If you want to know exactly how to gain muscle for skinny guys at home, then you’ve come to the right place!
Fortunately for you, I’m not going to recommend you rep out as many push-ups as you can.
In fact, I don’t understand why anyone would recommend endurance for a skinny guy who wants to build muscle at home…
If you wanna know how to gain muscle for skinny guys at home, you need to remember this: if you’re performing more than 12 reps of an exercise, then you need to increase the difficulty.
This is based on the strength-endurance continuum, which looks something like this:
< — Strength — Hypertrophy — Endurance — >
To build significant mass, you’ll wanna be training more to the left of that continuum. Once your working set of an exercise goes beyond 12-reps, you’re getting into training for muscular endurance (more on this in a moment).
Which is fine. If that’s your goal.
But I’m guessing it isn’t!
You’re looking for a workout for skinny guys at home that will build muscle.
An at home workout plan for a scrawny guy that can still build chiseled pecs… ripped abs… thick arms… a solid back.
This article is going to tell you everything you need to know. It’s gonna give you the tools you need to when it comes to how to gain muscle for skinny guys at home.
You’ll also learn what to avoid. Like busting out push-ups for reps like most ‘poo-rus’ recommend!
Can You Really Gain Muscle For Skinny Guys At Home?
Listen, I’m gonna be honest with you up front.
The barbell is often considered the best tool for building muscle, and for good reason. This is because you can simply increase the load to stress your muscles. It’s an effective way to stimulate adaptations required for hypertrophy (muscle growth).
But, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary!
You can absolutely build one solid physique by working out at home.
You just have to make sure you’re following the right principles. I’m going to share those with you, and then give you a workout for skinny guys at home.
As I mentioned, the nice thing about the barbell is that you can simply increase the load by adding weight.
With bodyweight workouts at home, it gets a little more tricky.
Rather than adding weight, you need to manipulate mechanical advantage.
After reading, you’ll know exactly how to gain muscle for skinny guys at home!
What You Need To Know To Build Muscle At Home
As mentioned, the nice thing about the barbell is that you can increase the load as you get stronger.
Which is ideal. There’s a principle called Progressive Overload, which must be followed if you results. Progressive Overload is the foundational principle for success in a training program.
In order to achieve more strength and size, the body needs to be stressed in a way that triggers it to grow stronger (and/or bigger). This is what Progressive Overload helps you achieve.
So if you wanna know how to gain muscle for skinny guys at home, you have to be aware of this.
I’m betting you’re going to be doing mostly bodyweight workouts (which is what I will share with you shortly).
The difference with bodyweight, is that you need to decrease mechanical advantage to make the exercises progressively more difficult.
It’s not as simple as adding weight to the barbell.
(btw – you’d be doing yourself a favour to read Overcoming Gravity – this book will give you everything you need to know about bodyweight training AND help you design your own progressive resistance program)
For example, once you’re easily busting out push-ups, you can start progressing into one-arm pushups.
This will increase the working requirements of your pectorals and ensure they are getting bigger and stronger (rather than increasing endurance).
Finally, you need to ensure your muscles are getting enough volume for those adaptations.
This is how to gain muscle for skinny guys at home.
Stress the muscles appropriately (and FEED them with a caloric surplus – more on that in a moment)…
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Volume
When it comes to building muscle, there are many variables at play.
I’m not going to turn this into a scientific wormhole, snaking you deeper skeletal muscle composition and variables for stimulating its growth.
But what’s important to know is that you need to ensure your muscles are getting enough volume to stimulate hypertrophy gains.
Alright. Let’s dive into it.
Remember that strength-endurance continuum we spoke of earlier?
This is how you determine your repetition max (RM) based on your fitness goals.
The continuum tells us our working set (to failure) will be in these ranges:
- Strength: 1-5RM
- Strength & Hypertrophy: 6-8RM
- Hypertrophy: 8-12+RM
- Endurance: 12+
I always recommend skinny guys looking to build mass focus on strength and hypertrophy. If you’re a novice, it’s recommended that you workout in the 8-12RM range.
But once you get into the Strength & Lean Bulking phase, you’ll know that the training focuses on building strength and hypertrophy simultaneously.
