10 Skinny Guy Muscle Building Tips

Even skinny guys can add some bulk and muscle to their twinkish frames with a little effort and dedication.

Dear Davey,

I am one of those guys who is very thin and eats whatever his heart desires and I will not gain a pound. I do not expect to ever be “jacked” but I would like to be fit and filled out. With that being said, do you have any work out tips for people with a build and metabolism like myself?

From,
Max

Dear Max,

So you’re one of those people. I’m sure your metabolism is the envy for anyone reading this that is trying to lose some weight. You probably won’t get much sympathy here. But there are a few things that you should know!

First, nutrition is still important. Even though you can eat whatever you want without increasing your waistline, it doesn’t mean that unhealthy food options are any better for your body. I remember reading about autopsies being done on young American soldiers who had died in Iraq. Their veins looked like they belonged in 60-year-old cardiac arrest patients. In other words, nourish your body with healthy choices.

Second, it’s important to be realistic. If your nickname is “String Bean,” or “Tommy the Twink,” then you probably don’t have the genes to look like the Hulk. All of us are given different body types, and so it’s important to create expectations within the boundaries of what is possible. Instead of comparing ourselves to other people at the gym (who have a totally different set of genes) compare yourself to… yourself. You certainly can add bulk, but it will be to a different degree. It will be bulky for you, and that’s what matters.

Beyond paying special attention to your nutrition and being realistic, the recommendations for building bulk are the same for you as anyone else. You’ll need to:

  1. Lift weights. If you want to get creative, try P90X for a serious workout.
  2. Target a low number of repetitions (4-8 or 10 at most).
  3. Be fully fatigued on your last rep.
  4. Keep pushing yourself to progress to heavier levels of resistance or weights.
  5. Fuel your body with enough calories.
  6. Consume the right amount of protein.
  7. Don’t overtrain – get rest!
  8. Continue with moderate cardio. Don’t worry, it won’t burn off your muscle.

So the truth is, with a little effort and dedication, you’ll certainly be able to add some muscle to your frame. You might not look like Popeye, but you will see some fantastic results.

Hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 100 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Max doesn’t give his age. If he is a teen or early twenties guy he will probably find that he will fill out in time, given that he follows your good advice.

    • I’m 23.

      • Hey my name is Max too and I have the same problem (I’m younger though). just sayin.

        • Wow… my name is Max too and I have the same problem but I’m 25. Thanx for your tip davey!

          Hugs Max

          • Get this—my name is Max too and I also have a high metabolism! To all the slender Maxes out there, I hope you stay happy and healthy.

          • My name is Charlie and I have the same issue.

            The recommendations are far too broad. What exact machines should I use at the gym? How much weight? How many sets and reps? How often? What foods? How many? How often? Where to find them? Simple stuff that no one bothers answering.

  2. Thanks Davey, this was helpful. I’ve always wondered if someone could be unhealthy without being over weight.

    And yes one of my nicknames happens to be String Bean! lol. ^_^

  3. Thanks! This is super helpful for me. Now I just need to find the motivation to actually put in the work.

  4. I’d like to see the opposite of this message now, I’m a bigger guy, not huge but bigger and I never get to eat what I would enjoy so I can lose weight and I work out till I’m fatigued 6 days a week yet my progress is incredibly slow!

  5. Thanks so much for putting this up. I’m one of those skinny guys who can’t gain weight, your tips are helpful :) If you ever think of more, please post them. I’m always trying to find ways to bulk up.

  6. Jerry Dechant says:

    As we age, our motabolism changes, so don’t expect to be skinny all your life. When I was younger, I was like you, but as I got older I began to gain weight. I don’t consider myself fat, but according to some research information, they’d consider me obese.

    Your youthful body is the foundation of your adult body, so build a strong and healthy foundation, and enjoy being thin and healthy now, and in the future.

  7. Enjoy..I’m a skinny guy but as you get older your metabolism WILL slow down and you will gain weight, and not necessarily in the right places. But with a good exercise regimen and healthy lifestyle you can sail through middle age, rather than sink.

    The other thing is this–if you have more of an ectomorphic(skinny) build don’t go out of your way to transform yourself into a muscled hunk. Muscle is hard to maintain for us skinny guys–it will take a lot of fuel (nutritious foods and protein supplements) which all take fossil fuels to make. And for what? Just to look good by the pool? If you do physical labor for a living that’s a different story, but then you’d probably already have the muscles you want.

