Welcome back to Sweet Machine Fitness!
I was actually inspired to write this article a couple weeks ago when a buddy of mine from high school got a hold of me asking me to write him up a diet and weight training plan. He’s a naturally skinny guy at 130 pounds, and wants to bulk up to the 150-160 range and add some muscle mass. While working on it I thought back to my days as a beginner building up from a skinny 135 pounds or skin and bones to a muscular 175 pounds of mass. I’ve since lost a bit staying at a lean 160 these days, but am inspired to get back on board with the mass I’ve lost since having kids. So this article is not only for the skinny guy trying to bulk up, but also for myself on my journey to adding more lean mass to my physique.
Growing up I was always a skinny kid. And by skinny, I mean REAL skinny. So skinny that there was actually a period in my life where our family doctor actually had my parents feeding me high calorie mass gainer shakes just so I’d be up to a normal weight for my age. I wasn’t starving or malnourished or anything like that, just a high energy active kid who didn’t have a big appetite.
Despite my size and stature, I always looked up to the larger than life guys like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and even Goku and Vegeta from Dragon Ball. They were all muscled up giants who were seemingly untouchable… and I was so inspired that I knew that one day it was something that I had to achieve for myself.
When I was finally old enough, I got my first gym membership and started hitting the weights. I was hooked. There was nothing like smashing heavy weights after a long day of school to relieve some stress while building and shaping myself into who I wanted to be.
Being a naturally skinny kid, I learned very quickly that if I wanted to put on any size and take my training to another level I had to start eating like it was my job.
So I did.
It was hard at first, but over time it became a natural part of my life. And over the course of a couple years (if you stay drug free these things take time), I put on a good 40 pounds and was even able to cut down and compete in a few bodybuilding competitions in which I did fairly well.
I figured I’d make a guide for my fellow skinny guys out there full of things I learned on my journey to growth.
Hope it helps everyone on their journey!
A few mass eating tips for the hardgainer
If you follow a fasting eating schedule, you might want to consider taking a break from it. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that Rhianna and I are both pretty big fans of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a great tool to get ripped and stay lean year round but if you have a small appetite, it might not be for you. Though I can personally get in enough calories on an intermittent fasting plan, I have the appetite and eating capacity of a hungry Super Saiyan so getting in the calories isn’t a big problem. For those who can’t pile on the food like me, trying to eat decent sized meals more frequently may be the ticket to putting on some size.
Use the 80/20 rule. Not only does rigid 100 percent “clean” dieting make you want to lose your mind, it also makes it hard to get in enough calories on a daily basis. That’s not your cue to fill up on a bunch of junk food with no real nutritional value though. If you fill up on crap you’re going to look and feel like crap.
Adding a few condiments, maybe some cheese, and changing up food sources on a daily basis do however go a long way when trying to add some mass! Building up your body should be an enjoyable process so why make it so hard on yourself?
When I first started training the majority of my calories came from whole milk, peanut butter and jelly, mass gainer shakes, ramen noodles, and ice cream. Though I wouldn’t advise it now because living off of that stuff is not healthy at all, as a 15 year old kid trying to bulk up, it worked.
Choose calorie dense muscle building foods. The bulk of the diet should come from foods like eggs, grass fed beef, potatoes, yams, fruit, oatmeal, coconut oil, and avocados. They’re pretty calorie dense compared to other food sources and they are all pretty packed with vitamins and minerals.
Get plenty of healthy fats. Speaking of calorie dense foods, each gram of fat contains 9 calories, as opposed to protein and carbs only containing 4. So getting plenty of dietary fat can increase your daily calories big time. Just stick to healthier hormone friendly fats like avocados, egg yolks, and coconut oil, and avoid trans fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Homemade weight gain shakes are are great way to get more calories in. Mix in milk, greek yogurt, berries, nut butters, protein powder, a healthier ice cream (Haagen Daaz is actually pretty good) or frozen yogurt, oatmeal, avocados, a couple bananas, etc for a delicious smoothie. Chugging down a big smoothie makes getting in a 1,000 calories or so extra easy!
Don’t put on weight too fast. Eating just a couple hundred calories above maintenance is the way to go. You may thing you’re getting jacked by adding more than a pound or so of bodyweight a week but on the contrary, you’ll probably end up just getting fat. Adding muscle isn’t an overnight process, it takes time so don’t rush it. Slow and steady really does win the race, just be sure to stay consistent!
Prep meals ahead of time. Taking a day or two out of your week to make sure that you have enough food cooked up for the next couple if days is very helpful for getting those calories in!
Testosterone tip: Be sure to cook your food in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet and store food in glass containers rather than plastic! Nonstick skillets and plastic contain BPA and other chemicals known to make your test levels drop thus making you less of a man.
If you don’t have anything prepped and no time to cook, check out my article healthy eating on the go. Chipotle is a great place to pile on the calories in a relatively healthy way, epic bars (affiliate link) and dried fruit make for good snacks, cottage cheese and fruit mixed together are good, and grabbing a precooked rotisserie chicken and eating with baked potatoes or Chinese food white rice are all good options.
Track calories and macros… maybe. If you’re having trouble consistently eating enough everyday plugging in everything you eat on a daily basis in an app like MyFitnessPal can be a helpful tool. I personally don’t track my macros unless I’m trying to lean out for a competition, but I’ve been in the fitness game long enough to eat intuitively and eyeball my food with pretty good accuracy.
Train hard. If you start lifting weights your appetite will naturally increase. Hard workouts require more calories to refuel after, so after intense training you’ll be be ready to smash on a bigger meal than you usually would. I’ve notice on weeks I deload, I’m much less hungry and struggle to take in enough calories compared to weeks of intense training.
Try to boost testosterone naturally. Testosterone and gaining muscle go hand in hand. There’s a reason why so many guys turn to steroids to put on mass. Though the effects won’t be quite as strong doing it all natural, there are natural ways get and keep higher testosterone levels that are very helpful for training hard and eating more!
Keep realistic expectations. Keep in mind that unless your using heavy amounts of steroids, a ripped 220 pounds is probably not in your future (or even a ripped 180 for that matter). I’m not trying to crush anyone’s dreams here, I just want you to know the truth! I’ve been training, eating, and supplementing for over 10 years now and at my personal best competition my stage weight has was only 165 pounds! So throw any ideas of becoming some kind of natural “mass monster” out of your head and set realistic goals and expectations. Unless you’re trying to make a living off of professional bodybuilding, a lean, functional, healthy, and muscular drug free physique its the way to go.
Make friends in the gym. Having a group of friends who are into working out fitness will push you your training to the next level and help you stay consistent! The gym is also a great place to find mentors, guys who have been in the working out game for a long time and are willing to share their knowledge, hits and misses, and experiences with dieting and training along the way.
Thanks for the read guys I hope this article was helpful on your journey to strength and mass!
If you have any other helpful tips for skinny guys to eat for mass be sure and leave them in the comments below. And share this article with a skinny friend struggling to get in enough food.
Train like an animal, eat like a Super Saiyan, and sleep like a lion!
Check with a physician or qualified healthcare provider before embarking on any changes made to lifestyle, training, supplementation, or eating.