muscle building guide

The Ultimate Muscle Building Guide for Skinny Guys

You feel like an invisible man.  You’re skinny, you’ve tried everything, and for some reason, you just can’t gain weight…
…Until now.


I’ve helped my fair share of skinny guys build muscle, so you’ve come to the right place.  Today is the last day that you’ll blame your crappy genetics.  Yes, they’ve been holding you back, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make some insane muscle gains.  All it comes down to is two distinct things: an intelligent workout program and force-feeding yourself high-quality foods.

Keep in mind that this article is for very skinny guys.  If you’re skin and bones, feel like a skeleton, consider yourself an ectomorph and a hard gainer, and people often mistake you for being anorexic, then this is what you need to do.

Force-Feed Yourself With High-Quality Foods

I only recommend this method for true ectomorphs.  Basically, if you’re tried everything and you’re still skinny, then you need to eat more.  I recommend 3 solid food meals and 2-3 super shakes.

Solid Food Meals

These meals are pretty simple.

Take a large plate and fill it up like so:

-1/4 of the plate should be a protein such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or wild game.

-1/4 of the plate should be starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, grains, etc.

-1/2 of the plate should be non-starchy vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, peppers, etc.

-In addition to this, you should have some kind of healthy fat like a handful of nuts or some olive oil.

These are big meals on their own, but on top of this, you’ll need to drink 2-3 supershakes per day.  Here is the recipe:

Blend the following ingredients in a blender:


-1 scoop of protein powder


-Some kind of fruit (I recommend a banana or berries)

-A healthy fat such as nuts or nut butter

-Ice cubes

These will make you full, but they will also help you build muscle.  Back in 2013, UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre would drink 2-3 supershakes per day in order to be able to get in enough calories to sustain his training program.  You need to drink them to sustain your muscle gain.

ultimate muscle building guide

Supershakes are a crucial tool in building muscle.

Here’s how a day of eating would look for you:

7 am: Solid Food Meal 1.

10 am: Supershake 1.

1 pm: Solid Food Meal 2.

4 pm: Supershake 2.

7 pm: Solid Food Meal 3.

10pm: Supershake 3 (optional)


Generally, for skinny guys, I don’t recommend tracking macros.  When you’re super skinny and you’re just starting to build muscle, you can overeat like crazy and still not get fat.  It’s like your muscles are a starving Hobo and they just suck up any food you give them.  Knowing this, the method above is solid, but for those of you who insist on tracking macros, here’s what I recommend:

Calories = Bodyweight (lbs) x 18-20

For example, if you are 140lbs, then you’ll need to eat at least 2520-2800 Calories per day.

Protein is much more simple.  Get a minimum of 1g/lb of bodyweight.  So if you’re 140lbs, you’ll need to get at least 140g of protein per day.

The rest of your calories will come from carbs and fat.  It’s your choice how much of each to eat, but make sure you get at least 30g of fat and 100g of carbs per day.

Intelligent Muscle Building Workouts

I’ve talked about this 1000 times before, so another can’t hurt.  A sustainable muscle building program needs to focus on the following:

-Train each muscle 2-3x per week.

-Train to failure occasionally (not always) using intensity techniques such as drop sets and rest pauses.

-Use big compound lifts 80% of the time, and isolate lagging or weak body parts 20% of the time

-Do the most important exercises first.

-Take longer rest periods (3 min for compound exercises and 2 min for isolation exercises).

-Use a full range of motion on every main lift and only use partials as an intensifier.

When you’re super skinny, you can’t beat three full-body workouts per week.  Get in the gym, work your ass off, and then get out.

Here’s a simple plan to do thrice per week:

1A: Squat – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 2 min.

1B: Pullups or Lat Pulldowns – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 2 min.

1C: Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 2 min.

2A: Deadlift – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 2 min.

2B: Dumbbell Military Press – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 2 min.

2C: Seated Cable Row – 3 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 2 min.

3A: Dumbbell Lateral Raise – 2 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 1.5 min.

3B: Calf Raises – 2 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 1.5 min.

4A: Dumbbell Curls – 2 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 1 min.

4B: Cable Triceps Extensions – 2 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 1 min.

4C: Chest Supported Reverse Flyes – 2 sets of 8-12 reps.  Rest 1 min.

ultimate muscle building guide

If they worked for Arnold…

Perform a drop set on the last set of 2-3 exercises per day.  I recommend doing it on compound exercises for lagging body parts.

For example, if you’re doing a drop set for the Dumbbell Bench Press, you’ll perform your last set of 8-12 reps, immediately lower the weight by 15%, then do as many reps as possible, immediately lower the weight by 15% again, and then do as many reps as possible.  This is a drop set.

Is this a lot of work?  Yes, the workout above will probably take 1.5 hours to complete, but you’re only doing it 3 times per week.

After a few months of the routine above, you can easily gain 10-20lbs of muscle.  After that, you can move on to using a Daily Undulating Periodization rep scheme in order to prevent yourself from plateauing.

In order to do this, you will stop using 3 sets of 8-12 reps in favor for the following:

Day 1: 5 sets of 5 reps.

Day 2: 4 sets of 10 reps.

Day 3: 3 sets of 15 reps.

