How to Build Muscle for Skinny Guys: My 62lbs Weight Gain Transformation

What you’re about to observe might make all your presumptions go out the window. I see way too many skinny guys desperately ‘fighting’ for a few ounces of muscle, misled by supplement companies and commercial magazines. Stop wasting your god damn money and time – and start leading yourself based on legit science. It’s time for this guide to be written.

How to Build Muscle for Skinny Guys

“So, where do you wish to be assigned?” asked me the recruitment military officer. “I wanna be a pilot!”, I replied without hesitating. My uncle always told me that Israeli females see the penis of Israeli pilots as a highly-valued diamond they crave for. Who wouldn’t want to be a pilot now?

“You can not. I am sorry.”, Mr. officer replied to me. “Pilot or nothing.” I told him, trying to sound firmly unbending. “You don’t understand, you technically can’t. You have a tiny special clause in your military profile, disqualifying you from any elite unit due to your extremely low weight for your height”. Daaamn.

What happened in the following years was nothing short of life changing for me. I even attribute much of the success of my online journey to the transformation you’re about to observe. As a teenager, I was pretty sure I was doomed for a life of involuntary scrawniness. “It’s just my body type. I eat all day and can’t gain a single pound!”

I spent the following years learning from the valuable experience of field experts, devouring books and scientific researches while applying the newly acquired knowledge on my naturally fragile body. Thinkin’ you’re genetically doomed? Think twice.

Defining Genetic Doom

Skinny me! Gaining muscle and weight seemed impossible at the time

18 years old me — 121lbs (55kg) — 5’11” (1.81m) Skinniest guy in school.

Building Muscle for Skinny Guys: Moments of Biological Enlightenment

I started taking my body seriously only after a year or so in the military, and I had to ‘waste’ (I don’t like this word, I learned a lot) months of gym time with very minimal gains of weight and muscle. I managed to increase a few pounds, but nothing really worth mentioning. As time passed, I realized something is not working properly. “What the..?” I have followed my gym-trainer’s workout plan for so long, ate properly (so I thought), but nothing noticeable happens! Grinding water at its finest.

I’m an hyper-focused rat when I find something interesting, so the next natural move was exploring the whole thing. I became pretty fascinated by the world of heavy rusty iron and human physiology. Large amounts of scientific readings were consumed and a few forums got themselves a new curious member, starving to expand his knowledge to a new dimension. Not too long after, I realized a few things:

  • Being an extreme ectomorph isa nightmare for someone wishing to build muscles. Fragile, lean, small shouldered, lightly muscled and a hard gainer by its definition. Ectomorphs have the metabolism rate of a jet plane on ephedrine, and it takes FAR more food intake and commitment for an ectomorph to achieve the muscular frame of other body types. You probably have some strong ectomorphic traits if you found yourself identifying with me so far.

To get visual – a classic ectomorph is someone like me. A mesomorph is someone like Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone, and an endomorph is someone like Jack Black or Danny DeVito. Most people are an hybrid of these different types, but some people (like me, and possibly you) are born short of “luck”, purely ectomorphic. Those people were probably the first to become extinct in times of drought in human history.

  • Nutrition > Any Workout Program. I don’t mean to devalue the importance of a good workout plan, but even the best one won’t work without a proper food intake. Ectomorphs have to consume a lot more calories than other body types in order to see some change. If you’re a hardgainer, you will have to eat like a starving pig. Weight gain will follow.
  • Heavy and Basic. My gym trainer, like most of the trainers, sucked. He basically gave me a recipe for grinding water. Too many reps of too many sets of too many unnecessary exercises, without ever mentioning the true importance of the basic, heavy, multiple-joints exercises (Squat and Deadlift, for instance) and proper nutrition.

***

There is one book I owe a tremendous portion of my growth to – “Starting Strength“. Mark Rippetoe is an old school hardcore strength trainer who wrote this amazing masterpiece along with professor Lon Kilgore. Rip is a big authority in the field, and believe me – this guy knows what he’s talking about. For many people, this book became the ‘bible’ of weight training since it’s been published, and for a good reason. Do yourself a huge favor and read it.

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore

***

How to Gain Weight for Skinny Guys: Words Into Actions

Here comes the practical part. I’ll try to present it all in the easiest possible manner to understand –  I believe explosive biological terms will only confuse the average reader and cause analysis-paralysis. Don’t sweat over the small details, it’s the big picture that matters.

Sure, understanding the mechanics of a car might help a little bit – but it’s definitely not crucial to becoming a good driver. I want you to become that good driver. The only thing that’s required from you is a huge amount of motivation and self commitment. Believe me, you WILL grow like a monster.

Skinny guys CAN gain muscle, I swear.

Part One: Nutrition

What to Eat to Gain Weight and Build Muscle?

Everyone that I know that competes at a high level in powerlifting does not follow any kind of strict diet. They don’t eat crap all the time, but it’s not like they are losing sleep over it. When I was competitive I ate pretty much whatever I wanted and just tried to get enough protein. I called it the “’Nuff Protein Diet.” (Jim Wendler)

I highly encourage you to avoid eating crap, but I would like to put the next chapter’s emphasis on calories (non)counting and protein intake. Nutrition is the most crucial aspect of a healthy life in general and the lifting world in particular. If you want to gain muscle, it really comes down to two main things –

  • Eat enough (Protein, fats, carbs and other micronutrients)
  • Progressively overload (Constantly be increasing your workload)

If you’re going to build muscle naturally, you absolutely MUST be in a positive caloric intake balance. Now, there is a lot more to the equation – hormonal changes, nutrient absorption, thermogenesis (thermic effects of food) and more. I don’t want you to count calories. It’s a huge mental inconvenience.

Many people also calculate their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and adjust calories accordingly. BMR is the amount of calories your body theoretically burns without the extras (working out, walking, talking, laughing, whatever). I used to do that but now I believe it’s really just a waste of time.

Now, for building muscle as fast as possible, you will have to eat like its your day job. Seriously, being an ectomorph puts you in a somewhat inconvenient position. You must consume a LOT more calories than normal people in order to achieve the same improvement.

You’re probably saying right now – “But I’m eating all day and I can’t add a single pound!”. I was there too. You’re not eating enough. You might be eating a lot, but you’re still not eating enough… for your genetics. No worries though, redemption is near.

Building muscle for skinny guys is a bit more tricky. Being an ectomorph, your body has a super-fast cheetah-like metabolism, a quickly responding caloric adaptation mechanism and an increased heat production from food intake (Thermogenesis of food). It basically just means that you’ll have to consume a lot more food than regular people in order to continue improving both strength and size.

But gaining weight for skinny guys is still possible, and not even too hard once you understand the concepts. You just have to drizzle yourself with the right dose of determination and persistence. The rest is details.

OK! HOW MUCH? HOW MANY CALORIES PER DAY?

As I said, I really don’t want you to count neither your BMR nor calories. Simply eat as much as you can. How will you know if you’re eating enough? Track your gym sessions and body weight (can be misleading though*). If you’re not getting stronger (progressing in workload) on a proper program and adding mass to your frame, you’re not eating enough. Eat enormously.

You might as well not be consuming enough protein to maintain your muscular recovery, so track calories and protein intake for one week if you’re plateauing and stalling in the program. You’re probably consuming a lot less (either calories, protein, or both) than what you assume. Eat more.

