like jogging can cause pitchers to lose mobility in their hips. “That’s the very mobility they depend on so much to generate stride length and, in turn, velocity”, wrote Cressey on his blog in a 2008 article series entitled, A New Model for Training Between Starts.
That’s not to say that aerobic training is not beneficial for pitchers; increasing your aerobic capacity helps you recover better between training sessions (lifting, throwing, etc.) and handle a higher workload during those training sessions by increasing recovery between sets/throws. But when your main goal is to gain weight you really need to dial back how much training time you choose to devote to aerobic training (if any at all).
My general recommendation would be: if your resting heart rate is somewhere in the 50-60 beats per minute range you are probably unlikely to benefit from further aerobic training at the moment. But if you feel like you are recovering poorly between training sessions and you’ve appropriately addressed other recovery strategies like sleep, diet and stress management (did I mention sleep?) then adding in some light aerobic work might be a good idea.
Nothing crazy here! Start with 2 sessions per week, 20-30 minutes each at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate*.
*To estimate your maximum heart rate take the number 220 and subtract your age. So, if you’re 18 years old your estimated MHR is 220 minus 18 or about 202 beats per minute.
Gaining weight is an expensive process—it takes a lot of energy. You don’t want to unnecessarily waste that energy recovering from aerobic training if you don’t have to.
I ate. A lot.
Reality check: if you’re struggling to gain weight, you don’t eat enough. Plain and simple.
I used to think I ate “so much” because I could devour an entire pizza once and awhile. <— Lol! Silly, naïve, skinny Tavis. (I realize now that doesn’t count.) If you want to gain an appreciable amount of weight that’s going to actually have a noticeable effect on your pitching velocity you need to consistently eat more food than you currently eat.
If you’re a naturally skinny guy like me, chances are you’re going to need a ridiculous (sometimes uncomfortable) amount of food to get bigger. That doesn’t mean gaining weight is an excuse to binge on potato chips and candy bars. (Although those are okay in moderation.) The majority of the food you eat should come wholesome, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, wholegrains, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. But because you’re trying to get in more calories than the average person you can afford to have more “treats” than the average person.
When I was going from 145 to 205 pounds, I was eating 3-4 solid meals per day. Each meal would contain 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein, 1-2 fist-sized portions of carbohydrates, 2 fist-sized portions of vegetables, and a handful of nuts (or other source of healthy fats).
I was also supplementing with liquid nutrition in between meals and after workouts in the form of what Precision Nutrition’s Dr. John Berardi calls, “Super Shakes”. If you’re having trouble gaining weight, “Super Shakes” can be a real life saver.
You can make your own shakes using the directions below…
In a blender, combine the following:
• 1 scoop of protein powder (I use whey but you can use vegetarian options like rice of pea protein)
• 1 vegetable (I like to use a handful of raw spinach or kale)
• 1 piece of fruit (I like bananas or frozen berries)
• 1 handful of nuts (or substitute with a tbsp of peanut butter)
• 1 cup of milk (you can substitute almond, rice, or coconut milk if you’re intolerant)
• 1 cup of ice
Some days I drank as many as 3 of these in between solid meals to accelerate body weight increases.
How much weight should I expect to gain?
If you’re eating properly and training hard, you should expect to gain about 1-2 pounds per week. Most experts agree that, for underweight athletes, this is a relatively safe rate of weight gain. Ideally, we don’t want to gain weight too quickly as this approach results in excessive and unnecessary increases in body fat. For the underweight athlete, gaining a bit of fat is not a bad thing (it might even be beneficial) but we don’t want to sacrifice our overall health in the pursuit of a few more MPHs.
After this the formula is pretty simple:
Weigh yourself every 1-2 weeks. If you aren’t gaining weight you need to eat more. If you’re gaining more than 2 pounds per week, maybe dial back on the amount of food you’re eating.
Do this consistently for 6 months and I’ll be damned if you aren’t at least 20 pounds heavier (and much stronger) than you are right now.
