Build Muscles – Workout basics for skinny guys

A close up of a man's pecks and six pack abs
Build Muscles – Workout basics for skinny guys

Exercise is the most important part of muscle building. You don’t need me to tell you how important and obvious working out is. Your muscles need to be worked out if you want them to grow and get ripped (or toned, or defined if you prefer). Why?

Regular exercise stresses and damages the muscle tissue. That damage is the soreness you feel the day after a good workout. The pain goes away as your body repairs the traumatised tissue and with it comes the increase of muscle size.

The types of exercises and your workout plans depend on your goals and fitness level.

Generally when people start working out, they set out to achieve bigger and more defined muscles. I assume, as a reader of Skinny Muscles, that you aim to get bigger and to get ripped too. I would also assume that you are new to working out and therefore you are a “beginner”.

Here are some thoughts to help you build muscles:


It is important to correctly assign your level of fitness before you start following any workout plans. Many guys (myself included) who have never exercised before or have done a few push ups, tend to be over ambitious and start following workout plans designed for advanced and even professional bodybuilders. To avoid both injury and disappointment it’s much better to follow a workout plan designed for your level of fitness; and to build on this as you progress.

There is a reason why there are different workout plans for people with different fitness levels. When you start working out, your body’s normal routine changes drastically. The exercise comes as a big shock to the system and puts it under enormous stress tearing your muscle tissue to bits. That unexpected shock increases the risk of injuries which could stay with you for a long time and prevent you from working out.

“Better safe than sorry” and start with a workout plan appropriate for your level. If you are a beginner, chose a beginner’s workout plan. It will help you and your body to adapt to working out. It will prepare your muscles for handling the strain and trauma they will experience during a workout. It will minimise the risk of injuries.


As someone who is just starting to workout, you need to focus on learning how to execute the routines properly so that you workout your muscles correctly and encourage them to grow. If you fail to do that, you won’t see the results you are after.

Before you embark on the beginner’s workout plan, I suggest you spend a few days just doing press ups, push ups and other simple exercises. The purpose of that is to stretch your muscles, find your limits and layout the foundations for your beginner’s workout plan. Do these exercises for a week – every other day, allowing a day for recovery between workouts.

  • Avoid overworking your muscles by doing endless sets and repetitions (reps) or lifting extreme weights. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • As a general rule, you should lift quickly (no more than 1 second) and lower slowly (2-3 seconds). That adds tension to the muscles and works them out properly. You should also rest between sets.
  • If you are just starting out and you can do more than that, you are not doing it right. Try to focus on the routine by doing it slowly and you should feel the muscles burning.

Don’t worry if you struggle to complete all sets and reps. That’s quite usual if you are just starting to workout. It’s about finding your limits and getting your body to adapt to working out.

When I started, I could barely do 5 push ups. If that’s the case with you, start out with 2 sets of 6-8 reps. Increase the number of reps as you progress.


It is very important to allow rest time. Working out tears your muscle tissue and it needs to rest in order to recover. It is during the rest time that your muscles repair and grow.

If you workout every day and don’t leave enough time for recovery, you won’t see any results or build muscles.


A nutritionally balanced diet is vital for both weight gain and muscle building. You need to eat small meals every 2-3 hours.

Your meals should contain plenty of protein and carbohydrates.


  • Evaluate your fitness level – beginner, intermediate or advanced.
  • Do a week of simple exercises (push ups, press ups etc.) before you start on a workout plan to build muscles.
  • Do the routines correctly – lift (your body or weights) in a second and lower in 2-3 seconds.
  • Start with 2 sets of 6-8 reps and increase to 3 sets of 8-12 reps as you progress.Rest and allow time for recovery.
  • Eat a nutritionally balanced diet.

Have I missed anything? What’s your advice to those who want to build muscles?

4 thoughts on “Build Muscles – Workout basics for skinny guys”

    1. Mark Alexander – Mark Alexander is a journalist and author who writes about travel, fitness and self-help. His flair for reducing complex studies into short and engaging pieces of writing, combined with his passion for helping others, make his stories easy to read, relatable and heartfelt.

      @Robbyn: You are welcome. I am glad you find it useful.

  1. Some nice tips here. I think it’s important as a skinny guy that you learn to think about your workouts the right way. As Steve Reeves used to say; “no brain, no gain”!

    One of the most important things is to recognize what it really takes to create the ideal male body. Despite all the advice coming from bodybuilders, trying to copy them is not the best way to go about getting the look that turns heads!


    1. Mark Alexander – Mark Alexander is a journalist and author who writes about travel, fitness and self-help. His flair for reducing complex studies into short and engaging pieces of writing, combined with his passion for helping others, make his stories easy to read, relatable and heartfelt.

      @Michael: Thanks Michael. That’s a great advice. I am still learning and trying to find a combination of a healthy diet and exercise that I can stick to.

      I like your blog by the way – it’s full of useful articles and tips.

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