Why Am I Not Gaining Weight?

Dear Davey,

I have been trying to put on weight for the last 6 months. I’ve tried several diets, I’ve been eating as much as I possibly can and have been training heaps as well. So far, I’ve toned up but haven’t put on any weight. What tips do you have? Sometimes I feel like I’m meant to stay this size forever and I often feel like I should give up.


There are a few things to consider if, despite your diet and workout regime, you’re having trouble gaining mass.


First, overtraining may be a contributing factor. Overtraining is a condition wherein you provide more stress on the body than it is able to handle or recover from. When you lift weights, you create tiny tears in your muscles. This is a normal and healthy process - and, as the body rebuilds, the muscle is made stronger and larger than before. However, it takes time to recover. And if you’re training too frequently without adequate rest days in between, then the overtraining response will occur. Your body will become weaker and you may lose muscle mass.

Signs of overtraining include irritability, difficulty sleeping, poor performance, fatigue, losses in strength, weight loss, increased colds or flues and muscle pain. If you experience these symptoms and if overtraining is to blame, take a week or two off to recover - and then reassess the situation. By getting 7 - 8 hours of sleep per night, taking at least one day off per week from exercise, eating properly and by minimizing life stress, overtraining is easy to avoid.

Caloric Intake

Second, take a look at your calorie intake. Though I recommend using the Harris Benedict Calculator to determine your calorie requirements, a good general guideline is 14 - 16 calories per pound of bodyweight for active individuals. For example, at 155 pounds, I’d need to consume about 2,480 calories to maintain my current body weight. To build muscle and mass, you need an additional surplus of 250 - 500 calories a day. In other words, assuming that I’m following a nutrition and exercise plan to targets muscle growth, I’d want to aim for about 2,750 calories per day. This will result in a few additional pounds of mass per month.


Third, look at what you’re eating. To build muscle mass, you’ll need the fuel your body with the right ingredients. Very general guidelines (these can vary from individual to individual) include a gram of protein per day (per pound of bodyweight) from lean protein sources. It’s also recommended that you consume at least 100 carbs on non-workout days and 150 carbs on workout days - with a strong preference for complex, natural carbohydrates like those found in brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat breads. Include foods rich in heart-healthy dietary fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado.

Train for Hypertrophy

Fourth, consider your workout. Are you following a workout plan that targets muscle growth? When you lift weights, they should be heavy - and your rep ranges should be low. I generally go for 8 reps, and I’m fully fatigued on my last repetition. Ensure that you’re not using low levels of resistance and performing 12 or more repetitions. Lighter weights and high repetitions are great for endurance training, but they’re not well suited for gains in mass.

Avoid Excessive Cardio

Fifth, moderate your cardio. Cardiovascular training offers great benefits - but don’t overdo it. If you have a naturally thin body type, a few sessions of high-intensity interval training or steady-paced cardio each week should be plenty. Limit cardio times to 15 minutes so that your results aren’t cannibalized.

Certainly, you’re not destined to be a skinny guy for life… so long as you follow these steps. With some effort, energy, dedication and know-how, you’ll be bulking up in no time!

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. Uhh Will Wikle is not really the best poster boy for this article, considering he’s all juiced up. Maybe use him for a “How to use Steroids and Look Great but Lie and Tell People It’s All Diet and Exercise” article.

  2. Luca Dofus says:

    Hi guys! Same situation here, but I have consulted a nutritionist that helped me. Not following the diet right now, but when I did, together with intense physical excercise (artistic gymnastic) I managed to build (a little bit!) of muscles and gain weight (around 10kg at the time, problem is that I lost them very quickly and still looking for the time to start building up again).
    I am 1.88 cm, currently around 60kg, very high metabolism. I had to eat more than 3200 calories a day. The diet was with 6 meals (3 main ones), and had lots of fruit and vegetables (150grams on both lunch and dinner!). Looks like I needed them to absorb all the rest.
    Breakfast: 10 biscuits.
    Snack: 2 fruits.
    Lunch: 120gr meat, 150gr vegetables, bread, fruit. (rotating the types of meat).
    Snack: cereal bar.
    Dinner: 100gr pasta, 120gr meat, 150gr vegetables.
    snack: 2 fruits.
    I could have eaten more, as long as I kept the proportions (and I actually had to take it up in order to put some more weight). I had a free day to eat crap and some meals were different (400gr of potatos on one dinner, or “minestrone soup” instead of normal pasta).
    I’m italian, if you didn’t notice.
    Hope it might have helped, but of course we are ALL different!!!!!

    Anyway, happy to see a post about gaining weight once in a while!!! =)

    • Patrick Starr says:

      Seems like you need to eat more nutrient dense food. For example, add some protein to your snacks/fruits like peanut butter (no hydrogenated oils), or cheese. Try eating 3-5 egg whites for breakfast with your biscuits. Being Italian, I bet you get enough carbohydrates in your diet, so you have to take more protein (i.e. lean meats/cheese/milk/fish). In order to get ‘bulky’ you have to stay nitrogen positive. If you’re very active through out the week, you have to consume maybe more than 2800 cal. I’m 5’10, 145lbs and I’m very active through out the week and I have to consume about 3k-3.2k cal because I teach Group exercise classes, work as an adapted aquatic therapist, work as clinical exercise science, and also work out about at least 1.5h a day-2hrs at most.

      - B.Sc.Exercise Science

  3. Thanks Davey! Ive only been able to gain like 2lbs after working out for 6 months. Im a skinny b*thc and need all the help I can get!!

  4. Am also quite skinny with very high metabolism and trying to gain a few kilos in weight. But with training karate 2-3 times per week and one session of strength exercises per week it’s hard work! I’ve kinda staggered now at 52,5 kilos.

    I already eat 6-7 times per day depending on my metabolism, and do get trouble sleeping now and again. So I have to look over what I eat before bed time to see if that helps! Now I only have a protein shake with slow proteins. That doesn’t seem to be enough!

  5. There is good news in the form of fat because it
    thinks it’s in a period of famine and it needs to go easy dieting humor on its energy reserves. Helps lower cholesterol and fatty acids and aids in the development of lower belly fat.

  6. The reason why most people donot gain weight easily is inadequate or improper nutrition. Diet is the most important part of any fitness routine including weight gain. Try increasing 500-600 calories than what your body burns in a day and you will start seeing results soon.