hardgainer-tips-for-the-skinny-guy-how-to-gain-muscle-part-ii

If you’re a skinny guy and having difficulty gaining muscle, you’re not alone. The most important thing is not to give up.  If you’re working out regularly and not seeing any results, there aren’t many variables – it’s either your nutrition or your workout routine (or maybe both). The good news is that shortcomings in either area are are easily fixed with a little know how.

In my last post I discussed the importance of nutrition when trying to gain muscle.  In this post I’ll be discussing the most effective workouts for the skinny guy who’s looking to get ripped.

While it’s true that 80% of fitness is nutrition; if you’re skinny and looking to gain muscle there are two core workout principles to adhere to: Lift heavily and lift frequently.

Lifting Heavy
There are many training guides around that recommend a relatively few sets (2-3) of very heavy weights with a modest rep count (6-8). If you’re already a muscular bodybuilder this might be a sound approach, but for the skinny guy who cannot yet lift very heavy weights yet, the relatively low sets and reps will make it difficult to gain muscle.  A better approach would be to pick a weight that is challenging (but not impossible) and then do 4-6 sets with higher repetitions – like 10-12.  The idea is that you want to choose a weight where you can maintain proper form when lifting, but is heavy enough so that your muscles are fully exhausted by the last set. The key takeaway here is that you want to pick a heavy weight – but not one too heavy where you’re ending your sets too quickly, before your muscles are exhausted.

Lifting Frequently
Muscle mass is relatively easy to maintain once you have it.  Unlike lung capacity which can diminish only after a few days of missed aerobic exercise, muscles can be maintained with a single workout a week.

For the skinny guy looking to gain muscle, extra effort is needed to gain mass. The recommendation is to do 4-6 workouts for each muscle group. Some training routines even suggest training twice per day, but it is this author’s opinion that is not sustainable when following the “Lifting Heavy” strategy above. Here’s one of the more effective routines:  The first day concentrate on chest and back; the second day focus on biceps and triceps, and save the 3rd day for legs and core (squats). Rest on day 4 and then repeat the same cycle focusing on the same muscles, but vary the specific exercises.  If you did curls for bicep training on day two, try doing weighted chin ups on day 6.  Weighted chins are an example of a compound exercise – one that impacts more than one muscle group, which can be a very effective way to get ripped in less time.

The most important thing to remember is to just stay the course – do not give up!  If you’re skinny, it’s a marathon, not a sprint when trying to gain muscle.  There might be weeks where you haven’t gained a pound, but when you look around you and notice others who are ripped – know it didn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication, both with nutrition and with the workout routines to see results.  

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hardgainer-tips-for-the-skinny-guy-how-to-gain-muscle

I remember when I first started getting into fitness and bodybuilding that I thought would never see any progress. The truth was that as a skinny guy and I simply found it impossible to gain any weight or muscle. I thought I knew how to get ripped, but it seemed for me at least, that the more I worked out the more likely I was to lose weight and muscle.

After years of fitful starts trying different workouts and diet strategies I finally figured out how to gain muscle, and I’ve boiled it down to these core concepts:

1) 80% of fitness is nutrition
2) Lift heavily and frequently, but avoid over-training at all costs

In this post I will discuss the nutrition side of the coin, next week I’ll dive into the workout details.

Nutrition
I have a naturally fast metabolism, so aerobics, or pretty much any type of exercise puts me into an immediate caloric deficit. I discovered that I really needed to pack on the calories to gain muscle. Wisdom of old for skinny guys looking to gain muscle was to simply eat huge meals. This flat out does not work.  True that you need to get enough calories, but a you also need to eat “sensibly” and “strategically”. Meaning eating not only the right things but at the right times of day.

Just to maintain muscle you need to eat about .50 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you’re looking to actually gain muscle that should be increased to about .70 grams. In addition when you’re working out, you should aim for consuming an additional 500-1000 calories each day over your normal metabolic rate.  Obviously make the calories count – eat lean high quality proteins like grass fed beef, eggs and seafood. Choose poly and monounsaturated fats (like fish and olive oil) and go for healthy carbs – vegetables and fruits. Use protein supplements to make up any additional caloric deficits.

Equally important to the added calories and type of food is the amount of meals you actually eat. Far better than eating 2 or 3 big meals is to space your eating over the course of the day.  You are also much better off aiming to consume .20-.25 grams of protein every 3 hours rather than getting all your protein requirements met in just a few meals.

Ideally you should aim for a pre and post workout meal and then 4-5 additional meals per day. This might seem like a lot, but if you’re skinny with a fast metabolism, you need to give the body the extra fuel it needs to put on the muscle.

In addition to eating right and often, also consider supplementing your diet with high quality protein powders. Avoid the stuff with artificial sweeteners or added soy.

Remember, it’s not impossible for skinny guys to gain muscle. Just take a good look at what you’re eating and when and you should be able to gain the pounds.  Drop by next week and I’ll detail how to get ripped by putting all of these added calories to work.

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The Wall Street Journal recently tweeted an amusing article definitely worth checking out titled “The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym”. Although the author wrote the article to be funny, he also made a number of keen observations to why people fail at their local bodybuilding club.  Here are a few of the rules that [...]

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Kettlebell Exercises for Six Pack Abs

December 21, 2011
kettlebell-exercises-for-six-pack-abs

Kettlebell Exercises are one of the exercise pro’s secret ways to get great six-pack abs and a toned stomach that most people don’t know about. They have a number of advantages over simple weight training or barbell exercises, because they are both great for strength training the core, but also have a built in cardio [...]

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Bodybuilding Exercises for Biceps – Get Pumped

October 31, 2011
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Everyone knows that bodybuilding exercises can help maintain a healthy body and great figure. There are lots of different exercises to try out and many focus on specific muscle groups. This can be a bit confusing to people that are not very used to exercising. There’s more to bodybuilding than trying a very popular exercise [...]

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Kettlebell Exercises for Endurance

October 11, 2011
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Although kettlebells are a very simple piece of gym equipment, they are highly effective. Many different people of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from using the kettlebell. Bodybuilding exercises can be performed using just the kettlebell for excellent results. Exercising with the kettlebell is very different to other forms of exercise as it [...]

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