Does Lifting Weights Make You Fat?

Does Lifting Weights Make You Fat?

Starting Strength Coach Grant Broggi discusses how many people find they gain weight when they starting lifting on a program like Starting Strength. The question is, do they have to gain weight? Is it possible to lifting heavy and not gain weight? Grant answers these questions and more here.


Avoiding Body Fat Gain When Starting Strength Training

As the warmer months approach, many of us start thinking about getting in shape, aiming for a leaner physique or adding muscle mass. It's a common time for people to hit the gym with renewed vigor, often focusing on strength training to achieve their fitness goals. However, a frequent concern among newcomers and veterans alike is the fear of gaining unwanted body fat alongside muscle. Let's dive into how you can embark on your strength training journey without packing on the pounds you didn't sign up for.

Understanding the Basics of Strength Training

Strength training, particularly through big barbell lifts, is a proven method to build muscle mass. Programs like Starting Strength, StrongLifts, or powerlifting routines emphasize the importance of progressively overloading your muscles by adding a little more weight each session. This approach is designed to stimulate muscle growth and strength but can also lead to increased appetite and, if not managed properly, unwanted body fat.

The Culprit Behind Fat Gain: It's Not the Lifting

A common misconception is that strength training programs are to blame for fat gain. In reality, the culprit is often an unchecked increase in calorie consumption. As you start lifting heavier and your body works harder to repair and grow muscle, you'll naturally feel hungrier. The key is to manage this increased hunger without overindulging in high-calorie or unhealthy foods.

How to Lift Weights Without Gaining Excessive Body Fat

1. Monitor Your Baseline:

Know your starting point in terms of body weight and daily calorie intake. This awareness will help you adjust as needed when you begin your strength training routine.

2. Manage Your Diet:

As your appetite increases with your lifting regimen, focus on consuming clean, whole foods. Prioritize proteins to repair and build muscle and use carbohydrates for energy. Keep an eye on your fat intake, as it's easy to consume more than needed.

3. Protein Intake:

Aim for one gram of protein per pound of your goal body weight. This will support muscle growth without necessarily adding extra fat.

4. Adjust as You Go:

If you notice unwanted weight gain, don't be afraid to cut back on your calorie intake. You're in control of your diet and can make adjustments to align with your goals.

5. Stay Disciplined:

Strength training will make you hungrier, but it's up to you to decide how to satisfy that hunger. Opt for nutritious foods that support your training goals without contributing to unwanted fat gain.


Embarking on a strength training journey doesn't have to mean accepting unwanted body fat as part of the package. By understanding the relationship between increased appetite and lifting, and by managing your diet accordingly, you can build muscle, increase strength, and maintain a physique you're proud of. Remember, it's not about eating more; it's about eating smart.

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