Here’s me under 150 in high school, then at 182 lbs a few months ago. (I’m now weighing around 188!).
Over the past week I’ve received some emails, facebook messages, even ran into a few guys on the street who all had the same question:
“How did you gain lean muscle mass?”
The interesting thing about each of these conversations and emails was that every one of these guys is making the same mistakes that I had made in the past.
It was only a couple years ago that I was weighing under 150 lbs, busting me arse in the gym trying to build muscle, but was continually coming up short. I first started lifting weights when I was 16 and hadn’t gained more than a couple of pounds throughout high school and college, which was pretty damn frustrating!
If you’d classify yourself as a “hardgainer“, also known as an ectomorph or simply a skinny guy, you’re going to have to do things a little different than guys who have no problem packing on lean muscle. It wasn’t until I figured this out, that I began making gains in the gym.
When I actually figured out what it was that I had to do differently, I gained 32 lbs of lean muscle in 8 months.
As I said earlier, every skinny guy I talk to is making the same mistakes I had made in the past. Here are 5 mistakes, and what you’ll need to do in order to correct these mistakes and begin to see some results. Keep in mind that I’ve made every one of these mistakes and then some, so don’t feel like you’re alone on this!
You Can’t Train Like a Bodybuilder, Or a Guy Who Adds Muscle with Ease
This will overlap into a few of the remaining mistakes as well, and it’s a pretty important one to understand. We all see bodybuilders in magazines or even at the gyms we workout in and think, “if they’re jacked, we should be lifting like they do, and then we’ll be jacked too.”
If a guy can add muscle easily, he won’t need as much rest, he’ll be able to focus more on one muscle group at a time, even eat less calories and not worry as much about what he’s eating or how much he’s eating.
As a skinny guy, you can’t pattern your workouts after a guy who can pack on the pounds like it’s nothing. We’re not built like them, we can’t train like them, and in the case of bodybuilders, we’re not taking drugs like they are.
This is the first mistake I made and didn’t really fix until relatively recently. You have to lift like other guys who had the same body type as you, learn from their success and listen to your body along the way as well.
This means focusing on compound exercises, lifting a maximum of 4 times a week, and fixing the mistakes that follow…
Afraid of Gaining Fat
As a skinny guy you’re going to have to consume more calories than burn if you’re going to gain any weight. Simple.
That being said, it’s better to eat clean food, like lean sources of proteins, whole wheats, fruits, veggies and good fats. If you eat “dirty” foods, like fast food, you’re going to be consuming “empty” calories which have no real benefit to your body and you will end up getting fat.
Eat a lot! Never have just one helping, always go for seconds. I was scared of gaining fat and didn’t gain anything until I got rid of that fear and got down to business.
If you have a naturally high metabolism and find it hard to add weight, scheduling your meals and having a meal plan really helps. If you just try and “wing it”, a lot of the time you won’t eat clean or take in enough calories to put on mass.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
If you’re lifting hard your body needs ample time to recover. You need to be getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night and I’d throw a nap in there each day as well. A good sleep means a healthier metabolism which will keep your gains lean, better muscle recovery, and naps have been shown to result in the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), so by all means take a 30 minute nap after a workout!
Not Having Enough Variety
In my unsuccessful years I would do the same workout for 2 months. I may have had success in the first few weeks but it would always tail off towards the end and I’d end up gaining fat and while feeling drained in the gym.
Try a new workout every 3-4 weeks. This way your body doesn’t get used to the same thing and you’ll avoid plateauing.
Too Many Days in the Gym – Not Rovering
A lot of us think that because we’re skinny we have to do more than the guy who builds muscle fast. WRONG!
You actually have to do less. If you’re working out 5 days a week, cut it down to 3 or 4 (max 4). Keep your workouts short (max 60 minutes), but super intense, and let your body recover.
I trained too long with not enough intensity, and gained nothing. When I trained less frequently and upped the intensity, I began to see some pretty dramatic changes in my physique.
What have you changed in your routine that has lead to better results?
Do you have any questions about your routine right now? Ask away!