How much did I consume along the road to 62 additional pounds of weight? I have no idea but I believe I started with around 3k a day (that’s a lot for a fifty something kg person) and increased over time to a lot more.

EAT, EAT AND THEN EAT SOME MORE!

If you still can’t seem to gain weight, consider using homemade meal replacement shakes as additional meals to your diet in the form of liquid. Many people swear by the GOMAD (Gallon of Milk a Day) approach. It certainly works, but I don’t feel comfortable enough recommending it from a health-perspective. If you go for it, make sure you choose pasture-raised full-fat organic milk.

I also find buffet restaurants a great bang for your buck, especially post-workout (when you’re hungry like a lion) and especially if you’re bodybuilding while traveling on a budget. If you’re eating a ton and still can’t gain weight with the GOMAD approach, you probably have some medical condition that should be examined by your medical doctor.

IS IT TRUE THAT OUR BODY CAN ONLY ABSORB 30G OF PROTEIN A MEAL?

Nonsense. That’s another myth that keeps running relentlessly in what seems to be every gym around the world. It is the overall amount of protein per day that matters. You can safely consume more than 30g of protein per meal.

How much protein per day? You’ll find different recommendations among every lifter, trainer or magazine – most commonly ranging from 1.7 to 2.5 grams per body-weight in kilogram. Others swear by calculating it per lean body-weight only and some people go as far as separating animal protein from plant based protein.

I think this is all crazy. I added about 62lbs of mostly muscle without really calculating the amount of protein. Simply eat a ton, and consume a portion of protein-rich food every meal to make sure that you’re consuming enough.

Again, if you’re stalling in your program and can’t progress, track calories and protein intake for one week. Make sure your calories consumption is in the few-thousands and that you’re protein intake is somewhere around the above numbers. Make sure you drink a lot of water.

A Word About The Misleading Scale

Scale can be a great tool for seeing ‘big-picture’ improvements, but do not get emotionally-attached to it – it’s psychologically disastrous. It has huge fluctuations during the day – water volume, hormonal changes, food that’s still ‘in’, etc. It also does not take into account fat loss and muscle gain. It is just a big broad number.

For example, you might be increasing one kilogram of fat and a only little bit of muscle, and still find yourself rejoicing when you see the scale goes up, and vice versa. So, do check the weight once in a while (I check once every week, upon wake up, before breakfast, after vising the toilet), but do not get too emotional about it. Tracking body fat percentage is essential for making the scale useful.

Keeping It Safe: Do Not Neglect Plant Foods

I felt an urge to mention that. It seems like many amateur, semi-professional bodybuilders and lifters tend to neglect whole plant foods consumption. Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts – all those should be the staple of your diet. Eat loads of them. They will help your body in every possible way, from reducing chance of getting cancer to helping your body absorb nutrients more efficiently.

IMPORTANT: Hormonal, Caloric and Protein Adaptation

Our body is an amazing masterpiece of evolutionary art, it adapts to almost anything. In order to continue advancing and gaining muscle mass, you’ll have to trick your body’s natural regulation mechanisms. You’ll do that by cutting the amount of calories and protein approximately by half or even more once per week. Ectomorphs tend to have a more ‘adaptive’ system and this will ‘shock’ your body and prevent hormonal, caloric and protein adaptational regulations.

This is something I did not take into account until the very last phase of my change. I literally plateaued on a HUGE diet and only started gaining muscle again, ironically, once I started cutting my calories by half once a week. I believe that I would have achieved the same gains much faster if I applied that principle from day one. Paradoxically, this will speed up your results by ensuring that your body is not adjusted to your caloric and protein intake.

So now you know how to gain weight fast for skinny guys with fast metabolism – but also know, for future goals, that if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to do the exact opposite: eating like a pig once a week. Eating more and actually losing more weight?! welcome to the land of milk and honey and grass-fed steaks.

Junk and Processed Foods at Your Own Risk

How to gain mass for skinny guys? EAT,LIFT,REST,REPEAT.

How to gain mass for skinny guys? IT’S WORKING!

This isn’t your average bodybuilding site and your health is a top priority here. I can’t feel comfortable enough to send you eating loads of junk food just to get bigger. It certainly is possible, and many people do that because its easier, but rest assured that it takes its toll on the body. You’re already shoving enough calories to stress your body, at least mind where they’re coming from.

I’d say avoid harmful processed foods as much as you can. If you can, make sure your meat and other animal products are organic, cage-free, hormones-free, and grass fed. Avoid grains, sugars, candies, snacks etc as much as you can. Base your diet on organic whole foods.

“One cheat meal/day once a week! please!” – At your own risk. You’re the one to decide if the psychological benefits outweigh the damage. It is not very healthy to shove in thousands of calories every day, but I don’t want to make this post any longer and heavy than it already is, so I would leave the evolutionary biological and biochemical basis to this for a different post. However, this is unavoidable if you’re into building muscles, so you do your priorities.

IN PRACTICE:

Eat 3 or 4 meals a day and make sure each of them consists of a good piece of protein (meats, eggs, dairy if your digestion system can handle it), loads of fresh vegetables of all colours (spinach and other green leafs are packed with goods), a good fat like avocados or nuts, and some safe starches like sweet potato, quinoa or even white rice (the safest carbs). Get some fruits as a desert and you’ll be fueled like a tank.

Example meal: steak/chicken breast/beef liver/eggs + quino/mashed sweet potato + salad + a bunch of your favorite nuts and fruits for dessert.

3 or 4 big meals like those and you should be fine. If that’s not enough and you’re stuck – make the meals larger or add another one. If that doesn’t work – try introducing some extra liquid sources (shakes or GOMAD). Remember to cut out all food intake by half once a week.

Part Two: Lifting Heavy

INTENSE FULL-BODY WORKOUTS AND COMPOUND MULTI-JOINT EXERCISES

There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat. (Mark Rippetoe)

If you’re not chemically enhanced, an intense full body workout routine based on compound exercises is really your best bet for strength and muscle growth, especially as a beginner.

This type of programs usually provides you with 2 or 3 days per week of very short and highly intense workouts, incorporating only a few sets of two or three super-heavy exercises. You get a workout every 48 to 72 hours, perfect from a protein synthesis perspective.

THAT’S IT?!

These intense programs let you spend your time wisely. By doing only a few compound heavy exercises every few days, you incorporate all of your muscles in highly complex and growth-eliciting movements, resulting in a huge spree of anabolic (muscle building) hormones and systematical growth.

The heavier the movement, the more anabolic the response and the the bigger your body gets as a whole. Mark Rippetoe talks about it a lot in his book I have mentioned earlier, Starting Strength. The human body is a highly complex system that works as a whole mechanism, and the every routine should be based on heavy and basic core movements.

YOU DON’T NEED ANY ISOLATED EXERCISE

Isolated exercises are movements that incorporate only one single joint. Biceps and triceps curls are great examples, incorporating only the elbow joint. Compound exercises are movements that incorporate more than one joint per exercise – bench press, deadlift and squat being the classic examples.

Naturally, with compound exercises you’re able to load a lot more weight, generating a far juicier anabolic hormonal response and systematical growth. Those hormones – most noticeably testosterone, growth hormone and IGF-1 – stimulate a big body-wide growth, from bone density to muscular size.

The whole is much bigger than the sum of it’s part. Chin ups, which incorporates both the shoulder and elbow joints, would trigger a better growth than separately doing biceps curls and another isolated upper back exercise. The heavier the movement, the stronger its anabolic response and the bigger you get, provided enough food.

Isolated Movements are Beneficial For:

  • Professional bodybuilders who care for delicate contest proportions.
  • ‘Fixing’ a genetic disproportionate defect.
  • Avoiding incorporating an injured muscle.

When you’re just starting, you don’t need nothing more than the basic compound exercises. And yes, no biceps curls. And no, your biceps WILL grow. Take a look at my hand and compare it to the initial picture at the top of this article. That’s me in the army, next to a friend of mine a few months later.. without ever doing any curl. My arms are not huge in any way, but they did grow substantially without any isolated movement.

Building Muscle for Skinny Guys - Biceps Comparison

When starting, your biceps is not your weakest spot – your whole body is a weak spot!

Trainee’s Training Stages and Periodization

That’s a vital point to understand. Basically, there are gonna be three main stages in your training repertoire.

  • Novice – The magic stage. Anything you do will probably work (some things just work better). Characterized primarily by the ability to increase training workload every single workout. For the first few months of your training, that’s your stage. Embrace it, it feels magical.
  • Intermediate - Ability to increase the training workload on a weekly basis. For most of the people (who train correctly), this stage usually comes after a few months and comes to an end after around another two years of proper workouts. Requires some sort of a weekly periodization, more on this later.
  • Advanced - Ability to increase the training workload on a monthly basis. You’ll eventually reach this stage after a few years of training properly. Why am I saying properly? Because most people just ‘go to the gym’ and stay on an intermediate or even novice stage even after many years of training, without ever realizing their growth potential.

After some time with a novice program that increases workload (intensity or volume) each workout, your central nervous system will not be able to recover in the window between workouts, and some kind of periodization will have to be applied. There are a few different types of periodization, and that’s a whole different post to write. Luckily for you, there are some awesome proven programs that come with this periodization already built-in.

I used Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength novice program when I just begun and was very happy with the gains. I later swtiched to Bill Star‘s 5×5 full body workout routine when the novice program stopped working and I couldn’t advance in workload between workouts. Welcome to the intermediate stage.

(Mark Rippetoe actually recommends this program as a follow-up to his novice program)

The Fun Part Begins

In Rippetoe’s program (outlined originally in Starting Strength), you basically increase the weight on the bar from each workout to the next, gaining massive amounts of strength and mass if you’re eating enough. This program really does wonders in squeezing out the maximum juice out of your system.

I experimented both with ‘Kethnaabs’ modified version and with the next program, recommended by Rippetoe himself as an alternative to his ‘Original Starting Strength Novice Program‘. The original program includes the explosive and highly complex ‘power clean’ move – which is more suitable for aspiring powerlifters than the average joie. I trained at home, and didn’t have the equipment necessary for doing these power cleans, so I sticked with the following program:

Mark Rippetoe’s Practical Programming Novice Program

Monday
3×5 Squat
3×5 Bench Press / Military Press (Alternating)
Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure (add weight if completing more than 15 reps)

Wednesday
3×5 Squat
3×5 Military Press / Bench Press (Alternating)
1×5 Deadlift

Friday
3×5 Squat
3×5 Bench Press / Military Press (Alternating)
Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure (add weight if completing more than 15 reps)

Mark Rippetoe’s Original Starting Strength Novice Version

If you have the curiosity, the will, and the equipment for power cleans, you might be interested in the ‘Original Starting Strength Novice Program’ which simply alternates between the following workouts on three non-consecutive days.

Workout A
3×5 Squat
3×5 Bench Press
1×5 Deadlift

Workout B
3×5 Squat
3×5 Press
5×3 Power Cleans

(3×5 means 3 sets of 5 reps, 5×3 means 5 sets of 3 reps)

YOU CAN’T TOUCH THIS

Don’t touch those programs. Don’t add a darn thing. Visit Starting Strength FAQ for related questions and valuable content. That webpage might be a little over-saturated with information so if you find yourself confused by the noise and paralyzed by the information overload, simply skip everything besides the next ones. Understanding them are enough for you to make massive gains. I did the heavy lifting (heh) for ya.

What’s The First Workout Like? How Do I Determine My Starting Weights?

We’ll be determining our starting weights on the first two workouts. It is highly beneficial for you to you learn the proper techniques to the exercises, especially if you are doing them without an experienced trainer. Care must be taken when determining starting weights and you better off starting with too-low than too-high numbers.

First, begin with an empty olympic barbell (45lbs) and squat down for a set of five reps. If you completed that easily with a good form – add another 10lbs and go for another set of 5. If speed is not slowed and form is still intact, add another 10lbs and go for another 5. Do that until speed or form is crippled, whichever comes first. Then rest and perform two more sets of 5 with this weight.

Congratulations, you have just completed your first 3 squat sets of 5 reps. Repeat this process with the bench press. If you choose to go for the original program, it’s now time for the deadlift. Stop your workout once you find out the starting weight since you’ve already completed one set as the program outlines. After the set is complete, go home and take the next day for rest and recovery.

How’s The Second Workout Like?

Progressive overload starts from this workout. After your general warmup and warmup sets, add 10lbs to the weight already established on the first workout. For example, if you squatted for 90lbs two days ago, you’re now going for 100lbs. Go ahead then and determine the weight for the military-press as well. If you choose to go for the ‘Practical-Programing’ version of the program, then it is time for deadlift. Stop once you find out the starting weight since all you have to do is one set.

How Much Rest Between Exercises and Sets?

Do not overthink this too much. Between warmup sets, it will usually be as much time as it takes to change the plates on the bar. Once you get to the working sets of the program, rest as much as needed but not more. I believe I used to rest at around 3 minutes between sets when I just started and increased to around 6 minutes as the weight got very big relative to my size.

Warlord Rippetoe recommends something like that (2-3mins at first, moving up to 5 and 7 minutes as weight gets heavier) but do not get too emotional about it. Just listen to your body and give yourself resting times around those numbers.

How Much Weight Should I Add Each Workout?

For young males that weigh between 150-200 lbs., deadlifts can move up 15-20 lbs. per workout, squats 10-15 lbs., with continued steady progress for 3-4 weeks before slowing down to half that rate. Bench presses, presses, and cleans can move up 5-10 lbs. per workout, with progress on these exercises slowing down to 2.5-5 lbs. per workout after only 2-3 weeks. Young women make progress on the squat and the deadlift at about the same rate, adjusted for bodyweight, but much slower on the press, the bench press, cleans, and assistance exercises. (Mark Rippetoe, Practical Programming, Pg. 122)

If you manage to complete all sets of 5 with proper technique, do as described above by Mark. If you you get all sets with proper technique but with a much slower speed, proceed cautiously – you might want to add less weight than planned (10-15lbs on deadlift instead of 20lbs, for example). Adding too much can hold you back for weeks, adding too little has no real consequences.

If you get the first sets with proper technique and only score 4 reps on the last one – determine if that is a recovery issue (not eating/sleeping enough) or form issue. If the form is easily correctable, proceed as planned. If that’s a recovery issue and the bar just felt too heavy, then add just a small increment or keep the weight the same the next workout. Eat a TON!

If you can’t complete the first set or you’re missing a few reps on the other sets, you are probably using too much weight, especially if you only recently started with this program. If you have been making progress but have stalled for three workouts in a row – see the next section.

Stalling – Why and How

You will eventually stall, this is unavoidable. Progress can’t continue smoothly forever. Stalling can occur due to insufficient dietary intake and/or rest. It might also be the result of adding too much weight to the bar or messing up with the program and adding other exercises (you’ve been warned), or simply because you are more and more close to your genetic potential and need to move to an intermediate program with a weekly periodization.

If you suspect stalling is due to a recovery issue, make sure you get enough sleep and nutrition (reminder: EAT A TON).  If you suspect you added too much weight on the bar, drop 5 or 10lbs – depending on the exercise. If you have added additional exercises, drop them altogether and stick to the basic three. If you have done everything properly and still stall – congratulations, you are on your way to the intermediate stage.

If you’re sure that you’ve eaten/rest enough and used perfect form – reverse a few weeks back and use the previous weight and build it all over again with smaller incremental increases this time. Your body will have time to ‘actively recover’ and you will probably be able to do it a few times before finally moving to an intermediate program. Hooray!

Make sure you properly learn the lifts technique before starting out. This is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL.

More information on stalling, resetting and progressing on the end of Starting Strength Wiki FAQ. There is a lot more information there than I can possibly put into this post. Make sure you read it if you really want to know the “why and how” of this powerful program.

Where Next?

After stalling for a while and reaching your novice potential (usually after a few months), I suggest moving to the next intermediate full body workout program. I made the vast majority of my strength and size gains with it and even Mark Rippetoe himself recommends this one as a follow up to his novice programs.

Enter the Bill Starr’s 5×5 program.

In this program your week is split into 3 days, just like your novice program. But the difference now is that your first day acts as a “heavy day” while the middle day is an active-recovery “light day” that keeps your motor pathways ‘in shape’ but still allows your body to recover, while the last day of the week is a ‘medium’ day where you increase the weight just a little to set up a new record to begin the next week with, in the next “heavy” day.

The idea behind this concept is that recovery capabilities limitations are much faster to reach than potential strength capabilities, and at one point you need to periodize your program intelligently so that you can continue advancing. Your ability to recover is not enough to support major strength gains from one workout to the next. Every professional athlete does that.

That way, you increase your workload on a weekly basis but your body is still able to recover. Same thing goes for the monthly periodization of the advanced stage (just on a monthly basis). I actually managed to get to the point where I am today still being in the intermediate stage. You will probably reach your goals somewhere in this stage too.

Bill Starr’s 5×5 Linear Program For Intermediate Lifters – Madcow’s Version

Heavy Day:
5×5 Squat
5×5 Bench Press
5×5 Barbell Row

Light Day:
4×5 Squat
4×5 Military Press
4×5 Deadlift

Medium Day:
4×5, 1×3, 1×8 Squat
4×5, 1×3, 1×8 Bench Press
4×5, 1×3, 1 x8 Barbell Row


These are not really 5×5 or 4×5 sets, the first sets are ‘ramping sets’ leadng to the final heavy set.
It’s just a general outline and really is just the edge of the fork. This is my favorite program. Really effective. I owe most of my growth to this program which I followed for a year or so with a lot of motivation. Check out Madcow’s Bill Starr 5×5 Linear Version For Intermediate Lifters to learn the nuts and bolts of this program.

Another book that I highly recommend, is “Practical Programming for Strength Training“, again by Mark Rippetoe & Lon Kilgore. This one goes hand in hand with the former “Starting Strength”. In Practical Programming you will learn the science and anatomy of weight training , and you’ll be granted the knowledge required to build an effective workout program for anyone, in any stage. Highly recommended.

P.S – I did not include any monthly periodized full body workout plan since I never reached the point where I had to use one. You will probably reach your goals (unless you wanna go pro) way before you reach that stage. You won’t need that info even if you try to teach your pals how to gain muscle mass for skinny guys. All beginners are novices and almost everyone reaches their goals intermediately.

REMEMBER – MUSCLE MASS GAIN IS ABOUT FOOD

Muscle building for skinny guys is mostly nutrition. The best program will make you strong, it will not make you big. What makes you big is enormous amounts of food. Weight lifting just provides stimuli for the huge food intake to flow into muscles instead of just fat. Skinny ectomorphic guys wishing to build muscle should remember that before anyone else.

To really appreciate the programs, compare to the initial photo in the head of the article:

How to Gain Weight For Skinny Guys: After-Photo of My Back

How to build muscle fast for skinny guys? just follow the big picture. This photo was taken somewhere along the way, right when I got my first tat.

Part Three: Equipment

FREE WEIGHTS BABY

The iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The iron will always kick you the real deal. The iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But, two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds. (Henry Rollins)

Now – you CAN accomplish all those full body workouts at the comfort of your home. I built my own little home gym when I realized that..

  • There’s zero distractions at home. For me, that’s the biggest benefit. I want to work out, not chat with people or explain to them how to gain weight for skinny men and how silly their workout regime is. Temptation is everywhere.
  • All you need is some iron and a bench. I also got two tires for free from a local garage so I have somewhere safe to land my deadlifts to avoid breaking the floor. You can get them for free as well if you simply ask politely, a smile goes a long way.
  • It’s actually cheaper in the long run.
  • It’s far more convenient. No need to get that car going and head to the gym every few days.
  • No need to wait because the bench is taken. This is less of a problem in bigger gyms, but if you’re in a small town you know what I mean. Ever seen a young man biceps-curling in the squat rack? not funny.

I really recommend building yourself a gym at home if you have the place for that. It’s an effective, simple, distraction-free and rather cheap alternative. Some people find the social part of gyms motivational for them and I wouldn’t argue with that, so set your priorities.

Make sure your bench can also handle squats and military presses if you do not have a power rack. Power racks are beneficial to perform squats and bench-presses safely without a spotter. This minimal amount of home gym equipment gives you everything you need for a massive gain of strength and muscle.

An interesting addition to your home gym would be a homemade T-Handle Russian-style kettlebell, very useful for deadlifts and rows.

Building Muscle for Skinny Guys:My Home Exercise Equipment

This is all you need. This baby helped me get from 55kg to 83kg. I used the upper handles as a squat rack, it’s really convenient though not as safe as a separate rack. Amazon sells similar benches.

You don’t need any fancy machine. Most machines are built for isolated movements and we have already talked about them earlier in the post, but here are the benefits of free weight over compound-exercises machines:

  • Every body is slightly different, and when you’re working with free weight, your body naturally controls the movement anatomically. Some machines limit your movement or “fix” you up to one place, making you move less naturally often with less range of motion. Free weight is just more functional and promote more coordination and balance.
  • Free weight also involves more muscles. It uses a lot of the core muscles as movement stabilizers. Because machines are fixed, there is nothing really to stabilize so there’s less work. That’s also one of the reasons why you can load a little more on the bar with machines, it does some of the work for you. You will also see slightly better results with free weight, because it involves more muscles and trigger a greater anabolic response.
  • Free weight is cheaper. With a barbell and a few weights, you can get a complete workout.

I can see machines being beneficial for those not having a spotter and wishing to perform the squats and the bench press. However, this can be easily fixed using a power rack. Get a good set of weights and your home gym is set for you growth. You could also add a pull-ups bar if you’d like, two old tires which you can get free from your local garage and can use for your deadlifts to land on.

Equipment Summary:

Final Words

To feel strong, to walk amongst humans with a tremendous feeling of confidence and superiority is not at all wrong. The sense of superiority in bodily strength is borne out by the long history of mankind paying homage in folklore, song and poetry to strong men. (Fred Hatfield – Powerlifting : A Scientific Approach)

That’s it. Now you know how to build muscle for skinny guys with a blazing-fast metabolism. It is no magic though. Simply train heavy, eat tons, rest enough, and grow big. I hope this guide gave you the motivational boost needed to begin your journey.

Stay focused. Stay motivated. Stay determined. As you can see, amazing things can happen if you have the will, commitment and persistence to keep working hard. When you reach your goal you’ll be in rare company, in the company of winners who persisted and fought and as a result reaped the tremendous mental and social byproducts of a ripped physique .

It takes effort and many hours with the rusty iron in your gym. But it will change your life. Forever.

Who Said Building Muscle for Skinny Guys Wasn't Possible?

A year and a half later

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. (Bill Bradley)

My first big book is coming out VERY soon on Amazon, give me your email and get a free copy as a gift

Comments

  1. Samyani

    Hi, my name is Samyani and I want to tell you that your article of how you made the change in yourself is exciting, and touching. I Admire the determination and will power. Good job! I like your writing.

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks Samyani,
      all the best!

  2. Adam

    As usual I find your writing rich and interesting we have to sit on a beer to catch up.

    • Regev Elya

      Soon brother

  3. Great transformation! Thank you for doing the opposite of every muscle mag out there. It took me a while to figure out the importance of diet, progressive weight loading, etc etc. I love fitness but so many sites out there promote ridiculous theories. This site is not one of those.

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks, fighting thin (!) knowledge and faulty conventional wisdom is the primary mission of this site.

  4. Dude,

    It’s hard to believe the top and bottom pictures are only 18 months apart!

    I’m not trying to pack on muscle, I just want to run faster. Totally agree with you about whole plant foods, they’re the foundation of my diet.

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks Andy, yeah as time goes by its hard even for myself to believe I once looked like that.

  5. Shani

    Beautifully said! You look great, I can’t believe that first picture was you before!

    • Regev Elya

      thanks, neither do I!

  6. Stories like these are truly rare, when you look at most people they don’t have the power to break out of their comfort zone. You took action and made it happen, amazing and inspirational. Thank you for a nice story and good luck with your future fitness goals!

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks Mario, much appreciated bro

  7. Preen Maddox

    Good to read such a wonderful article to start muscle building. Drop the junk, soda, frozen foods and all that processed crap. Instead eat lots of natural foods like steaks, chicken breast, veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc.

    • Regev Elya

      true, but without whole grains :)

  8. Rahul

    dude i like your article ….in I promise u ill gonna follow it an ill rply u after18 months what was my result

    • Gogi

      Same here, maybe we can all post our skinny to muscular transformation pics to share our results.

      • Regev Elya

        Would be awesome if you all post your transformation photos!

  9. Venom Vivek

    Hi Regev

    I am an Indian,20 years Old,5’7 height and I weigh around 47Kgs. I am an Ectomorph. I really liked your post n hope that it proves useful for me in Gaining Weight and building up my Muscle. I am a Vegan so I can’t Eat Meat,Eggs. Can you please provide me a rough Vegan Meal Plan so that it’ll help me. I browsed over the Internet and I found nothing with full information. I’d be glad if u help me out. Being Skinny truly Sucks bro. Eagerly waiting for your reply. Keep Helping, Keep Rocking.
    Thanks,
    Vivek.

    • Hosja

      There is an option for vegans called not being vegan

    • Regev Elya

      Hosja knows what he’s saying ^

      Veganism is far-far away from being an optimal diet for a lifter. Protein is a problem here, if I were you I’d supplement with organic hemp or peas protein powder if you can’t reach a minimum of ~80g protein a day (if you’re still 40-50kg). Eat large amounts of beans (HUMMUS!) but make sure they’ve been soaked in water and sprouted to significantly reduce their toxins (and there’s plenty) levels.

      Best of luck

  10. Mark

    Hey I really enjoyed reading your article. I’m 6′-2″, 150 pounds and just can’t seem to gain weight so I’m going to give your program a go. Quick question. This summer I will be playing ice hockey, floor hockey, and slo-pitch probably on a weekly basis. Do you see this affecting your workout plan by a lot? It’ll mostly be cardio and legs that are working out during these sports.

    Thanks in advance,

    Mark

    • Regev Elya

      How many times a week is a crucial question. Though those activities aren’t very hard on the central nervous system and don’t take very much time to recover from, they can still pose some troubles and interfere with your proper recovery from workout to workout – especially if your sleep and diet patterns aren’t optimal.

      Your progression will tell you everything. If you keep progressing normally with this additional cardio – then keep doing them. If you don’t – and you’re sure your nutrition and sleep are good – i’d ditch them. If building muscle is important enough for you.

  11. This is exactly how I also gained almost 40 pounds in 10 months. Every word is true, nothing to add really! Maybe only that the heavy lifting forces hardgainer body to change hormones and metabolism to make do with less food in order to not only build but then maintain natural muscles.

    Great work, man.

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks Vlad! Most ectomorphic skinny hardgainers would kill for 40 more pounds, great job on your transformation.

  12. brian

    hello guys,

    Your web site might probaby the best answer to my problem since from my birth.

    i was born skinny till now same in skinny shape. friends told me because my parents had same body figure..

    Inheretance in other words i got..

    Im now 42 years old but still dreaming to have a great body but not same as those body builder at least some lean muscle to have..

    Can you send me some goood multivitamins or muscle builder drinks and tips exercise for basic so i stil l

    can chase a great shape on my age..

    regards
    brian_calma12@yahoo.com

    • Regev Elya

      No need for any multivitamins or shakes, just follow the instructions I laid.

  13. Mithra

    I’m 18, 6 foot and 125 lbs…been training off and on for about 2 years with a max gain of about 10 lbs but I always loose it and drop back down. So glad I ran into this article! Gunna give all your wisdom a go and hopefully I can end up looking like you. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I think it can really easily be overlooked that you acquired this knowledge through years of failing and persistence and you are are sharing this so others don’t have to “waste” time. Respect brother. Cheers.

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks bud, appreciate it.

  14. Jaivy

    Great read man! I started out the same height and weight as you and gained over 30 pounds so far, with a main focus on nutrition like you. Looking forward to gaining another 25 pounds. To all skinny ectomorphs, gaining muscle is not all that hard and certainly not impossible ones you get the basics down. Everybody can do it!

    Greetings from the Netherlands

    • Regev Elya

      Lekker

  15. Alexander Waldrop

    This is great info, At 6’3 165lbs had tried everything to gain weight for years and could never put on more than 5 or so before I burned out and lost it all again. Back in february of this year I started the GOMAD diet you spoke of earlier, I didnt incorporate the riptoe starting strength program along with it, to my surprise I gained 20lbs of fat the first month, by mid May I weighed in at 210lbs, so I gained 45lbs in about 10 weeks, but it was all fat, I was super skinny with a giant gut. I stopped GOMAD about a month ago and have already tapered back to about 190lbs, I am going to try your program in conjunction with the GOMAD diet and see if I can actually gain some muscle this go around, thank you a TON for this write up, it is inspiring.

    • Regev Elya

      You’ll see great results. Massive karma points if you give us an update and a nice transformation photo when you’re done.

  16. Johnnie B

    One of the most impressive skinny to muscle transformation I’ve seen. Way to go man!

    • Regev Elya

      Thanks Johnnie!

  17. Bob

    Hi Regev,

    I am in desperate need of some advice.

    I am an extremely skinny 20 year old vegetarian ectomorph who wants to increase my body size and mass. I can eat eggs but not fish or meat.

    I would like to get started as soon as possible to see results quickly but I have no idea what type of diet plan I should use, how many times I should be eating a day (eating so that I’m full atm) or if I should be doing press ups or weight lifting yet.

    My weight is 60 kg.

    Any advice, plan or routine would be very much appreciated.

    I understand being a vegetarian puts me at a disadvantage but surely there is a way around this.

    Thanks,
    Bob :)

    • Bob

      Oh and my height is 6,1.

    • Regev Elya

      Sounds to me like you haven’t read the guide, so a good starting point is to actually read it. Eating eggs puts you in a much better position than vegans when it comes to gaining muscle mass – eggs give you an EXCELLENT source of very high quality protein.

      Problem is you’re gonna need a lot of them — unless you fill your diet with enough protein from other sources (see the recommendations I gave to the vegan guy a few comments above).

      I myself eat plenty of eggs a day – my favourite ways are boiling them and dizzying with olive oil, black pepper and salt, and the Israeli Shakshuka (google that). Try changing recipes from time to time so that eating plenty of eggs doesn’t get too boring after a while

      I assume you can also eat dairy? Though not optimal (Casein and lactose being the primary concerns), it can still be incorporated to include a good chunk of your daily protein intake if you can’t eat actual animal flesh. Try full-fat grass-fed milk or yoghurt if you can digest them well enough.

      And use the same workout (heavy-lifting!) guidelines above. You should be doing good.

  18. Brad

    Is it true that a skinny guy transformation is harder to maintain than a more naturally-bulky person?

    • Regev Elya

      There is some truth to that. It is not necessarily hard, but it is definitely harder than for a Bruce Willis/Sylvester Stalone mesomorphic somatotype. Bulky and skinny guys workout routine don’t differ – it’s the nutrition that is harder to maintain for thin dudes. Eating ‘normally’ (= most often not enough for ectomorphs) as a skinny guy will naturally make your body lean towards its natural stature – thin, fragile, narrow and with a low amount of muscle, even when working out. Mesomorphic body types are able to maintain some good muscles without even paying much attention to their diet.

  19. kwaku

    Hello Regev! I used to weigh 49kg at 22 years and height 5’6″. After about 11 months of training my new weight is 64kg. My problem is that my collar bones are still potruding and they still look dangerously sharp. Please can you tell me what I need to do to cover them? thanks.

    • Regev Elya

      Are you on a very low fat percentage? (do you see a very visible set of six packs?), if so – increase your healthy carbs intake and gain some fat. If that’s not the case, it might be a genetic disposition – in which case there might be a cosmetic surgery for.

  20. Indjika

    Thanks a lot for teaching how to gain weight for skinny guys with fast metabolism, but what about girls? i’m a woman in my twenties and I weight about 37kg, do i also need to lift weights?

    • Regev Elya

      Theoretically you can follow the same workout and diet regimen and you’ll be gaining weight. But practically I know most women can’t see themselves going through such an intense and heavy program. Stick to the diet and eat massive amounts of food, and any weight-bearing resistance exercise you can get yourself to do is fine.

      So yeah, eat a lot and get yourself to lift whatever you can (to encourage muscle growth). If you want a great full-body workout with one simple exercise, Google some info on Russian kettlebell swings, it’s so simple you can go buy a kettlebell today and have a great resistance workout in your living room.

  21. Gki

    Hi.
    I’m short and vegan. I’m 24. I plan to start your method to gain weight and muscles.
    One question, i have a protuding belly as though its on a big man. I don’t eat much but belly looks like that. Is it possible to first flatten it before starting your advices? Or shall i start with your advice and it will flatten before gaining weight?

    • Regev Elya

      That’s something a bunch of skinny guys asked me on my Hebrew blog, and I’ll tell you what I told them. You could very well begin the program, eat the healthy diet that I prescribed – and trust biology to do some magic. If you never worked out before, especially not in high intensities, the sudden positive-stress on your body will have a heavy (!) impact on your hormones and metabolism. You can expect to decrease fat percentage in the first month or two (you’ll gain more muscle than fat, so your overall fat percentage will drop), assuming you don’t eat junk and keep your diet as clean as I prescribed.

      That being said, if I were you I’d cut some of this unnecessary fat before starting up the program. How do you do that? cut off all those bagels, breads, sugars, rice etc and eat a diet based on good fats (butter, coconut oil, fatty grass-fed meats, olive oil, almonds, etc), animal-based proteins and veggies. Take two weeks or maybe a month like that, and you should be losing that wheat-belly. If you want to accelerate the process, do some moderate weight lifting. Too intense isn’t adequate since you won’t have enough energy to recover, so I’d say this can be an excellent timeframe to go to the gym, get familiar with the moves and perfect them before you begin the ‘real program’, while still getting metabolic benefits that will help you lose more fat and less muscle in those 2-4 weeks.

      Good luck, and make sure you post your beasty skinny transformation.

  22. Jake

    Hi man,

    I am 17 (6 ft 1 inch, 140 lbs) and have started working out following your plan. I just have a few questions:
    First, I want to make sure that all of the food I am eating is turning into muscle, not fat. This is my food consumption for the day:
    Morning- Bowl of cereal with whole milk, whole banana, fiber bar
    Lunch- Sandwich with 4 slices of turkey, lettuce, mayo, cheese on wheat bread; an orange; a handful of bbq chips (<–not the healthiest), a bag of nuts, and a chocolate milk
    After school- protein bar, some more nuts
    Dinner (this varies)- Chicken breast, rice, green beans, whole milk
    Before bed- Peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread with a glass of whole milk

    Do you think I am eating too much/not the right things? Even though I am following the Starting Strength program, I am worried that all of this food will go to my gut instead of building muscle in my arms, chest, and back.

    I really appreciate a response. Thank you.

    • Regev Elya

      First let me say that if you follow the Starting Strength protocol – you will gain muscle if you eat enough, no matter the quality of your food. From an health perspective your diet is far from being optimal. I recommend taking another look at the nutrition section of this article. Good luck bud.

  23. Callum

    That was a great read. I m 20 yr about 60kg and 5’8”. Even though m skinny i dont believe m an ectomorph. There are days in week when i eat practically nothing. (no m not poor, actually we are pretty rich but a nuclear family) Being a medical student and a single child of working parent, food is the most neglected part in my life. I randomly came across your article and thats enuf motivation i needed to do something for myself. Thanku man, i’ll surely post my transformation.
    Another question-is going to gym a necessity? I hardly find time to make my self an omlet

    • Regev Elya

      See what I replied to Felipe (comment right below yours).

      Golden-karma if you post your muscle transformation here. I’d be happy to see this page turning into a headquarter of skinny to buff transformations images and stories.

  24. Felipe

    I’m 20 years old 6’3 tall and weigh 140 pounds. Your article is very inspiring, I wish I could do what you did. I find it extremely hard and its kind of embarrassing going to the gym and being around all of the guys that are already big.

    • Regev Elya

      If you can’t help it – consider getting some home gym equipment like I did. It’s very comfortable (feels like meditation time, working out alone) and isn’t expensive – especially when you’re thinking long-term. Lots of people asking me how to gain weight for skinny guys like ourselves don’t realise it doesn’t take a fancy gym to get big, or actually any gym at all. Just get yourself some weights, a bar and an adequate squat-friendly bench and you’re set. (See my recommendation in the article)

      Eat much, lift heavy. Get big.

  25. James

    What’s the best weight gainer for skinny guys? I can’t decide because there are so many brands to buy online. And also, can a skiny guy get muscle in 3 months with those weight gainers?

    Thanks Regev

    • Regev Elya

      I personally don’t use and don’t usually recommend buying any of those ‘weight gainers’. If you absolutely can’t force yourself to eat enough, take a look at my guide to making homemade meal replacement shakes.

      And yes, you can get a considerable amount of muscle in 3 months – with or without gainer shakes. You just have to consume enough nutrition.

  26. Mike

    Great job man,,

    I am 26 and 50 kg,, Thanks a lot for the informations u gave us, they r helpful.

    I read everything and i understood what u said but if it possible to give me a good schedule of eating food for the 7 days, that will be terrific.

    thanks again.

    • Regev Elya

      Here’s a simplest (but delicious nonetheless) eating schedule I could come up with:

      Go buy enough organic grass-fed fatty meat of your favourite animal.
      Go buy some root vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes, etc.
      Go buy some fresh spices and herbs to your likings.
      Go buy some veggies and fruits to your likings.

      Take a large cast-iron pot (aka “Poyke pot”) every morning – and put the meats, root vegetables, spices and herbs in the pot. Add some water/wine, salt, pepper. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 2.5 hours for 180 celsius. What you get is a big slow-cooked (aka delicious) stew rich in good proteins, fats, healthy carbs (unlike harmful junk like bread or sugar), vitamins, minerals and other chemicals to boost your system. Put enough of the foods I mentioned and it’s going to be all you need for a whole day (or more, if you wanna keep refrigerated).

      Those fruits and veggies? Eat them as snacks in-between meals.

      Notice that I didn’t mention any calories or amounts. Eat until you’re full (or even exceed that). If you still can’t gain weight – add more. And then some more. Do that for 6 days a week, take a constant day off every week and eat less than half the amount you’re used to (or even fast altogether, good for life extension and avoiding metabolic adaptations because of the high nutrient intake)

      Good caution: the pot is going to stay hot for looooooooooooong hours, especially if you keep it in the oven.
      Bad caution: it’s EXTREMELY hot so be careful.

      Enjoy your food, send me love emails later

      • Semuc

        Hahaha that’s the best weight gain diet plan for skinny guys I’ve ever seen!!

  27. Greg Forster

    AMAZING POST!

    Regev, any advice how to gain weight fast for men who were already big in the past and lost all that muscle? I gained a lot of muscle back in my twenties and lost most of it a few years ago. Your article gave me some good motivation to get back to it, how fast would it be to gain all that muscle back?

    Thanks,
    Greg

    • Regev Elya

      Same principles apply for old atrophied lifters, but with the great benefit of being able to reach your previous muscular size much more quickly. It shouldn’t take too long to gain your muscular tone back but I can’t tell you an exact number since I don’t know your previous and your current weight.

  28. hermon

    that was a gr8 thing u wrote but I am 18 and I am about 48kg and I am about to get in college like really soon but I think what u wrote is for the long-term planneres so is there any short way to gain Wight In just 15days plzzz

    • Regev Elya

      You could definitely gain a few noticeable pounds in two weeks (eat like a MONSTER and follow the same routine), but I don’t really understand why you can’t follow it in college. You got food and gyms everywhere these days.

  29. Dan

    Is it possible to gain weight for a skinny guy without any exercise? i don’t have much time on my schedule and I’m really sick of being so thin and boney

    • Regev Elya

      Gaining weight is primarily a function of caloric intake. But exercising will bring the muscle:fat weight gain to a more favourable ratio. So yes, you could definitely gain weight without exercise (even as a skinny guy), but you wouldn’t gain as much muscle as you would under a weight-bearing resistance program, or any exercise at all to be honest.

      To put it simply, under the same diet – a bigger chunk of every 10kg that you’d gain without exercising is going to be fat tissues compared to that same diet under an exercising routine. So if you don’t want to look flabby, go lift some iron.

  30. dave jones

    Hi Ive been training for 3 weeks. not seeing much gains. dont think im training right. how would i be able to widen my waist and also my chest. Just by doing squats and deadlifts, bench press would it be possible to acheive this.

    • Regev Elya

      Why would you want to widen your waist?

      Squats, deadlifts and bench presses alone can get you to a perfect v-taper shape (as much as your genetics allow for). V-taper means narrow waist and wide shoulders – kind of a ‘cobra’ shape, and ladies find very attractive. If that’s what you mean.

      3 weeks are not a lot of time but you should have already seen an increase of a few kilograms at the least. Did you follow the program as I laid? If so, you most probably don’t eat enough. Read the chapter about nutrition and fix your diet accordingly.

      • gson

        Indeed ur story is touchin, I am goin to giv it a try, cus I want to luk lyk ur pic at the bottom, tanks bro.

  31. Lok

    Thanks a lot! But is it enough to just follow the program and there’s no need to do other exercises like abs or any other? Thank you Regev.

    • Regev Elya

      No need at all. Do this program, fight temptation and don’t add a damn thing, not even a single exercise.

  32. Alicia

    I learned a lot from your personal story And about my body which is also ectomorph , can I still follow these great guildlines eventhough I am a female?

    • Regev Elya

      Yes you can.
      Bonus side effect: all those squats and deadlifts are going to give you a nice juicy waist-to-hips ratio.

  33. John

    Regev,

    Congratulations on your gains. You are truly an inspiration.

    I am currently 23 years old and weigh 137 lbs. I’ve been skinny my entire life and have tried gaining weight on multiple occasions and have never had much luck.

    I’d like to hear about how you approached alcohol consumption while you were on your plan. I’m a heavy drinker on the weekends and am curious if I can continue this and still achieve your results. Does alcohol completely prevent an ectomorph from gaining weight? (I also find it bizarre that alcohol has NEVER caused me to gain weight).

    I’d appreciate it if you could talk about some of this stuff.

    Thanks man.

    • Regev Elya

      To be honest, I was never a heavy drinker.

      Besides the obvious reasons, I don’t recommend *heavy* alcohol consumption for lifters because it decreases testosterone levels, dehydrates your muscles, stunts anabolic activity and muscle growth and puts an ugly layer of blubbery around your waist.

      That being said, you can still gain tremendous amounts of muscle while drinking heavy – especially if its only on weekends. It shouldn’t be *too much* of an issue when it comes to building muscle, but you’ll still do better doing some thinking and moderating your intake as much as you can.

  34. Thank you for these. I learned a lot.

    I started lifting before, but all it did was make me slimmer than I already am. so I stopped..
    Now I cant seem to gain wait even though I eat tons of veggies and meats. But I will try your suggestions stated above :)
    But before I start, I just wanted to ask;

    will smoking and drinking affect my muscle growth? (I’m not a hard drinker though, about 2-4 bottles of beer, every other weekend, and I smoke a half pack everyday.)

    Also I work as a call center in the Philippines, so its graveyard shift; I sleep around 4am and wake up 1pm so thats 8-9 hours of sleep, daily is that enough?

    And finally, is it advisable to do the work out after work? or before work? (though I prefer after work cause dont want to look sleepy during dialing hours, want to hear your suggestion )

    Thanks

    • Regev Elya

      See my reply to the comment right above yours. You intuitively know to avoid alcohol and smoking if you want to ***optimize*** your health, regardless of increasing muscle mass. And 8-9 hours of sleep is right on spot for most human beings.

