Question: I was wondering if you could offer any advice on weight gain. I have a super-fast metabolism. I’ve gained a bunch of weight so far, and combined with working out am pretty happy with how I’m looking, but want to gain a bit more. I’ve been doing 3-4 meals a day and two protein shakes. The problem is I’ve seen to have plateaued. The answer is probably eating more foods with higher calories, but I was just wondering if you have any insight. Thanks!
Plateaus are tricky because they can occur from a wide variety of factors…
Your body gets used to the exercise routine
Change up your routine every 4-5 weeks. The body is made to adapt to any situation for its survival. You essentially have to throw some wrenches at your body every so often to break the routine.
Your body is not taking in more calories than it is putting out
People fear calories and often take in too less for what their body needs. 75% of our daily calories are used just to keep the lights on. The only way that we can function optimally is by taking in MORE calories than we assume. BUT! the TYPE OF CALORIES matter when it comes to actually benefitting from your diet. Focus on nutrient/calorie-dense calorie sources such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, whole fat dairy, dark meats, root vegetables (potatoes), and fruits, followed by enough clean H20.
You could be overtraining your body
Exercising more than 4-5 days a week is overtraining in my eyes. The body needs more rest than people usually provide it – less is so, so, so much more. Go hard in the gym for 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes and rest even harder. Sleeping is crucial for optimal recovery and muscle building. I would also suggest to take 1-2 weeks off every 8-10 weeks of training to allow your body even more time to recover. It is much better to undertrain than to overtrain – tell your ego who’s the boss.
You could be doing too much cardio
I know that people love their cardio. I think it’s a load of crap and does more harm than good. Anything that involves long, low-impact, continuous-paced running is creating more stress than the body can handle – the workout alone overtrains the body. If you want to add cardio to your exercise routine then do sprint intervals because they work. 20 minutes, 2 times a week is all you need. 10 sets of 30 second sprints/60 second rests. If you’re a distance runner and are concerned about endurance – do these instead and watch how your distance times will improve.
Too much stress
Stress is a huge factor when it comes seeing results. Exercise, itself, is a huge stress on the body. Combine exercise with school stress, work stress, financial stress, relationship stress, sleep stress, diet stress, water stress, and you name it. Balance the stressors in your life to achieve the results that you need, not want.
I say “Prescription-Only” because too many people are exercising the wrong way. I walk in the local park a few times a week and we cannot help but to take notice of all the runners and exercise enthusiasts that have absolutely no clue about what they’re doing:
3) How to truly benefit from exercise and not look like they’re killing themselves (which is essentially what they’re doing).
The same goes for when I visit the gym in our apartment complex: People queuing for the free weights just to get a glimpse of how their muscles look under tension, meanwhile they look overtrained, tired, swollen, and in a different world. I’m not basing my arrogant opinion solely off of these two experiences, rather as a constant observer of all the people I experience on a daily basis.
There are a lot of factors that go into a prescribing a beneficial exercise routine…
1) What is the goal in the long and short term?
2) Before diet is evaluated, is food being digested correctly to retain all of the nutrients necessary to use daily AND in times of excess stress (exercise)? Then look at the diet – Does it provide any nutritional value? Food intolerances? Food Allergies? Full of Grains? Full of Polyunsaturated Fats? Emotional Eating? Without a proper diet, exercise will not be beneficial.
3) Proper Posture? Exercise form NEEDS a proper foundation to work. Movement patterns and energy utilization follow suit. Exercising the wrong way will promote poor movement and the wrong muscle chain recruitment, thus having the body working overtime to compensate.
4) Extra External and Internal Environmental Stress Factors to Address? Define happiness and sadness, which is more influential in life at this moment?
5) Time, Space, Motivation, Dedication – Self-explanatory
6) An understanding of why all of these factors go into creating overall health with the addition of exercise.