So you’re a skinny guy, and you want to gain muscle.
You train hard. You eat a lot. And you still build muscle slowly. Ugh.
Not sure what to do? Don’t rely on Google and those “5 SECRET Tips for Skinny Guys Trying to Gain Muscle”. At best, lists like that are incomplete.
Instead, in this guide, you’ll find out:
- Why it’s more difficult to gain muscle for you as a skinny guy
- Why skinny guys sometimes can’t seem to gain weight even when “eating a lot” (and what to do about it)
- How to train to build muscle as a skinny guy
I will show you step by step how you can gain muscle fast as a skinny lifter.
First, we will try to understand why you are skinny in the first place. Then, we’ll analyze the potential “good” and “bad” of being skinny. Finally, we’ll move on to what your can do about it to progress, by picking the right training and nutrition for your body type.
If that sounds good, let’s begin!
“I can’t gain weight!” -The Skinny Guy
Are you really a “skinny guy”?
If you are, chances are, you can stay lean year round without excessive effort. And if you’re lucky, that means having a chiseled set of abs to show off at the beach every summer.
But while that can be great, the main issue with being skinny is not really being lean… but rather how difficult it is to put on weight and gain muscle.
Generally speaking, skinny guys are the ones who identify as:
- “I can’t gain weight!”
You’re lean, with little body fat and muscle mass. Is it because of genetics? Let’s see what the science says…
A deeper look into genetics: is this really attributable to being an “ectomorph”?
Somatotypes (as we know them) were first introduced in the early ‘40s by an American psychologist and physician, namely William Sheldon, “who was best known for his theory of associating physique, personality and delinquency to a body type” (Bernard 2020).
And as we best know them, these body types are the Ectomorph, Mesomorph and Endomorph.
Since we’re talking about skinny guys, we’ll focus primarily on “Ectomorphs” for this article.
Based on Dr. Sheldon’s work found in his book “The Variety of Temperament, 1942“, Ectomorphs are seen as thin boned individuals “who are said to have a tendency towards a “cerebrotonic” personality (being introverted, thoughtful, inhibited and sensitive).”
And while these characteristics may very well be present in individuals who are genetically lean and can’t seem to gain weight no matter what they do, that’s not necessarily a reality for everyone who is skinny.
In fact, in his review, Prof. Bernard criticizes Sheldon’s research, saying that “Although his research was groundbreaking, it was criticized on the grounds that his samples were not representative and that he mistook correlation for causation“.
In fact, even if we used the specific somatotypes as a way to describe a body type, or susceptibility/predisposition of gaining body fat or stay lean, the reality is that the spectrum is likely infinitely wider that it wouldn’t make sense to frame someone’s genetics and prescribe a solution, only based on this theory alone. If anything it can be used as a good way to describe the look of a certain body type, and then, with further investigations, serve as a base to prescribe more detailed nutritional advices and training routines, which will be different depending on the individual’s needs.
Anyway Sheldon’s work has later been “dismissed as quackery , and even his assistant, who co-authored him on “Atlas of Men, 1954”, has accused him of falsifying the data he used in writing his book, based on the information reported and collected in Wikipedia“.
Does genetics play a role at all, then?
While being an “ectomorph” as originally intended isn’t as accurate as once believed, because of the lacking evidence, there are actually many factors that can predispose people to a lot of things, and genetics definitely plays a role in this.
Just to name a few examples, different bone structures, or different levels of natural hormonal production, but also the levels of body fat someone “naturally stays at” are just a couple of the many parameters that can differ from person to person, which could be used as indicators of how much muscle mass we can put on in the long run.
But to add a note on “the levels of body fat someone naturally stays at”, I don’t actually mean that we don’t have control in the level of body fat that we may achieve or even maintain, because of course those are variables that can be changed with the right nutritional and training approach.
However, there’s still something to say about that…
How is our bodyweight regulated? The body Fat Set Point/Settling Point Theory
So why are skinny guys skinny, in the first place? Is it just hormones? Clearly there must be some genetical predisposition that forces some people to maintain a body weight rather than another one, but what is that exactly?
