Weight gain tips: How to bulk up

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Kevin Mangelschots

Some might feel like they are too skinny and want to build some muscle and strength. Others might do it for the health benefits because they are so skinny that it affects their wellbeing.

For some people, gaining weight happens almost naturally. It’s like they just have to look at food, and they start packing on the pounds. And then we have those who seemingly can’t gain weight, even if their lives depended on it.

Here are some weight gain tips for people wanting to learn how to bulk up.

How to bulk up

fast food and unhealthy eating concept - close up of fast food snacks and coca cola drink on wooden table
Fast food allows you to bulk up quickly due to being calorie-dense. However, it can also cause fat gain and is seriously damaging to your physical health.

In essence, gaining weight, or losing weight, for that matter is simple. Eat more calories than you burn if you want to bulk up, and eat fewer calories than you burn if you want to lose weight.

Still, clean bulking is superior to dirty bulking, no matter how attractive that option might seem. That’s because eating clean foods is healthier, and you won’t become fat in the process if you don’t overdo it.

  • Track your calorie intake and output

    This is an important tip to gain weight in a healthy, controlled manner. Simply put, count your calorie intake and your calorie output during the day.

    When done in this manner, you know if you need to up your calorie intake or if you need to lower your calorie intake to not get fat in the process.

  • Eat more

    Food lying on a plate.

    If you want to gain weight, all you need to do is eat a calorie surplus.

    This means you consume more calories than your body is burning.

    If you want to gain weight in a slow, moderated manner, you should aim to eat around 300 more calories than your maintenance weight. Your maintenance weight is when your calorie intake and output are the same, making you remain at the same weight due to reaching an equilibrium.

    If you want or need to gain weight quickly, for example after a serious disease, you should aim for around 700 or more calories than your maintenance weight.

    Normally, I would recommend gaining weight slowly, as this is healthier and less taxing on the body. It permits you to gain muscle mass without gaining too much fat.

    However, there are those rare instances like being severely underweight, and your doctor recommending you to gain weight at a rapid rate. If that’s the case, then it might be more beneficial for your overall health to do so the fast way, which means ingesting even more calories daily.

    Try to eat more calorie-dense foods for rapid weight gain.

  • Eat more often

    Illustration of an obese woman enjoying eating with a lot of fast food on the table. Illustration about overeating.

    One of the best things to do to pack on the pounds is to eat more frequently. It’s very hard to gain weight if you’re only eating 2–3 times a day. Unless you’re eating very large portions, that is.

    Because once you’re full, you can’t eat anymore. Meaning, it’s very hard to eat all those calories in so few meals. That’s why I recommend eating smaller portions spread out throughout the day.

    Don’t cut out the carbohydrates and fat. As you need both to gain weight. I would recommend ingesting plenty of protein as well, as this is the most important building block for building muscle mass.

    If you’re having a hard time ingesting enough protein throughout a day to bulk up, you can consume a protein shake daily to up your consumption. It’s a very convenient and cheap method to increase your protein intake.

  • Eat calorie-dense foods

    Multiple different kind of nuts in a cup and some lying around it on a table.

    Not only is eating more and more regularly critical to gaining weight, but it’s also essential to eat calorie-dense foods for rapid weight gain.

    Examples of high-calorie foods are: 

    – Red meats
    – Whole milk
    – Beans
    – Avocado
    – Butter
    – Nuts
    – Brown rice
    – Potatoes

    These are just a few of the many examples to get you started on your weight gain journey.

  • Gain muscle and strength

    Picture of a man performing a deadlift.

    Don’t let all those excess calories you consume to gain weight go to waste. That’s where training comes into play.

    If you don’t work out, those excess calories will turn into fat, while working out will turn those calories (mostly) into lean muscle mass.

    However, unless you eat at a slight calorie surplus, it’s almost impossible to gain some fat while bulking up. Especially for advanced lifters.

    Working out is essential to shape your body. Remember that gaining muscle mass is also a form of gaining weight. Not only is it good for gaining muscle and strength, but it’s also proven to have multiple health benefits. This is why I advocate that everyone should work out, young and older folks alike.

    Compound exercises are superior to isolation exercises to gain muscles. That’s because they work more, and larger muscle groups at the same time.

  • Drink water after finishing your meal

    Image of a water bottle pouring water in a glass.

    Water will fill your stomach. Nevertheless, there are no calories in water, which means you will not gain permanent weight with this strategy.

