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You may want to read my this question to have some more info. Because this question arised from there.

Now, I have a self made belief (I can be wrong) that muscle gain is for people who are already healthy, have healthy weight according to their age and height. For example, in movies, heroes are not underweight and hence they make muscles/six packs.

So how can you make muscles when you don't have enough weight and strength? First you need basic weight, and you should be a normal person with healthy weight. Am I right?

Secondly, when you're underweight (55 Kgs weight, 175 cm height, 26 age), should you go for muscle gain or fat gain?

According to my belief, I should not go for muscle gain.

So what's the truth and information that I am missing?

Normal = Most people of my age who are not under weight and are not underweight even they don't have six packs and good muscles as heroes in movies have.

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So how can you make muscles when you don't have enough weight and strength?

You start with very basic, low resistance training and build up like any "normal weight" person.

First you need basic weight, and you should be a normal person with healthy weight. Am I right?

No. Your current weight is irrelevant. You can gain weight by building muscle at any time, even if you're underweight.

Secondly, when you're underweight (55 Kgs weight, 175 cm height, 26 age), should you go for muscle gain or fat gain?

You should aim for muscle. It takes quite some time so it is to your advantage to start as early as possible. It's also quite hard to build either muscle or fat. You'll most likely build both at the same time anyway.

Assuming you are of healthy mind and body right now, then there is no reason to not start building muscle. If you are not, then you should probably ask a medical professional what is the best course of action to get healthy.

What's the difference between gaining weight by muscle gain and by fat gain, for an underweight person?

The first is gaining weight by eating a lot and doing resistance training. The other is gaining weight by just eating a lot. The former would be healthier because it includes exercise which has been shown to improve health, and it includes more muscle mass which has also been shown to improve health. The other can literally be done laying in bed all day and eating; which sounds nice but not the healthiest lifestyle.

  • Okay that clears some doubts. So can I say the people of my age who have healthy weight and neither are very muscular, are different from me just because of muscles and not fat? Or different is of both fat and muscles? – vivek Aug 10 at 1:57
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Don’t overcomplicate this... People have a nasty tendency to overcomplicate the heck out of stuff like this.

The chief problem is that you’re not eating enough calories. Eat more and you’ll gain weight. Depending on your metabolism, you may have to eat a lot more than you’re used to. I’d recommend a lot more protein and healthy fats as your extra calories, but shoot for some carbs after your workout.

To build muscle, you introduce a stressor to your body. This tends to work best with compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and presses. You then eat, rest, and repeat. The next time you go out, you move the weight up just a little bit. This continually adds stress, and the biological adaptation machine that is your body will adapt to it by building muscle.

Fat will almost certainly come along for the ride too. This is, in part, due to how food is broken down, as well as how much you’ve stressed yourself.

TLDR: Introduce a new stress. Eat and rest well for recovery. Repeat.

  • Yeah it's a bit complicated for me. The chief problem is that you’re not eating enough calories. Eat more and you’ll gain weight. Okay then still I need to go for build muscle? I don't see most of my friends who have normal weight go for any exercise. Is it just because they eat good? See, my current priority is to remove the tag of underweight from my body. – vivek Aug 10 at 2:05
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    Work on getting STRONGER. You can’t get stronger without gaining weight. You need to lift, eat and recover. Steak and milk would be preferable but I don’t know if you have moral or religious objections to certain meat products. Check out Starting Strength 5x5. – Frank Aug 10 at 4:05
  • any good source to read about 5x5? – vivek Aug 10 at 15:11
  • @vivek There is a starting strength book, podcast, and YouTube channel. You can Google them. – Frank Aug 10 at 19:58
  • They involve costly equipment. I can't join gym, neither I can buy them. Isn't there something I can do at home? – vivek Aug 11 at 7:19
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As a preface to this entire question/answer, standards for things like BMI and BF% are based on averages. They work for most people, but there are also clear outliers. Of the actual outliers some people have naturally lithe bone structures while others have broad and thick bone structures. This will remain the case whether such an individual is large or small (in terms of weight, both muscle and fat). Therefore, this should at least be considered before trying to conform to a certain standard of BMI or BF%.


What's the difference between gaining weight by muscle gain and by fat gain, for an underweight person?

