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I'm 17, about 5'3 and around 60kg (although I haven't touched a scale since a surgery when I was 15). I look quite skinny, especially as a lot of the fat seems to be concentrated in my thighs. I used to be overweight but lost a lot of weight when I was about 13 due to braces (I stopped eating sweet foods and drinking fizzy drinks). However, I'm now worried because a lot of family members have started saying that I look "too weak" and skinny.

During lockdown, I also became very conscious of the fact that I'm very very unfit. Like, can't-do-a-knee-push-up-without-my-arms-shaking unfit. Walking to and from school (~60 minutes) every day has never been an issue, but strength and flexibility definitely are. I've been trying to work out regularly because of that and have been switching between circuit workouts to find exercises I like, as well as other areas of weakness.

I don't eat much and I'm worried that exercising will cause me to lose even more weight. Is there any way I can gain weight while also striving to be more fit?

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I don't have a lot of time to type this but I wanted to help you out with the basics so here goes. If you have questions please feel to comment them.

Yes, you can indeed gain weight by exercising. This is done by three major things;

Progressive overload. You will need to challange your body in order to gain muscle (and thus gain weight). This can be achieved through progressive overload, this means that you increase the intensity at which you work out at a gradual rate. You can do this by either increasing the reps you do each set, or increasing the weight you're working with.

Caloric surplus. In order to grow you're going to need to supply your body with the building blocks to do so. You will need to find out how many calories you need to maintain your current bodyweight and then eat more than that. How much more? I would say a good rule of thumb is 200-300 calories more a day in order to gain quality muscle, but if the goal is to gain a lot of weight and you don't mind gaining some fat along the way you can go as high as you like. You also never want to be dehydrated, so make sure you drink enough water. A good rule of thumb here is that if you only have to pee twice a day, you need to drink more water.

Resting. If you work out a lot, your body will need to rest a lot too. Try out what feels right for you but a good base to start from is 8 hours of sleep each night.

Another good answer to a similar question on this board can be found here, in the question "I am underweight. How do I gain weight and muscle?". This answer says similar things as it talks about lifting heavy, eating big and prioritizing what you find important.

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  • Thank you so much! I really struggle to eat proper meals sometimes so I figure I can just supplement those extra calories with snacks right? Is simply eating more fruit enough for that? (I've never counted calories before so I'm a little new to this idea) – Hafsah H Jul 23 at 15:18
  • About progressive overload: I've mostly been following guided workouts on apps like FitOn and Keep, so I'm not quite sure how to increase the intensity, but when I'm not doing a guided workout, I tend to do 8 reps per set. I've gotten used to it so I think I'd be okay increasing it to 10. Does that sound okay? Someone under the link you posted mentioned that certain exercise types like HIIT are bad for muscle growth, are there any others that would be detrimental? – Hafsah H Jul 23 at 15:21
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    About the food intake; what I would do when I first wanted to gain weight is just try to eat more in between meals. For example in between breakfast and lunch I would eat 2 extra sandwiches and an apple or something, or add a proteinshake in the mix, stuff like that. I basically added meals that way. – MJB Jul 24 at 8:17
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    About the progressive overload, yes, you example sounds good. You can either increase reps to 10 or 12 per set, or keep the 8 reps but use a little more weight. HIIT is more a cardio workout than a workout to gain muscle mass, so that's why it says that in the other answer. – MJB Jul 24 at 8:18

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