Whether you're an athlete or just a general fitness enthusiast, you might reach a point where you're just too skinny. While adding some curves could improve your physical appearance -- and perhaps your health, as well, if you're extremely thin -- doing so could also reduce your speed and agility. The answer is to add weight in the form of muscle mass as opposed to body fat. Adding more muscle will improve your explosive power and endurance, meaning gaining weight and staying quick are actually activities that go hand in hand.
Eat approximately 200 to 300 more calories each day than you do now, adjusting this figure to change your rate of weight gain. Instead of reaching for the soda and ice cream, do this by eating a larger number of smaller meals throughout the day, keeping your energy and blood sugar levels stable while supplying your body with steady nutrition for growth. Choose healthy foods like lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts and beans.
Pay special attention to what's in the food you eat. Don't eat empty-calorie foods, or ones with plenty of calories but very little real nutrition, just for the sake of gaining weight. Instead, ensure that each meal you eat has plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein, unsaturated fat and complex carbs. Protein is especially helpful because it will allow your body to gain weight in the form of muscle.
Perform strength-training exercises that work all major muscle groups, including the traps, triceps, shoulders, lats, back, chest, biceps, forearms, abs, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. For each exercise you choose, lift heavy weights and perform three to five sets of eight to 12 repetitions. You'll make the biggest gains in muscular mass, density, strength and definition if your muscles feel thoroughly fatigued by the end of each set.
Commit yourself to a strength-training schedule that has you working out approximately four days per week. For example, you might work your upper body on Monday and Thursday and your lower body on Tuesday and Friday. Change up the types of exercises you perform every few weeks to bump up the challenge level and keep your workouts interesting.
Perform cardio regularly to reap the health benefits and keep your heart and lungs functioning optimally, but eat more calories than you burn each day to ensure that you gain weight rather than lose it. Use an online calorie burn calculator to determine how many calories you're burning with each cardio session, and plan your meals accordingly to consume more than you burn.
- Drink a nutritious, high-calorie weight-gain shake each morning. Combine a half-cup of powdered milk with four packs of instant breakfast powder and a quart of milk for a whopping 1,000 calories.
- Talk to your doctor before going on a weight-gain program.
Kevin Richards has been a writer and editor since 2009, specializing in fitness, health and nutrition, as well as technology, finance and legal issues. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.