I'm pretty thin (138 lbs.) and I'm 21 years old, and the main reason for this is that I'm an ectomorph (my body type is naturally thin and I have a fast metabolism). I am not able to eat six meals a day of eggs and steaks and rice and everything I'd like to do, but I can get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, protein shakes, and simple stuff like that. I just don't usually have time or access to cook meals or anything.
My question is: what's the best way for someone in my situation to get muscular? What are the best simple foods to eat as far as protein is concerned, and what are the best exercises to build muscle overall? How many protein shakes a day should I drink? Any linkage or suggestions would be helpful, thanks!
What sort of muscle do you want? Show-off muscles or work muscles?
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I'm not sure of your athletic motivations, but if you're tall for your weight, you might make one helluva marathoner, rock climber or bicyclist!
You might consider that before you put on what Lance Armstrong would characterize as "unnecessary muscle!"
But, the general weight training program would be, heavy weights, low reps (4 to 6), probably no more than 3 sets unless you're doing "pyramids," and long rests between sets. Probably want to do lots of Bench Presses and Squats.
The formula I've always heard for protein is one milligram for every pound of body weight you wish to gain/maintain, e.g., 180 mg for 180 lbs. And, you don't want to do too much distance running.
But, that may well be dated old-school thinking!
Ectomorph, huh? I just learnt something new today.
My suggest would simply be the usual diet of protein, quite a bit of fact, and as many musculature exercises as you can think of. Think McDonalds followed by bicep curling for the next half an hour.
But then again, I've never had that problem - what might work for me might never work for you.
Learn to cook.
You'll have to do it eventually, unless you can afford to eat out daily or are living with someone who can cook.
The alternative is horrific ready meal / noodle hell for the rest of your life..
The foods that you say that you are "not able to do" are actually really easy to cook, a decent cook could teach you to do all of those well inside a week.
With minimal cooking..What are the best simple foods to eat as far as protein is concerned
-Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel (smoked Mackerel is brilliant if you have it over there..). Fish is easy to cook and good for you. It will also make you smarter. Google "Wisdom Salmon" if you don't believe me.
Look for unpopular fish, hake and pollock for example are basically cod but are half the price because nobody knows what they are...
Since you're in the states you'll have different cheap / readily available fish than Euro types will, it's still probably really good for you though and you should eat tons of it.
-Chicken, dead cow, eggs, deceased mammals in general.
-Beans, peas, lentils, cheese.
-monkey nuts. They're protein, good fats and fibre, eat these a lot.
Last edited by Flake; February 23rd, 2011 at 10:39 PM.
One of my buds in high school was pretty skinny, then went on to join the marines. I know when he wanted to bulk up he used natural suppliments, like whey protein or something, i really dont know the specifics, but he was drinking these exercise shake things and they literally added "mass" to him that he then built muscle upon. Before he couldn't even add muscle cause exercising was making him even skinnier if i remember correctly.
It worked, he was healthy the whole way through as far as i know, and wouldn't really be considered skinny anymore. I just know that he had to drink some kind of powdered shake, while exercising regularly with it, and stuck with it, and mass started accumulating. He actually runs a gym now and does personal training, so i guess it all worked out good for him
But yeah, point being, i'd do some research into those supplimental "shakes". Poke around some exercise forums etc. and let the experts in those forum communities know your plight and that u want to just add a little bit of mass or something and i'm sure you'll get lots of options.
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Hey Jeremy! I am exactly in the same situation as you are, same bodytype and metabolism, I can't either eat whatever I want. I have though found some really good ways to get the nutrition I need. Stop eating all that junk and eat healthy stuff instead like fruits, oat-porridge, and other high vitamin and nutrient type of foods. You will feel a lot better.
I had been looking around for a site for a long time in how one should gain muscles and work out - especially with my bodytype. Most sites were just fake shit and tried to make you buy lots of unhealthy shit with side-effects and had horrible instructions.
Then a friend showed me this place: http://scoobysworkshop.com/
It is the only place I can recommend on the net, that I have seen. The owner have been a proffessional body builder for 30 years and he got tired of all the bad and fake sites, the wrong information being handed out and people being tricked into buying shit having no effect and could be dangerous.
He shows the accurate way of doing things, how one should do the excersices, and the most important thing when doing excersices is having a good form.
Do yourself a favor and check out the site, browse around in the nutrition area and the workout plans and the site in whole - he got videos explaining everything you need to know. And for giggles and laughs check out the hall of shame.
I just started working out after this site and I feel a lot better but no results yet lol, will take some months (just like drawing lol). Hope we can cheer eachother on.
And when you say you don't have time to cook meals and such, then I think you should watch this video about some great tips on this.
Last edited by LORD M; February 22nd, 2011 at 10:58 PM.
