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How Skinny Guys Can Grow Muscle | Top Tips & Mistakes To Avoid

How Skinny Guys Can Grow Muscle | Top Tips & Mistakes To Avoid
Liam Agnew
Writer and expert3 years ago
View Liam Agnew's profile
Building muscle is easier for some than others. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones who finds it tricky, this article here to help. If you’re doing everything you can but you’re not gaining muscle, here’s some reasons why it’s not working…

Too Eager? Jump Straight to:



6 Skinny Guy Mistakes When Trying To Grow Muscle: 

If you’re putting in plenty of effort, regularly showing up to the gym and you’re still not building muscle, it’s possible you are making some common mistakes. The section below will help you avoid these and allow you to go from skinny to muscular.


 1. You’re not eating enough

Building muscle requires energy. If you are not eating enough, you are not providing the body with the energy it needs.Whilst it may be possible to gain a small amount of muscle in a calorie deficit, the textbook guidelines recommend a daily calorie surplus between 250-450kcals.So get cooking with some of our key ingredients for a muscle building meal plan.

6 Foods For Your Muscle Building Meal Plan

The foods you need to really build muscle.


 2. You’re not getting your protein intake right

Protein and amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and it's essential you get your protein intake right when looking to add muscle. If you are not in a calorie deficit, the optimal protein intake for muscle gain is 1.6g/kg/d. Eating below this may not provide enough to build new muscle.

Similarly, eating above this has been shown to have no additional benefit when it comes to muscle gain and the calories may be better used in the form of carbohydrates.  

Protein also has the highest satiety response (feeling of fullness) of each of the three macronutrients so if you struggle to eat enough food to build muscle, eating too much protein may make it harder for you to get the calories in.This lean, high protein pasta recipe should help you out.
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3. You are not eating protein regularly enough

Your body goes through a continuous period of muscle protein turnover with periods of muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis. When protein synthesis exceeds protein breakdown you will build muscle. 

If you are not eating protein regularly throughout the day, or miss important meals such as breakfast, your period of muscle protein breakdown will be extended. This will make it harder to build muscle. 

It’s recommended you consume protein at regular intervals with every 3-4 hours being best, so it's important to have some quick protein snacks on hand.

Try out these high protein snacks the next time you feel peckish.


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4. You’re not eating enough carbs

Carbohydrates are a critical fuel source for high intensity exercise such as resistance training. They will help you get the most out of each training session and allow you to get those all-important sets and reps out which may make all the difference to your long-term progress. 

Additionally, carbs post workout will help you recover. Opt for high GI carbs post workout as they will replenish your glycogen stores faster.

Try our fajita pasta recipe to spice up your usual dinner.


Fajita Pasta Bake

Fajita chicken in a cheesy pasta bake is a crossover we’re all here for.

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5. You’re not giving it enough time

Building muscle takes time and setting realistic expectations will stop you from getting disheartened and unmotivated. Due to genetics, some people just build muscle quicker than others. 

Typically, the maximum amount of muscle gain, without fat mass, is approximately 0.5-1kg a month. Whilst it might be frustrating that you’re not gaining mass as quickly as others, staying patient and sticking to the fundamentals of good quality resistance training alongside the right nutrition plan will give you everything you need. 

If you're looking for more guidance on how quickly you can build muscle, this article can help.


Can You Really Build Muscle Fast? | This Is How Long It Really Takes

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6. You’re not sticking to a plan

As it takes time to build muscle, consistency is vitally important. Alongside this, so is progressive overload. Sticking to a well-designed resistance training program, with a nutrition plan devised to support it, will allow you to maintain consistency and continually progress.


How Can Skinny Guys Bulk Up? 

Following the fundamentals of resistance training, nutrition and recovery will help build muscle.

We've outlined these key muscle building components, and how you can kickstart your muscle building journey.



Make sure you’re getting enough high-quality protein at regular intervals. 

Protein is essential for building muscle. Choose protein sources high in essential amino acids such as meat fish and dairy. Aim for a daily intake of 1.6g/kg with doses every 3-4 hours.

For all the veggie muscle builders, chickpeas and lentils are brilliant meat-free alternatives for a protein hit at lunch and dinner.


Carbohydrates are important as a fuel source, for recovery and for calories. 

Carbohydrates are a key fuel source during high intensity and will help you recover from a demanding training session. 

Carbs do not have the same impact on satiety as protein so including carbs in your diet will make it easier to hit the calories needed.

If you're looking for a delicious way to get some carbs in, try our Hasselback Potatoes.