While the control of body weight is assumed to exist, there is actually no consensus framework on what the main mechanism behind it really is. In fact, according to scientists Müller et al. (2018): “In humans, observational studies on large populations do not provide consistent evidence for a biological control of body weight, which may be overridden by the influences of the environment and culture on personal behavior and experiences.”
Based on current knowledge and research, we can use 2 models or ‘theories’, through which body weight regulation can be explained: The set point and the settling point.
The first one is called “The Body Fat Set-Point Theory” which suggests a biological control of body weight resulting from the interaction between our organs and brain, primarily mediated by the hormone Leptin (mainly secreted by adipocytes), which is a hormone that regulates our metabolism based on how much food we eat and the level of body fat we’re currently at.
Basically, our body likes to maintain a determined equilibrium or “homeostasis”, and every time we want to move away from it, whether it is to increase our body weight or reduce it, it becomes increasingly difficult, the further we move in “either direction”. And anecdotally, you can notice this happen too, as soon as you increase your food intake: all of a sudden, your energy levels are very high and you’re more likely to engage in more daily activities, off-setting the caloric surplus (if you were in one)!
This homeostatic control of body weight is thought to be under genetic influences, in proportion to fat mass and adiposity, which regulates energy expenditure (EE) based on energy intake (EI) and body fat levels. The body fat set point is the body fat range, where all our body’s physiological processes are working efficiently, and it is said to be set within the region of our brain known as the hypothalamus, and it’s genetically pre-determined, but also likely influenced by the previous metabolic history of the individuals.
Now, where this Body Fat set point develops is unclear. Some theories suggest that it develops during puberty, others suggest that it develops way earlier and that the mother’s diet actually effects the adipocyte hyperplasia or the fetus. But this remains speculation, still, until further investigation.
However, while this may be a factor in bodyweight regulation, we also know that our homeostatic regulation is “asymmetrical” and doesn’t work the same way in both ends, for everyone, at least not to the same degree. Basically, we can see that it fights hard to protect against weight loss (for survival reasons) but it doesn’t seem to always be bothered about protecting us from weight gain, and sometimes, (generally coming out of a diet) gaining even more weight that we originally started with, is not unheard of.
In other words, for many people, our metabolism adapts greatly by decreasing our energy expenditure and increasing hunger in order to get back to a higher body fat, but it doesn’t seem to change much as we overeat, allowing us to gain fat and potentially “moving the set point higher” than it previously was.
Yet, when “ectomorphs” (or skinny guys) are thrown in into the equation, as soon as food intake is increased, their hunger shuts down and their energy expenditure goes through the roof, off-setting the caloric surplus that could potentially help gain weight.
..Perhaps it’s less about our Body’s set point and more about our environmental settling point?
Since many factors are not clear, yet, not all scientists and researchers agree on the idea of a “rigid” body fat set point, and some others prefer to think in terms of “Settling point” where the set point paradigm is included within all the components that make up our lifestyle, such as training, habitual nutrition, daily activity and other socio-economic and cultural factors, which can determine a relative body composition and body fat equilibrium.
With the Settling Point, coupled to the Set point theory, the finger is pointed more towards the energy expenditure and lifestyle of the individual rather than his/her “genetical limitations”, and that can potentially help the individual by giving more responsibility to his/her actions.
At the moment there’s no clear answer of whether or not one model or the other is “better”, and personally I like to think that both should be taken in consideration, with both models not being mutually exclusive.
What we can take away from this section of the article is the fact that genetics can definitely play a role in our body composition and its likelihood to change, but at the same time, noticing how our food intake activity and lifestyle play in conjunction with it, can definitely be an answer to help us understand what we can do in order to change it.
However, since there’s nothing that we can do about genetics, focusing more on the practical stuff that we can have control over, therefore monitoring our energy expenditure and food intake more precisely, in order to “improve” our Settling Point, are definitely factors that need to be taken into account when wanting to maximize results.
