If there’s one thing that no one has enough of it's routines.
They are everywhere.
Do a quick search on workout plans and you’ll be bombarded with hundreds of millions of choices.
Men, women, skinny, fat…
With different physiques and preferences, customization is a must.
For skinny guys, it’s not as easy as picking a plan.
Why You Can't Gain Weight
As you probably believe, being skinny means you can anything you want.
And this includes junk food.
Although you're eating anything in your path, you're still not gaining weight.
The truth is, eating anything you want won't get you over your calorie requirements. Not only is it not enough to gain weight, but most of the foods that skinny guys eat are keeping them the same as they have no nutritional benefits.
If they did eat enough, they wouldn't be skinny.
Sure, fast metabolism does exist, however there are a number of factors that contribute to not being able to gain weight and that includes too much activity. Skinny guys tend to fidget and move more.
No matter if you're a hardgainer or a ectomorph, generally you don't eat enough.
You can test this by tracking your calorie intake for a week. Use a app or a journal and you'll see.
You need to eat more than the average person to gain weight and you need to believe that you can gain weight.
It'll take persistence and consistency but it's definitely possible.
How You Can Gain Weight
Now you know why you can't gain weight, you've probably figured out you simply need to eat more.
Here's what you can do to gain weight…
Eat more calories.
You can achieve this easier by increasing meal frequency.
Eating only 3 meals a day will be tough if you're not used to it. You're likely to get more calories in by splitting your meals into 4-6 per day.
Include more calorie dense foods like nuts, pasta, and oats.
Foods like chicken, fish and meat will be important to have in your meals as they are full of protein.
You can consume more liquid based calories like a milkshake that has oats, banana, fruits, peanut butter and whey protein.
Track your calories because like most beginning skinny guys, it's easy to overestimate your calorie intake. If you have trouble keeping record, track it for a week and you'll get a rough idea of how much you need to consume.
How I Gained And Transformed After Struggling as a Skinny Guy
Like most beginners, I badly wanted to put mass on my small frame.
I was small, and being as skinny as I was, it was embarrassing because I had no strength or size.
Wearing oversized clothes didn't help disguise my fragile looking body.
I commited myself to the gym, however everything I did was just wrong.
All I did was isolation exercises, with one or two compound exercises at most, like bench press.
However I was overcomplicating my workouts with isolation exercises that did nothing but add some definition to my small frame.
After months of working out, this is what I had to show for it:
And after 2 years of training like this I found myself a little more defined and had all this to show for it:
When I finally learned what I should actually do, I stuck with it and after 1 year, I've nearly doubled my size:
And 3 years later, I got even bigger.
I went from being skinny, and training overcomplicated to bulking up and simplifying my workouts for the most efficiency and you can see it's worked well.
Simplifying your workouts, and eating much more will result in more gains.
This means using mostly compound lifts in your workouts, and eating more calorie and nutrition dense foods.
Eat More Food
I know, you eat everything but you can't gain a single pound.
It doesn't matter how heavy or hard you train, you don’t gain muscle without eating enough.
You probably don’t eat enough if you struggle to gain weight.
While it’s true that the first few months of lifting won’t have much to show for, you should still be able to gain a few pounds if you’re eating enough.
And you can’t just eat junk food to add up the calorie count.
The foods you consume need to have nutrients and they should be as close to natural as possible.
When you eat healthy, whole foods, you’re not only maximizing your progress but you’re also ensuring healthy hormone production, some of which are responsible for muscle building like testosterone.
The Best Bulking Foods
There’s never one type of food that makes up the bulk of your diet.
Consume a mix of foods so you’re making the most out of what you’re eating.
The best foods are always made up of a variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
There’s a few characteristics that the best foods have:
- Calorie rich
- Stimulates muscle growth
- Body uses it for energy and not stored for fat
Here’s a list of foods to include in your diet:
- Olive oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Krill / Fish oil
- Walnut oil
- Protein shakes
- Full fat yogurt
- Ground meat
There’s much more but this should give you an idea of what to choose when you’re planning your diet.
And you shouldn’t avoid vegetables because they are full of fiber, you’ll need lots of it for digestion.
The first common mistake made is jumping right to the first exercise without a proper warm up.
