Looking for a home workout for skinny guys?
Look no further! The purpose of this article is to provide you with a full-body, at home workout program with no equipment required (that being said, a pull-up bar is ideal). If you don’t have a pull-up bar, you can do bodyweight rows instead (more on that in a moment).
What You Need To Know About A Home Workout for Skinny Guys…
Firstly, problem with most home workouts for skinny guys, is that they’re built around endurance training. But doing 20+ push-ups isn’t ideal for strength and hypertrophy gains. And if you’re a scrawny guy who wants to bulk up, then this is especially NOT the approach you wanna take…
In fact, the most important part of a workout program for skinny guys at home, is that it follow the principle of Progressive Overload. This means that you must continually increase the stress placed on the body for adaptation to occur.
Finally, in terms of strength and hypertrophy, this is usually done through an increasing load, volume, or both. However, the problem with bodyweight exercises for skinny guys, is that it’s harder to manipulate the resistance. Unlike with weights, you can’t just increase the load.
So what do you do? You decrease the mechanical advantage! And that brings us to our workout here today…
The At Home Workout for Skinny Guys to Build Muscle And Strength
In this workout, the exercises provide variations to use (based on your level of progress). You will select the variations, for each exercise, based on your abilities. Ideally, you perform each exercise in a 6-12 repetition range. If you’re performing 12+ reps of one variation, step it up and work on the next one.
Because you’ll be focusing on higher-intensity, low-repetitions, feel free to take rests as needed. For example, you may take a 30-60 second rest in-between exercises. Ideally, you’ll work up to the ability to perform a full circuit without rest in-between sets. Then, rest at the end of your circuits.
You’ll perform 3-4 circuits total. Do this workout 3-days a week. Here’s the exercise order:
- HS Pushup Progressions – 6-12 reps
- Pistol Squat Progressions – 6-12 reps/side
- Pushup Progressions – 6-12 reps (per/side w/ one-arm)
- Chin-up Progressions – 6-12 reps (per/side w/ one-arm)
- Leg Curl Progressions – 6-12 reps (per/side w/ one-leg)
- Plank / Awkward Plank Variations – hold for at least 30 seconds (at least 15-seconds per side if awkward plank)
- Russian Twists – 10-12/side (use a medicine ball, weight, etc.)
- Bicycle Crunches- 20/side (slow, controlled reps)
- Reverse Plank – hold for 30 seconds
- Bridge or Full Wheel* (hold for 15-20 seconds) – you can do this each circuit or just do it as a ‘cool-down’ after you finish 3 or 4 rounds of the above exercises.
*You’ll either rest before performing the circuit again, or ‘rest’ in a bridge or full wheel. You can also save these to the end of your full workout as part of a cool-down sequence.
The rest of this article will look at these exercises and variations in depth. Firstly, here’s the full video showing you the variations based on your fitness level:
Let’s talk more about these exercise and progressions with them.
Handstand Pushup Progressions
If you want to build strong, dense shoulders – overhead pressing exercises are imperative to your results.
But when you don’t have a gym, there really isn’t better exercise for building strong shoulders and arms than handstand pushups.
Firstly, this doesn’t mean you have to be able to handstand. In fact, it’s better if you do them against the wall or elevate a leg on a surface. This will allow you to focus more on the eccentric and concentric movements from your agonist muscles. And when you take that point of contact away, and it’s incredibly demanding on your balance!
Further, handstands themselves should first be practiced as a skill. And it’s a skill that takes a lot of practice to learn. But that’s beyond the scope of this article. Ryan over at GMB Fitness put together an extensive guide on how to do a handstand though, if you’re interested.
Once you’re stronger (from doing the handstand pushup progressions), then you can mess with full handstand pushups. Otherwise know, that in terms of hypertrophy and maximal strength, the supported variation will have more benefit.
Handstand Pushup Progressions: Variation A
If you’re pretty beginner, you can do this variation with your feet on the ground. Basically, you’ll start out in Downard-Facing Dog yoga pose.
Press the ground firmly away from you (feel those traps engage). Then, bend your arms as you bring your nose to tap the ground in front of your hands. Return to starting position.
If you can easily bang out 10 or more of these, it’s time to elevate those legs!
Handstand Pushup Progressions: Variation B
Same same as the last, except this time you’re elevating your legs. Use a wall with your chest towards it, or step onto a couch or chair. The higher the hips, the better.
Press the ground away from you (strong engagement in your shoulders) and then bend into your arms and bring your nose to touch the ground. Press back to the starting position.
Handstand Pushup Progressions: Variation C
This variation is the same as the last one, only you will block up your hands to increase the range-of-motion for more difficulty. You can also use parallettes if you have them.
Handstand Pushup Progressions: Variation D
The final variation is full Handstand Pushups. Remember, this variation requires that you have developed handstand as a skill. Once you remove the point of contact with your leg(s), you add a significant balance requirement. And your stabilizers have to work hard to help your agonist muscles perform the movements.