    That’s why it’s better to fill your stomach with as much food as possible before drinking water if gaining weight is your main goal.

    Make sure to drink enough water during the day though, as water is vital for regulating the functions of our body since we are made out of about 60-70% of water!

  • Drink milk

    Milk contains a lot of calories and protein, which will help you gain weight.

    Also, helpful if you are looking to build muscle and strength since you need ample protein and calories to do so.

  • Liquid instead of solid food

    Liquid or blended food is easier to ingest than solid food. It also doesn’t lead to feeling bloated as much as solid food does.

    This means you can consume more calories if you go for liquid and blended food.

    This means weight gainers and protein shakes are your friends. It’s also possible to make a protein shake/weight gainer at home by yourself if you mix milk, a banana, oats, and peanut butter in a blender for instance.

  • Get enough sleep

    Picture of a man on armchair resting on balcony, fall season during day.

    A good and long night’s rest is important for every single person alive.

    Without getting enough sleep, you can’t operate properly. If you are looking to gain weight and build muscle mass, then having enough sleep is paramount. That’s because being sleep-deprived will lower testosterone levels drastically. Furthermore, growth hormone is being released when sleeping, which is necessary for muscle growth.

    How much sleep you need is dependent on your age. Younger people require more sleep than older gents. It is recommended to get at least between 7–9 hours of sleep every day.

  • Eat before going to bed

    Image of a woman sleeping in white bed covers

    Eat before going to bed if you don’t want to burn those hard-earned calories.

    Even while sleeping, you’re burning calories, although at a slow pace. This means it’s beneficial to eat a small meal before going to bed to gain weight.

    Make sure to eat 30–60 minutes instead of right before going to bed, though, as eating right before going to bed could lead to not being able to fall asleep.

  • Be and remain consistent in your routine

    Make sure to be and remain consistent in your routine to gain weight.

    This is hard for most people because they start with good intentions, but start slacking on their diet once their motivation starts to dwindle.

    Like most good things, it takes a lot of work, a steady workout routine, and a good diet that will eventually get you to your goal. Gaining or losing weight for that matter is no different concerning consistency and persistence.

    Know what your goal is and work diligently at it. It’s really that simple!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I bulk up fast?

Funny illustration about bulking up too fast.
 
The key to bulking up fast is to eat a lot more calories than you burn. This can be accomplished by dirty bulking, eating more often, gaining more muscle mass, and even doing less cardio. Although I don’t recommend skipping cardio workouts for your general health.
 
Eat a varied diet consisting of enough protein to gain muscle, carbohydrates to fuel your workouts, and consume fat each meal.
 
It should be noted that you can’t bulk up and gain muscles if you don’t eat more calories than you burn.
 

What is dirty bulking?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.

Dirty bulking is eating a hefty calorie surplus by eating unhealthy, calorie-dense foods.

This includes fast food, and foods rich in fat and sugar.

Although effective for gaining weight in addition to muscle mass, it’s considered unhealthy for the body and organs.
 

Do you still need to work out when bulking?

Bulking is typically done to gain muscle mass. That’s why you need to train hard when bulking. If not, you’ll just get fat.

Some people skip cardio sessions to burn fewer calories to bulk up even quicker. Nevertheless, our cardiovascular system is essential for our overall health. That’s why I wouldn’t advise leaving cardio sessions alone.

Can a skinny person gain weight?

A skinny young woman running.
 
Yes, a skinny person can gain weight, just like everyone else can. Yet if you’re very scrawny, then it will probably be harder to gain weight than for those, who put on the pounds easily.
 
Since a skinny person usually has a faster metabolism causing them to burn more calories by nature, eating larger portions, more frequently, and calorie-dense foods are key.
 

Why can’t I gain weight?

It’s possible that you can’t gain weight for a variety of reasons. The most common ones are a fast metabolism, eating small portions, eating too infrequently, and not eating calorie-dense foods.
 
Skinny people typically have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn more calories than their burly peers do.

Some people can’t gain weight due to an underlying health condition or as a consequence of certain treatments and medications.

Conclusion

The essence of gaining weight is and remains simple. Consume more calories than you burn off.

The three most important tips on this list in my opinion are to track your calories intake and output, coupled with eating more. Lastly, one of the most underrated tips is being, and remaining consistent in your workout routine in order to bulk up.

Supplements like weight gainers and protein shakes can be helpful if you want to gain weight since they offer an easy, cheap, and accessible solution to increase your calorie intake. But even more importantly than supplements is eating healthy but calorie dense foods.

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