13 Tips For Guaranteed Weight Gain – The Skinny Nerd Manifesto

So you’re skinny.

Male or female, you’re called a “hardgainer” or “ectomorph.”

You don’t weight a lot, you think you eat a lot, and you just can’t seem gain weight. You’re ready to bulk up, build some muscle, and start feeling better about yourself…but you have no freaking clue what you’re doing.

People probably tell you “must be nice to have a fast metabolism,” but inside you’re wishing that you could eat and actually get bigger!

Luckily, you’ve found this site, and I’m here to help.

I used to be skinny too.

My “before” picture on the left?

That was after a DECADE of strength training, chugging protein shakes, and actively trying to get bigger.

I know plenty of people are much skinner than my ‘before,’ but I bet they hadn’t spent a decade in the gym actively trying to bulk up like I had.

It was probably a good 15 years struggling to get bigger, only in the past few years have I finally cracked the code (picture on the right). The worst part was definitely spending 6 years training and eating the wrong way without getting any results for it.

If you’re somebody that is really overwhelmed or bummed out about not getting bigger yet, I’ve been there and I know exactly how you’re feeling right now. If you want expert instruction, a coach that gets to know you personally and builds a program that’s tailor-made to your situation, consider checking out our awesome 1-on-1 online coaching program! We help people get results in a fun, positive way. You can learn more by clicking in the box below:

I still am working on getting bigger and stronger, but I want to help you, because I know EXACTLY where you are right now. I’ve had the same challenges, felt the same way (“I must have bad genetics and just can’t get bigger”) and found a path through the chaos and misinformation.

In this article, we’re going to hammer home the 13 biggest points to help you get bigger and stronger.

13 Ways to Get Bigger

1) Eat a lot – This sounds much easier than it really is, but it’s the truth.

If you’re not getting bigger, you’re not eating enough.

Do NOT overthink this. When I first started exercising and trying to get bigger, the personal trainer in my gym had me DOUBLE the amount of food I was eating. I thought he was crazy…until I did it and it worked. I had tried unsuccessfully to get bigger prior to that, it was simply because I wasn’t eating enough food. You might eat 3 MONSTER meals, 6 big meals, or any combination of whatever works for your schedule.

This is going to be difficult for a while, because your body isn’t used to eating this much food, which means you’ll have to force yourself to eat even when you’re not hungry. 500 extra calories a day = 1 extra pound gained per week.  Whatever you’re eating now, add an additional 500-1000 calories (spread throughout the day).

Need a bit more guidance?  Track your calories, get a caloric average for each day (rest day, training day, etc) and then eat MORE than that. if you are not getting bigger, then you need to eat more than that.

2) Eat a lot of good things – You need to eat a ridiculous amount of calories if you want to gain weight (depending on how skinny you are), but you want to make sure most of those calories are GOOD calories.

You could easily get 3500 calories eating Taco Bell and Twinkies, and drinking Mountain Dew, but your body will hate you, you won’t put on muscle, and that’s not a good long term solution (goodbye health).

If you want to build muscle, you want to eat healthy calories that are loaded with good protein, good carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables to help provide nutrients and move all that food through your internal plumbing…which brings me to my next point.

3) Protein = building block for your muscles. Chicken, fish, meat, eggs, milk, almonds.  Aim for .8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You don’t need to overdo it with 300+ grams of protein like you’ll read in fitness magazines – they say that so you buy their protein powders and go through it quickly.

4) Carbs are your friend when you need to put on weight – rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, etc. will help you put on weight. You can also eat a lot of it to get your calorie goals. You can get away with eating less healthy things like bread, pasta, and even snack food ON OCCASION, but try to avoid those things most days. Also, as previously stated,  every meal should have vegetables when possible so your body can properly manage all those calories as they move through your body.

In addition to carbs, eating lots of nuts (high calorie, high fat), as well as using healthy oils in your cooking and eating (coconut oil, olive oil) can easily help you reach your caloric goals too. If you’re not sure specifically what you should be eating for protein, carbs, and fats, download our “Get Bigger” Shopping List by putting your email in the box below:

5) Keep track of everything you eat – Track every one of your meals. Every calorie. The only way to know if you’re eating enough calories, enough protein, and enough carbs is if you track your calories and progress and then make adjustments. Once you start to get a good feel for how many calories you eat each day, try to eat the same meals to keep it easy. If the scale is moving up, keep doing what you’re doing. If the scale isn’t moving. EAT MORE.

If you’re ever unsure if you’ve eaten enough that day, eat more.

