Top 10 Muscle Building Tips for Skinny Guys

Today you’re going to get a guest blog post from one of my online followers – Adam Foster.

Adam has been following the Total Fitness Bodybuilding Blog and YouTube videos for the past 6 years.

During this time he has transformed his physique from a skinny teen to ripped muscular bodybuilder.

Adam recently competed at the British Bodybuilding Finals placing a respectable 6th place among a very competitive line up.

Below you’re going to get Adam’s Top 10 Muscle Building Tips for skinny guys who want to transform their physique and pack on solid muscular bodyweight.

adam-fosterAdam Foster Competing on Stage!

Top 10 Muscle Building Tips for Skinny Guys.

When you look at the latest issue of Flex Magazine, see the latest action film full of muscular Hollywood A-listers, or watch professional wrestling it’s easy to get the buzz to want to hit the gym and get jacked.

So you head out and buy a brand new tub of protein powder, sign up for a gym membership and get yourself a new stringer. But 6 months down the road your biceps aren’t 24 inch pythons your pecs are still looking like pancakes and your friends ask you “do you even lift” when they see you drinking your protein shakes.

When this happens the motivation is gone, and for many, it’s the end of the road. According to Forbes magazine, only 8% of people ever reach their new years resolution goals. Lee actually wrote a great article about the biggest new years fitness resolution mistakes people make. They over commit, set their goals too high and want results too quickly. This leads to a loss of interest, loss of motivation and they give up.

In this article you’re going to get some advice on how to stay motivated. Plus get some practical and actionable tips to help you see the fruits of your labour quicker, which will in turn keep you motivated, and encourage you to keep making gains.

My Physique Transformation…

I started lifting as a teenager. I was a typical kid, out of shape, enjoyed video games, and didn’t lead a healthy or active lifestyle. I decided to change things up when I was around 15, cut out some of my junk food, started to exercise and managed to lose weight.

It wasn’t until I was 18 however when I got serious and joined a gym. And while I did lose a lot of weight, my lack of knowledge about proper nutrition and training left me looking pretty weak and skinny.

However as time went on and I learned more about bodybuilding nutrition and productive muscle building workouts I was able to take my physique all the way to the competition stage. This year I took 3rd place in my 4th bodybuilding show, and qualified to compete at the Britain Finals, where I placed 6th. I did this at the age of 23, over a 5 year span.

I certainly didn’t get big overnight, and you shouldn’t expect to either. For me not having a hulk like physique after 6 months of training didn’t make me throw in the towel. Through goal setting, planning, consistency and perseverance, I was able to go from a skinny teenager to a competitive bodybuilder.

Here are some of my top 10 tips for helping you stay motivated.

#1 Find What Works From Those Who Have Gone Before You

The first thing you want to do is find a plan that works. Lee has competed in numerous bodybuilding shows, and has the credentials to back up what he talks about in his YouTube videos and in his workout programs.

The fastest way to make zero progress is through a lack of direction and a poorly structured training and diet plan.

When I first started training I would find well planned muscle building programs online. Proven to work exercise routines along with nutritional plans. And what was the first thing I’d do? …Alter them…

This is one of the biggest mistakes a beginner can make. As a beginner your knowledge is severely limited, both in training and nutrition. Any changes you make to a workout or to nutritional advice, is likely going to work against you.

As an example, I remember reading that my diet should contain 50% carbs to gain weight. Through the miss-information from celebrity fad diets, I remember thinking “I don’t need carbs, I’ll just have the protein”.

I was stumped as to why I wasn’t gaining weight. As soon as I began listening to good advice and following it, I began gaining muscle.

That’s not to say you should believe everything you read online. Forums can be a great place to learn, but they can also be a cess pool of terrible advice. Proceed with caution.

#2 Nail Your Nutrition Plan

Contrary to popular belief, the time you spend in the gym isn’t the necessarily most important aspect of gaining muscle. Controlling what you eat is actually a bigger commitment, and is where more people go wrong, leading to a lack of results.

You first need to know how much food you need. The amounts of food that you will need to eat will differ from what I need to eat. Likewise the quantities of food you need to eat will vary depending upon your goal.

If you want to gain muscle, if you want to train for strength, if you want to lose body fat. Your goals will dictate your caloric intake.

Lee has a super easy method for establishing that here.

When you know how much you should be eating – stick to it.
Here are some easy ways to stick to your diet.

#3 Give Yourself a Nutritional Range

Your macros and caloric intake will differ depending upon if you’re wanting to gain or lose weight. I’m currently looking to add lean muscle mass. In order to do this, my macro intake should be:

450 grams of carbs

260 grams of protein

50 grams of fat

Hitting those exact numbers every day may be a bit awkward, depending on how much food you have at home, and what your schedule is, along with your daily activity. There’s no point stressing over things as small as a few grams of protein under your ideal intake, or a few grams of carbs over you requirement.

That’s why I like to work in a range. You should aim to be within around 5% of your macros, give or take.
So for me I set my macros as anywhere from around:

440-465 grams of carbs

250-280 grams of protein

45-60 grams of fat

Chances are, over the course of a week you’ll average out about right. Of course a pro level bodybuilder will need to be pretty bang on with these numbers daily, as their livelihood depends on their success.
However if you’re a recreational lifter, or a teenager just getting into bodybuilding, don’t sweat it. Working within a range makes things a lot more manageable.

#4 Plan Your Meals In Advance

The frequency of how often you should eat is widely debated, the old school bodybuilding approach is every 2-3 hours. Some believe you can get the some results from eating just 3 times a day. Others believe that eating every 4-5 hours is optimal.

I’m not here to debate meal frequency today, however I personally eat every 2-3 hours. This fits around my schedule perfect, and allows me to eat enough without feeling too full or bloated at anyone sitting.

As such I typically eat anywhere between 5-7 “meals” a day. I put “meals” in quotations, as I consider a protein shake or meal replacement shake as a meal.

Since I eat between 5-7 meals, lets average that out at 6 meals per day. I’ll take my macros for the day and divide them by 6.

This means that per meal, I should be eating around:

75 grams of carbs

43 grams of protein

8 grams of fat

Of course sometimes it doesn’t work out like this. For example, I have eggs for breakfast, and I eat the yolks. Along with my oatmeal, my fat intake for breakfast may come to anywhere between 20-30 grams.

This should give you a rough indicator of how much you should be eating per meal though. It also makes meal preparation easier, which brings me to my next point.

#5 Meal Prepping in Bulk

There are a ton of ways you can prepare food in bulk, but I do mine daily, the night before.

I’ll weigh my breakfast out. This will typically be oatmeal or some kind of cereal. I know how many eggs I have each day, for me this is 5.

I’ll take 3 meals with me to work. For the sake of convenience, I make each of these meals rice meals. It’s easy to cook in bulk, and can be microwaved. I’ll cook a big pan, enough for 3 meals worth, and then when it’s cooked divide it into 3 lunch boxes.

I cook all my meat at once. This may be a full pack of chicken, turkey or fish. Some days I’ll eat turkey for 3 meals, which means I only have to cook 1 pan. Sometimes I’ll want a different protein source each meal, so I’ll take 3 trays, and put chicken one one, fish on another, and turkey on the 3rd tray.

I’ll prepare my pre and post workout shake the night before, so I can just add water to when I need it. These go in my gym bag, ready for when I leave the house each morning.

My evening meal varies somewhat. I’ll either prep it the night before, so I can come home and microwave it. This is great for convenience. However, some days I’ll purposely not prepare anything, this gives me a bit of freedom to have something different for dinner.

The benefits of planning your meals in advance means you’re never stuck without a meal. You won’t be left going to the vending machine at work, and won’t have to stop off at the nearest McDonald’s when your stomach starts grumbling. When you get into the swing of it, meal planning becomes second nature, and your day wont feel complete without prepping your food.

When you find a meal you’ll like, chances are you’ll be able to eat it 3 or 4 times a day, which makes meal prep even easier.

#6 Variety Is The Spice Of Life

If you think you need to eat plain chicken breast and dry rice to get jacked, think again. Adding flavour to your food is essential to sticking to a diet. There isn’t a single food in my diet that I don’t enjoy. From the vegetables, to the meats, and starches, I enjoy everything I eat.

If you don’t find your meals appetizing, you’ll ditch your diet, and eat crap, halting your progress.

