How To Gain Muscle As A Skinny Guy?

Updated on  February 26, 2023
William Toro

Published By:  William Toro

Fact Checked by: Bridget MacDonald, RDN

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Are you looking for easy and effective strategies to build muscle and transform from a skinny guy into a well-shaped muscular guy? We have you covered! Building muscles and gaining mass is difficult for some people. But after reading this detailed guide, you will be able to start your new journey of gaining muscles without any challenges.

Why Is Muscle Building Difficult For Skinny Guys?

The transition from skinny to muscular should be simple: eat more to gain weight and lift heavy. In other words, load up on carbs and protein-dense foods, then use weight exercise to turn them into muscle. 

However, if you are one of the skinny guys, you already know that muscle building is not that easy. You can increase your calorie intake, spend your days at the gym, and yet fall short on muscle mass. Why?

The simple answer is that you aren't eating enough, working too hard, or not getting enough rest. At its most fundamental, weight gain and weight loss are all about calorie intake. If you're not consuming sufficient calories to increase weight, no matter how much you eat and how hard you exercise, your weight won't increase.

Moreover, personal health issues can also have an impact. Certain drugs, health issues, or genetic predispositions might also create difficulties in increasing weight (1) for individuals making a considerable effort. But if you follow everything in this guide, you will quickly achieve evident results.

Factors That Help Build Muscle

There are five crucial factors to consider to build muscle for skinny guys. One should consider each significant factor to create muscle as rapidly as possible. In this guide, we will discuss these five factors contributing to gaining muscles for skinny guys. 

  1. Eating Healthy Food: Consume a lot of muscle-building healthy meals, including plenty of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and high-calorie snacks.
  2. Conducting Effective Workouts: Train properly to impact all your muscle groups in a balanced manner.
  3. Taking Proper Rest: Give yourself time to recover after a workout. Get 8 hours of sleep each night and take at least two days off weekly.
  4. Consuming Supplements: In addition to your healthy meal plan, you need the best supplements to receive an easy extra boost of nutrients and build muscles.
  5. Being Consistent: The key to success is consistency. (2)

What Your Healthy Diet Should Contain

The best thing for gaining muscles for skinny guys is consuming the proper and sufficient food to attain strength and weight. Eating food frequently will increase your weight, and gaining weight will help you build muscles. (2)

However, keep in mind that just increasing your food portions and eating more food won't do. You need to focus on what you are eating. Your muscles depend on the protein, nutrients, and vitamins you consume. 

A large part of gaining weight and building muscles is eating more calories daily (3) that are high-carb, high-protein, and rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. 

A few rules of thumb can make things much easier to manage. Begin by planning to eat every 3 hours, for a total of 6 meals daily. Each meal should ideally include a source of protein and be big enough to provide you with energy throughout the day.

Muscles are weakened because of exercise, and protein helps rebuild them (4). To build muscle, skinny guys need to eat 1 gram of protein for every pound of their body weight (5). Aim for 1 gram of protein per body weight daily. To simply put it, eat 100 grams if you weigh 100 pounds.

Consume starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, grains, and oats, as well as healthy high-calorie foods such as nuts, seeds, and other sources of beneficial fats (6). To make it easy for you, we have prepared a definitive list of nutritional foods and fruits to include in your diet.

Eat Healthy Fats

Cooking with healthy fats is one of the simplest ways to add more calories to your meals. Fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient (7), and most meals absorb oil during cooking. Furthermore, certain oils, such as olive, avocado, and flaxseed oil, have improved heart health. (8) 

Find a plant-based cooking oil you like and use it to season your ingredients. After plating, you can sprinkle it with oil for more flavor and richness.

While these oils are healthy, you need to be careful with the type of fats. 

There are three kinds of fat: 

  • Saturated fats: is found in cheese, red meat, and vegetable oils, which should be eaten in moderation.
  • Unsaturated fats: are healthy fats that maintain your fitness and health goals, including nuts, seeds, and oil. 
  • Artificial trans fats: you should avoid this fat because they can impact your cholesterol and weight and increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease (9). It is found in baked goods and margarine and spreads as a preservative.

Balance your fat intake by eating healthy fats with each meal and avoiding artificial trans fats like margarine.