There is a big difference between gaining muscle mass and gaining fat mass. Regardless of a person's current size, they should seek to keep their bodyfat percentage within a healthy range. Now there isn't any need to obsessively reach a specific number with pinpoint accuracy, simply being within a healthy range is what should be sought after. I can't actually seem to find anything stating what that healthy range might be (please comment if someone knows), but for the sake of having actual figures a comfortable range would be between 10-20% bodyfat for men and between 15-25% for women.

Bodyfat and dietary fat play a big role in how your body manages its hormones, and sufficient bodyfat can of course keep a person from starving to death should such a situation arise. Outside of those two things however, bodyfat isn't very useful. Excess fat is just dead weight that hangs on the body and creates or contributes to a variety of unnecessary stressors.

Muscle mass supports itself, stabilizes and protects bones and joints, and grants a person a higher degree of mobility and strength. While there isn't any practical need for most people to build a great degree of muscle, it is beneficial to build any amount of muscle that a person is willing to work for (until perhaps you reach unnatural levels). There really just aren't any downsides to having more muscle mass than necessary.

... and that's where the answer to this question comes in. There are clear downsides to having more fat than necessary, but that isn't the case at all for muscle.

According to my belief, I should not go for muscle gain.

This is an incredibly unwise conclusion. You certainly don't have to reach for a Mr. Olympia title in the pursuit of building muscle, but if additional fat will be of little/no benefit to you and you need to gain weight, the acquisition of additional muscle mass should be your goal. Besides, a person will almost always and inevitably gain fat while gaining muscle if they are gaining overall weight. Keep in mind that the only way to build muscle is by providing a stimulus for your muscles to grow (resistance training being the gold standard). If you aren't doing this and you are gaining weight, it's probably just fat. Even if you are doing resistance training, if you aren't doing it seriously, it's probably still just fat.

I have a self made belief that muscle gain is for people who are already healthy... First... you should be a normal person with healthy weight. Am I right?

No, if anything an underweight person is in need of muscle mass the most. Again, this doesn't have to be anything crazy, but obtaining (at minimum) a basic level of strength is beneficial for your health. You don't want to become immobile when you get older just because you thought you were too cool for exercise as a younger person. As mentioned, you're also more prone to injury if you are underweight. This belief of yours is completely backwards.

  • But most friends of my age who have healthy weight, who don't look very muscular, and are not thick (like fat people, stomach outside), don't go for any exercise. I just want to achieve that. Can it be true that due to not eating enough I'm lacking both muscles and fat? And the difference between me and them is muscles and fat? – vivek Aug 10 at 2:10
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    Yes, definitely. They probably wouldn’t want to by the sound of it, but if you tested each of them (as well as yourself) with how much weight can be lifted (deadlifts, squats, bench press, etc) you would undoubtedly see a clear difference in strength. By virtue of genetics, lifestyle, and nutrition some people just naturally carry more muscle than others even if they don’t intentionally exercise. It also takes a long time to even look like you lift weights (depending on your starting point) like maybe a year as a minimum, possibly more. Regardless, lifting weights WILL NOT make you bulky. – JustSnilloc Aug 10 at 11:48
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    Your net caloric balance (calories in vs calories out) will determine whether you gain, maintain, or lose weight. The less you weigh, the lower your body’s energy requirements (TDEE) will be, and your body will make all sorts of adaptations to compensate for under eating (like muscle loss) all in the attempt to not starve to death. It sounds like you’ve done this over a long period of time. You almost certainly need both and you’ll gain both if you start eating at a slight caloric surplus while doing resistance training. A basic (quality) beginner program would be the best use of your time. – JustSnilloc Aug 10 at 12:07
  • Ok thanks. Now, I've already started paying attention to how much I should eat. For resistance part, you mentioned I can be injured (that's true. I remember a few months ago I was just doing 20 push ups and I felt a bad pain in back. It recovered in 2 days. I had to put a lot of effort while speaking. But I'm pretty comfortable in Yoga (It increases my appetite) So, how should I start exercising? – vivek Aug 10 at 15:10
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    That’s true, and a fair point actually. However, I believe we’re diverging too much from the current question. Making a new question would allow for a better opportunity to answer that question. Give the appropriate context as well as what you are looking to achieve. – JustSnilloc Aug 11 at 18:01

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