If you spend time practicing handstands, and keep doing this workout program with the above variations, you can eventually marry the two:
Pistol Squat Progressions
Truthfully, the hardest part about creating a workout program around bodyweight exercises, is the legs. Barbell squatting variations are damn effective, and it’s hard to meet their efficiency for building mass.
Further, without the increasing load, it can be hard to stress the legs significantly.
Enter Pistol Squats.
These are an advanced exercise and one of the best bodyweight movements for the legs. What I also love about pistols, is the range-of-motion potential you have with them.
In variation D, you’ll see that my butt is almost touching the ground!
Pistols are an incredible exercise for strength, and even mobility.
Now let’s take a look at the variations below that will help you work towards them.
Pistol Squat Progressions: Variation A
The first variation of your Pistol Squat progressions is simply squatting as low as you can with one leg. Reach your other heel forward and tap the ground as far out in front of you as you can. Return to starting position. That’s one rep.
Pistol Squat Progressions: Variation B
The next step in your pistol squat progressions, is to hold on to a chair or a desk for support. Rather than tapping your heel on the ground, you’ll keep it elevated. Squat as low as you can, and use the chair for balance and to help you return to the starting position.
Pistol Squat Progressions: Variation C
The next step is to remove the support of your arm and sit down onto a surface. I’m using 2 yoga blocks here, but you might use something else. The higher the surface, the easier it will be. Once you can hit your repetitions, you can decrease the height to make it even more difficult.
Pistol Squat Progressions: Variation D
Final variation is Pistol Squats. Exactly the same as the last variation, only this time you’re not sitting down onto a surface. Reach your heel out in front of you as you squat to your fullest range of motion. Return to standing.
You can also start adding weights if you have dumbbells or kettlebells at home, (or hold something that has weight to it):
To build a strong chest, you’ll need some pushing exercises. No benchpress? No problem. Build muscle and strength (the right way) with pushup progressions.
Problem is, most guys get into routine of doing pushups and sit-ups everyday. I’m guilty, myself. When I first started, I’d bang out lots of them in succession.
Little did I know, this was an endurance workout. In fact, a better route to take is progressing your pushups to harder variations – like one-arm pushups.
And that’s where we’re headed.
We’ll start this off with the easiest variation of pushups. Most of you can probably already perform variation A and variation B, but I’ve included them in case someone doesn’t yet have the strength to do pushups.
Pushup Progression: Variation A
If you can’t do a full pushup, start here. It’s the same biomechanics for the pushing exercise, only resistance is decreased by doing them from your knees.
Start out on your hands and knees. Bring your hands forward slightly, and press the ground away from you. Bend at the elbows, bringing your chest towards the ground. Press back to the starting position.
Pushup Progression: Variation B
The next variation is your standard pushups. Press the ground away from you and assume a plank position. Bend at the elbows and bring your chest to the ground. Press back up to starting.
Pushup Progression: Variation C
This variation increases the challenge with a narrow grip. It’s also great for your triceps!
Bring your thumb and index fingers to meet, then assume a plank position. Bend at the elbows and bring your chest to the diamond you created with your hands. Press back to starting position. Rinse and repeat…
Pushup Progression: Variation D
With this variation, you’ll start working towards the one-arm pushups. Extend one arm out wide, and use it to anchor you while you perform the pushups with your other arm. Your extended arm is just supporting you while your other arm is doing the work.
Perform this exercise on both sides before moving on to the next exercise.
Pushup Progression: Variation E
Finally, you’ll advance to one-arm pushups. Similar movement to your last variation, only now your remove that supporting arm. Maintain a strong core as you press the ground away from you. Bend your elbow and bring your chest towards the ground. Press back to a starting position.
Voila. Your pecs are strong as hell. ?
If you want to build strong arms and back muscles, be sure to include chin-up progressions in your routine.
If you’re thinking, “well I don’t have a chin-up bar”…
Well then, either get one, or span a broomstick across two chairs. Do bodyweight rows instead. In fact, you can even progress these to one-arm bodyweight rows (similar to what you would with chin-ups).
Can’t do chin-ups? That’s what variation A is for…
Chin-up Progressions: Variation A
This variation assumes you aren’t able to do free-hanging chinups. In fact, this is the exact exercise I told my sister to do when she came to me asking how to do a chinup.
(and weeks later she was busting them out no problem)
Instead of pulling up to the bar from hanging, you’re going to jump to the top position. Then, with control, slowly lower to a hanging position. Aim for a count of 5 seconds as you go down. That’s one rep. Jump back to the top position and continue for more repetitions.
This is called ‘eccentric’ training and will help you advance to the next variation.
Chin-up Progressions: Variation B
This is your standard chin-up. You’ll start from a hanging position, and pull your ‘chin up’ over the bar. Return to a hanging position (fully extend those arms!).
