Posted by: Mel | 2009-01-09

Losing weight but trying to gain muscle

Hi Doc. Compliments of the season to you!

I' m 26, 1.7m and weigh 52kgs. I' m in recovery for anorexia but I' m not sure how to approach my exercise routine and also what to disclose to the personal trainer I am looking at consulting. Firstly, is it even advisable for me to consult a trainer or would a biokineticist be a better option? Must I explain my " condition" ?

I' m seeing a dietician who gave me a meal plan but I' m not sure what to do when I' m exercising. I eat 5 times a day but I' ve cut down on the carbs. I' m actually losing weight but the goal was for me to gain muscle (not fat). I do 20mins cardio and 20mins weights a session between 3-5 times a week. I don' t want to bulk up but I do need to gain weight. Can you advise me as to how to approach my exercise routine? I' d like to gain weight healthily but my weight is starting to decrease.

Thanks Doc.

Not what you were looking for? Try searching again, or ask your own question
Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Mel

And to you, thanks!

Difficult one. I think with regards to the personal trainer, you disclose what you feel comfortable with, but should definitely raise the issue of weight gain. There are plenty of people who have the same problem as you - gaining muscle. They may not have your situation or circumstances, but they also need to gain weight. You can bring that up without ever mentioning your condition, and it wouldn't affect the training too much. The only risk is that they'll push you too hard early on and you might become injured. That's a risk that exists for everyone though, so just be on the lookout for it.

In terms of what to do in exercise, I think the most important is to look at those weight sessions. I don't know what your 20 minutes consists of, but the "classic approach" to gaining weight is to lift heavier weights and do fewer reps. So for example, you might:
• Perform 6-10 reps at a high intensity - use a weight that you could lift 12 to 15 times
• Perform 3-4 sets
• Rest 30-60 seconds between reps
• Train each muscle group at least once or twice a week
• Allow 48 hours rest between each muscle’s workout

This is probably a target for you. Given that you're fairly new, my advice is to aim for 15 reps, three sets, with about 60 to 90 seconds between them. What you are aiming for is to finish the 15th rep of each activity feeling like the muscle is just starting to burn.

That will see you increase strength over the next four weeks, say. Then once you're stronger, then increase weight, and come down to 10 reps. So lift heavier. When you do this, you want to find a weight that is heavy enough that by the 8th or 9th rep of the third set, you're almost failing - 90% of maximum.

I hope this makes sense.

Jsut stick with it. Remember that gaining muscle, particularly after having anorexia, will be time consuming and challenging, and so ride out the 'dull' bits and it will come.

Good luck

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Have your say

Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.
Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.