How can my husband gain weight and strength?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 14, 2012 at 8:37 AM

My husband is 28 years old, 5'9, and now only weighs 120lbs. Before going paleo he was still pretty healthy but weighed in at 140. He walks to and from work every day, so just over 2 miles. And usually likes to take a walk during lunch because he can't stand to be sitting for that long. He is also usually out on the weekends for a few hours with our daughter taking her for a walk. (he carries her in an ergo). He has been very skinny his whole life usually by knowing when to stop.eating (I know crazy right?!) and being active by walking, cycling, or hiking.

My question is how to get him to gain some weight back! The poor thing barely fits into his 28 jeans anymore. For breakfast he used to eat oatmeal with only lemon juice and a cup of plain coffee in the morning. And he swears that kept him feeling great and full until lunch. Now he only eats a piece if fruit. But is still satisfied and doesn't eat again until lunch. Should he put the oatmeal back in?

Lunch is usually left overs with a salad and dinner is usually meat and veg. The problem with dinners being more carbs heavy is that I am crazy fat and need to lose loads of weight (we're talking over 100lbs) so the meal is centered more towards me because if there's rice or potatoes I'll eat it. And no I don't have will power how do you think I got so huge lol.

Secondly we don't know what to do to get him more in shape. He says he wants to run because he needs to increase his lung capacity (doctor told him so) but I feel like he'll just waste away if he does. The problem is he completely uncoordinated. Like seriously trips over his own feet. I mean he is the poster boy for lanky nerdy guys with glasses. He said he could use the machine weights at his work but again from my knowledge of weight loss they're rubbish things that do more harm than good. Is there like a dvd and weights I could get him? Or if he can do it on his own with weights how will he know what to do so he doesn't hurt himself and/or at least get something out of it instead of picking them up a few times and that's it.


*sent from phone sorry for silly mistakes.



on March 16, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Ugh such a good point. I know it's his idea but he has a hard time doing but something unnatural. Hopefully though now that I've got some other people other than me saying this stuff he'll get it.

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11 Answers

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on March 14, 2012
at 07:22 PM

Starting Strength.

Appetite and lifting can be like chicken and egg, to a degree- if you don't lift, you won't be that hungry, but people are afraid they are too small(don't eat enough) to lift.

Once he starts lifting, his appetite will likely go through the roof and he'll put on some mass.


on March 14, 2012
at 09:50 AM

  1. Eat WAY more food (Around 3,000 calories) - sweet potatoes, avocados, lots of meat and nuts too for the calories.

  2. Lift HEAVY weights, the 5x5 stronglifts program as mentioned above is a great one as its easy and it gets results.

  3. Stop with all the cardio - cardio will NEVER help him put on weight. He can go back to this conditioning type work after he has put on some muscle if he's worried about lung capacity.

These three things need to all be adhered to, otherwise he wont get results. Im a lanky and tall person myself so I know how hard it is to put on muscle (Im also a woman - at least he has testosterone on his side!) but if you do the above, it WILL work.

Good luck!



on March 14, 2012
at 09:08 AM

If he wants to gain weight, the simple (albeit obvious) answer is "more calories." He should certainly be eating more than a piece of fruit for breakfast, especially at that weight (eggs and bacon/sausage, leftovers, etc.) He can eat the exact same foods you do, just more of them. If he's still having trouble, add in some healthy fats (avocados, coconut and olive oil, almond butter, bacon if he's really feeling indulgent).

As far as weight programs, there are too many to name, and most don't distinguish themselves significantly enough to be named. I've heard a lot of good things about Stronglifts 5x5 for muscle building. It's an intense barbell program (meaning he'll have to get over his fear of weight machines), but it's really simple to follow. Another option is bodyweight workouts. He'll build more strength than size, but it's a good way to build basic strength for just about anything.



on March 14, 2012
at 10:28 AM

Watch how a baby grows:

  1. Lots of "play" (exercise, in this case strength training)
  2. Lots of eating (adjust to activity levels, but 2800-3000 at a minimum for most men)
  3. Lots of sleep and rest

If he tolerates milk, that is a great supplement to anyone needing to gain weight on Paleo. If he does not, or simply chooses to be more strict with Paleo and not do dairy, then eating as much meat and sweet potatoes is the answer. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone - so unless trying to drastically lean-out, restricting carbs while going for weight gain is cutting yourself short.

If he is truly a hardgainer, he may have to eat "like a teenager" and really pack in the calories. I've known skinny ectomorph types that ended up filling out, but had to maintain with 2-3 times the BS RDA of 2000 calories for men.



on October 19, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Generally higher reps builds more size while lower reps is more for strength and density more info here



on June 28, 2012
at 02:23 AM

i weigh 125 and feel great and have always had good lipids...but im young and wanna gain 5 lbs. i still have plenty of crap to cut out of my diet (cookies, popsicles, roti/bread/rice, granola bars?). i can do 50 chinups/pullups flex-arm hang for 1min drop 50 pushups do high intensity training, jogging no problem. i suck at stretching tho.

i try eating one more meal a day but my body just ends up skipping dinner if i have 3 meals earlier.


on June 28, 2012
at 01:10 AM

My husband is the same way and I feel like im just hitting my head against the wall trying to get him to eat more. He too says he feels great and can get by on very little then I feel like a pig for eating a normal size meal..... grrr its so frustrating

Medium avatar

on March 16, 2012
at 05:29 PM

I am afraid it is not going to be easy because it was you and not him who asked the question. Any weight gaining plan would work much better if he is the one taking the action, that will get him more weight and strength than with any food/exercise you try. Without self determination anything else will most likely fail.



on March 16, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Ugh such a good point. I know it's his idea but he has a hard time doing but something unnatural. Hopefully though now that I've got some other people other than me saying this stuff he'll get it.


on March 16, 2012
at 04:41 PM

For best health reasons, you should aim to gain at the rate of 2 pounds per week. To gain one pound, you will need to eat 3500 calories above the amount of calories your body is burning. See my references for calculators to determine how many calories your body is burning and how many calories you should eat in a day. you must be dedicated. to a coordinated effort with your diet, exercise and rest schedules that complement each other. Here it is in a nut shell. 1) Eat 3 good meals a day. In between each meal have a high protein, high calorie drink or snack. 2) Exercise, Do 3 sets of 20 reps squats along with bench presses & deadlifts. 2-3 times a week 3) Rest, don't do extra activities, you need the rest time to repair and build muscle. This works whether your male or female. Yes you will gain weight & mostly muscle. However, the muscle will be in the right places and after you reach a desired weight, you can start a maintenance program to tone and define muscles. check out the sources below I will put some references on how to gain weight, Tips, Videos, Calculators and product reviews to help those interested in healthy weight gain. Good Luck.

References: http://howtogainweight123.com/calculators/gain-weight-calculator http://howtogainweight123.com/calculators/rmr-calculator http://howtogainweight123.com



on March 14, 2012
at 07:34 PM

Lots of raw milk if you have access.



on March 14, 2012
at 04:16 PM

Lifting weights on a machine is far better than not lifting weights at all because all you have is machines.

Bad weight lifting advice is as common as bad nutrition advice.

Stuart McRobert has sane beginner weight lifting plans in his books.

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