What To Do With Weight Gain

If you are gaining weight, work a little smarter and put those calories to use. By changing the way you train, those calories go somewhere other than your waist.
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At the time of this writing, a friend felt frustrated in his weight gain.  Objectively, he has had a big year. He has had a busy clinic life, kids in various phases of life, an attempting to open another business in a building he recently purchased.  He has experienced some great moments and some tough moments. He has been able to experience so much in the year . . . and it shows. Objectively, he has absolutely gained weight.  His time has been needed in other areas of his life and have taken away from his normally active lifestyle and general free time.

A saying that I often reflect on is “Don’t push the river.”  Life has a flow and understanding and working with that flow is important.  I have had many times in my life where my life agenda has had other plans for my free time and personal health choices.  I had had many months where I would drag myself to the gym and force myself to do a workout that just never felt good. I have had weight changes on both ends, becoming both 20 pounds overweight due to stress (picture on the left) and conflict and 20 lbs underweight due bleeding internally for a year (picture on the right) while trying to heal and understand ulcerative colitis.  If I had been a little kinder to myself, I could have worked with what was happening at those times. Trying to improve strength does not work when the body can not digest food. Trying to do long cardiovascular conditioning workouts does not work when its winter and everyday is an argument.

In both of these swings, there was a better choice that would work with my body instead of against it.  When the winter months come and you start to eat a little more, take advantage of the extra calories.  This is a perfect opportunity to work on some muscle mass gain. Such training requires basic repetitive exercises that generally require little thought, don’t really work well outdoors, and need extra caloric intake to be effective.  At some point everyone can have certain regions that could gain more muscle.

Gaining muscle (hypertrophy) is a much different system than what we commonly teach in our clinic.  Our strength standard is generally 4 sets of 4 reps with 4 minutes of rest at 80% of 1RM. A good guideline for hypertrophy could be 4 sets of 10 reps with 2 minutes of rest at 70% 1RM.  A very different kind of workout and a very different kind of feeling. Hypertrophy could also benefit from a lack of variety for a short time. If you have a body region that does not grow quickly, training it 2 to 3 times a week is a great way to force the body to adapt and change.  It also requires extremely low brain output, a good thing if you feel like your brain is already at max. The programming can be the same 3 – 4 exercises done over and over. In this scenario, those extra calories are perfect and have a place to go instead of around your waist.

Don’t push the river


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