I remember when I first started getting into fitness and bodybuilding that I thought would never see any progress. The truth was that as a skinny guy and I simply found it impossible to gain any weight or muscle. I thought I knew how to get ripped, but it seemed for me at least, that the more I worked out the more likely I was to lose weight and muscle.
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After years of fitful starts trying different workouts and diet strategies I finally figured out how to gain muscle, and I’ve boiled it down to these core concepts:
1) 80% of fitness is nutrition
2) Lift heavily and frequently, but avoid over-training at all costs
In this post I will discuss the nutrition side of the coin, next week I’ll dive into the workout details.
I have a naturally fast metabolism, so aerobics, or pretty much any type of exercise puts me into an immediate caloric deficit. I discovered that I really needed to pack on the calories to gain muscle. Wisdom of old for skinny guys looking to gain muscle was to simply eat huge meals. This flat out does not work. True that you need to get enough calories, but a you also need to eat “sensibly” and “strategically”. Meaning eating not only the right things but at the right times of day.
Just to maintain muscle you need to eat about .50 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you’re looking to actually gain muscle that should be increased to about .70 grams. In addition when you’re working out, you should aim for consuming an additional 500-1000 calories each day over your normal metabolic rate. Obviously make the calories count – eat lean high quality proteins like grass fed beef, eggs and seafood. Choose poly and monounsaturated fats (like fish and olive oil) and go for healthy carbs – vegetables and fruits. Use protein supplements to make up any additional caloric deficits.
Equally important to the added calories and type of food is the amount of meals you actually eat. Far better than eating 2 or 3 big meals is to space your eating over the course of the day. You are also much better off aiming to consume .20-.25 grams of protein every 3 hours rather than getting all your protein requirements met in just a few meals.
Ideally you should aim for a pre and post workout meal and then 4-5 additional meals per day. This might seem like a lot, but if you’re skinny with a fast metabolism, you need to give the body the extra fuel it needs to put on the muscle
In addition to eating right and often, also consider supplementing your diet with high quality protein powders. Avoid the stuff with artificial sweeteners or added soy.
Remember, it’s not impossible for skinny guys to gain muscle. Just take a good look at what you’re eating and when and you should be able to gain the pounds. Drop by next week and I’ll detail how to get ripped by putting all of these added calories to work.