How to Build Muscle for Skinny Guys

Are you one of those skinny guys who no matter what they try just can’t seem to put on muscle mass. Well, we’re here to help you out. This article will show you the best method to gain lean muscle mass and become strong in the fastest way possible. It’s a straightforward, no B.S. routine that will set you on the right path. Basically, it all comes down to 3 main things: lifting, eating and recovering.

Lifting weights

When it comes to lifting, the first thing you need to focus on is basic compound movements using barbells like the bench and overhead press, squats, and deadlifts, with dips and pull-ups being exceptions to this rule. Then, we’ll mix 5×5 strength protocol with a middle-range rep and weight routine to promote muscular hypertrophy, which will get the muscles big and strong.

We’ll also use some super-sets, which is performing 2 different movements consecutively without rest in between, to keep the training sessions short and finish them in about half an hour or sometimes less. The most common method to induce muscle growth, or muscle hypertrophy being the scientific term is to progressively overload the muscles over a longer period of time.

This is when enlargement of the skeletal muscle fibers occurs as a response to them being engaged because of the increased levels of mechanical stress (tension) that comes from resistance training. Most often, it takes about one to two months to see the first signs of muscular hypertrophy, however, the process starts in the early phases of muscle building.

One of the most popular methods that bodybuilders have been using to build more muscle is the body-split training routine. With this method, you split up the training of different body parts on different days during the week. When you’re training each muscle more than once per week, you should also take into consideration the level of training volume and intensity.


Two-day body-split routine


Monday (Workout A)

Chest: Barbell Bench Press, Dumbell Bench press, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Shoulders: Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press, Arnold Press, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Triceps: Barbell Triceps Extensions, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps

Tuesday (Workout B)

Back: Deadlift, Dumbbell Rows, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Biceps: Barbell Curls, Dumbbel Curls, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Legs: Squats, Walking lunges, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps


Then you rest on Wednesday, do Workout A on Thursday again, Workout B on Friday, then rest during the weekend and repeat the same sequence the next week.

Three-day body-split routine


Chest: Barbell Bench Press, Dumbell Bench press, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Shoulders: Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press, Arnold Press, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Triceps: Barbell Triceps Extensions, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps



Legs: Squats, Walking Lunges, Lying Hamstring Curls, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each



Back: Dumbbells Rows, Seated Dumbbell Rows, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Biceps: Barbell Curls, Dumbbell Curls, Cable Biceps Curls, 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps each

Muscle building with 5×5 and super-sets

Phase 1

Workout A: Deadlifts 5 sets x 5 reps

Super-set: Barbell Shoulder Press with High Pulls, 4 sets x 10 reps


Workout B: Squats 5 sets x 5 reps

Super-set: Bench press with Pullups, 4 sets x 10 reps

In all of these sets stick with the same load and try to complete all of them with that same load. This means if you’re bench pressing 180lbs for 5 sets x 5 reps, you should use the same weight for all 5 sets. If you complete all 5 reps on all 5 sets, for the next workout you will add 5 lbs and strive to complete all reps again, and not change the weight until you do so. You should always strive to set a personal record every time you go to the gym or be better than the last time. If you lift the same weight for 2 months straight, you are not giving your muscles reasons to go. You have to progressively overload the muscles if you want to increase their size.

Phase 2

Workout A: Deadlifts 5 sets x 5 reps

Power Cleans 3 sets x 8 reps


Workout B: Shoulder press 5 sets x 5 reps

Super-set: Bent-over rows with Bench press 4 sets x 8 reps


Workout C: Squats 5 sets x 5 reps

Lunges 3 sets x 10 reps (for each leg)


Workout D: Pull-ups 5 sets x 5 reps

Super-set: Dips with High pulls 4 sets x 10 reps

In Phase 2 you are going to train 4 days a week, training 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off. This is an example of how you might do it:

Monday – Workout A

Tuesday – Workout B

Wednesday – Rest day

Thursday – Workout C

Friday – Workout D

Saturday – Rest day

Sunday – Rest day


Muscle building diet

If you want to gain muscle size, proper eating is imperative. However, besides eating the right foods, you should also eat more than you are eating now. Not slightly more, a lot more. Specifically, one should generally restrict their carb intake to lose weight and eat more carbs with each meal to gain more muscle mass. If you’re seeking to build muscle, you should be consuming around 3000-5000 calories a day depending on what your current weight is. Some say that building muscle is actually 80% nutrition and 20% training, and they’re generally right. Yes, your diet is really that important.

However, this does not mean that you can let yourself go and eat whatever you please. No junk food or sweets allowed. Brown rice, oatmeal, bread, whole wheat pasta, and potatoes should be the main sources of carbohydrates in your diet. When it comes to protein, it should strive to eat a good amount of protein with each meal. The ideal amount would be 6 oz. per meal and you should be consuming at least 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of body weight a day. Good protein sources are lead red meats, chicken, turkey, eggs, tuna etc. If you’re a vegetarian, tofu will also work just fine, as well as beans.

In order to meet your vitamin and mineral daily requirements, you should eat at least one serving of vegetables and fruits with every meal. Nuts are also a great addition since they contain a lot of calories and are packed with nutrients. Supplements are another great way to optimize your muscle building efforts and can greatly speed up your progress in the gym, whether in the form of increased protein intake, improved recovery, increased performance etc.

