I am a skinny guy trying to gain weight. I stand 6 ft (1.82m) tall and weigh 53Kgs (116 lbs). I am currently 23. It's been 4 months now and I have noticed little to no gain in weight. This pushes me down morally seeing that all my hard is going in vain.

My Gym Routine -

Everyday I do one muscle i.e.

  • Chest
  • Shoulder
  • Biceps/Triceps
  • Back

I go to gym on weekdays in evening. (Want to go in morning but I just can't get up early.)

Diet - According to apps/calorie counter, I need 2500 calories every day. I try my best to reach up to that but I fail due my nature. I eat really slow. I have smaller appetite. I don't play much sports other than Snooker/Pool. Initially I took weight gainer, which I realized was a big mistake. Now I recently switched to ON Whey Protein. I am planning to take two scoops/day. One in morning and one in evening (after gym). Daily water intake is around 1-2L.

Progress - The only progress I have noticed is that initially I could do only 15 improper push ups which now is 45 proper pushups on daily basis. Similary I couldn't do pull ups at all, now I can atleast do 5 pullups. There is a jump in weights which I lift as well but that is really minor jump. (Eg 4kg to 6kg dumb bell for bicep excercise)

Concern - Little to no weight gain. I am not sure where am I going wrong with my above plan. I was expecting some weight gain at least. Even though I am not able to reach 2500 calorie benchmark, I feel there should be some gain here or there but no luck so far.

Not sure how to increase my appetite or how to increase the speed of my consumption. My stomach gets filled really fast.

EDIT - I am a vegetarian but I eat eggs.

Weight Details - enter image description here

  • 1
    How much volume (sets/reps) are you doing in your exercises and how heavy are they? Have you looked into beginner weight lifting programs? Why are you skipping leg day?
    – Yousend
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 15:29
  • Added Sets/Reps. I have browsed through several articles. Regarding Legs day, I recently started it.
    – Pirate X
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    Can you do Gallon Of Milk A Day? (GOMAD). That is the best way to gain lean(ish) mass. Weight is linked to how many calories you take in. Sorry to ditch your plan but look at doing Stronglifts 5x5 instead of a bodysplit. At 2500 you may just be recomposing, try and aim for 3000 calories and just deal with eating more.
    – John
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 16:36
  • Gomad is a no no. Lactose doesn't suit me well. I'll look up strong lifts. Thanks.
    – Pirate X
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 16:40
  • 4
    It's basic physiology. You're not gaining weight because you're not eating enough. That's about it.
    – cbll
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 12:27

5 Answers 5


First of all, you're not working out the other half of your body...your legs. When you're a natural lifter (no anabolic supplements like 90% of the instagram and gym rat population), the most efficient way to grow is systematically, maybe even the only way. For those not using buckets of steroids, hypertrophy (muscle growth) is not a localized process. For the most part, given sufficient stimulus, muscle growth happens all over your body instead of in one teeny location. As such, doing work that stresses the whole body – putting a big load on the spine that the entire body must support – will cause more growth in your biceps than working the biceps directly. To put it another way, doing heavy trap-bar deadlifts will do more to make your arms bigger than doing curls. A popular rule of thumb in the lifting world states that in order to gain an inch of circumference on your arms, you need to gain about 15 pounds of muscle, and that's pretty much right. Otherwise you'd see guys walking around who trained nothing but biceps and, as a result, were inverse T-Rex types with huge arms and tiny little bodies. But you don't.So Curls Don't Work? Of course they do. A biceps-specific program will surely add some arm size as long as you're doing everything else right, but the results would generally pale in comparison to what you'd get if you did a program that was biased towards the deadlift or some other big, total body movement. Likewise, a biceps-specific program would help if you've been doing the big movements all along but need an area-specific catalyst. Steroids, however, make your whole body ultra-responsive to any kind of mechanical stress. If you're using sufficient quantities of steroids, anything works. All those body part-specific routines issued through countless bodybuilding mags "written" by bodybuilders did us all a huge disservice. They convinced many of us to concentrate on curls, kickbacks, shrugs, anterior delt raises, and leg extensions when we should have spent a lot of that time putting big systemic loads on our spine with compound movements.

