Note: If you want a step-by-step proven workout plan for packing on slabs of muscle, I highly recommend checking out Terry Asher’s Muscle Gaining Secrets book. It’s hands down the best system for skinny guys to put on muscle. You should also check out the best supplements for building muscle.
With that out of the way…I’ve been getting a bunch of emails lately with guys always asking me how can skinny guys build muscle.
Well, here’s a no B.S. program to get you on the right path. It really comes down to three things. Lift. Eat. Recover.
Lifting to build muscle
As usual here at GymJunkies, we’re going to focus on compound movements using barbells (Pull Ups and Dips being the exceptions to the rule). We’re going to combine the 5×5 strength building protocol with a mid-range weight and rep format to promote hypertrophy (that means getting those muscles big!).
We’re also going to use the superset (doing two different exercises in a row without rest in between) to keep the workouts short and get you out of the gym in 30 minutes or less.
Muscle building workout plans
You should stick with the same weight and try to finish all of the sets with that weight. So if you are bench pressing 150 lbs for 5 reps x 5 sets, you should use 150 lbs for all 5 sets. If you make it through that, the next time in the gym you should try 153 or 155 for 5×5.
You should always be trying to break your personal record from the last time in the gym. If you lift the same weight for 8 weeks straight, the muscle WILL NOT GROW. You gotta increase the weight if you want to increase the muscle size.
For Phase 2 you will train 4 days per week, training two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off. As an example, you may do
- Monday – Workout A
- Tuesday – Workout B
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – Workout C
- Friday – Workout D
- Saturday – Rest
- Sunday – Rest
Muscle Building Diet
Nutritionist John Berardi says “Gaining weight is like going to war, and your weapon of choice is a fork” I totally agree with him.
In the most basic sense, eat more than you’re eating now. A lot more. In a more specific sense, where I commonly recommend a carbohydrate restriction for weight loss, I recommend eating carbohydrates with each meal for muscle building. When trying to put on muscle you should be eating anywhere from 3000-5000 calories per day depending on your current weight. Building muscle is 80% diet and 20% lifting. Your diet is that important.
But that’s not license to go crazy with Krispy Kreme and crapolla. Oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pastas and breads, and potatoes should be included in every meal. But that’s not at the sacrifice of your protein source: you should be eating a good protein source with each meal. Ideally about 6 oz. per meal. Unless of course you’re of the vegetarian persuasion, then no problem. . . tofu will work, as will beans and rice.
And to keep your vitamin and mineral content on point, eat at least one serving of fruits or vegetables with each meal. Nuts are another fine addition as they are calorically dense and nutrient packed. You can also check out the best supplements for building muscle for even more gains.
Also, bring on the dairy! I’m typically not a big fan of dairy (is there another animal besides humans that drinks the milk of another animal?). But if you’ve been afflicted with Skinny-Man Syndrome your whole life, slurping down the cow juice will go a long way in adding the calories you need to pack on slabs of muscle.
Drinking 1/2 gallon – 1 gallon of whole milk per day is a good idea if you’re super skinny. It’ll add an additional 1200-2600 calories to your day. Super skinny guys can put on 10-15 lbs in a month by doing this.
Get Protein Right After Your Workout
An important thing to remember is you need to make sure you are eating breakfast every day and also getting a lot of protein in right after your workout. Most guys that are skinny, have problems getting enough protein, so 20 oz+ of chocolate milk right after a workout will help. You can also eat protein after your workout, but chocolate milk is just much easier to deal with.
Strive to eat 3 meals per day with 3 snacks, with about three hours between meals. A sample meal plan follows. When in doubt, just friggin’ eat!
Meal Plans for Gaining Weight and Building Muscle
6:00am 4 eggs scrambled. Serving of home fried potatoes with green pepper and onion. Cup of oatmeal with mixed berries.
9:00am 8 oz glass whole milk. Large handful of walnuts. Fruit cup of melon and pineapple.
12:00pm Stir-fried chicken and broccoli with a large serving of brown rice.
3:00pm Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and mustard. 1 apple with natural peanut butter.
6:00pm Grilled steak with tomatoes, peppers, and onions wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with cheddar cheese and black beans. Side salad of raw spinach.
9:00pm 8 oz. glass whole milk. 1 banana. Large handful of raw almonds.
The hardest thing about getting bigger is eating enough food. To make it easier, I suggest cooking your meals ahead of time so they’re always ready. You can cook on Sunday and have meals that will last until Thursday. Things like burgers, chicken, pork, eggs, mashed potatoes, chili, and veggies can all be prepared ahead of time.
Recap – What you should be eating
Protein – Eggs, chicken, pork, steak, burgers, tofu, almonds, walnuts, peanut butter, chili, beans
Carbohydrates – Potatoes (mashed or baked), whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, rice (w/beans)
Vegetables and Fruits – Bananas, oranges, apples, strawberries, green beans, lentils, broccoli, cauliflower
Dairy – Whole milk, plain yogurt with fresh berries
Proper recovery is crucial for muscle building
In today’s fast-paced world, recovery can often be the most difficult component to get in place. Do the following and your body will have the opportunity to process all of the lifting and eating into the muscles you desire.
- Sleep: Do your damnedest to get in 8 hours per day. A quick 20 minute nap in the afternoon is also great if you can squeeze it in.
- No more circuits: I love high intensity “Oh, shit I’m gonna puke” circuit training. But it will be counterproductive if you’re trying to pack on the muscle. You have to be stingy with your calories: save ’em for the heavy lifting and revisit the circuits when you’re ready to get lean.
- Take Off Days Off: Pay the neighborhood kid to cut the grass. Forget about off-day “cardio” nonsense. And unless your mortgage depends on it, avoid sport specific training if you can. Again, we’re being stingy with the calories and providing the body time and energy to recover from the intense lifting sessions.
- Relax!!!: Meditate. Read a book. Pet the dog. Or find a hobby that doesn’t involve jacking your heart rate. Whatever you do, make time for activities that help you de-stress.
I’m trying to get bigger but it’s not working
If you’re following the plan above and you’re not seeing results, there are a few reasons for it.
1. You’re not eating enough
This is plain and simple. If you’re following the plan above and you’re not gaining weight, then you’re not eating enough. Even if you think you’re eating a lot, you’re obviously not because you’re not gaining any weight!
My tips for making sure you always have food around to eat are as follows…
- Prepare meals in advance – You can prepare meals ahead of time for the next 3-4 days. You might think “this sucks I dont want to eat the same thing”….well TOUGH! What you’re doing right now obviously isn’t working, so it’s time to try something new. When trying to build muscle food should be seen as fuel, not a delicious meal.
- Keep your cupboards full – If you don’t have food to cook you’ll end up eating something that’s not going to help you build muscle. Keep food around at all times.
- Slurp the milk down – Seriously, if you’re not drinking 1/2 gallon – 1 gallon of whole milk per day, then get on it. Buy 2-3 gallons in advance, and drink them throughout the week.
2. You’re not pushing yourself hard enough when you workout
When you workout, you should be grunting out the last few reps of every set. That’s how intense each set should be. If you’re doing shoulder presses and you float through each set without a “tough rep” then you need to add more weight to the bar.
If you find it hard to push yourself like many people do, find a workout partner who is motivated like you that will help push you during a workout.
Your biggest muscle gains come in the last few reps you crank out when you think you can’t do anymore.
Want more info?
If you liked this article, and would like to build muscle ASAP, I HIGHLY suggest checking out Terry Asher’s Muscle Gaining Recipes. He lays out everything for you when it comes to meal plans and workouts and goes more indpeth than we can in an article like this.Bottom line…he knows his shit and he’ll get you building muscle right away.