As I am sure most of you know by now I play rugby. I play a lot of rugby. And so I train for rugby. Part of the rugby preparation is gaining weight. In fact professional clubs value the weight of their players very highly. For example the Crusaders rugby team in New Zealand value the body type of their players before the strength of those players. Being at the right weight is important in order to play the best at the position you play. However, this is not solely limited to rugby- every sport will require you to be a specific weight in order to play that sport best. If you are an Olympic weightlifter then weight gain will not be as important to you, instead strength to weight ratio will be the definitive factor. The opposite is true for bodybuilding. The heavier the bodybuilder the more muscle they will have. Having said that there are some things you need to consider.
To begin with you need to take your own abilities into account. Taking me as an example, I really struggle to gain weight (whether that be fat or muscle). I have been training for about two years now and I have gained maybe 7 kg. Currently that leaves me at around 70-75 kg depending on water intake. For rugby, my preferred sport, this is far from ideal, but in every cloud there is a silver lining. The fact that I am so light means that I am “pound for pound” fairly strong. I do not like putting my gym numbers online but for a conventional deadlift I can lift twice my body weight 5×5. In my case I am simply making use of what I have instead of focusing on what I do not have. It could equally work inversely. If you struggle to gain strength then focus on gaining mass.
With that said, if you focus too much on one and not the other then bad things happen. For example if you are struggling to gain strength then a lack of muscle mass may be the issue. You may need to go through a process of gaining weight before you continue with a strength program. Coming back to me as an example, for the last few months I followed a self made, 5×5 strength program- however when my results started to plateau i switched to a 4×8 based program. I even switched out larger barbell movements with their dumbbell alternatives. This has been a welcome change and will boost my strength tenfold.
As normally is the case for my fitness mantra “its about finding what works for you”. You may find that a 5×5 program does not reap the same benefit as a 4×8 program, if so then do not force it. Tailor your training around you and your requirements, not what the next person is doing.
I know this has been a shorter article, but one that has, hopefully, given you insight into the way I think about training. Any queries just pop them down below.