Most fitness sites and magazines tend to focus on ways to help guys lose weight: they tell you how to get shredded for the summer, how to diet prep for a contest, or just ways to be lean all year around. While this information is fine, articles on weight loss topics tend to far outnumber the ones that give advice on guys gaining weight.
This leaves the skinny hardgainers out there struggling to find good information on gaining mass for their body types. What they need is a good, easy-to-follow, step by step overview to make sure they are covering all the basics to help muscle growth. So, let’s discuss in five simple steps what you need to check off to make sure you’re doing what you need to for optimal muscular development.
5. Take in more calories than you burn
For any ectomorph bodybuilders out there, this is the most obvious first step. Skinny guys know they must eat more to grow. The problem is that their metabolism is so high they just burn up their food sources far too quickly. This is great when you actually have muscle and want to be shredded, but this is absolutely awful when you’re trying to build muscle in the first place. You’re just burning the calories too quickly.
To counteract this problem, you must take in more calories than you burn; at least a 500-calorie surplus. A constant calorie surplus is an absolute requirement to properly feed your body for growth. But that doesn’t mean you should just stuff any sort of junk food in your mouth as a means to reach your calorie goals. No, you also need to make sure the food you’re taking in is of a higher quality.
The reason it’s so important to take in high-quality foods is because what you eat affects how well you absorb certain nutrients. Think of your body as a race car. You wouldn’t put cheap gas in a race car and expect it to run at optimal efficiency. So, don’t put crappy food in your body and expect to get optimal results from your training.
You don’t want to simply guess how many calories you need to be eating to grow, though. That could lead to taking in less or way more calories than you should. Here’s a helpful little formula to figure out the proper caloric surplus you want to be at.
Your bodyweight in lbs x 15 + 500 = ideal calorie intake.
For example, if you’re a 170lb man: 170 x 15 = 2550 + 500 = 3050 calories
4. Carb Up
While most bodybuilders need to constantly monitor their carb intake for fear of gaining fat, ectomorphs get to chow down on them without worry. Carbs really help ectomorphs get the very desired insulin spike after workouts to feed their muscles.
Most of the time you are going to want to eat slow-digesting carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes alongside quality proteins like lean meats, fish, and eggs. Don’t skimp out on healthy fats either: things like coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and olive oil all help with carbohydrate and nutrient absorption while adding a healthy dose of calories.
Ectomorphs can usually benefit from eating a decent sized portion of carbs at every meal. So, look to eating complex, unprocessed, whole grain carbs most of the time — with some simple carbs during and right after your workouts for better insulin spikes to boost energy during training periods.
3. Lower Volume, Higher Intensity Workouts
Ectomorphs don’t benefit from training the same way as mesomorphs or endomorphs do. The five to six day a week training schedules many bodybuilder use are absolutely awful and just plain counteractive for skinny guys. Hardgainers should not perform high volume workouts because they already burn too many calories as it is. That kind of training will only further inhibit muscle growth.
The best way for ectomorphs to build muscle is to trigger growth through strength training; heavier weights and lower reps. Progressive overload should be used to ensure sustainable progress as the muscles start to develop in both size and strength.
2. Limit Cardio
Just like high volume lifting, cardio can be a huge factor in why skinny guys are unable to get any muscle gains in the gym. You simply do not need to burn extra calories through cardio when you are already struggling to put on size due to burning a lot of calories just because of a high metabolism.
This doesn’t mean you should skip cardio altogether, though. No, cardio is still good for building endurance and maintaining a healthy level of conditioning. Just limit yourself to light jogging or cycling a few times a week.
1. Get Enough Rest
Don’t be an idiot; all bodybuilders need to rest properly for their muscles to grow. This is doubly true for skinny guys as they already have trouble with burning muscle as fuel — and muscle builds during sleep. When skinny guys train but don’t sleep enough, they just burn through more muscle instead of building it.
That’s exactly what you don’t want to do. So, focus on getting at least eight hours of sleep every night. And make sure you are taking at least a 24-48-hour breaks in between strenuous workouts to avoid using your muscles as fuel. If you follow these five simple rules, you should be making gains in no time!