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How to Gain Weight Naturally (A Step-by-Step Guide)

November 25, 2018

No one ever talks about weight gain in a positive light unless you’re a man trying to put on muscle. It seems to go against what society had been pushing out for so long which is: Thin is in. Up until recently that is.

Ironically my entire life I’ve wanted to get bigger, not thinner, no matter how envied I was for my size.

I wasn’t lucky enough for puberty to help me out. Up until my 23rd birthday I’d been a slim girl averaging around 110 pounds.

But…

In spite of all of that I still managed to not only gain weight but a full 30lbs of mainly muscle (and it does not make me look manly). The process took tons of research and a lot of trial and error. Most importantly it took me realizing that there is no secret to gaining weight.

I repeat.

There is no secret to gaining weight.

No matter how many ads, syrups, or pills you see online there is nothing that will MAKE you gain weight.

It’s all up to you.

Related posts on gaining weight:

To gain weight it takes time, effort and a caloric surplus. Once I had an understanding of that I was able to put in the effort I needed to gain 30 pounds in less than a year, and I did it all naturally. So yes, it’s possible to grow your glutes ladies! You just need the right plan.

And even though there’s no secret to gaining weight, there are steps that should be followed and taken into consideration when trying to gain weight. Especially if you’re looking to gain muscle, not fat, to have some really nice curves.

How to Gain Weight Naturally

(This post may contain affiliate links to products that I truly recommend, at no extra costs to you, if you decide you’re interested in anything mentioned. Feel free to check out the disclosure for more info.)

Step 1: Research

I don’t know how many times that I’ve had women ask me how to gain weight and this is one of the first things I tell them. In order to do anything and do it right you have to learn about it. Either that or hire someone to teach you. But if you want to do this on your own then here is what you need.

Choose a Training Style.

When I decided to gain weight I knew I didn’t want to just put on fat because who knows where it would go? My stomach? Arms? If I was lucky it would go to my butt but my genetics doesn’t work like that. I needed to build muscle, so the first thing I did was figure out what type of training style I wanted to start with. There’s…

Weight lifting (this includes bodybuilding, powerlifting, etc),

Crossfit,

Martial Arts,

And plenty others to choose from.

Every training style has their pros and cons so I picked the one that best suited my needs and interests which was weight lifting. I specifically wanted to focus on not only getting stronger but the aesthetics as well (especially building the glutes) so this was the best choice for me.

Create a structured workout plan.

Once I decided on weight lifting I knew I had to come up with a proper workout plan. This took a bit more trial and error because I wasn’t sure what muscles I wanted to work on what days.

On top of that I knew that you shouldn’t work the same muscles two days in a row, to prevent overtraining them. Well I did a lot of research but most of the stuff I found came from bodybuilding websites geared towards men. At the time, I didn’t know any better about the way the female body works versus the male body so the first routine I came up with looked something like this:

Push Day – Chest, Triceps, and Shoulders

Leg Day – All of My Leg Muscles

Pull Day – Back and Biceps

Rest Day then repeat

Later I figured out that this routine wasn’t the best for me because my arms were growing faster than my legs so I switched my plan. Trial and error right? All of us females want to look thick but definitely not because we have a big upper body.  We all know it’s about that glute and leg growth. So I switched my routine to something more similar to the one I still currently use and that is:

Leg Day – Quad and Glute focused

Upper Body – Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Leg Day – Glute and Hamstring focused

Upper Body – Back, Biceps, Abs

Leg day – Glutes only

This meant I would work out 5 days a week and take 2 days to rest and recover. I worked out Monday through Friday and relaxed on Saturday and Sunday. This worked well for me since I was determined to make this a lifestyle change. And it was convenient because I could go to the gym right after work, and on the weekends I could still hang out with friends. It sometimes made things difficult when I had plans during the week but I usually found a way to make it work.

Find Exercises that Work Certain Body Parts.

Okay so I had my routine, I knew what days I wanted to workout, but I still had to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing once I walked in the gym. I needed a game plan. Otherwise I’d be walking around aimlessly try to figure out what I wanted to do. And that just wastes time.

So I took the time (a lot of time) to figure out which exercises I wanted to do and which days I wanted to do them. I also decided on the sets and reps for each one. That way, when I got in the gym I knew exactly what I was going to do that day.

