How to Gain Muscle Fast for Skinny Guys
Gaining muscle is difficult, but it’s actually more difficult when you start from one extreme end of the body type scale. This can either be too large, or too skinny and in many cases, it’s even harder to gain muscle when you’re very skinny.
Whether it’s due to a high metabolism or not knowing how to bulk up, don’t worry—we’re going to help you out right now. It’s not impossible to put on the necessary meat to turn into muscle, you just have to be careful with how you approach it.
Let’s talk about all the problems you can encounter, how to counter them, and help you go from skin and bones to buff and toned before you know it.
It’s going to be work, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t already plan on putting the work in, so let’s get to it.
What is a Skinny Guy?
It’s not as simple as a number on a scale or a BMI rating on a chart. When you’re consistently skinny no matter what you eat, you have an ectomorph body type. This basically means that whatever you put into the tank gets turned into energy, not fat.
That’s a good thing, because the dangers of obesity are scary and affect more than half of all Americans. But of course, you want gains, and that means you need to turn those calories into muscle, not just energy.
There’s an interesting relationship between energy and muscles. Your muscles store glycogen and creatine in them, which both help with your metabolism, and protein synthesis.
Without these, your body doesn’t know what to do with the protein that you consume, and it ends up lost.
You can tell if you’re skinny by simply answering this question: when was the last time you gained weight, regardless of what you ate? It’s a blessing and a curse, as you’ll find out throughout the rest of this guide.
Why Some Guys Have a Problem Adding Mass
We talked about that body type, but that’s not the only reason that a guy can’t add mass. Let’s say you’re already working out. Do you know why you’re not gaining muscle even though you’re putting in time at the gym?
There’s a good chance that you’re constantly trying to reach a new max. Whether that’s barbell weight, or trying to add 10 or 15 extra reps onto your current workout, whatever it is—you need to set a specific workout routine to achieve and maintain your ideal body type, and stop hyper-fixating on going over that.
Yes, it can often simply come down to overdoing it and not giving it a second thought. You think that more is better, but it’s actually holding you back. Some of the main problems that come from this are:
- Fatigue: Constantly feeling tired, having sore muscles, and being sleepy or foggy-headed often.
- Slouching: Your body is trying to conserve energy, so holding your shoulders up feels like a chore.
- Sleepy Even When You Sleep: Let’s say you’re on a good sleep schedule and you’re honest with yourself about when you go to bed, but you’re still tired. Classic sign of overdoing it.
Apart from body types and how fast your metabolism is, you have to make sure you’re playing this like a marathon, not a sprint (because that’s exactly what it is).
Best Foods for Gaining Mass
Now it’s time to talk about diet. Do you want to bulk up? You have to not just have the right nutrition, but take that nutrition from foods that can help you with good fats, high protein, and whole grains to help you stave off hunger while building up those muscles. These are some of the best foods for that:
- Eggs: Right in protein and contains essential amino acids, as well as B2 (one of the most important B vitamins for your muscles), eggs are a solid choice. Just do us a favor and avoid the whole raw egg straight-down-the-hatch thing, will you?
- Omega-3 Fatty Acid (Fish): Salmon, cod and other oily fish are amazing for your body. An omega-3 fatty acid is paramount to your muscle development and overall health and wellbeing.
- Whole Grains: Avoid white starch (you can get carbs from whole-grain bread), and stick to grains that offer more than just a vessel to put jelly and butter on at the breakfast table.
- Beans and Legumes: Beans are high in protein, and they work in just about every dish you can imagine. In fact, there’s so much protein here that you can replace meat in a dish with beans. That’s pretty nuts.
- Full Fat Dairy: The myth that you need to stick to 2% milk is, well, a myth—you need full fat if you’re athletic at all. You can get this from yogurt as well. The calcium, full fat, and protein is just too good to pass up; your body will put it to good use.
- Lean Meat: We want full fat from good sources, and meat isn’t included in that. Stick to chicken and turkey and only include red meat sparingly as a treat. The leaner the better, because the truth is it all has a ton of protein in it, so keep it lean and clean the whole way through.
Workouts for Gaining Mass
Now that you’ve got nutrition on lockdown, it’s time to actually exercise effectively in a way that’s going to help you make the gains you’ve been wanting.
- Bench Press: It’s the typical exercise we imagine when we think of big muscles, right? You work out so many muscle groups this way, while also finding your current weight ceiling so you know what you can work with. Bench presses stimulate the growth of many muscles in your arms and chest, which is a great foundation to build on for more gains.
