What Sports Should a Teen Play to Gain Weight? Here’s the Truth!

Most of the time, the topic of gaining weight isn’t discussed, nor is losing weight. Gaining weight with a particular sport is wide and complex, especially for teenagers. But what sports can (or should) a teenager play to gain weight?

In general, sports like baseball, football, powerlifting, rugby, and track will help a teenager gain healthy muscle and weight. Make sure that participation focuses on healthy living accompanied by healthy eating and that the pediatrician, sports physician, and/or dietician is involved.

To be clear, we can gain weight from fat (eating unhealthy foods and not exercising) or lean muscle (eating healthy and exercising). We will concentrate on healthy weight gain with good nutrition and playing sports.

Before diving deep into the subject, please consider this article a general, informative guide. Always talk to your doctor and/or a dietician for personal advice. 

An image of a Smiling teen girl training in a fitness club, close up.

Which Sport Is Best for Weight Gain for Teens?

The best sports for healthy weight gain for teens are sports that highlight a healthy muscular physique and emphasize power and strength. This includes sports like football, rugby, powerlifting, or any sports involving resistance training.

Gaining weight with sports is different for boys and girls, and everyone has different genetics. Always consult with a clinician and physician before taking any action.

For the most part, gaining weight is simple but not always easy. Ultimately, it all comes down to simple mathematics; if we take more calories in than out, the more weight we’ll gain.

Teenagers, especially during puberty, have a fast metabolism. So, they have to consume an enormous amount of calories to gain weight.

It’s always better to consult a nutritionist for the best meal plan for a teenager. Once a teenager has a healthy meal plan, they can start building lean muscle by playing sports.

Sports like rugby, football, or powerlifting improve power and strength, leading to gaining weight and lean muscle. Mainly, any sport or exercise involving resistance training will increase body mass.

What does resistance training mean? It means any exercise that includes pulling, lifting, and pushing any object or the teenager’s body weight. For example, resistance training includes dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, squats, pushups, planks, lunges, etc.

How Can a Teenager Gain Weight for Sports?

The healthiest way for a teenager to gain weight for sports is with a good meal plan in addition to exercising. It is essential for a teenager to concentrate on healthy foods and meet all the necessary nutritional requirements for their age.

Calories from healthy foods instead of junk food help in gaining weight. Forget processed foods like chips, soda, white bread, or candy; they have so little nutritional value that they don’t support healthy growth.

So, what should a teenager eat? Preferably homemade meals that include protein, vegetables, and unprocessed grains. To add more calories, a teenager can eat small meals between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, consider packing a small bag of nuts for school for them to snack on between classes.

Some other snack options are dried fruit, cheese, or yogurt. Regarding supplements, we strongly advise consulting with a doctor first. Please don’t give them supplements beforehand.

If your teenager has food allergies, please make sure to build their dietary plan around that with a professional. If a teammate has food allergies, please be considerate of those when packing your teenager snacks or meals.

What is the best way for a teenager to gain weight?

Eating healthy is important for a teenager to gain weight, but so is physical activity. One goes hand in hand with the other. Playing sports such as rugby, football, powerlifting, and resistance training will develop muscle mass. 

Important note: if your teenager hasn’t hit puberty yet, know that big muscles aren’t possible yet. Once in puberty, gaining muscles is much easier. Another important thing that is usually neglected is sleep.

Physical activity will help a teenager sleep better at night, which is crucial for proper and healthy growth.

An image of a couple of guys and a teenage girl drinking milk and healthy yogurt from a bottle on a sports city basketball court.

How Can a Teenage Athlete Gain Weight?

Teenage athletes can gain weight safely by taking in more calories, protein intake, and doing resistance training. Teenagers should focus on good exercise forms to prevent future injury.

These are effective and safe ways for a teenage athlete to gain weight. A teenager should eat consistently and frequently without skipping meals. It is important to eat high-calorie healthy foods such as:

  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Full-fat milk, yogurts, and cheese
  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Protein such as eggs, fish, poultry, beef

When it comes to training, resistance methods like lifting weights and pushups are great for gaining weight for teenage athletes. Also, exercise stimulates the appetite, which is another plus for gaining weight. 

As we can see, gaining weight requires discipline and hard work, so resting between workouts is important and essential.

A nutritionist and a coach can help us to make an effective and, above all, healthy meal and workout plan for our teenagers. A child’s health is always a priority.

What Sports Are Best for Skinny, Light Teenagers?

Every teenager has a particular body type. Sports such as distance running, gymnastics, dance, diving, cycling, wrestling, swimming, and even martial arts can be the best for skinny, lighter teenagers. 

These sports emphasize lean and skinny physiques for performance reasons. Also, let’s not forget that although a teenager is slim, it doesn’t mean they are unhealthy.

If the doctor gives the green light that a child is healthy, and they don’t want to play sports like rugby to gain weight, then perhaps other sports are better for them.

For example, martial arts are great for “skinny” teenagers, especially Taekwondo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai. Not only do these sports build confidence, but also strength and flexibility.

Running, swimming, wrestling, diving, and other mentioned sports require lower weight for better performance. Of course, all these sports demand that teenagers are healthy and not malnourished.

And being “skinny” doesn’t automatically guarantee any teen will be great at these sports. As a teenager, most of the swimmers on my team who were the best were on the thinner side. However, some of the best swimmers on my high school’s team were on the heavier or more muscular side.

One so-called rule of thumb is that skinny and light teenagers usually play basketball. Of course, this rule isn’t set in stone. My high school basketball team had players of all sizes (although most of us were on the shorter side!).

Whatever sport a teenager chooses, it’s important to know that any sport during adolescence and puberty will positively affect a child’s growth. So if teenagers enjoy swimming, cycling, or running, they will naturally build muscle.

Teenagers should have a healthy body image. Sports and physical activity are highly recommended for adolescents because of their obvious health benefits.

But, there are some weight-sensitive sports, like wrestling, where losing or gaining weight for the competition is somewhat mandatory. Of course, they can do this safely and healthily, but it’s important to mention. Because it can become an unhealthy obsession if winning is the sole team focus.

Read this article here for more about weight classifications in sports.

An image Of Teenage Girls Volleyball Team On the Court.

Next Steps

Many children and teenagers, while growing up, have difficulty gaining weight. Eating healthy calories and playing sports to gain weight and lean muscle is vital. We all have different body types; let’s not kid ourselves – genetics do matter.

Genetics has a very powerful role. Some teenagers are skinny, and some are bulkier. Most of us fall into the same trap; gaining fat is easier than muscle. This is why it is important to implement a sport or a workout into a teenager’s lifestyle.

We can reach our peak potential through exercise and diet, although our genetics eventually constrain us.

Also, puberty is an important factor when gaining weight. Once your kid hits puberty, gaining weight should be much easier. Those hormones help!

But let’s not forget that some kids are skinny no matter what they do. And this is okay if they are living a healthy lifestyle. There are plenty of other sports they can try. And who knows? Maybe when they get a little older, they will gain that extra weight they need. They may even find a sport they enjoy that helps them stay living their best, healthiest lifestyle.

Remember, always consult a professional. A child’s long-term well-being is the most important thing!


Learning from your own experiences is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.

  • Armstrong, C. (2006, June 1). AAP Reports on Healthy Weight-Control Practices in Young Athletes. AAFP. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2006/0601/p2069.html
  • B. A. K. (2022, March 31). Teenage Athletes – Gaining Body Weight. MFC Sports Performance. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://mfcsportsperformance.com/teenage-athletes-gaining-body-weight/
  • Boldt, A. (2010, December 19). Tips for a 14-Year-Old Boy Trying to Gain Weight. LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/337959-tips-for-a-14-year-old-boy-trying-to-gain-weight/
  • Brown, K. A. B., Patel, D. R. P., & Darmawan, D. (2017, July). Participation in sports in relation to adolescent growth and development. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5532200/
  • Building Muscle in Young Athletes: Getting Started. (n.d.). Scottish Rite for Children. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://scottishriteforchildren.org/news-items/building-muscle-in-young-athletes-getting-started
  • Carl, R. L., Johnson, M. D., Martin, T. J., LaBella, C. R., Brooks, M. A., Diamond, A., Hennrikus, W., LaBotz, M., Logan, K., Loud, K. J., Moffatt, K. A., Nemeth, B., Pengel, B., & Peterson, A. (2017, September 1). Promotion of Healthy Weight-Control Practices in Young Athletes. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/140/3/e20171871/38384/Promotion-of-Healthy-Weight-Control-Practices-in?autologincheck=redirected?nfToken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
  • Gaster, R. (2022, February 24). [EXPLAINED] 5 Best Martial Arts For Tall Skinny Guys. Strictly Fighters. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://strictlyfighters.com/best-martial-arts-for-tall-skinny-guys/
  • Here Are Some Great Tips for Helping Your Child Pick the Perfect Sport. (2017, April 14). LiveAbout. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://www.liveabout.com/choose-a-sport-for-your-child-1270882
  • Jankauskiene, R., & Baceviciene, M. (2019, December). Body Image and Disturbed Eating Attitudes and Behaviors in Sport-Involved Adolescents: The Role of Gender and Sport Characteristics. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6949941/
  • MacLelland, G. (2018, January 10). Healthy ways to gain weight for the skinny athlete – Working with Parents in Sport. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.parentsinsport.co.uk/2018/01/10/healthy-ways-to-gain-weight-for-the-skinny-athlete/
  • Safe Weight Loss and Weight Gain for Young Athletes. (n.d.). HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Safe-Weight-Loss-and-Weight-Gain-for-Young-Athletes.aspx
  • Weigh-Ins, Weight Gain & Rules for Teen Athletes: AAP Report Explained. (n.d.). HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Weigh-Ins-Weight-Gain-Rules-for-Teen-Athletes.aspx

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