If someone was already using the equipment that I needed, I would just do a different exercise on my list for that day or substitute it for a different variation of the exercise.

And if I tried out an exercise and it wasn’t working for me or if I couldn’t do it with proper form I would switch it out for something similar. Form is so important, and if your form isn’t correct when doing the exercise it’s not going to give you the results that you’re looking for. Or you might pull a muscle.

I was meticulous with my workout plan so I could be sure that I’d see the results I wanted.

(update: 5/17/2019) Here is an actual photo of what my workouts looked like in January 2017. And this was after all of my research on all of those gym bro websites. There wasn’t much to it and I was working my upper body way more than I was working my lower body:

Now here is a picture of one of my leg workouts about 3 months later. It was much more specific and detailed. I made sure to get my body warmed up doing 5 minutes of cardio before exercising and making sure I used glute activation ( wake up those cheeks!) before my lifts:

I figured out what worked for me to get me the best possible results in the least amount of time. It’s so important not to jump on the bandwagon of what is popular, just because it’s popular. Make sure what you’re doing actually works for you.

Figure Out the Necessary Calorie Intake. 

Everyone’s different. The amount of food that one person might need for their goals can be completely different from the next person even if that person is the same weight and height. So I had to calculate what my caloric intake needed to be to see the results that I wanted.

For my goals I needed to be in a caloric surplus. I always say the simplest way to calculate a caloric surplus is:

your current weight x 20 = your caloric surplus

Realistically speaking, that formula is a rough estimate because it leaves out a lot of variables such as how much weight you’re trying to gain, how quickly you’re trying to gain it, how often you workout, for how long, your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), etc. But it works in a pinch.

However, I wanted to be as accurate as possible so instead of using that formula I found a macro calculator online and came up with my caloric intake and my macros (not that I counted my macros).

My initial goal weight was 130 lbs so that’s what my intake was based on given my starting weight. Eventually I increased my caloric intake once I reached my goal of 130 lbs because I wanted to continue to gain.

Step 2: Eat

This is the most important part about making any gains. Every part is important of course but this takes the cake because you can’t make any muscle gains if you’re not fueling your muscles properly. Your diet is everything.

Find High Calorie Healthy Foods. 

Typically speaking whole foods tend to have a lot less calories than processed foods. So what I did was lean towards the whole foods that had the highest amount of calories and eat tons of them.

For example, you could always find me eating bananas because one banana has about 100 calories give or take.

I did my best to eat clean, and again I did not track macros, only calories. It’s just a personal preference seeing as I’m not competing in a professional bodybuilding competition or anything. As long as I knew I was eating healthy meals 80% percent of the time I was okay with having a not so healthy meal or snack 20% of the time.

Now I could have ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted but that would have led to a lot of unwanted fat. I wanted to gain muscle and have a a flattering figure.

I also could have had a much more strict weight gain process but let’s be real, that’s not for everybody and it would’ve took the fun out of it for me. It’s much easier to reach your goal when you actually enjoy what you’re doing.

Find Relatively Healthy Restaurants.

It would be lovely if I were able to cook all of my meals but it just wasn’t realistic for me at the time.

I work a lot and I like to go out with my friends, so I don’t always get to cook every meal. Plus, eating out every once in a while or having a drink or two helped me stay sane during the weight gain process.

I’m a big advocate for eating intuitively and sustainably. I want to be able to enjoy working out and eating well without feeling like I constantly have to track what I’m eating.

Despite popular belief and what you see on social media it’s completely possible to reach your goals without tracking your food as long as your still eating the right amount of food and it’s relatively healthy.

Related posts on gaining weight:

Set Up an Eating Schedule. 

I have a hard time eating a lot of food at one time. The way that I made it possible to consume a large amount of food everyday was by creating an eating schedule so that I could eat more often. My schedule consisted of 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks everyday and looked something like this:

7:00am Meal One

10:00am Snack One

1:00pm Meal Two

3:00pm Snack Two

7:00pm Snack Three/ Protein Shake

9:00pm Meal Three

I made sure to do what I knew would help me reach my goal. I could have used a weight gain supplement to help increase my appetite, but I really didn’t want to.

Step 3: Strength Training

This is the part that I was most interested in because I’d never done it before. Of course I went to the gym before but it was all cardio based. I was always curious about weights but I didn’t know what I was doing so I wouldn’t dare go to the weight section and make a fool of myself.

But this time, with all of the research that I did to make sure I knew what I was doing, I walked in the gym confident and ready to conquer. I used all different types of weights and I even purchased a resistance band and ankle straps for my workouts that I use to this day.

Workout 3 – 5 Days a Week.

I could have seen results with only 3 days a week but it would have taken me longer. I made it a point to make sure I went to the gym 5 days a week. Even if I wasn’t too excited to work out, I wanted to get in the habit of having a routine so that working out would become my new normal.

Sometimes I had other plans get in the way, or sometimes I was just too tired, so instead of completely skipping a day I would use it as my rest day and go to the gym on the day I was originally supposed to rest.

Eventually this did become my new normal and now not going to the gym feels weird.

Stay consistent. 

This was the most important part of my gym routine. I made sure that not only I was consistent with showing up to the gym but also with pushing myself to do the best I could in each workout.

I gave 110% and would sometimes leave with my butt super sore. My goals were always in my mind and I stayed motivated by having fitness inspirations that I followed on social media. Looking at them and the exercises that they would post gave me new ideas to get up and try at the gym. And whatever worked I kept in rotation.

Be Patient.

This is the end all be all right here. If there’s anything that I would’ve needed to know in the beginning it would’ve been to be patient. Gaining weight is simple. Eat anything and everything. Gaining muscle is harder and takes more time.

It took 3 months to see really significant results and for some that’s fast. For others it takes longer to see the results that they want. You can’t compare your journey to anyone else’s because everybody is different. As long as you see changes in photos and how you look and feel then you’re headed in the right direction.

Don’t forget to share this with anyone trying to do the same thing!

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17 responses to “How to Gain Weight Naturally (A Step-by-Step Guide)”

  1. Maja says:

    Love the message you’re sending!! I am in the same boat: I’ve always been tall & lean, then packed on some pounds in high school then after taking my first nutrition course became slim again. Now I’m getting on the road to curvy! I’ve been eating more and feel like I’m getting leaner!! I guess I should try eating even more and upping the number of times I train a week.. being a midnight ER nurse creates holes in plans sometimes. 😛 Thanks again! Keep doing what you’re doing.. it’s working!!

    • Jazmin says:

      Thanks! I really appreciate it. And trust me I know it’s tough. It’s always hard for people who are naturally slim to keep the weight on. Add on a job and/or a family and you really have to work for it. If you can manage 3 workouts a week, that’s much better than nothing. And always remember that a proper diet for your goals key. You got this! I believe in you.

  2. Aliyah says:

    This was very positive, and such great advice for me! Im so glad that you decided to share your journey with the world, so people like me could be more inspired. I was a skinny girl too and I have been working out for years, but I found myself stuck and not being as consistent as I should be. This post really gave me that push I needed to get back to it to receive the gains I desire. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. Zahraa says:

    Thank you! This is so inspiring and very well written.

  4. Shameka Joyner💜 says:

    Awesome ! Thank you for this. New job ,5 children and still no more than 115 pounds. 130 is my goal!

  5. Mbali Zaca says:

    This is very inspiring. I am a slender lady myself and devoted to gym amd exersicing. And I find that alot of people dont understand that going to gym is not about loosing weight only. I am so excited they is such programme and cannot wait to incorporate it with my exercise schedule.

  6. Esmeralda says:

    Is it okay to use protein shakes in the morning? I can’t get myself to eat anything that early (7 ish or earlier). And which
    do you recommend?

    I’ve always had difficulty gaining weight since high school and I can’t really lift weights because of a surgery I had as a kid so I’m kind of in a rut.

    • Jazmin says:

      Yeah, Protein shakes are good in the morning. Even better, you can make a protein smoothie with fruits and a protein powder like for a little more substance. I still recommend snacking on healthy foods throughout the day.

  7. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!|

  8. Emauri says:

    Just out of curiosity about how long did it take you to reach your goal? I know you said everyone isn’t the same, I figure it’ll take me a while. My metabolism is extremely high, I’ve been 112lbs since I was 11 & I’m almost 22 now.

  9. Star says:

    Hi, I’m really motivated, I have 3 children and yet very thin but with a visibly big mummy tummy. I really need to gain weight and still loose the mummy tummy

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Hi, I'm Jazmin. If you’re ready to get serious about your health and wellness then you’ve come to the right place!

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