Weight is a relative thing based on age and one’s overall physical demeanor.
Age is the most complicated thing to critique. In the pre-teen and early teen years, the human body is growing and evolving a lot to develop vital organs, the central nervous system, bone structure and so on. Basically, you are what you are because of you environment and how that environment literally supports or not the very process of maturing those bodily functions that I mentioned above. So, now comes along the desire to alter your day to day habits with respect to activity and nourishment. In this regard a person in the maturing years has to be very careful of how the body – physically and mentally, is brought along. Dumping carbs into the body along with a cocktail of other concoctions can really upset the natural order of things that your body has as a “given” when you were born. Be very careful with a on-again-off-again agenda. You training habits during your pre-teen and early teen years should be selective enough to warrant a not-so-dramatic demand and expectations. Some day, you’re going to put those training routines – weights, food, supplements and so on, to the side for whatever reason and you don’t want that change to impact mood swings, stomach cramps, sleep disorders and other like impacts.
Your physical demeanor is what comes naturally because of who and what you are. Again, this is impacted by one’s ethnic persuasions, life style, economic and social place in time, and other things. If you’re socially popular and active with friends, well, trying to fit in an exercise and weight program that really means what it is, can be difficult. If you’re a loner, by yourself a lot, then you don’t have social obligations that would detract from a training routine – BUT, you may have family chores and responsibilities that may step in and make regular training difficult.
Any weight gain plans should have as a rule, a sound reason. Why gain weight? What’s the purpose? How much weight over what period of time?
Trying to be self-aware of a better looking body, trying to impress the girls, trying to fit in with a group, trying to perform on the athletic field are all natural “wants” for a young man. Just be reasonably consistent with your training routine and how you manage your body’s ability to grow and develop with what you have now. Monitor carefully any change in your body that tells you – something’s a miss here.
this is a good outline. when you see something like a deadlift with 4 sets of 6, or 3 sets of 4…a low number of reps per set…this exercise is to develop power. Lift heavy. You will see a lot of programs that have a bodybuilding sort of out line, a lot of reps per set. Those sort of programs are really developing a different sort of thing. With power exercises, deadlift, squat ect., the goal is to develop power. That means heavier weight and few reps. Also, very important is the rest that is listed there. A set of 6 reps of deadlift should take less than 30 seconds, followed by 2-3 minutes of rest. This is an important part of the workout. There are different approaches in terms of developing reps/weight as you progress.
Unfortunately this is still common. Unless a guy is overweight there is no benefit to distance running for pitchers. I still see it a lot at the even the college level and it is a red flag to me that a guy has no idea how to develop pitchers. It is baby sitting and nothing more.
If you want to add an aerobic element to your workout I would suggest sprints…again not a ton of them, heavy bag work is great too.
This is it.
Have to get outside of your comfort zone and push yourself in this area if you are a hard gainer.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. If I’m still lifting and getting stronger, and I am running some, is it okay to be losing weight? I’m not fat but I’m not like a total toothpick. If I am still getting stronger wouldn’t slimming down a little and then putting on weight be a good idea?
Depends what your goal is.
If it is to just get stronger it wouldn’t matter much remembering that size and strength are two different things.
If it is to throw harder simple physics come into play. Depends on height and weight.
Body weight factors into throwing velocity but it’s (probably) less important than how fast you can move.
It comes down to kinetic energy which is directly proportional to mass and to the square of velocity.
So, both body mass and how fast you can move that mass matters.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you are simultaneously losing weight and getting stronger (and eating enough protein*), there’s a good chance your weight loss is mostly (if not all) body fat – which is extra weight you have to move. And, considering fat can’t produce power, it ain’t helping you move faster!
Could you be getting stronger if you were eating enough calories to maintain/increase your body weight? Possibly. But you have the whole off-season to bring your weight back up, ideally via increased muscle mass.
It’s more from a position player view right now. I just want to focus on getting stronger, I’m not really caring as much about weight gains right now with school taking up a lot of time.
Perfect. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Keep doing what you’re doing.