We are going to need more meat
Size matters in contact sports, generally the bigger you are the better you take a hit and dish them out. In BJJ no one likes being on the bottom vs someone who is much heavier. Most of the time fighters and grapplers want to know how to cut as much weight as possible, to put the size advantage in their favour. But what about the undersized grappler who wants go up a weight category? Sports nutritionists often make their subject seem like the most complicated and fought over one in all of the realm of fitness and health, with so many methods it can a real mine field, paleo this, Intermittent fasting that, carb back loading etc. Often time I’ve found athletes just need to eat MORE! but go about doing this in a methodical fashion.
When gaining weight it is important to gain as much lean muscle as possible in the places where it is needed. A lot of folks use this as licence to eat whatever the heck they want, this will usually come back to haunt them is they struggle to shift the unnecessary fat they may have gained. Ideally you would be looking to gain 250g-500g a week depending on your frame, stage of development, genetics and a number of other factors.
The other key factor is you need to eat more a lot more, more protein, more carbs and more fats how much more generally we will try to establish a rough calorific maintenance and aim to be 300-500kcals over that. In terms of calorie sources, I really like the ratio of 40-30-30 carbs, protein, fat for athletes trying to add size.
Often serious trainees undereat! Busy schedules mean opportunities to eat real food are out the window and a dependency on sports supplements can arise. Some days consuming fewer than 1500 calories a day. The average adult needs 2000 calories a day, now consider the dedicated trainee who does 5-8 hours a week on top, pro’s will do 10-15 hours if not more. Often we’ll start small even if its just adding a protein shake to breakfast or committing to breakfast in the first place. A good rule of thumb for total calories is BW x 40 so for a 75kg fighter would be 3000kcals or in lbs roughly 20 x BW.
A big debate in the fitness and strength training world is “how much protein should I consume post training?” We have swung from “make sure you get at least 2g/lbs of protein” to the conservative “more than 20g of whey are a waste of money” put forwards by dieticians today (lest your kidneys explode). On top of this is the how much protein should I eat a day question, which I am asked semi regularly. To state the science here is a summation of what we know according to evidence at the moment.
Current evidence suggests http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2012-091100 , Phillips 2004
We need intakes higher than the RDA, to be precise, 1.2-1.6g/kg body weight a day
An emphasis on leucine rich protein sources (Leucine sources)
An additional protein shake immediately after your workout
Multiple servings of 20-25g of protein spread equally across the day
If you are already squatting and deadlift keeping doing that, i’ve found the key to gaining size is modifying your accessory work. High rep squats, Bulgarian split squats, bench and overhead pressing and upper back work. Specific exercises I really like are snatch grip deadlift, thick grip curl variations, higher rep front squats and dips for building mass. The aim is to stimulate functional hypertrophy, in areas that effectively armour the body, I find athletes who do a lot of hypertrophy work for their backs and hamstrings are generally less injured than those who do not. The key is not getting bogged down in isolation exercises, which works well for bodybuilders but not for time poor MMA fighters and grapplers. Ideally you should be lifting 65-75% or two thirds of your maximum lift for 6 to 12 repetitions.
Obviously weigh yourself regularly, to ensure you are not gaining too much weight to rapidly (fat gain). Once your reach your desired weight you will probably have to increase your previous maintenance calories. It is easier however to maintain weight’ than it is to lose or gain it. The body’s homoeostatic tendencies are very good at maintaining the status quo. So while everyone else is scrambling (see what I did there) to lose weight some of your might be actually looking to pack on size, stick to the above guidelines and you should do well, just remember it’s a slow burn. So don’t send me angry emails if Krispy Kreme offers you a sponsorship deal. If supplementation is a consideration scramble offer a range of Q5 supplements right here.
Not a license to dine out on sundae’s everyday!
This is an ongoing series of articles from guest blogger and Strength & Conditioning coach William Wayland of Powering Through.