Are you a skinny guy looking to transform your body? Are you fed up of the scrawny frame which Mother Nature has blessed (or cursed?!) you with? Then you may be interested in my muscle gain transformation as a skinny guy.
A muscle gain transformation requires you to adopt a resistance training and diet programme that is specifically tailored towards muscle growth. You will need to perform exercises which target the entire body, optimise your training volume, and reach caloric and macronutrient targets on a daily basis.
As a 5″5, 125 pound Asian lad, I wouldn’t say that I was blessed with the greatest genetics a guy could wish for. In fact it sucks. It sucks hard. I spent all my late teens and early twenties dreaming of a Thor-like physique. And now I am closer than ever before to achieving my goal.
And today, I will share how you can reach your own muscle-building goals!
- My Muscle Gain Transformation Story
- What Results Can You Expect From Your Muscle Gain Transformation?
- Muscle Gain Transformation Problems (And Solutions).
- How I Achieved My Muscle Gain Transformation.
- 1. Set Realistic Goals For Your Muscle Gain Transformation.
- Short-term, Mid-term, And Long-term Goals.
- Be Realistic With Your Goal.
- 2. Train Hard And Smart In Your Muscle Gain Transformation.
- Compound Lifting.
- Work The Eccentric!
- Increase Training Volume
- 3. Don’t Underestimate Nutrition In Your Muscle Gain Transformation.
- Eat, Eat, EAT.
- Track Macros!
- Planning Meals
- Final Words From A Skinny Guy On Muscle Gain Transformations.
“Some People Want It To Happen. Some Wish It Would Happen. And Others MAKE It Happen.”Michael Jordan
My Muscle Gain Transformation Story
Enter The Skinny Rookie
Growing up as a skinny Asian guy , I had my own fair share of body image issues. I weighed in at 130 pounds for much of my late teens and twenties.
And at 5″5, I’m not exactly tall either!
This led to many of the common problems facing smaller guys. Being picked on was not uncommon for me as a kid. And I’m guessing my skinny frame had some part to do with that!
But do you know what the most frustrating thing was?
No matter how much I tried, I just could not build muscle mass!
In fact, from the age of 18 to 27 I only managed to increase my weight from 125 pounds to 130 pounds
Thats 5 pounds in just under 10 years!
As I’m sure you will agree, that’s not much progress at all. To this day I’m not even sure how much of that 10 pounds was fat and how much was muscle!
Furthermore, my training was unfocused and I wasted a lot of time treading water.
This is what I like to call my rookie phase.
What? Kal Is Evolving!
Heres when things got interesting.
At 28, I began to make some noticeable progress.
My past failures drove me to conduct hard research. And this progressed into a deep fascination about the mechanisms governing muscle development.
Finally, I mustered up the motivation to create a workout and diet plan. Next, I began implementing my plan which involved serious lifting and serious eating.
I gained around 15 pounds in 3 months! Now I was weighing in at 150 pounds with around 16% body fat.
For me, gaining a bit of fat really was not an issue. The important thing was that I was getting stronger, and my muscles were developing!
Friends and family also started noticing, which felt good!
This was my evolution phase.
Transformation Complete (Beast Mode)!
Fast forward 2 years.
I managed to hit 175 pounds with 15% body fat during the peak of my bulk. Thereafter, I hit 160 pounds with 11% body fat during my peak conditioning.
This is what I like to call my Beast Mode phase.
Although I may not be the biggest guy at the gym, the saying goes:
“Compare Yourself To Who You Were Yesterday, Not To Who Someone Else Is Today”Jordan Peterson
In the space of 2 years, I was able to gain almost 40 pounds of pure lean muscle! Now, friends are asking me for advice on how to do the same! And I am more than happy to help.
Through serious research and dedicating time to my plan, I managed to crack the code for gaining muscle as a skinny guy.
And if I can do it you can too!
My Muscle Gain Transformation Changed My Life!
Most of us skinny guys share a common insecurity- every other guy is bigger than us! And this can be a major confidence drain.
By gaining muscle mass, you can expect your self-esteem to increase. And this will transcend into other aspects of your life.
10 years ago, I would never have imagined I would now be pursuing bodybuilding competitions, NASM personal trainer certifications, trying the activities I am trying now, or be in the friendship groups I am in today.
I am now generally happier as a person, more confident, and my training provides discipline, satisfaction, and routine to a once chaotic life.