- Deadlifts: Pulling off a proper deadlift can be difficult, especially at your current weight, but that’s why we have weightlifting belts to help out. Deadlifts are excellent for gains in your glutes, calves, shoulders, arms, and back. You have a lot of different muscles working in your back that help you stabilize yourself during exercise, so deadlifts are going to be a major help.
- Pull-Ups: We’re all getting flashbacks to gym class, I know. Pull-ups remain as one of the most effective exercises to date. It’s actually a form of calisthenics because the only weight you’re using for resistance is your own body. This also extends to push-ups which will work out similar muscle groups, once again using your own body weight as the equivalent of a barbell or set of dumbbells. Your body is basically free training gear.
- Squats and Leg Presses: You don’t have to use a barbell to do squats. You can use a squat machine, which is a better idea for you right now at your lower weight. Squat machines help with the development of your core abdominal muscles, legs, glutes, and help with endurance as well. Those squat machines may look easy now, but they’re hell on your legs, and you’re going to feel it.
- Upright Rowing: Using a barbell, which can be bare without any additional weights on the end, pull it upward until it’s level with your shoulders. Lift the bar right in front of you, and keep your neck and spine neutral, while engaging your core. This feels like a full-body workout when you don’t have a lot of meat on your bones, and begins to temper your muscles for the hard days to come with barbell squats and deadlifts.
These exercises are the main five that you should focus on if gains are your goal above all else. It’s difficult to get started with them, but once you get it going, you’ll see gains all across your body before long.
Mistakes to Avoid
You want to bulk up, not slim down any further. Be sure to avoid these pitfalls so you can actually keep all of that beef that you’re working for.
- Not Eating Enough Calories: Caloric deficits only help you when you’re trying to lose weight while gaining muscle at the same time, but you don’t have that problem. You don’t have enough fat on you to trick your body into using it for fuel, so you’re stuck with a problem: load up on more calories than you’re likely comfortable with (in healthy food of course), or you may not have enough to actually bulk up. That skinny guy’s metabolism is a blessing and a curse.
- Not Intaking Enough Protein: The average male has to take in more protein than you might realize just to maintain their current weight, let alone bulk up so that they can gain muscle on top of it. Look at your RDA for protein, and try to hit around 1.5x that. It depends on height and age, as well as your current weight, but basically, you want to take in protein so your muscles have something to use to actually grow.
- Not Getting Proper Sleep: Sleep is critical to muscle gain and your body’s natural rhythm. Most of the time, it’s 16-19-year-old males who are labeled as “skinny guys” and are likely the ones searching for and reading this guide. You have a great metabolism, but you also require more sleep than most other growth stages in your life. Sleep is important and you shouldn’t avoid it, especially if you’re 110% serious about seeing major gains.
- Being Dehydrated In and Out of the Gym: Your body uses a lot of water each day. After you sweat it out for an hour at the gym, you’re extremely dehydrated, furthering that problem of using up a ton of water each and every day. You shouldn’t be dehydrated at all, whether it’s in the gym or not. Proper hydration helps with the distribution of nutrition and keeps your joints lubricated, while also supporting cartilage and tendon health. Basically, it’s really important and you can’t avoid it. Swap out all your other drinks for water starting right now (you know, except for your protein shakes).
- Lifting Beyond Your Capacity: Muscles are damaged every time you work out in the gym, but it’s a very minuscule amount. It’s such a small amount that your body can rapidly heal those tears in as little as 36 hours, and you’ll be ready to go again. But if you get overzealous and rush ahead before you’re ready, you can actually damage your muscles by lifting weights beyond your current capacity. It’s hard because you want to know how far you can go, but the more weight that you try to lift, the higher the associated risks are. You have to be smart about how you proceed, and lifting more weight just to see if you can (without really knowing) is dangerous.
- Avoiding Carbs: Yes, you’ve seen everywhere that carbs are the devil and they stand in the way of muscle gain, but that’s not true. Carbs are the fuel you can consume and burn off almost immediately if you know what you’re doing. Do not avoid carbs, just don’t overconsume them, and make sure you’re getting them from quality sources. Nobody’s going to eat half a loaf of white bread to prepare for their time in the gym.
It’s Time to Bulk Up
More calories, more high-quality food, and fats that actually help you instead of packing on pounds around the waist. It’s possible to bulk up, and now that you know how to do it without causing unwanted weight gain in the form of fat, it’s time to get out there and make it happen.
The additional groceries can be expensive, but unless you’re taking in more and know where you stand, you can’t possibly bulk up from there.
It’s a journey that’s going to help you in your overall health and boost your confidence, and it’s worth it every step of the way.