Complete Guide to Building Muscle for Skinny Guys

By Ire | Lifting Tips

Jan 20

Complete Guide to Building Muscle for Skinny Guys

This guide goes into details about MuscleBulkers moto:



It explains biggest concepts you need to understand if you are new to the whole gym lifestyle. What is more, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions that I get when it comes to building muscles.

Why do you want to gain weight?

I know you are probably getting sick of everybody commenting on how skinny you are. Even your grandma is comparing you to a ghost! Trust me, I have been there. I hated my friends since they would base all their jokes on my appearance.

I know you feel furious and that is why you are here, reading this blog, wanting to change. You might not realize, but you can use that energy for good! Anger you have inside of you can be turned in motivation. It is your time to SHUT EVERYONE’S MOUTH.

Put on your hoodie and get to work. Educate yourself to start lifting the right way, create better nutrition habits, get plenty of rest and don’t tell anybody what you are up to. Work in silence and wait for the first comment when somebody notices your gains. As soon as that happens, skinny jokes will start vanishing while compliments will take their place.

But you are not struggling for other people, you are doing it because lifting and eating good makes you feel like a lion. Progressing every day gives you purpose. Building discipline builds confidence. And YES, and females can smell it. They are not sure what it is but somehow you feel more desirable when around.

That, my fellow skinny hardgainers, is the goal this article: Guide To Building Muscle for Skinny Guys and MuscleBulkers website. That all the work that goes into it, changes at least one individual’s life for the better. Let this be a spark that starts a great fire. Are you feeling it?

Teenager lifting in a gym to build muscle size

Science behind how muscle grows

If we want to get bigger, we need to understand how muscle gets bigger. The science behind muscle building is not as complicated. During a workout, your muscle fibers tear. With the right nutrition and rest, your body repairs damaged muscle fibers making them little bit bigger and stronger in the process. When we are consistent with our program and diet, muscular hypertrophy (muscle gain) is becoming more obvious. In other words, muscle growth is consists of four factors: LIFT, EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT.


1.Type of Activity

There are two basic kinds of exercise. Aerobic and anaerobic. Difference between the two is oxygen.
-Aaerobic requires oxygen during exercise. Longer activity with lower intensity (cardio)
-Anaerobic does NOT require oxygen during exercise. Shorter activity with higher intensity (lifting)

Aerobic activity used more energy. In order to gain weight, you must be in caloric surplus. What that means is that you need to consume (eat) more energy than you spend. Therefore, spending even more energy than necessary, by aerobic activity does not make sense if we are in a game of gaining weight (in most cases as least).  

2.Type of Exercise

There are two types of exercise movements. Compound movements and isolation movements. Both of styles serve a purpose, therefore skinny guys should use both during their workouts.

Compound movements:

Bending more than one joint during a movement. That causes more muscle groups to be incorporated into the movement. That saves time, since you are working out more muscles at the same time. What is more, you can lift heavier since more muscles are helping to lift the weight up. Due to movement’s complexity, it is important to master technique first. (remember that breathing is also a part of correct technique).

Isolation movements:

Bending one joint during exercise. It usually serves in isolating a specific muscle group. That is great to build mind-muscle connection and to correct some of the muscle imbalances.

Lifting in the gym with a barbell

3.How often?

There is no significant change when we work out 5 days a week as opposed to 3 days. However, there is a big difference between working out once a week as opposed to 3 times. Therefore, the most optimal split would be a 3-day split. If possible, rest 24 hours between workouts.

My recommendation would be:

WORKOUT 1: Chest & Arms
WORKOUT 2: Back & Abdominals
WORKOUT 3: Legs & Shoulders

4. How many repetitions?

Depends on a muscle group and type of exercise (compound or isolation).

Muscle Group Total Repetitions:

Back: 150-200
Abdominals: 40-80 Reps
Legs: 210-350
Arms: 120-150
Chest: 150-200
Shoulder: 120-150

Type of exercise:

  • COMPOUND: Keep is below 6 reps per set. Let is represent at least 15% of total reps
  • ISOLATION: Rule of thumb is keep the reps from 8-12, however it is only rule of thumb

5. “How much rest in between sets to build muscles?”

We are looking to maximize rest, since we do not want to turn the workout in a cardio session. Therefore, never get worried you are resting too much. However, since you most likely don’t want to be stuck in the gym for half of a day, feel free to follow some guidelines:

  • During compound exercises: 3-5minutes
  • During isolation exercises:1-2minutes


1. Calculate calories (TDEE)

If you want to know how much you must eat, you need to figure out how much energy your body uses during the day.  This is called TDEE, which stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. You can get an estimation here.

2. Figure out surplus

In order to figure out how much calories you should consume, add 300 to your TDEE. That way you will always be in a caloric surplus.

———-SURPLUS = TDEE + 300———-

3. Figure out your macros (Protein, Fat, Carbs)

Take the above number and split it in percentages.


4. Figure out your macros grams


This is how much grams of each macronutrient you should consume on a daily. You figure out how much grams of each your food has by reading the label on the package of weighing your food and putting it in MyFitnessPal.

Guide to Building Muscle for Skinny Guys. Guy preparing his meals in the kitchen

5.Tracking macros

If you want to get serious about counting calories, read more about it on this article. If you want to just eyeball everything, make it a habit to drink a calorie dense shake every day. Adding this to your diet will bring you into caloric surplus. However, since you are not tracking your macros, chances are you will gain more excessive fat than if you would get into a habit of weighing your food.

How often should I eat for maximum muscle size?”

With all the confusing and strongly opposite concluding research out there, you should not worry about eating frequency. There are people that swear by eating every 2 hours and people that have seen great results just by having a feast once per day. Do me a favor, try both and see how your body reacts. But bottom line is, if you are consuming all your calories by the end of the day, you are gaining weight.

