Started Exercise and Gaining Weight.

Dear Davey,

Five weeks ago I decided I need to change my life, and I started to do cardio and strength training.

I’m working out at least 6 days a week. I’m obese but I’m making progress and can lift much more weight than before. Every day I like to challenge myself physically and I’ve finally made it up to 25 minutes on the elliptical. My diet is not perfect, but I’ve been eating a lot healthier than before I started working out. Instead of eating one big meal a day, I now eat many small meals.

Everyone I speak to says I shouldn’t judge my progress by the number on the scale – however, it’s very discouraging to know that I have gained 3 lbs since starting 5 weeks ago. Because I’m so overweight, the number on the scale is such a huge issue for me. It has become an obsession! I think I’m starting to see a very slight change in the way my shirts fit – but I feel like I’m only going to be convinced that my hard work is paying off by seeing the number on the scale drop.

Is it normal to gain weight when exercising and how long you think it will be before I see the number on the scale start to drop?

Thank you,

Dear Christine,

Congratulations on being so motivated to transform your body and your life! It’s always an inspiration to hear stories like yours.

First of all, I’d recommend re-evaluating your gym commitment of “at least” six days a week. It’s not realistic – and more importantly, not sustainable – for an exercise beginner to commit to six days at the gym. And secretly, I’m sure you understand that this is true as I can already hear the frustration in your words. It’s been five weeks and you’re not satisfied with the results. This is the point at which many people experience burnout and ask themselves, “Why bother?”

By simply your workout routine down to three days a week, it will be much easier to make exercise a lasting part of your lifestyle. And that’s really what it’s all about. Three days a week is sustainable and it will yield fantastic results, especially for a beginner in your situation. And, over time, you can gradually increase that commitment.

Now let’s talk about the weight gain.

Don’t panic. Gaining weight when starting to exercise is very common. The first step is to determine if you’re gaining fat or muscle.

Since muscle is more dense than fat, it’s possible that you’re losing fat but gaining muscle. You said that you’re able to lift more weight than before, and so undoubtedly you’re adding muscle to your frame. To determine if your weight gain is fat or muscle, have a body fat test completed at your gym. In another 4 or 6 weeks, take another test and compare the results. If that’s not an option, you can always measure different parts of your body and record it in a journal. Every few weeks, repeat this process. If you notice that you’re losing inches but still gaining weight (or even staying at the same weight), you can know that your weight gain is muscle – and that you’re still losing fat.

You also may be gaining weight if you’re eating too many calories. I would encourage you to keep track of the calories that you consume. Use this formula to calculate your caloric requirement, and make sure that your meals are within that amount. As a person that has gone from one meal a day to several smaller meals (which is definitely smarter!), it may be that you’re overestimating your servings.

Certain medications or conditions also make losing weight more difficult – so it’s also worth touching base with your doctor.

And, at the end of the day, don’t give the scale more power than it deserves. It’s just one tool in a toolbox of many – and it’s far from the best way to measure your results. Congratulations again on your commitment, and I look forward to your progress! Keep us updated!


P.S. If you have a question for Davey, ask it! And for more information about losing weight, download The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

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. I’m in the same boat. I started working out and making an effort to be more healthy, and after weeks and weeks I’ve stayed around the same, give or take two pounds. I may not have seen the results I wanted on the scale but I have made some progress. I’ve noticed that I’ve lost inches in my thighs, my arm,s and waist. My jeans are a little baggier. And I have noticed the increase in muscle an endurance. I’m still waiting for my breakthrough on the scale but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far.

    You’re doing good! Keep on truckin’!

  2. christopher says:

    the explanation DW-is spot on.very concise.muscle vs fat ratio seems to be in play here.

  3. For the first time my return to the gym has concentrated on weight training due to being in physio for a shoulder injury and trainer advice that I need to get my large muscle groups built back up and deal with a few pounds of muscle gain so I can then go into burn to burn off the fat.

    With only 3-4 days per week in gym with higher ratio of weight training, moderate to low cardio and yoga, I am seeing massive increases in weights I can do(other than injured upper body) and feeling insanely better posture wise, and to the touch I can tell I am gaining muscles in huge leaps. I even look better with posture, and hatefully am a bit of a bulky woman that looks strong too.

    I am sad my measurements are going up (so I am bulking) and my weight loss that was 7 pounds off in 2 weeks, gained 7 back in the next. Largely diet has been better than before, but of course, life gets in the way and I fell off wagon and had some junk this week… so explained by bad eating and muscle gains.

    I am trying NOT to get depressed and to stay motivated. Even if I am never happy with the scale, and never get an ultra slim hot look, at least I can be healthy with a healthy cardiovascular system and long life ahead in a pain free and active body, whatever size I am.

    Good luck! I hope we both turn the corner to see results coming soon!

    B Rock

  4. If we gain weight due to excess of eating it leads to fat but not weight or muscle. If really want to gain muscle weight we have to do some exercises.

  5. I have been working out 6 days a week, running 2 miles 4 days a week and my pants are tighter, I am thicker and the scale is going up instead of down.. I have been doing this work out for several weeks now and I am heavier now and thicker now and my pants fit worse now then before.. I have visited my doctor and they stated that i’m just getting older and my metabolism is slowing.. Seriously.. I eat healthy 1200-1300 calories a day and drink plenty of water. Why am I not losing any weight or losing inches??

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