Fats are important for hormone production and will add calories to your diet. 

Eating a low-fat diet has been shown to reduce testosterone levels which may affect your capacity to build muscle. Of each of the three macronutrients, fat has the highest number of calories per gram with 9kcals compared to 4kcals in both carbs and protein. 

Healthy sources include avocados, oily fish and coconut oil. Try our Salmon Pesto Tray Bake if you're in need of some inspiration.



Whey Protein

Whey protein is a high-quality source of protein with a high amount of essential amino acids and a fast digestion rate. Supplementing whey protein is a convenient way to increase your daily protein intake.

Our Whey Isolate is the perfect all-round protein, and if you're veggie, our Soy Isolate is a great alternative.


Casein Protein 

Casein protein has a slower digestion rate then whey protein and it helps reduce muscle protein breakdown. This makes casein a great supplement to include before bed when periods of protein breakdown are increased.

Try out our slow-release Casein to feel the magic effects on your gains.



Supplementing creatine will increase your creatine phosphate stores which act as a fuel source during weight lifting. Training with fully saturated creatine stores will mean you can all the sets and reps required to make long term muscle gains. 

Try our range of creatine supplements below.



If you struggle to eat enough food, adding some high GI carbohydrates to your post workout shake is an easy way to boost your daily calories. It will also help to increase your glycogen storage and will enable you to train just as hard in your next session. 



Exercise selection

Including both multi-joint and single joint exercises is best for building muscle. Multi-joint exercises such as squats and bench press will boost the hormone response to training (testosterone and growth hormone) and single joint exercises will allow you to focus on key individual muscles.


Get your rep ranges right

Intensity or training load is one of the most important factors when it comes to building muscle, and choosing the right amount of weight to lift during an exercise is key. 

Selecting a weight that you can lift for 6-12 reps is best for building muscle. 


Train with enough volume

Training volume is defined as the total amount of sets, reps and load performed during a training session. Evidence shows that higher volume is better for building muscle. 



To maximise muscle building it is important to steadily progress the amount of volume used in a session (total sets, reps and load). It is important to do this gradually as increasing too much too soon may result in over training. So don’t go too heavy, too soon. 



Sleep is a huge part of recovery and studies show that those who sleep better gain more muscle than those with restricted sleep. Aim to get 7-9 hours a night and you’ll be on your way to making gains in no time. 




Drinking enough water will help prevent muscle soreness and fatigue following a tough session in the gym. This just adds to the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day.




Branched-chain amino acids have been shown to reduce DOMS after a workout and ensuring your diet is protein rich with BCAAs or supplementing BCAAs may mean you don’t skip any sessions due to soreness. Try our refreshing BCAAs to get started supplementing like a pro.



How to go from skinny to muscular - your questions answered:

How long does it take to go from skinny to muscular? 

Building muscle can be a slow process; it's more of a marathon than a sprint. 

If you get absolutely everything perfect; you’re training hard and making consistent progress, you’re getting your nutrition right and you have a good recovery routine in place – expect to gain between 0.5-1kg of lean muscle mass a month. 


Is it harder to gain muscle if you’re skinny? 

When it comes to building muscle, as we’ve explained, some are luckier than others. The exact reasons for this individual difference are explained by a range of complicated genetic variations. 

A simple way to determine whether you may find it more difficult than others is by looking at your body type.  

Body types are split into three groups; mesomorph, endomorph and ectomorph with mesomorphs typically building muscle quicker than ectomorphs, due to the typically higher metabolism of those with the ectomorph body type. 

What is an ectomorph? 

An ectomorph’s body types characteristics are tall, slim, low in body weight with longer limbs. 

Evidence shows that following the right nutrition and training, it is possible to change your body type characteristics.


Take Home Message 

To go from skinny to muscular it’s important to hit all the key fundamentals. Get your nutrition, training and recovery right along with some patience and you are well on your way. So, what are you waiting for? 

Interested in some more expert tips?



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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Liam Agnew
Writer and expert
View Liam Agnew's profile

Liam is a certified sport nutritionist with the International Society of Sport Nutrition and is enrolled on the British Dietetics Association’s Sport and Exercise Nutrition register. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport and Exercise Science and is graduate of the ISSN Diploma in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition.

Liam is an experienced personal trainer, helping clients reach their health and fitness goals with practical, evidence informed exercise and nutrition advice. In his spare time Liam has competed in numerous powerlifting competitions and enjoys hill walking, football and expanding his recipe repertoire in the kitchen.

Find out more about Liam's experience here.