You're not likely to hear the average person on the street tell you that they want to gain some weight, however amongst the gym-going crowd this is a common expression.
Don't be misled though, the majority of these people aren't just talking about weight in general, they are talking about adding pounds of lean muscle tissue. And it's not just men who make this their goal either...
More and more women are realizing the importance of packing on lean muscle to their frame to help them offset the chances of osteoporosis later on in life, help them function more easily in their day to day activities, and help to create a nice tight appearance.
So whether your goal is to one day compete in a bodybuilding, fitness, or figure competition or you are simply looking to increase your strength and generate a better physique, here are some things to keep in mind.
The Workout Routine
The first component of increasing your mass is your workout routine. This is not the time for endurance cardio sessions. Instead you want to focus on putting more of your energy into lifting heavy enough weights that you create small microtears in the muscle tissue so that when given rest they will rebuild themselves back up stronger and bigger (in a process called hypertrophy).
This is not to say that you should be spending every waking hour in the gym trying to lift more and more weights each session. Notice in the previous sentence how I explained that muscles grow back bigger and stronger with rest? That is a key point.
If you do not give your muscles enough rest between workouts you will actually only further tear them down with each succeeding workout, thus actually causing a decrease in strength and size.
This is definitely not what you want. So the main thing to remember is that you will need to create a fine balance between spending enough time in the gym to progressively overload your muscles, then back off and allowing them a chance to heal.
A Split Routine
When designing your workout, your best bet will be to incorporate some sort of split routine. Some people find they see the best results lifting on a one-to-two part per day schedule, whereas others do better on an upper/lower or push/pull schedule where each part is worked twice a weak.
Normally, the more advanced of a lifter you are, the more your body will be able to tolerate before your begin crossing the line between overreaching and overtraining.
So, if you are just starting out and looking to increase your mass, you may want to chose a full body program done 3 days a week or a 2 day split program done twice a week (so 4 total days of strength training). If you are more advanced, then you can further break your workouts up and concentrate more specifically on certain muscle groups. For example,
When using this routine keep in mind that many of the compound lifts you are performing are working other muscle groups at the same time so you will want to ensure you are training both of those groups together on the same day so they will still get sufficient rest between sessions.
Doing a chest press will work your chest muscles but will also call your triceps into play
Dedicating The Time
Finally, one other point to mention is that when considering how much time you are going to dedicate to your lifting, you will want to take into account your general lifestyle.
If you are a student or have a sedentary desk job, you are likely not taxing your body very much throughout the rest of the day so you will be able to recover quite quickly between sessions.
If you have a laborious job or also participate in other sports such as football, hockey or soccer, you won't see recovery happening nearly as quickly and will want to allow slightly more time between your sessions.Reps & Sets
It should be noted that in order to keep growing you must change your workout routine periodically. The body has a miraculous way of adapting to the stresses we place on it and without a constant change of stimulation you will find yourself coming to an abrupt halt in your progress.
That said, if you have currently been using a higher set range, you might want to try using fewer sets and maybe adding in some new exercises to your program. Or you could also turn to more advanced principles such as drop sets, compound sets or supersets to shock your body into growth once again.
You also don't want to make your rest breaks too generous when you are trying to put on size. Far too many people make the mistake of going over to get a drink of water and then getting caught up in conversation with someone you just happened to run into.