Reader Matthew Bradwick asks:
“I am a teenage boy that struggles with my weight. I am 19, fit and active, and lean. I want to weigh more and have bigger muscles. How do I do this?”
Sally Symonds – Weight Loss Coach and Author
I’m assuming you are already doing the basics, Matthew, such as strength training and fuelling your body appropriately. If so, then it’s just a matter of tweaking the habits you already have. One of the best things you can is to vary the exercises that you currently do. Elite athletes vary their training every day in order to get results. There’s no reason that you can’t do this too. Here are some tips to get you up to speed:
1. Work on playing with the variables of training as much as you can. Apart from the exercises you actually do, consider varying the tempo of the exercises. If you always train with a 2-1-2-1 tempo, then experiment with some 3-1-2-1 and then work up to 4-0-1-0. Look to increase time under tension.
2. Incorporate partial reps, pulsing and intrarep pauses into exercises.
3. Work on varying your body position in order to affect muscle recruitment. Vary your grip – especially useful for chin-ups. Vary your angles. For example, angle your feet straight for one set, pointing out for one set and then pointing in for one set on the leg press, calf or squat machine.
Overall, small changes can bring big results. Don’t automatically just think “more weight”. Try stimulating them in other ways. Muscles are like women – slow seduction is often more successful in getting you what you want.
Sally Symonds holds a certificate III and IV in fitness, is a certified wellness coach, and a NLP practitioner. She holds a Masters and Bachelors degree in Arts, and an Associate and Licentiate in Speech and Drama. Having lost over 50 percent of her body weight, Sally Symonds is the author of 50 steps to lose 50kg… And Keep It Off and 50+ Recipes to Lose 50+kg… And Keep It Off and more than 20 other ebooks. Sally offers phone and online weight loss coaching, as well as a variety of other healthy living services and products.
Daniel Churchill – Elite Trainer Better Being
Hi Matthew, this is not an uncommon situation for someone your age to be in. Being consistently up and active generally results in your body’s metabolism being constantly elevated. Plus, a lot of teenagers neglect to take note of the importance of their intake in these situations. Quality animal protein, for example, is necessary for the repair of your muscles. You should be aiming to consume protein four times a day. A fist-sized portion is a good measurement. This includes beef, chicken, fish and pork. Leaner cuts of meat, which offer less fat and a higher percentage of protein, include turkey and kangaroo. Along with your protein try to make sure you are eating quality carbohydrates such as sweet potato, brown rice, vegetables and fruit.
The most important aspect is to consume protein and quality carbohydrates within the first 20 minutes of finishing your workout. Hit the gym 4-5 times a week for no longer than an hour, as the hormone testosterone (essential for muscle development) reaches optimal levels at 47-minutes.
Lastly, get plenty of sleep as the growth hormone, which is responsible for the growth and repair of the body, is most active in deep healthy sleep.
Exercise professional, aspiring chef and entrepreneur, Daniel Churchill, is bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase functional training. With a Masters in Exercise Science and a certificate in strength and conditioning coaching, Daniel is using his well established knowledge to educate and improve Australia’s health care standard. Born and bred on the Northern Beaches of Sydney Daniel is an essential part of the strength and conditioning team for the Warringah Rugby Club and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. Through Better Being, Australia’s only provider of university qualified fitness trainers, Daniel delivers the best in personal training, group exercise and corporate health to the doorsteps of the residents of Sydney. His philosophy towards health is simple, knowledge is power and he aims to empower everyone about effective exercise, nutrition and mindset solutions.
Anthony “Chief” Ippindo – Director of Holistic Fitness Australia at Fox Studios
Wanting to weigh more and have bigger muscles comes down to 2 things – Eating more and lifting heavier weights.
Let’s start with eating more. By ‘more’ I mean protein rather than size. With today’s mod-cons there is, of course, an app for exactly what you need. This is called “ myfitnesspal”.
Download the app, then you enter in your current weight and desired weight, then each day you input your daily food consumption. This then calculates your daily caloric intake and what you need to consume to achieve your desired weight.
Now for lifting heavier weights. The general rule of thumb is obviously to lift heavier weights, but you also need to consider your reps and sets, as this is paramount to reaching your goals. It’s about volume and intensity. This means that you need to do multiple sets between 4 – 6 and reps anywhere from 4 – 10.
A big thing I am into at the moment is to train your legs before, say, a chest workout. For example, squats, as this will increase the amount of testosterone that your body generates, so that when you go to train your chest you have an abundant supply of natural muscle building juices flowing through your body, and these help you to gain that extra muscle you desire.
All the best in health.
Anthony “Chief” Ippindo is a dedicated fitness professional, who is an AFL football player and physical conditioning coach that has a career spanning over 10 years. Anthony has a Bachelors in Sports Science and is a qualified strength and conditioning coach, which has enabled him to work with elite athletes from AFL football, hockey and tennis to rowing and high performance diving at the South Australian Institute Of Sport. In addition, Anthony has also studied a holistic approach to exercise under Paul Chek to become a qualified exercise coach and a level II holistic lifestyle coach. This has enabled him to move forward from personal training to become a holistic lifestyle coach.
Fitness Volt – Bulking Calculator
Matthew, Fitness Volt, a strength sports site devoted to powerlifting, strongman, CrossFit, bodybuilding and nutrition have suggested that you use this calculator to help you on your weight gain / bulking journey 🙂
Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer
This question fits my category well, as I was that same teenage boy who was always really skinny with small muscles. I struggled for a long time to gain any significant muscle size. In fact, I never wore singlets as I was embarrassed by my small arms. My arms were mainly due to my sporting background which involved football, basketball, and tennis, as well as cycling, cricket and running. I spent hours and hours playing any sport you could think of and become quite good at many of these sports. However, I also suffered many injuries due to overtraining and also lacked any real muscle and strength.
Looking to solve this problem, I joined a gym thinking this would instantly transform me into the hulk, which it did not. So, I tried creatine, protein shakes and still not much difference. I even tried eating more crap food to have excess calories. However, this still did not work. All this did was made me feel sick. It was only when I fully understood three key factors that things started to take shape. These are as follows:
1. Understanding the importance of getting the right ratio of protein to carbs – I was eating way too many carbs and not enough good quality protein. I began eating more Salmon and fish, and I eliminated bread, pasta and most high energy carbohydrates from my diet.
2. Eating at the right times to allow rapid muscle growth and repair – I had to prepare well to ensure I did not go too long without eating. Especially after a workout. I would eat something just before a workout, then after the workout, I would eat a high-quality protein source. I would then wait an hour, and then consume another meal of high-quality protein. This approach ensured I was getting good quality protein at exactly the right time for the body to make repair and building possible.
3. Following an integrated weight training program – Along with the food changes, I began to use more integrated exercises that required the use of my whole body, rather than one or two muscles like bodybuilders. This line of attack had a profound effect on my overall strength.
I am now 38 years old, and I weigh the same weight as I did at 19, but now I have muscles, and I am not afraid to wear a singlet.
Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called NO Regrets Personal Training. Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.
Michael Wilson – Personal Trainer and Founder of Enliven Fitness
Hi Matthew, here are some suggestions to help you achieve your goals.
1) Increase your nutrition intake. Focus on eating high-quality, organic food (meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs). You don’t want to build a healthy, fit and muscular body out of junk food; instead, you want to build your body up with nutrient-dense foods.
2) Get enough sleep, rest and recovery. This is important for the growth and repair of your cells and muscles. Your muscles get bigger, stronger and faster when they are resting after a workout. Getting to bed by 10.30 pm each night will ensure a healthy recovery with a natural boost of muscle-building testosterone and growth hormone.
3) Ensure you are eating more calories than you are burning. If you want to build muscle more than you want to lose body fat, you need to consume more calories than your body needs, so that the surplus calories get used to build you up.
4) Ensure you get sufficient fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2 to support natural growth hormone and testosterone production which will result in more muscle mass. The best sources of fat-soluble vitamins come from grass-fed grass-finished meats, pasture-raised eggs, and wild-caught seafood.
5) Prioritise exercise around large multi-joint compound movement. Vary your training routines to stimulate new growth. Have a focus on using the larger compound movements, for instance, do barbell squats, squat presses and deadlifts. Four hard training sessions per week will give you great results.
Your Questions Answered
Michael Wilson is a Sydney-based personal trainer and founder of Enliven Fitness – Movement, Health & Lifestyle Studio in Glebe. Michael has worked in the industry for 8 years and has a Certificate IV in Personal Training. Michael has a vision of teaching clients ‘true health’, and incorporates nutrition advice, goal setting and lifestyle workshops into training sessions. Michael specialises in group workouts and combines cardio, endurance, strength, speed, power and agility to maximise results for clients.