    Davey is right, work with what you have and don’t compare yourself to others. One advantage skinny guys have is that they can add a little muscle and show a lot of definition –a nice combination that will also turn heads…

  8. AXOLOTL15 says:

    Great advice! I also happen to be a hard gainer. I’ve been plateauing on 150 lbs at 5’10″ and 21 years of age for months now, but at least I’m in a good shape, even if it’s not the goal I set myself when I restarted my workout program. It’s also hard for me to trim that last bit of abdominal fat (damn you, perfectionist attitude!), but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  9. Fritz miniutti says:

    Davey i need help gettting rid of my fat belly & get a beach body what should i do ??

  10. Any advice for another skinny guy who happens to also run marathons? I’m 26 and have pretty much been the same weight since I was a teenager. I eat very healthily and am also a vegetarian. Being vegetarian makes getting protein more challenging, but not impossible. I definitely use a lot of quinoa, nut and soy based proteins in my diet. However, I’m currently training for another marathon, running anywhere from 20 – 45 miles a week, and there seems to be no way to keep up and maintain my muscle mass. Every year I lose weight during training and then gain it back (although only a few pounds of muscle) when I’m not training. Any tips? Or should I pretty much expect to lose that weight with so much running?

    • Your body muscles deteriorate over time if you run long distances consistently. You can’t run so often and become muscular in mass. It’s just the way the body works. If you want to gain mass you have to run a lot less in shorter distances and work your muscles out.

  11. i have the same problem…
    i eat alot of health food…
    however, i still skinny…
    i would like to have a nice body shape…
    21 years old here…

  12. ‘I’m sure your metabolism is the envy for anyone reading this that is trying to lose some weight.’

    HELL YEA!

    • i am 20 years old and feel exactly the same as u all i have had the same waist size since i was 14 and although with exercise and gym workouts i may get briefly bigger or broader from a side on view i am almost 2D, I am now just learning to accept what i am and if anyone else feels that way i suggest looking at bruce lee or following his workouts they cater to us and like others have said we are so easy to define and get toned, i would discourage protein shakes maybe it was just me but due to my metabolism they didnt really stay in my system long if u know what i mean, try parkour conditioning workouts that build core and if u work the interior the exterior grows with it if u think my advice helps give me a shout and like others have said in time we will be remininsing on this when the weight comes in all the wrong places lol x

    • Yea he may be the envy of anyone trying to lose some weight, but the fact is, as in his case as well as mine and all the other hard gainers, it is much harder for us to gain weight than it is for all those trying to lose. The worst part of eating all those (even healthy)calories and all that protein, is that it’s not only unhealthy, in my opinion, but it’s a bitch. It’s also a bitch to have to pump iron furiously.. I also like to do my cardio. It feels good and it is the best thing for you. That doesn’t help my weight gain either. I believe for someone like me it is impossible to gain even just ten pounds of muscle in a healthy way. I would love some responses, from anyone who thinks otherwise. Overweight people generally eat too much and, or don’t get enough exercise. I know lots of people eat for emotional reasons, or are brought up in an unhealthy environment, but for the most part I don’t feel sorry for people who are trying to lose weight and do nothing but complain, and feel envious of people like me. In order to just fill out a little and not look like just another skinny dude, I have to relentlessly pump iron and eat like a fricken pig. Envy me all you like. I can just tell you, all I want to do is look somewhat muscular and be healthy at the same time. Believe me, it’s not easy!

  13. Fernando R says:

    Thanks Davey Wavey this was super helpful, I am also a skinny guy, I have always wanted to be a little muscular and not looking like a 16 yr old guy or younger, yeah I’m 23 and that’s actually what most people say about me, and it really bothers me a lot. I don’t work out nor go for a walk to the park because I really had in my mind that if I do so I would lose weight and look even thinner… Now that I have read this post I know that I must go for it and start working out. Oh I almost forgot to say, I also eat whatever is on the fridge. My nutrition is not so good at all. :/
    Alright Dave, I thank you for all your support and motivation.

  14. You’ve got great insights about How to maintain a healthy body, keep up the good work!

  15. Christian says:

    Hey I’m trying to gain muscle and I weight 145 tops and the problem is that I don’t know anything what so ever about weights and wat to eat and wat not to eat its driveing me crazy I wish someone could take the time and explain what to do for example how much to lift weight how much am I really suppose to work out please help?????

  16. Davey, (.. and yes, my name really is Davey too..) I’m 28, almost 29 now, 5’9″, weigh 107lbs, and have a 24″ waist. I was in the military, at one point while deployed for 4 months I did protein shakes, big breakfast, big lunch and small dinner, and no working out for the first bit to try and bulk up. Then I did go to the gym and sure I got a lot of definition, and only got up to 128 (also my maximum weight ever). I don’t want to look like Arnold, but I’m also tired of looking like I’ve the body of a 6 year old girl. You gave some good ideas, but also very vague. “Eat right, high weight with low reps”, etc.. Been there, done that, almost bought the t-shirt. This still doesn’t work. Any extra help would be great..

  17. Hi, I’m 15 and I’m 6’1. Most people say I’m lanky and i agree, id like to have bigger triceps and biceps and also a fuller chest. Any ideas that would help i have a high metabolism which means i don’t put on much weight but i’d still like to bulk up because compared to a lot of people i know i feel slightly scrawney…

  18. I’m 18, eat anything and everything in sight. I’ve been stuck between 105-120 for the last 5 years. I’m 5’9″ and I workout as much as I can, but my metabolism burns everything I eat before it has a chance to become anything that I can turn into muscle. My Body fat is somewhere around 9% and I can build hardly any muscle. I can’t figure out what to do :/

  19. heres my problem. Im 19 about to turn 20. im 5’10″ 140 lbs. i have been lifting for about a year now, nonstop. ive taken protein, creatine, ive eaten like im 300 lbs instead of eating like im 140. ive already applied all your logic yet i still cannot gain weight. creatine and mass gainers did nothing for me even when i took the proper dosage. anything advice?

  20. I’m 18 yr old.I’m a skinny boy.what should I eat to gain some weight&then how to make a perfect body

  21. Ian Coleman says:

    I’m 60. Kind of makes me an odd guy here, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m an extreme ectomorph, and when I was nineteen I was 6 foot 4 and 162 pounds. I tried very hard to be more muscular than I was, lifting weights three times a week and eating about 5000 calories a day, but it just didn’t work. I just got very tired. When I was about 25, I took up running, and after a about three months I had learned to love it. I’m not even that good a runner, to tell you the truth, but all these years later I can still run five miles in 50 minutes, and am in good health because of it. And I’m still thin; no more than ten pounds heavier than when I was a young adult. That’s my story, for what it’s worth.

  22. Dave Fleming says:

    I was 140 lbs in high school and thought id be that way forever. Then i started a workout plan similar to the one davey described. Now im 24yrs old and at 5’10″ im 190 lbs and have a 30inch waist. Im not huge but i look big. So dont give up, skinny people. U just have to work a little harder.

  23. Being realistic – in other words, staying within the limitation of your own reality. If you are, then your reality will hardly change. Be a dreamer instead.

  24. rakesh yadav says:

    i am a thin guy . every body will laughing on my thin body .plz told me what i will do my build up my body muscles….

    • Hi, rakesh. I used to just weigh 125 lbs at around 172cm.
      Adding more muscle is not as hard, as long as you follow the principles Davey has written here. I also have used them.

      Also, you might want to check out, http://www.forskinnyguysonly.com, for some tips as well. Who knows, you might be making some mistakes on your way to your fitness as well.

  25. Does this work for women as well?

  26. iam very skinny.I cant able to increase muscles in my body.Form the childood days iam very skinny.If you have any solution for my problem?

  27. I am very thin.. People started troubling me because of my health. I want to grain my body quickly and fast plz MR maxx help me atleast me should look fit

  28. I am a skinny guy of thirty four years of age, and it keep distubing me to an extend that people are always making jest of me.Please how can i add weight in two to three weeks.Advise me

  29. Hi i saw this n it sounds like its for someone like me let me just explain myself so im 15 n i really want to have a nice body pretty much like the guy in the picture up top maybe a little less fit i way from 114-120 ibs. I go up and down in weight really fast like just by skiping one meal im like 5 foot something n have crohns disease if that matters i dont have access to a gym only 5-25 ibs. Dumbells a total gym machine a bike n one of those home gym bars that fit in ur door anyway im just sick of looking like a walking skeleton n i just keep trying everything i can to get the body i want but none work if u can help me that would be amazing

  30. I forgot to mention that i really want to play lacrosse this season coming up in a couple months n that i pretty much eat everythig i can grt my hands on except fish n some veggys plz help me

  31. .. Skinny body, how can i make my body bigger..I’m only 5’3″ and half in height!… what i do to make my body fit and my abs make good?…thanx

  32. what will i do!…

  33. I’m 26 yrs old , 56 kgs., Im only 5’3″ and half height what will i do make my body bigger and abs bigger..and my arms!..please help me !..

  34. im 17 height 5’7.5″ from India.Well im really skinny i dont gym, but im into all sorts of sports n im never low on stamina.i weigh 50-52 kgs :( n im feeling the need to grow muscles, doctors in india are so lame they never help people out in such matters,they always tell me to wait till i grow up, and im like “grow up….wtf does that mean throughout all these years i have never seen a bit of muscle increase” this is really depressing. im ready too take pills supplements which work but please advice something worthwhile.I dont want a super dody as john cena or as any wrestler but a decent one.And one more thing “does masturbating once or twice a day harm body muscle growth?”. Im truly looking forward for your answer :)

    • You have to eat and pump heavy iron, and even then I can’t promise much for guys like us.

