Are You Skinny & Can’t Gain Muscle? Here’s The Plan For You!

Are you skinny and can't gain muscle? Here's the plan for you! Let’s get real, it’s not always easy to put on muscle. That’s especially true if you have a fast metabolism. You know what we mean - the guy or gal that eats everything in sight yet never seems to gain an ounce. This person is typically called a hardgainer. If you fall into this category, keep reading and find out how to make some gains!

Get Your Nutrition Right

The first step to dealing with being a hardgainer is to get your nutrition right. Your first step is to keep a diet journal. One good reason for this is that you might find you don’t take in as many calories as you think you do. Secondly, you need to take in quality calories consistently. A journal can help you track your calories and your macronutrient breakdown.

With that in mind, begin by adding 500 more calories per day. Monitor that increase for 2 weeks. If you haven’t gained anything, add another 500 calories per day. Repeat this process until you begin to gain. Be patient, it may take a while to find the level of quality calories you need to gain muscle.

Here are some tips to make this work:

  • Watch your waist - if you find your waist is getting bigger, reduce calories by 250 a day until that is no longer an issue.
  • Include a high percentage of calorie-dense foods, such as eggs, peanut butter, nuts, and red meats.
  • Drink some of your calories - add 1-2 scoops of Real Carbs to your Shake Time shakes. This adds quality whole-food sources of carbohydrates to your shake. Rich was a big proponent of eating calorie-dense foods and multiple meals a day. According to Rich, you should be eating at least 6 meals a day, and more if possible (he advocated up to 10). That’s why drinking some of your meals makes so much sense.
  • Protein is King - aim for at least 1 gram per pound of body weight, with your protein intake evenly divided throughout the day. Keep simple carbs low, with your intake before and after your workout. Eat healthy fats (nuts), and keep your overall fat intake down.
  • Don’t make this an excuse to eat junk food and fast food. Keep your diet clean. 

Get Your Routine Right

If you want to get bigger, you need to train to gain. That means you should base your routine around compound exercises. At the same time, don’t be afraid to use machines and cables. Rich used both - he might do a set of flat barbell bench presses but you’d see him using the Hammer Chest machine more often than not. Both are great and as long as you’re utilizing progressive overload, both will work.

The main thing to keep in mind is that progressive overload doesn’t have to mean adding more weight to the bar. Rich was a believer in using moderate weights. Progression can mean different things, such as adding intensity techniques (rest-pause, supersets, or drop sets, to name a few), more volume, or increasing your training frequency. You can also manipulate time by decreasing your rest between sets. All of this equals progression, and you want to consistently progress from week to week. One fundamental way that helps you do this is keeping a training journal. Write it all down, and track your progress.

Don’t Forget About Recovery

As a hardgainer, you need to optimize all aspects of your program - and this includes recovery. That means getting that post-workout shake right away. Rich didn’t wait, he had his as soon as his last set ended. Follow that with a high protein, balanced meal 1-2 hours later. Make sure you eat consistently. Also, if you have a highly physical job or hobbies, that's going to cut into your ability to recover. Plus, doing cardio will also cut into your ability to recover. Rest as much as possible, and limit other physical activity as much as is practical.  Make sure you're getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night, and don’t be afraid to take a nap! As noted, ensure you are getting in enough calories to offset the metabolic demand of your obligation.

The 5% Nutrition Supplements You Should Be Using

You’ve got several great 5% choices to help you keep those quality calories up. There’s Real Carbs and Real Carbs Rice, both of which can be combined with Shake Time. This combination provides plenty of whole food sources of protein and carbohydrates. It makes a great post-workout shake or a great choice for a meal. Another great choice for a quick snack on the go is Snack Time, our delicious peanut butter and chocolate peanut butter protein pouches. Of course, don’t forget Real Carbs + Protein, another great high protein and quality carb option using whole-food sources only. 


In this article you’ve seen some great tips to help you gain. The bottom line is quality calories and more quality calories. Do what Rich did and push your meals up. Train hard, use progression, and limit activities outside the gym. Finally, recover fully, and don’t forget your 5% Nutrition supplements!

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