Now, that's not even really related to the question but I needed to rant. Your ACTUAL problem is, you're not eating enough. It's THAT simple. 2500 calories is just a guideline, a starting point, there's no cookie cutter calorie count to gain mass. If you're eating 2500 cals and you're not growing, ALL you need to do is up your calories, like I can't stress this enough, it is actually that simple...eat MORE, eat 3000 cals. If that doesn't work, eat 3500.

If you're having trouble digesting like you say, then just add more liquids to your diet. Make a protein shake with 2 scoops of whey, a banana, cup of milk, peanut butter...that's already over 500 calories, you see where I'm going with this.

And last, doing 15 reps won't do much for muscle growth, ESPECIALLY when you are natty. You need to be periodizing your training in order to take advantage of all the different kinds of hypertrophy stimilus possible. You need to add in a few weeks of heavy lifting on the compound movements, 5-6 sets of 3-6 reps. Then some pure bodybuilding work of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps with moderate weights. Then you can do a week of light weights for 15 reps, but that's just for metabolic stress. If you want mass, stick to the 6-12 rep range and lift heavy.

  • First of all, thanks for the detailed information. Your ranting is somewhat motivating to me. I have few concerns, when you say 'liquid' I think of nothing but shakes. I do not know what else is there other than shakes of different mixtures as you suggested. Can you suggest something for my small appetite ?
    – Pirate X
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 16:07
  • You don't have to limit a "shake" to just whey + milk or water. Add some instant oats or oat bran and peanut (or favourite nut) butter, for good carbs and fatty acids. That easily gets you non-useless calories, which can really help strength and muscle growth.
    – hangy
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 16:14
  • 1
    @user155581 Go for caloric dense foods like seeds, nuts, trail mix etc... you can get around 300 calories in just a big handful.
    – 0xMert
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 17:34
  • @Brofessor : This is very informative. According to your statement: " spent a lot of that time putting big systemic loads on our spine with compound movements." - what exercises do you recommend? Deadlifts and....?
    – Spandan
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 15:39
  • 1
    @a25bedc5-3d09-41b8-82fb-ea6c353d75ae movements that work multiple muscle groups, i.e compound moves, any of them will do. Deadlifts, squats, military press, push press, barbell rows, pullups, bench press, any variations of these...etc
    – 0xMert
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 15:41

You are lifting very light weights, so your body is not working hard enough to break down muscle. Because you are not working out heavily, your body will not need a lot of food to keep up with this, hence why you struggle to eat your calories. For example, when I take a week off and don't work out, I have a rather small (normal) appetite. When I work out heavy, I can never find enough food to satisfy my appetite.

What I would recommend, start with StrongLifts 5x5 or a similar beginner program. These programs are great beginner programs, they revolve around compound movements to use a lot of muscle and they take advantage of your "noob gains." What you will be doing is slowly adding weight every time you workout a muscle group, starting exclusively with the bar. The early days are light, which allows you to practice form and then it picks up fairly quickly.

Now, you're very skinny, so don't be scared of putting on some fat, if anything it'll help you maximize your gains. Follow the program to the letter, you may think early on that you can do more, but in the long run, it will affect your progress. Just stick to it. Always find a program that has been proven to work and stick to it.

  • Thanks for your input. I am going Brofessor's plan i.e. moderate workout + Heavylifting sometimes. I think Heavy lifting covers StrongLifts 5x5. I think I'll go with Starting Strength first. Need your input on SS as well.
    – Pirate X
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 16:09
  • I have done StrongLifts 5x5 as a beginner. I have not looked into SS, but I know it is highly recommended as well for beginners. Because of my lack of experience, I cannot give any inputs on it, sorry.
    – Yousend
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 16:37

With your height of 1,82m and only 53 kg weight, your BMI is rather underweight. While this is not fit-for-all metric, it still can serve us a useful guideline for future improvements.