Dairy products are the skinny guy’s best tool to increase their body weight quickly. They contain tons of nutrients and drinking copious amounts of milk can increase your weight dramatically by giving you all the necessary calories you will need to put on slabs of muscle. Starting out with half a gallon to a gallon of whole-fat milk a day is a good idea if you are already very skinny. This will add an additional 1200 to 2600 calories to your daily amount of calories. Those who are very skinny can gain around 10-15 lbs in just a month by doing this.

Add protein in your post-workout meal

The two most important things to remember when it comes to your diet is making sure that you’re eating breakfast every day and eating a lot of protein as soon as possible after your workout. The majority of guys that are skinny usually have problems consuming enough protein, so at least 20 oz of chocolate milk right after your workout will certainly help. You can also add whey protein powder which is digested and enters your muscles a lot more quickly than say, eating a whole food meal which would take a lot more time to digest.

One of the easiest ways to meet your daily macronutrient and caloric requirements is to eat three meals a day with three snacks, with around three hours between meals. Whenever in doubt, just eat something with lots of protein in it.

A meal plan for gaining weight and muscle mass

6 am: Omelette with 4 eggs. One serving of fried potatoes with onion and green pepper. One cup of oatmeal with a serving of fruit of your preference.

9 am: A glass of whole-fat milk (8 oz). A handful of walnuts. A cup of diced pineapple and melon.

12 pm: Grilled chicken breast and broccoli with a serving of brown rice.

3 pm: Turkey sandwich with tomato, lettuce, and mustard between whole wheat slices of bread. One apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter.

6 pm: Grilled steak with peppers, tomatoes, and onions wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with black beans and cheddar cheese. A serving of green salad.

9 pm: An 8-oz glass of whole-fat milk. One banana. A handful of almonds.

One of the hardest things about building muscle is consuming enough food. In order to make this process a lot easier, set aside a couple of hours every Sunday, for example, to cook all of your meals for that week, put them in Tupperware, store them in the freezer, and then take them out one by one, heat them up and they’re ready. Your meals will usually last till Thursday. Foods like chicken, eggs, pork, burgers, mashed potatoes, and vegetables can all be prepared ahead of time.

Summary of the main foods you should be eating

Protein sources – eggs, pork, chicken, steak, tofu, burgers, walnuts, almonds, chili, peanut butter, beans etc.

Carb sources – baked or mashed potatoes, whole wheat pasta and bread, white rice, brown rice, black beans etc.

Veggies and fruits – oranges, bananas, apples, blackberries, strawberries, greens beans, broccoli, lentils, cauliflower etc.

Dairy products – whole-fat milk, cheese, yogurt etc.

Proper recovery is one of the main pillars of muscle building

In our modern fast-paced world, proper recovery is often the most difficult thing to achieve when it comes to building muscle. If you do the following, you will allow your body to fully recuperate from all the intense lifting you put it through and turn all that food that you eat into the muscles that you want.

Sleep more: You should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Quick 30-minute naps throughout the day can also be helpful if you manage to squeeze them in.

Avoid circuit training: High-intensity circuit training has its place in the lifting world but it might be too intensive for some lifters, especially if they are just starting out if the gym. You need to be very careful what you spend your calories on and only do the circuits once you are ready to begin shedding the extra fat off.

Take rest days and weeks: You cannot train intensely for several months on end without stopping and taking a rest. Inevitably you will over-train and your progress in the gym will suffer. That’s why you should always take rest days and even weeks to let your body recover and make it even stronger once you get back in the gym.

Relax:  You can relax in any way that you please, meditate, pet your dog, go for a walk in the park, read a book, whatever puts your body and mind at ease.  It is essential that you “de-stress” yourself enough so that you are physically and mentally ready for your training ahead.

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When you’re trying to gain muscle but it’s not working

If you’re following the muscle building plan above but still isn’t working there are some potential reasons why you’re not seeing any results:

1. You aren’t eating enough food

This is the simplest reason. If you follow everything written above and you still aren’t gaining any weight, the most obvious explanation is that you are not eating enough. Most of the time skinny people think that they are eating a lot, when in fact they are obviously not because they still haven’t gained an ounce.

Here are some tips to make sure that you always have some food around ready to eat:

As we mentioned previously, always prepare your meals in advance. You can prepare them and they will last for the next 3 or 4 days. You may think that it would suck to eat the same meal many times over, but since your strategy obviously isn’t working, it’s time to try out something new. When you’re trying to build muscle mass, you should look at food as an energy source or as a fuel for your workouts, not as something to enjoy.

Keep the cupboards full, because when the time comes you don’t have any food to cook, you will end up eating something that will not help you build muscle. Always keep some type of healthy food around.

Drink lots of milk. If you are not drinking at least half a gallon of milk, then make it a daily goal. Buy 2 or 3 gallons in advance, and drink the whole amount during the upcoming week.


2. You simply aren’t training hard enough in the gym

When you train you should be grinding out the last one or two reps of every set that you do. That’s how intense your training should be. If you are doing bench presses and you casually do each set without grinding out the last few reps that the load is too easy for you and you need to add more weight to the bar. If you find pushing yourself too difficult like the majority of people do, then find yourself a training partner who will be more motivated than you to help you push through a difficult workout. The greatest muscle gains will come with the last few reps that you crank out even when your mind thinks that it can’t do anymore.

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