How To Gain Weight Fast: The Ultimate Guide For Skinny Guys


Can’t gain weight? This guide takes you step by step through the gaining process, helping you to set up a meal plan and providing you with a muscle building workout.

This Guide Teaches You:

  • How to determine the amount of calories you are currently eating.
  • The best way to dial in your eating plan so that you can gain weight in a healthy manner.
  • Which foods are best for weight gain.
  • How to eat plenty of calories even when you feel full.
  • The best way to workout so that you build quality muscle mass.
  • How to supplement to maximize the weight gaining process.


Weight Gain

I was once a skinny guy. A very skinny guy.

Not only that, but I was also what you might call “skinny fat.” Despite the fact that I loved to exercise, I looked horrible. There was no way in the world you would catch me with my shirt off in public.

I also had a very hard time gaining weight. At times it seemed like I was eating from sun up to sun down, but despite this, the scale stuck around 140-144 pounds until my senior year of high school.

Two and a half years later, by the time I had reached the age of 20, my life had dramatically turned around. I was 190 pounds of solid muscle, stronger than I ever imagined I could be, and girls were talking to me.

This probably sounds like hyperbole, or some sort of a sales pitch. I apologize if it does, but it’s the God’s honest truth.

In this article I want to share a few things I learned during those years. I will be providing you with specific advice of training, nutrition, cardio, rest and even supplementation. If you have any questions, or if I can help in any way, please please your questions or comments below.

Skinny Guy Confessions: What I Was Doing Wrong

Looking back upon those years, it’s easy to see what I was doing wrong and why I wasn’t gaining weight(and muscle). Here are the major reasons why I wasn’t making progress:

Cardio Overkill – I was exercising way too much. WAY too much. During the Summer months I was outside from sun up to sun down, running, playing baseball or basketball, or swimming.

When I wasn’t outside, I was indoors doing some form of cardio – step ups, jumping rope, or even aerobics (yes, it was the early 80s). It wasn’t unusual for me to run 3 miles a day, do 45 minutes of step ups, and play baseball for 4 hours. This was just another typical day for me.

So here’s the problem: while I was certainly fit and healthy from all that exercise, I was expending a crazy amount of calories. Am I telling you that I should have stopped exercising completely? Of course not. Cardio work is a great way to improve overall health. The problem with doing “too much” cardio (and general exercise) is that it conflicts with another one of your primary goals – gaining weight.

Research backs up common sense on this subject. (1) A recent meta-analysis on the impact of cardiovascular exercise on resistance training determined:

Our results indicate that interference effects of endurance training are a factor of the modality, frequency, and duration of the endurance training selected.

The bottom line is that when you run a lot of cardio concurrently with your resistance training, it impacts results. The more cardiovascular work you do, the greater the tendency for it to impact your results.

If your primary goal is to gain weight and build muscle, then it would make sense to not push cardio too much. This is a competing goal; one that is in direct conflict with your weight gain goal. Because of this it makes sense to minimize the amount of cardio you do.

If you are a skinny guy, keep cardio sessions to “about” 3-4 per week, for 20 to 30 minutes each. If you play sports, or have an active lifestyle and can’t really reduce cardio, then it’s time to improve your diet.

Weight Gain

Not Eating Enough – Most skinny guys think they are eating enough, but are really only guessing about daily food intake. Here’s what I recommend: instead of guessing, spend a week logging everything you eat. Don’t change your eating habits, meaning don’t purposely eat more or less than normal.

At the end of the week spend the time going through your food choices. Learn exactly how many calories you ate, on the average, during the course of the last 7 days. If you need help, there are numerous websites and books that provide nutritional information on every possible food item.

How does this number look? Is it above 3,000 calories per day? I am guessing that your food intake is less than expected.

Gaining weight and building muscle is like every other endeavor in life, meaning that it requires a certain minimal time investment to become proficient. If you want to make the basketball team, you’ll need to put in some practice time. If you want to conquer the latest Xbox game, it will require a minimal time investment as well.

If you want to gain weight, you’ll need to invest some time in analyzing and planning your eating plan.

Remaining Weak – Progressive overload is king. “Working out”, while healthy, is not a magical method of building muscle mass. If you are not pushing yourself in the

gym to build strength, you won’t build muscle. Stay weak, stay small – this sums it up nicely.

When you push for strength you are forcing your body to respond. In response to this demand, you will build muscle – if, you aren’t undereating.

During my teen years I did a lot of bodyweight work, along with bench presses and curls. Unfortunately, I used the same weight over and over again, week after week, year after year, and was unable to build any muscle.

No one ever told me that the body adapts rather quickly to a certain weight, and that more resistance would be required. I thought that I could magically “pump” my chest and biceps into growth using 95 pound bench presses and 25 pound curls.

Next Steps – Time to Gain Weight and Build Muscle

So, we have determined that skinny guys need to:

  1. Stop doing so much cardio.
  2. Eat more food.
  3. Get a lot stronger then they are now.

Cardio is the easy part. We can control how much cardio we do each week. Let’s move on to the next step of our journey, and learn “how” to gain weight properly, and in a healthy manner.

How to Gain Weight

Weight Gain

This section will provide you with a step by step process on how to gain weight in a healthy manner. If you have any questions regarding diet and nutrition, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below.

Step 1 – Analysis of Your Existing Diet

This is an essential step of the process, so do not skip it, and guess at your average calorie intake.

The truth is this…most skinny guys think they are eating enough food, but when you ask them to tell you how many calories they are eating on a daily basis, they aren’t certain. This uncertainty is a major part of the problem.

If you can’t gain weight, something must be done. You are left with 2 choices:

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing, in this case guessing how many calories you are eating on a daily basis, and hope you gain weight.
  2. Take control over the situation, learn what you are eating, make necessary changes, and set a minimum daily calorie goal.

Obviously, the second option is our only option. So, with that said, let’s get started.

Grab a notebook, computer, an iPad, iPod or phone. You will need to write down everything you eat and drink this week – no exceptions. If you are not sure of the exact quantities, notate things in a manner that makes sense to you. For example:

  • A fist-side portion of potatoes.
  • 1/2 box of macaroni and cheese.
  • Nearly a full, large-size glass of milk.

Next, head over to Calorie King and calculate how many calories you’ve eaten this week. Some of this will be guess work, but that’s part of the learning process. Don’t fret if you feel like this may not yield 100% accuracy. That’s not the point. The point isto start learning about foods, their calorie content, etc.

Now, calculate a daily average. How many calories are you eating per day? 2,200? 2,500? Is this number lower or higher than you expected?

Step 2 – Make Dietary Adjustments

It’s time to structure some form of eating plan, and add calories. Use this as a starting point:

  • Calories. Add 500 daily calories to the average you calculated above.
  • Protein. Make sure you are eating at least 180 grams of protein per day.
  • Fats. Make sure at least 20% of your daily calorie intake comes from healthy fats.
  • Carbs. With your protein and fats in place, fill in the rest of your daily calorie intake with quality carbs – fruits, veggies, grains, etc.

It is certainly ok to eat more than 180 grams of protein per day. While studies indicate you may only need 150 grams per day for muscle growth, you have to consider the reality that you are currently underweight, and your body may gain muscle at a relatively rapid pace. Because of this, it’s better to eat a little more daily protein, rather than a little less.

High protein intake is perfectly safe to those of you without pre-existing kidney issues. Eating more protein can also help to balance out your eating plan, so that you don’t have to be so carb reliant. It can be hard to force feed yourself heavy carb meals when you aren’t feeling overly hungry.

The recommended 20% fat intake should also be considered a minimum. Fat is calorie dense, holding 9 calories per gram, compared to proteins and carbs which only have 4 calories per gram. What does this mean? It’s easier to get in your daily calories if you increase your fat intake. You won’t feel as full, because fats are more calorie dense.

If you are having a hard time enough enough food, you may want to increase your fat intake as high as 40% daily. This will make reaching your daily calorie goals much easier.

Weight Gain

Step 3 – Weight Gaining Goals

Aim for about a 2 pounds per month. Some will consider this rate “slow”, but it does add up to nearly a 25 pound bodyweight gain over the course of a year, and almost 50 pounds in 2 years.

If you follow this approach, and work hard to get a lot stronger than you are now using the workout plan below, your weight gain will be a quality weight gain. You will build a lot of muscle mass, and look great after 2 years.

Some of you may prefer to gain weight more rapidly than this. While more rapid weight gain can work for some, usually it’s a recipe for fat gain. The human body can only add so much muscle mass per day, week and month. The faster (more aggressive) you push your weight gain, the more likely you are to accrue a higher body fat percentage.

This isn’t what you want.

The First 2 Weeks

Ignore the weight you gain during the first 2 weeks of your bulk. During this time you are increasing your carb intake, most likely your sodium intake, and your digestive demands. Your body is holding a lot more water. This is not rapid fat gain, so don’t panic!

After 2 weeks, weight gain will normalize. Weeks 3-4 will tell the true story. Make these adjustments based on your weight gain during weeks 3-4:

  • Losing Weight – Code red! Add 750 calories to your daily intake. Ignore what the scale says for the next two weeks, and make new adjustments based on what happens 3-4 weeks from now.
  • Holding Steady – Add 500 calories per day. Re-assess your rate of weight gain during weeks 3 and 4, and make any necessary adjustments so that you are gaining approximately 2 pounds of body weight per month.
  • Slow Gain – Add 250 calories per day. Re-assess your rate of weight gain during weeks 3 and 4, and make any necessary adjustments so that you are gaining approximately 2 pounds of body weight per month.
  • Optimal Gain – Stay the course and don’t change a thing!
  • Rapid Gain – If you’re gaining weight too quickly, drop your daily calories by 250 and re-assess your eating plan after another 3-4 weeks.

A Note About Junk Food – Dirty Food

You’re young, skinny and hormonally strong. While you don’t want to eat a ton of junk food, taking in 10-25% of your daily calories from fast food, chips, energy drinks or cookies isn’t going to hurt you. It may actually help you reach your calorie goals.

Life is about balance. As long as you are eating mostly whole, nutritionally dense foods, it’s ok to add some junk in each day.

Whole Foods That Can Help The Skinny Guy Gain Weight

The following choices are whole foods, and are general “unprocessed” or “lightly processed”. They are full of good nutrition, cost-effective, calorie dense, and found at every grocery store.

A little of each of these foods goes a long way. You can add small servings of these foods to shakes or meals, or use them as snacks in between meals. They add a ton of calories (and flavor) without leaving you feeling overly full.

Bulking Foods for Skinny Guys
Protein Foods
Ground Beef, Cooked, 70% Lean4 oz305
Bacon, Thick Cut2 slices122
Chicken Wing, with Skin4 wings394
Chicken Leg with Skin1 leg337
Pork Chop2 chops, 8 oz436
Eggs, Large2 eggs156
Steak, Ribeye10 oz544
Salmon4 oz233
Beef Brisket4 oz246
Pork Sausage4 oz384
Fruits and Veggies
Banana1 large121
Avocado, sliced1 cup234
Pineapple1 cup83
Orange1 large86
Pear1 large133
Sweet Potato1 large159
Potato7 oz142
Nuts and Legumes
Peanut Butter2 tbsp188
Peanuts2 oz321
Almonds2 oz328
Pistachios2 oz316
Peas1 cup125
Black Beans1 cup220
Whole Milk1 cup146
Butter2 pats72
Heavy Whipping Cream2 oz205
Cream Cheese1 oz99
Cheddar Cheese2 oz228
String Cheese1 piece80
Cottage Cheese1 cup216
Carbs and Grains
Brown Rice, cooked1 cup216
Quinoa, cooked1 cup222
White Rice, cooked1 cup242
Pasta, cooked1 cup182
Wheat Bread1 slice78
Oils and Misc
Olive Oil1 tbsp120
Coconut Oil1 tbsp117
Frozen Pizza1 pie1,267
McDouble1 burger400
Beef and Bean Burrito, frozen1 burrito290

Power Weight Gain Shake for Skinny Guys

One of the easiest ways of adding calories is via a “weight gain shake”. The following shake can be consumed once per day, and contains 1,066 calories. Simply add the ingredients into a blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy.

  • 16 ounces of whole milk – 292 calories
  • 2 scoops of chocolate Premium Series Protein – 260 calories
  • 2 ounces of heavy cream – 205 calories
  • 1 large banana – 121 calories
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter – 188 calories

Hit the Gym – A 3 Step Muscle Building Plan

Weight Gain

Now that you have an eating plan, and know how to gain weight, it’s time to maximize your training. Building muscle is rather simple. It requires:

  • Consistency – Not missing workouts. Consistency plays a major role in making quality gains.
  • Progressive Overload – You must get a lot stronger than you are now. No exceptions. There is no “easier” way to build muscle.
  • Good Tools – Using the best possible exercises, when possible. The better your tools (exercises), the better your results.
  • Patience – Gains take years, not weeks. Look 2 years down the road, not 2 weeks. You can make amazing progress in 2 year’s time, so dedicate yourself to sticking with a plan.

The following 3 step plan is merely one possible way to build muscle. With that said, it’s a very effective approach. Combine this plan with enough food, and you will see some very impressive results.

Here is an overview of the program:

  • Step 1 – Priming Stage. This is a one month introduction. You will begin with one set per exercise, and after a couple weeks you will move on to 2 sets per exercise.
  • Step 2 – Building Phase. This is a five month phase that will help you maximize your beginner gains.
  • Step 3 – “Jacked” Phase. The last phase of the program, you will continue to use this phase as long as strength gains remain consistent.

Training Notes

  • Sets. Push each set for as many reps as possible, stopping a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or when your form starts to slip.
  • Weight. Use the same weight for each set of a given exercise.
  • Rep Minimums. Each exercise has a “rep minimum.” When you are able to reach this minimum rep amount for each of the 3 sets, add weight the next time you perform that exercise. So when you see a “8 rep minimum” for an exercise, you will add weight when you re able to perform 8 or more reps for each of the sets.

Stage 1 – Priming

During the first 2 weeks use only one set per exercise. During weeks 3-4, use 2 sets per exercise.

Start with a very light weight for each exercise. Get a good feel for exercise form. Add weight when you are able to hit the “rep minimum” for a given exercise.

Don’t take big jumps in weight; instead take the smallest jump possible – generally 5 pounds per lift. Muscle building is a marathon, not a sprint. These small jumps will pay off very quickly.

You will be training 3 days per week:

  • Day 1 – Workout
  • Day 2 – Off
  • Day 3 – Workout
  • Day 4 – Off
  • Day 5 – Workout
  • Day 6 – Off
  • Day 7 – Off
Stage 1 – Priming
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Bench Press1/210/10
Stiff Leg Deadlift1/210/10
Seated Overhead Barbell Press1/210/10
Bent Over Row1/210/10
Pull Ups/Lat Pull Down1/210/10
Dumbbell Curl1/210/10
Leg Curl1/210/10
Calf Raise1/210/10
Sit Ups1/210/10

Stage 2 – Building

Continue using the weights you left off with during the Priming stage. For any exercises you did not perform during the Priming stage, start with a light and conservative weight.

You will be working out 3 days a week, using the same schedule as you did during your first 4 weeks of training:

  • Day 1 – Workout A
  • Day 2 – Off
  • Day 3 – Workout B
  • Day 4 – Off
  • Day 5 – Workout C
  • Day 6 – Off
  • Day 7 – Off
Stage 2 – Building
Workout A
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Bench Press38
Barbell Row38
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press38
Leg Curl310
Dumbbell Curls38
Standing Calf Raise310
Weighted Sit Ups315
Stage 2 – Building
Workout B
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Still Leg Deadlift38
Leg Curls310
Incline Dumbbell Flye310
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down38
Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Flyes310
Cable Tricep Extension38
Dumbbell Hammer Curl38
Barbell Shrugs310
Side Bends315
Stage 2 – Building
Workout C
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Leg Press315
Dumbbell Bench Press38
One Arm Dumbbell Row38
Seated Overhead Press38
Leg Curls310
Dips or Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extensions38
EZ Bar Preacher Curl38
Seated Calf Raise310
Cable Crunches or Planks315/60 sec

Weight Gain

Stage 3 – Jacked

Stage 3 is a little more intense, and introduces the deadlift and 20 rep squat. For the 20 rep squats, stop at 20 reps; do not go higher.

Workouts are structured more in a heavy, light, medium manner with Monday being the heavy day. Wednesday is a lighter day, focusing on mostly isolation-style lifts, while Friday is the medium day.

  • Day 1 – Workout A – Heavy
  • Day 2 – Off
  • Day 3 – Workout B – Light
  • Day 4 – Off
  • Day 5 – Workout C – Medium
  • Day 6 – Off
  • Day 7 – Off
Stage 3 – Jacked
Workout A
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Bench Press36
Barbell Rows36
Seated Overhead Press36
Stiff Leg Deadlift36
Dips or Skullcrushers38
Barbell Curls38
Seated Calf Raise310
Weighted Sit Ups315
Stage 3 – Jacked
Workout B
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Dumbbell Flyes or Pec Dec310
Leg Extensions310
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down310
Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flye310
Cable Tricep Extensions310
Dumbbell Hammer Curl38
Barbell Shrugs38
Dumbbell Side Bends310
Stage 3 – Jacked
Workout C
ExerciseSetsRep Minimum
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press38
One Arm Dumbbell Row38
Seated Arnold Press38
Leg Curl310
Seated Two Arm Dumbbell Extension38
Seated Dumbbell Curl38
Standing Calf Raise310
Cable Crunches or Planks315/60 sec

Supplements for the Skinny Guy

Supplementation, like training, should be eased into. For the first phase of this program, you may want to consider fortifying your nutritional base with the following Supplements:

  • Multivitamin
  • Fish Oil
  • Whey Protein
  • Weight Gainer (optional)

Weight gainers provide quite a few calories, and are convenient to have around for those busy times in life when cooking isn’t an option, or for times when you miss meals.

By the second phase of this program, you should have your diet pretty much dialed in. Your training will also be on track and consistent. At this time, it would be ok to start exploring other popular supplements, such as:

  • Creatine
  • BCAAs
  • Pre-workout formulas
  • Post-workout formulas

Other supplements that may be of benefit, based on your specific needs (age, stress, sleep, low testosterone, poor recovery, etc) include:

Joint health
Sexual health
Sleep enhancement
Stress reduction
Testosterone boosters
Protein bars
Meal replacements

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