What's The Ideal Workout Program For Skinny Guys Looking To Gain Strength And Muscle? Read On..
If you are reading this, chances are you're a skinny guy. Great, I used to be one, too. I remember looking down at my legs one day and telling myself that something had to change. That same day I called up a friend with quite a bit of gym experience and asked him to teach me how to build muscle and finally pack on some size.
Today I want to do the same for you. This article will teach you exactly which workout routine is best for skinny guys and what you have to do differently than the average joe in the gym. But first we have to talk about a few "myths" that get thrown around a lot when people talk about being skinny.
Skinny Guy Workout Myth #1: Being Skinny Means Being An Ectomorph
Even though I do agree that we all come in different shapes and sizes, the notion of the three body types ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph is nothing but an oversimplification that has little to no scientific backing. Sadly, many people still believe in these classifications and follow some sort of workout plan designed especially for ectomorphs.
These workouts often assume that ectomorphs need to train completely differently from "normal" people. While it makes sense to come up with a workout program that fits your lifestyle and goals, it will always have to follow the rules of building muscle to get you results. These principles are the same for fat, skinny and normal people.
Skinny Guy Workout Myth #2: Being Skinny Means You'll Never Gain Weight
Most of the time the reason you're skinny will be a result of several factors such as a fast metabolism, low appetite, a lot of exercise, different bone structure or hormone level. Sometimes even all of the above. Especially a fast metabolism can make it harder for you to gain weight, even when eating the same amounts of food your heavier friends eat.
That doesn't mean, however, that it is impossible for you to gain any weight whatsoever. There is one diet rule that applies to all humans alike: If you consume more calories than your body expends per day, you will gain weight. Period. In the end, it all comes down to calories in vs. calories out.
Now, depending on how fast your metabolism really is, you might have to eat a lot of extra food to see significant weight gains. This part sucks, because even though everybody will envy you, eating all the time isn't as fun as it seems. Read my article on diet planning and bulking for more help on this.
Skinny Guy Workout Myth #3: Being Skinny Means You'll Never Gain Muscle
Similar to the belief that skinny people can't gain weight, is the notion that they will never be able to gain any significant amount of muscle. If that were the case, all skinny guys would have long died out on this planet. You see, the human body is designed to adapt to its environment. Your goal is to create an environment that forces your body to grow more muscle and build strength.
Unfortunately, a lot of skinny guys do the exact opposite. They lift light weights for too many repetitions, do mostly isolations exercises and too much cardio. Combine this with the wrong diet and you got yourself the least effective workout for a skinny guy. Let's see how it should be done:
How You Should Train As A Skinny Guy
The basic principles of muscle-building apply to both skinny and normal guys:
- Focus on compound movements, that target more than one muscle group at the same time.
- Build you workout routine around the four major lifts - deadlift, squat, bench press and military press.
- Use progressive overload to your advantage by increasing the weights over time.
- And Warm up properly
Now the things you want to do differently:
Lower The Rep Range And Increase The Weight
Most gyms have their trainers help beginners with setting up their workout program. These trainers are usually pretty lazy and give out the same exact program to everyone no matter their current fitness level or goals. It's usually a 3-day split where you train each muscle group once a week. For beginners, they often recommend lighter weights and a rep range of 10-12.
That's fine during the first (few) month(s) to get used to the exercises and focus on perfect form (although I'm not a big fan of split routines for beginners). But once you got all that down, you want to lower the rep range while increasing the weight. For the 4 major lifts I mentioned earlier try to do between 6 - 8 repetitions, 8 - 10 for other compound movements and 10 - 12 for isolation exercises. Studies like this one have proven the advantages of lower rep counts for both muscle and strength gains. In my experience this is even more true in a workout for skinny guys.
Take Longer Break Between Sets
Remember when I told you to focus on those big compound movements like deadlift, squats and bench press? That's because they are great mass building exercises, that work almost your entire body. Unfortunately, these heavy lifts will also take a toll on your central nervous system. The harder you go on your first few sets, the weaker you will feel during the rest of your workout.
A great way to not kill yourself at the beginning of your workout (when you should be doing the heaviest exercise) is by taking longer breaks between sets. I'm talking three to four minutes. This is only about a minute longer than the "normal" break between sets of around two minutes, but it makes a huge difference in strength. Not only will you be able to lift more overall weight, you will most likely feel less fatigued after your workout.
But don't overdo it with the breaks either. Two minutes for isolation exercises should be enough, because they don't require as much total body strength. The same goes for "smaller" compound exercises like chin-ups.
Less Cardio Is More
As a skinny guy you are naturally lean. Oftentimes you'll already have six-pack abs even without doing special ab exercises. That's one advantage of having a lower than average body fat percentage. Due to its fast metabolism, your body burns calories like they're nothing. However, that also means you have to consume more calories when wanting to reach a calorie surplus. This will only get worse if you do additional cardio.
Like most skinny guys I'm not a big fan of eating huge amounts of food. If limiting my cardio means that I have to eat less, then that's what I'm going to do. Don't get me wrong, cardio is important. It's a great way to train endurance for which your heart and lungs will thank you. But especially during a bulk it can really be counterproductive.
Ideal Workout For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle - Summary:
- It's a proven fact that skinny guys can gain weight and muscle just like anyone else. There are some things you want to do differently, though.
- Build your workout around big compound movements at a lower rep range.
- Take longer breaks between sets to avoid fatiguing your central nervous system
- Limit cardio (or avoid it altogether) when you are in a calorie surplus.