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Too underweight to train?


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I recently lost some weight (bc of work) during a few stressful months and I now want to start gaining some back, mainly muscle but obviously some fat as well (that's the easy part ha!).

I have always done cardio (for fun) but know very little about strength training.

My main focus is

1. my now flat butt

2. tone up the flabby thighs/legs

3. strenghten my bad back/shoulders


Any beginners programs?

I can't afford to go to a gym so no machines please.

Every program I can find has a lot of cardio in it, shouldn't I avoid cardio?

I have a bmi of about 16 so i pretty much look like a stick now.

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oh man! yes you probably need to really up your calorie intake, it will probably be a bottleneck/limiting factor for your strength

are you male/female? and do you have/can afford some basic equipment like some weights?

cardio is ok to a point... probably about 20-40 minutes a day is where i would stop

but yeah, focus on eating, and try to get your hands on some weights... at your BMI, you will probably be fairly weak and wont need much weight.... in the meantime, you could just try and work on some calisthenics... pushups, pull up negatives, squats... etc... once you get some weights, you can follow a full body routine... bench press, shoulder press, rows, weighted squats, etc... good luck

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Sorry, forgot to mention - I am female.

And yes, I can afford some weights but not sure how heavy (I'm thinking long term)?


I calculate my bmr to be about 1260 if sedentary / 1500 for normal stuff like getting up in the morning,

not including my job or any exercise.

Should I eat about 2000 cals? I really don't want to end up gaining a lot of fat and look worse than when I started (I had a bmi of about 19.9 and was out of shape in general. "Skinny fat" I guess).

Also worried that cardio at this point would keep me from putting weight on (esp muscle).


Before I started losing weight so rapidly I had just started doing some

- squats

- lounges

- deadlifts

In a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps each with my little 2kg dumbbells

+ bridge exercises

+ Light jogging/walking 30 mins on my treadmill 2-3 times a week

+ light yoga (beginners) in the evening to unwind


Should I just go back to that but with more food?

I really want to get some results before summer!

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honestly, i wouldnt know about your calorie intake, if i was you, i would start at 2000 calories, and just track whats happening on the scales, and in the mirror and adjust accordingly after a few weeks

You could try a web based TDEE calculator, might give you a better idea

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Hi there!


Here's a easy way to guesstimate your calorie needs.....hmm...I need to go check my source again to make sure this is right...


For me, weight and add a 0....1700 cals just existing.

Normal daily activities...add in maybe another 500....2200...

Exercise with intent..add in maybe another 500....2700-3000 (this is low..I've forgotten something) but its in the ball park for overall maintenance of my current 'build'. As I'm wanting to muscle up..means heavier weight lifting days, need to add in more...like another 300-500 nutrient dense calories.


All calories aren't equal. 200 cals from Oreoes is not the same as 200 cals from qunioa....lol.


Let me find my resource and get back to you!

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So found my info....in general...


1) take body weight, add a '0' to get your calorie needs at complete rest, doing nothing.

2) add 500-1000 calories for your day to day activities. If you're largely sedentary, go on the low end, if pretty active, moving around, go high....

3) working out and intensity adds another 300-800 cals.


This gives you general range.....so,


take 180lb guy...


1800 cals doing nothing....pretty active non-sedentary lifestyle...another 1000...2800....

working out hard, cardio, weights, etc....another 500....

So ballpark it at 3300 cals with some variance make it 3200-3500....clean, plantbased, nutrient dense foods.


If he wants to put on some weight, more to the high side....

If he wants to lean up, cut bodyfat, more to the 3200 side.....


Check your progress every 2 weeks or so....starting to look a little too soft in the wrong places, then cut cals down a little, or change up what you're eating and when...getting too lean or losing weight, then add some. Small adjustments, like 5%....give it another 2 weeks and check again....


Matching it up with more accurate calculations gives me same answer, within about 40 cals, and with rounding errors and some variation in my foods it's all 'close enough'.....


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I've spent a whole week just eating sooo much food, so i think I'm up at about 110 lbs by now.

