How to gain muscle mass if you are skinny (without gaining fat)

Are you a skinny or very thin person who, no matter how hard you try, can’t gain weight or gain some muscle? Or on the other hand, are you someone who has no problem gaining weight, but everything you gain ends up being fat?

 If any of these examples are your case, don’t worry, don’t think that all is lost and that your body has no solution. You can always do something about it, the point here is that many times, despite the enormous effort you could be making, it is very possible that you are not doing things correctly, focusing on hard but unintelligent work, work that does not produce results. .

Let’s better turn this around and work intelligently, to now be able to put on a few good kilos of muscle. This is precisely what we will address in this article, that key information that you need to know in order to achieve the results you want.



First let’s look at the case of those who cannot gain weight no matter how hard they try, and here’s the thing; If you’re not gaining weight, it’s because you’re not eating in a caloric surplus.

Explaining this topic in an easy and summarized way:

All the foods we consume provide us with energy or calories. If we are skinny, what we want is to eat enough food to be able to consume a good amount of calories, greater than our caloric maintenance, that is, that point at which we neither gain nor lose weight, which will allow us to have a surplus of energy and store it. in our body, which if we do it intelligently in combination with good resistance training and optimal rest, we will convert it into muscle.

The most common thing we will hear regarding this topic is that person who says – “I eat a lot, several times a day and I don’t eat anything” – And the most repeated mistake is that these people are based on what is popularly known as “ “fitness food”: where the base is almost always foods such as white rice, cooked potatoes, chicken breast, tilapia, tuna, broccoli, asparagus, egg whites.

And yes, I know that they are nutritious foods, many of them high in protein, but these have in common that they are low in calories and quite satiating, that is, you will fill up very quickly when consuming them and also there will not be so many calories that you will get. of them to be able to create this caloric surplus.

This is where the crux of the matter is. If we are not gaining weight, no matter how much we think we eat a lot, there is no choice but to try something different, and this is different is counting calories . This, believe me, will make all the difference, as it will allow you to evaluate what you eat and realize your possible mistakes. With this you will be able to realize that perhaps despite “eating a lot”, you still need more calories to make a good surplus. caloric.


This is the only way to have exact control of what we eat and thus adjust if necessary. Now, remember that everything you eat does not necessarily have to be “fitness” foods. In fact, if you analyze the panorama, a skinny or thin person represents someone who by law does not eat enough, therefore we have to get creative and include certain foods that can easily provide us with more calories, yes, without leaving a base of foods. Nutritious and high in protein. For example, including seeds, cheese, cookies, whole milk or, if applicable, smoothies, will allow us to increase caloric intake much more easily, as they are energy-dense foods and with this, now, we can have a good surplus.


Now, another advantage of counting calories is that it also allows us to limit fat gain. This point is also very important to understand, because there are those who say – “I don’t have any problem reaching a surplus, I do eat enough calories, my problem is that I tend to gain a lot of fat quickly” –

Regarding this, what often happens is that we think that the more we eat, the more muscle we will gain, as if it were a linear relationship. Hence the problem that there are many people eating uncontrollably in their volume phase and even trying the famous 5,000 or 7,000 calorie diets that are seen on the internet, with which they end up storing a lot of fat after several months.

What we must understand about this, as Greg Nuckols says in his book “The Science of Lifting”, is that when creating a caloric surplus, we all have a limit of muscle that we can create with the excess energy and from reaching this limit, everything else gained will be fat. This is the key reason why counting calories is vital!

Knowing that our surplus is limited, it is not in our best interest to exaggerate the amount of food and calories we consume. I’m also telling you from experience, all this happened to me, in a period where I ate a lot without recording or contemplating anything, I ended up gaining too much unnecessary fat that later took me a long time to remove.

Now, a difficult question to answer is how many calories does this limit represent? And the truth is that there are many factors to consider here, the body is a complex machine and it is not so easy to find a perfect calorie range.

For example, in the scientific literature we can find evidence of novices who can consume up to 2000 surplus calories and still gain mostly clean muscle. However, other studies done with higher level athletes show that even 500 calories are too many to not gain fat, so a 200 to 300 calorie surplus may be enough.

Seeing these wide ranges, it is really difficult to give a perfect amount, really each individual is unique and can respond differently. However, what I can tell you with certainty is that it is clear that novice people will be much more likely to assimilate larger surpluses, since there is more capacity for muscle gain and the more advanced you are, then you should be more careful with the amount of calories, seeking to make smaller surpluses.

All this leads us to the conclusion that we have to experiment with our body, play with calorie ranges and see where we do have efficient progress without fat gain. Here again highlighting the importance of counting calories , this makes us take total control and discover what can really work for us.

Regarding the topic of protein consumption, something as simple as keeping around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight is enough to maximize muscle growth, you don’t need to go too high in this amount because you have a surplus of energy, your body has plenty of calories to grow. A different case from fat loss, where it is advisable to have slightly higher amounts of protein since the muscle is at risk of being lost due to being in an energy deficit. I explain this whole subject in depth in a video on my YouTube channel that you can see by clicking here .



