With 2018 just around the corner and a few of us feeling a bit sluggish after the over indulgence during Christmas, I thought today would be the ideal time to discuss a healthy way for Skinny people to Bulk up and get the body that you have always wanted.
I am in no way saying that I am the finished article but here is what I have learnt through books and podcasts.
If you are a skinny guy and struggle putting on weight, this post is for you. If you are a skinny lady and are interested in bulking up, a lot of the same advice will apply. If you are trying to LOSE weight, this post is also for you.
To me, getting bigger and stronger is about confidence in your own skin, self-respect that comes with strength, and the satisfaction that comes from challenging yourself to do something that you couldn’t do yesterday. It also helps that you will also look better to that boy or girl you have been chasing for a while.
Before I go more in depth, I would like to put one myth to bed straight away! After travelling Asia this year, I noticed that gyms are not a requirement to build muscle and get stronger (if the proper training routine is used).
I’m still not the biggest guy in the world, nor will I ever be. I’m okay with that. I’ve learned that anyone can pack on muscle, even a skinny person like me. As Sean Fitzpatrick (All Black Rugby legend) has said “Success is modest improvement consistently done”. So lets start….
Your diet is the most important thing
As they say, muscle isn’t made in the gym, but in the kitchen. Just like for somebody trying to lose weight, in order for somebody to GAIN weight, their diet will account for 80-90% of their successes or failures.
What that means: you’d be better off working out twice a week for 30 minutes and eating right, than working out 6 days a week and not eating properly.
This is a very common mistake, and I hold my hands up that I was this person previously.
I was working out five days a week for 60-90 minutes a day trying to get bigger. I drank protein shakes like I thought I was supposed to. I got a little stronger, but never bigger.
BECAUSE I DIDN’T EAT ENOUGH CALORIES.
Here’s the truth: If you are not getting bigger, you are not eating enough. Your body can burn 2000+ calories every day just existing and you need to overload your system with calories in order for it to have enough fuel for the muscle building process.
Now, for every person, the number of required calories daily is different:
For some people, it might be 3,000 calories a day. For others, it might be 5,000 calories a day. For others, it might be 8,000 calories a day. Now, you might be thinking “there’s no way I can eat more than I’m already eating. I’m always full.”
Like a muscle, your stomach can be trained to eat more food. I’m not a big fan of calorie counting, but I think for a newbie starting out, tracking calories for a few days is a great place to start.
Depending on your training and genetics, you can decide how much weight you want to gain each week.
Sure, it is possible to have incredible transformations in a short amount of time, but it’s far less likely to be sustainable change, which is what we’re looking for.
The diet that I have found that has helped me the best is the so called “healthy” bulk: I have followed this method to great success. Ultimately, I follow the Paleo principles whenever possible (good sources of quality meat, tons of vegetables, no gluten (as I am intolerant to processed carbs), but mixing in some specific items that are calorie/carbohydrate dense to reach my calorie goals for the day: whole milk, rice, oats, legumes and lentils, and/or sweet potatoes, along with enough healthy fat sources (nuts, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, almond butter).
Along with liquid calories, you can train your body to simply consume MORE regular calories. If you are cooking rice, each week try adding in an extra quarter cup when you cook it. And yeah, you have to FORCE your stomach to accept more food, even when you’re not hungry.My advice would be to start by adding a little bit more food each day and soon enough your stomach will adjust.
My Nutrition and Supplement Tips areas follows:
- Avoid factory farmed meat and fish
- Get more vitamin B12
- Oily fish eg. salmon or mackerel
- Nuts eg. almonds walnuts cashews
- Seeds eg. pumpkin linseed chia
- Oils eg. flaxseed and hemp
- Avoid white rice and white bread
- Eat something small every 3 hours
- Avoid processed food and eat more veg
- Eat slow releasing carbs, e.g. Oats, Sweet potato, Baby new potatoes, Brown or basmati rice, Veg, Fruit
- Whey protein – 25 to 50g per serving for men and 10 to 25g for women
- Creatine – 3 to 5g pre and post workout for men and 1.5g to 3g for women
If you want to get bigger, focus on getting stronger
Here’s how it works: when you strength train, your muscles are broken down and then rebuild stronger to adapt to the stress you have applied to it. As long as you are continually increasing the weights or reps you are lifting (to an extent), your muscles will continually adapt to get stronger. If you are doing this while eating enough calories, you are getting bigger. Its that simple!
For that reason, we’re going to focus on full body routines that contain compound exercises that give us the most gains. You should build your routine around the big movements, and get really strong with them.
Specifically these movements:
SquatsDeadliftsOverhead PressesBench pressesBent over rowsBody rowsDipsPush upsPull ups
Here’s a simple workout plan you can follow:
Monday: squats, overhead presses, pull upsWednesday: deadlifts, bench presses, body rowsFriday: lunges, dips, chin ups
Get stronger and the rest will take care of itself.
Ideal amount of reps:
1-5 reps: strength and power5-8 reps: strength and some size8-12 reps: size and some strength12+ reps: muscular endurance
What this means: if you want to get bigger and stronger…keeping your reps in the 5-12 range is the sweet spot. Set the weight for the exercise so that you will just complete the set number of reps.
What about body weight training?
Yes, you can get bigger and stronger doing exclusively body weight exercises. The challenge with body weight exercises is that, just like with the strength training above, you need to consistently increase the difficulty in order for your muscles to adapt. Because you can’t “add weight” to a body weight exercise to make it tougher, you need to increase the difficulty of the movement itself. In fact, I personally believe the best routine mixes both weights and body weight training.
Last but not least, Your body builds and rebuilds its muscles during RECOVERY. Your muscles generally need 48 hours or so to recover from its previous workout, so I do not recommend you do any serious strength training of the same muscle group on back to back days. Word of caution for those who love to run or cycle cut back on the running or cut it out completely, this is slowing you down. Try mixing in sprints and interval training if you want to keep the cardio up without having to cover the crazy distance. You can always add it back in once you accomplish your weight gain goals.
I hope this article has helped, and if your head hurts at this point, I can narrow it down to four main points:
Get stronger by picking up heavy stuff or doing more challenging body weight movements.Get bigger by eating enough.Recover faster by sleeping enough and giving your muscles days off to rebuild.Enjoy the journey!!!
I see this article as a resource of sorts, so feel free to leave a comment with a question, and I’ll do my best to answer it. If you are interested in Shane Walsh Fitness services, either online or face to face please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.