Weight lifting transformed my life for the better, and I know it can do the same for you!
What Results Can You Expect From Your Muscle Gain Transformation?
So that’s my story. But what kind of results can you expect?
Being a skinny guy, you do have one major benefit in the form of newbie gains.
Newbie gains describes the rapid muscle mass development in response to weight training seen in untrained individuals.
From my research into other peoples stories, you can expect a similar timeline of results to the one below.
As someone who has personally transformed my own body, these are results which I can personally vouch for.
That being said, it does require diligent effort to stick to your exercise and nutrition plan!
I will explore this now.
Muscle Gain Transformation Problems (And Solutions).
As a self-proclaimed hardgainer, I know how hard it can be to build muscle as a skinny guy. You need to graft the extra mile to make your gains.
Here are biggest issues (and solutions) I faced as a skinny guy trying to build muscle.
The first step to success is to acknowledge that some of these problems are more controllable than others.
Common Problems Facing Hardgainers:
- Unfavourable genetics/disabilities/conditions.
- Low confidence
- Hitting your target calories for muscle growth.
- Lack of time and discipline to follow a routine.
- Little to no interest in weight training.
There are solutions to all these problems!
1. Unfavourable Genetics/Disabilities/Conditions
If like me, you have a naturally skinny physique, you will probably find it hard to gain muscle. Others may have a debilitating disability or medical condition which makes things even harder.
It goes without saying, but this clearly cannot be changed. That being said, anyone can learn to accept and make the most out of a bad hand.
This requires you to develop a strong mental fortitude.
Never underestimate the power of the human spirit. Take the inspirational example of Chris Ruden.
Chris was born with only 2 fingers on his left hand, and subsequently diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. This made strength training a gargantuan task for him.
Despite his obstacles, Chris was still able to turn himself from a 130 pound skinny guy into a 181 pound BEAST! So much respect for this fine example of a Man.
Check out Chris’s IG for more information on his story!
2. Low Confidence
Having low confidence is common issue facing skinny people. As an ex-skinny guy myself, trust me I know.
I would also consider this to be a problem that is out of your control. So don’t beat yourself up about it.
Instead, you can take inspiration from Chris and find a way around the problem.
Also, gym intimidation is a real thing! It’s not easy for a novice to enter a weight room for the first time. But muster the courage to take the first step, and you will reap the lifetime rewards
Here’s a fun bit of insight- as a gym junkie myself, I can tell you that most people will be too busy in their own “zone” to be judging newbies.
Many will even be happy to give their own advice if you need help. Indeed, a great tribal atmosphere can exist in most gyms.
Hiring the services of a professional personal trainer can be a great way to build confidence. Alternatively, you can practice in a home gym before entering a commercial gym.
3. Hitting Target Calories
Hitting your calorie intake targets is a common struggle for skinny people, especially those working physical jobs.
As Shane Duquette and Michael Walker-Ng from Bony To Beastly explains, skinny people will naturally have a smaller stomach compared to their bigger peers. This makes consuming a caloric surplus hard.
However, this is a problem within your power to control.
By choosing the right foods, you will be able to hit your macro’s without feeling too bloated (I will explain later).
Furthermore, after a few weeks of eating, you will find your stomach will expand. This will make it easier to consume more calories in the future.
Daily planning is also an effective weapon in your arsenal.
If you are working long hours, meal preps are essential. By prepping your meals and taking them to work, you will significantly decrease the chance of skipping meals due to hectic schedules!
4. Lack Of Time And Discipline
Having the discipline to make time for exercise and eating will provide you a strong foundation for success
In fact, I would say that this is THE single most important factor that is 100% within your own control. Here is Arnie’s opinion on the matter.
The million dollar question is how much do you want to achieve your goal?How much do you desire to build your own powerful physique? How hungry are you for a muscle gain TRANSFORMATION?
Because if your desire is true and deep, you will achieve your goals.
Here are my top tips to stay on track:
- Write down your goal and frame it. Or set a phone screensaver. This is your life goal now. So take it seriously.
- Setup a home gym to cut commuting hours. A simple barbell/rack/bench setup will suffice for beginners!
- Create a routine and stick to it. Some like to start the day with a morning workout. Others like to workout at night. Regardless of your preferences, stick to a routine.
- Record your routine to identify areas you can improve on in the future. Record your meals and workouts. A simple notepad and pen will do the job. How many calories are in each of your meals? What exercises are you doing? How many sets and reps?
- Hold yourself accountable for your routine. Skipping a meal or workout is really not that big a deal. But how will you make up for it?
5. Little To No Interest In Weight Training.
Finally, some people just have no interest in weight training.
I’ll be honest, I’m not one of them. I have always been interested in weights as route out of skinny town. I just didn’t have the knowledge to produce results.
But I digress. Some people have little to no interest in the weights.
If this sounds like you, my advice to is to just give it a go. You don’t know what you could be missing out on until you try.
As Andrew Peloquin from Fitday explains, weight lifting can be strangely more’ish. This is due to the endorphins (“happy hormones”) that are released in response to exercise.
How I Achieved My Muscle Gain Transformation.
Now I will explain how I transformed myself from a 130 pound Machop into a 170 pound Machamp (apologies for the reference if you are not a Gen 1 Pokemon fan!).
I hope these 3 steps will benefit you on your own journey!
1. Set Realistic Goals For Your Muscle Gain Transformation.
The very first thing I did as a skinny guy was to address all 5 problems I described previously. This provided me a strong mental foundation for my upcoming transformation.
Having done that, I was able to set my goals.
Setting a goal was so incredibly important for my muscle gain transformation success. And I encourage you to do the same.
A goal keeps you motivated and gives you something to work towards. No matter how driven you are, you will have bad days (days where you would rather sit back and relax rather than hit the weights).
Short-term, Mid-term, And Long-term Goals.
I always have a short-term, mid-term, and long-term goal.
A short-term goal is one you aim to achieve on a daily or weekly basis. An example could be to commit to a daily training and eating plan.
A mid-term goal is one you aim to achieve on a monthly basis. This could be something like increasing your bench press by an extra 5Kg.
Finally, a long-term goal is one you strive for on the yearly scale. If have read this far, then that would probably be your muscle gain transformation!
Write down your goals and stick to them!
Be Realistic With Your Goal.
Additionally, your goals need to be realistic. This reduces the rate of missed targets and thus will help with your continued motivation.
You wont achieve an Arnie physique in a few months, no matter now many hours you put in. So theres really no point trying. It won’t be good for your self-esteem.
What you can do is make incremental steps to build up to your dream. Sometimes, the smallest step in the right direction, can be the biggest step of your life.
Therefore set your dream and work towards that dream slowly and gradually. Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare?
Julian from Julian Shapiro, has created a fantastic calculator which will give you realistic weight-gain targets based on your natural body measurements!
2. Train Hard And Smart In Your Muscle Gain Transformation.
Weight training is the driving force for your transformation. So it makes sense to train hard and smart, not hardly smart.
I credit my transformation largely on my switch from isolation-type lifts to compound lifts. In other words, I ditched the bicep curls for bench presses!
As Mike Matthews from Legion Athletics explains, compound lifts are a great way to fast-track your muscle development:
- Multiple muscle groups are activated in a single exercise.
- Heavier weights can be lifted.
- Testosterone and growth hormone is released.
Additionally, compound lifts will activate your core and stability muscles. Core muscle activation is a great way to work your abs and improve posture. Whereas stability muscle development will help you lift heavier weights in the future.
Work The Eccentric!
An eccentric contraction refers to a movement where the muscle produces force whilst it elongates. In contrast, a concentric contraction refers to a movement where the muscle produces force whilst it shortens.
The downward phase of a lift (e.g. lowering the barbell in a bench press) is normally the eccentric phase.
Why concentrate on the eccentric contraction?
This 2008 study from The British Journal Of Sports Medicine showed that eccentric training is effective at promoting muscle size and strength when weight lifting!
To put it simply, maintaining a slow and controlled form during the eccentric phase of a lift will increase muscular hypertrophy!
Increase Training Volume
Training volume simply refers to the total weight lifted per body part per week. It is calculated my multiplying sets x reps x weight.
I now realise that my minimal training volume was a major contributor to the slow muscle growth progress I experienced in my teens and early twenties.
In fact, it’s no surprise that my 50 bicep curls per week didn’t give me the body I wanted! (oh, the irony of retrospective thinking ey…)
If your workouts aren’t producing fruitful results, it could be because you simply aren’t training hard enough!
3. Don’t Underestimate Nutrition In Your Muscle Gain Transformation.
Where weight training drives muscle growth, your nutrition is the gas that fuels it. Without a decent nutrition plan, you simply won’t see your muscles grow.
