Exercises To Gain Weight: How To Bulk Up Muscle Mass Safely

While most people are looking for weight loss, these workouts help gain muscle mass.

Reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, BPT Dr. Sudhansu Singh Dr. Sudhansu SinghBPT facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_icon
Written by , BA Shirin Mehdi BA Experience: 3 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2 years
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While most people think of exercise and workouts as a means to lose weight, are you aware that you can exercise to gain weight as well? The right exercise and diet regimen, as per your body type, helps you distribute the body fat proportionately and builds lean muscle mass at the right places (1), (2).

Along with improving your physique, it helps you gain strength and adds structure to your body. If you wonder what such exercises are, take a look at those we have listed here.

protip_icon Workout Blueprint: Exercises To Gain Weight
  • Frequency: 3 times per week
  • Benefits: Increase muscle mass.
  • Equipment Needed: Dumbbells, barbell, bench, pull-up bar.
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: Yes, for certain exercises.
  • Who Should Avoid: Anyone with shoulder or neck injuries or back problems.

How Can Exercise Help You Gain Weight?

Strength and resistance exercises can promote muscle growth (3). Since muscle is denser than fat, its increase may lead to weight gain in the form of lean muscle. So, while exercise cannot add fat to your body, it may help with muscle gain. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that regular exercise can stimulate your appetite, making it easier to consume more calories and remain in a caloric surplus needed for weight gain.

Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian for a customized diet and fitness plan to help you gain weight. The following section will take you through some of the exercises you can add to your workout plan. Scroll down to know more.

Effective Exercises For Weight Gain

Men and women have different body composition and distribution of muscle mass (4). Follow a training program and focus on specific exercises relevant to you after taking proper guidance from a certified trainer. Kristy Smith, Holistic Health Coach and Nutritionist, says, “A full-body workout is good for weight gain. This is because people who want to gain weight require to put on lean muscles. When you make muscles, it automatically adds weight to your body.”

When you work out your muscles get toned and increase, which is called hypertrophy. To gain weight, your trainer may recommend hypertrophy exercises. Let’s now take a look at the exercises that may help you gain weight.

1. Push-Ups

Push up exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Lie down on your stomach.
  2. Put your hands on the ground – palms flat and facing downward, and elbows bent and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Place your toes on the ground.
  4. Align your legs, feet, and back.
  5. Slowly push your entire body up off the ground with your hands. Stretch your arms completely. Your entire body should be off the ground, supported by your hands and toes.
  6. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows. No part of your body should touch the ground except your hands and toes.
  7. Do 15 reps or as many as you can as per your comfort.
  • Target Muscles: Chest muscles or pectorals, Shoulders or deltoid muscles, Triceps, and Core muscles.

Precautions: If you have wrist pain or poor wrist flexibility, use push-up handles to do this exercise. Do not strain your knees if you are finding it difficult to push your body off the ground.

2. Bench Press

Bench press exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Lie on your back on the bench, keeping your entire body relaxed.
  2. Stretch out your fingers and grab the bar.
  3. Slowly lift the weight bar, stretching your arms completely.
  4. Pull it back down onto the rack or near your chest from where you started. Bend your arms at a 90° angle.
  5. Do 4 to 5 reps or as per your comfort level.
  • Target Muscles: Triceps, Anterior deltoids, Traps, and Back.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Accessory exercises like bar dip, push-ups, dumbbell press, cable row, and dumbbell row can help improve posture during a bench press.

Precautions: Make sure to grip the weight bar properly while unracking it to avoid shoulder injury.

3. Pull-Ups

Pull up exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Grip the pull-up bar with your palms facing outward. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders.
  2. Pull yourself up to the level of the bar, making sure your feet are completely off the ground.
  3. Pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.
  4. Lower your body slowly until your feet touch the ground, and your arms are completely straight.
  5. Do as many reps as you feel comfortable doing.
  • Target Muscles: Biceps, Lats muscles (the flat muscles of your back), Forearms, Trapezius (muscles in the center of the upper back), and Deltoid muscles (the muscles in your lower back).

Precautions: Do not strain yourself if you have a neck injury or weak wrist flexibility.

4. Bench Dips

Bench dip exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Place a firm bench behind your back, perpendicular to your body. The bench should be wide and stable.
  2. Grip the edge of the bench with your palms. Your palms should face downward, with your fingertips facing the ground.
  3. Extend your legs forward, bent at the waist and perpendicular to your torso.
  4. Inhale and slowly lower your buttocks by bending your elbows and pushing yourself down until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor.
  5. While exhaling, straighten your arms and lift your torso back to the starting position.
  6. Do 4-5 reps or as per your comfort level.

Precautions: Keep your chest puffed out and your shoulder blades pulled back. Be careful while doing this weight gain exercise if you have neck or back problems as it may strain them.

