People with lean bodies often try tricks and techniques to add bulk to their muscles and gain weight. But, did you know that exercise can help you gain weight as well? A combination of the right exercises and diet can go a long way in helping you gain lean mass and muscle (1), (2).
Listed below are a few of the best exercises for weight gain. Make sure you seek help from a fitness trainer to do these exercises the correct way.
Effective Exercises For Weight Gain
Men and women have different body composition and distribution of muscle mass (3). Focus on specific exercises relevant to you after taking proper guidance from a certified trainer.
- Lie down on your stomach.
- Put your hands on the ground – palms flat and facing downward, and elbows bent and shoulder-width apart.
- Place your toes on the ground.
- Align your legs, feet, and back.
- Slowly push your entire body up off the ground with your hands. Stretch your arms completely. Your entire body should be off the ground, supported by your hands and toes.
- Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows. No part of your body should touch the ground except your hands and toes.
- Do 15 reps or as many as you can as per your comfort.
- Target Muscles: Chest muscles or pectorals, Shoulders or deltoid muscles, Triceps, and Core muscles.
Precautions: If you have wrist pain or poor wrist flexibility, use push-up handles to do this exercise. Do not strain your knees if you are finding it difficult to push your body off the ground.
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2. Bench Press
- Lie on your back on the bench, keeping your entire body relaxed.
- Stretch out your fingers and grab the bar.
- Slowly lift the weight bar, stretching your arms completely.
- Pull it back down onto the rack or near your chest from where you started. Bend your arms at a 90° angle.
- Do 4 to 5 reps or as per your comfort level.
- Target Muscles: Triceps, Anterior deltoids, Traps, and Back.
Precautions: Make sure to grip the weight bar properly while unracking it to avoid shoulder injury.
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- Grip the pull-up bar with your palms facing outward. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders.
- Pull yourself up to the level of the bar, making sure your feet are completely off the ground.
- Pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.
- Lower your body slowly until your feet touch the ground, and your arms are completely straight.
- Do as many reps as you feel comfortable doing.
- Target Muscles: Biceps, Lats muscles (the flat muscles of your back), Forearms, Trapezius (muscles in the center of the upper back), and Deltoid muscles (the muscles in your lower back).
Precautions: Do not strain yourself if you have a neck injury or weak wrist flexibility.
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4. Bench Dips
- Place a firm bench behind your back, perpendicular to your body. The bench should be wide and stable.
- Grip the edge of the bench with your palms. Your palms should face downward, with your fingertips facing the ground.
- Extend your legs forward, bent at the waist and perpendicular to your torso.
- Inhale and slowly lower your buttocks by bending your elbows and pushing yourself down until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor.
- While exhaling, straighten your arms and lift your torso back to the starting position.
- Do 4-5 reps or as per your comfort level.
- Target Muscles: Triceps
Precautions: Keep your chest puffed out and your shoulder blades pulled back. Be careful while doing this exercise if you have neck or back problems as it may strain them.
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- Stand straight with your feet in line with your hips.
- Raise your arms straight forward and perpendicular to the ground. You may also spread your fingers and join your palms in front of your chest.
- Keep your entire body tight and flex your stomach.
- Breathe deeply and lower your buttocks as if you are sitting on a chair. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground. (You can also do this exercise while holding a weight bar for better results.)
- While doing this exercise, make sure your bent knees do not cross your big toes, and your body is straight and firm.
- Come back to your original position and repeat 5 times.
- Target Muscles: Thigh muscles like quads, hamstrings, and outer thighs, Glutes, and Core muscles.
Precaution: Whilesquatting down, make sure your knees do not go beyond your toes as it can hurt your knees. If you are a beginner, start doing this exercise without a weight bar.
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- Stand straight with your feet aligned with your hips. This is the starting position.
- Engage your core, take a deep breath, and take a step forward with your left foot and kneel until your right knee is perpendicular to the ground.
- Push back on your heel to lift back your body to the starting position.
- Repeat this 20 times on each side. For best results, do this exercise while holding some weights.
- Target Muscles: Glutes and buttocks, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, and Core muscles.
Precaution: While kneeling down, your knee should not cross your big toe as it may hurt your knees. Do not lean forward while doing lunges. Keep your upper body straight.
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- Stand straight, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the weight bar firmly.
- Face forward and look straight ahead.
- Keeping your back straight, lift the weight bar first up until your thighs and then until your hips.
- Slowly bend at the hips and place the weight bar back on the ground.
- Do as many reps as you feel comfortable.
- Target Muscles: Glute muscles, Hamstrings, and Core muscles.
Precautions: Though this exercise is very effective, it is difficult to perform without a trainer. Avoid doing this exercise if you have any injuries.
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8. Overhead Press
- With your hands shoulder-width apart, squat and grip the weight bar.
- Lift the bar slowly to your chest or shoulders.
- Take a deep breath and lift it over your head until your arms are fully stretched. Keep your elbows locked.
- Slowly lower the bar to the shoulder level.
- Do 3 reps or as per your comfort level. You can do this exercise with dumbbells as well.
- Target Muscles: Deltoids, Triceps, and Upper back muscles.
Precautions: Do not perform this exercise if you have a neck or shoulder injury.
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Along with these exercises, here are a few tips that you can follow to gain weight.
Tips To Gain Weight
- Aim to strengthen your muscle groups by focusing on each on specific days. For instance, you can target your upper body and abs one day, followed by the lower body and cardio the next day.
- Shorten your rest period and add variety once your body has adjusted to these exercises.
- Do not forget to eat proper pre- and post-workout meals as it helps in quick recovery.
- Take enough rest for maximum recovery and to add bulk to your muscle and increase weight further.
2. Healthy Dietary Habits
This is again one of the important approaches to healthy weight gain. Eating high-calorie foods to gain weight is not healthy. Your plate should contain healthy and wholesome carbs, good-quality proteins, healthy fats, and probiotics to enhance digestion.
Here is a diet that you can follow to gain weight in a healthy way.
3. Keep A Check On Your Lifestyle
Weight gain requires a holistic approach, not just exercise and eating healthy. Here are some things you need to keep in mind:
- Be Practical: Set a realistic goal for your weight-gain journey.
- Sleep Quality: Focus on getting quiet and peaceful sleep for 7-8 hours. Good sleep enhances muscle recovery and improves your mood.
- Reduce Stress: Cortisol is the main culprit behind your stress levels and low mood. Try stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or deep tissue massage to relax your entire body.
- Stay Away From Bad Habits: Don’t indulge in unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking.
What To Avoid
- Being irregular with cardio exercises. Spend at least 20 minutes on cardio exercises for your heart, brain, and lungs. Let your heart rate go up and come down slowly.
- A diet low in natural foods. Always aim to include natural fruits and vegetables in your diet to get enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- High-calorie foods that are rich in saturated and trans fats.
- Aerated beverages.
- Processed and refined foods.
- Over-dependence on weight gain supplements. Always go for practical and sustainable approaches.
Gaining weight in a healthy manner requires a disciplined and balanced approach. Only diet or only exercise will not help you achieve your weight gain goals. Take a holistic approach and consult a fitness trainer to make sure you are doing the exercises properly. Consult a doctor if you have any physical injuries.
Weight gain is a gradual process. You will need to give it adequate time to see results.
- Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High-Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training, International Journal Of Exercise Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth, International Journal Of Sports Nutrition And Exercise Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Gender differences in fat metabolism, Current Opinion In Clinical Nutrition And Metabolic Care, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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