    • Hi Rahul,

      Try to take amino tablets before meals if you can. They are affordable. And I find them quite effective

      Also, masturbating has no proven track record of harming the body’s muscle growth. I’ve done the research and I’ve tried as well.

      Skinny guys like us will always have a hard time adding muscle, especially without taking the right rest, the right supplments, nutrition, and the right workout.

      Good luck on your endeavor.

  35. Hey There. I found your weblog the usage of msn. This is a very well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  36. how many calories/carbs that are low fat should you be consuming to stay a ‘string bean’ but with toned muscle?Not bothered about my skinny-ness just want a little extra muscle…bit more than the athletic look

    • For a string bean look, just use a typical calorie calculator to determine your caloric requirement, then eat portions of 70% carb, 20% complete protein and 10% fat spread evenly throughout the day to maintain that “string bean” physique, if you’re not after gaining any muscle.

      By complete protein, I mean animal protein/whey protein.

  37. Dear Davey,
    I am one of those guys who has ridiculously skinny wrists and I have tried everything to try and increase their size but nothing seems to work
    Got any advice?
    Cheers, Luke

  38. How cAn i gAin weight I’m skinny help Mε̲̣̣̣̥ I want to gain muscle

  39. I’m in the same boat as “Davey”, post 22. I’m actually 31 and as one guy stated, practically 2D. I don’t know what else to try. Any suggestions?

  40. How long should you rest between sets?

  41. I’m not sure if this will help all but it will help some. I am/was a skinny guy also. I’m 6’1 and 190 lbs but if you look at me, I am pretty thin. I also have a high metabolism. One tip that I got and I’m sure you have all heard it before is to just eat. You need calories to build size. Sure you’ll gain some unwanted weight but that’s the only way your gonna add muscle. Try eating something every two hours whether it be a full meal, snack, shake, or even something as small as a couple of spoon full of peanut butter. Yes your metabolism will be moving quicker but your body and mind will be more accustomed to eating all the time. Your body burns a certain amount of calories for maintenance. Once you get over the plateau, your body starts to use the extra calories to make muscle. Good luck everyone and just keep going at it.

  42. i am so thin person. im 15 years old. what should i eat plz help me i want to look just likw max.

  43. i am 23year old 5.8height 120pound. i am looking so thin. what can i do to look just like max, give me tips of exercise

    • Hi Chuck,
      You are in fact under weight.
      as far as exercise goes, there is no single exercise to help you add more weight/ muscle.
      Given your height and weight and probably your metabolic age, my estimate is you need around 2000-2500 kcal worth of food a day. (probably 65% carbs 20-25% protein)
      Given that you also start working out as soon as you start your increased food intake, you’ll be adding muscle in no time fast.

      If you have not started working out yet, Get the safety basics down first.
      Then, start looking up some tips at my site if you have time.

  44. Hi im am a skinny guy too! height 5,8 weight 122. Im doing insanity right now with weight lifting once a week or so. Does anyone know if i’m going to get bigger muscles or have a toned muscle look? thanks

  45. All the “skinney” guys on here, if you can’t bulk up, then your not eating enough.
    Plain and simple.
    Lift weights
    Eat big
    Rest big. Its not magic, or rocket science.
    And for anyone of the mind “oh but I do eat alot and I am still skinney”: no. You dont eat alot. You just think you do.
    Average bulking day –
    Breakfast – 4 egg white one whole egg omlette on two pieces of toast. Half a grape fruit, or glass of juice, and a bowl of oats.

    Snack 1 – protein shake, handful of almonds and a piece of fruit.

    Lunch – 1 chicken breast or steak, baked potato and half a cup of green veggies.

    Pre training meal – chicken wrap with chicken breast, avacado, cottage cheese and brown rice

    Post training – protein shake with glucose and a piece of fruit

    Dinner – piece of meat, half cup of brown rice and half a cup of greens

    Snack before bed – half a tub of cottage cheese, or a protein shake made with milk.

    If you are not gaining weight, increase the amounts. If you still cant gain weight, then get yourself checked for stomach parasites

    • TheSkinnyGuy says:

      My first reaction to that menu was… Is that it???? I’m pretty sure I eat that much without even thinking about it.. And still stay skinny enough for girls to be jealous of my waist….

  46. What research backs up the <10 repetition advice for bulking up when one is skinny?

  47. Thanks for asking that question and thanks for answering that. It’s really helpful for guys like us!

  48. Thank u very much for the heads up.M going to start my work out as soon as tomorrow!

  49. Notice how none of you guys who replied to this article got replies. Or did you?

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