How to Gain Upper Body Weight

Overhead View of Man Weight Lifting

If you're a recreational lifter rather than a bodybuilder with competitive aspirations, there's a reasonable chance that you're not concerned with adding mass to your lower body because it won't often be noticed in the course of everyday life. Your upper body, however, is at least partially on display every time that you so much as wear a well-fitting shirt. If adding muscle to your upper body is your only concern, follow these steps for best results.

Optimize your caloric intake for muscle gain. If you're looking to gain weight in your upper body rather than lose fat, chances are you're not consuming enough food energy on a daily basis. To rectify this problem, keep a record of the types and quantities of food and drink that you consume over a period of a week, and cross-reference this data with the nutritional information on your food and drink packaging to determine your average daily caloric intake. Increase this intake to between 3,000 and 3,500 calories. To do so, increase your feeding frequency to between five and seven meals daily.

Increase your protein intake. Protein provides the building blocks that your body uses to construct muscle. Without it, excess calories will simply be deposited as fat. Consume at least 1.6g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. To attain this figure, construct each of your meals around protein-rich staples such as eggs, meat, fish, beans and tofu. If necessary, supplement your primary diet with a whey protein powder.

Begin a resistance-training program targeted to the upper body. Break your upper-body muscle groups down into three separate training days. For instance, you may adopt a split that features chest and biceps on Monday, shoulders and abdominals on Wednesday, and back and triceps on Friday. For each session, build your workout around a core group of compound exercises, such as bench press, shoulder press and bent-over row. Supplement these compound exercises with isolation movements such as biceps curls, triceps pushdowns and weighted crunches. For each exercise, perform three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions, resting for at least 90 seconds between sets. After some time, you may wish to feature a bi-weekly leg training session, since lack of leg strength can hinder your upper-body lifting power at a certain strength point.

Moderate your lifestyle to facilitate maximum muscle growth. Avoid late nights on the town, and ensure that you're getting a full night of quality sleep every night. Sleep deprivation will hurt your performance in the gym and inhibit your body's ability to recover through rest. Further, avoid consuming alcohol or other recreational drugs, which can disrupt the hormonal processes that contribute to muscular hypertrophy.