The result is dense muscle that is strong as hell!
In a moment, I’ll show you how to train with this in mind.
But I want to also mention the total volume necessary in your workouts.
Steven Low gives us these guidelines for a total workout volume for optimal adaptations in Overcoming Gravity:
- To build strength: 25-50 total repetitions
- To achieve hypertrophy: 40-75+ total repetitions
So when you hit a muscle group, the reps from your working sets should total up into those ranges.
For example, let’s say you do
- Pushups: 3 sets of 10
- Dips: 3 sets of 10
- Total repetitions: 60
Great! Now you know your chest has had appropriate stress to stimulate muscular hypertrophy.
What About Isometric Bodyweight Exercises?
Isometric exercises are static, meaning you do not move during muscular contractions.
Like the plank, for example.
Now, since you’re most likely doing bodyweight… you can also utilize isometric exercises.
But I wouldn’t recommend relying on it for muscle growth.
Isometric exercises are not the most effective for hypertrophy goals.
I just wanted to mention that if your goal is to build muscle, you should focus more on isotonic contractions that put constant tension on the muscles as they change length.
Personally, I like to include isometric strengthening. I incorporate a lot of it into my yoga-inspired fitness routines.
Isometric exercises strengthen your muscles in a different way. This can help you with skills and stability.
BUT if the goal is muscle – you better be PUSHING and PULLING against resistance.
(again, in those rep ranges mentioned above).
Let’s start to frame the workout for skinny guys at home.
Workout For Skinny Guys At Home
Down to the applicable stuff.
Let’s design your workout…
I recommend starting with a 3-day a week total body training routine (ie. Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
Select 2 exercises you want to focus on for each: pushing, pulling, and legs (and something for core).
Remember, you have to progress to higher difficulties. Your exercise selection will depend on your own intuition and abilities.
Here’s the framework:
- Pushing exercise 1: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Pushing exercise 2: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Pulling exercise 1: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Pulling exercise 2: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Leg exercise 1: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Leg exercise 2: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Core exercise 1: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Core exercise 2: 3 x 8-12 reps
You’ll rest 1.5 – 3 minutes between sets. Know physiologically your body needs more time to recover when training in anaerobic zones.
The lower your RM is, the more time it will take you to recover.
The approximate physiological rate is:
- 30 seconds – 50%
- 60 seconds – 75%
- 90 seconds – 88%
- 120 seconds – 95%
- 180 seconds – 99%
Here’s where you have to use your intuition and research potential bodyweight exercises.
Because you need to find exercise progressions to manipulate the repetitions over time.
For example, pushing exercise 1 might start out as pushups (or even pushups from knees). Once you’re easily hitting 12 reps, step it up. Pushups might become archer pushups, which become one-arm pushups, for example.
For leg workouts, your best bet is to work towards shrimp squats or pistol squats.
It’s hard to work your legs in low RM ranges otherwise.
For the posterior muscles (like your hamstrings), single-leg hip thrusts are a good option.
Remember, you can always use the above framework and fill in the blanks with bodyweight exercises that challenge you.
Ask Dr. Google for some bodyweight chest exercises, for example, and pick one or two that will be challenging enough to hit those rep ranges. Do the same for pulling and leg exercises.
I’ll show you how I would fill in the blanks myself:
- One-Arm Pushups: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Handstand Pushups 2: 3 x As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP)
- Pull-ups: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Bodyweight Rows: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Pistol Squats: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Single-Leg Hip Thrusts: 3 x AMRAP
- Hanging leg raises: 3 x 8-12 reps
- Weighted Russian Twists: 3 x 8-12 reps
But Remember The Most Important Part of ‘GAINING’ Muscle
The most important of all tips for skinny guys to build muscle is that you absolutely must be getting a caloric surplus. Because you won’t gain any mass otherwise!
What this means is that your calorie intake must be above your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
If you’re not getting those calories in – you wont be seeing those muscles in the mirror.
Something to keep in mind.
Rootin’ for ya,
PS Want to get everything you need to know to go from scrawny to brawny?
I put together a (100% Free) training series you might like. Check it out here.