Training

From Scarecrow to Strongman: Adding Mass to a Skinny Frame

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The same story has been playing out for years; skinny guy joins the gym to get big and buff. It doesn’t matter if you from scarecrow to strongman: adding mass to a skinny framehad sand kicked in your face like in the old Atlas commercials or were bullied in high school. The point is you are tired of looking like a toothpick and want to add some big muscle to your body.

But the question is how?

Sadly not everyone is created equal. Certain people are naturally skinny with muscles that start off longer and thinner. Others are blessed with larger, more rounded muscle bellies. If you are one of the unlucky ones, can you get to the same end result as those with a more natural, athletic style build? No, but you can still add some bulk to your frame.

Mass Basics

Due to the differences in body styles, those who are more of an ectomorph (skinny guy) need to follow a different program that is more tailored to their body. The workouts are going to be short and intense working as many compound exercises as possible to gain overall mass. Due to the smaller joint structure and leaner muscles you will not be able to toss around the big weights yet. But you have to check your ego at the door and follow the plan diligently.

Eating

Food will be the key for adding weight to your frame. Because the skinny guys naturally have a faster metabolism it will be hard to add more weight. But luckily you can toss out some of the concerns the rest of us have about eating. You want to add protein to every meal and eat 6 times a day. You should even drink a protein shake and eat a light snack before bed. Don’t waste time with weight gaining products, but instead focus on eat balanced meals full of good food such as whole grains, meat, fruits, nuts, and veggies. Don’t worry about counting calories; instead focus on eating decent amounts of quality food because you need good building blocks for muscle.

The Workout

This program will be comprised of two 4-week cycles. You will alternate the programs every 4 weeks. For every exercise form should come first and weight second. Compound exercises can easily damage joints if you try and use your ego to lift the weights instead of the muscles. For sets you are aiming for maximum weight at the prescribed repetitions on the final set. You will be working out 4 days a week but the workouts should only last 45 minutes. As you are already skinny, cardio is not much of a concern.

Program A

You will work out on a two-on one off, two-on two-off program each week. For example you can do Day 1 on Monday, Day 2 on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, and then Day 1 on Thursday, Day 2 on Friday, and rest over the weekend. Make sure to perform a light warm-up and stretch during and after the workout. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets and 120 seconds between exercises.

Day 1 – Upper Body

  • Wide Grip Pull ups (or pull down machine) – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Flat Bench Press – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Rows – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Presses – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Dips – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Alternating Dumbbell Bicep Curls – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions

 

Day 2 – Lower Body

  • Dumbbell Squats – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Leg Press – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Lying Leg Curls – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Hyperextensions – 2 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions
  • Standing Calf Raises – 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Seated Calf Raises – 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Bicycle Crunches – 2 sets to failure

Program B

You will work out on a two-on one off, two-on two-off program each week. For example you can do Day 1 on Monday, Day 2 on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, and then Day 1 on Thursday, Day 2 on Friday, and rest over the weekend. Make sure to perform a light warm-up and stretch during and after the workout. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets and 120 seconds between exercises.

Day 1 – Upper Body

  • Barbell Reverse Rows – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Deadlifts – 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Barbell Upright Row – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Close Grip Bench Press – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Barbell Biceps Curls – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions

 

Day 2 – Lower Body

  • Barbell Squats – 4 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Lunges – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Single Leg Hamstring Curls – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
  • Lower Back Machine – 2 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions
  • Donkey Calf Raises – 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Single Calf Raise – 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Jackknife Crunches – 2 sets to failure

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