Do You Gain Weight When You First Start Working Out?


Like most people, you will probably gain weight when you first start working out. But there are a number of factors that determine how much you gain. Your body type dictates how much you will potentially gain. You are also placing more nutritional demands on your body by exercising and eating more. Another reality is that the quickest muscle gains you will ever experience come early on, and there is a huge difference between fat and muscle weight.

Your Body Type

  • Whether you gain weight initially from weight training largely depends on your body type. There are three types of bodies: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.

    Ectomorphs have thinner builds, smaller waists and usually have trouble gaining weight. These people are less inclined to gain weight when they first start working out. Mesomorphs have a more athletic build. Because these people are usually muscular, their bodies respond naturally to exercise and they gain weight. Endomorphs have heavier builds. They are very likely to gain a lot of weight when they first start working out.

Nutritional Requirements For Muscles

  • When you start working out, you will feel a lot hungrier than in the past. This is because muscles require water, protein and energy for growth. Lean muscle is made up of 70% water. You will not only be eating more when you start lifting weights, you will also be drinking more. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. The average human body is about 40% muscle. You muscles can easily absorb 5 or 10 pounds of water during the first few months of training.

Muscles Respond Quickly To Exercise

  • When you first start working out, you are placing new demands on your muscles. Exercise tears down muscle fibers. They, in turn, respond by growing larger to handle the new activities forced upon them. Because your muscles require additional nutrients to grow, your appetite will likely increase. You will be eating more calories which leads to weight gain.

Muscle Versus Fat

  • Muscle is denser than fat. This simply means, for example, that 10 pounds of muscle takes up less body space than 10 pounds of fat. If you are consuming meals high in lean protein, moderate in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, you will gain muscle weight at the expense of fat. If you are still eating a lot of fatty foods while increasing your calories, you should expect to gain weight and extra size, too.

    Have you ever seen two people of equal height and a similar weight, yet one looked bigger than the other one? That's because the larger person has a higher percentage of body fat.

Your Exercise Goals

  • There is a reason you started working out in the first place. Most likely, you wanted to build a bigger chest, more muscular shoulders and put additional mass on those arms. If so, it is quite natural that you have gained some initial weight. If your goal was to lean out and lose weight, realize that you are losing fat if you are maintaining a proper diet. Focus on what you see in the mirror, not weight.


  • Photo Credit, Jason Burr, 2009.
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