A lot of skinny people strive to gain muscle, get stronger, and generally develop a more aesthetically appealing physique. Many beginners also want to do this without going to the gym. But is it even possible?! You bet it is! This post explains how to build muscle and get ripped at home for skinny guys with and without equipment.
Skinny guys can build muscle at home by combining regular and intense resistance training with a high-calorie and protein-rich diet. Popular home workouts use bodyweight exercises as well as free weights such as dumbbells. Each workout must be challenging and fatiguing.
Back when I was a skinny dude, I did not want to join the gym due to newbie intimidation.
So home workouts were my only other option.
Below, I’ll share exactly how I gained my first 10lbs of lean muscle at home as a skinny guy.
- Can Skinny Guys Really Build Noticeable Muscle At Home?
- Reasons Why Your Body Is So Skinny
- Are Home Workouts Good For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle And Get Ripped?
- Bodyweight Workout For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle At Home
- Dumbbell Workout For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle At Home Fast
- Equipment For Skinny Guys To Gain Muscle And Get Ripped At Home
- How Skinny Beginners Get Muscles And Bulk Up With Good Nutrition
- Diet For Skinny Guys To Get Big
- How Long It Takes Skinny Guys To Build Muscle At Home
Can Skinny Guys Really Build Noticeable Muscle At Home?
It is completely possible for the average skinny guy to build noticeable muscle at home without going to the gym. There are many case studies of males and females being able to gain high-quality lean mass through bodyweight and free weight exercises at home.
I built my first 10lbs of muscle at home using bodyweight training and dumbbells, so I know it works.
But don’t just take my word for it.
94% of responses in this Reddit thread also agree that it’s possible to build muscle using home workouts only without having to go to the gym.
Additionally, out of those who agree that it’s possible to put on muscle at home, a further 22% advise using dumbbells or kettlebells to maximize muscle gains.
And only 11% of respondents said that home workouts are only suitable for beginners.
Not only is it completely feasible for you to pack on lean mass at home as a beginner, but you should be able to continue doing so well into the intermediate and advanced stages of training!
But first, understanding WHY you have a skinny body is important.
Reasons Why Your Body Is So Skinny
A combination of genetic and lifestyle factors can contribute to a skinny body. Genetic reasons include a lack of fast-twitch muscle fibers, long limb lengths, illness, and disease. Lifestyle reasons include an insufficient protein intake, not consuming enough calories, and a sedentary way of life.
Here’s how each factor could explain why you have a skinny body, and what you can do about it.
- Lack of fast-twitch muscle fibres. Fast twitch fibers are more responsive to growth compared to their slow-twitch variants. Some people naturally have more fast-twitch fibers than others. Lift heavy and do explosive movements to increase fast-twitch fiber number and size.
- Long limbs make muscles look smaller. Longer arms and legs can give the impression of a smaller muscle size for any given mass of muscle. Start resistance training and eat well to gain muscle size and strength (that’s what this post is about!)
- Insufficient protein intake. Protein serves as the building blocks for muscle. Chronic underconsumption of protein is a common reason why people are skinny. Eat more protein!
- Not enough calories. Your body won’t put on weight if you’re not giving it the energy to build muscle and store fat. People with skinny bodies are often chronic undereaters. Eat more calorie-rich meals!
- Too much cardio. Are you a cardio machine? Too much cardio, not enough weight training, and insufficient nutrient intake can lead to a scrawny marathon runner-like physique. Swap some cardio for weight training!
- Physically demanding lifestyle. Doing long hours in a labour-intensive job and undereating can cause your body to become skinny. For me, I was at my skinniest doing long hours in a restaurant. Increasing your food intake will help a lot.
- Sedentary lifestyle. A lack of physical activity can cause your muscles to atrophy (waste away). Get out there and start doing exercise!
- Illness and disease. Some skinny people have medical conditions that make it hard for them to put on weight. That’s beyond the realsm of this post. Please go see a physician!
You can find out what the public thinks about being skinny vs muscular here in my other post!
Are Home Workouts Good For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle And Get Ripped?
Home workouts can be very good for skinny guys to gain muscle. This requires the individual to perform heavy resistance training and eat a high-calorie diet with plenty of protein. As a beginner, a minimum of 3 workouts should be completed every week, with each session lasting 45-60 minutes.
Ultimately, you have 2 options when it comes to resistance training:
- Workout at home.
- Join a gym.
It is common for skinny guys to join the gym. But gym membership is not necessary for beginners to begin building muscle. Workouts consisting of calisthenic bodyweight training and dumbbell exercises are sufficient for a novice to gain their first 10 pounds of lean mass, or more, at home.
Whilst a gym gives you plenty of variety of equipment to choose from, some skinny beginners may simply just prefer to work out at home.
Here are some common pros and cons of training at home vs going to a gym:
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you train.
A good amount of muscle can be built at home OR the gym.
Ultimately, your choice should be determined by your personal preferences.
The more important thing to focus on is how to structure an effective training program.
Bodyweight Workout For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle At Home
Here’s a full-body bodyweight workout for skinny beginners to gain muscle at home without equipment:
|Bodyweight Exercise||Sets||Reps||Target Muscle|
|Traditional push-up||3||20||Chest, shoulders, triceps|
|Diamond-hand push-up||3||20||Triceps, shoulders, chest|
|Star plank||3||30 seconds||Arms, shoulders, back, abs, legs|
|Superman extension||3||20||Back, glutes|
|Forward lunges||3||20||Legs and lower back|
1. Traditional push-up
One of the best bodyweight exercises for the upper body. It emphasizes the chest, shoulders, and arms particularly well. When the standard pushup becomes easy, you can make it harder using these techniques:
- Introduce a 1 second pause halfway during each rep.
- Push up and clap your hands at the top of each rep.
- Go slow. Count 3 seconds on the upward phase and another 3 seconds on the downward phase.
- Perform the same exercise on dumbbells (you can find my complete dumbbell-pushup guide here).
2. Diamond-hand push-up
The adjusted hand placement takes the emphasis away from the chest and places more tension on the triceps. This is a great bodyweight exercise to train your arms at home without equipment.
3. Star plank
This exercise works your full body in a completely different way. Holding a star plank requires your muscles to undergo isometric contractions (like how a rugby player pushes against an opponent in a scrum). And this variety in stimulus can help to grow your muscles. If the star plank is too hard, try mastering the normal floor plank first.
4. Superman extension
The back can be difficult to train without equipment. But the superman extension is a great exercise to hit all your back muscles.
5. Jump squats
Most beginners will master the traditional bodyweight squat in as little as a month. Introduce an explosive jump at the top to make this popular leg exercise even harder.
6. Forward lunges
Squats are great for the legs. But they don’t train your hamstrings as much as you need to if you want to build bigger legs and a nice butt at home. Forward lunges emphasize the hamstrings.
How To Do This Home Bodyweight Workout To Maximize Muscle Gains:
Begin by aiming for 3 sets of 20 repetitions on each exercise (except the plank which is measured in time and not reps).
As a beginner, you may not be able to reach 20 reps for some (if not all) of the exercises.
If this is the case, then do each set of exercises until failure and build towards completing 20 repetitions per set.
Do the same workout 3 times a week with a rest day in between each workout.
For example- you could train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
When 20 reps become easy, then you should apply progressive overload by finding ways to increase exercise intensity.
Here are some ideas to make each exercise harder:
- Wear a backpack with books.
- Hold a bucket of stones.
- Do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) for each set.
- Increase plank duration.
- Slow down the up and down phases of each lift to and really feel the muscle contract.
If you have around 9 square feet of floor space and the money, then a power tower will also be a tremendous benefit for skinny guys trying to gain muscle at home.
It allows you to do dips and pull-ups at home. These two exercises are invaluable for helping you get a ripped upper body at home.
Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight dip and pull-up, you can hold a dumbbell between your legs for maximum muscle gains.
Dumbbell Workout For Skinny Guys To Build Muscle At Home Fast
Most beginners will reach a point where bodyweight exercises simply aren’t cutting it for them anymore.
The exercises either become too easy or you simply get bored.
Investing in home dumbbells is an affordable way to keep progressive overloading and continue building muscle.
You can also skip the bodyweight exercises altogether and start with dumbbells.
This is a surefire way for skinny guys to build muscle at home FAST.
Here’s a full-body dumbbell workout for skinny guys to quickly gain muscle at home:
|Dumbbell Exercises||Sets||Reps||Target Muscle|
|Bench press||4||8||Chest and triceps|
|Bent-over row||4||8||Back and biceps|
|Shoulder press||4||8||Shoulders and triceps|
You’ll notice that the workout looks fairly simple….because it is!
But when it comes to building muscle, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the basics, especially for a skinny beginner.
These 5 exercises are known as the big compound lifts.
Assuming you use a heavy enough weight, they’ll hit all the muscles in your body (including your abs and arms) with enough intensity to stimulate growth.
Trust me it works.
1. Bench press
The undoubted King of the chest exercises. Bench pressing is THE exercise for building a ripped chest and triceps. You’ll need a bench like this Flybird to perform the bench press. You can also lay on the floor if you don’t have a bench. But the reduced range of motion can decrease pectoral activation.
2. Bent-over row
The row is to the back and biceps, and the bench press is to the chest and triceps. You can try different grip positions to target different regions of your back and biceps. Grip varieties include:
3. Goblet Squat
A lot of beginners don’t enjoy squatting because it can be challenging. But trust me, it’s one of the best exercises for a skinny guy to build muscle at home. A powerful squat has been shown to increase testosterone levels in the body. And this helps you to pack on muscle in the other muscle groups. I use these Undersun bands to make the squat more challenging.
4. Shoulder press
Vertical pressing is an awesome way to build broader shoulders as well as develop cut triceps. It’s not uncommon for beginners to develop shoulder pain as a result of bad lifting form. To minimize your risks, keep your elbows tucked in and don’t flare them out.
Deadlifts are a staple to any muscle-building program. They are commonly performed with a barbell which allows heavy weights to be shifted. But skinny beginners will find dumbbells to be sufficient for making initial muscle gains at home.
If dumbbell deadlifts become too easy, you can wrap the ends of a resistance band (I found these Undersun bands to be the most durable) around your feet and neck to increase resistance.
Or simply do more reps.
How To Do This Home Dumbbell Workout To Maximize Muscle Gains:
Start by finding a dumbbell weight that challenges you for 8-12 reps (as per the above dumbbell workout program).
You know you’ve found the ideal weight to lift as a skinny guy when your target muscle fatigues by the last 3-to 4 reps of a set.
Don’t just stick with this weight though. Apply progressive overload by increasing each dumbbell by 2.5-5lbs every 1-2 weeks (or whenever you feel comfortable doing so).
Take a 1-2 minute rest in between each set.
Start by completing 3 workouts per week with at least 24 hours of rest in between each workout ( you can check out my other post to find out how long skinny guys should work out).
This gives your body the time it needs to recover and build muscle.
After following this dumbbell program for around 6 months, your muscles should have adapted and gotten much stronger (assuming you apply progressive overload).
Now it’s time to up the intensity again.
This can be done by switching from a full-body dumbbell workout to a bodybuilder-style muscle group workout.
If you’re interested, you can check out my other article for a full dumbbell bodybuilding workout to build muscle at home.
Equipment For Skinny Guys To Gain Muscle And Get Ripped At Home
So you’ve decided to build muscle at home without having to go to the gym.
What equipment will you be using, if any?
Bodyweight, dumbbell, barbell, and resistance band exercises are some of the most popular ways to work out at home. Here are the pros and cons of each:
As mentioned at the start, a skinny beginner could start with bodyweight exercises as a cheap and convenient way to begin.
Once these become easy, you could then buy some free weights to keep your muscles challenged and get properly ripped at home.
Note the phrase “keep your muscles challenged”- this is essential for muscle growth and is achieved through regular progressive overload (increasing weight, reps, and sets).
Adjustable dumbbells like the Powerblock Elites (find the cheapest price here) are my free weight of choice when it comes to getting ripped at home.
The weight change mechanism isn’t the fastest on the market, but they offer some of the widest selection of weight increments in a single dumbbell unit.
And as you should know by now, heavy weights are a MUST for skinny guys looking to gain muscle and get ripped at home.
This makes the Powerblocks suitable for both beginner and advanced lifters alike.
Looking for dumbbells that will last you in the long-term? Then you may be interested in my other article for 9 of the heaviest adjustable dumbbells you can buy.
You’ll also need a weight bench for bench pressing.
This bench is packed with all the functions you need to train all the pectoral regions to build a ripped chest.
It’s affordable and can also be folded and stowed away after your workout (you can find more details in my full review).
You can also check out my other post for some of the best weight benches for dumbbells.
If free weights are too expensive for your budget, then the 5 compound lifts can also be replicated using resistance bands. You can check out my other article to find out how resistance bands work.
They’re cheap and convenient to use.
I use these Undersun bands. They are slightly more expensive than their cheap competitors, but the quality is unbeatable and you also get a lifetime warranty (I’ve had 2 sets of budget bands snap on me before buying the Undersuns).
How Skinny Beginners Get Muscles And Bulk Up With Good Nutrition
Beginners need to combine heavy resistance training with a good nutrition program to bulk up, get muscles, and stop being skinny. A 5-10% daily calorie surplus is recommended for a skinny beginner to bulk up. Calories should also come from a balanced profile of protein, carbs, and fat.
Training is only half the battle for skinny beginners looking to gain muscle, bulk up, and stop being skinny.
You also need to eat well.
And trust me, a good diet is ESSENTIAL for putting on muscle and getting ripped at home as a skinny guy.
Eating 5-10% more calories than your daily maintenance calories gives your body the energy it needs to build muscle.
You can find your maintenance calories on the TDEE calculator here.
Simply add 5-10% for your daily calorie target (equates to around 20 calories per pound of bodyweight).
WHAT you eat is also important.
Protein, carbs, and fats make up your macronutrients. And the ratio of each macronutrient is important to ensure you gain as much muscle with as little fat as possible, as I’ll discuss next.
If you don’t care about fat gains and just want to gain weight fast, you can go to my other post to find out how to quickly bulk up in a month.
Diet For Skinny Guys To Get Big
Skinny guys should eat a balanced profile of daily macronutrients to gain muscle. Generally speaking, a good target to aim for is 25% protein, 50% carbohydrates, and 25% fats. This provides the body with the energy and materials to put on muscle.
Skinny guys won’t be able to put on muscle at the gym OR home if they don’t eat well.
Here’s what a general weight gain diet plan for skinny guys looks like:
|Macronutrient||Recommended Daily |
|Approx. Percentage |
Of Daily Calories
|Protein||1g per lb of bodyweight||25%||Building blocks for muscle growth. Essential to building muscle.|
|Carbohydrates||2.5g per lb of bodyweight||50%||Energy for workouts, recovery, and muscle synthesis.|
|Fats||0.4g per lb of bodyweight||25%||Anabolic hormone production and energy for muscle repair.|
Here’s how much protein, carbs, and fats a skinny guy would eat at different body weights, according to the above macronutrient profile.
|Bodyweight||Daily Protein Intake||Daily Carb Intake||Daily Fat Intake|
Doing so gives your body:
- Energy for workouts.
- Materials to repair itself after a workout and build muscle.
- Organic materials to produce anabolic (muscle-building) hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.
Here are some of the best food examples to give you an idea of what skinny guys should eat to hit their nutrition targets:
|Food For Skinny Guys To Bulk Up||Examples:||High In:|
|Lean red meats||Beef steaks, pork loin, lamb||Protein and fats|
|Poultry||Chicken, duck, turkey||Protein|
|Eggs||Chicken eggs, duck eggs||Protein|
|Fatty fish||Salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines||Protein and fats|
|Shellfish||Prawns, clams, scallops||Protein|
|Whole grains||Pasta, oats, rice, bread, quinoa||Carbs and protein|
|Fruits||Bananas, mango, oranges||Carbs|
|Legumes and beans||Kidney beans, peas, chickpea||Carbs and protein|
|Nuts and seeds||Almonds, sunflower seeds, cashew||Fats, carbs, protein|
|Soy||Soy milk, tofu||Protein and fats|
This diet plan applies to both skinny men and women.
As a beginner, you don’t need to be exact, and roughly reaching each macronutrient target is fine.
The most important point is to get enough overall daily calories and protein.
If you’re interested, you can also check out additional tips in my 17-step guide to gaining your first 10 pounds of muscle at home.
How Long It Takes Skinny Guys To Build Muscle At Home
Generally speaking, a skinny guy can build noticeable muscle at home within 6 to 12 months. But the exact timeframe required to develop an aesthetically pleasing physique will also be affected by the effectiveness of the weight gain program and discipline in following it.
I’ve already given you an effective program.
It helped me to transform my skinny frame, and I’m sure it can work for you too.
If you workout at least 3 times per week, overload regularly, and eat well, then you should begin seeing the first signs of muscle gain at around 2-3 months (you can check out my other post to find out the ideal bulking duration).
And by month 6 you should see a noticeably improved physique.
You can fast-track your results by skipping the bodyweight exercises and starting with the dumbbell program from the get-go.
Not only do dumbbells offer heavier weights to challenge your muscles, but they also allow you to isolate each muscle better than most bodyweight exercises.
You may be interested in my other post for more details on how long it takes a skinny guy to get buff
I’ve explained how skinny guys build muscle and get ripped at home.
As an absolute beginner, home bodyweight exercises are a cheap and convenient way to start your skinny to muscular transformation.
But most people will need to purchase free weights at some point (usually the 6-month mark) to maximize muscle gains.
Home dumbbell workouts are an affordable, fun, and effective way to continue gaining muscle at home.
Don’t forget that diet is also important!
Skinny guys don’t gain muscle by just working out. You’ll also need to eat enough calories and protein every day!
Will you be trying to transform your skinny physique at home?
Let me know in the comments!
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)