What you are getting yourself in for
Word Count - 1300 Words
Reading Time - 5 - 8 Mins
What will you take away? - Why Female Weight Gain Is Super Cool.
Now I hate the term ‘bulking’.
I think it’s rubbish & will almost will put females off the process of gaining weight.
‘Massing’, ‘Gaining Phases’ or ‘Improvement Seasons’ are my preferred terms in this situation.
One of the main reasons that Females veer away from weight gain, in my experience, is a huge issue with mindset.
I’ll get regular topics raised on consult calls with female clients that go a bit like this…
“ I’d really like to just gain a bit more muscle & get a bit leaner also.”
Or….. we’ll begin coaching and 1 week into a gaining phase I’ll get a message….
“Aj, my weight was up 1lb this morning, I feel like I’m eating too much and gaining fat really fast!”
Before we get into how to potentially FIX the mindset issues, let’s just cover why I think Females should be gaining.
Why Females should be gaining in the first place…
1 - Next time you diet, you will HAVE more muscle.
Half of the time, females WANT more lean muscle mass, and they also WANT to look bigger and be stronger… that’s the goal. If they are competitive athletes, they want to look better the next time they get on stage, as no-one wants to turn up looking the same. To do this, we must have some element of body-weight gain over time, that is required to put you in the most optimal environment for growth.
2 - You’ll gain strength.
Strength gain is something that is SUPER clear when setting goals, you either get stronger or you don’t. You don’t spend all day looking at photos of you from last month to realise that you’ve added 20kg to your Squat.
Gaining strength is one of many ways to progressively overload your training, which is going to put you in a great position for gaining lean muscle tissue.
Finally, gaining strength is something that will keep you motivated to keep getting after it in the gym. There is nothing more demotivating (in my opinion) than turning up for sessions and either regressing, or lifting the same weights every damn session.
Trying to gain strength whilst constantly swinging from a moderate surplus, to a deficit, to maintenance is pretty much impossible and a giant waste of your time.
3 - You’ll actually be able to EAT.
The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you can handle, this is one of the many reasons why some bigger female bodybuilders can handle serious calorie intakes when dieting, which can be really mentally rewarding as opposed to dieting on very ‘poverty macros’.
The more time you spend investing sensibly (not getting too fat) the BETTER and more efficient your next diet will be and the less time you’ll spend spinning your wheels.
Furthermore, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn by simply doing absolutely nothing, which is surely an absolute deal breaker for gaining.
4 - You’ll be able to take incredible glute selfies.
Seriously, the extra fullness & a little bit of fat gain can actually make for some seriously impressive Glute Shots, mentally this can be very rewarding and push you forwards to keep the gaining process going, which is definitely relative to your mindset, if glute fullness and pumps can have a positive effect on that, take millions of them, and whack them on IG.
Mindset Limitations on Weight Gain
So you wake up after your first week of gaining.
You’ve been leaner for a while and the calories have been upped, you hop on the scale…
Jeeezz. It’s gone up already!
You panic, immediately run to the nearest mirror and analyse for any potential fat gain… of course you find an area of your body that is remotely ‘softer’ and assume that yep, you are just gaining nothing but fat mass.
It may sound blunt or harsh, but this is the reality check you will need when it comes to maximising gaining phases, I’m going to lay out what you should be doing to minimise the mindset restrictions and issues on gaining phases.
1 - The First Week will always result in fluctuations.
A raise in carbohydrates will come with a small amount of initial weight gain purely from glycogen, this is NOT fat gain, nor is it new muscle mass, it’s purely glycogen/water and you will most likely look slightly better for this, and have better training sessions as a result of the increase in calories.
2 - Please, please do not LOOK for Fat Gain.
When you are dieting, the goal is to get lean - so you look for new signs of body fat dropping.
When you are gaining, the goal is to pack on muscle mass - so you SHOULD look for new signs of increased muscle mass, not constantly looking for new signs of Fat Gain.
If you look purely for fat gain, you will easily get de-motivated and miss out on the fact that you could potentially have gained a decent amount of lean tissue, this may well lead to stopping the gaining phase far too early.
3 - Monthly Averages.
Monthly averages are something that I employ with EVERY single one of my female clients that are in gaining phases, I will keep an eye on those and almost ignore the daily fluctuations of weigh ins - all the usual factors can influence weigh in fluctuations alongside your hormonal cycle.
Ignore the daily weigh in fluctuations, focus on the long term, I will look for anywhere between 2 - 3.5 lbs gained per month for most females, on the lower end for larger females, on the higher end for smaller females.
If you focus on the daily weigh in’s, I almost GUARANTEE you’ll give in.
You’ll look at one week, and 2 lbs of weight gain and think you immediately need to pull back.
1 Month down the line and you’ll of lost that 2 lbs again and spent the last 4 weeks literally just spinning your wheels, absolutely pointless.
4 - Fat Gain is TEMPORARY.
The fat you gain in gaining phases is purely temporary.
I will tend to run 10 - 12 Week Gaining Phases, followed by a potential mini cut before we repeat the process again, therefore you realistically aren’t gaining FOREVER and you will have phases of being able to see the progress you’ve made over your gaining phase - this is important in my opinion from a motivation / longevity standpoint.
Having a long term plan is very important in my opinion, if you haven’t, think about it, it’s not hard to put together some element of a PLAN.
Client Jess - 125 lbs Top Pics - 130 lbs Bottom Pics.
How To Set Up A Gaining Protocol
Now lets just remember that everyone is VERY different when it comes to gaining protocols, some will be able to handle more calories than others, and some will be able to take bigger jumps in calories also.... what is important however, is how you manage the jumps.
Going from a Cutting to a Gaining Phase I'd immediately try to...
Week 1 - Increase calories by 300 - 500 and aim to slowly reduce cardio.
Week 2 - Monitor weigh ins, if heading in the right direction keep things the same, do NOT panic adjust.
Week 3 -----> - Move over to monitoring monthly averages, like I said earlier, it depends on your current situation as to how fast you should look to gain, but maxing out at potentially 4lbs per month for a 10 - 12 Week Period, any slower than 1.5 lbs per month and you are drip feeding and should increase calories by another 150 - 250 per day.
This is VERY basic, primarily because you'd need far more context and data to set up long term gaining protocols but the take homes are simple.
- Weight Gain should be monitored.
- Calories changed only if needed.
- Don't be afraid to push the bodyweight up.
Look at the bright side…
From what I have seen, both in and outside of coaching environments, the girls that do incredibly well with gaining phases are those that really see the positive side of things.
Filling out leggings.
Actually eating decent food.
Social occasions are more enjoyable.
You’ll out-lift male trainees.
Your Mum will be happy you look healthy.
Now obviously it’s not all amazing and you will definitely have days where you aren’t happy with the way you look, you’ll contemplate cutting it short but PLEASE don’t, you’ll thank yourself so much when you’re looking in the same mirror in 5 months time, shredded to the bone, with plenty of new slabs of muscle tissue on that frame.
If you take anything away from this, don’t forget how important gaining is a Female.
If you have any questions on gaining, how to set up a gaining protocol, (Male or Female) don’t be afraid to ask - shoot me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Client Laura - Looking awesome as she diets down for her shows, after investing in her physique.
What you could READ now -
How to Grow Your Glutes
Lessons I learnt by Gaining