But what happens when we want to eat more, as skinny guys?
Why you’re not gaining muscle—even when you eat a lot
The main issue for many skinny lifters is the fact that they struggle to eat more, yet, if they really want to gain weight, their food intake needs to exceed their daily activity through a sustained caloric surplus over time. So – in a way – it’s a necessary evil that they need to go through if they really want to make a change.
But then why, even though some skinny guys actually make an effort to eat more, they simply don’t seem to gain weight?
The answer is simple: it’s because they’re still not in a caloric surplus.
Or if they are (in the short term) they end up compensating with conscious or subconscious activity, or by simply reducing their food intake (skipping meals) due to a high levels of satiety reported, “feeling too full”. That, coupled with the inaccuracy of tracking daily food intake and daily activity, the fear of losing leanness and potentially gaining just fat when eating more, ends up offsetting the surplus, ultimately resulting in no weight gain and consequently no results.
What happens to your metabolism when your eat like mad
When we increase our food intake, our metabolism “changes”, or rather, it adapts to the food intake, by increasing energy expenditure and decreasing hunger signals, to different degrees based on our own genetics.
As we eat more food, the energy cost of converting food into available energy (Dietary Induced Thermogenesis) increases, but the same occurs for our daily energy expenditure.
In fact, the main responsible factor for this event, which isn’t allowing skinny guys to gain weight as fast as they’d like has a name: it is called NEAT, and it stands for “Non-Exercise activity thermogenesis”, which is the part of the metabolism that accounts for all the activities that do not involve training. Most people tend to underestimate their “NEAT”, but as research shows, this variable alone can account for a difference of ± 2000 calories of daily energy expenditure, so it makes a huge difference (Loeffelholz et al. 2018).
Anything that goes from having an active job (to the point where you end up skipping meals), going out, fidgeting, standing for a long time, walking, going out, gesticulating, talking, or simply moving around… these calories add up, and they can seriously make a change in one’s metabolism!
Therefore, if we don’t account for these changes in energy expenditure and due our due diligence in the kitchen, we’ll never be able to actually build more muscle.
But do you necessarily need a caloric surplus to gain muscle?
Another important reason why some skinny guys “may not like” eating more, is because they fear gaining fat, and potentially, to lose the leanness they identify themselves with, therefore there’s always the question on whether it’s necessary to gain some fat along the way, when the goal is really to gain muscle mass.
We could make an argument that as long as protein intake is kept high enough, a surplus wouldn’t be necessary at all cases (at least not for beginners) (Bray et al. 2012), however, increasing calories above maintenance would certainly maximize results, in terms of performance and muscle growth, provided the right training strategy (Rozenek et al. 2002, Slater et al. 2019).
In fact, a very recent meta analysis shows that with a slight caloric surplus kept within the range needed to maximize muscle building potential while minimizing fat gain (350-500 calories over maintenance with an emphasis on the lower end, for skinny guys), it is likely going to be the best approach to use when it comes to building muscle (Slater et al. 2019).
Therefore, if you can at least accept the fact that some fat is going to come along with some muscle mass, results are definitely going to come faster.
How much of the extra energy goes to towards muscle growth, and how much of it is it goes towards body fat?
Understanding The P-Ratio:
There’s a very interesting model that tries to explain how much energy is pushed towards muscle gains and how much of it is going to be stored as body fat: it is called “P-Ratio”, which is short for “partitioning ratio”, and it was first introduced in the late ‘70s, by the work of Dugdale & Payne (1977), further studied by Dr. Gilbert Forbes in the late ‘80s (Forbes et al. 2000), and later reviewed by Dr. Kevin Hall (Hall et al. 2007), but also others (Beals et al. 2019, Dulloo et al. 2018).
The P-ratio is pretty much a model, used to understand what portion of lean mass we gain (or lose) depending on our bodyweight change, and put more simply, it looks into how much muscle we gain or lose (when we eat at a calorie surplus or deficit, respectively), and it seems to be ultimately dictated by our genetics, although, various metabolic adaptations that occur when dieting can definitely have an impact on it.