“But bulking is too expensive…”

Bulking doesn’t have to be expensive if you learn how to prepare your own food. Learn what are some cheap bulking foods and look into investing in supplements.

6. Supplements for skinny guys

Not necessary, but supplements will make your life way easier. You can save time and save money by investing in good quality supplements.

In my own case, I believe supplement have made a big impact on how my body looks. I have always just stuck to some basic ones. Below I give an affiliate link to the exact ones I am using. However, there are many different brands and kinds out there. Make sure you do your research before buying anything. Supplements are not FDA regulated and could therefore be harmful to consumers. Read here on how to purchase your next protein supplement.


1.Recovery for muscle growth

We go through two stages in order to build muscle. First stage is catabolic. It means breaking down. We are in a catabolic stage when we lift weight and break down muscle tissue. Second stage is anabolic stage. It means building up. It is a stage when we rest, and let our body refuel itself. Both are equally important; therefore, we need to account for recovery.


Water has many benefits. It is not only good for glowing skin or increasing concentration, but it helps with muscle gain in many ways. It boosts exercise performances, speeds up recovery, lubricates joints, wash away toxins… Therefore, drink your water boys.

sleeping koala is resting on the tree

3. Actual Sleeping

The most overlooked and the most important factor in building muscle is sleep. First, being sleep deprived decreases performance in the gym due to low energy. Sleep releases anabolic hormones like testosterone. I know, sleep releases steroids!!!  What also plays a role is a quality of your sleep. Disturbing your REM cycle slows down release of those hormones which will repair and grow muscle tissue at a slower pace. Therefore, get in your sleep and make sure you sleep in a cold, quiet and dark room every night for at least 8 hours.


1. Habits

“First we make our habits and then our habits make us” (John Dryden)

Doing things mentioned above daily is the only way to long-term success. Whenever I meet my clients for the first time, we create or replace their habits. I will go into detail about habits and how to create them in a different article. But for now, I will share with you the easiest way I use to keep track of my habits.

keeping habits on a whiteboard

2. Environment

Ever heard of an expression: “You are the average of 5 people you surround yourself the most”? I want you to really think about how true that statement is. In fact, if you have been skinny all your life, just take a look at your closest friends. Most likely, they have never been into this whole muscle building thing. That is also a reason why I have a private Facebook group with all my online clients. There, you can ask any question which will be discussed by people who are on the same path as you.

Do not break the chain

I have a whiteboard as soon as I enter my apartment. On it I have all my habits that I should do every day. Above are the days of the month. All I must do is to make a  cross by the end of the day. Essentially, I am making a chain. The only rule it NOT TO BREAK THE CHAIN. It is a method Jerry Seinfeld used in order to become one of the best comedians that has ever lived. So, bring out a whiteboard, get an excel spreadsheet, a napkin… just write down your habits somewhere. It doesn’t matter until it is written down. Make a commitment to do your best to cross out every habit by the end of the day.

3. Motivation

When you watch an incredible transformation videos from Skinny to Muscular you feel incredible. Seeing regular people reaching incredible results makes you feel like you can do it as well. Listening to motivational speeches makes you want to hit the gym and transform your life. Even though motivation is temporary, it is incredible important when it comes to action. My biggest motivation is to pretend I am a hero of my own story. In fact, it goes way beyond fitness. I want to write the best book possible so that my kids can read it one day and say:

“Wow, my dad was a real motherfucker”.

One of the most valuable tools that you get within my Online Personal Training program is going to be a PDF book. It is designed so you literally write your own story. It contains everything from measurements, achievements, progression pictures, test results… All you need to do is insert your monthly progress.

4. Mentornship

Think about the things you feel most proud of achieving in your life. The
odds are, you really cannot take all the praise for it. There were people in
the background who were pushing you, giving you guidelines and keeping you on track. There was somebody to report to and somebody who would keep you accountable.

Building muscle and achieving your ideal body is way beyond just fitness.
Of course, you might look better in V-neck shirts and it will be harder to
scratch your back… However, the real pleasure comes from everything else.

  • Confidence
  • Respect from the peers
  • Respect from girls
  • Being more attractive girls
  • Feeling like everyone is admiring you
  • That first: “OH MY GOD YOU GOT BIG”

Luckily, now in 2019, we have an ability to have online mentors. That way you do not need to waste your time trying to find a mentor offline who will most likely charge you way too much. Personally, I have gone through relatively big transformation which completely changed my life. Through lifting heavy weights, I was able to get good enough in my sport (discus throw) to get a NCAA D1 scholarship in New York where I studied Exercise Science. Ever since my graduation, I have helped hundreds of clients work on their fitness goals. I realized that what I learned in schools and from studies is not always as relevant. Experience was the key to really help me grow as a Personal Trainer.

I began to see things that work and that do not. I began to distinguish why
some athletes response differently to different types of exercises and what to do in order to avoid plateaus.

Where can I read more about the program?

If you feel could benefit from Skinny Men’s Muscle Building System, contact me through contact page. All you need to do is type: “interested”and I will send you more details on how everything works.


Above you have a summary of my whole blog. I explain reasons on why Lift, Eat, Sleep, Repeat is so important in the world of hardgainers. For at least one of you out there, I hope that Guide to Building Muscle for Skinny Guys serves as a spark that starts the entire journey of building strength and confidence. Are you that guy??


About the Author

Hey, my name is Ire.I am a Personal Trainer/ Strength Coach based in Stockholm, Sweden.When you don't find me in the gym, I will most likely be on a Track and Field stadium throwing around a discus.

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