If everything in the previous point is understood, then you will already know how to take care of your diet for muscle gain, so you will already know how to focus on making a smart caloric surplus, without being too exaggerated to accumulate fat.

Now, we have to focus on maximizing the quality of our training to be able to take advantage of that excess energy from the caloric surplus and be able to convert it mostly into muscle mass.

I have already explained the subject of training in depth in another Fitness Kaizen article that you can see by clicking here , so in this section I only want to focus on those vital points that we should all be taking care of.

These key points are:

  • Learn and always seek to have correct technique in each exercise.
  • Work at an adequate volume, prioritizing multi-joint exercises.
  • We put a lot of effort into each series we do.
  • Seek progression in training whenever possible.

If we focus on understanding and taking care of these 4 points, we will truly stimulate our muscles in an excellent way, now let’s look at them one by one.

Learn and always seek to have correct technique in each exercise

This point is vital for 2 reasons, the first is that poor technique increases the risk of injury and an injury means weeks or months away from training, one injury and say goodbye to progress. And the second is that good technique is the center of everything, since it allows you to really stimulate the muscle you want with a certain exercise.

Also having good technique allows you to define a starting point for progression. For example, if you define your pull-up as stretching your arms past your chin, then you will focus on all your repetitions being like that. And if you decide to increase the load, then for this progression to really be valid, you must respect the defined technique. If, for example, with 10 kilos you do not pass the chin, then you are not ready for that progression, so you must continue improving. This allows us to put our ego aside and be much more methodical with our progressions, doing them with quality.

Work at an adequate volume, prioritizing multi-joint exercises

Regarding this topic, the most important thing to understand is that if you are a skinny person without muscle who does not progress, you do not want to go directly to doing the routine of the muscular person with drugs who has been training for 15 years, understand that with a little quality you have to grow .

Remember that the recommended series ranges are from 8 to 20 series per muscle group per week. Start by trying the lower ranges (8-12), looking to do little but high-quality work. That is, 1 or 2 exercises of about 3 to 4 series per muscle group, preferably multi-joint to work several muscles at the same time and make the routine more efficient, done about 2 times a week will be a pretty good starting point to have great progress. .

Below I show you a routine as an initial recommendation, it is a torso / leg routine, one of my favorite schemes to progress as a beginner or intermediate.

Try hard all the time

Unfortunately, this mistake is made by many people, humans tend to be lazy by nature and make less effort than we really should.

Greg Nuckols makes this very clear in one of his articles, showing how we are actually very bad at evaluating our efforts thinking that we are giving a lot when in reality we fall short. For example, in a study that precisely evaluated effort and load selection, it was found that more than half of the participants actually worked with very easy loads in the bench press, very far from failure, so they would hardly have any stimuli. suitable for hypertrophying the chest to its maximum capacity.

Taking care of this point is key because, as I have already explained in many videos and articles, we have almost all the stimulus and hypertrophic potential in the last repetitions, the ones that are really difficult and the ones that most people avoid because they do not want to feel that discomfort or that little pain that comes with this.

The idea is to understand that if we are doing few exercises and few series then we have to do them of quality and give our best, give a lot of effort. This is how we will really see that muscle growth that we all want so much.

Seek progression in training whenever possible

Finally, the last key point to be able to have good growth in muscle mass is to always aim to be better than before, to be a little stronger or to do a little more work. Many studies have shown a clear relationship between strength and muscle mass, showing that generally the greater the strength, the more muscle the person will have. And of course we can see this reflected in the gym, a person who lifts 60 kilos in the bench press and 60 kilos in the squat will most likely have less muscle than someone who lifts 120 kilos in these exercises, the same as someone who lifts 180 kilos in these exercises. exercises..

Now, strengthening and connecting all the points mentioned above, if you have relatively few exercises and few series in your routine, if you always work at high efforts and have good technique, and you are in a caloric surplus, that is, you have a surplus of energy, then you have everything the field to progress little by little, seeking month after month to be a little stronger, to do a little more repetitions. You don’t have to achieve it from session to session either, don’t stress too much about this, just have a clear goal of being stronger, of trying to give more and that’s it, believe me, progress will come on its own.

If you want to read an article on the topic of progressive overload so that you can better master this topic, you can do so by clicking here.

And finally I want to comment that it is also important to prioritize rest, both in terms of sleep and training, planning certain downloads from time to time, a topic that you can also delve into by clicking here . 

Likewise, using supplements such as creatine and protein powder is not a bad idea either, these can help improve performance and more easily reach the amount of protein needed in our day to maximize our muscle gain. What is unnecessary is spending on supplements like BCAAS or testosterone precursors, these won’t really help you and are just wasting your money. Better invest this in better quality food or accessories to train better.

I hope this guide has been of great help to you! Share it if you think this information can help someone thin to improve their physique!

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