T Nation

Need to Gain 10lbs


Good morning all,

This is my first post on T-Nation. I'm hoping some of the bodybuilders out there can help me out. Here's the situation:

I'm at a current weight of 145lbs (I'm 5'4"). I'm one of those people that usually only goes up or down by about 2lbs regardless of what I eat or do. I would like to put on 10lbs by Feb 2008, but I'm a hard gainer.

I'm pressed for time so getting to the gym is near impossible (I have two toddlers), so I work out at home. I have dumbells galore, a stationary bike and an elliptical trainer.

How can I add the weight I need, without going insane doing it?




There is no such thing as a "hardgainer"

It's a term made up by people commonly referred to as "hard learners" to find an excuse for their own inability to do a proper research, accept that they dont know enough and start learning and thus don't make progress.

I would suggest you start with the articles on top of this forum.


Gain 10 lbs of what? Muscle? Fat? Both? I can't believe that if eat 5000 cals/day you won't gain 10 lbs by February. If you are a "hard gainer", February might not be a realistic goal.


Any reason you chose February? Any specific day? If we shoot for Feb 6th, that's 12 weeks on the button. If you dedicate yourself to it, I don't see why you can't nail your goal.

What's the heaviest pair of dumbbells you have? Do you have a flat bench or stability ball?

What's your exercise history like? Exactly how are you training now? Exactly how are you eating? List everything you ate yesterday. The sooner you get back to us with these answers, the sooner we can figure out the best program for you. The more detail, the better.


I chose Feb because I'm looking to fight @ 155lbs in March. I figure if I reach my target weight by Feb, that'll give me plenty of time to get used to training at 155 vice 145.

I can add plates to the dumbbells I have, so I can put a good 75lbs on each if necessary. I can always buy more plates, as well. I have a flat bench, but not stability ball. I can purchase if necessary.

I exercise daily. For cardio I run as well as use the bike & elliptical. I do a lot of calesthenics and "cave man" training (sledge hammer on tires, rope crawling, etc).

Eating. There's something I have to work on. Yesterday:

Breakfast: 2 pieces of toast, 1 banana & bowl of cereal.

Lunch: Turkey & Cheese sandwich

Dinner: Jack shit last night. Normally I have chicken breast of steak.

I know I should be eating every few hours, but I need to know what to eat and what to avoid.


Alright my man, THIS IS WHAT WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOU GAINING WEIGHT. Diet is the most important factor by far and has to be stepped up a great deal from what your yesterday meal "plan" was. This is honestly like what a elementary school kid would eat, probably less. First thing you need to eat protein with each meal, which would preferably be every 2.5-3 hours. Think of food and especially protein as the fuel that's driving that engine and to go without constant fill ups is leaving the machine with no supplies to work(ie grow new muscle). Carbs and fat are your energy sources, but anything beyond eat until you are full 6+ times a day is unnecessary at this stage.

What to eat:
Things like red meat, whole eggs, protein shakes, milk if you like it, chicken, tuna, rice, potatoes, olive oil, mixed nuts vegetables and fruits if you've got any room left... those are the things you should be eating on a daily basis.

Avoid: everything you ate yesterday haha. No but you know what junk food is, what's better for your goals, a 10 oz chicken breast of bowl of ice cream? Chicken? Good, so you know what's good and what's bad.

Take the word hard gainer and forget it till you are 3 months into eating 8 protein heavy meals a day and trying to stuff more steak and potatoes into your mouth before you gag(for the 3rd time today). If you aren't gaining weight at that point then maybe we can bust out the hard gainer term, but until then? Forget about it and learn to eat like a bear coming out of hibernation.


Got it. Now, how much do I eat every 3 hours? Basically eat until I'm full?


I love you.


I'm not really one for counting calories, but I do count protein grams. Take the weight you want to be, 155 and multiply that by 2, we will round down for a nice even 300 grams of protein a day. Divide that by as many times you will eat in the day, 6-7 works best usually. That's roughly 45-50 grams of protein a meal.

Eat that first, then eat carbs and or healthy fats till your are full. If you aren't gaining after a month inrease the carbs around your workout and for breakfast, if that doesn't work start adding some tbsp of olive oil to your protein shakes. Get the calories in and you will grow.

I will say this though. If you don't dramatically increase your water intake to accomodate all the protein you are a fool. 1.5-2 gallons a day of just water is necessary.


Ok, I can handle packing the protein and the water intake. But how in the hell do I determine how much protein a slab of steak has? Maybe that's a stupid question, but hey...


It is not. 100 g of lean beef have around 22 g of protein.
Someone with more expertise may answer you better.
Since you have a deadline , in your case i would concentrate in total caloric intake :
Eating enough calories to support maximum growth, most if not all of those calories coming from clean sources of food.

In this way you would reach your target weight quicker, leaving you with time to let your body adapt to the new weight, and to strip unnescessary fat, once your body is set on the new weight.

This is just an opinion, im not a MMA fighter, but i praticed many years in the past , so i know that takes a while to adapt to fighting with a new weight..


Well free sites like fitday.com or calorieking.com can give you nutrients for common foods. For say a week or so take what you would normally eat in a meal and weigh it out(raw), do it a few times till you are pretty good at looking at a slice of meat and knowing how much it is. Don't stress to much, just learn to ballpark things to a fairly accurate degree and when in doubt eat more steak haha.


dude i really dont think you need to worry about every little detail right now as much as just eating in fact.. why are u here ?!@ go eat!!