Honestly I don't think there's much of a problem with looking very thin. It's a look that a lot of girls dig, and I don't think I've ever looked at someone who was very thin and had ill judgements of their appearance.
In essence, don't sweat it man.
I second Scooby's stuff, he knows what he's talking about.
Body building gets pretty in depth with all the science and whatnot, but the essential formula comes down to four things:
- Lift heavy
- Eat lots
- Rest (don't forget this one! Muscle is built while you rest, not at the gym)
Also, at 5'9", you will have to put on a bit more weight than what you have planned to see a significant change in your body.
This is not to put you off, if you're dedicated, you can put on 10kgs of muscle in less than a year.
I used to be scrawny and underweight when I first went to college. I could eat anything and not gain weight. I got with a friend of mine who worked out and was huge. What worked for me was to work out like a champ for bulk. That is high weight/ low reps and when I say low reps I mean 12 reps to 4 reps in triangles. Eat like a pig! I mean everything even the foods that people may say are unhealthy like cookies snacks ice cream. Your metabolism rate is very high so burning that off will be easy. For guys with your built getting fat is extremely hard so don't worry too much about what you're eating. I mean you haven't gain weight in 21 years so don't worry about it until you have to worry about it. At peak I was 180 lbs max benching 315. When I started college I was about 6 foot and 155-160lbs so if I can do it then you can. However start out small with 10 - 15 reps with weight you can handle. Keep it simple at first with very basic exercises. bench, curls, overhead tris, lat pulls, squats. Leave the specific exercises for if/when you get serious. I once saw an obese guy working out by doing forearm curls. Lastly, watch out because it can be addictive. Once you go from scrawny to getting some mass in your chest and your lats start to wing out, people notice it. They compliment and it feels really good. Next thing you know your buying muscle mags and spending 3 hours in the gym on a Friday night.
Lift heavy, like everyone has said. And eat. And rest. t-nation is a great site to learn no-nonsense methods of getting big. Lifting is sooo fun, too!
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This sounds familiar. I'm 21, 5' 9'', and weigh 107lbs.
I like it! I get to eat whatever I want (vegetarian food and chocolate!), I can fit into small spaces, and I make a great reference for thin characters. Huzzah! ...and I don't think I'd say I look anorexic.
That being said, I have a brother with a very similar build to yours (he's a bit taller, but still the scrawny sort). And in a few years time, he's gotten significantly bigger. I think he looks gross...but...point being, he's definitely bulked up. He didn't really utilize protein shakes or anything of that nature regularly, he did what you'd expect. He ate lots of good food, and worked out regularly. The more he'd work out, the more energy his body would need - the more food he'd wind up eating as a result of that. And now that brother of mine - my younger brother, he's bigger than myself or my older brother.
I worked at a crossfit for about a year and also boxed for over 3. I had to do a lot of conditioning.
I will say if you only lift heavy with low reps, you will get that big puffy look, but that muscle will also leave you much quicker than if you did higher reps.
It's like trades people, they use their hands so much they have massive fingers and forearms forever, even after they retire. Same goes for "conditioning". My old coach had permanent bicep implants it looked like just from doing 1000's of pull ups in his hey day.
You can get big with low reps and high weight, but you might want to mix it up a bit since if you stop for even a week you will lose a lot of muscle, it's get's demotivating. It also doesn't produce hard muscle, rather bigger softer muscle.
I'm only 130 lbs and I'm 5'6. I'm fairly fit though, I quit boxing because I've got artist hands that get hurt easily! haha
The supplement industry is mostly bs, it's really only for competition bodybuilders or super serious athletes. They tell you to eat healty so that you then have to buy their products to supplement your low calorie diet. Like Jason Ross said, go ahead and eat the stuff that tastes good, nothing's going to happen you're not going to die.
When you first start lifting I think it's best to start on machines, do that for a month. Then an important thing to do is to determine your limits, and the best way I know of to do that is to use the beginner's training routine in Arnold's Encyclopedia of bodybuilding, which is weight lifting 6 times a week 1.5 to 2 hours at a time. You have to determine how much work you can recover from, you have to learn how long you're body stays sore and that it's also possible to work out sore. Stay with that for at least 2 months.
After that you'll have an idea of what you can do and what you need to do, it could be that you need only a little weight training to get results, so you can make up your own routine or you can stick with Arnold's plan if that's what you want to do. Do compound movements with lots of leg work, it has something to do with the larger the muscle you work and the more muscles you work at once releases more hormones and whatever and will get you bigger and stronger faster. Clean and press, front squats, lunges with a bar across your back, dead lift, bent over rows, goodmornings, squat with a twist(a bunch of ways to do these). Also make sure you train your cardio because you need that to push your muscles, you'll find that out yourself if you train hard. A finer point you need to know is how to work the inner and outer parts of muscle groups, by using a narrow or wide stance/grip. Basically all you need to know is that it always works in opposites: for example pullups. To work the inner back you use a wide grip, to work the outer lats you use a narrow grip. Got that one because my brother ordered some supplements from bodybuilding.com and got some complementary training dvds of Bob Cicherillo.
