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So at one point I was extremely skinny (19 yo male at about 5'10 (177cm) and 92.6lbs (42kg)). Before that, I was heavier but had been losing weight and also noticed a loss of muscle strength as my body weight dropped, likely due to muscle wasting.

It was also at this point that I had a perforated stomach accompanied by stomach ulcers, which required emergency hospitalization and a 2 hour long surgery; I suspect this had a lot to do with me being underweight. 5-7 days after the surgery, I noticed that I had loss even more muscle strength, even though I had put on 2 lbs. Right before the surgery (at the weight mentioned above), I used to be able to do 17 consecutive full-range proper push-ups, 6 consecutive pull-ups, and run/sprint comfortably, although I was able to do more at heavier body weights. Then 5-7 days after the surgery, I could barely do 1 pull-up or 3 push-ups, even though my body weight had increased a little. I could barely properly sprint. This seems to conflict with the idea of muscle wasting due to weight loss, as I've actually gained a bit of weight.

I am extremely concerned that as I put on more weight to get to a healthy weight level, I might not recover, at the very least, my prior muscular strength. Will I ever get my muscle strength back, presuming I am willing to train and put on more body weight to reach the healthy level?

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Yes. You can absolutely regain your body weight and strength.

The reason you may seem so much weaker since the surgery is because an event like this takes its toll on your body and it will need to recover from this.

I advise you to seek professional help to get your weight and strength back to a healthy level because the is no way for me to give personal advise from the other side of the world via a forum like this. What I can do though is give general tips.

1. Consistency: This point can't be overstressed. Being consistent in the things I'm about to list will be the key factor.

2. Diet: Having a healthy diet is going to be one of the most important things here. Your body will need to recover from the fact that you were underweight. This doesn't mean that you want to go eat fast food every day for the next 6 months though. It also doesn't mean you need to eat loads. Your body will need to get used to eating a lot of food again so try to steadily build this up over time, increase it step by step.

3. Strength training: Right, since you're eating more and more, your body is getting the fuel to recover. Once you feel like you are ready to start working out, do so. Do something you enjoy, if you rather do circuit training than regular fitness does that. Doing something you enjoy will help you be consistent with it and you will naturally want to push yourself to become better at it.

Though I might add, doing more bodybuilding/powerlifting kind of exercises will make you grow faster than most circuit programs. So if that is the goal, you might want to focus on that kind of training at first.

4. Go easy on the cardio: Even though doing cardio is a very good way to stay in shape, it's not something you need to consistently do when you want to gain weight. It could hinder you from making gains you are trying to achieve. Once you start getting to the point where you are at a healthy weight and you want to become even more physically fit, you can add in some cardio.

5. Mindset: Don't think this is going to happen overnight. Make a plan for at least 6 to 12 months. Gaining weight from working out goes relatively quick in the first 6 to 12 months of working out, but don't think you'll gain 60lbs in a year, this is highly unlikely.

6. Workout partner (optional): Having a workout partner isn't something you need, but it can help in a lot of ways. It can motivate you to push a little bit harder, he or she can help you with dietary questions. I can highly recommend you try to find someone that wants to go on this journey with you.

I hope it helps if you have any questions let me know. As for some background information, I too was very very thin (about 120lbs at 184cm, male) and I gained about 45lbs in the first 2 years of working out. And I didn't have a forum like this so I didn't even know what I was doing the first 8 - 10 months.

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  • Thanks for the answer, it is really uplifting to know that I can return to the strength level that I was initially at. My concern is not whether I can regain the body mass (I'm sure that won't be a problem), it's more of a concern whether I can regain the strength level at the body mass I was at. In other words, I'm really worried that I might be at a healthy weight again but would be nowhere near as strong as I once was. – user98937 Jan 11 '18 at 15:19
  • Also, a lot of the strength training I do is bodyweight training (push-ups, pull-ups,...), and so I'm afraid this won't yield the best results as my muscle strength will have to keep up with the increasing weight of my body as I put on weight to get to that healthy level. Any advice/comments on this? – user98937 Jan 11 '18 at 15:20
  • @user98937 I can't see why you wouldn't be able to regain the strength you had before with proper training and nutrition. About the bodyweight training, this can be super effective if you keep moving towards more advanced exercises like front-lever, plance, muscle-up). If you only keep doing the basics like push and pull-ups this won't be enough. – MJB Jan 15 '18 at 7:16

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