The easiest way to add flavour to your food, is through seasonings. I season all of my meats, and usually have a different seasoning at each meal. While you may be eating rice 3 times a day, your meat source and flavouring really adds a new dimension to the meal, and you won’t get tired of it.

It’s a cheap, quick and really easy to way to add variety and flavour to your diet.

#7 Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High

This is perhaps the most important, as it is the easiest way to get demotivated. Building a great physique takes years. Most top pro bodybuilders train for at least 10-15 years (or more) before they ever appear in a magazine.

I may have only been competing for 2 years, but I’ve been training since I was a teenager.

Building muscle is a slow process. In your first few years of lifting, adding up to 12 pounds of lean muscle mass a year is considered solid progress. As you progress, the rate in which you gain muscle will slow down.

Don’t expect to look like a fitness model or bodybuilder after just 1 year in the gym, and you won’t be disappointed.

Instead, take your “before photos” now. Then every few months take a new set of photos. Compare the differences. I even took this a step further, and began taking weekly videos. From this I was able to see how I had transformed my body over the course of a year.

#8 Turn Your Hobby Into a Lifestyle

I personally can’t class bodybuilding as just a hobby anymore, it’s a lifestyle!

“Going to the gym” is a hobby. “Weight lifting” is a hobby. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. I put so much effort, and plan my lifestyle around my gym sessions and diet requirements, it is now how I live my life.

As such I’ve been able to blend my passion of supplements, bodybuilding, and working out, along with my education. Using my MSc in Marketing Management, along with my degree in Business Management, I created my protein discount code site, along with my own youtube channel.

Because I put so much effort into these ventures, it helps keep me motivated. I love interacting with my viewers over on YouTube. I love watching videos from other channels, such as Lee’s bodybuilding advice videos. Because so much of me goes into these things, it’s hard to lose motivation.

#9 Tell People, But Don’t Ram it Down Their Throats

There’s nothing worst than that Facebook friend who “checks in at the gym” every day, and then lets us know how he’s gone “beast mode”.

However talking to your friends and family about your gym goals and progress will help you stay motivated. It will also make you want to succeed. If no one knows you’re hitting the gym, or striving to get a good physique, it’s easy to skip workouts, or to cheat on your diet.

However if you let it be known that you want to lose weight, or gain muscle, you won’t want to feel like a failure to those you tell. It really does help keep you motivated.

#10 Set a Realistic Goal

Becoming Mr Olympia isn’t a goal. It’s a dream.

Appearing on a billboard for Calvin Klein isn’t a goal. It’s a dream.

However in order to make those dreams come true, we each need a set of realistic goals, which will act as stepping stones to the bigger picture.

If you want to be a bodybuilder, but have only just started lifting, your first goal should be something like “gain x amount of pounds” or “lose x amount of pounds”.

After that it should be to enter a local competition. That’s it. When you’ve competed in your first show, then look at what’s next. Don’t run before you can walk.

Over to You…

Hopefully you’ll now feel a bit more motivated, and have a more grounded approach to what you should be working towards.

We all have “off days” it’s human nature. It’s important to think of the bigger picture, and not get discouraged if things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like.

If I gave up when I was a teen, my life would be a heck of a lot different than what it is now, and not for the better!

Watch the YouTube video below to see Adam’s “Before & After” Physique Transformation!

NOTE: If you can’t see the embedded video clip above,
you can watch it on YouTube by Clicking Here

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


  • Rob

    Good advice! I personally find it really difficult to have variety with spices. Is there a specific spice I should be using to make food more tasty?

  • Rob,

    A lot of it comes down to experimentation, but one of my favorites for meats and fish is using garlic and herb seasoning. I also have a nice roasted red pepper seasoning that I use a lot as well.

  • kevin

    What is a good workout for a diabetic to add bulk…

  • kevin,

    A great workout program that will help you add size and strength is the 12 Week Mass & Power Program at:

  • Rohan Arora

    Great work and explanation.
    Though it may seem difficult to gain weight for a skinny person, but with a combination of well balanced healthy diet, intense heavy workout and adequate sleep one can gain weight easly.

  • Wow! The tips mentioned in your blog are very useful. I will follow them in my daily routine to grow my muscles. Thanks for sharing!