Skinny guys play by different rules – calories (and therefore muscle) fly off our body at insane rates. Muscle seems to be nearly impossible to build. Motivation is hard to come by because we start so much weaker than most. What’s the point, we say, it looks like we are just “made to be skinny”.
Wrong! You can overcome all of this with the right mindset, workouts and meals. There have been countless stories of guys who thought they were destined to be skinny packing on serious muscle and turning into absolute monsters!
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World
The first thing you need to change is your mindset about yourself. Do you view yourself as someone who can’t put on muscle? If you do, you’ll never give 100% in your training and through your own thoughts you will handicap yourself.
You cannot be held back by previous notions of yourself! With the right workout plan and diet, you WILL put on muscle. It’s simply how the body works and how we have survived for tens of thousands of years.
The framework of the plan is simple: First you damage the muscle by using compound exercises, normally with heavy weights and reps in the 7 – 10 zone, then your body will repair the damage with the nutrition you will be consuming during your rest periods. If you follow the tips in this article, you will start to see results in only one to two months. Once you see your hard work is paying off it will be hard to quit, and your results start to snowball!
How do I know? Because I and many others have done exactly that!
Here are some examples of guys who have taken control of their destinies:
More Pain, More Gains
No matter how much weight you’re training with, you have to go until muscle fatigue to get any type of real gains. I remember when I first started training, my bench press max was a measly 75 pounds! As you can imagine, this set back my confidence quite a bit. My weight was like a warm-up weight to any kind of athlete!
Instead of being upset or feeling defeated by this, I used it as a motivator and used it to up my intensity. I challenged myself each time I worked out, imagining pain as new muscle and strength, and never rested on my laurels when it came to a new work out.
I would recommend to those just starting out to get a journal to keep track of your work outs. You will be amazed at how it feels when you progress and have proof of it, and your motivation to reach each short term goal you set for yourself will go through the roof!
The Actual Workouts
One of the great things about starting out is how simple you can keep everything. Right now, your only objective is to get the basics down and do your best to perfect them. Don’t waste your time worrying about the nitty gritty, like which exercises work the left eighth of your tricep on your right arm.
Look at the foundational lifts first that build the powerful, core strength that lies underneath the success of any athlete.
Raid the Compound!
Having said all that, most of your workouts should focus on compound lifts. These are the exercises that are the most basic, but also the most important to the muscle-deprived among us. They work multiple muscles at once, and provide great results in a relatively short period of time if you really burn out your muscles on each set.
These lifts include bench presses, squats, deadlifts, rows, pull ups, and dips. Build these into your gym routine and watch the gains start to pile on.
Eat Big, Get Big. This is the overarching theme when it comes to eating to put on weight and muscle. Let’s start at the most basic level – in order to put on any kind of mass, you are going to have to eat more than you burn.
A good rule of thumb to see how many calories you need is to multiply your body weight by 2. So a 150 pound guy would need to eat around 3,000 calories on a day that he works out in order to gain muscle. On rest days you can eat a little bit less, but remember that your body builds muscle on rest days so make sure to eat quality protein rich foods when you can.
But enjoying a nice cheat meal every now and again is one of the best perks that comes with being skinny, so I advise you to take advantage of it!
The next step is to ensure you are getting the correct ratio of carbs, to protein and fats. To get a good general estimate of your protein needs, multiply your weight by 1.5. Our 150 pound test guy should shoot for around 225 grams of protein a day. That’s probably way more than you are accustomed to eating! But if you don’t eat it, you’re wasting some of the gains you could’ve reached had you eaten enough.
As for carbs and fats, aim for around twice your body weight in carbs everyday and half your weight in fats. Fats are more crucial than most realize, studies have shown that eating an adequate amount of quality fats led to higher levels of testosterone in the body, which as we all know builds muscle and is responsible for “manly” characteristics that many skinny guys covet.
- Multiply your weight by 1.5, shoot for that much protein per day in grams
- Twice your body weight in carbs
- Half your weight in fats
Here is a handy list of great foods to eat in each category
Water is essential for all aspects of life, and gaining muscle is no different. Skeletal muscle is more than 70 percent water. All operations the muscle performs and the heavy protein synthesis process that builds muscle utilizes water. H2O is also essential in keeping your organs performing at peak performance all day, clearing toxins from your blood and reducing excess sodium from the body.
As is that’s not enough, researchers have found that dehydration has a massive negative impact on your performance. Subjects in dehydration studies were able to perform significantly less repetitions in sets, the exercises were perceived as being more difficult AND they needed longer for their heart rates to recover.
Bottom Line: Dehydration = compromised performance in the gym, and you don’t want that right?
So at this point you might be wondering, how do I stop these terrible effects from happening to me? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered here at Ultimate Core Health!
Researchers recommend drinking about 1 oz of water per kilogram of body weight (1 kg equals about 2.2 pounds). So a 175 pound guy would need to drink around 79 ounces of water a day.
You’ve seen them and heard of them: Protein Supplements. When you’re busting butt in the gym and putting the work in that leads to serious muscle, you’re going to need more protein to meet your body’s new demands. Protein in the building block of muscle and when you’re breaking down muscle fibers in the gym you need to supply your body with a healthy dosage of protein so it can begin to repair the damage and build new muscle.
Your first source of protein is going to be your diet. Refer to the section above on diet and make sure you’re getting the proper amount of protein through the food you are ingesting. A good rule of thumb is to multiply your body weight by 1.5 lbs, and that is the grams of protein you should be consuming on a daily basis.
If you need to supplement, a protein powder is often a great way to do that. Protein powder is more convenient, absorbs fast for an immediate protein infusion after a workout, and almost all provide a complete amino acid profile to ensure you are building the most amount of muscle possible after each workout.
A mass gainer protein powder will really help you put on the pounds.
Meal Plans, Meal Prep Video
You work out hard, you sleep plenty at night, you feel like you have everything going for you but you just can’t seem to pack on the muscle. Sound familiar? The answer to this problem is simple: you’re not eating enough. Us skinny guys can eat A LOT and our body will still burn it all away. We’ve got to change the formula and eat almost double the calories that we are used to.
Here are some basic tips for gaining mass through diet:
- Eat 3 meals a day, but also make sure to eat pre and post workout
- Watch for easy ways to add calories – extra grass fed butter, mass gaining snacks, etc
- Go hard on carbs, they are your mass gaining allies. Cereal, rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables all help in this regard
- Back off fat and increase your protein and carb intake
Here are some recipes to get you started:
Ready for a super basic principle you can’t ignore, no matter how much you and me might want to try to? Sleep. 8 – 10 hours a night of sleep can completely transform your workout program from plebeian to herculean. During sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs.
So in layman’s terms: during sleep is when you gain muscle. Not in the gym, in the bedroom. Imagine that!
Number One Rule!
That’s it. Keep working, keep improving, keep learning. This is only the beginning of your training, the best is yet to come!
Recommended Reading: How Fast Do You Lose Muscle After Not Lifting?
Hey! My name is Stephen and I’m the owner of Ultimate Core Health. Since we started, we’ve grown into a trusted resource for unbiased, science-based articles and reviews on fitness, nutrition and supplements. Check me out on social media, feel free to add me if you want to talk health!