Consume More Protein

Eating surplus food is vital for weight growth, but so is the quantity of protein you consume. Since protein is the establishment block for your body (5), particularly your mass, increasing your protein consumption is usually required to gain muscle mass. Furthermore, increased protein intake may encourage reduced-fat growth because of extra calories, creating lean bulking vital. (10)

Protein consumption is very crucial for those who want to gain muscle. Adult males and females must eat 56 to 46 grams of protein daily. (11)

The timing of protein consumption is also essential. Ingesting 20 grams of dietary protein during or immediately after exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis, reduces protein breakdown, and promotes more effective muscle reconditioning. (12)


You can mix your protein powder in smoothies and yogurt.

You can replace sour cream with Greek yogurt.

Consume Healthy High-Calorie Foods:

  • 1 tablespoon of plant-based oils = 120 liquid calories. (13)
  • Avocado with olives, 10 olives, or 1/2 cup avocado Equals 120 calories
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat cream or 1-ounce cheese = 100 calories


  • 1 tablespoon of natural sugars such as maple syrup, honey, agave, and molasses = 60 calories
  • 1 big whole-grain muffin, pancake, or waffle = 175 to 200 calories
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit = 100 calories


  • 1 cup of whole milk dairy products, such as yogurt and milk =150 calories.
  • 1 scoop of protein powder = 120 calories


A variety of garnishing products can assist you in meeting your calorie intake goals. Low-volume items can also help with this. Additional toppings mean there is more potential for extra calories.

  • Serve dishes with almonds and avocado.
  • You can use mayonnaise in sauces.
  • Pour honey or sugar syrups over your bread or pancakes.

Top Nourishing Foods For Skinny Guys To Gain Muscle Mass

Diet and muscle building go hand in hand. To grow bulky muscles, nutrition and physical exercise are essential. Physical activity is vital for challenging your body, but without sufficient nutritional support, your progress may stall. Protein-rich diets are essential for developing muscles, while carbs and lipids also require energy. (11)

For gaining lean muscle, increase your calorie intake and exercise more. Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet is essential for remaining fit. (14) Here is a list of top foods which are high in protein and fat:


Lean beef has a lot of protein, B vitamins, minerals, and creatine. (15) Even if you aim to increase muscle, eating beef promotes building muscle without adding too many calories.

3 ounces of 70% lean ground beef has 235 calories and 16 grams fat. The exact amount of 95% lean ground beef, on the other hand, contains more protein and only 148 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Chicken Breast

There is a reason chicken breasts are considered a mainstay for muscle gain: they are high in protein. Each 3-ounce serving provides about 26.7 grams of good-quality protein. (16)

Chicken breasts also include superior levels of the B vitamins niacin and B6. These vitamins assist your body in functioning effectively during the physical activity required for a healthy weight. (17)


This fatty fish is also high in protein and aids muscle development and overall wellness. Each 3-ounce portion of salmon contains protein of around 17 grams, 1.5 grams of omega-3, and a variety of B vitamins (18). Omega-3 fatty acids benefit muscle growth and boost quality muscle building during training programs. (19)


Tuna includes high quantities of vitamin A and many B vitamins, including B12, niacin, and B6 (20), in addition to protein of 20 grams every 3-ounce dose. These nutrients are necessary for good health, vitality, and athletic performance. (19)

Furthermore, tuna contains high omega-3 fatty acids, which may benefit muscle health, and delay the loss of muscle mass and strength with age. (21)


Eggs are high in protein, healthy fats, and other essential minerals such as B vitamins and choline. They are high in the amino acid leucine, which is especially necessary for muscle growth. B vitamins are also essential for several bodily processes, including energy production. Even though eggs are usually a protein, they contain more than 60% fat, some omega-3 fat, and only 30% protein. (22)


Milk contains a combination of protein, carbs, and lipids. Like other dairy products, milk includes proteins that digest easily and slowly. This is supposed to help in muscular growth. (23


One cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 28 grams of protein, including a significant amount of the muscle-building essential amino acids leucine (24). Like other dairy products, cottage cheese comes in various fat levels. Higher fat forms, such as creamed cottage cheese, include more calories. 

Choosing the best cottage cheese depends on how many extra calories you want to add to your diet. It's an excellent muscle-building snack regardless of whatever sort you choose.