And it’s worse if you’re lifting near your working sets.
A warm up is crucial, no matter what your training level is.
And the stronger you get, warm up typically take a little longer, especially if you live in a cold climate.
Generally you should break a sweat before touching a weight, or if it’s too cold to sweat, then you should feel warmer than usual.
A good warm up involves 5-10 minutes of very light cardio and 5-10 minutes of mobility.
It might look like this:
- 5 minutes of elliptical at a moderate pace
- 5 minutes of arm circles, leg swings, planks, bodyweight exercises and dynamic stretches.
If you tend to sit more than you walk, you’ll want to involve some hip opening stretches.
Once you’re warmed up, your breathing should be much deeper, and you’ll feel ready to stimulate (not annihilate) your muscles.
Commonly people think the best exercises are the ones that directly stimulate a targeted muscle group.
While yes, that is a great way to activate certain muscle groups, that isn’t necessarily the best way to build on size.
It’s a good way to struggle for years to put on size.
Compound lifts are not only the best way to build strength and size but it’s also the most effective.
Start your first few months of training with strength training.
You won’t get bigger if you don’t have a solid foundation of strength.
The greatest bodybuilders always have impressive numbers on their compound lifts.
This doesn’t mean you should lift like a strength lifter for every workout.
But by being able to build on your compound lifts (deadlifts, bench press, pull ups, squats, etc) you’ll be able to lift heavier weights for isolation exercises.
If you maximize your physique and put on as much muscle as possible, use a mix of compound and isolation exercises.
Start with the hardest exercise (this is always a compound lift) then use the other half of your workout to finish off with isolation exercises.
For example if you bench press, your triceps will be worked but it’s usually not enough to maximize tricep development.
The best way to start with compound lifts is with a simple 5×5 program for 6-12 weeks or longer.
A 5×5 program means 5 sets of 5 reps of one compound lift.
By doing this, you would have one lift for your workout, say deadlifts, then you would do 5 sets of 5 reps.
Usually this is done for deadlifts, squats and bench press.
Start your first day with bench press, then take a day off, and perform squats, then another day off, then squats, then take 1-2 days off, and start over from bench press.
Skinny Beginners Program For Gains
My personal favorite program is a push pull legs program.
The main reason is because it allows for so much flexibility and customizable while remaining as simple as possible.
After you perform your warm up, do the following workout:
|Exercises||Sets and Reps|
|Overhead Shoulder Press||3x5-8|
|Tricep Pull Downs||3x8-10|
|Exercises||Sets and Reps|
|Exercises||Sets and Reps|
|Squats (or Front Squats)||3x5-8|
|Hanging Leg Raises||3x8|
When I implemented this style of program this is what I was able to achieve after a year:
You can substitute the compound exercises for any other compound lift.
If you can’t bench press with a barbell, you can use dumbbells.
However, you should avoid doing compound lifts on machines like smith machines.
The problem with machines is that they make the lift easier by taking balance out of the equation.
If you can lift 100lbs on a smith machine, you’ll still struggle lifting less than that in free weights.
Dumbbells and barbells should be the priority of your workouts.
When you’re new to the gym, you want to spend time learning the form of every exercise.
It takes months, sometimes years to master form on any exercise.
Factors like mobility and lifting history can determine how long you’ll need to practice lifts.
That being said, your first set of any workout should be with the lightest weight possible.
Then add on 25% of your working weight.
So if you can bench press 100lbs, start with the barbell by itself, then use the barbell again as it weighs 44lbs which is more than enough.
After your first exercise, you’ll won’t need any warm up for the rest of the workout.
The first set should always be higher in reps, around 10-15.
After that, anywhere from 3-5 reps is more than enough until you reach your working sets.
More Workout Plans
The best bulking programs are always ones that focus on compound lifts.
Isolation exercises have their place, and they should be mixed in as finishers, but compound lifts will provide the majority of your gains.
Your workouts should consist of compound lifts with isolation exercises being the lowest priority.
No one will make tremendous gains and progress with isolation exercises as much as they would with compound lifts.
Making your programs simple is key and eating enough to actually gain weight will take you on the right path to gaining more mass.
Leave a comment below or ask a question and I promise to help out as much as possible.