Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Gain Muscle Mass Fast: Effective Tips for Skinny Individuals

Building muscle mass can be a daunting task for individuals with a skinny frame. This comprehensive article provides evidence-based strategies to help skinny individuals gain muscle mass quickly and efficiently. In addition to information about the benefits of seed smoothies as a calorie and protein supplement, the article covers vital topics such as strength training, consuming calorie-dense, nutrient-rich foods, implementing progressive overload, ensuring adequate sleep and recovery, and considering protein supplementation. Furthermore, the article delves into the concept of caloric surplus, offers a handy calculator for total daily energy expenditure, and provides a practical workout schedule along with a calorie-dense and nutrient-rich food example guide.

1. Prioritize Strength Training

Strength training exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses should form the core of your workout routine (1). These compound movements not only engage multiple muscle groups but also stimulate the release of growth-promoting hormones, ultimately accelerating muscle growth (2). By incorporating variations of these exercises and utilizing a mix of free weights and machines can further enhance your progress, challenging your muscles from different angles and ensuring well-rounded development.

2. Eat Calorie-Dense, Nutrient-Rich Foods

Creating a caloric surplus through the consumption of calorie-dense, nutrient-rich foods is a vital component of muscle growth. Incorporating foods like nuts, seeds, avocado, and oily fish into your diet provides a healthy balance of fats and quality protein, which promotes lean muscle gains (3). Moreover, prioritize wholesome, unprocessed foods and emphasize the inclusion of complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains/pasta/bread if you can, legumes, and starchy vegetables) to fuel your workouts and support your body's recovery processes. Remember, a balanced diet (rich in vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants) is just as important as the caloric surplus itself, so don’t forget also eating various salads.

3. Consume Hulled Sunflower Seeds for Muscle Growth

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of protein, calories, and healthy fats. There is a way to gain weight pretty fast with them so I suggest you to read my article/guide "Building Muscle with Sunflower Seeds: A Detailed Breakdown of the Superfood", where you can learn how these seeds provide essential nutrients like amino acids (protein), vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, among other nutrients, which really aid muscle recovery and growth. Also, the article covers information on where to find them and everything else you may need.

4. Implement Progressive Overload

To build muscle mass, you must consistently challenge your muscles by increasing resistance or intensity (4). Utilize progressive overload by adding weight or reps to your exercises over time, stimulating muscle growth and adaptation beyond what you already have. There are multiple strategies to achieve progressive overload and stimulate muscle growth, such as increasing the weight lifted in each set, adding more repetitions, or decreasing the rest time between sets. Adding more weight in your usual sets every week (up to a logical level for you) is a smart approach to efficiently stimulate growth and power without injuries. Remember to prioritize proper form and technique when lifting weights, and to increase the intensity of your workouts gradually to avoid injury.

5. Get Enough Sleep and Recovery

Sufficient sleep and recovery play a pivotal role in the process of muscle growth, without it your results will be negligible, if any. Strive to achieve 7-9 hours of restorative sleep each night, as this timeframe is essential for optimal muscle repair and growth (5). During sleep, the body releases growth hormone(s) and engages in vital restorative functions, contributing significantly to your muscle-building efforts. In addition to prioritizing sleep, integrating rest days into your workout routine is equally important, as it allows your muscles to recover and adapt to the training stimulus. Adequate rest promotes better muscle-gains, and also prevents overtraining and reduces the risk of injury. 

To have consistent progress in your muscle-building journey I suggest you train each muscle-group once per week. For a deeper understanding of the significance of rest periods for muscle hypertrophy, explore my article titled "The Importance of Resting Periods for Muscle Hypertrophy".

6. Consider a Protein Supplement

Incorporating protein supplements, such as whey or plant-based protein powders, can be a valuable way to meet your daily protein requirements with high-quality, bioavailable protein, thereby supporting muscle repair and growth even more (6). For example, consuming such a protein shake post-workout may expedite the recovery process and help maximize the gains from the peak anabolic state or window, while a protein smoothie can function as a quick and convenient protein-rich snack option on busy days, etc.

Remember that protein supplements should be used to supplement, not replace, whole food sources of protein. A balanced diet that includes a diverse range of protein-rich foods, like lean meats (chicken, turkey), fish (salmon, tuna), and dairy products (such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and other varieties), as well as plant-based alternatives like lentils, tofu, tempeh, beans, and similar options, is crucial for providing your body with a complete amino acid profile and a variety of nutrients that are necessary for optimal muscle development.