Greek Yogurt

Dairy offers not just high-quality protein but is fast-digesting protein and low-digesting casein. Those who consume a combination of fast and slow-digesting dairy products that contain proteins gain lean mass. (26

Greek yogurt contains roughly twice as much protein as regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is a tasty snack anytime. You can eat it after your exercise or before going to sleep.


Half a cup of cooked soybeans offers protein of 16 grams, beneficial unsaturated fats, and various vitamins and minerals. Soybeans are an excellent source of vitamin K, iron, and phosphorus. (26)


A variety of beans is ideal for lean muscle gain. Popular types, such as black, pinto, and kidney beans, include roughly a protein of 15 grams per cup cooked. Furthermore, they are high in magnesium, phosphorus, iron, fiber, and B vitamins.

For these reasons, beans are an excellent plant-based protein source to include in your diet. Furthermore, they may contribute to long-term health and illness prevention. (27)


1 ounce of roasted almonds contains 6 grams of protein and significant vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus levels. Phosphorus, among other things, helps your body utilize carbs (28) and lipids for energy at rest and during exercise. Nuts like almonds and peanuts should be eaten in moderation due to their high-calorie content. A half-cup of blanched almonds contains over 400 calories.

Peanuts are high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates. A 1-ounce portion offers 7 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, and plenty of unsaturated fat. They are also higher in the amino acid leucine than many other plant items.

Peanuts contain around 166 calories per ounce portion. Eating peanuts may be an excellent way to get extra calories and nutrients if you struggle to acquire enough calories to fuel your muscular growth. (29)


Chia seeds and hemp are valued nutritionally for their high omega-3 fatty acids and other significant nutrients like magnesium, fiber, calcium, and micronutrients like thiamin (B1), selenium, niacin (B3), and zinc. (30)

Dark chocolate, nut butter, and spreads are excellent healthy fat sources.

How Do Muscles Grow?

Muscle size increases when muscles are constantly challenged to overcome high degrees of resistance or weight. This is referred to as muscular hypertrophy. Muscular enlargement occurs when the muscle fibers are damaged or injured.

The body heals damaged fibers by fusing them, increasing muscle growth and size. Hormones such as testosterone, human growth hormone, and insulin growth factor are also involved in muscle growth and repair.

These hormones increase the body's protein processing, activate satellite cells, a type of stem cell involved in muscle development, and stimulate Anabolic hormones, which increase muscle growth and protein synthesis and promote tissue development. (31)

Effective Workouts

What more effective way could there be to convert all those fat and protein into muscles other than a good workout plan? Remember that no muscle-building diet is complete without an appropriate training regimen. If you want your body to convert surplus calories into lean muscle tissue, you must put that muscle to use.

You can stimulate maximum muscle growth with a few exercises if they are done with substantial weight and engage as many muscle fibers as possible. People also get the best outcomes when they combine exercise with enough rest.

For muscle building, forget about expensive gadgets and equipment in the gym and concentrate on compound workouts. Compound movements involve numerous muscular groups. Numerous muscle lifting exercises stimulate the production of testosterone and growth hormones, which improve mass muscle development. (32)

Try doing complex workouts instead of isolation exercises like a reverse fly, front raises, or lateral raises. Full-body workouts are mainly different compound exercises combined into a routine. In addition to performing several compound exercises, full-body workouts keep you from over-training certain muscle groups. Overtraining one muscle group might reduce your body's ability to create muscle. (33)

Most skinny guys go overboard with heavier weights. Don't overdo your workouts and resistance training. Remember that more is not necessarily more effective. You don't have to do every exercise developed as a hard gainer. Perform a few compound exercises that include as many muscles as feasible.

Strength Training Exercises

Strength training on a periodized program will assist skinny guys in gaining lean muscle safely and efficiently. With strengthening exercises, muscle changes are noticeable after several weeks or months of constant activity and training. Adults should engage in muscle-strengthening exercises that incorporate all major muscle groups at least twice weekly to get more muscle. (34)

Strength training activities include the following:

  • Free weight training.
  • Using stationary weight machines.
  • Resistance band exercises.

Ultimate Muscle Gaining Workouts For Skinny Guys

Here is a list of ultimate muscle-building exercises for skinny guys. Including all of these in your whole-body workout routine will help to gain muscle.

