Why Do I Look Fat After Working Out? (Weightlifting Making Me Look Fatter..!)

It’s common to see bodybuilders posting pictures of their toned muscles immediately after a workout. But it’s not the same for everyone.

Some people notice that their body look flabby after working out. While that may be considered unfortunate, the good news is that post-workout bloating is only temporary and doesn’t mean that you have gained unhealthy weight.

Generally, if you feel fatter after working out, it’s because of a variety of factors like muscle pump, inflammation, and even water retention. Sometimes, you might even weigh a little heavier on the measuring scale. But in most cases, you should not worry about it.

In most cases, temporary weight gain or flabbiness is associated with the change in your body’s activity levels. When you start exercising, it will put greater stress on your muscle fibers. That leads to micro tears and inflammation, which make up the base of bodybuilding.

These micro-tears are what might be causing the temporary weight gain or muscle pump.

When that happens, it’s important not to feel discouraged. If you keep up your activity levels, your body will start to get toned after a while. It’s all about persistence and knowing how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Is It Normal To Look Fatter After Working Out?

Usually, when you walk into a gym, you might want to leave looking a bit thinner. But that’s not always the case. If you look into the mirror and notice that you look fatter after working out, it’s normal.

Your body might become bloated after an intense workout session for various reasons. Firstly, your body will try to repair the damaged muscle tissues with the help of fluid that might cause inflammation and bloating in that area.

Other factors, like the storage of glycogen and water retention, add to this situation. Thus, looking fatter after working out is pretty common. All gym enthusiasts are susceptible to this problem because it occurs due to natural bodily processes.

More often than not, the temporary bloating will go away within a week of working out at the same activity level. But if the problem persists, you might want to consult an expert or look into some other reasons as to why your body is looking flabbier after workouts.

Why Do I Look Fat After Working Out?

Why Do I Look Fat After Working Out

When it comes to bodybuilding, you won’t enjoy any immediate outcomes. Fortunately, that applies to weight gain as well. You cannot get fat after a single workout session, as most people fear when they start feeling flabbier after working out.

Various factors like muscle hypertrophy, post-workout inflammation, fluid retention, undigested food, and even using supplements might lead to bloating. Generally, the slight weight gain is only temporary.

Here’s why you might feel fatter after working out:

Muscle Pump

If you are a professional bodybuilder engaging in intense workout sessions, you might face temporary weight gain following your time at the gym.

When you perform exercises like pull-ups, lateral side raises, and so on, you feel a definite pump in the volume of your muscles. The process is called transient hypertrophy, as it is only a temporary effect.

It occurs because your muscles start retaining water and blood during exercises in response to the lactic acid build up and higher energy requirement to complete the resistance movements. As a result, the engaged area might seem fuller or fatter for a short while after exercising.

Another reason why your muscles might seem “fuller” is because of the plasma trapped within the muscles while exercising. In this case, the overall blood volume in your body increases to provide you with greater aerobic power (when muscles use oxygen to produce energy for workouts).

Higher blood volume will definitely make your muscles look fuller. It might also have a slight effect on your overall body weight. But don’t worry; the muscle tightness and fullness will disappear after a few hours of working out.

Muscle Repairing Process

The concept of hypertrophy is simple. When you lift any weight, you get micro-tears in your muscle fibers. Painful as that might sound, the process is quite normal and is an integral part of bodybuilding.

However, your body responds to the micro-tears drastically, attempting to repair the damaged tissue. It does so by sending extra fluid to aid the muscle-repairing process.

The presence of extra fluid in your muscles might make you look flabby after working out. It might even increase your weight slightly on the measuring scale. But the effect is only temporary until the muscle recovery process is over.


Another situation where you might temporarily feel as if you’ve gained a bit of weight is due to bloating after a workout session. Your abdominal region can get bloated if you are over hydrated or dehydrated while exercising.

Generally, it’s ideal that you drink around 7-10 ounces (1 cup) of water every 20-25 minutes of your workout session.

Too much water will dilute the sodium levels in your bloodstream, leading to a condition called hyponatremia, which causes bloating. Similarly, a lack of water while performing intense physical activities can cause bloating in the stomach region.

Glycogen Stores

Glycogen is a form of broken-down carbohydrates. Our muscles use the glycogen stored in our body as an energy reserve for when we engage in strenuous activities like running, cardio, or weightlifting.

If you have recently joined the gym or increased your activity levels, your body might be storing more glycogen to get the required energy. Since every gram of glycogen is accompanied by around 3 grams of water, more glycogen can lead to temporary weight gain.

Fortunately, your body ultimately gets used to the intense activity level and adapts accordingly. When that happens, it stores glycogen more effectively, leading to reduced water weight.

Post-Workout Supplements

If you’re starting to feel fatter after working out, your choice of supplement might have something to do with it.

Your body uses glycogen to make up for the energy lost while exercising. So, after a particularly intense workout session, your body will be low on glycogen stores. Some professional athletes use post-workout supplements to compensate for this and get additional carbohydrates.

Thus, carbohydrate-based supplements increase the glycogen stores in our body, leading to increased water weight.

Similarly, creatine, another popular supplement, leads to increased weight after workouts as they promote more water retention for effective hypertrophy.

In all cases, the weight gain caused by these supplements is temporary.

It Takes Longer to Burn Fat

The unfortunate truth is that muscle building is not nearly as difficult as burning fatty tissues. Routine strength training will undoubtedly lower your body fat percentage. However, it is a painfully slow process – one that requires sheer will and determination until you start noticing visible differences.

The point is that strength training also works on your gains and muscle hypertrophy alongside burning excess body fat. So you will also be gaining muscle tissues, which are leaner but weigh heavier than fatty tissues.

So the combined weight of fat and new lean muscles might make you feel even flabbier than you did before you started working out. But give it a few months, and you’ll start noticing the actual definition of your muscle mass after you start burning off excess fat.

In all situations, the key is to remain steadfast with your workout routines.

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Why Does My Stomach Look Bigger After Working Out?

Why Does My Stomach Look Bigger After Working Out

When you start working out, you expect your abdomen to go in, not protrude outwards. Seeing yourself look fatter after working out might be demoralizing. That is especially true if you start noticing a bloated belly.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry if your stomach appears to be bigger after you exercise. In most cases, it is only a temporary thing.

The most common reason behind this is increased water retention after workouts. For muscle recovery and repair, your body stores excess fluid and water that might contribute to what appears to be a bloated, fatter stomach.

In most cases, the weight gained from water retention will go away after a while, and your stomach should start looking normal.

How Long Does Temporary Weight Gain After Exercise Last?

How Long Does Temporary Weight Gain After Exercise Last

The leading cause of temporary weight gain due to exercise is increased water retention in the muscle tissues. That might happen because of excess glycogen stores in the body, more fluids to aid the muscle recovery process and the use of post-workout supplements.

The temporary weight gain will likely go away after a couple of weeks. Your body requires just enough time to adjust to your workout. When that happens, the bloating should disappear, and your weight will drop down to the normal figure.

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Wrapping Up

It’s disheartening to see that you’re gaining weight and looking fatter after putting in all those hours and efforts at the gym.

The shock alone is enough to compel anyone to stop working out. However, as fitness enthusiasts, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves about our bodies and keep leading a fitness-oriented lifestyle.

In most cases, the weight gained after a workout session is temporary and common. Once your body adjusts to the increased activity levels, it will return to its normal shape.