Chin-up Progressions: Variation C
The next step in chin-up progressions, is to work on one arm variations. In this instance, you’ll use a rag or rope strung over the bar. The further down your hand is on the hanging portion, the harder the exercise will be. You’ll want to take away the assistance from your supporting arm over time this way.
Chin-up Progressions: Variation D
This variation is same as the previous one, only this time you’re gripping the wrist of the arm performing the chin-up. This is another variation of one-arm chin-up progression you can work with.
Chin-up Progressions: Variation E
Yeah, I don’t have single arm chins…
But that’s where you’d take it next. With the previous variations, you’ll start to use less and less of your opposite arm. If you’re consistent with it, you’ll eventually have the ability to do single arm chin-ups.
Bodyweight Hip Thrusts / Leg Curls
I’ve also added in an exercise for your posterior chain. Since exercises like Deadlifts are out, let’s look at how we can hit your hamstrings with bodyweight only. Here are a few exercise variations to do this:
Single-Legged Hip Thrusts
Start with one leg planted on the ground. Your opposite leg suspended. Then, press into your foot that’s on the ground, while driving your hips up towards the ceiling. Lower your butt back to the ground. That’s one rep. Perform all reps in your working set and repeat on the other leg.
Another variation you can use is leg curls. If you have hardwood or laminate flooring, you can use a rag or socks to perform this exercise. You’ll simply start in a bridge pose (bend your legs and plant your feet on the ground, press your hips towards the ceiling). Then, slowly extend your legs as far away from your torso as you can. Pull your feet back towards your butt, while driving your hips towards the ceiling. That’s one rep.
You can also use paper plates or carpet sliders on carpeted areas.
Single Leg Curls
This variation is the same as the last, only this time you’re performing the exercise with one leg. Start out as you would in single leg hip thrust, with one leg suspended and the other pressing into the ground. Rather than dropping your butt towards the ground, extend your leg. Then, pull your heel towards your butt as you raise your hips towards the celing.
Finally, we’ll include some core exercises in your routine. I’ve included a mix of stability, trunk rotation, as well as flexion in the core.
Plank / Awkward Plank Progressions: Variation A
First up is a simple plank position. You’ll hold this, pressing the ground away from you, for at least 30 seconds.
Plank / Awkward Plank Progressions: Variation B
If you want to challenge your plank, the first step is to remove a point of contact. Lift one leg and hold this position.
Plank / Awkward Plank Progressions: Variation C
The next step, is to remove your opposite hand from the ground. This will challenge your stability further. Hold ‘awkward’ plank for at least 20 seconds on each side before moving on.
Next up is good old Russian twists. Grab yourself a weight, or something heavy. Sit down on your butt, and lift your feet off of the ground. While maintaining a long spine, twist over to the left, then return to center. Twist over to the right. That’s one rep.
Next exercise is bicycle crunches. Start out by laying on your back. Lift your legs off of the ground, knees perpendicular to your torso. Then, lift your shoulders off of the ground, hands behind your head. Extend your right leg as you twist your right elbow to touch your left knee. Alternate sides slow and controlled.
Finally, finish this circuit up with a reverse plank. Ever perform a face-pull at the gym? This is the same activity you want in your upper back. Press your arms into the ground, and use your upper back muscles to push into the ground as you press your hips towards the ceiling. Hold this for time.
These exercises are nice to include after your workout. I’d perform 3 or 4 circuits of the above exercises, then hold one of the following variations for 20-30 seconds. But you can also do these in-between your circuits if you want.
Bridge Pose / Full Wheel
The first variation is a bridge pose. First, plant your feet so you can barely touch the heals with your finger tips. Then, press your arms into the ground as you push your hips towards the ceiling. Hold it here.
The other variation is full-wheel pose.
You can place your feet up on the couch, or a chair and work into the Thoracic Spine more this way.
On that note, Christopher Sommer is listed in Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, as stating Thoracic Bridge to be one of the 3 movements everyone should practice:
Thoracic Bridge: Elevate your feet enough to feel the bulk of the stretch in the upper back and shoulders, not the lower back. The feet might be 3+ feet off the ground. Ensure you can concentrate on straightening your arms (and legs, if possible), holding the position, and breathing.Christopher Sommer, 1 of the 3 movements everyone should practice, as listed in Tools of Titans
Home Workout for Skinny Guys: Conclusion
It can be tricky to build significant mass at home. But sometimes that’s all you got!
If that’s the case, try hitting this workout 3-days per week and work on your progressions. A workout like this will help build strength and stress your muscles enough for growth. This workout should keep you busy for a few weeks.
PS Don’t forget – if you want to get bigger and stronger it takes a lot more than a good workout plan.
And if you want more tips and info on all things building muscle and gaining weight for skinny guys, I encourage you to enrol in the M2M free crash-course. This will help you better understand what’s required.
You can learn more about that and sign up here.