If you are a naturally skinny guy, bulking up can feel like trying to sneeze with your eyes open: impossible.
But what if I tell you it doesn’t have to be that way? That you can equally pack on slabs of muscles too.
Take it from someone who knows; my fellow Ectomorphs, though I consider to call ourselves "hard gainers," you can still chalk up your physique.
Although I don't consider myself the "big guy," I overcame the skinny man complex syndrome, and want to help you do the same.
Hopefully, by the end of this read, you should be ready to take your first steps in the bony to beastly journey.
Mansa Brice's Steps to GET BIG
But before I highlight the steps for bulking up, it would be prudent that we demolish certain myths that are always holding the hard gainers back.
Hard Gainers Can’t Gain Muscle
Ectomorphs believe that they cannot gain weight because of genetics. They think they are naturally predisposed to skinniness and no matter how much food they consume or exercises they undertake they can never bulk up.
However, this is another myth that doesn’t hold water; there is no scientific evidence suggesting that you cannot bulk. It just that you’re not challenging your body and muscles into rounds of rebuilding.
No Matter How Much You Eat, a Hard Gainer Can’t Put on Weight
This is yet another classic myth.
In any case, you’ll find that the skinny guys consume far lesser kilojoules per day, nowhere near what they need to maintain their existing muscle mass, let alone add to it.
In most cases, you'll find the skinny guys over-estimating their consumption, and then incorrectly attributing their low weight to high metabolism.
One thing that is up not for debate is the fact that kilojoules matter a lot, but so does the sources of these kilojoules, which we shall discuss later.
You’ve to Eat Till You Burst
Gaining weight is not all about stuffing food in the body.
There is is no right way of going about this- your body should tell you how it best processes calories.
In some people, for instance, it’s having a one-time larger meal, and for others, it’s around-the-clock eating.
If time is right, you should rarely feel as if you are force-feeding yourself.
You Must Live in the Gym
While working out is surely going to boost your bulking efforts, overdoing it will physically and mentally drain you.
So, if your body gets sore, it’s signaling you to take a rest and recover. In most cases, you soon realize that the time spend recovering will enhance your overall results, allowing you to bounce back stronger than before.
Results Will Be Minor
I won't lie: bulking up is not an easy path, especially for the first few weeks. You'll get sore, and the results might even get unpredictable.
You might gain a few kilograms right away or lose a kilogram or two, due to the drastic change in your routine. However, this shouldn't deter your progress, and it shouldn't mean that it's not doable.
Once you're past the shock stage, you will experience steady growth.
Tips for Skinny Guys Trying to Gain Muscles
The three key ingredients to go from skinny to muscular are nutrition, training, and consistency.
Now, if you are to bulk up, nutrition should be a priority, and here, it’s more than just eating but rather having a comprehensive and balanced dietary plan.
Let’s look at more at nutrition.
Eat More Food
To gain muscles fast, you'll have to eat like it's your day job. Seriously, though, I mean to eat like crazy.
I bet you're probably saying- "But I eat all day and can't add a single pound." I was there too. You're not eating enough. While you might be eating a lot, it's not enough.
See, being an ectomorph puts you in somewhat an inconvenient position. The hard gainers usually have a super-fast cheetah-like metabolism, meaning that they process their foods way faster than they can get it into their mouths.
In most cases, the hard gainers usually respond to caloric adaptation quickly and have an increased heat production for their food intake (Thermogenesis of food).
As such, it means that you'll have to consume a lot more food than the regular people to continue improving both strength and size and achieve the same improvement.
Have a Healthy Diet
While eating food will help in bulking your muscles, eating the wrong food will cause even more harm.
Though you should increase your quantity, I always emphasize on working on your quality of food too.
A large portion of your meal should comprise of healthy foods such as proteins, good carbs, good fats, fruits & veggies, and water.
In any case, bulking up to junk food is similar to building a dog cabin with wood drenched in lighter fluid. While junk food will get you satiated, it will increase the level of glucose circulating in your body. Increase glucose in your system will induce metabolic stress, in effect causing inflammation. Consequently, inflammation can lead to a gamut of other health-related issues such as cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
What Foods Should I Focus on?
Eat More Proteins
Protein is bodybuilding foods. Proteins will help you build your proteins, while they will allow you to recover from your workouts and grow bigger.