First of all you really need to sort out your diet. Since weight gain is only a function of caloric surplus [3] you need to eat and eat a lot more then what your are doing now. Granted, with such a slim body frame you might need less calories than average, but still 2500 you are eating is just enough for maintenance for an average guy. There are several protocols available for gaining weight and ideally you want to put on lots of muscle and as little fat as possible - a so called "clean bulk". But in your case i think it is rather acceptable to do a "dirty bulk" where you basically eat whatever you want, as long as you eat A LOT.

There is a lot of online calculators available where you can estimate your caloric maintenance level, i use this: http://users.telenet.be/WBtE/cunning.html

In average you'd add 10% to your caloric maintenance and see how it works but you can be a lot more aggressive with your parameters.

As far as supplements go, really all of your requirements (calories and nutrients) should be handled by natural foods. But considering that you are a vegetarian, supplementing creatin and protein is a feasible idea.

The importance of supplemental creatine is elevated in vegetarian and vegan diets due to the elimination of creatine’s main dietary sources [1]

Protein powders can be from either animal sources or plant sources, it is generally advised for vegans and vegetarians to consider protein supplementation due to the chance that their diet may be subpar [2]

The second is you training program. Since 4 months is an absolute beginner level, really any physical activity involving work (as exertion of force to move objects) will result in muscle tissue breakdown and repair, which is the way your muscles grow. But unless i'm reading your workout log incorrectly you are working one muscle group per day with 5 consecutive exercises, which is really just a waste of time, since by the second or third exercise your muscles are so fatigued that you can't use the weights heavy enough to cause muscle tissue breakdown. It's more akin to bodybuilders hi volume pre-contest routine for "pump" and muscle definition.

Ancillary exercises, which are by their nature inefficient isolation-type exercises, produce very slow progress. Anybody claiming rapid gains on triceps extensions or barbell curls is not utilizing particularly strict form and should be criticized for such foolishness [4]

Anyway, like it was noted before, heavy compound lifts are your best friends for both size and strength - squats, bench presses, deadlifts, pullups, rows, etc. I have nothing against StrongLifts, but Starting Strength is my favourite.

And since the best way to produce athletic improvement in novices is to increase strength, a program that increases total-body strength in a linear fashion is the best one for a novice athlete to use if he is to improve his performance the most in the shortest time possible [5]

Again, since you are an absolute beginner, first several months should produce the most rapid gains in size and strength in your lifting career, given proper nutrition and proper training program. If you are not seeing any results think of it as a good sign though too, at least you managed to realize that what you are doing now is incorrect and thus must be changed.

4 - M. Rippetoe "Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training"

5 - M. Rippetoe "Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training"

(PS: throughout the day i will try and add some links to proper sources and research material to support some of the claims, so it is not all broscience)


I was skinny enough in my early adolescence that my biology teacher singled me out as someone who might fill out, but would never be muscular (talking about genetics). She was actually wrong about that, but that's besides the point.

I added a lot of muscle when I changed my resistance training routine to one more focused on breaking down the muscles vs general fitness.

Instead of doing one muscle group on a rotating basis per day, break it down so you cover them all in two sessions, then you'll be working each of the muscle groups more frequently than up to 1.75 times per week (if you work out every day and never miss). I did torso (chest, back, shoulders/neck) on one day, extremities (legs, arms) on the others.

Depending on how much time you have, you should do a program that adds weight training in a way that will allow you to isolate and overload muscle groups. If you use free weights, there will be a self-consciousness hurdle to overcome as more experienced people will be moving bigger weights and will seem to know what they are doing. Don't worry about that. Most people who notice how much weight someone is moving will be inclined to respect that someone is trying to do it, more than worry about how much weight someone else is moving.

