Gaining weight is not always an easy process for beginners. And this is especially true when you’re a naturally skinny person with a fast metabolism. Below, I’ll explain how you can gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3-5 months.
A skinny beginner can gain 10lbs of muscle in 3-5 months through a combination of heavy resistance training, progressive overload, and a lean bulk diet. An individual should aim to gain 0.8 to 0.5lbs of total bodyweight per week to gain 10lbs in 3 to 5 months, respectively.
Back when I was a typical hard gainer with a sky-high metabolism, the idea of gaining 10lbs seemed like an impossible feat.
But through trial and error and heavy research (lots of it might I add), I managed to hit my weight gain goals in 4 months.
Moreover, the weight I gained was from pure lean muscle rather than fat, improving my physique and giving me more confidence.
This post details how I managed to achieve this holy grail of goals.
Let’s jump straight in.
- Is It Possible To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle In 3-5 Months?
- Do You Need Equipment To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle?
- What I Use And Recommend
- Lifting Weights To Gain 10 Pounds Of Lean Muscle In 3-5 Months
- Sets, Reps, And Weight For Weight Gain
- How To Eat To Gain 10 Pounds Of Lean Muscle In 3-5 Months
- What To Eat To Gain 10 Pounds Fast
- Will Protein Shakes Help You Build Muscle?
- What Is The Most Amount Of Muscle A Beginner Can Gain In 3-5 Months?
- Is 10 Pounds Of Muscle In 3-5 Months Considered A Lot?
- Will 10lbs Of Muscle In 3-5 Months Be Noticeably Different?
Is It Possible To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle In 3-5 Months?
Generally speaking, a beginner can gain 10lbs of muscle in 3 to 5 months. It requires a combination of intense resistance training and a calorie surplus to promote muscle growth. The untrained muscles in a beginner are particularly responsive to a weight gain program.
The entire process of building muscle size is called hypertrophy.
And there’s great news for you.
As a beginner, hypertrophy is most potent during your first 6-12 months of training!
There’s an entire term coined for this honeymoon phase- it’s called the newbie or noob gains period.
During this period you’ll find that hypertrophy and strength gains can come quickly and relatively easily.
So the combination of a good training program, nutrition, and newbie gains makes your goal of gaining 10lbs of muscle in 3 to 5 months very realistic for a beginner.
Now just to be clear, a beginner is someone who has less than 6 months of training experience.
In contrast- intermediates, advanced lifters, bodybuilders, and those with years of training experience will generally find it much more difficult to pack on 10lbs of lean mass in such a short period.
Do You Need Equipment To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle?
Resistance training equipment is not essential to gain 10lbs of muscle. Beginners can build muscle through bodyweight training. However, most people find that dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands make it easier to challenge the muscles for growth. Therefore weights are recommended.
To gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3-5 months requires you to regularly work your muscles with sufficient intensity to promote hypertrophy.
When you do this, you’re muscles adapt by getting stronger and growing in size.
There are many ways to perform resistance training:
- Free weights (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells). Involves lifting weights that aren’t physically attached to a machine or contraption.
- Bodyweight exercises (calisthenics). Relies on using the weight of your own body acting against gravity as resistance. You’ll need to push yourself with high reps and find creative ways to increase exercise intensity.
- Resistance bands. Requires you to push and pull on large elastic bands to provide resistance. It can be difficult for beginners to judge intensity unlike with free weights where you know exactly how much weight you’re lifting.
- Weight machines. Each machine is usually used for targeting a specific muscle group. They can be great starting equipment for beginners who have a gym membership. Just be aware that machines are easier to use compared to free weights, and this isn’t better in terms of gaining 10 pounds of muscle.
As long as you’re pushing yourself with enough reps and weight, it doesn’t matter what type of training you use.
Remember, your muscles don’t know what type of weights you’re lifting.
They just know how much work you’re giving them.
What I Use And Recommend
With the above being said, I use and highly recommend an adjustable dumbbells-bench set up if you’re trying to gain 10lbs at home.
It’s affordable, easy to set up and use, and only requires around 8 square feet of floor space for a workout.
I have the Powerblock Elite selectorized dumbbells with the Flybird folding adjustable bench.
But if you’re on a tight budget, then the Yes4all spinlock adjustable dumbbells can also work well.
If you have the space and money for a power tower, then trust me, weighted pull-ups and dips work wonders for building your upper body.
I use the Sports Royal pull-up tower.
In contrast- barbells are excessively expensive for gaining 10lbs at home. A barbell setup also requires a lot of space. And kettlebells are more suited to body conditioning.
Lifting Weights To Gain 10 Pounds Of Lean Muscle In 3-5 Months
For most people, whole-body workouts are the best method for lifting weights to gain 10lbs of lean muscle in 3 to 5 months. Performing 3 intense workouts per week is sufficient for muscle growth. Exercises should be focused on compound movements that simultaneously target multiple muscles.
A big mistake many beginners make is to work solely on their mirror muscles (i.e. the upper body), whilst neglecting the lower body.
Don’t forget that over 50% of your total muscle mass is in the legs.
