T Nation

Is it Necessary to Gain Weight to Lift Heavier?

Hello all,
I am new to this forum however not entirely new to fitness. My current weight fluctuates between 110 and 120 pounds. I’m wondering if gaining weight, or increasing calories is entirely necessary to lift heavier? When I started lifting seriously back in May my max bench at 109 pounds was 115 for 1 rep. Now I’m around 115 in September and my 1 rep max is 165 last time I maxed out a month ago. My new goal is to bench 205 for 1 rep possibly by new years. So my question stands, do I need to gain 30 pounds if I want to lift serious weight in later months? Other info is I take a vegan protein supplement post lift reason being I have a dairy allergy, and an amino acid supplement during lifts. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks you!

You can get stronger in several different way. You could get better form, more efficient nervous system, get bigger…

To really answer your question, if you really want to move serious weight, I doubt if a BW of 110-120 lbs is going to cut it.


You’re certainly light and lack muscle, but no, the main vector of strength is the nervous system. That’s why you can see some insanely strong guys who don’t look jacked (for instance o-lifters).

Especially as a beginner. A friend of mine that I trained dropped 17kgs and his squats went from 60kgs x 5 to 110 x 5 in 5 months

It depends how heavy you want to lift. You can probably get a lot stronger at your current bodyweight, but you would be stronger still at a higher bodyweight.

No 110lb lifter has ever deadlifted 400kg, but a fair few 225+ lifters have.

So yes, you can get stronger without gaining weight, but strength absolutely does scale with mass.

1 Like

Are you male or female? What is your height ? I am assuming male at this point . So your worried about gaining weight?

muscle has weight. If you are already very lean, and you’re getting stronger without gaining weight, then you can attribute most of your strength gains to neural adaptation/ increased efficiency. That will only take you so far. There is a point where you do have to gain weight to get stronger. There’s a reason why weight classes exist in strength sports. There is a limit to how strong you can be at 110 lbs. I can’t say what that limit is for you, only that it exists.

Is there a reason you want to stay at such a low bodyweight? Unless you’re incredibly short, you’re likely malnourished.


Mass moves mass. Male or female, 110 is a low bodyweight and most of the women at my gym weigh much more than that

Also, a man at 110 pounds will out lift a woman at 110 pounds 99 percent of the time.

To address all questions asked. I am a male 23, at 5’ 7inch. I Understand weight classes, I’ve wrestled for over 10 years and lightly have dived into MMA. Anyone who has wrestled long enough, knows that as weight classes get heavier, styles change and being quick also goes down. My main concern would be bottlenecking other activities that I do on a regular basis. Although I am 110 pounds, and have had many of you mention that I may be malnourished(LOL) and my weight is monitored by endocrinology and many other specialists where was found to be very healthy at my weight specifically. I dont think a malnourished person typically benches, over their bodyweight. Other activities I also do involve bouldering, climbing, and firefighting. However weight training had definitely increased my overall strength as a whole, I just want your opinions I assume, on how much weight gain is too much weight gain to be practical. Do you think at 120 pounds it is a practical goal to achieve a well over 200 pound bench? Also I can do a significant amount of reps in bodyweight activities such as pull ups. Is achieving more bodyweight activities more important than lifting heavier? These are opinions I’m looking for.

1 Like

You got that right, Mr. Big Man. Are you proud of out-lifting a 110lbs woman?

You’re a grown man at 110lbs. I’m 5’8 and I felt skinny at 185. I’ve wrestled, fought Muay Thai, and trained with MMA fighters. Size and strength still matter. Speed is still there if you train to be fast. Nobodys telling you to gain 100lbs and compete as a Heavyweight.

You might be “healthy” compared to a sedentary general population, but not for an athlete. Benching bodyweight for a grown man is low-hanging fruit and not impressive unless you’re a child.

To answer your first question, I think any weight you gain, even if fat and/or water, will help you bench more. I can’t say if it’ll come close to 200+, but not out of the question.

My opinion is that a grown man should never be that light. Put on some weight and see how much better you feel, and how much stronger you get.

In your case, absolutely. Eat everything thats not tied down till you hit 150.(still very small)


5’7" at 150 should be really good for bouldering and BW exercises. That would put OP at about the weight of elite climbers (good lb for lb strength) at his height.

If he really wants to be strong he should be thinking 170+ lbs.

To those of you who gave me opinions on healthy weights for bouldering, and also other weights for other activites thank you I really appreciate you answering my question at hand. To those who not only called me malnourished, and then continued to degrade me, you dont belong on forums like these. You’re not doing anyone a service jumping down people’s throats. Also the comment between men and women, not even a sexist comment its basic biology, women cannot lift as much as men look at statistics. You also degraded women in that instance comparing me to females like I’m weaker (???) And the big man comment, great also. I’m just here for the help not the negative feedback. Thanks agin.

This forum is about the relentless and intelligent pursuit of muscle. Our feedback is appropriate for a grown man who’s 110lbs

Yeah, most people regardless of gender are bigger and stronger than yourself, so it includes women. I also know 100-100lbs bikini competitors who bench more than you.

You’re here to hear what you want. My 148lbs teammate benches mid 200s and my advice was the same to him - gain more weight.


The advice to gain weight is valid. However that’s a very broad thing to say. Also the lifting was only a fraction of what I asked advice on. So dont get all high and mighty because ur bench and weight are high, when I’m trying to do my best peak in all elements. And most UFC females can knock you cold, because all you do all day is pick up the weight and put it down. “Relentless and Intelligent Pursuit of Muscle” HAHA. I will keep in mind the 150 pound and 170 pound range from the advice of someone who clearly knows “Intelligent Muscle”.

Yeah, most UFC females could knock you cold too because you’re a grown man with the physical dimensions of a petite female. Your JV wrestling background wouldn’t stand a chance.

“Relentless and Intelligent Pursuit of Muscle” is the tagline of this site, either spend more time and learn from the posts and articles, or don’t get mad when people state the obvious

I was a captain in high school and college. Delt with attitudes like you, I’ve wrestled against D1 athletes, and with state champions. Not stating I won by any means. But yeah you’re right I can hear whatever advice I want. But I can also say, yours sucked.

1 Like

Not only are you malnourished, you’re a dickhead to boot. A small dickhead, yes, but still a dickhead.


LOL what kinda joke team lets an undersized man-child who can barely bench 115 be captain?

My advice “sucks” because you don’t agree with it.

1 Like