In a recent article written by (Dr. Brandon Roberts (2019)), we can find a thorough analysis of the studies looking into P-Ratio specifically, where the author tries to give us an understanding of this concept, while summarizing how much of an impact P-Ratio actually has on our body composition, when we’re gaining (or losing) weight.
Based on the research available, for every pound or kg of change (in a calorie surplus): “around 55-65% of the stored energy goes towards fat mass, while around 35-45% will go towards lean mass.” With slight differences accounting for genetic individuality, of course.
This means that, for every pound we gain, a little bit less than half will be made of muscle, while the rest will likely be stored as body fat. It doesn’t sound as optimal as we’d like..
..But it’s important to note that the studies have some important limitations. In fact, the participants weren’t bodybuilders, and most importantly, they weren’t even resistance training (training is the strongest nutrient partitioner). So, based on this, changes are that an argument could be made towards increasing the % of nutrients that goes into muscle mass, provided the right training regime.
However given the data, which isn’t as accurate as we’d like, the model can certainly give us at least an idea on what to expect, when overfeeding our bodies with a calorie surplus.
Now, when I say that metabolic adaptations play a role in nutrient partitioning I mean that
– hypothetically speaking -, somebody who’s starting a gaining phase at a lower than “naturally comfortable” body fat percentage, will likely gain less lean body mass and more body fat in a caloric surplus, compared to a naturally lean individual.
That’s because as we’ve briefly seen above, our metabolism adapts to our energy intake by lowering our energy expenditure and down-regulating the activity of many hormones. This can predispose the “dieted down” individuals to require some body fat gain first, in order to get back to a healthier body fat range where hormones are working properly, and get in the right spot to gain muscle, first. But that’s different for skinny guys!
Can this be a positive note for skinny guys? (on the P-Ratio)
First of all, it’s important to mention that naturally lean individuals (skinny guys) are different from dieted down individuals, and that’s because of hormonal differences that we can see when comparing the two scenarios.
Somebody who’s been lean their entire life and who doesn’t have any issue staying at a low level of body fat, will likely be “in a better spot” than dieted down individuals, to gain more muscle than fat given the right caloric surplus.
The reason being is that their hormones are not down regulated at that given body fat percentage, so they’re able to gain muscle quickly provided the right surplus and training strategy. Therefore hypothetically, naturally lean individuals could have a better P-Ratio when compared to dieted-down-to-the-same-level of-body-fat individuals, because of the metabolic adaptations present in the latter, which need to be offset first. Given these circumstances, we can at least assume that at the same calorie surplus, the skinny guy is likely to partition more energy towards muscle gains, provided the right calorie intake and training strategy!
What should skinny guys eat to build muscle fast?
With that being said, and after having understood how genetics, but also environment can impact our metabolism, energy expenditure and energy intake, let’s set some parameters on how we should approach our nutrition in order to make improvements and gain muscle fast.
First things first, a caloric surplus is not necessary (especially if you’re a novice lifter). But based on the evidence, keeping a constant surplus of calories can certainly help maximize the rate of muscle gains (Slater et al. 2019). So if you want to get results fast, it’ll likely be the best option for you.
I cover that in detail in this talk I gave last year at an online event called Diet MBA. Dr. Muscle sponsored the event, and we’re happy to make my talk available for free here as part of our collaboration. To learn more strategies to build muscle and burn fat from 60+ experts, check out Diet MBA.
For your caloric surplus, we will have to estimate our daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and make sure we’re eating more calories than that (around 350-500 calories above the estimated maintenance). This means making a conscious effort to quantifying energy expenditure, and constantly making an effort to suffice your organism with more calories.
What should skinny guys eat?
Since gaining weight is the main problem we’re trying to overcome here, we need to maximize our ability to do so by countering the very “issues” that you may face daily as skinny guys: namely, getting full fast and/or not eating enough to cover our daily activity.
And the way we can do that generally goes “against” conventional advice. What I mean with this is that when it comes to fitness, common belief always suggests opting for “healthier food choices” so to speak, rich in micronutrients like fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meats, non-processed sources of carbohydrates, you name it.
And while these foods should certainly make up a good portion of your diet, you don’t always want to opt for the “leaner” food versions if that prevents you from eating enough food for the day!
Macronutrient composition of the diet
Assuming we’re eating enough protein, macronutrient composition doesn’t have to be too specific. Adherence to the diet will be a key component when wanting to set up a diet that works for the individual, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different compositions or meal options, especially if you enjoy them more.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the role of exercise and resistance training in particular must be considered, and given the fact that carbohydrates are going to be our body’s “preferred source of fuel” for high intensity activity (Tesch et al. 1986), it would make sense to have a “higher carb” diet.
With that said, let’s see how to set up your macros and what sources of foods you should look for, in order to make better choices when it comes to gaining weight faster!
Protein (4 calories per gram)
A special note needs to be made on protein intake as that is the main catalyst for promoting lean body mass growth, with and without a caloric surplus. Based on the extensive evidence available on the topic, a higher protein intake is associated with greater gains in lean body mass, agreeing on a recommended intake of 1.6g to 2.2g x kg (0.7-1g x lb of bw) (Antonio et al. 2014, Antonio et al. 2015, Antonio et al. 2016, Morton et al. 2018, Slater et al. 2019).
Now, while that is certainly the case, you also don’t want to eat too much of it, at least not more than “what you need”. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and that means that eating higher quantities can certainly reduce your hunger which could negatively affect your daily caloric intake.
Keep your protein intake high enough to maximize muscle building potential, but not so high that you’re feeling too full and can’t eat more fats and carbs!
For this reason, a good suggestion would be to keep it at the minimum recommended intake, to make room for more carbohydrates and fats:
What are the sources of protein you should look for?
- Turkey, Chicken, or any other meat, egg whites, whole eggs, low fat cottage cheese, low/zero fat greek yogurt, whey protein, or protein bars. Keep in mind that the “full/higher fat” or “higher carb” versions of the foods mentioned above can and should be included in your diet too, in order to provide additional calories within the same meal, which can help you reach your daily caloric intake much faster.
- If you’re vegan, then foods like seitan, tempeh, vegan whey protein, Tofu will be great sources of protein.
Carbohydrate sources (4 calories per gram)
Carbohydrates and fats (see below) will be your main sources of fuel. Based on a recent Meta Analysis (Slater et al. 2019), Carbohydrate intake should be kept at around 4-7g x kg of bodyweight (1.8-3g of carbs x lb).
Tip: Don’t hesitate to increase carbohydrate intake if/when needed!
Sources can be many, and none of them should be excluded a priori:
– Pasta, bread, rice, granola, regular cereal, pancakes, (any grains really), but also beans, skimmed milk, regular/sweet potatoes, bagels, quinoa, oats, legumes, fruits, ice cream and even pizza. These are all great sources of carbohydrates, which should make up a great portion of your diet, especially when trying to gain weight.
Fat sources (9 calories per gram)
Dietary Fat intake can be set anywhere from 20-35% of the total calories, based on the current evidence based guidelines (Liu et al. 2017).
The best part about fats is that they can help us gain weight easily, since they contain a lot of calories for a very small amount of volume, making the meals tastier!
Sources of dietary fats can include foods like avocados, nuts (any kind), fatty fishes like salmon, olive oil, cheese, butter and of course dark chocolate!
What about Vegetables?
It goes without saying that a diet should be always rich in micronutrients and phytonutrients (which are commonly found in a variety of fruits and vegetables), which should be consumed daily.
However, in the case of skinny guys keep in mind that these items shouldn’t make up the majority of our food choices for one main reason: vegetables contain a very low amount of calories per serving, and a good amount of fibers, this (just like protein does), can increase the feeling of satiety and negatively impact your ability to eat more food for the day!