So it would be foolish not to train the lower body if you’re trying to gain 10 pounds fast.
Ideally, you should also train each muscle group at least twice per week, with 1 to 2 rest days between workouts.
Additionally, don’t forget to get 8 hours of sleep per night! This is essential for facilitating the post-workout muscle growth and repair process.
Here are the essential compound lifts that should form the foundation of your workout plan to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3-5 months:
|Primary Exercise Movement||Beginner Variations||Muscle Group Worked|
|Bench press||Flat, incline, decline, chest dips||Chest and triceps|
|Overhead press||Seated, standing||Shoulders and triceps|
|Row||Bent-over, incline, pull-up, chin-up||Back and biceps|
|Squat||Conventional, leg press, goblet squat, lunge||Legs|
|Deadlift||Conventional, sumo, Romanian||Total body|
These exercises alone are sufficient for a full-body training split to gain muscle fast.
Perform 3 workouts per week, with each workout comprising 1 exercise from each muscle group (i.e. 5 exercises per workout).
It doesn’t matter what days you train so long as you have a full day of rest in between workouts.
Small isolation-type lifts such as the bicep curl won’t do much for helping you to gain 10lbs of muscle fast. So use them sparingly and include them as accessory lifts (rather than staple movements) at most.
If you’re looking to gain weight faster, you can check out my other article to find out how it’s theoretically possible to put on 10lbs/5kg in just 2 to 3 days!
Sets, Reps, And Weight For Weight Gain
Beginners should aim to complete 3-5 sets per muscle group per workout to effectively gain weight by building muscle. Each set should comprise 8-12 repetitions performed consecutively before taking a 2 to 3-minute rest. It is essential to use a weight that challenges the user for those 8-12 reps.
A good general rule for building muscle is to aim for 10-15 sets per week per muscle group per week.
So for example:
If you’re following a 3-day full-body split, then completing 4 sets of 8-12 reps of bench press on each training day results in 12 sets per week, and this should be sufficient for chest growth.
But only if you use a sufficient weight.
Generally speaking, you should use a weight that challenges you by the last few reps of each set.
And by the last 1-3 reps of the last set, you should be close to mechanical failure (the point where you can’t physically squeeze another rep despite your hardest efforts).
Finally, don’t forget to progressive overload by increasing the weight once every 1-2 weeks.
This is important for keeping your muscles challenged for growth as you become stronger.
If you’re interested in why 8-12 reps are perfect for fast muscle growth, you can check out my other article for a comprehensive guide on the best rep range for muscle growth.
How To Eat To Gain 10 Pounds Of Lean Muscle In 3-5 Months
It is essential to eat calorie and protein-rich foods to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3-5 months. Beginners should aim to consume a mild 5-15% calorie surplus and 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. This will fuel the muscle-building process.
Building muscle requires energy.
And this energy mainly comes from the calories and protein you consume daily.
So if you want to ensure success in your journey to gain 10 pounds of lean muscle in 3-5 months, then you better be following a good nutrition plan!
Here’s how many calories a 5-15% surplus equates to in the average 25-year-old skinny person:
|Calorie Surplus||Calories For The Average Skinny Male||Calories For The Average Skinny Female|
Note: eating a calorie and protein surplus is commonly called a lean bulk. The exact calories you require for a lean bulk will vary depending on your age, body weight, and gender. For a more precise figure, you can input your body measurements into TDEE calculator.
If you want simplified (albeit more crude) way of calculating your calorie surplus, then a good general rule to follow is to eat 19-21 calories per pound of body weight.
You should also make sure these calories are coming from the right amount of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats, and fiber).
What To Eat To Gain 10 Pounds Fast
Here’s a list of essential nutrients to eat to gain your first 10lbs fast:
|Macronutrient||Why It’s Important For Gaining 10lbs Of Muscle||Recommended Daily Intake|
|Protein||Component of muscle tissue.||1g per lb bodyweight|
|Carbohydrates||Fuels workouts and hypertrophy.||2.5g per lb bodyweight|
|Healthy Fats||Muscle-building hormone production.||0.4g per lb body weight|
|Fiber||Slows digestion for maximum nutrient absorption.||6 portions of fruit/veg|
|Water||Maintain optimal muscle function for workouts.||2 liters|
Here’s a list of example foods to help you reach your daily nutrition targets:
|Chicken breast and thigh||Oats||Nuts and seeds||Bananas|
|Lean cuts of red meat||Brown bread/rice/pasta||Avocados||Blueberries|
|Fresh and canned fish||Potatoes||Oily and fatty fish||Kiwis|
|Eggs||Legumes and beans||Peanut butter||Broccoli|
|Soy products||Nuts and seeds||Vegetable oils||Spinach|
|Legumes and beans||Sugary foods||Cheeses||Kale|
The generally accepted protein intake recommendation for bodybuilding is between 1.2g per pound of body weight.
But I found this to be excessive if your goal is to simply gain 10lbs of lean muscle mass in 3-5 months. 1g per pound of body weight is sufficient in my experience.
So for a 140lb individual, this would equate to around 140-170 grams of protein per day.
Fiber is not just essential for keeping your digestion moving, but fresh fruit and veg are also packed with micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) that keep your muscles working and growing.
You should spread your food intake over 4-6 meals per day.
I found 4 meals sufficient to gain 10lbs of muscle, but it’s always better to spread your nutrients over more meals.
Two of these should also be a pre-and post-workout (consumed 2 hours before/after exercise).
Will Protein Shakes Help You Build Muscle?
Protein shakes can be extremely beneficial for beginners to gain muscle. They help the user to reach their daily calorie and protein targets. A typical protein shake contains 20-30 grams of protein and anywhere between 100 to 1000 calories per serving. Many brands also contain carbohydrates.
Don’t get me wrong- shakes aren’t essential to gain 10 pounds of muscle in 3-5 months.
You could just make sure you’re getting enough calories and protein from whole foods.
But when it comes to overall cost-effectiveness and convenience, it’s hard to beat a simple protein shake.
I use the MyProtein Impact Whey.
Each serving contains 21g of protein at just 100 calories. It’s perfect for building lean muscle mass with minimal risk of excess fat storage.
If you’re vegan- I’ve also used the MyVegan Pea Isolate and it’s also a very good protein powder.
Each serving contains 24g of protein and 117 calories.
You may also be interested in my other guide for a list of essential tips to gaining 10lbs of muscle as a beginner.
What Is The Most Amount Of Muscle A Beginner Can Gain In 3-5 Months?
Generally speaking, a beginner can gain 6-15 pounds of lean muscle mass in 3-5 months at most. This is based on an average 2-3 lbs rate of muscle gain per month. Males often find it easier to gain muscle compared to females due to natural variances in muscle-building testosterone.
This proposed rate of muscle gain in beginners has been shown in a 2016 study, and any additional weight gain will likely come from fat and not muscle.
Consequently, you should aim for the following weekly weight gain numbers to minimize unwanted fat gains:
|Target Muscle Gain||Period||Recommended Total Weekly Weight Gain|
|10lbs||3 months||0.8lbs per week|
|10lbs||5 months||0.5lbs per week|
To track your weight as accurately as possible, I recommend recording a weekly average.
You can do this by recording your weight as soon as you get up in the morning (after you’ve gone to the bathroom. Then take the average across 7 days.
This can be done using body scales that measure in pounds to 1 decimal place. You can also take weekly progress photos to make sure you’re on track to gaining 10lbs of lean mass rather than fat!
If you’re looking to generally gain weight quickly, you can check out my other post to find out how it’s possible to gain 10lbs in 30 days!
Is 10 Pounds Of Muscle In 3-5 Months Considered A Lot?
Generally speaking, gaining 10lbs of muscle is considered to be a lot for a beginner. 10lbs of muscle is significantly noticeable on a skinny frame. Additionally, gaining 10lbs in the space of 3-5 months is considered to be an average rate of weight gain which is achievable by most people.
Most people can naturally gain around 40lbs of lean muscle in their entire lifetime (max).
So whilst 10lbs may not sound like a lot to a hardcore bodybuilder, it is in the grand scheme of things, considered to be a significant amount of mass for a beginner.
Additionally, most beginners can take up to 6-12 months or more to gain 10lbs if they aren’t following an effective workout/diet program.
So if you can do it in 3-5 months (which is entirely possible by following the information in this post), then you’re doing a very good job!
For more information, you can check out my other post which explains how noticeable 10lbs of muscle is.
Will 10lbs Of Muscle In 3-5 Months Be Noticeably Different?
For the average skinny person, gaining 10lbs in the space of 3-5 months will be highly noticeable. They will likely notice the biggest difference in the arms, chest, and legs. But positively noticeable changes can also be seen in the back and abs.
Now, 10lbs may not be enough to completely transform your body into a jacked or buff-looking physique.
But trust me, you (and others) will notice it.
And for many people, it can also be the first step taken in their journey to get in shape.
You should also note that your body fat percentage can affect how noticeable your 10lbs muscle gain is.
If you’re a skinny person with naturally low body fat, there’s a high probability that your six-pack will begin showing.
This also means men may notice 10lbs of muscle slightly more so than women since males tend to have a lower body fat percentage.
And if you can remain disciplined in following a lean bulk, then you may even develop a ripped /shredded (not jacked) physique.
Finally for those wondering:
You may have noticed that none of the exercises in this post work the abs.
So how can you get a six-pack?
Well, all of the exercises in this post are compound movements.
They will all engage the core as you go through the movements.
I’ve explained how and why it’s possible to gain 10 pounds of lean muscle in 3-5 months.
It’s a highly achievable and realistic target for most beginners on their first steps to building a leaner, athletic, and ripped body.
My method involves a 3-day full-body training split with progressive overload and a lean bulk diet.
It helped me to gain my first 10lbs as a beginner and I’m confident it can do the same for you too!
What does your plan to gain 10lbs in the next few months look like?
Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! You can find my details on the “contact us” page.
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 (with printable worksheets) I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)