This way, you will be building both your Fast and Slow twitch muscle fibers, as well as strength, hypertrophy (muscle size), and endurance.  The strength allows you to lift heavier weights when you are training for hypertrophy, and the endurance allows you to lift those heavy weights for more reps during hypertrophy.  If you can lift heavier weight for more reps, you’ll build bigger muscles.


Every workout, your goal is to get stronger. This is how you progress. Exercises should never feel easy. If it feels easy, you’re not gaining. Each workout, you need to do one of the following on every exercise:

-Use 5lbs more than last time, or

-Do 1 more rep than last time, or

-Do the same weight for the same number of reps as last time

Your goal each and every workout is to beat or tie last workout’s results. So if last time, you bench pressed 100lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps (30 total reps), then this time, you need to do one of the following:

-105lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps

-100lbs for 3 sets of 11 reps

-100lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps (if this feels easy, then next time you need to either add 5lbs or add 1 rep).


If you can follow the program above to a “T” for 8-12 weeks, you’ll get some incredible results and probably gain 10-20lbs of muscle.  With that being said, if you want to be optimal, then you’ll want to consider using supplements.

First of all, I’m here to tell you that you should not fear supplements.  Due to all the hype in the media, supplements have a bad reputation, but there are plenty of supplements out there that are proven to build muscle.  Here’s what I recommend:

Creatine Monohydrate

One of my clients told me that he started taking Creatine in the 80’s.  He hid his expensive bottle of the white powder under his bed.  One day, his mother was cleaning his room and found it.  She told his Dad, and he exploded.

“What is this?! Drugs!” he yelled at my client as he dumped the powder across the room and threw the empty container against the wall.

My client cringed as his hard-earned money was wasted on his dad yelling at him and redecorating his room with the powder so it looked more “festive”.

Here’s the catch: Creatine is natural, it’s safe, and it’s one of the most researched supplements on the market.  On top of this, it works.

It’s proven to increase muscular power output as well as anaerobic endurance.  These performance increases allow you to overload the muscle more, inevitably building a bigger and stronger muscle.

Take 5g per day.

ultimate muscle building guide

Creatine is HEALTHY, and supports your muscle building goals.

Whey Protein Isolate

I hate to mention Whey Protein Isolate as a supplement because it kind of isn’t. It’s food. Treat it as food.

Proteins are the building blocks of muscle.  This means, in order to build muscle, you’ll need to get enough protein.

If you’re having trouble hitting your protein targets for the day, then take Whey Protein Isolate.


Again, here is another food in supplement form.  Carbohydrates (specifically quick digesting sugars) provide you with energy during your lifting sessions, providing you with a performance enhancement that’ll allow you to do more reps.  If you haven’t guessed, being able to lift more reps is crucial for building muscle.

I recommend a very quick digesting carbohydrate like highly branched cyclic dextrin.  Sip on 50-75g mixed with water during your lifting session.  In fact, you can mix it with creatine and start drinking it 10min before your workout.


Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is converted into carnosine in your body.  Essentially, carnosine helps get rid of the pain caused by the lactate buildup in your muscles.  When you’re lifting weights, your muscles start to burn, and eventually, you can’t push through the burn anymore and you quit.  Since carnosine helps rid you of this pain, it allows you to keep pushing through and experience the muscle burn later in the set.  This allows you to do more reps.  Again, more reps mean more muscle.

Take 5g pre-workout or 2.5g pre-workout and sip on 2.5g during your workout.  As a warning, I recommend starting off with a low dose and working your way up as it’ll give you pins and needles under your skin, and it may cause diarrhea.


Caffeine is super powerful when it comes to building muscle.  It helps increase adrenaline and dopamine in the body, which translates into greater power output.  More power means you’ll be able to put more tension on the muscle, thus building more muscle.  Take 400-600mg thirty minutes before your workout.

How Much Muscle Can I Expect to Gain?

Obviously, this depends greatly on how tall you are, and how small you are starting, but as a general rule, you can expect to gain 20-30lbs your first year of training (although I’ve seen many skinny guys gain more), 10-15lbs your second year of training, and 5-7lbs of muscle your third year training.

With that being said, I recommend using the plan above until you’ve reached a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 24-26. BMI is a measure based on your height and weight and can be calculated online.  All you need is your height, weight, and age.  For example, super skinny guys usually have a BMI of under 20.  Once you reach a BMI of 24-26, you will have a lean and muscular body.  Generally, this will happen after gaining your first 20-30lbs.  Once this happens, then you’re no longer considered super skinny and this guide won’t work anymore for you.  In fact, you might start to gain fat and lose your leanness.  Once this happens, you’ll need to use a different approach.  The good news is that the hard part is over and you won’t be called “skinny” ever again.

Where to Go From Here

When you’re a super skinny guy, it’s easier than you think to build muscle.  All you have to do is train consistently 3 times per week, and eat a lot of high-quality food.  You can do it!  You just need to be consistent.  Will it be boring?  Sometimes?  Does it work?  Yes, definitely.  The process is totally worth it too. Imagine the feeling of knowing that you’re not a skinny guy anymore.  It’s gratifying.

If you want some help, I recommend applying for personalized 1-on-1 online coaching with myself.  I’ve helped over 38,000 guys build muscle, and I know I could definitely help you as well.

Fill out an application here to see if you’re a good fit for the program:

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