Just as exercise can help people lose weight, it can also help others gain weight in a healthy way.

You may want to gain weight to build muscle or if you’re underweight, which means you weigh less than is healthy for your height. Not sure if you’re underweight? Use this body mass index (BMI) calculator to find out.

Regular exercise is one of the most important steps to bulk up. But as with losing weight, gaining weight should be a part of a holistic plan.

Here, we’ll cover some exercise tips for gaining weight with minimal equipment that you can start doing right now. Then, we’ll talk about how to build healthy body mass.

Female and male bodies store fat and distribute muscle mass differently. Focus on the exercises that give you the most promising results for your body type.


Pushups are simple and help build muscle in your arms and shoulders. To do a pushup:

  1. Lie face down on the ground.
  2. Put your hands on the ground, palms flat, with your arms out at your sides and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Slowly push your body up until your arms are fully extended. Keep your back and legs straight so that your body makes a straight line.
  4. Slowly lower yourself back down until your nose nearly touches the floor.
  5. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable.


You’ll need some kind of pullup bar or sturdy cylindrical object to do pullups. Otherwise, this exercise is a simple way to build arm and shoulder muscles.

  1. Grip the pullup bar with both hands. Your palms should face away from you. Keep your arms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Pull yourself up enough to hang off the bar so that your feet aren’t touching the ground and your arms are straight.
  3. Continue to pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
  4. Slowly lower yourself down so that your arms are straight again.
  5. Repeat as many times as you want.


This exercise helps build muscle in your butt and legs, especially your quadriceps femoris (quads) muscles.

  1. Stand up straight so that your feet are hips-width distance apart.
  2. Put your hands on your hips and flex your abdominal muscles.
  3. Begin lowering yourself down using only your legs, as if you’re about to sit down, and get into a seated position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your upper body as still as possible.
  4. Raise yourself back up to your original position.
  5. Repeat as many times as you want.


You can do this exercise anywhere. It’s great for bulking up and toning your leg and butt muscles.

  1. Stand up straight, flexing your abdominal muscles.
  2. Extend one leg like you’re taking a step, then lean forward like you’re kneeling until your knees are at 90-degree angles.
  3. Push back on your heel to lift yourself back up to your initial position.
  4. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable on one leg.
  5. Repeat for the other leg.

Bench press

For this exercise, you’ll need a flat bench to lie on and a weighted bar. Don’t overload the bar, though, because you can injure yourself.

Bench presses help build shoulder, tricep, and chest muscles. This is a good exercise for bulking up. The more weight you can bench, the more muscle you’ll build.

You may want to perform this exercise with the help of a spotter for safety.

  1. Lie on your back on the bench. If the bench has a rack for the bar, face the bar. If there’s no rack, hold the bar carefully and slowly lie backward on the bench until you’re comfortable.
  2. If there’s a rack, grab the bar with both hands, including your thumbs. Feel free to spread your fingers a bit.
  3. Extend your arms to take the bar out of the rack.
  4. Slowly lower your arms to bring the bar down to your chest.
  5. Slowly straighten your arms and raise the bar back toward the rack. If there’s no rack, make sure you have the strength to sit back up after you’re done.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as many times as you feel comfortable.

Overhead press

You’ll need a weighted bar to perform this exercise. Overhead presses will help bulk up the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, abs, and legs.

  1. Grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the bar up to just above the front of your chest, even with your shoulders.
  3. Slowly lift the bar above you until your arms are straight. Keep your elbows locked and raise your shoulders like you’re shrugging.
  4. Slowly lower the bar back to shoulder height.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 as many times as comfortable.

To gain weight, minimize aerobic and cardio exercises. These are meant to burn fat and tone muscle, not bulk you up.

You don’t have to avoid them entirely, though. You can do these exercises in moderation to tone your muscles. This will help you build definition so that you can achieve the look that you want.

It’s not hard to gain weight by eating more. But be mindful of what you eat to gain healthy weight. A diet to bulk up mainly consists of healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates that help build muscle and use fat to burn energy.

Try some of the following foods:

Take notes of what you eat in a journal or an app that tracks nutrients. It’s surprisingly hard to know exactly how much you eat unless you write it down. You may find that you aren’t consuming enough calories or that your food choices aren’t nutritious enough for a healthy diet.

Keeping track of your habits in a journal can help you optimize your intake of healthy fats and proteins, cut out junk food, and track your calorie consumption over time.

Weight gain is more than eating and exercise. Here’s what else you can do to make sure you get the most out of your workout without harming your body:

  • Get enough sleep. Aim for about six to eight hours a night.
  • Reduce stress. Cortisol released by stress can make you gain unhealthy weight or even lose weight again. Meditate, get a massage, or spend more time on your favorite hobbies.
  • Reduce or stop bad habits. Reduce or eliminate alcohol, and try to quit smoking. This can be difficult, but a doctor can help you create a smoking cessation plan that’s right for you.
  • Set reasonable goals for yourself. Going too hard, too fast can burn you out and do more harm than good. Start small, increase your reps each time, and record your progress.

Talk to a doctor, nutritionist, or personal trainer about achieving a healthy weight gain.

A holistic approach will get you the best results. Get in reasonable and regular amounts of exercises targeted at building muscle, eat healthy fats and proteins, and build a lifestyle around rest, relaxation, and self-care.