  • Push-Ups
  • Squats
  • Clean and Jerk
  • Pull-Ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Shoulder presses
  • Bench presses
  • Overhead presses


According to Fagan, one of the best indicators of strength is the ability to move your body weight (35). If a conventional push-up from the floor is too difficult at first, elevate your hands on a step or a table—the higher your hands, the easier it will be.

The push-up is a push or press movement that engages all the body pushing muscles, including your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Practicing dumbbell or barbell chest presses might assist you in increasing your strength and form.


The squat is one of the best assessments of strength since it combines all the muscles in your legs and core. A squat is an excellent approach to perfecting your form and building muscle.

Clean And Jerk

The clean and jerk is a total-body movement that works practically every muscle in the body and multiple joints.


In addition to training your back, it develops and sculpts your shoulders, forearms, and chest. They strengthen your biceps, lats, and middle back. With the appropriate form, switching your grip, and increasing reps can help you bulk up these muscle groups and obtain the muscular physique you desire.

Pull-ups can be challenging at first, but mastering them can help you develop muscle in your upper body while making the straight bar appear less daunting.


This exercise causes a lot of muscular activation in your lower body.

Shoulder/Bench/Overhead Press

These exercises help build muscle in your shoulders, back, and upper abs. These exercises also help increase core, upper body, and tricep muscles' strength and volume. 

Range of Reps

Regarding strength training, rest times between reps are essential so that you may eventually continue your workout longer than if you did not have rest periods. Fewer reps, such as 5, might be optimal for someone just getting started with weightlifting. If you are new to weightlifting, you can gradually increase your rep count to 15.

Some Important Factors To Keep In Mind

Acquire Sufficient Rest And Proper Sleep

Rest is essential for muscular growth. A person's recovery is reduced if they do not allow each muscle group to rest. Inadequate rest also hinders fitness progression and raises the likelihood of injury. People should not perform strength training on the same muscle group on two consecutive days.

Getting enough quality sleep is also vital for the muscle-growth process. Sleeping for 8 hours per night is essential for growth hormone release. Although there is no direct link between quality sleep and muscle gain, sleep deprivation can increase the amount of cortisol that circulates in the body after exercise. Sleep deprivation reduces protein synthesis, contributes to muscle mass loss and weight loss, and hinders muscle repair. (36)

Take Supplements

It can be difficult for anyone, slim or not, to receive all the needed micronutrients from their diet alone. Therefore, the right supplements can be pretty beneficial. You can also look at mass gainer for guys. Also Pre-workout supplements are a great way to energize and fuel your body before a workout. Moreover, post-workout supplements help in building muscles. Consider buying protein shakes, powders, and creatine supplements to help grow muscles.

Be Consistent

Finally, you cannot achieve progress, growth, or change without consistency. Results don't happen immediately, and acquiring a healthy weight isn't something you can do in a few weeks and expect long-term results.

The most vital and yet most challenging aspect of sticking to any nutrition regimen is consistency. That is why selecting a diet you know you can stick to is critical!

Establish your foundation, continue to train regularly, and focus on eating well most of the time. Then be patient; your results will show up!

Track Your Progress

It's nearly impossible to know if you're eating enough food unless you track your progress and caloric intake. You may simply accomplish this by utilizing meal tracking apps to log your fat gain and food intake and count calories. Here are some simple ideas for getting the most out of your calorie-counting app:

  • Use measuring cups and spoons to determine how much you are consuming.
  • Consider weighing your meals for greater precision.
  • Include all ingredients, including oils, seasonings, sauces, dressings, and garnishes.
  • Keep track of everything you eat and drink; even minor bites and sips count.

Similarly, try to get better every week by adding additional weight or reps with your training. Muscle size will increase as your strength increases. Moreover, weigh yourself once a week in the morning after using the bathroom and before having your breakfast. 

You should gain a pound per week; if not, you must work harder with more significant food portions, more challenging workouts, and consistent efforts.

To Sum It Up

Now that you know all the keys to gain muscles and becoming fit, what are you waiting for? Simplify your weight gain goals by concentrating your efforts on your behavior to make a difference.

William Toro

William Toro ‧ CPT & Nutritionist

William is a certified personal trainer from NASM, he has also been a rehab physiologist for sports persons. He has more than 15 years of experience training people. And has featured in multiple publications like FoxNews, CNBC, Bustle, and other. 



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