How Do I Gain Weight?

Players ask me one of the following two questions all the time! How do I gain weight? or How do I lose weight? These are great questions and I am happy to discuss these issues with our athletes but I have included the opinion of others in the field here. The following was taken from Dan Riley's Fitness Corner found on the Houston Texans' Website. Coach Riley is one of the most respected Strength & Conditioning coaches in the Nation. In fact, when the Texans franchise opened up Riley was there first hire!

This was the most frequently asked question by young men between the ages of fourteen and nineteen.

Our first piece of advice regarding weight gain is to immediately consult the services of a registered Dietitian (R.D.). You can assume the nutrition information you receive from an R.D., is scientifically sound and reliable.

The Texans are fortunate to have our entire nutrition program coordinated by Roberta Anding R.D. When a player has any nutrition questions we immediately defer to Ms. Anding.

There are three ways to gain weight:

1. Maturation (Newborn to a mature adult)

2. Overeat (Add fat)

3. Strength Training (Add muscle)


Mother nature controls the Maturation process. You can't speed it up. Adolescents gain weight each year due to normal process of maturing. Most adults are physically mature before they turn twenty-five years old.

The physical immature fourteen-year old must wait for time to pass to capitalize on the future benefits of his maturation process. Teenagers mature at different rates. Some fifteen-year olds are fully mature with facial hair and a deep voice. They have a tremendous physical advantage over the other fifteen-year olds with peach-fuzz on their face and a high-pitched squeaky voice.

It is important for the parents and coaches to educate young teenagers on the perils of trying to speed up the maturation process. Young teenagers are impatient. Many want to lift more weight and add more muscle then they are physically capable of doing.

With the same amount of work and effort, a teenager will generate better gains from one year to the next. They will lift more weight and gain more lean weight when they turn sixteen than when they turned fifteen, simply because they are more mature


Over Fatness and obesity are currently huge health concerns. Having a teenager gain twenty pounds over the summer to make his coach and his parents happy is criminal. Young teenagers are preoccupied with bodyweight. They must be taught weight (on a scale) is not the issue. The only issue is how much lean bodyweight and how much of the weight increased fat.

If anyone (to include a young teenager) consumes more calories than he burns off, it will be converted to fat. Adding any extra fat is foolish. He will soon become a fat teenager and eventually a fat adult. He will then join a large group of fat adults who have health problems and are currently trying to loose weight.

Strength Training

As a parent or coach it may be difficult to tell a frustrated young teenager he may never weigh more than 150 pounds in a lean or muscular condition. We encourage all young athletes to work hard but they must realize everyone has physical assets and limitations. We can't change our genetic profile. Very few people have great potential for adding a significant amount of muscle, especially young and physically immature teenagers. We can't make our bodies add ten pounds of muscle if it is genetically limited to adding five pounds of muscle.

When we give advice to young athletes we ask them, "are you doing everything necessary to generate the physical gains you are capable of making?" Many young athletes want the best results but aren't willing to sustain the long-term discipline needed to reach their physical potential. We stress the following :

1. Balanced Nutrition

2. Balanced Strength Program

3. Adequate Rest

Balanced Nutrition

We have observed many young athletes that have poor and inconsistent eating habits. They skip meals, don't eat breakfast, sleep in on weekends (miss meals), don't eat a balanced diet, and consume fewer calories than are needed to generate potential strength gains. They complain about not making good gains yet are not willing to sustain the discipline to stimulate maximum gains.

Formula for how many calories should be consumed each day:

multiply body weight x19 calories

example: bodyweight=150 lbs.


2850 calories to be consumed each day

Balanced Strength Program

We divide the body into 5 major segments. Each major muscle group within these segments must be devolved to its maximum. The 5 major segments include the following:

1. Neck

2. Hips & Legs

3. Midsection

4. Upper Body

5. Arms

Equal emphasis must be placed on each exercise. Too often young athletes overemphasize one area and ignore other areas. Imagine the impact on bodyweight by adding an inch to the arm and adding an inch to the thigh.

Multi-joint exercises and isolation exercises must be performed for each major muscle group. Utilize lifting methods and techniques designed to stimulate the best results in the safest and most efficient manner possible.

Adequate Rest

One half of the fitness formula for increasing strength and muscular bodyweight is exercise. The other half of the formula is rest. Many young athletes over-train at the expense of minimizing of preventing potential gains.

Most hard- working athletes perform more exercise than their body can recover from. This will prevent maximum stimulation and growth.

Many athletes perform too many sets and to many exercises. Our goal is to have our Texans perform as little exercise as possible to stimulate the best gains. Some athletes continue adding more exercises until they stop making gains or actually begin losing strength.

If a young athlete is not making the kinds of gain he thinks he should, our advice is to start eliminating sets and/or exercises from the workout.

We tell young athletes to be responsible about their expectations for adding muscle. Some expect more physical development than their genetic potential will allow.