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Your weight and muscle mass change over the course of your life, whether that’s down to illness, your lifestyle or even a change in appetite. Maintaining a healthy weight and muscle mass is important for day-to-day life, so there are many reasons why you might want to put on some weight or build up muscle, whether it's for health or aesthetic reasons.
But, before doing so, it’s essential to learn how you do it safely. So, from regular exercise to a healthy, balanced diet, you’ll find tips and advice for gaining muscle and weight safely here.
It is also worth noting that the BMI scale doesn’t consider your muscle mass, as it only looks at weight and height. Muscle weighs more than fat, so more muscular adults might fall into the overweight or obese category, despite their body fat being low.1 So, you can still be perfectly healthy, even if your BMI is low or high.
You should always check with a doctor before starting any weight program. A medical professional can help you determine if there is a reason for your weight, suggest an appropriate plan and offer advice on diet, activities and more.
For some, these factors can all play a part in gaining weight, but others might struggle to lose weight. Regardless of whether you’re looking to lose or gain some weight, it is a slow process – particularly doing so in a healthy, sustainable way.
Whether it’s for health or aesthetic reasons, there are many great benefits to muscle gain. Muscle actually increases your metabolic rate, encouraging your body to use more energy and, in turn, burn more calories.3
Building muscle isn’t all about burning calories or bodybuilding. Strength training can help prevent injuries by strengthening your bones, tendons, and muscles. This can make everyday activities much more manageable, such as opening a well-sealed jar or lifting a box of books. When it comes to your core, building up your core muscles can even help to improve your balance and coordination.3
One way to gain weight and build lean muscle is to eat more. It may sound simple, but you need to make sure you’re eating the right foods for healthy weight and muscle gain. Eating a healthy, balanced diet that gives you the right number of calories for your height, activity level, and age can help you reach a healthy weight and help you build muscle.
Generally, it is recommended that the average adult woman needs around 2,000 calories a day, whilst an adult man needs approximately 2,500 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight.4
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water as well! The UK government recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.6
To build up lean body mass, you’ll want to increase your protein consumption. Protein is the second most abundant compound in the body (the first is water) and is vital for giving you energy, repairing body tissue, and building muscles and bones.7
Strength and resistance training are important for promoting muscle growth, as well as helping you get stronger, leaner, and healthier. It works to increase your muscle strength by making your muscles react against a weight.10
Some strength training exercises that you can do in the gym or at home include:
However, focusing on strength training doesn’t mean you should forget about cardio activities. Cardio is vital for your health and helps warm up your body, support muscle growth and function, and reduce the chance of getting injured.12
It can take time to see results and bulking up your muscles as your muscle growth rate depends on your age, sex, and genetics. But regular exercise followed by enough rest has shown great results. Rest is particularly important in building muscle, as it encourages repair, decreases the chance of injury, and boosts your progression.13
You’ll want to choose a routine specific to your individual goals and lifestyle, so meeting with a personal trainer could be a good idea to allow you to develop a personalised and professional plan for building muscle.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your next workout, check out our workout plan for gaining weight.
Whether you want to gain or lose weight, creating the right habits can greatly impact your results. Here are just some easy lifestyle changes that you can make to encourage healthy weight and muscle gain: