Understanding the question that may help your fitness goals: “How can skinny guys build muscle?”, is a process of gaining clarity of and altering the fundamentals that every male or female must undergo to achieve the same result.
A lot of naturally slim guys I’ve met believe that their muscle building endeavors aren’t realistic and gaining muscle is almost an impossibility for them. This isn’t the case – granted it will be more challenging for you then for a naturally broader, mesomorphic guy, however it’s still a very achievable goal with the right strategy.
First and foremost you need to be decisive with what exactly your intentions are and how you will measure your muscle building goal. Will you measure this using the scales and monitor progression in terms of weight gained? Or will you monitor progression using a tape measure and literally measuring focal points of progression, such as biceps, chest/back and the waist? You need to be clear with this, make a note and monitor it as you go on a regular basis. The important of goal setting was also recently discussed within this weight loss article.
Once your goal is set you can construct the strategy for building muscle mass. The first thing that needs to be considered is the weight training protocol that you’ll be using to hit your target. From experience when working with skinny guys focused on building muscle, the load being lifted is crucial and you’ll need to monitor the weights your lifting in each session to ensure strength is increasing. This is an important factor for all body types trying to gain muscle, however as ectomorphs naturally have a faster metabolism its important to conserve as many calories as possible – the aim is to simply provide the muscle with the stimulus to grow – aka, the ever-increasing weight being lifted and then leave the gym to eat and recover.
You should also factor compound lifting into your weight training sessions, lifts such as deadlift, bench press and squat. The benefits of utilizing these three lifts within your training sessions are extensive, all massively contributing to muscle growth. Firstly they target numerous muscle groups within one lift, for example the squat will target the glutes; quadriceps; hamstrings and core all in one lift. This is a great way to start a leg session as it pumps blood to almost the entire leg area.
After the compound lift you can then progress to some more sculpting lift, in the case of leg training this would include leg extensions, hamstring curls and calf raises.
This brings me on nicely to the next point: be smart with your training sessions and muscle splits. This means allowing the muscle sufficient time to recover after you’ve trained it. I.e don’t train the same muscle on consecutive days. This includes secondary muscles that have been trained. A good example of an effective initial training split would look something like this:
Muscle Building Diet
The diet is almost as important for building muscle as the weight training protocol. This is where you need to get sufficient calories in to elicit muscle recovery, but it’s important to understand where these calories should be coming from in terms of carbohydrates, protein and fats (the macros). I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being consistent with your food intake when the goal is to add size, you really need to start thinking and acting like a bodybuilder with an endeavor such as this.
You should firstly focus on figuring out how many calories you are expending each day, in order to ensure you are consuming more than this amount each day. You can either do this by using a tech wearable or you could use the Benedict Harris formula.
Once this is calculated you need to factor in 2g of protein per lb of body weight – for example if you’re 140lb then you should aim to be consuming 280g of protein per day. As protein consumption equates to 4 calories per gram, this would therefore account for 1080 calories per day.
Many bodybuilders will eat between 2g-6g of carbohydrate per kg of bodyweight. Considering the fact this is aimed at ectomorphs looking to gain muscle, you should aim to hit the upper limit of this range, mainly stacking the majority of your carbohydrate intake post-session to replenish glycogen (muscle energy) and increase insulin secretion for maximal protein uptake.
The final important macronutrient intake to consider is fats. Fats are crucial for regulating essential hormones necessary for muscle growth, such as testosterone, whilst also necessary for absorbing certain fat-soluble vitamins. A great source of fat intake is omega-3 – found in oily fish. This type of fat has also shown to improve cardiac and cognitive health. If the goal is to gain muscle mass then 25%/30% of your calorie intake should be coming from fats.
Supplements are a big talking point when it comes to adding muscle mass and for good reason, they can have an impact on the results you get if the points discussed above are all addressed. Protein powder is certainly a supplement worth considering if you’re struggling to add muscle. As previously mentioned, protein plays a huge role for muscle growth and recovery and if you’re unable to consume sufficient amounts within your diet, it’s worth considering buying a protein powder, such as whey protein for post-training or casein protein before going to bed.
Another great supplement worth adding to your list is creatine. Creatine gives the body the ability to re-synthesize ATP a lot faster during exercise, consequently providing the muscles with more energy to perform high intensity exercise, necessary to stimulate muscle growth.