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Here's how to gain some weight

Published:Wednesday | February 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Kenneth Gardner, Fitness Club

Some people, as much as they try, are unable to gain weight. The reasons for this challenge include a high basal metabolic rate, heredity factors, nutritional disorders, and medical and environmental problems.

A thorough physical examination should be conducted to ensure that nutritional or medical problems are ruled out. If there are no medical or health problems, the healthiest way to gain weight is through resistance exercise and increasing caloric intake by 400 to 600 calories. A reasonable goal should be established in terms of weight gain in a particular time frame. Gaining one pound each week is achievable for some, yet challenging for others.

Identify how much food you consume routinely each day and increase your intake of foods that are high in nutrients and caloric value. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are essential to provide the extra energy needed during exercise. Additional protein intake will help to increase your muscle mass during resistance exercises.

Exercise and eat more

If you try to gain weight just by eating more you will increase your weight by increasing fat and this could put your health at risk. Exercising is important. By exercising regularly your muscles will increase over time. Specific muscle groups can be target but generally, one should perform exercises that involve all the major muscle groups - the chest, shoulders, back, legs, arms, hips and trunk.

We should start by exercising the larger muscles first, such as muscles of the chest, legs and back then work our way to the smaller muscles such as the ones in our arms, abdomen, neck and face. The exercise prescription should expose opposing muscle groups to the same level of resistance so that there is a balanced and uniformed weight gain.

Do pull-ups and sit-ups

Exercises should be performed through their entire range of movement and allow for adequate recovery time to minimise fatigue and extend the duration of the activity. Monitor and track your progress so that changes can be made to ameliorate any challenges that arise. An exercise programme that includes at least two exercises of three sets for each major body part is a good way to start. Each set should consist of 10 to 12 repetitions.

Responses to exercise will vary based on gender because of hormonal differences. Exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and crunches can utilise body weight to provide the resistance needed to build and increase muscle mass and weight.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email:

'If you try to gain weight just by eating more you will increase your weight by increasing fat and this could put your health at risk.'