      Guys, focus on the BIG picture – lifting heavy and increasing workload progressively, eating tons of good food and getting enough sleep. If you can make those happen, you will get big – no matter if you drink, smoke, exercise before/after work or have sex with donkeys.

      • Jethro

        Thank you! :)

  35. kenny

    Your progression is truly inspiring, I’m 17 and 5’4 and weigh 112 right now, ive been trying to gain a lot of weight all my life but I slowly progress, I train muay Thai often, I’ve been training for a little over 2 years, but I’m confident in my striking and I honestly hit really hard, especially for my size, ( I’m not trying to brag I just want more skinny people to be aware than being skinny isn’t entirely being weak) I feel like I have 1 hit k.o power. Thank u God, please help the world become better and help me gain weight too, I need to dedicated to eating more and in a good way, sometimes I loose my appetite because of stress. I will write about my progress in a few months, hopefully we all improve!!

    • Regev Elya

      That’s great Kenny! Remember that all other things being equal, more muscle mass equals more strength. Strengthening your muscular skeleton will give you better balance, durability and force. It will dramatically improve your martial arts. If you’re trying to stay under a particular weight category, you can limit your food intake and just increase working weights to build more strength. And do share your improvements, i’m sure everyone here will appreciate that.

  36. Charles

    How do I go from skinny to muscular if my genetics don’t allow this? been trying to gain muscle mass for ageeeees but i always figured my DNA is just thin

    • Regev Elya

      We’re all skinny by nature here. And yes, it’s noticeably harder for us to gain muscle. But that’s no excuse for inaction.

      You can’t control the cards you’ve been dealt with when you were born, but you can still maximize your chances for success by playing them well. And that means eating more and lifting heavy.

  37. Rondo

    Hey i was wondering how much do i add to the warmup sets every session?

    • Regev Elya

      The warmup sets are a function of the sets themselves, remember that we measure them by an absolute percentage of the total working weight.

      So for example let’s assume I’m doing a 100kg squat – my first 2 warmup sets are going to be 5 reps of an empty bar, and then one set of about 40-45kg, followed by a set of 3 reps of 60-65 and a final warmup set of 2 reps with 80-85kg. If i would be doing 200kg squat – the warmup sets would be exactly double what they are. So you always calculate them based on the working weight.

  38. Rahul

    Hey Regav,thanx 4 the work u do…but I need 2 ask u a question….I am an indian that can’t eat beef so dat will stop me 4rm gainin pounds…I am 50KG and 14 year old male nd I hve access 2 a 3KG dumbell but sadly cnt go 2 gym yet cn u plz help me pick up some pounds to gain muscle

    • Regev Elya

      You don’t need beef to gain muscle mass. Any flesh of any animal would do the trick. Chicken, pork, seafood, eggs, it’s all good protein. One 3kg dumbbell won’t do much, you need heavy weights and you need to increase the workload progressively if you want to gain any noticeable amount of muscle. If you can’t afford a gym right now, try to find a creative temporary solution and work around it. Carry huge rocks in your yard. Fill a big sack with rice (which can be a great option, since you can weigh it and increase the weight progressively). It might not be as comfortable as a barbell and weights, but it’s MUCH better than nothing.

  39. Rahul

    Lyk if possible exercises that I can do at home…and I can all meats except beef but I dnno da quantity of meat I shud eat to pick up weight…nd I hve a HIGH metabolism

    • Regev Elya

      Read the guide again.

  40. Saloni Modh

    Hey…
    i just read your article and was really really impressed by the determination with which you actually gained soo much of weight..even i am trying the same but m really fed up now…i am 5 feet 9 inch tall weighing 50kgs…extremly thin and i havnt got a proper diet program for growing healthy.
    I would be really thankfull if u help me out with this terrible problem of mine..
    Thank you so much!tc

    • Regev Elya

      EVERYTHING you need is right there on the guide. There’s nothing else you need. Read it, understand the concepts and go apply them in the kitchen and the gym.

  41. Robi

    Hello there, I’m 18 years old, ~1.83m height and ~56kg weight. Very similar parameters to you when you were 18 years old. I’m really, really skinny. My arms are so skinny, legs too and rest. Seems like my bones are extremely thin and small. My bones aren’t getting bigger since age of 12, 13. I’m afraid that they will not grow bigger/heavier ever. Is there any things that I can do at home to make my body bigger/heavier, because I haven’t got any oppurtunity to go traning at the gym, and I don’t wany it at the moment. I’m desperatly sad, help. :(

    • Regev Elya

      It’s extremely unlikely that your bone structure is going to change if you’re 18 now. I don’t understand why you don’t want to go to the gym? If you have the possibility, it’s worth its weight (!) in gold. If you absolutely can’t go – try to emulate the exercises I laid in your home using whatever equipment you have. Perhaps buy a kettlebell? You might also want to consider preparing an homemade T-handle Russian style kettlebell (See the end of the guide, there’s a link there). It’s a great tool to have at home to perform complex heavy exercises. And whatever you do, remember that eating a ton is the most important part.

  42. Malhat

    You are inspiration for me. I am 18 years old and I am skinny too. I have joined Gym. Your instructions and Guidelines are Awesome. Hope You will have Healthy life forever.. Thank youuuu !!

    • Regev Elya

      My pleasure Malhat, good luck!

  43. anthony

    hi great inspiration.

    I am having trouble consuming so much food in different intervals,however I am follwing your plan of action.

    Would there be any supplements out in the market to balance the metabolism as well,like to stabalise the rate of metabolism because mine is really high,I weigh only 50 and my age is 26

    Pls advise..

    • Regev Elya

      Follow the guide and you’ll gain weight.

      If you have some abnormal metabolism issues (hyperthyroid?), you might need to seek professional medical help. I can safely say that for ‘regular’ skinny guys with fast metabolism, this guide is more then enough to pack on massive amounts of muscle in very minimal time compared to what the average guy achieves in the gym.

      Yes, you can eliminate some foods that enhance metabolism (coffee?) but you’ll have to remember that some of them has other benefits that apply to weightlifting and muscle building just as well (coffee for example can help you work out a little harder by reducing your perception of muscular pain). But this is all small stuff. Focus on the big picture and eat a TON. Lift heavy. Rest. Repeat.

  44. Jelle

    Hey, just read your article planning on gaining weight for a long time now… I am 180 cm and 49 Kg so I guess it will be very tough. Do you have some extra tips since you where 55 kg and 181 cm when you started, I am 18 at the moment.

    Thanks, Jelle.

    • Regev

      You don’t need any extra tips. Just follow the steps as listed and you’ll gain massive amounts of muscle.

  45. Christian Huerta

    Your story have gave me hope to gaining weight and muscle. I want to gain weight cause I kinda get pick on of being skinny. I be hoping that I will have muscle by the time of my second year of college. Also I want to gain weight to the get the hot ladies.

    • Regev Elya

      OWN YOUR BONE.

      No one will treat you bad if you don’t let them.
      And from experience I can tell you that hot ladies go where confidence is. Getting bigger and stronger will help you get laid not necessarily because you’re big and strong but because of the psychological outcomes of perceiving yourself to be more attractive. You will walk with an air of confidence, and that air will attract girls to your life. But you can achieve that without even working out.

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