How to Gain Weight (as a skinny guy)

People typically work out for one of two reasons; to lose weight or to gain weight.  Most women fall under the “lose weight” category, while a great proportion of men want to gain weight, or at the very least gain muscle mass and lose fat.  While it may be hard to belive for some, there are a lot of guys out there who have a really tough time adding weight.  They are predisposed to be skinny, and overcoming their genetics takes a lot of work in and out of the gym.

They are almost complete opposites of the individuals who have to work extra hard to lose just an ounce of body fat.  It seems everything they eat makes them gain weight.  These kind of people would kill for the skinny body type, and vice versa.  The grass is always going to be greener.  The important thing is to accept your body type and train accordingly so you can maximize the results of your efforts.

This article is geared towards the guy who does everything he can (read: thinks he’s doing everything he can) to pack on muscle mass and tip the scales.  More often than not, there are at least one or two gaping holes in their fitness plans that are inhibiting them from making any noticeable gains.  Check the 8 points below and see what you are lacking from your routine. 

  1. Track caloric intake.  It’s hard to hit your recommended number of calories if you don’t know how many you are taking in.  Write down everything.  Yes, it may be a bit tedious at times, but showing a little discipline in this regard will pay you back ten-fold down the line.
  2. Set a goal.  Pick a realistic weight you’d like to reach.  If you are 5’8” 135lbs, trying to hit 225lbs. is probably not going to happen without you becoming massively overweight and unhealthy.  Adding just 20 lbs of muscle to that frame will change your appearance drastically.  You’ll go from wearing the same t-shirts your middle school sister wears to having a lean, ripped, athletic looking physique.
  3. Eat consistently.  You should be eating every 3-4 hours.  A rough estimate for the calories you need on any weight gain program is body weight x 20 calories.  For a 135 lbs guy, that’s 2,700 calories a day, bare minimum.  Don’t neglect breakfast either.  This really is one of the most important meals of the day when you are trying to gain weight.
  4. Eat calorie dense foods.  For instance, 100 grams of spaghetti is ~380 calories.  100 grams of rice is 380 calories as well.  It’s a heck of a lot easier to eat 100 grams of spaghetti than it is rice.  Go for calorie dense (but NOT junk) foods.  Undertaking a weight gain program does not give you an excuse to stuff your face with Burger King or whatever else junk you may be craving.  Eat smart and clean, and you won’t have to worry about developing man boobs instead of pecs.  Some great calorie dense foods you should try: avocados, almonds, olive oil, peanut butter, cheese, pasta, oats, hummus, dried fruits.
  5. Lift weights.  This may be painfully obvious to most of you, but it needs to be mentioned anyways.  This is the number one thing you need to be doing on a weight gain program.  You aren’t going to add muscle if you don’t workout, period.  Combining a solid weight training program with a high-calorie diet is the backbone of any successful weight gain plan.
  6. Protein, Protein, Protein.  The building blocks of muscle.  Aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.  Great sources of protein are found in eggs, beef, chicken, pork, fish, dairy.  Take a whey protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.  NEVER miss this meal.  Your post-workout shake is arguably the most important meal of the day.  Take another whey protein shake sometime else during the day for good measure.  Try to eat some slow digesting proteins before bed.  A little cheese and/or milk before bed would certainly fit the bill here.
  7. Plan your meals.  If you know you aren’t going to have time to cook on a certain day, plan your meals in advance and make them all at once.  Grilling up a weeks worth of chicken breasts and having them at the ready in the fridge is a good place to start.  Make a giant bowl of chili on Sunday.  Bake that lasagna when you have time and let it last you the whole week.  Failing to plan is planning to fail. 
  8. Track everything.  Track every bit of gain you experience.  Everyone has a different body and some things may work better for you than someone else.  The only way to really know what’s working and what isn’t is by charting your progress.  Seeing a slow and steady weight gain is also a great motivator.  Write down your strength increases as well.  If you want, take pictures of yourself in the mirror so you can compare later on.

The number one thing most guys complain about is that they don’t know how to eat as many calories as they need in a day.  To really pack on the weight, eating 3,500 calories a day is a good goal to set.  A very rough meal plan is shown below to help give you an idea how to hit that magic number.

Meal 1: 5 egg whites, 2 ounces turkey breast, American cheese.  1 cup of oatmeal with a handful of raisins.

Meal 2:  2 handfuls of almonds with a tuna sandwich and glass of milk.

Meal 3:  2 cups of pasta with pesto tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.  1 large grilled chicken breast.

Meal 4: Whey protein shake blended with milk, peanut butter, 1 cup oats, and a banana.

Meal 5:  Strip steak, 1 medium salad with olive oil and fresh avocado, 1 glass of milk, 1 dinner roll.

Meal 6:  1 cup cottage cheese, fresh berries, glass of milk.


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