So while you should certainly eat both fruits and vegetables for overall health and well-being, and include them daily in your diet, make sure these foods are not being your primary source of fuel!
“Meal timing”—when to eat your meals
When the goal is building muscle mass, there’s no denying the power of pre and post-workout meals can have a positive impact on performance and recovery. Certainly, what matters in the grand scheme of things is that we provide enough energy (calories) to maximize results, but creating a strategic meal plan can help us create the “best” environment for us in order to do so.
You can structure your daily meals the way you prefer, but keep these tips in mind:
– Research recommends at least a minimum of 3-rich protein meals per day (more can be just as good if not better) (Helms et al. 2014).
– Pre Workout Nutrition: 20-40g of protein + 20-40g carbs, around 1-2h pre-workout
– Post-Workout Nutrition: Can vary, but it can be useful to consume a larger meal following a demanding workout to promote recovery. For example, utilize post-workout hunger to consume big meals that may be tough to consume throughout the rest of the day when in a gaining phase.
Using nutritional supplements can help make the diet easier by providing very quick meal solutions for your “gaining diet”, especially when you have to meet higher caloric intakes (with mass gainers) and protein (with protein bars or protein powder). Generally speaking you don’t need any supplements to make progress, however, they can certainly make it easier for you to reach your nutritional goals faster.
The most popular supplements are Protein Powder and Creatine Monohydrate, but in this case, throwing in a Mass Gainer to facilitate your food consumption is not a bad idea.
As mentioned above when talking about “protein supplementation” specifically, whey protein is king. When the protein coming from your habitual food intake is not as high as you would like it to be, this is where it makes sense to buy supplements. Plus it’s convenient, affordable and very fast to make a meal with.
Unlike general Protein Powders “alone”, Mass Gainers can help skinny guys by providing additional calories through an increased amount of carbohydrate/fat per serving of powder.
For people who struggle to eat enough to gain weight, mass gainer supplements are an effective way to increase your calorie intake, so do not hesitate to use them if/when needed.
Creatine is one of the most researched, safe, affordable, and effective supplements out there, which has been proven to boost performance by rapidly producing energy during intense activity.
The benefits of this supplement can be many, from an improvement in strength and power output during resistance training, to an increase in muscle mass and even improvements in cognitive performance (Patel et al. 2021).
Best results are seen with an intake of 3-5g or Creatine Monohydrate per day. There are many forms of creatine but the Monohydrate is the most effective (and affordable) one.
It doesn’t really make a difference *when* you eat it, as long as you’re supplementing it continuously.
How to train to build muscle as a skinny guy
If you’re a skinny guy who wants to build a good amount of muscle, you need to do two things: lift progressively heavier weights and eat big. There’s no other way around it.
And now that we’ve covered nutrition, we need to take a look at the other side of the equation: resistance training.
It’s no secret that building muscle requires a lot of work—especially as a skinny guy. I’ll be the first to admit that. But the right training, combined with a good diet, can quickly transform your physique. Naturally skinny? Want to be strong and ripped? I’ve got you covered in this section.
The most efficient ways to build muscle fast
If your goal is to maximize muscle growth and to improve your body composition, you need to train with weights. In terms of training, that’s the strongest nutrient partitioner. Meaning that it will be the main driver of nutrients towards growing your muscles.
First things first: if you’re just starting out, your goal should be nailing the execution of the exercises first. Then, progressing and getting stronger within the proper range of reps and sets per week, given the right exercise selection per training session. Learn more in this blog’s Definitive Guide to Muscle Hypertrophy Workout for Beginners.
But hold your horses!
As a skinny guy, you need to avoid falling in the trap of doing too much too soon. This is a common mistake. But it can be especially damaging for you as a skinny guys, because you may not be able to handle as much training volume has other bulkier lifters.
In other words, your big brother and the linemen at your high school can probably get away with training too much too soon. You? The skinnier you are, the less likely.