Generally, heavier weights with lower reps are going to develop more muscle mass. Lighter weights at higher reps will improve strength, but will develop more performance over time (endurance), and that doesn't add as much mass.

You don't have to go full-on body-builder, but check a body-building book out from the library and take note of some of the specific exercises, then adapt the sets and reps to fit what you want.

Also, if you want to try out swimming, that heavily develops torso, arms and core because you're propelling yourself almost exclusively with the upper body, which is the opposite of how we normally get from point A to B. It will fill out your chest, shoulders, back (especially) and triceps. Learn proper technique, and then do interval training (shorter swims on specific time cycles) vs. just swimming continuously for a long period of time. Even as you get more fit and lose fat, when you swim, you tend to put on muscle mass. And regular, hard swims will make you hungry.

Best of luck to you. In terms of general fitness exercises, make sure you do a pretty steady routine of warming up before lifting weights or doing resistance exercising, and static stretching afterwards. Maintaining flexibility is very important, for life in general. It's much easier to get earlier, or to maintain, than to try and get back if you lose it.

  • Thanks for your input Andrew. I think doing 3 muscles in a single day is a lot for me. I don't think I have the time or STRENGTH/STAMINA to do them. I am thinking of swimming but not anytime soon due to office and other work.
    – Pirate X
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 17:29
  • Start lighter, get your body acclimated to doing more groups, on a less intense level, then gradually raise up the intensity. The body is amazingly adaptive, and it's (only) when exposed to stress that it adapts by getting more fit, or growing more muscle mass. Maybe just one or two sets, light weights, high reps, and then when your body is less sore after a couple or three weeks, start upping the ante. No one starts out with the strength or stamina, that's why you do the training, to DEVELOP it. The waiting is the worst part. It takes time, and effort. Hope you achieve your goals! Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 17:34

The only way of gaining weight in muscular terms is, is gradual increase in intensity and variation. Our body is very intelligent, to cope with the changes you want to do to it. One of the ways to get gain is to shock it. Shock it doesn't mean lifting 50lbs of added weight. Shocking it means doing compound training. Change in your routine. Also, pushing yourself off the limits. If you are doing 10 reps on 135 lbs, try doing 12 instead. Do leg workouts or various intensities often. Legs workout help in boosting testosterone levels.

Your body just doesn't need protein, but vitamins, minerals, carbs and enough water, to be fully nourished. Above all, think positive and keep trying. Muscle building doesn't come up with instant gratification. It takes time, and above all patience and effort.

  • I'm gunna need evidence that: "Legs workout help in boosting testosterone levels.". Can you focus down your answer, there is some good advice in there and a lot of fluff.
    – John
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 6:42
  • @JJosaur: I have no legitimate approved evidence, but if you ask any fitness instructor, they'd agree. Also, some seasoned gym goer would say the same.Opinions may vary though. Regarding evidence from internet links, here are a few. menshealth.co.uk/workout/testosterone-boosting-leg-day-workout and bodybuilding.com/fun/topicoftheweek98.htm which says, "The squat is the king for a reason. The legs are the biggest muscles in your body and doing squats raises your testosterone levels drastically".
    – xCodeZone
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 6:50
  • @xCodeZone I almost like this answer but you say the "only" way of gaining muscle is gradual increase in intensity and variation. That's just simply not true.
    – 0xMert
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 17:36
  • @Brofessor: Doing the same thing over and over again may yield some initial results, but without variation and increase in intensity, the progress will be nil. That's when the body gets used to what you are doing and it becomes a routine. For example, If a skinny guy does 10 curls a day, with 5lbs dumbbells for a year, I shouldn't expect to see any results from him. Mass is only built when you shock your muscles, pushing it off the limits. That's why those last 3 reps to failure counts, after you are done with your heavy lifting reps.
    – xCodeZone
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 0:05
  • Yes, intensity matters, but it isn't the "only" way to grow. You get growth from progressive overload. As pretty evident from the Bulgarian method, frequency and volume play a massive role.
    – 0xMert
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 0:08

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