I'm 20 year old, 5ft8 (1.72m) and weight about 120lbs (54kg).

I've recently joined the gym and plan to add muscle (like most people). I'm completely new to this and I have been browsing for research to see which would work the best for me. For example, I have read about GOMAD and other things about my diet and how I should increase my calorie uptake.

I mainly need help on what I should be doing at the gym to improve, I plan to alternate so go on Monday, Tuesday etc for a 2 hours or so. What exercises should I do and how often?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

I should also say that I have a fast metabolism and also want to mention I don't want to do the GOMAD as too milk has some nasty-side effects so probably 1/4 GOMAD? So that is why I'm deciding for a protein from other sources.

  • I was in the exact same situation about a year ago, and since then I have gone from 120 to 150 lbs, while also taking off 7% in body fat. I didn't do anything special, either. I just went to the gym MWF for 30-60 minutes, and I ate a lot. Like 2.5k-3.5k calories per day a lot. So, it can be done, just stick with it XD
    – Moses
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 5:49
  • Two big questions that go with the other stats are male or female? 120lb male would be very light--in which case eat a lot. 120lb female at 5'8" would be about the right size, with some room to grow a little. But it also affects expectations, etc. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 11:02
  • This answer addresses some of the non-diet issues involved with gaining weight. Essentially: eat real food--a lot of it--and squat, deadlift, press, and chin three times a week as heavy as possible for sets of 5. Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 13:29

4 Answers 4


Follow the "Starting strength" routine by Mark Rippetoe and you are on your way.

I will outline several reasons why I think it it will be a good routine for you :

  1. It is a good routine for a beginner. It educates most beginners on following compound exercises and makes them strong overall. Since there are very few exercises your form on these exercises improves quickly and you master them as well.

  2. It is a good mass builder for a skinny guy as it has a lot of rest periods involved. By exercising only 3 days a week you get ample rest periods. For eg. if you are skinny and you are exercising 6 days a week you might be left with very little calories to build muscle.

  3. It builds overall strength which can then be migrated to other movements. Consider this case where you bench press with 100 pounds, dumbell press with 30 pounds, and do Flys with 25 pounds. By doing so many movements you are very unlikely to increase take up all these pressing movements to say 200 pounds in 6 months. By incremental adaptation as in strating strength you might as well achieve this. For eg. If you can Bench Press 200 pounds it is easy to a dumbell press with 150 Pounds or even 200 pounds.

In a nutshell I feel, that if you follow Starting strength it leaves you with sufficient energy to build muscle and get stronger. Doing multiple Isolation movements and spending hours in a Gym isn't particularly good for a skinny guy.


This answer might help, as might the "Female Hardgainer" section of the latest Paleo Solution podcast.

If milk has nasty side effects (for you? for everyone?), then don't drink it. Eat plenty of other food instead. Milk is awesome, but it's not going to do the work for you. Neither will supplements like whey or whey-plus-carb powders. Focus on eating tremendously, then start worrying about supplements. At the moment it's not clear what problem the supplement will be solving.


If you are eating normally (and healthy), you don't need supplements. Protein is not a magic muscle gainer, workouts are.

The main belief behind the large quantities of dietary protein consumption in resistance-trained athletes is that it is needed to generate more muscle protein. (source)

Protein RDA is 0.8g/kg/day, this covers about 99% of the populations protein needs. More than 2g/kg/day is unnecessary.

Muscle mass and strength can be gained on a wide range of protein intakes, from as little as the RDA up to very large amounts. There is little support for the necessity of very high amounts, e.g. >2 g protein/kg body mass per d, for optimal muscle hyper-trophy during energy balance or excess. (source)

The excess protein will either just go to waste (expensive waste that is), be stored as fat or even damage your internals (not very likely, but if you have some undiscovered liver or kidney condition it could happen).

I am personally not a Gym-goer but people on fitness.SE tend to recommend stronglifts 5x5 program, and from what I read it sounds quite good to do. You should talk to the trainers in your gym, too.

  • From the conclusion of the study linked: "during energy restriction, increased protein intake, i.e. the maintenance of protein intake in the face of decreased energy leading to a relative increase, seems to increase loss of mass, in obese individuals, and protects muscle mass, in both athletic and obese populations. There seems to be preliminary evidence that high protein intake may increase tolerance of intense training.... The risks of high protein intake seem to be minimal for otherwise healthy athletes." Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 15:35
  • And "the methodology used to establish the RDA for protein suggests that strength athletes need approximately double that amount of protein just to stay in N balance..." Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 15:40
  • You are citing from the beginning of a paragraph that ends with: "recommendations of very-high protein intakes based solely on N balance data should be considered somewhat problematic."
    – Baarn
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 15:49
  • I am not anti-high protein, but all the current research shows that levels above 2g/kg are not necessary. And 2g/kg is achievable with a normal or slightly optimized diet.
    – Baarn
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 15:52
  • High-protein diets are not the same as very-high-protein diets, and high-protein diets are often called for, as the paper we're discussing makes clear. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 16:17

Your most important equation:

       Stimulus + Recovery (sleep and nutrients) = Adaptation

So you wish to adapt to become a bigger version of yourself?

1a) Lift more then you are doing now. Often this entails lifting HEAVIER weight or more REPS and SETS.

1b) Pick challenging full body exercises: Squats, deadlifts, overhead pressing, chinups, etc.

2a) Make sure you recover from these lifting sessions. Going 3x a week will be enough.

2b) Sleep [on average] 8 hours a day

2c) Eat a ton of calorie dense foods (see: Fatty foods like nuts, avocados, coconut oil straight from the tub) to help you meet your needs. If you cannot achieve a caloric surplus, then you will not have the necessary raw materials to turn the muscle damage (from your sessions) into muscle growth / weight gain.

Follow these and you will, no doubt, see progress.

  • 1
    -1 If you have more questions and seek advice, asking on fitness.SE would do.
    – Baarn
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 20:17
  • We do not encourage people to ask questions elsewhere here, especially when it's overt self-promotion. For more information about "acceptable" self-promotion, please see the linked section of the FAQ. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 20:18
  • After edits, this is now a very good answer without any links to outside sources. +1 Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 13:31

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