How to build Muscle Naturally: 25 Tips for Skinny Guys to Gain Muscle fast
Who would not like to build muscle and have a physique that can inspire others? And not to mention the turning eye balls when you pass by? Though my reasons for building a good body were little different. I was a skinny kid weighing just about 115 Pounds and standing tall at 156 Centimeters. You can imagine my situation. I was literally struggling with the inferiority complex of being skinny. It was the year 2010, when I first stepped into the gym.
I was a skinny child who wanted to bulk as soon as possible. But not so early, all my dreams shattered. I was only able to gain about 4 pounds of weight in long six months. Sure, I wasn`t following the right recipe for building muscle and was making mistakes. But, not anymore and now I have transformed into a much better version of me. Do you want to know how I transformed myself and build muscle naturally?
P.S. Lets fast forward and jump to my Story in Present
It is the year 2019 and today I weight about 163 Pounds packing some decent amount of lean mass. It took me nine years though. But if I dig into these years; it is just 4 years back I took muscle building seriously.
The earlier five years were full of trials and errors. Hardly, I knew anything about the muscle building. I was just relying on the information from fitness magazines, celebrity trainers and friends. They might have some good information but that wasn’t working for me.
Always remember, following celebrities, magazines blindly will not help you with muscle building but educating yourself can. Do you know? Following the right tips, a newbie can even achieve 50% of the entire life gains in the first year itself.
So, why don’t you grab a seat and learn from my journey. Let me tell you the tips that I followed to build muscle and accelerate my gains naturally.
Tips to Build Muscle Naturally
1. Set Your Expectations:
Setting your expectations is the first stair you need to take on the ladder for muscle building. Though, expectation setting doesn’t help in building muscle directly. But, it will help you keep going without expecting quick results. Trust me; you will hardly see any noticeable change in your body in the first six months even if you gain 12-15 pounds.
Those gains will not help you feel great if you look yourself into the mirror. A 12-15 pound gain especially for a skinny guy is not much in terms of looking jacked or muscular. Let me tell you that the jacked guy you ponder in your gym has spent lot of his precious years in training.
It is not a result of some couple of months that you are seeing today. Sure, you will also build muscles. But, it is going to take time and you have to stay patient for the muscle gains. Remember, Rome wasn`t built in a day.
Still furious about your muscle gains, read this interesting article by Mike Matthews.
2. Come up with a Proper Workout Plan:
You should not be one among those in the gym who just wander from machine to machine. Being someone who has no workout plan, you are going nowhere. Forget about building muscles. You are just wasting your precious time and resources. A few presses or curls here and there will reap no results. Reaching towards your goal requires planning.
So it is important you set a careful workout plan. Keep in mind that not just any workout plan will work for you. You can`t risk your time and energy on a workout plan that you have seen in a magazine or have procured from some unverified sources.
It is always better to have someone certified or a recognized person who can give the right fitness advice. Stay away from self proclaimed fitness experts, non reputed fitness websites and fitness apps. And if you have planned something yourself, ensure to have it reviewed by a certified person.
3. Understand Muscle Anatomy:
It is always better that you understand your muscle anatomy before you start training them. The body comprises of various muscles and joints. In order to build a good physique, you are required to train each and every muscle of your body carefully and strategically.
It is difficult for someone to make progress in muscle building without learning the basics of muscle anatomy. Not everyone has access to an expert all the time. So, it is better you give it a try and learn the basics of it on your own. If you have no idea where to start from, you can buy this book “Strength Training Anatomy” by Frederic Delavier from Amazon.
By understanding the muscle anatomy, you can easily select the right exercises to target the specific muscle. Also by just having the basic idea, you can quickly make changes and progression to your workout plan whenever required.
4. Choose the Right Exercises:
Yes, it becomes easy to plan your workout and include the right exercises after understanding the muscle anatomy. But do you know? There are more than one exercises for hitting a specific muscle. So, how are you going to choose the right exercise among so many exercises to build muscles?
The simple answer is to use compound exercises to build muscle. In general, there are two basic types of exercise namely the Isolation and the Compound Exercises. The compound exercises helps you train various muscles and joints simultaneously in a single movement.
No wonder the Compound Exercises are most preferred choice of Arnold to build muscle. Hence, you should focus on compound exercises especially if you are a beginner and want to build muscle. However, you also must use isolation exercises to aim for overall growth. But your focus primarily should remain on using compound movements to get bigger and stronger.
5. Keep a Workout Journal:
Preparing a workout journal can help you stay ahead in the game of muscle building. Having an already prepared schedule in your hand that you can go and start with without wasting much time is always beneficial. A workout journal can also help you log your daily performance and the goals that you reach during your exercise.
By using old logs; you can make required changes to your workout, plan new goals and reach them faster. It is always better in staying accountable. You can really feel the difference after you keep a workout journal with yourself at least I really give a lot of credit of my muscle building progress to it .
I remember how I used to train when I don’t use the workout journal. It`s like a hamster running on a spin wheel. Such hamsters can struggle to make progress and can even quit the workout permanently. So always remember to keep your workout journal with you that is current and updated.
6. Eat Pre Workout Meal
Eating a pre workout meal will provide you with much needed fuel and energy to perform your workout. You can really feel the difference in your workout if you prior doesn`t give importance to pre workout meal.
A good pre workout meal consists of primarily two macro nutrients namely the carbohydrates and the proteins. Eating carbohydrates provides your muscles with glycogen which is responsible for fueling your workouts. And, eating protein before workout promotes muscle protein synthesis which helps you build muscle .
A pre workout meal then becomes important if you wish to improve your athletic performance and build muscle. Eat your pre workout meal at least one hour or no later than half hour before the workout. The meal you eat should not be hard to digest and be easy on stomach.
7. Warm Up before Workout
Warming up before workout doesn’t seem to be a special tip. It is so basic that you might know about it already. But still I m mentioning it because once you reach the gym, you stay eager to start your workout immediately forgetting about it all together. But warming up before workout is as important as your workout.
Warming up technically prepares you for the workout. It helps you avoid injuries and set you in the pace required for a good workout. Not only it prepares you psychologically but also provides wide array of benefits that directly impacts your muscle growth.
This means, you can afford to miss one set of an exercise. But you can`t risk yourself with an injury just because you didn`t warm up properly before the workout. Stretching out, doing couple of jumps here and there is not what provides a good warm up. Instead, you should learn the right technique and perform warm up before going for the working sets.
8. Train with Proper Form:
If you wish to build muscle fast, you have to work on your form. A correct form provides much needed and faster results you need from your workout. A proper form includes correct breathing technique and performing the exercise movement in a controlled way.
Training with an improper form will not hamper your muscle growth but you can land up yourself with an injury. And, if the injury occurs; you can easily derail from the workout track for couple of days or maybe even months.
Also when you perform an exercise with a proper form, the rate at which you gain muscle further increases. Breathing right, lifting weights with right intensity all together impacts your muscle growth and you can target it in a much better way.
9. Focus on Negative Reps:
A little tip but effective tip which can accelerate your muscle gains is to focus on negative movements. The negative movement here refers to the elongation of muscles when they get relaxed. If you focus on your movement while your muscles get elongated, you can increase your muscle growth by 1.75X.
Focusing on the eccentric portion of your lift helps your muscles to stay under tension for a longer time. This helps in increased muscle hypertrophy leading to much higher gains in muscle size and strength.
It is always a good idea to include few eccentric sets in your workout. Two to three sets with 3-4 max reps of eccentric loading with 40% more weight than your 1 RM can do your task.
10. Avoid Over Training
A right training can give you gains whereas over training can slow your gains. Exhausting muscles unnecessarily and indulging in over training only increases the chances of injury. A 40 minute workout with exercise done in proper form is enough to improve your muscle gains
In simple terms, you should stick to your plan and lift weights within your range. Lifting more iron for longer time is not at all equal to bigger gains. Instead the opposite is true. You should always stay away from over training if you genuinely wish to build muscle.
Your body always tries to signal you when you over train. Stay cautious and give a break when needed. Muscle soreness after a workout is common. But if you are experiencing constant pain in muscles and joints for few days, it is clear sign of over training. Take a break from your workout and let these symptoms ease first.
“Hot water baths with a pinch of Epsom salt can really help you ease your muscle pain. And if you are experiencing pain in joints, using cold ice packs can alleviate your pain.”
11. Include Stretching Sessions
A proper stretching schedule in your training can speed up your muscle building process. But unfortunately, it is an often missed part in any individual`s training regime. Stretching is important but hardly can people see its benefits in building a big and muscular physique.
Static Stretches on your rest days is a good way to target increase range of motion and flexibility in muscles. According to American Council of Exercise, stretching helps you reduce tension in your muscles . This improves the circulation of oxygen and nutrients around the muscle leading to improvement in muscle gain.
Remember to include static stretching only on days of rest and not immediately after your workout. As, doing so can have a reverse effect and inhibit your muscular performance . Though, you can do few cool down exercises after your workout to relax your muscles.
12. Make a Progression
Making a progression is really important for building muscle. You should make a progression when your body starts to adapt the impulse of your current workout. It is only after progression that your body can reach further in terms of building muscle and gaining strength.
There are lot of ways, you can make a progression. You can simply increase the sets, change the pace, or can increase the weight to progress. But, do it only when your body feels comfortable to make the change.
Your progression should be gradual. You should never hurry to do it as you want to increase the gains and not the chances of your injury. Let your body decide the pace. So, in order to build muscle faster, you have to make a progression which should be timed right and is on a continuous basis.
13. Allow time for Recovery
The person who is lifting four days a week with proper form has a higher chance of building muscle than someone lifting all 7 days of the week. Your body can not keep going and build muscles for many days if you don`t allow sufficient time for recovery.
When your body has a hard time to recover, it immediately enters into the stage of catabolism which leads to loss of muscle . The process of muscle synthesis comes to a halt. Testosterone gets at all time low and the cortisol (stress related hormone) is running like crazy.
This stage of catabolism creates an environment when your body starts to feed on its own muscles. So remember to keep your workout short and a lifting schedule of no more than 5 days to build some serious muscle mass in body. Training anytime beyond 5 days, you can have a very hard time recovering from the workout.
14. Train Every Muscle Equally
It is more of a beginner`s tip that you should follow in order to achieve maximum muscle growth. Training every muscle equally is important. It not only helps you build a good overall physique but also has a benefit to increase your overall muscle gains .
A lot of individuals, mostly beginners mistake by skipping the legs day. If you hardly train your legs and put all your focus on building a good upper body. Then, not only you are missing out a solid foundation but also hampering your gains.
Training legs has a compound effect on muscle gains  . It can force your muscle to grow stronger and faster. No wonder, why Squats is the king of exercises. So, always focus on your lagging muscles equally and don’t just keep all your attention on muscles that are developing at a faster rate.
15. Stay away from Weight Loss
You may wonder why a skinny guy will ever go for weight loss. Am I right? But, a lot of skinny individuals who has some skinny fat think of losing fat first. This is completely wrong and losing weight before muscle building can really hamper your muscle growth.
If you have a skinny guy with some fat, don’t mistake to do a lot of aerobic exercises. It will not help you lose your fat instead you will lose your muscles. Your main focus should remain on building muscles. And for that, you should only do resistance weight training.
Not that, you should ditch cardiovascular exercises completely but your prime focus should remain on resistance training. Once you start building muscles with resistance training. You will experience your skinny fat going away as muscles are the most metabolically active tissues in your body. You will start burning fat on your own.
16. Tweak Your Nutrition
Building muscle requires you to work on your nutrition strategy. No matter how much hard you are training. You will not be able to build muscles if you are not providing the right nutrition to your body.
A good diet and a right workout program are the two key factors for packing on good muscle mass. You are not necessarily required to chase some fitness guru or go after a costly diet plan. Instead you can prepare your own diet plan. Eating for muscle building requires you to simply eat right amount of macro nutrients.
In a general muscle building diet, your daily calories should come from 60% Carbohydrates, 20% Protein and 20% Fats. You should eat a calorie surplus diet. That means eat at least 200-300 calories more than what your body needs to maintain your current weight.
Still Wondering, learn how to plan your daily calories according to daily Macronutrient Intake
17. Eat Enough Protein in your Day
Though, all the three macro nutrient are important in your diet. But it is the protein that has an active role in repairing your muscle tissues. When you workout, your muscles experience micro tears which is often known as muscle hypertrophy.
Eating protein in your diet slows down muscle hypertrophy and promotes Protein Synthesis which helps the muscles to get repaired. Not only your muscles got healed from micro tears, instead they get bigger and stronger. Protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle.
The RDA for protein is about 0.8 gram of Protein per Kg of your body weight. But, if you are training or have an active lifestyle, your protein needs increases. And, for someone who is training to build muscle should eat 1.8 Grams of Protein per Kg of your body weight.
18. Include Dietary Fibre
Dietary Fibre helps your body to digest everything properly. You are eating a bit more calories than an average person. But what if you can`t digest everything you eat. Technically, you are not utilizing the complete nutrition from your diet.
So, it becomes important for muscle building that you include dietary fibre in your diet. Moreover when you eat so much, your body produces a lot of waste by products. You need to get rid of them. Else it can make you experience some side effects.
This is why some individuals experience abdominal bloating and stomach upset when they eat a lot for building muscle. You should then eat at least 30-35 grams of Dietary Fibre per day in your diet. Always split up your intake of fibre between different meals.
See What Phil Heath has quoted about eating Fibre in this video
19. Put attention to Post Workout Meal
Post workout Meal is the most important meal of your day if you are serious about building muscles. What you eat after workout has a direct impact on how fast you can recover from your workout. The faster the recovery is, the faster you can build muscle.
After a workout, your muscle glycogen gets utilized and it needs to be replenished as soon as possible. The best way of doing that is to include right amounts of carbohydrates and proteins in your post workout meal.
A quick acting protein and high GI carbohydrates which is low in fructose and high in glucose is the best option to be included in your post workout meal.
What Gaurav Taneja says about Post Workout Nutrition?
If I talk about my post workout meal, I prefer having Whey Protein Shake and White rice after 30 minutes of my workout.
20. Avoid Junk Food
It is important you avoid junk food if you wish to build muscle. Not only junk food ruins your health but can hamper your muscle building efforts. If you have a habit of eating a junk food snack here and there, you can easily get side tracked from your muscle building diet.
Earlier, I use to crave for sweets in the evening. And out of cravings, I used to eat the complete pack of cookies. To your surprise, this habit was causing me to miss one of my meals every day. I was taking calories from something which is not nutritious at all.
It was skipping something which is beneficial for my muscle building. I worked on my habit, make few changes and stayed away from indulging into junk foods.
A simple tip that has helped me to stay away from sugar cravings during the day is to eat full fat yogurt with a fruit.
21. Pre Meal Preparation
Pre Meal Preparation is not something which can help you build muscle. But it surely helps me stay on the track and assisted me in muscle building. I usually have an 11-8 schedule and what goes into your body in these eight hours is very important if you have to build muscle.
Having pre prepared meals helps you stay on your macros and you can easily avoid extra munching during the day. I usually have 6 meals in a day routine and take four meals along with me when I go out of home. I get all these meals prepared in the morning itself.
If you already have set meals with you, you will eat them on time. The scope of missing a meal and lose on calories then becomes very difficult. With pre meal prep, you can easily stay on your macros and this ultimately helps you build muscles.
22. Drink Lots of Water
Proper Hydration is very important to build muscle in your body. Water contains dissolved minerals and electrolytes which is important for muscle function. The movement of muscle depends upon electrolytes.
If your body doesn’t have enough electrolytes, the nerve function responsible for muscle movement is not able to perform optimally. You can experience muscle cramps, impaired muscle movement and loss of strength.
Drinking enough water will provide you with quick muscle response and stronger muscle contractions. The hard your muscle gets contracted, the more tear you will experience in your muscles. And this will ultimately lead to higher muscle gains.
23. Take Required Supplements
It is important to have the nutrition right in order to aim for muscle growth. Even after following a good diet, there are few elements that you can`t be fulfilled from your diet. Then, it is the dietary supplement that comes handy.
For instance, I`m a vegetarian person and most of my protein sources are incomplete proteins. This means, they lack the essential amino acids which is required to build muscle. It is due to this reason; I prefer taking a whey protein supplement along with Branched Chain Amino Acids in my day.
Saying that, every individual have a different need from their diet depending upon their circumstances. It is better you do a little research and include supplements which are necessary.
My typical take me home supplements include Creatine, Whey Protein, Leucine or BCAA, and a Multivitamin.
24. Ditch Steroids
Ditching Steroids is the best decision I`ve took in my life for building muscle. It may seem to be an idea of half brain person. It is true and also I`m not against those individuals who use steroid to build muscle. There is nothing like steroids which can give you gains at a 10X faster rate.
But trust me, steroids are not my cup of tea and glad I`ve quit using them. If you use steroids to build muscle, you have to keep on continuing it on regular intervals to experience the same results you are getting today. It is a marathon that you have keep running. Just Blast and keep cruising.
If you ever decide to quit steroids, it will take a long time to reach the full potential of your natural testosterone production. The time you will take to reach to full potential will be long enough that you have to say good bye to a lot of muscle gains.
If you are someone who can keep running steroids for the rest of your life. You can do it, it is your choice. But for those who are seasonal users of steroids, better you stay away from it.
25. Stay Consistent
Building Muscles is not a weeks or months thing. It takes a long time to build some serious muscles in your body. You have to stay consistent on your diet, your workout if you wish to ever build muscles. Building muscle cannot be your hobby; it has to be your passion.
Hobbies come and go but passion stay for rest of your life. After all why waste even a single resource on muscle building when you will be quitting it soon. Learn to enjoy the process of muscle building and don`t follow it because you have seen someone with muscles getting a lot of attention.
The Bottom Line
That`s it for today on “How can you build muscles“. I now hope you have got the right recipe and tips to build muscles naturally. So, follow all the above mentioned muscle building tips and stay consistent with them. I will love to hear your muscle building stories and do share them with me in the comment section below. Till then feel free to read another interesting articles on my blog and up your game of building a good body.
- R. B. M. S. W. S. O.-S. S. P. B. W. R. Tipton KD, “Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise,”
- “ACE Lists Top Ten Reasons to Stretch,”
- A. G. N. J. K. Jason B. Winchester, “A Single 30-s Stretch Is Sufficient to Inhibit Maximal Voluntary Strength,”
- R. Choueiri, “Fight Back To Build Mass,”
- A. Cespedes, “How Important Are Leg Workouts for Muscle Gain?,”
- B. Mentore, “Does Working Out Legs Help Your Body Get Bigger Faster?,”
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