How To Bulk Up Fast For Skinny Guys
Trying to bulk up and gaining muscle can be very challenging. More often than not many ectomorphs (including myself when I first started) struggle to gain weight. However, I am here to tell you that any person can gain weight. In reality, there is no such thing as a “hard-gainer”. We just need to take additional steps to gain weight that other people don’t necessarily have to go through. However, gaining size and bulking up is 100% possible no matter how your body type currently is.
In this article, I will give you 9 effective diet and workout tips for how to bulk up fast. However, we must first determine the bulking up formula as well as determine the necessary calories required to gain mass.
Tip #1: The 3 Legged Stool For Bulking Up
To bulk up I want you to keep in mind that bulking up is like a 3 legged stool. All of the legs of the stool need to be in place for you to bulk up effectively. The main components of bulking up are as follows:
Sleep + Caloric Surplus + Compound lifts = Increase in muscular size
These components are necessary to bulk up and all need to be applied to see results.
Here are the benchmarks you should be aiming for:
Benchmark For Sleep
In regards to sleep, you want to aim for between 7-8 hours of sleep every night. This is because your muscles repair during rest and therefore, you want to ensure that your muscle fibers that were torn during your workout, have enough time to grow and recover from a good night’s sleep.
I would also recommend melatonin supplements as these enhance the quality of your sleep tremendously. A higher-quality sleep facilitates more growth hormone production and better muscle recovery. Both which are imperative for protein synthesis and muscle development.
Benchmark For Nutrition
As for diet, you want to ensure that you are in a caloric surplus. This means that you are eating more calories than you are burning daily. To calculate this you have 2 options:
- Your current body weight multiplied by 20
- You can use our online calorie calculator to calculate the number of calories you need to bulk up.
If anything, 70% of your success in bulking up is related to diet while 30% is your workout routine. Plain and simple. If you are not gaining weight that means you are not eating enough. It took me a while to figure this out but in reality, eating at a caloric surplus is key. If you are not gaining weight despite calculating your required calories to bulk up, keep increasing by 300-500 calories until you notice that you are gaining weight. Its all about trial and error.
Once you determine the number of calories you need to consume its a lot easier to gain weight since you have a daily goal to hit. If you’re struggling to find healthy diets and high caloric diets to help you gain your caloric surplus goal, check out this meal plan generator for some ideas for recipes and great healthy meals to gain weight.
When it comes to the breakdown of your meals you want to ensure that you are getting the right amount of macronutrients. The 3 main macronutrients are:
- Protein (Used as the building blocks to build muscle, stronger bones, cartilage, skin, and blood)
- Carbohydrates (Is the bodies main source of energy which helps fuel the brain, muscles and nervous system)
- Fats (Lowers the bodies risk of heart disease and lowers cholesterol)
Below we will breakdown some potential sources for each macronutrient.
Sources of Protein
Protein can come from many sources both vegetable and animal, here are just a few:
- Meat (Chicken/Beef)
- Fish (Salmon, Talapia, Tuna, Shrimp)
- Beans (Black Beans, Chickpeas)
In terms of how much protein you want to consume the main rule you want to follow is that for every pound of bodyweight you want to consume 1 gram of protein. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds you want to strive to consume 180 grams of protein. Although it may seem like a lot, it is necessary to ensure that you maximize your muscular growth during your bulk.
Here’s how much protein is in a serving of food (4oz or 113 grams):
- Serving of chicken has about 30 grams of protein
- Salmon has about 23 grams of protein
- Steak has about 28 grams of protein
- Beef has about 29 grams of protein
Sources of Carbohydrates
In addition to proteins, you want to make sure that you are also eating a good amount of carbohydrates in order to get bigger. Here are some sources of carbs:
- Fruits (Apples, Peaches, Berries)
Sources of Fat
Lastly, when it comes to fat sources here are some good and beneficial sources of healthy fats:
- Peanut Butter
- Whole Milk
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
Making Your Plate
Now that you know some examples of each type of macronutrient, lets put it all together on the plate:
Ideally, you want to split your plate in the following way:
- 2/4 of the plate is vegetables
- 1/4 of the plate is protein
- 1/4 of the plate is carbs
Cheat codes For Bulking Up
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s pretty hard to cook your own meals and get the calories you need. This is especially true if you have to eat 3000, 4000, or even 5000 calories. The point is, sometimes its hard to eat all those calories in a clean way. Assuming you don’t mind eating a few dirty calories to hit your caloric surplus, here are a few ‘cheat codes’ for bulking up in terms of foods that make it easier to hit that surplus. Keep in mind again that these are NOT the best source of calories, however, if you are in need of more cheap calories these are some potential options:
- Ramen Noodles => Ramen noodles are a good option because of the fact that they are extremely cheap and usually have between 350-500 calories each pack. On top of that, if you make some eggs with your noodles you could easily find yourself eating a high-calorie meal that takes minutes to make.
- Frozen Dinners => Frozen dinners are another cheap option that is also usually loaded with calories (usually between 250-300+). Most frozen dinners such as frozen pasta are microwaveable and again, take minutes to make.
- Muffins => Muffins are also another great option when it comes to calorie density. Most muffins are between 300-600 calories per muffin making them another viable option.
- Gallon of Milk a Day (GOMAD) => GOMAD is literally as the name suggests, drinking a gallon of milk a day. Although it may seem like a lot, it has been shown to be highly effective. Nutrition info usually is about the following:
- 2400 Calories
- 127 grams of Fat
- 183 grams of Carbs
- 123 grams of Protein
Tip #2: Follow a Proper Workout Routine
Now that we have covered the importance of nutrition and being in a caloric surplus as well as the importance of sleep, we can move on to the workout routine. Now there are a lot of bulking up routines you can find online but I will give you a simple bro-split that is highly effective towards putting on size.
The idea of a bro-split is that you are hitting each individual muscle group once per week over the course of 4-6 workouts.
There are many different ways this could be laid out, but here’s an example of what it might look like…
Although the frequency of a bro split isn’t as optimal as working out a muscle twice a week, it can be effective so long as you apply progressive overload. (Progressive overload is steadily increasing either the number of reps you do or the volume and weight that you lift every week). With that being said here is the workout:
Bro-Split Workout For Building Muscle and Bulking Up
As mentioned before you want to ensure that you are applying progressive overload every week by either increasing the number of reps you are doing (stay within 8-12 range) or by increasing the amount of volume/weight you are lifting. Simply increasing the weight by 2.5 or 5 pounds every week is a good way to force your body to adapt and respond by building muscle to deal with the higher volume. The key is to shock the muscle!
Tip #3: Mass Gainer
Another great way to bulk up is to use a mass gainer.
Mass gainers are similar to whey protein however, they usually contain a large number of carbohydrates. This is beneficial as it means increased energy in the gym which allows you to work out harder and for a longer period of time.
Moreover, this is a great option if you are struggling to hit your caloric surplus number. I do not advise you to think of a mass gainer as a meal replacement but rather as an additional source of calories and supplement to your meal plan.
The benefit of most mass gainers is that they have between 1000-1500 calories per serving size so they are a great way to ensure that you get a good amount of protein while hitting your daily required calories.
Based on my experience, I recommend Optimum Nutrition Mass Gainer as I find their mass gainer to be great in terms of taste, calories per serving and price point in comparison to the other mass gainers on the market.
Tip #4: Creatine
In addition to everything said previously, another helpful supplement for bulking up is creatine.
Creatine is great because it is thought to improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and helps the muscles recover more quickly during exercise. Consequently, the more energy you have in the gym, the harder you can workout and therefore, the better results you can yield while bulking up.
For some people, creatine is also said to help with water retention which allows your muscles to store more glycogen which makes you look fuller and more hydrated.
When looking for a brand you want to read reviews to make sure that you purchase creatine monohydrate that does not cause bloating and is proven to effectively work. Based on my personal experience I find that Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine is one of the best brands when it comes to creatine.
Tip #5: Additional Condiments and Oils
Another great way to get some extra calories is to add additional condiments and oils to your meals.
These could include, salad dressings, sauces, olive oils, etc. Not only are these healthy sources of fat but you would be surprised at how many calories are in some of these condiments. Olive oil especially has about 120 calories per tablespoon. Simply cooking and using these oils with your salads, eggs, etc. are a great way to get some extra calories without even realizing it!
Tip #6: Snacking Often
Another great way to bulk up is to snack often.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to eat large meals but prefers small meals and snacks then consider preparing a bag of nuts or trail mix every morning. Right before you go to work or school take the bag with you and snack on it throughout the day. Most nuts have about 240 calories per ¼ of a cup so these are a great way to get some additional calories when you don’t have time for a full meal or are looking for something to eat in between meals.
The best time to snack is usually at least once every 2-3 hours. Setting a reminder on your phone to remind you to snack is also a great idea if you sometimes forget to eat when getting caught up in your other daily activities.
Tip #7: Prepping Your Meals and Eating Schedule
For most people, this is one of the most challenging things to do when trying to bulk up.
Sometimes daily activities get in the way, making it hard to take the time to cook, sit down and eat a meal in one sitting. That’s why I recommend prepping your meals ahead of time. If you already know you can’t prepare 3-4 meals throughout the day then the best thing to do is cook a big batch of rice, chicken, fish, pasta (etc.) the night before.
After you do this you can split the food in plastic containers which you can keep in the fridge and reheat the next day. Not only does this save you time and money, but it also allows you to easily calculate how many calories you eat because you prepared the meal yourself. The only disadvantage is that you have to stay up cooking the meals at least once or twice a week but besides that, it is in your best interest to prep your meals.
In terms of your eating schedule and how you split your meals is completely up to you. I personally rather eat my meals in 3 large sittings as opposed to splitting it into multiple small sittings but that is completely up to you. If you need to eat your calories over 7 meals then, by all means, do it.
It is whatever works for you, the most important thing is that you hit your caloric surplus number.
Tip #8: Reducing Cardio Exercises
As I said in #1 above, you need to eat enough calories to gain weight if you are looking to bulk up.
The issue is if you’re burning calories because of excess cardio and training 2-3x per week making gains is going to be a lot more challenging. Therefore, you want to reduce your cardio to a maximum of 1-2 days per week and even then I would refrain from high-intensity cardio such as sprinting or serious running.
Some examples of low-intensity cardio great for your cardiovascular health include:
- Exercise bikes
- Pickup basketball
- Light jogging
Tip #9: Tracking Your Calories and Readjusting
Lastly and probably one of the most important on this list is tracking your calories and readjusting based on your results.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people trying to bulk up without counting how many calories they are consuming. Plain and simple, you HAVE TO WRITE IT DOWN. Having a notepad on your phone is great for this.
You want to write down what you ate and the number of calories next to it. If you are not sure how many calories are in something you can always google. Moreover, you can also use apps like MyFitnessPal or Calorie King to help you out. In addition, you should weigh yourself in the morning every day after your morning dump and write down your morning weight.
Morning weight usually fluctuates between 1-5 pounds because of water entering and leaving the body. Therefore, at the end of the week average your daily weights and compare that number to see if you are gaining. If you are gaining continue with your current number, If not or if you plateau try increasing your daily calories by an additional 300 calories and see if that helps.
The key is to constantly track and readjust based on your results to ensure that you are adapting to how your body is responding.
How to Bulk Up Fast
Above you have my 9 tips on how to bulk up fast. Just to recap here they are once again:
- The 3 Legged Stool (Sleep + Caloric Surplus + Compound Lifts = BULK)
- Follow a Proper Workout Routine
- Mass Gainer
- Olive oil and adding dressing
- Snacking (Nuts, Trail Mix)
- Eating According to Schedule (Frequent meals or a few big meals)
- Reduce The Cardio
- Track Your Calories
At the end of the day if you want to bulk up you can do it. Genetics and metabolism are not the be-all and end-all. You just have to keep consistent, track and readjust. If you do this, I am positive that you will achieve your goals for bulking up.
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