Here, focus on the whole source of proteins with each of your meal consisting of lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, fish, etc.
Eat Caloric Dense Foods
Beyond proteins, pay special attention to the caloric dense foods.
Foods high in carbs and fats have more calories per serving, and they will supply your body with the energy (glycogen) to fuel your workouts.
With foods such as pasta, brown rice, nuts or dried fruits, it will take less eating to create a caloric surplus.
Don’t Forget Hydrating
Hydration is an essential block of proper nutrition.
Blended foods will digest more easily than solid foods.
You can, therefore, make weight gainer shakes by mixing oats, milk, peanut butter, banana and whey protein in your blender for fast weight gain.
How Many Calories Do I Need?
I would not recommend eating certain amounts of calories per day to achieve results.
While scaling your calorie intake is a great way of seeing the “big-picture” improvements, we always get emotionally attached to it and its psychologically disastrous. Plus, the effects of calories do not take account at loss and muscle gain.
For instance, you might experience an increase in your body fat, but still, find no increase in your muscles and vice versa. While you can check on your weight occasionally, do get too emotional about it.
What I recommend is you simply eat as much as you can.
But how will I know I’m eating enough?
You can track your gym sessions and body weight (though they can be misleading) and if you're not getting any stronger, .i.e. not progressing in workload and adding mass to your frame, then it means you’re not eating enough.
Training for Weight Gain in the Gym
Stop wasting your time with curls, flies, fancy machines and fancy abs exercises. They will not do any good and are not effective at the start of the training when you need to gain muscles all over your body, and not on the chest, abs and arms that are visible to the mirror.
Instead, focus your energies on compounds like the squats and deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses. These workouts will not only challenge all your body muscles, and trigger more strength and muscle gain for gaining weight, but they offer the most bang for your buck.
Always remember that you’re not trying to lose weight, and therefore, your exercises should focus on adding muscle mass, as opposed to burning calories.
However, you can still stimulate muscle growth with other exercises, provided they incorporate heavy weight and activate your muscle fibers.
But beyond the workouts, ensure that you push yourself to the sensible limit every time you visit the gym. Ensure you’re pushing your muscles and tell them they need to get bigger.
While at it, however, remember that excessive training will only force the skinny guy to eat more, and they already have trouble ingesting enough calories as it is. It's therefore vital that you find the middle ground that will stimulate your muscle growth, without necessarily burning colossal amounts of your calories.
Varying your workouts is also a crucial component of a great muscle gaining workout. Surprise your body by keeping the stinking “plateaus” away and keep your body making gains.
Hard Gainer Weight Training
To gain weight quickly, weight training should be a crucial building block of your workout.
Here is a simple schedule that you can incorporate for muscle gain. The key here is to perform all the body workouts three times a week while sticking to the "big basic" workouts:
- Squats: 1 to 3 set of 8 to 12 reps
- Bench press: 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps
- Bent over rows: 1 to 3 set of 8 to 12 reps
- Bicep curls: 1 to 3 set of 8 to 12 reps
- Calf raise: 1 to 3 set of 8 to 12 reps
The above workouts are simple and not revolutionary or trendy in any way. But hey, are you looking for something trendy or a workout that will get you bulk up in no time?
Growth Happens While You Rest and Not When You Workout
Like me had mentioned earlier, gaining muscles is not all about spending time in the gym or working out.
Remember by working out, you’re tearing your muscles, and giving them a micro-trauma when you’re training which gives them the ability to grow.
However, if you don't give your body enough nutrients and enough rest, you will not register any growth, and you'll be working against yourself.
Therefore, you'll need to give your muscles adequate rest in between the workouts to give them time to heal and grow.
In any case, overtraining will just slow down your gains.
Set Goals and Be Consistent
It will be easier to motivate yourself if you have exact goals like gaining 30lbs of muscles in a year or improving your bench presses from 100lbs to 300lbs a year.
Unlike having a vague goal like gaining muscles, specific, time-bound goals will allow you to feel motivated.
Again, I can’t overemphasize on this one; bulking up for the skinny guys is not an easy path. You will at times get discouraged and even think of giving up altogether.
But don’t do it. All the big guys you see in the gym have one thing in common; they wanted it and were willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. They never quit and you can’t either.