As a naturally scrawny guy who had struggled with the inability to put on size for the majority of my life, I know how painful it can be to train your ass off and eat like the worlds food supply is going to disappear only to step on the scale, week after week, and realize that you have not grown at all.
With that being said, I want to share 3 muscle building mistakes that were keeping me skinny. After being frustrated for so long, I started to do lots of research on how to build muscle for skinny guys.
If you have been training 5 days per week for the last 4 weeks and have not seen any results, common sense would say that you aren’t training hard or long enough.
When I finally packed on 27 lbs of muscle in 12 weeks, it was because I said “I want to build 21 lbs of lean mass by March 21st”. It is not about how much time you spend in the gym, but how you spend that time in the gym. It seems like once the minimum required amount of protein is met, eating more protein on top of that has very little effect beyond the extra calories that you get from it.
If you want to master this once and for all and gain 20-30 pounds over the next couple of months check out our full step-by-step muscle-building system for naturally skinny dudes – complete with training program, nutrition program, recipe book, exercise videos, members community and individualized coaching from us. As for insulin, that DOES have a big effect on how much muscle you can build, and it very is something you’d want to be optimizing surrounding your workout!
Luckily, so long as we approach building muscle cleverly, we can not only hold onto our insulin sensitivity, we can improve upon it.
With a good enough nutrition and weightlifting program this won’t much get in the way of building muscle. Like I said at the beginning of this article though, as skinny guys we need to emphasize adding things into our diet, not taking things out. Plus, due to homeostasis (our bodies regulating our body weight), once our bodies adjust to their new muscular burliness, our appetite will naturally increase to accommodate our ever so slightly higher caloric needs.
Problem is, every time we read something more appealing to us than the previous trend, we want to try it. This will allow your body to get an adequate amount of rest in order to recover and build new muscle. If you get even just 20% of your calories from protein you’re eating 170 grams of protein.

Bulking diets become far easier when you’re getting more of your calories from carbs or fats. Many researchers believe that the most, if not all, of the information in the book has been refuted by studies that are conducted in a manner that are far more scientifically reliable (randomized controlled trials > epidemiology and correlation). SunWarrior makes some pretty good stuff, and you can even get vegan creatine, BCAAs, b12 and DHA. The Paleo diet, like most other diets, also does some great things though: avoiding processed food, eating plenty of veggies, getting in lots of protein, etc.
Losing fat by entering into ketosis is EQUALLY as effective as losing fat by not entering into ketosis, so it’s really a matter of preference. I was quite familiar with being skinny though, so I was also quite familiar with that advice.
Gaining 2+ pounds of muscle per week is pretty much unheard of in the muscle-building world, and yet us skinny guys are able to do it pretty consistently.
Nobody else is writing about this stuff from an ectomorph perspective though, so if we want to get to the bottom of this we pretty much need to do it ourselves. How little attention was given to us naturally skinny guys became more and more evident the more and more research I did.
In one study, the participants were overfed by 1000 calories per day for eight straight weeks and instructed not to exercise. I worried that as soon as I stopped overfeeding my muscles would shrivel up back up and be skinny again. Get the protein that you need to maximally build muscle in, but get most of your calories from carbs. So although common sense would drive us to want to spend more time in the gym, science proves otherwise. Not only did this create unrealistic expectations, but there was absolutely no deadline to hold me accountable for making progress.
Nutrient timing and carb cycling are just bits of the puzzle, and not nearly as significant as the quantity and quality of what you eat overall! Four weeks later the group that ate normal sized meals, not surprisingly, had the same stomach size as when they started.

And I certainly know how disappointing it is to bust your ass, day in and day out, only to step on the scale or look in the mirror and realize that nothing is working. The only way you are going to get the results you want is to PICK A DAMN PROGRAM and stick to it.
Knowing that every week or so I was going to get questioned about my progress made me that much more motivated to stay on track. Your growth hormone levels will be stellar overall just from training heavy, eating well and getting plenty of quality rest anyway.
Third, even when we do manage to get into a caloric surplus, our adaptive metabolisms kick in.
We tend to get a pretty wide berth though, especially when our nutrition fundamentals are in order.
This suggests that even when we store a fair bit of fat, our fat cells simply increase in size instead of increasing in number, making it relatively easy to get back to being comfortably lean again.
When we get stressed, bummed or tired we often lose our appetite entirely or forget to eat. There are lots of ways to increase the energy density of them, too, so that we can still get our calories in easily.
This article has been a great reminder and reality check to get things right and try smarter for my muscle gain journey.
We’re always on guard for things that indicate that things may or may not be good for us or our goals.
Martin Berkhan, the creator of LeanGains, and arguably the most influential intermittent faster out there, is notorious for his insatiable appetite and epic cheesecake binges. Over the course of a few meals that would add up to several hundred calories without you even noticing the difference. And as far as fibre goes, getting enough is key, since it will allow you to process the large amounts of food you’re consuming, but more fibre is not always better.

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