Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
October 4, 2023

The Can't-Fail Mass-Gain Triad:
Eat Big, Train Big, Sleep Big

By Charles Staley

The Can't-Fail Mass-Gain Triad: Eat Big, Train Big, Sleep Big

As the saying goes however, your training is only as good as your ability to recover from it. That's where big eating and big sleeping come in.

Here then, are your two "hidden" keys to no-fail recovery…

Eating Big

OK, take a deep breath because here comes some more advice you won't like. Eating big means waaaayyy bigger than what you think it means. Literally, you have no idea what it means, because it you did, you wouldn't be reading an article about how to gain weight. If you're the prototypical 18-year old kid weighing say, 140 pounds at a height of 5-11 or so, you're not likely to gain weight until you surpass the 5000-calorie barrier. That's your daily intake by the way, not weekly.

Now aside from your palpable fear about the number I just threw at you, here's another hard reality: you can't do this eating "clean." You'll have to eat a lot of fat, including things like (take a deep breath) butter, mayo, pizza, ice cream, and high-fat meats and dairy products.

In all seriousness, your hourly fat intake will probably exceed the American Heart Association's recommendations for daily fat intake.

The Can't-Fail Mass-Gain Triad: Eat Big, Train Big, Sleep Big

Oh, and you'll probably lose your abs (to the 76 percent of the remaining 14 percent of readers who left us earlier in the article- SEE YA!).

For the rest of you who are truly serious about gaining weight, just understand that the loss of visible ab development is part of the price you'll have to pay. Later on, when you weigh 265, you can trim down to 220 or so and have your abs back, But for now, let's just worry about acquiring something to trim in the first place.

Remember, this isn't about lowering your serum cholesterol, looking good in a speedo, or becoming president of your local PETA chapter. It's about laying down some serious muscle. And doing that means tricking mother nature into believing that new muscle won't jeopardize your long-term survival odds.

If you're still looking for specifics, I'll give you a few:

  • Eat at least 20 calories per pound of bodyweight per day, every day. If you weigh 140, that means 2800 calories per day. More is better.

  • Consume no less than 1.5 grams of animal source proteins per pound of bodyweight per day. If you weigh 140 pounds, this means 210 grams of protein from meats and/or dairy products every day.

  • The rest comes from carbs and fats. I'm not terribly concerned about the ratio, but if you pressed me, I'd say limit simple sugars if you can, partly because they're not very healthy, but also because (compared to fats) they're relatively low in calories

  • Supplements: Sure. Creatine, EFA's, protein powders. All good. You can also do fine without them. So if they help, use them. If they're a pain, don't worry about it.

  • Getting a lot of calories in means not only bigger meals, but also more frequent meals.

  • Finally, I'm not a nutritionist, and this is not nutritional advice. It's weight-gain advice. Act accordingly.

Sleep Big

The Can't-Fail Mass-Gain Triad: Eat Big, Train Big, Sleep Big By "sleeping big," what I really mean is getting enough rest and avoiding physical activity that doesn't contribute to lean mass gains. Sleeping at least 8 hours a day is important, and possibly up to 9-10 hours a day, including naps if possible. My grandmother used to preach (and I happen to think she was right) that the hours before midnight are the ones that really count.

As for reducing "non-productive" physical activities, there is no absolute recommendation I can make. You simply have to decide if the calories you burn through skateboarding, playing Frisbee, or whatever it is you like to do is worth the cost in terms of reduced gains in lean mass. Clearly, "non-training" physical activities are not "bad" per se, they just interfere with muscle growth (in your case anyway). Only through careful reflection can you decide if the cost is worth the benefit.

Parting Thoughts

If you're young and skinny with a raging metabolism, the advice I'm dispensing here will seem like a bitter pill to swallow. There is indeed a price to pay for carrying around more muscle than nature deems sensible. But take solace in the fact that those of us with the opposite challenge would love to have your problem!

So if you're tired of being skinny, follow the roadmap I've just provided, and I assure you you'll gain as much muscle as your genetics will allow. Just make sure you enjoy the process along the way!

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