110 + 1000 + things have calmed down at work now but I'm still up on my feet for 6-8h, 4-5 days a week.

I'm thinking around 1750 on non working out days and 2000-2100 on working out days.


I eat mostly low fat high carb foods = traditional vegan stuff I guess.

Fruit, veggies, beans, lentils, pasta, rice, bread etc.

I don't like oils (they break me out) and don't eat much processed foods (too expensive and very salty).


I'm getting some weights for my birthday next week but as a beginner I'm not sure how low/heavy to start with.

I've started doing a program with my little 2 kg dumbbells (4.4 lbs x 2).

Would 10 kgs (2 x 5 kg) be too much? I want results but I don't want to injure myself...

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Sounds like a good start!


When starting out with your weights, I'd start out on the light side, focus on getting forms right, and watching your posture, your core, pick a weight that you can do pretty decent reps with, maybe 12-16. If you can easily knock out like 20, then maybe go up a bit in weight. You should feel a little sore the next day, for the first couple weeks as you get used to training.


Keep a journal, logging what exercises you did, what weight and how many reps. Be a good idea to come up with sequences that you can repeat 2x in a session (borrowing that logic from most of the P90X workouts).


Some exercises can be 'max reps' especially for the 2nd time through...body weight exercises for sure.


And for added fun, I'd invite you to start on 1 Feb taking the 1000 pushup challenge. Goal of course is to knock out 1000 pushups in a day. Not all at once. General approach is set goal of doing say, 10 push-ups every hour....so first few days you should be approaching 10 x __ (however many hours you put towards it depending on work schedules and stuff, I sometimes have a gap...knock out 2 sets before work, then skip during work, resume after work. Some days when feeling good, I'll just put 30 minutes between sets. Think I knocked out 250 last time I did it....upto just 1 set of 35 so far today....

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I found a program for beginners in a book at the library but the only exercises for legs the first 8 weeks are

- deadlfts

- squats

My nr 1 priority is to build up my butt, would these two be enough?

Or should I add something?

Then there's other exercises for 8 weeks after that and a third set of exercises for the 8 week after that.


1000 push ups? LOL! I can't do more than one...

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Squats for sure....if you have stairs handy, or a box or a chair or something, stepping up/dpwn is good for thighs and butt. Those ballet kind of moves too should be good...hold on to wall or back of chair, raising your leg straight out behind you...pointing your toe probably does something. Superman's might do something to your butt too...I know it's mostly core/back -- lay on floor on your stomach, legs and arms out as if in Superman flying position. raising shoulders/arms off floor a few inches and your legs simultaneously, hold for a count of 5-8 then relax....repeat 6 times.

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A few more suggestions....


Barbell Pause Squats


squat-form-After you’ve mastered squatting with load (front and back squats), you can start to incorporate pause squats. Pause squats are a great way to engage the glutes as the primary muscle to stand back up.

-Start with a 3 second descent, a 3 second pause at the bottom of the squat, then a 3 second ascent. These will burn! But you will really feel your glutes working overtime to stand yourself up, and you’ll also feel more engagement of the quads as well. These are also a great way to work on the “knee buckle” by really focusing on driving up through the middle.

-Stick with lighter weight to start.

-Repeat for 5 sets of 3.


Plié/Sumo Squats with a Dumbbell


plie-squat-Start with your feet in a sumo stance with your toes pointed out to the sides, and hold a dumbbell by one end with both hands so that it is hanging perpendicular to the floor.

-Pick a moderate weight, not too light, not too heavy.

-Squat until quads become parallel with the floor (the dumbbell should fall just above the floor – do not let the dumbbell touch the floor).

-Repeat for 3 sets of 15


Front Rack Lunges


front-rack-lunge-This type of lunge provides additional load to really engage the glutes/quads as you stand up.

-Starting with a barbell in the front rack position (same as the finish position of a clean), step forward with on leg, making sure that your knee doesn’t track over your toes.

-Stand back up to starting position, and repeat with the other leg. Start light with this movement, it’s deceiving. Sometimes an empty barbell is plenty.

-Repeat for 3 sets of 10 each leg

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