For a deeper understanding of protein intake and how it affects muscle gains, be sure to read my article titled "How Much Protein Is 'Actually' Needed to Gain Muscle?" In this article, you will learn about protein requirements based on individual factors, the importance of proper timing, and how to make informed decisions regarding your protein consumption.

Understanding Caloric Surplus

This is the most important thing you have to keep in mind if you want to gain weight fast. A caloric surplus is a state where an individual consumes more calories than they burn throughout the day. To gain muscle mass, your body needs extra energy to support muscle growth and repair, which is why a caloric surplus is essential (3). The extra calories provide the necessary fuel to build new muscle tissue and support the energy demands of strength training.

To create a caloric surplus, calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) by using the following calculator. Then, add 250-500 calories to your TDEE to achieve a surplus, making sure to consume these additional calories through nutrient-rich, calorie-dense foods as described above (3).

Remember to monitor your progress and adjust your calorie intake as needed, depending on your weight gain and muscle growth goals. It is crucial to strike a balance between consuming enough calories to support muscle growth while avoiding excessive fat gain.

Calculator for TDEE [Total Daily Energy Expenditure]

A Workout Schedule Example Featuring Nutrient-rich and Calorie-dense Foods

Target-> Fast Weight & Muscle Gain

Monday: Chest and Shoulders

  • Exercises:
    Bench press, incline bench press, dumbbell chest fly, push-ups, shoulder press, lateral raises, front raises

  • Nutrient & calorie-dense foods:
    Fresh pasta or bread, lean meats (chicken, turkey), avocado, nuts (almonds, walnuts), and quinoa

Tuesday: Back

  • Exercises:
    Pull-ups, bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, seated cable rows, dumbbell rows

  • Nutrient & calorie-dense foods:
    Salmon, rice, eggs, hulled sunflower seeds smoothie, chia seeds, kidney beans, and chickpeas

Wednesday: Rest Day

  • Focus on recovery

  • Nutrient & calorie-dense foods:
    Greek yogurt with honey, cheese, pasta or bread, lean meats or eggs, granola, hulled sunflower seeds smoothie, oatmeal

Thursday: Arms

  • Exercises:
    Barbell curls, hammer curls, tricep dips, tricep pushdowns

  • Nutrient & calorie-dense foods:
    Fresh pasta or bread, peanut butter, mixed nuts, whole milk, cheese, lean meats, whole grain cereal, bananas, eggs, hulled sunflower seeds smoothie

Friday: Legs

  • Exercises:
    Squats, lunges, leg press, calf raises

  • Nutrient & calorie-dense foods:
    Fresh pasta or bread, sweet potatoes, lean beef, quinoa, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds

All of the seeds mentioned can be consumed using the same method as the sunflower seed smoothie, even without roasting or boiling. However, quinoa seeds may require a professional blender if used raw.

Keep in mind that while pasta and bread can be a very effective food for weight gain, since they can easily add calories and other nutrients to a meal, their consumption should be approached with care, especially if used regularly to support calorie surplus. Individuals without typical problems associated with that consumption (such as gluten intolerance or celiac disease) can enjoy pasta and bread in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, for those who are sensitive to gluten or have a medical condition that makes gluten consumption difficult (such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease), it may be best to avoid pasta and bread altogether.

Calorie-Dense Food Calculator

Determine the calorie and protein content of the foods featured in the “Workout Schedule example featuring Nutrient-Rich and Calorie-Dense foods” above. By selecting your desired food from the dropdown menu and entering the amount in grams, you can quickly obtain the calorie and protein content per your desired grams. Although some of the foods are there for their nutrient-rich nature and not calories or protein, they are also included.


  1. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Grgic, J. (2020). Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: A systematic review. SAGE Open Medicine, 8, 2050312120901559.

  2. Wernbom, M., Augustsson, J., & Thomeé, R. (2007). The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Sports Medicine, 37(3), 225-264.

  3. Helms, E. R., Aragon, A. A., & Fitschen, P. J. (2014). Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 1-20.

  4. Ralston, G. W., Kilgore, L., Wyatt, F. B., & Baker, J. S. (2017). The effect of weekly set volume on strength gain: a meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(12), 2585-2601.

  5. Dattilo, M., Antunes, H. K. M., Medeiros, A., Mônico-Neto, M., Souza, H. S., Tufik, S., de Mello, M. T., & de Tarso Veras Farinatti, P. (2011). Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses, 77(2), 220-222.

  6. Morton, R. W., Murphy, K. T., McKellar, S. R., Schoenfeld, B. J., Henselmans, M., Helms, E., Aragon, A. A., Devries, M. C., Banfield, L., Krieger, J. W., & Phillips, S. M. (2018). A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(6), 376-384.