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This article is for all those ectomorphs out there that are looking to add muscle.
You may think it is impossible, but it’s not. Even if you have been skinny your whole life you can still build muscle if you go about it correctly.
If you are tired of being that skinny guy and you want to bulk up a bit and add some quality muscle to that twig like physique then you have come to the right place.
Let’s get started on what you should be doing in order to add muscle.
Use Compound Lifts
When it comes to lifting weights and adding muscle, not all exercises are created equally. Some lifts are much better at adding muscle than others.
The lifts you want to focus on to add the most muscle will be compound exercises. These are the exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time. An example would be the bench press which works the chest, triceps and shoulders. These exercises are what you are going to need to focus on if you want to build the most muscle.
We have already covered this in detail in our article covering the exercises that build the most muscle but we can give you a list of these exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck. These exercises include:
- Barbell back squats
- Bench press
- Overhead presses
- Heavy kettlebell swings
- Farmer’s carries
- Clean and press
- Pull ups – weighted if possible
Work hard at these exercises and if you can get strong in most of these movements you will add muscle. It is unavoidable.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be doing things like barbell curls or calf raises. Those exercises are fine but they won’t add muscle like the compound exercises will. Focus most of your time the compound exercises and then work in the other movements as needed.
If you want to gain muscle you need to eat big. That doesn’t mean just stuffing your face with double cheeseburgers though. You need to be eating quality food and you definitely need to be eating enough.
Some good quality protein sources you should consider are grilled chicken breast, fish, eggs, beans, soy, salmon, lean cuts of beef and low-fat milk.
A general rule is that you should be eating as many grams of protein per day as you weigh in pounds. So if you weigh 200 lbs you should be eating 200 grams of protein. However, if you are a skinny guy looking to add muscle you would want try and go above this mark. I would shoot for 1.1-1.25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Carbohydrates can also help you build muscle but just like we mentioned with the protein you are going to want to go for quality carbs. Eating twinkies all day just to try and bulk up is not the way to go.
When looking for carbohydrates to add to your diet you should be looking for the slower digesting complex carbohydrates. These will be less likely to turn into fat and will keep you fuller longer.
Some good carbs for you to consider include whole grain bread, quinoa, kale, veggies, brown rice, oats, and berries.
You should definitely keep the sugary fast digesting carbs to a minimum. Some examples of these include soda pop, cakes, candy, white bread, potato chips, pastries and the like.
When it comes to eating fats you are going to want to stay with healthy fats. Consuming unhealthy fats like french fries and fried chicken won’t do you any favors and it is very unhealthy.
When it comes to eating fats you are going to want to focus on eating things like avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, extra virgin olive oil and real peanut butter.
Definitely limit all fried foods, potato chips, donuts, sausages and other processed meats, cheese and ice cream. Those are not the kinds of fats that build solid physiques. They are more for clogging arteries.
Use the Right Supplements
When you are a skinny looking to add muscle a good supplement can definitely help. This is one area most guys tend to overlook that can really pay off.
A good place to start would be a quality mass gainer for building muscle. These shakes are loaded with high-quality protein, carbs, and fats to give you healthy calories that will make your muscle building that much easier.
You can also check out our supplements that build the most muscle. There are many great choices on this list including creatine which is another one of our favorites that build both muscle and strength much faster than you normally would.
Another thing you might want to consider is a nice muscle building supplement stack which combines different muscle building supplements that will work together to help you build more muscle even faster than with one single supplement by itself.
Lift Weights 5 Days a Week
If you are following one of those pro bodybuilder workouts that have you training each body part only one time per week then you are most definitely not getting the most out of your training. In a study in 2000 a study titled “Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects” they took a group of 25 experienced lifters and divided them into 2 sub-groups.
One of the groups trained just one day a week lifting three sets to failure, with rep ranges moving from 3-10 reps per set.
The other group lifted 3 times per week lifting just one set to failure with the same rep range. Therefore both groups did the same volume of work but one did it all in one day and the other spread it out over 3 days.
The results were that the group who did the work over 3 days had greater increases in both lean body mass and improved one-rep max strength.
Other studies have also shown that training a muscle 2-3 times per week is better for muscle and strength gain. They also show that 3 times a week is better than twice a week but only by a small amount. This means if you have the time and desire to train each muscle group 3 times a week you will get the best results but twice a week is also very good. Once a week is better than nothing but you should try for more than that especially if you have trouble adding muscle.
A Typical Bodybuilder’s Daily Menu
Below you’ll find a sample of a typical bodybuilder’s that will help you add lean muscle.
- 1 cup oats with a sliced banana
- ½ cup low-fat milk
- 2 scrambled eggs with 6 egg whites, scrambled in 1 tbsp. olive oil and diced vegetables
- 3/4 cups Greek yogurt topped with ¼ cup dry oats, 3 tbsp. dried cranberries, and ½ cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups brown rice
- 8 oz. grilled chicken breast
- 1 cup steamed broccoli drizzled with 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 apple on the side
- 1 large whole wheat pita
- 1 can tuna mixed with ½ mashed avocado and 2 tbsp mixed with low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- Any other diced vegetables as preferred
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 large baked sweet potato
- 8 oz. grilled salmon
- 1 side salad topped with 1 tbsp. olive oil dressing
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
3 oz. grilled chicken breast with 2 cups brown rice
2 scoops mass gainer protein powder with 1 banana and ½ cup raw oats
McLester, J., Bishop, E., & Guilliams, M. (2000). Comparison of 1 day and 3 days per week of equal-volume resistance training in experienced subjects. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 14(3).