How to rebuild muscle after weight loss

Updated February 21, 2017

Dramatic weight loss, whether intentional or due to an illness, results in your body burning both fat and muscle, leaving you weakened. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), you must approach rebuilding muscle mass after weight loss carefully to ensure that you do not injure yourself in the process. By modifying your diet and participating in regular light exercise, you can rebuild your muscles over time.

Consume 30 to 40 grams of protein, from a protein bar or shake, 30 minutes before every workout session. According to ACE, protein supports muscle gain during and after a workout session. This helps your weakened muscles rebuild themselves faster and stronger than without the added nutrients. Additionally, include foods high in protein in your daily diet. These foods include eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts, beans and dairy products.

Engage in 20 to 40 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week. Cardiovascular exercise can build lean muscle over time if performed regularly. When beginning cardiovascular exercise, do not push your body too hard. When your breathing becomes laboured, slow down the exercise and allow your body to rest. Examples of light cardiovascular exercise include brisk walking, swimming laps, and cycling or riding a stationary bike.

Perform a body-weight exercise routine three to five days a week. Body-weight exercise uses the weight of your body as resistance to your muscles. As you gain muscle, and therefore weight, the intensity of the exercises will increase. Include five to seven exercises in your routine, performing two to four sets of 12 repetitions of each. Examples of body-weight exercises include crunches, pull-ups, push-ups, squats, calf raises, back extensions and high kicks.


Consult with your physician before beginning a new diet and exercise routine.


If your muscles begin to hurt during any exercise, stop and take a 60-second break. Rebuilding muscle must be done carefully; pushing too hard puts you at risk of injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Protein bars or shakes
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