5. Squats

Squat exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet in line with your hips.
  2. Raise your arms straight forward and perpendicular to the ground. You may also spread your fingers and join your palms in front of your chest.
  3. Keep your entire body tight and flex your stomach.
  4. Breathe deeply and lower your buttocks as if you are sitting on a chair. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground. (You can also do this exercise while holding a weight bar for better results.)
  5. While doing this exercise, make sure your bent knees do not cross your big toes, and your body is straight and firm.
  6. Come back to your original position and repeat 5 times.
  • Target Muscles: Thigh muscles like quads, hamstrings, and outer thighs, Glutes, and Core muscles.

Precaution: Whilesquatting down, make sure your knees do not go beyond your toes as it can hurt your knees. If you are a beginner, start doing this exercise without a weight bar.

6. Lunges

Lunge exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet aligned with your hips. This is the starting position.
  2. Engage your core, take a deep breath, and take a step forward with your left foot and kneel until your right knee is perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Push back on your heel to lift back your body to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this 20 times on each side. For best results, do this exercise while holding some weights.
  • Target Muscles: Glutes and buttocks, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, and Core muscles.

protip_icon Did You Know?
There are three types of lunges: reverse lunges, static lunges, and walking lunges, along with split squat lunges.

Precaution: While kneeling down, your knee should not cross your big toe as it may hurt your knees. Do not lean forward while doing lunges. Keep your upper body straight.

7. Deadlift

Deadlift exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. Stand straight, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grip the weight bar firmly.
  3. Face forward and look straight ahead.
  4. Keeping your back straight, lift the weight bar first up until your thighs and then until your hips.
  5. Slowly bend at the hips and place the weight bar back on the ground.
  6. Do as many reps as you feel comfortable.
  • Target Muscles: Glute muscles, Hamstrings, and Core muscles.

Precautions: Though this exercise for weight gain is very effective, it is difficult to perform without a trainer. Avoid doing this exercise if you have any injuries.

8. Overhead Press

Overhead press exercise to gain weight
Image: Shutterstock

Steps

  1. With your hands shoulder-width apart, squat and grip the weight bar.
  2. Lift the bar slowly to your chest or shoulders.
  3. Take a deep breath and lift it over your head until your arms are fully stretched. Keep your elbows locked.
  4. Slowly lower the bar to the shoulder level.
  5. Do 3 reps or as per your comfort level. You can do this exercise with dumbbells as well.
  • Target Muscles: Deltoids, Triceps, and Upper back muscles.

Precautions: Do not perform this exercise if you have a neck or shoulder injury.

Along with these exercises, here are a few tips that you can follow to gain weight.

Tips To Gain Weight

  1. Plan your muscle building exercises by focusing on each muscle on specific days. For instance, you can target your upper body and abs one day, followed by the lower body and cardio the next day.
  2. Shorten your rest period and add variety once your body has adjusted to these exercises.
  3. Do not forget to eat proper pre- and post-workout meals as it helps in quick recovery.
  4. Take enough rest for maximum recovery, bulking up, and increasing weight further.

2. Healthy Dietary Habits

This is again one of the important approaches to healthy weight gain. Eating high-calorie foods to gain weight is not healthy. Your diet should include healthy and wholesome carbs, good-quality protein intake, healthy fats, and probiotics to enhance digestion.

Kristy Smith says, “If you are a skinny person and looking for healthy ways to gain some weight, bananas are the best option. They contain carbohydrates and calories in good amounts, which can help you gain weight naturally. Other than bananas, dried fruits are also an effective and healthy way of gaining weight.”

She adds, “You can eat dates, figs, raisins, prunes, and apricots. All of them contain more calories as compared to fresh fruits, which makes them a good choice for gaining weight.”

Here is a diet that you can follow to gain weight in a healthy way.

3. Keep A Check On Your Lifestyle

Weight gain requires a holistic approach, not just exercise and eating healthy. Here are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • Be Practical: Set a realistic goal for your weight-gain journey.
  • Sleep Quality: Focus on getting quiet and peaceful sleep for 7-8 hours. Good sleep enhances muscle rest and recovery and improves your mood.
  • Reduce Stress: Cortisol is the main culprit behind your stress levels and low mood. Try stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or deep tissue massage to relax your entire body.
  • Stay Away From Bad Habits: Don’t indulge in unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking.

What To Avoid

  • Being irregular with cardio exercises. Spend at least 20 minutes on cardio exercises for your heart, brain, and lungs. Let your heart rate go up and come down slowly.
  • A diet low in natural foods. Always aim to include natural fruits and vegetables in your diet to get enough fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • High-calorie diet that is rich in saturated and trans fats.
  • Aerated beverages.
  • Processed and refined foods.
  • Over-dependence on weight gain or fitness supplements. Always go for practical and sustainable approaches.

