How To Bulk Up for Skinny Guys: The Best Way

The Definitive Men’s Guide to Gain Weight: Everything you need to know, the math, the diet, the supplements and more!
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Understanding how to Gain Weight can seem difficult for Hardgainers, but it’s really just simple math. 

Welcome to the Men’s Guide for Weight Gain, this guide is dedicated to anyone who’s struggled to put on extra weight whether you’re a hard gainer trying to add muscle mass or simply looking to reach a healthier weight, this informative guide has you covered.

We’ll break down how to bulk up for skinny guys, or anyone really… everything you need to know—from understanding the math behind weight gain to optimizing your diet and workout routine, along with the best supplements and tools to support your efforts. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge and motivation needed to transform your body and finally achieve your seemingly unreachable weight gain goals.

Calories In vs. Calories Out

Weight gain boils down to a simple equation: Calories In > Calories Out. This means you need to consume more calories than your body burns. Here’s how to determine your calorie needs:

Calculate Calorie Needs with this Weight Gain Calculator

This is calculator will calculate and approximate number of calories you should shoot for depending on the goal and timeframe you provide, keep in mind that most weight gain goals often range between .5 and 2lbs per week on the high end.  You can push well beyond the typical 500 calories per day surplus but you will put on fat more rapidly as well when you try and gain too quickly.

Eat Enough to Create a Caloric Surplus

Aim to consume 300-500 more calories than your TDEE. For aggressive weight gain, a surplus of 500-1000 calories may be appropriate. You can realistically scale this pretty high and gain weight quite rapidly at the cost of increased fat gain.

Tracking Nutrition

To ensure you’re hitting your calorie goals, tracking your nutrition is essential. Many years ago, when I was frustrated by constantly failing to gain weight, it took me years to realize I was not consuming nearly the number of calories I had thought. 

Once I finally decided to track my daily intake for a period of time, I was quickly shocked to see I had been consuming FAR LESS than I thought I had been.  Using apps like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer to log your meals and monitor your macronutrient intake (protein, carbs, fats) is the game changer.

You’ll soon realize just how quickly and efficiently you can get results once you take the mathematical approach and seriously track your intake. I noticed immediate results (within physiological constraints, of course) after I started doing the math and actually hitting the goals I had established.

Optimizing Your Diet for Weight Gain

Calorie-Dense Foods for Gaining Weight

Focus on foods that are high in calories but also rich in nutrients. Here are some excellent options:

🥜   Nuts and Nut Butters: Almonds, walnuts, peanut butter.

🧀   Dairy Products: Whole milk, cheese, yogurt.

🥩   Meats: Beef, pork, chicken thighs.

🥔   Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn.

🥑   Healthy Fats: Avocado, olive oil, coconut oil.

🥩  Meats: Chicken breast, turkey, lean beef.

🐟  Fish: Salmon, tuna, cod.

🥬  Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, black beans.

🧀  Dairy: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese.

🌿  Plant-Based: Tofu, tempeh, quinoa.

Increasing Your Appetite to Help Gain Weight

If you struggle with a low appetite, try these tips:

Protein-Dense Foods for Muscle Gain

Protein is crucial for muscle growth and repair. Include these protein-dense foods in your diet:

  • Eat Smaller, Frequent Meals: Try five to six smaller ones.
  • Avoid Drinking Before Meals: It can fill you up and reduce appetite.
  • Herbs & Spices: Make food more palatable, increase desire to eat.
  • Liquid Calories: Smoothies and shakes are easy to consume.
weightlifting doing barbell deadlift in the gym

Exercise: Building Muscle for Hard Gainers

Strength Training

To gain muscle mass, focus on strength training exercises that target multiple muscle groups:

  • Compound Movements: Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, and overhead presses.
  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight and intensity of your workouts to stimulate muscle growth.
  • Consistency: Aim for at least three to four weight training sessions per week.

Recovery and Rest Are Extremely Important

Muscles grow during recovery, not just during workouts. Ensure you:

  • Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours per night.
  • Take Rest Days: Allow at least one to two days of rest each week.
  • Manage Stress: High stress can hinder muscle growth and recovery.

Best Supplements for Gaining Weight

Protein Powders

Protein powders are a convenient way to increase your protein intake:

supplement powder with scooper creatine monohydrate

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is one of the most researched supplements and is effective for increasing muscle mass and strength.  Creatine is a staple supplement than just about everyone takes, it’s safe, effective and one of the most inexpensive supplements when purchased in bulk.

There are extra convenient or tasty options available for a little extra cost, we highly recommend the Beast Bites Creatine Gummies for simplicity and a more candy-like daily dosing. 

Weight Gainers / Mass Gainers

Mass gainers are high-calorie supplements designed to help you increase your caloric intake. Mass Gainers can be viewed pretty much like protein supplements with increased calories and/or carbohydrates to support quicker body mass gains.

When selecting a Mass Gainer, look for products that have a balanced mix of protein, carbs, and fats with minimal added sugars.  Some of the least expensive, bang for the buck options may contain higher amounts of sugar than desired so be sure to look at the ingredient profiles!

Mass Gainers are CLUTCH for some of us that have trouble eating as much as we should, the convenience of mixing up a shake (even just with water) and chugging it down in seconds is the simplest and most cost-effective way to get an extra 500, 700, even 1000 extra calories.

You can add items like ground oats, a tablespoon of oil, peanut butter, fruit (if blending), Greek yogurt, milk, chia seeds, almond powder, etc. to add additional calories, fiber, fat and protein.

Essential Tools and Equipment

Digital Food Scale

A food scale ensures you’re accurately tracking your food intake, essential for hitting your calorie and macronutrient specific goals.  You can get by without a food scale if you’re fairly good at getting within the ballpark on estimating portion sizes for specific food items.

For pinpoint accuracy we highly recommend one, however.

Body Tape Measure

Use a tape measure to track changes in your body measurements, providing a more detailed picture of your progress than weight alone. Try not to measure too frequently as you may get frustrated, it takes time to gain quality weight, relying solely on the scale isn’t helpful either as you may be losing fat while gaining muscle at the same time and not think you’re making progress as fast as you are.

Fitness Equipment

Healthy Snacks for Bulking

Keep calorie-dense, nutritious snacks on hand to help you more easily meet your daily goals:

  • Trail Mix: Nuts, dried fruit, and seeds.
  • Protein Bars: Look for those with high protein and moderate sugar.
  • Cheese and Crackers: A good balance of protein, fat, and carbs.
  • Fruit Smoothies: Add protein powder, nut butter, oats for extra calories.


Gaining weight, especially for hard gainers, requires dedication, patience, and consistency. By understanding the basic principles of caloric surplus, optimizing your diet with nutrient-dense foods, incorporating effective strength training routines, and utilizing the right supplements and tools, you can achieve your weight gain goals. Remember, this journey is about improving your health and fitness, so stay motivated and enjoy the process.

Now, it’s time to take action. Start planning your meals, hit the gym with determination, and watch your body transform. If you remain consistent and keep at it, you’ll get further than you can even imagine… You’ve got this!

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