How to Build Muscle If You’re Naturally Skinny

Skinny to Muscly – How to Build Muscle If You’re Naturally Skinny

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You may think that getting those gains is all about eating plenty of healthy food, especially protein. It certainly helps to eat right, but you…

Those of us with smaller builds sometimes have to work considerably harder to bulk up than other that have that genetic X-factor. When you’re naturally skinny, it can sometimes feel like an uphill battle trying to build muscle but rather than giving up we have a few tips for your journey from skinny to muscly. With a few workout and nutrition tips, you can get yourself set in the right direction to bulk up and build strength.

Hypertrophy Training

If you’re all about increasing your muscle size, then hypertrophy training could be the ideal workout for you. It’s a type of strength training that uses moderate to heavy weights to help you pack on the pounds. Hypertrophy refers to muscle growth gained with exercise.

In hypertrophy training, you do more reps of a moderate to heavy weight. Try out doing it with squats, deadlifts, bench press, and more! You may be doing somewhere between 5 – 15 reps, but you’re not choosing the heaviest weight you can handle.

There are 2 main types of hypertrophy. Which one you want to focus your efforts on will be based on your goals in the gym because a combination of both will help out any skinny guys looking to build size.


Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases muscle glycogen storage for optimal endurance. This enables you to train for longer. If you are a high-performance athlete, this is the type you will likely want to focus on so that you can go harder for longer.

Sarcoplasm refers to the energy resources and fluid that is around your muscles’ myofibrils. In this fluid are glycogen, water, and creatine phosphate.

Sarcoplasmic fluid is a substance that comes into your muscle cells through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. However, it doesn’t necessarily make you stronger but just bigger and with better endurance.

To achieve sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, you will lift lighter weights for more reps. You will also take short rest periods and do fewer sets. So, a typical workout may include rest periods of a minute or less, and 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps per exercise.


Myofibrillar hypertrophy activates your contractor muscles for growth of your muscle contraction parts. This can help greatly with strength and speed. If you are a bodybuilder, you may want to focus on this to get faster and stronger in the gym.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy training increases the number of myosin and actin contractile proteins, adding to your muscle strength. It increases how big your muscles are as well, but in smaller amounts than sarcoplasm does.

This type of training essentially puts your muscles under stress, which damages them a little every time, forcing them to adapt. This is what helps them become larger and stronger.

To get your body into the state of myofibrillar hypertrophy, your weights will be heavier, you’ll rest for longer, and you will do more sets. A typical workout might include rest breaks of 3-5 minutes, and 5-10 sets of 1-5 reps per exercise.

Food Intake

As they say, abs are built in the kitchen – well, so are muscles. The types of food you’re eating, as well as the amount of food, has a huge impact on your ability to build muscle. Naturally thin or lean people are likely to have a faster metabolism than others. This means that you will need to start eating more to build muscle. But this food should still ideally be healthy enough to continue fuelling your workouts.

For mass building nutrition, the recommendation is to eat more calories than you burn in a day. If you want to see weight loss, you eat in a calorie deficit, so it only makes sense that when you want to achieve weight gain, you eat in a calorie surplus.

If you’re looking for a protein supplement that will help you gain weight which includes some carbs as well as protein, International Protein’s Extreme Mass is the perfect thing for you. It features 6 types of protein for the ultimate sustained release as well as a good intake of carbs and healthy fats. This will help you reach that high-calorie intake you’re aiming for to get into a calorie surplus. Even better, it tastes delicious, so you’ll love drinking it!


Protein affects the balance of nitrogen in your body. The aim if you want to build muscle is to eat protein faster than your body synthesizes it. This will put your body in a state where you have a positive nitrogen balance. You need a positive nitrogen balance to build up muscle and that’s why you need to ensure that you consume enough protein in your diet. If you’d like to find out which protein is best for your goals, try our supplement guide on


Carbs are critical for hypertrophy training as this type of training will eat into your stores of glycogen that come from carbs. Without enough carbohydrates in your system, your body may start eating into your muscle stores as it is seeking an energy source, which is the opposite of what you want when you want to get bigger.


If you are a bodybuilder who follows your macros, you will know that about 30% of calories you consume in a day should be from protein, with the other 45% and 25% made up of carbs and fat respectively. Guys who want to bulk up and get big muscles, you may benefit from eating around 3500 calories in a day, across 5 meals. That means in a day your protein intake should total 1050 calories (262.5g protein or 52.5g per meal), with 1575 calories, made up of carbs (394g carbs or 79g per meal) and your fat intake should be around 875 calories (97g fat or 19g per meal).

Thanks for reading this International Protein article all about how you can bulk up when you’re naturally skinny. Please ask any questions you have about hypertrophy training and muscle growth in our comments section below and be sure to listen to this great podcast for hardgainers.

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