Eat, Eat, EAT.
Being in a caloric surplus was essential for my muscle transformation. In fact, I can’t stress the importance of being in a caloric surplus enough.
Paul Hovan Jr from ISSA notes that if you aren’t consuming more calories than the body requires, it simply wont build muscle!
This is because muscle tissue is metabolically demanding. In other words, it consumes a lot of energy. This means your body will only build muscle if you give it the right caloric environment to do so.
To put it another way, eat big to get big!
I would advise trying a mild caloric surplus first. This will help you to gain muscle with minimal fat gain.
You may have already heard of the phrase “tracking macros”.
Macros is short for “Macronutrients”. These are the basic nutrients that fuel your daily life. They also provide your body with the raw materials for muscle growth, repair, and maintenance.
Tracking macros means recording your macronutrient intake.
As Emma Satrazemis from Trifecta explains, the macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fats. All of these are essential to build muscle! Fibre and water can also be categorised as macronutrients.
Personally, I have always stuck to a macronutrient intake ratio of 45:35:20 (protein:carbohydrates:fats) to build muscle.
In other words, 45% of my calories come from protein, 35% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fats. And I know many bodybuilders follow a similar macronutrient ratio.
Planning your daily meals is vital for muscle gaining success. Eating a caloric surplus is hard. And it can be even harder for skinny guys.
As Gareth Nicholas from Maximuscle explains, it’s good practice to plan around 6 smaller meals a day. This allows you to to pack in the calories without feeling too bloated.
Check out Gareth’s example menu. It’s delicious, easy to make, and easy to stomach!
Given that skinnier guys often struggle with eating large quantities of food, spreading calories over smaller meals is critical to muscle-building success.
Personally, I now consume 5 larger meals a day rather than 6. This is mainly due to the convenience factor. And I haven’t seen noticeable drawbacks in muscle building.
By planning your meals, it also makes meal preps much easier. These are essential for those skinny guys leading frantic lifestyles.
Final Words From A Skinny Guy On Muscle Gain Transformations.
To wrap things ups, I will share with you additional advice which I wish someone told me during my earlier struggles to build muscle as a skinny guy.
Furthermore, I will also share some advice I would consider to be “myths”.
My Advice To You!
- Don’t limit yourself – set your dreams and work to achieve them!
- Don’t make excuses – if I can do it you can too!
- Take regular photos – you will not evolve like a Pokemon. The results will come slowly and gradually. You will want to see your own progress!
- Be patient – when the results come, they COME.
- Keep things simple – a simple barbell compound lifting routine will do the job during the early stages of your transformation.
- Perfect your form – this will fast-track muscle growth.
- Work the entire body – don’t forget leg day!
- Have a cooking day – dedicate a single day of the week where you prepare and cook meal preps. Stick these in the freezer for quick access later!
- Stick to your macros – don’t worry about getting fat. The calories will go towards muscle development.
- Sleep more – your body builds muscle during REM sleep!
- Research your supplements – keep it simple. Whey, casein, and creatine are all I need.
Myths Not To Get Sucked In By!
- You don’t have to take steroids to get bigger – I certainly did not. In fact there’s an entire sector of professional body building based on natural muscle growth.
- Don’t structure your entire life around the “anabolic window” – consuming your daily macro calories is important. But you don’t need to structure your entire life around hitting this window to make gains.
- You don’t have to eat 6 meals a day – focus on hitting your total calorie intake rather worrying how many meals you are consuming.
- You don’t have to live in the gym – 1 hour intense workouts, 3 to 5 times a week is sufficient for muscle growth as a newbie.
Today I have shared with you muscle gain transformation story.
I have also explained how I achieved my transformation, described what you can expect from your own transformation, and revealed how you can deal with common muscle-building problems as a skinny guy.
Remember- unfavourable genetics are an obstacle, not a prevention. Always find ways to overcome your obstacles. Always ask yourself:
“What are my goals? And have I really been doing everything in my power to achieve my goals?”
I achieved my goal through knowledge and hard work. And I know you can do the same!
Did my muscle building advice benefit any skinny guys out there?
Please drop me a comment if it did! It would mean a lot to know that I am helping others improve themselves!
Alternatively sign-up to the Kalibre Newsletter for weekly post updates about skinny guy transformations![mc4wp_form id=”372″]
Thanks for reading!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc)