Answered: Why Am I Exercising But Gaining Weight?

Dear Davey,

I’ve been working out for almost two months. Two months ago, I had a 38 inch waist and weighed 210 lbs. After all this exercising, I’m now 215 lbs and my waistline has increased by an inch. I’m extremely discouraged. What is happening?


14405029672_43f234844f_zHey Peter,

That is very frustrating. But as it turns out, you’re not alone. Gaining weight while exercising is actually quite common. In fact, a recent study demonstrated this reality by enlisting 91 healthy but overweight women in an exercise program. At the end of the 12 week program, 70% of the women had added fat mass – despite being more aerobically fit and healthier.

The study didn’t focus on the other variables in the women’s lives. And therein lies the problem. Exercise is just one part of a very complicated equation. For example, it’s entirely possible that the women ended up increasing their calorie intake during the study or became more sedentary in other aspects of their lives.

If you’re gaining weight while exercising, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is it muscle? Depending on your exercise program, your weight gain may be due (at least in part) to added muscle mass. If this is the case, you may notice a transformation in your body such as increased biceps, larger pectorals or increased glutes. A larger waistline, on the other hand, is an indication that you may be adding body fat.
  2. Have your eating habits changed? In the simplest terms, weight loss is the result of a calorie deficit. When we eat fewer calories than we burn, a calorie deficit occurs. Exercise can increase calories burned, but many exercisers also increase their caloric intake. Exercise may increase your appetite – and it’s possible to consume more calories than you burned during exercise. This can result in excess calories being stored as body fat. In other words, working out isn’t a free pass to eat anything and everything.
  3. Is your workout effective? Going to the gym isn’t enough. Your workout must be connected to your goal of losing weight. Endlessly walking on a treadmill, for example, could actually be counterproductive. If you need help creating a workout that targets fat loss, download Davey Wavey’s Weight Loss Program or enlist the help of a personal trainer.
  4. Are you sleeping well? Besides exercise and nutrition, other variables can impact body fat storage. Not getting enough sleep is one of them. Changes in hormone levels can increase your appetite and decrease satiety after eating.
  5. Are you stressed? Increases in stress result in the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can increase appetite and may result in the accumulation of fat in the body’s midsection.
  6. Are you taking any new medications? If you are on any new medications, talk to your doctor about side effects. It’s possible that weight gain is one them. This is especially common with anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory steroids and medications that treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure and diabetes. Don’t stop taking medications without talking to your doctor.

Don’t be discouraged. Gaining weight when working out isn’t a sign of failure. Instead, use it as an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of your training, your diet and the other factors in your life. And then, if possible, make changes and press forward in the achievement of your goals.


About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. The additional calories burned during exercise are insufficient to produce weight loss. Diet is the main factor in weight loss. Exercise combined with a weight loss diet is the most efficient means of losing weight.

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