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Best Workout Routine for Skinny Guys to Build Muscle and Get Big

Frustrated with your lack of progress? Stack on size with this total-body plan.

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blue jean images / Getty
Man-Looking-Away-Pushup
blue jean images / Getty

Hard-gainers or ectomorphs believe it’s difficult for them to build muscle because of genetics. But more often than not, they’re training too hard, not allowing enough time to recover, and not eating enough. Seriously, it boils down to the simplest of setbacks. But these workouts provided by Ben Bruno, a strength coach in North Andover, MA, will set you up for success.

Directions

Frequency: Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, and 3) once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

How to do it: Complete all the sets for one exercise before moving on to the next.

After one month, you should have added 15-20 pounds to the squat and deadlift and 10-15 to the bench press. You should’ve also gained three or more pounds of body weight. If you haven’t, consider adding more calories to your diet.

5 tips to help skinny guys gain muscle

1. Eat up

Aim for a gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day. So if you weigh 180 pounds, eat 180 grams. Take in starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, and oats; and snack on high-calorie (but healthy) foods like nuts, seeds, and other sources of good fats. If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to anything else, just remember to eat a lot of the right foods every day.

2. Train better, not harder

You can stimulate muscle growth with very few exercises as long as they’re done with heavy weight and they activate as many muscle fibers as possible. The workouts here have only four moves per session, but they’ll be anything but easy. If you’re the type who’s used to light circuits or bodybuilding routines that try to isolate every muscle, this is just what you need to grow.

3. Rest

Getting eight hours of sleep per night is crucial for growth-hormone release. “A nap every day in addition is even better if you can get it,” Bruno adds. In between workouts, get massages or use a foam roller to work out knots in your muscles and improve blood flow. Making these part of your routine enhances recovery.

4. Keep a log

This program’s main focus is to increase strength, so “record all your numbers,” Bruno says. Every week, strive to improve by adding more weight or more reps. As your strength goes up, muscle size will always follow.

5. Weigh yourself

Once a week, weigh yourself in the morning after you’ve used the toilet and before you eat or drink anything. You should gain about a pound per week. (If you don’t, you’re not eating enough.)

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Routine

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Day 1

Workout 1

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 12

Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 2 of 12

Chinup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
2-3 min.
Go to failure on last set
Exercise 3 of 12

Dumbbell Floor Press

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 4 of 12

Reverse Lunge

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8
Rest
2-3 min.

Day 2

Workout 2

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 5 of 12

Bulgarian Split Squat

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
6 (each leg)
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 6 of 12

Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 7 of 12

Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
6 (each side)
Rest
2-3 min.
On the last set, reduce the load by 20% and complete 20 reps.
Exercise 8 of 12

Feet-elevated side plank

Equipment
Bench
Sets
3
Reps
20 sec. each side
Rest
2-3 min.

Day 3

Workout 3

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 9 of 12

Front Squat

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
5
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 10 of 12

Inverted Row

Equipment
Power Rack
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 11 of 12

Single-leg hip thrust

Equipment
Bench
Sets
4
Reps
8 (each side)
Rest
2-3 min.
Exercise 12 of 12

Pushup

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
As many as possible
Rest
2-3 min.
How to
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