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I think you have it the wrong way round. Muscle will stick around for longer, and will be denser/harder, with high weight / low rep training. You'll only get that puffy look if your diet is whack, or you're a naturally muscular / stocky person. Since OP said he's skinny he has nothing to worry about.I will say if you only lift heavy with low reps, you will get that big puffy look, but that muscle will also leave you much quicker than if you did higher reps.
OP, this will get you started. For rep ranges / muscle hypertrophy, have a look at this
Start by finding out how many calories you burn a day and eat 500 calories more than it says. If you're still not gaining, eat more.
Take up a program such as Starting Strength of something similar, which focus on compound lifts. I wouldn't bother with 6 meals a day. Maybe if you're a professional bodybuilder you may benefit slightly from it, but I think on the whole it's just too much effort and doesn't make any difference.
For extra calories you can drink weight gainers. They're the same as protein shakes but packed with carbohydrates / sugars. A calorie dense / protein rich meal, for example, could be a frozen chicken pizza (if you don't mind the saturated fats etc.), throw on top a tin of tuna and 200g of low fat cheese (mozzerella is great). I can't remember the exact ratios but it's around 1500 calories and well over 100 grams of protein. (Recommended protein intake for muscle gain varies a lot, between 0.7 to 2 grams per lb of bodyweight.) There's also GOMAD if you can stomach milk well. If you're training, resting and eating right then you'll gain muscle.
Arnold's book is good for general routines and how to do exercises, but the intensity he recommends is too much for someone not on steroids. It's a great way to injure yourself imo.which is weight lifting 6 times a week 1.5 to 2 hours at a time
Good luck OP. Weight training is a great way to enhance your life in all kinds of ways.
Last edited by B u r l; February 23rd, 2011 at 08:57 PM.
Look up hardgainer workouts and diets on google, you can find a bunch of info for your body type. I would say you dont have to workout super intensely, 3 times a week for an hour each, should be a good for you to see results. Find a good full body workout plan- should include squats, deadlifts, bench, rows, pullups, shoulder presses, and maybe dips. Compound exercises are really good when you are starting out.
Like others have said diet is maybe the most crucial part. I agree with Burl, work out how many calories you will need to maintain weight, then eat more, i think they call it caloric excess or something. Use a website like Fitday to track your meals and nutrition to make sure you are eating enough, it will make things easier. Good ways to get protein are lean meat, cans of tuna/salmon, lots of milk, nuts, chicken breast, etc.
get into a habit of checking the nutritional labels on the foods you eat, and work out the calories from there - for example grams of fat x 9 , grams of protein x 4, grams of carbs x 4, add them all together = number of calories for whatever you are eating. I think your total diet should be something like 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat, or thereabouts, a site like Fitday can calulate the percentages for you.
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I forgot to add that if you don't have much of an appetite you can eat part of a carrot a while before you have your meal and that'll increase your appetite and help your digestion. Also celery detoxifies your blood or something like that which is uesful to know. The advice about training 3 times a week is a strategy used to sell exercise paraphernalia, it started in the 90's, popularized by Bill Phillips then ripped off by tons of other people in order to sell their books. Like I said the only way you're going to figure out how much you need to train is by overdoing it then scaling back from there, then you can decide what intensity to train at depending on what kind of results you want.
Last edited by armando; February 23rd, 2011 at 10:33 PM.
"Beliefs are rules for action"
"Knowledge is proven in action."
"It's use is it's meaning."
Buffness doesn't equal douchery really, I went to class with one of the nicest persons I have ever met and he was really quite buffed and worked out a lot. Some people who have a tendency for being a bit of a douche before getting buffed have a tendency to become a bigger douche when they buff up because their ego gets a massive swing-up.
So if you're not a douche I dont think there's a chanse you'll become a douche when you buff up. Unless you take supplements and steroids which will affect you a great deal.
I thought ectomorph was some kind of extraterrestial lifeform. Whoda thunk...
I've got the same problem and I've been drinking soy protein shakes. They're an acquired taste though
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Eat big, lift big, sleep big. I'm in the same boat as you. Drink a lot of milk ( whey protein) get as much animal source protein and eggs as possible ( has all essential amino acids) and take in a good amount of carbs. you don't ever need to spend more than an hour at the gym. 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is ideal. Going a little higher isn't bad either.
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