Pretty much, don't worry about making sure its 20 grams or 30 grams of protein in the steak just eat the damn steak, eat a good amount of good carbs, some veggies, some fats.

its really fairly simple once you get a hang of it.


Okay, so really the ultimate goal is 155 by March and in fighting shape. No problem. What kind of fight? BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai?

You don't need to buy a ball, I just wanted to make sure you could do some type of chest press. What do your weight training workouts look like (exercises, sets, and reps)?

When do you fit in your martial arts practice? And how are you performing the cardio, intervals or steady state?

I concur. :wink:

I'm not exactly on-board with the rest of the crew with the "Just F'n Eat" call. If you're prepping for an athletic event, we really want to minimize fat gain. Simply getting large and in charge isn't really the best way about it.

Read through this article, The Athlete Diet by Dr. John Berardi:

Read it once or twice, jot down some notes or print it out, and let the info soak in, then start implementing it pronto. It covers everything, PWO meals, breakfast, fat, protein, fruit/veggie intake, snacks, the whole nine.


Diet Plan: Steak and Potatoes Every Meal

Lifting Plan: Make Time to go to the gym. If you can only go 2 or 3 times a week, then do these exercises only...

Squat or Hack Squat Machine

Any Type of Bench Press

Any Type of Chin-up, Row, or Lat-Pulldown

Add weight every workout.


If you want to gain that weight fast you have 2 options

Steak and potatoes (like fighting very well said)
Protein shakes (milk based if you can tolerate it)

Here is the deal

Make 6 times during the day you are going to eat no matter what. Classes, meetings, gf talking...nothing is more important than eating (eating and sex that's a whole other topic)...anyway getting back on the topic.

You will have a hard time at first digesting all that protein if you are accustomed to eating carbs only for breakfast so for the first month you will use a protein mix of milk 1litre and 300g of whey powder.

You will eat approx 100grams of meat, fish or fowl in every meal plus 1 glass of protein shake

Meal 1
Eggs+Prot shake

Meal 2
Prot shake plus sandwich

Meal 3
Meat+Prot shake

Meal 4
Prot shake+Fruit

Meal 5
Chicken+Prot shake

Meal 6
Cottage Cheese+Prot shake

This is the first thing you will put into your mouth. Chew it slowly and enjoy your meat, fish, fowl. After have either some vegetables (mandatory with the meat) and your carbs. Drown the whole thing with the protein shake.

Since you are skinny eat as many carbs as you want of any kind. However try to maintain some sensibility since you will be getting around 300~400g of protein plus the 70g of carbs in the milk.

You should be able to put this weight before the end of January leaving Feb and March to work on conditioning with the new weight. Do not go trying to cut weight on February. If you are going to increase the cardio and the circuits increase food accordingly.

10lbs is doable, however keeping or lowering your fat mass while gaining it will be an exercise in futility IMO. Be prepared for this.


MMA. Submission grappling is my base.

My weight training is damn near non-existent. I'm all calisthenics and caveman. I'm also in the process of breaking a large amount of concrete out of my back yard, I'm doing this with a sledgehammer. I break out large blocks of it and carry it around the yard before tossing it into a pile. That shit is pretty heavy LOL

My training schedule:
Mon, Wed, Fri - Muay Thai
Tues, Thurs, Sat - Grappling

For cardio, I run every morning and also do 45 minutes on the elliptical with full resistance. I try to make most of my runs uphill.

I'm with you there.

I will check the article out. I also have John's book "Grappler's Guide to Sports Nutrition." Of course, I haven't read it.

I'll get on it as soon as I hit "submit".


Cool, punch. Then I'll leave the nutrition up to Berardi. But seriously, use the info. That'll totally make or break any other plan we come up with. And as much as it may pain me to say, Dr. Berardi is smarter than any of the guys posting nutritional suggestions on this thread (I'm including myself here, guys. So no offense.) Either stick to his article or his book.

It sounds like you're burning a ton-and-a-half of calories everyday. Running and hard elliptical work and Muay Thai/grappling six days a week and calisthenics and caveman stuff? Dude, come on. You don't need that much conditioning.

I'd immediately drop the elliptical or the running, I'll let you choose. Doing both is redundant, especially on top of all the caveman smashing, bashing, and whatnot. And doing any of it for 45 minutes is only good for burning some calories, with no significant sports-carryover.

You'd be better served limiting the supplemental cardio stuff (run/elliptical/caveman) to just two days a week, tops. Let your Muay Thai and grappling practice serve to maintain and/or improve your conditioning.

I'm hesitant to cutback any of the 6 days a week practice. It's pretty early in the 12-week cycle, but since we're adding weight, I want to stay ahead of the curve (endurance and speed-wise) since we're adding weight. Have you ever been this heavy (155+) before?

For the weights, I have a 3-day a week program that'll work great. I'll throw it up here later today. Hit the weights Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday a few hours before or after your martial arts. Spacing it out as much as possible will help with recovery.

Also, if you're not using Surge, now would be a great time to start. If it's in your budget, I'd actually consider double dosing, one serving during the weights and one after. It's extra calories and extra nutrients that will only help recovery that much more.

Money well-invested, huh? :wink: I don't have that book and haven't heard many reviews of it, but if it's in your hands already, it's worth reading.

P.S. - Pop quiz, hotshot... What did you eat yesterday? :slightly_smiling: