Everything you need to know about bulking up if you find it hard to gain weight
Brought to you by “Centra” Live Every Day.
“Aren’t you lucky - you can eat what you want.”
In a world where most people want to gain weight, being blessed with a bulletproof metabolism is a double-edged sword. For naturally slim men, trying to bulk up or gain muscle mass can be a real struggle.
Sure, it’s nice to be able to eat whatever you want without gaining a gut. On the flipside, your biceps haven’t grown since you were in your teens and the only thing you gain in the gym is a new circle of casual acquaintances.
So what can you do to make a difference and see some real gains?
Tailor your approach to your body type
Most gym programs are designed for the natural athletes or “mesomorphs.” Men who are naturally slim are called “ectomorphs” and their metabolisms process food much better than other body types.
Tracking your calories may be something you associate with losing weight but ectomorphs should also track what they eat. Many ectomorphs underestimate how many calories they’re consuming so tracking it is one way to measure intake against results.
It’s a simple equation - you need to eat more calories than you’re using if you want to succeed.
What to eat
Ectomorphs who want to bulk up should eat between five and seven meals a day to beat their accelerated metabolisms. Aim for a diet that’s roughly divided into 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat.
Protein is a vital macronutrient when you’re trying to build muscle and you should be eating it with every meal. Great sources of protein include lean meats like lean mince, chicken, turkey and fish as well as eggs and protein powder.
Ectomorphs burn through carbs much quicker than an average person but complex carbs can take longer to break down. Complex carbs are going to be your new best friend. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include sweet potato, brown pasta, quinoa, oats and brown rice.
Avoiding food with low calorie density is an obvious step. You want everything you eat to count. Examples of calorie-dense foods are nuts, avocados, dried fruit, salmon and beef but it’s easy to find more comprehensive lists with a bit of research.
Shake it up
One way to squeeze in a few extra calories is with shakes. Making your own shakes can avoid the high sugar levels of some commercial products.
Add more calories by including the likes of nut butter, Greek yogurt, ground oatmeal or other additions. You can use almond milk or coconut milk if you’re not a big fan of milk.
Don't overdo the gym work
Less is more when it comes to gym work. That may sound counterintuitive but bear with us.
Ectomorphs can sometimes think that they need to spend even more time in the gym to build more muscle. It’s an understandable theory but exercise breaks muscle down and it needs time to recover and grow.
Muscle builds up when you’re resting and recovering. People with high metabolisms burn through calories quicker and take longer to recover so they need to limit their gym time.
Limiting yourself to three or four 45 minute sessions a week will actually do more good than hammering away for six days a week.
Focus on shorter workouts and compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses and rows to get the best results. This type of strength training is the best way to bulk up.
Build up to longer sets and larger weights over time. You need to give your body time to adjust to this type of programme. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid endurance cardio when trying to gain muscle.
Take it easy
Ectomorphs tend to be restless sorts so they can find it hard to sit still without tapping their feet or fidgeting. They also tend to burn muscle as fuel so it’s important to avoid unnecessary activity. Any activity is more likely to burn calories so try to focus on resting when you’re not working out.
Sleep is also vital. Try and get eight or nine hours a night to let your body go into deep recovery. This may seem like a lot but it’s the best way to increase your chances of muscle gain.
"Eat, sleep, repeat" will form the backbone of your training plan and it's the first step towards leaving your skinny days behind!
Centra will be helping customers get back on track and “Restart” this month with healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner inspiration as well as fantastic offers like half price Centra Extra Lean Round Steak Mince 330g. It’s reduced from €4 to €2 from Monday, 6 March, to Wednesday, 8 March. Alpro Almond Unsweetened Milk was €2.49 but it’s now reduced to €1 until 11 March.
Visit centra.ie to sign up to this month’s 21-day healthy eating and mindfulness challenge set out by health and wellness expert, Pat Divilly. Share your progress using #livewell on Centra social channels to be in with the chance to win a set of Sony wireless headphones – perfect for meditating!
Brought to you by “Centra” Live Every Day.