Your “sweet spot” training volume as a skinny guy
In terms of volume, your best bet as a skinny guy is to find and train in your “sweet spot” volume. Your sweet spot minimizes how much fatigue you accumulate between sessions and maximizes your strength and muscle gains on a week to week basis.
How do you find your “sweet spot” volume?
For most lifters, it’s around 10-20 hard sets per muscle group per week. However you, as a skinny guy, should start a bit lower than that. The idea is to start with the least amount of work you can get away with and still get stronger from. Then only increase as you acclimate to doing more work.
For example, for legs, your starting volume could start at 9 hard sets a week like this:
- Monday: 3 sets of Squat
- Wednesday: 3 sets of Deadlift
- Friday: 3 sets of Squat
- Total weekly volume for legs: 9 sets
The next week, add 2-3 sets of Leg Press on Wednesday, and see how you feel. Still feeling fresh and getting stronger fast? Add one set of Squat on Monday and Friday the week after that. Tired? Keep your volume the same, or even go back to your base level.
Finding your sweet spot takes a bit of time. But don’t give up. Stick to it, and the payoff will be huge.
If you’re looking for more detailed instructions, you can find free step-by-step progressive overload training programs on this blog. You can also find a smart workout app that automate everything. It adjusts your training volume (and more) automatically.
3 training tips for building muscle fast as a skinny guy
1) Do the heavy work first
Training Intensity, intended as % of load on the bar, is definitely important when it comes to gaining muscle, and aiming for the goal of getting stronger over time is a great strategy, in the long run. The exercises that we perform earlier in the session will likely be the ones that will produce the most hypertrophic stimulus, and that’s because the working muscle fibers will not be heavily fatigued for previous work.
In practicality, this means that performing compound movements early in the session, with a relatively high intensity (75+% of 1RM), and giving priority to specific areas you want to improve, will be the best way for you to start the workouts.
2) Rest enough between sets
Depending on the weights that we’re using for our training sets, resting between sets can vary.
What matters at the end of the day is that we’re able to perform the desired amount of repetition in order to promote the adaptations that we’re looking for.
For the exercises you’re using heavy loads with aim for a rest between set that goes up even to 5 minutes (McKendry et al. 2016).
What matters is that you are able to complete the desired amount of reps to continuously promote the adaptation, so get enough rest to allow yourself to complete and “beat” your previous record (whether that is adding +1 lb on the bar, or one more repetition within the same training set).
3) Spread volume across the week, not within one single session
It’s often believed that heavy strength training causes more fatigue, however, it actually seems to occur more in high volume, endurance-type training. High Volume/Muscle damaging training styles will not be effective, because they will likely cause more fatigue as a result (Fernandes et al. 2019).
Therefore, spreading the total working volume of each muscle group across the week, rather than during a single session is going to be the best option to mitigate fatigue and be able to perform more effective (and efficient) work for growth.
The truth about gaining muscle as a skinny guy
While it may seem impossible to gain muscle as a skinny guy, the truth is that all it takes is dedication, hard work, the right training, and a good diet.
Yes, it’s particularly hard to do at first. When you’re just starting out, and it all seems so confusing. But like any worthwhile pursuit, commitment and dedication pay off: within a few months, you can have a body you’re proud to show off.
In the long run, you absolutely can transform your physique. Thousands of skinny guys have already done so—and you can be next.
Sure, as a skinny guy, it’s harder. So, you have to be smarter about it. Make a conscious effort to eat more. Train more efficiently (e.g. by focusing on getting stronger and finding your “sweet spot” training volume). Do it consistently.
It’s not easy. But your dedication will pay off.
And with the information I provided in this guide, I hope you have a better understanding of what to expect, and how to speed up your process.
If you’re looking for more help, the team behind this blog have a smart workout app you can look into. It creates a custom program for you (based on your body type, and more). It also tells you how much to lift every time you work out, so you can progress on autopilot. It’s a bit like a trainer in your phone. You can try it free or read the reviews.
You can do this!