Q: My son is returning to training after a long football season. He actually lost weight during the season and is trying to gain that back and then some on top of that. How many days a week should he train and should he use a weight gainer to help get in calories?

A: It’s not uncommon for football players in high school to lose muscle mass during the season. Sometimes they lose weight, sometimes their body weight remains the same, but they lose muscle. Either way, the solution is to get back to weight training. Four days a week is ideal because it allows for recovery in the middle of the training week. One potential routine would be to train legs one day. Shoulders, biceps and triceps get a day and a day for chest and back. Core training is essential and done in some manner daily.

The fourth day we use for speed work and improving neuromuscular response. Stretching is another often overlooked component of training but should be performed daily after completing the weight training when the muscles and connective tissues are engorged with blood. The muscle mass lost during the season can be gained back rather quickly if recovery is taken seriously. This means continual hydration and large quantities of healthy food including vegetables and lean meats.

For a teenage male, sleep is especially necessary for growth. This should be deep, restful sleep without interruption at night. Weight gain drinks are usually loaded with too many carbohydrates and calories for the sake of calories isn’t the answer. Consuming at least 40 to 50 grams of protein from leaner sources, 50 to 60 grams of unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrates from vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes or rice and 10 to 15 grams of healthy fats from eggs, olive oil or from fish at each meal is a good solution. He should try to consume three full meals a day and three snacks a day. This should provide the necessary calories and nutrition to promote rapid growth and a return to his previous weight. God bless and keep training.

Daryl Laws is a certified personal trainer and owner of Body Unlimited Inc., 325 Holly Hill Lane, Burlington, NC 27215. Contact him at 336-538-0012 or daryllaws@aol.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BodyUnlimited.