June 5, 2023
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It may seem surprising, but some people have trouble to gain weight, for both physiological and medical reasons. The first instinct is generally to rush for food, but, in reality, it is possible to take up sport to gain muscle mass and gain a few pounds. What activities to focus on? We take stock with Dr. Denys Barrault, sports doctor and former president of the French Society of Exercise and Sports Medicine (SFMES).

Does sport make you “fat”?

“To gain weight, it is totally counterproductive to increase your fluid intake. Furthermore, one can increase its calorie intake to play on the fatty mass, but it is necessary to preserve the food balance and not to fall into excess. The solution that seems the healthiest for overall health – and viable in the long term – is therefore to develop muscle mass, ”explains Dr. Barrault.

In summary, yes, sport can make you “fat”, or more precisely gain muscle mass. And by developing the volume of his muscleswe increase its body weight. Practicing a physical activity also makes it possible to compensate for the deleterious tendency which consists in betting on foods that are too fatty and / or too sweet to gain weight quickly. Finally, physical activity stimulates the appetitewhich can cause us to eat more and indirectly contributes to skyrocketing our weight.

The ideal is therefore to combine regular physical exercise with a balanced diet.

Male or female: what are the differences when it comes to weight gain?

We are not all equal when it comes to weight gainwhich can be influenced by many individual factors, such as genetics, metabolism, medical history, stress level and… Our sex. “Indeed, there are biological and hormonal differences between men and women that can influence weight gain,” says Dr. Barrault.

Men tend to have a faster basal metabolic rate than women. In other words: they naturally burn more calories at rest, which explains why they often need to ingest more calories than women to maintain their stable weight.

Fat distribution is also different : “men tend to store fat in the belly, while women store more in the hips, thighs and buttocks,” says Pauline Bruel liberal dietician in Paris and practitioner at the hospital of Antony.

Finally, hormones play an important role in the regulation of body weight, recalls Dr. Barrault. And women have much more marked hormonal fluctuations throughout their menstrual cycle, which can notably influence their appetite and water retention. In addition, menopause is associated with hormonal changes that can lead to redistribution of body fat to the abdominal region.

However, we must keep in mind that each situation is unique, insists Pauline Bruel. Weight gain – and weight loss – are person-dependent and generalities cannot always be relied upon.

What sport to gain weight quickly when you are too thin?

Let’s start by remembering that any weight gain must be gradual. “Healthy weight gain and building muscle takes time, consistency and patience,” insists Pauline Bruel. Otherwise, you risk upsetting your body and endangering your health. »

And Dr. Barrault to answer the question that torments us: “To gain weight effectively through physical activity, you must focus on building muscle and limit endurance sports, which are more conducive to weight loss,” says Dr. Barrault.

Bodybuilding, the Holy Grail for gaining muscle mass

The ideal activity to increase muscle mass? Bodybuilding. By training with weights and dumbbells, you stimulate muscle growth and promote weight gain. The ideal is to work a muscle group and its different antagonistic muscles at each session. Bodyweight muscle strengthening exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups, etc.) can also be beneficial! Do not hesitate to call on a doctor or a specialized coach who can concoct a personalized program for you!

Swimming, athletics… Other sports that promote muscle development

Swimming is THE complete sport par excellence that allows you to build muscle. It allows you to work all the muscles simultaneously, but should not be practiced too often at the risk of causing a calorie deficit. Athleticism is also a good choice, notes the sports doctor.

Finally, certain resistance sports, such as rugby, american football Or other contact sports, can be effective in gaining muscle mass. Because ? They involve resistance movements and intense physical exertion, which can promote muscle growth.

In video: “Should we favor endurance or muscle strengthening exercises? »

Endurance or bodybuilding, which training to stay healthy?

Do not give in to doping sirens!

The use of doping products such asanabolic steroids, stimulants or growth hormones (medicinal substances whose initial use has been diverted) can be tempting to gain muscle mass more quickly. “But they usually induce fat gain and can have serious health consequences, warns Dr. Barrault: kidney and liver damage, hormonal problems and impaired fertility, even reduced libido and impotence, damage to the central nervous system, increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or cancer, etc. Must be avoided!”

What precautions should be taken before starting to exercise to “gain muscle” in a healthy way?

Before embarking on a sports activity to gain weight, it is better to take your precautions :

  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions or have been inactive for a long time, take the time to see a doctor who will advise you best. He/she may possibly make you pass a certain number of medical examinations (blood test, electrocardiogram, stress test, etc.) to verify the absence of contraindications to the practice of such or such a sport.
  • Choose a sporting activity that interests you and that matches your physical abilities. This will help you stay motivated and maintain a regular exercise routine.
  • Make sure you drink enough water before, during and after exerciseto maintain proper hydration.
  • Warm up and stretch : before each training session, dedicate time towarming up to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise. After training, perform stretches to promote muscle recovery and prevent injury.
  • Listen to your body and pay attention to the signals it sends you. If you feel severe pain, discomfort, or excessive fatigue, stop and rest.

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