Daysha, a YouTuber, talks about her healthy weight gain experience in her vlog. She recounts, “So I went to the gym, I ran into a personal trainer, and he started training me (i).” She further shares, “When I first started my fitness journey, I was only 87 pounds. It’s been about 30 pounds of weight gain, and of course, a mixture of muscle and fat.”

Infographic: Healthy Foods For Healthy Weight Gain

Healthy weight is one of the parameters for sound health. Regular intake of a balanced diet and exercise can help one gain weight. However, weight gain should happen in a healthy manner – and this is where a few foods can help. We have listed the same in the infographic below. Take a look.

healthy foods for healthy weight gain (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Gaining weight in a healthy way requires a systematic and well-balanced strategy. You will not be able to reach your weight gain goals through food or exercise alone. Keep in mind not to become overly reliant on weight-gain supplements. Always opt for sensible and long-term solutions. Take a proactive approach and seek the advice of a fitness trainer to ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly to achieve your fitness goals. If you have any physical injuries, consult a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I gain weight by walking?

“Yes, you can gain weight by walking. When you regularly do exercise in the form of walking, your body tends to store glycogen to work as fuel. Stored in water, this glycogen binds itself with water as a part of the process of energizing the muscles. This water also adds a small amount of weight to your body.” says Kristy Smith.

How long does it take to gain weight?

Kristy says, “Well, there is no specific time. It differs from person to person. It depends on the food intake, the time of food intake, the exercise schedule, the eating habits, metabolism, etc. But if you are really trying to gain weight, then you may gain 2 to 3 kgs a month.”

What is the best drink to put weight on?

According to Kristy, “There are so many drinks that can help you with weight gain. They include milkshakes, protein shakes, vegetable smoothies/shakes, and fresh fruit juices.”

How often should you exercise to gain weight?

Weight training or resistance training at least thrice a week helps gain some weight over time. The key is to activate all the major muscles.

What is the best time to perform weight gaining exercises?

Studies suggest that individuals exercising in the mornings experience more weight loss than those working out in the evening (5). This finding may suggest that evenings could be ideal for performing weight gain exercises.

Which exercise is best for weight gain?

Squats are considered the best exercise to gain weight as they help in mass gain in the lower body.

How can I gain weight in 7 days?

Eat calorie- and protein-rich foods and increase the portion sizes to maintain caloric surplus. To complement the diet, do weight-gaining and compound exercises like squats, push-ups, bench presses, etc..

How long does a skinny person take to gain weight?

The timeframe may not be the same for everyone. If you begin by raising your intake by 500 calories initially and keep increasing it gradually, you may take up to six months to see visible results.

Can I gain weight by walking?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that walking can help gain weight. However, it can provide other benefits, like lowering blood pressure and boosting mental and emotional health (6), (7).

Can you gain weight in 2 days?

No, it is not possible to gain weight in two days. But you may gain half a pound a week by consuming a protein-rich diet and following a regular exercise routine including weightlifting and bodybuilding.

Key Takeaways

  • Good sleep is essential for maintaining good health and optimal physical wellbeing. Look to obtaining 7 to 8 hours of sleep
  • Always keep time for pre-workout and post-workout meals as they can lead to quick recovery
  • For a quick dose of sufficient calories and carbohydrates, all of which can aid in healthy weight gain, opt for bananas.
  • For a healthy weight gain nutrition plan, look to include nuts, raisins, dates, and dried fruits in your food plan as they have more calories than fresh fruits.
exercise to gain weight

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Check out this video to learn the five best exercises to gain weight quickly! Get ready to bulk up and get stronger with these easy-to-follow exercises.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High-Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training, International Journal Of Exercise Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=link&linkname=pubmed_pubmed_reviews&uid=27182422&log$=relatedreviews&logdbfrom=pmc
  2. Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth, International Journal Of Sports Nutrition And Exercise Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11255140
  3. Maximizing muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review of advanced resistance training techniques and methods, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/
  4. Gender differences in fat metabolism, Current Opinion In Clinical Nutrition And Metabolic Care, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11706283
  5. The effects of exercise session timing on weight loss and components of energy balance: midwest exercise trial 2
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6925313
  6. Impact of exercise (walking) on blood pressure levels in African American adults with newly diagnosed hypertension, PubMed, ResearchGate
    https://www.researchgate.net/journal/Ethnicity-Disease-1945-0826
  7.  Psychological Benefits of Walking: Moderation by Company and Outdoor Environment, Wiley, ResearchGate
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229975327_Psychological_Benefits_of_Walking_Moderation_by_Company_and_Outdoor_Environment
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Dr. Sudhansu Singh is a Physiotherapist, Sports and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, and Neuro Physiotherapist with 8 years of experience. He is a member of the Federation of Indian Manual Therapists (FIMT) and an active member of the Delhi Council of Physiotherapy and FIMT Australia Association. Dr. Singh earned his Bachelor's degree in Physiotherapy from Padmashree Institute of Physiotherapy, Bangalore, Rajiv Gandhi...read full bio

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