You can always scale back the calories later if needed. YOU WILL NOT GET TOO BULKY. Trust me. That should not even be a concern in your mind. Remove “I don’t want to get too bulky” from your vocabulary.

storm troopers hit the gym

6) Compound exercises are your friend – Up until this point, we’ve only talked about the weight gain portion. Do the above, and you’ll put on weight. HOWEVER, if you’re not also training properly, you’ll just be getting fat, and not building muscle!


That’s where training comes in!

Concentrate on complex, compound exercises that recruit as many muscles as possible:

  • bench press
  • overhead press
  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • pull ups
  • chin ups
  • dips

Do these exercises, and concentrate on getting as strong as possible with each of them.

Want to really start diving deep into exercise technique? Read through our Strength Training 101 article series that will answer all your questions!

Not sure where to start or what to do? We’ve put together an assessment quiz, as well as numerous progressive workouts – for both the gym or home – in our comprehensive Nerd Fitness Academy.

Don’t worry about isolation exercises like triceps extensions, shoulder shrugs, bicep curls or crunches right now.  All of the compound exercises listed here use every muscle in your body, and when you overload your body with calories and protein, those muscles will grow.

I promise you – if you get strong with those exercises above, and eat enough, you will get bigger.

Terrified to even step foot into a gym? We understand! Check out our Beginner’s Guide to the Gym article for some basic strategies and workouts.

7) Appearance is a consequence of fitness – This is the mantra of the actors of who trained for the movie 300 – would you be okay looking like a Spartan?

Concentrate on being really strong and lifting heavy weights, and your body will follow suit. It doesn’t matter if you can only bench press 10 lb dumbbells right now and can’t do a single pull-up. Wherever you’re starting out, concentrate on being stronger each and every time you exercise.  Push yourself, get stronger, lift more, and before you know it you’ll be ripped.

Just like tracking your eating is important, so is tracking your workouts! Write down how you train, so that way you know exactly how to get stronger next time.

I REPEAT: If you eat enough calories, and focus on getting stronger, the result will be that you get big.

8) When exercising, keep your rest between sets to a minute or two, and don’t do more than 12 reps in a set – Keep your range of reps between 6 and 12, and try to keep the time you rest between sets to a minute or two. Example: incline dumbbell chest press – 12 reps of 50 lbs, wait a minute, 10 reps of 55lbs, wait a minute, 8 reps of 60 lbs.

9) Let your muscles rest – Never exercise the same muscle two days in a row. Muscles are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. When you train, you are breaking down your muscles. Then, during the next 48 hours, as you are eating a caloric surplus and recovering, your muscles get rebuilt bigger and stronger.

For this reason, never exercise the same muscle before it’s ready. Training 3-4 days a week with a day off in between each (and plenty of calories) is plenty of training. Skinny guys often don’t need to train more, they need to eat and rest more!

10) Sleep – You need to be getting at least 7 hours of sleep, but 8-9 hours of sleep every night for maximum gains.  Your body is doing nothing but lying there and building muscle while you’re sleeping.  If you are only getting 6 hours or less, you’re not going to get all the benefits of your exercising and diet.  I know it’s tough, but those 3AM raids in WoW or matches in Overwatch will need to wait – you can come back to them after you get big and strong.

11) Cardio is your enemy – Running long distances isn’t going to help you. If you’re going to run, do quick sprints or run up a hill. If you love to run, that’s fine, but understand you’ll need to eat even more calories and the running is actively working against your muscles that want to get bigger. Keep your distance cardio to a minimum if you want to put on some pounds.

12) Make it part of your routine – It’s okay to skip a workout here and there, but it’s not okay for you to skip a meal if you’re serious about weight gain. You need to be always eating. It sucks, it’s practically a full time job, but it’s what you have to do.  Eat.

If you’re eating all the time, and you still aren’t getting bigger, then you are either tracking your calories incorrectly or you are not eating what you tell yourself that you’re eating. Go back to basics, and track your calories again. Check serving sizes, count portions, and so on. Are you actually skipping lunch a few times a week when work gets busy, or skipping breakfast on the weekends when you sleep in?

13) Realize you will put on some fat, and that’s okay – with all of this eating, you are going to be putting on some fat along with your muscle. That’s okay! Trying to lose fat (when you’re skinny) and put on muscle at the same time usually results in neither been done well.

Figure out what your goal weight is, and then add another 5-10 lbs on top of it.  Once you get to that weight, cut back on the calories in your diet, do more sprints, and keep exercising: you’ll shed the fat quickly and be left with a killer figure.  Eat all the vegetables you want, but cut back on breads, pasta, rice, and oatmeal.

Now go eat something!

If you want to read more about this stuff, make sure you check out the following in-depth resources too:


PS: Read all of that, and still overwhelmed? Afraid you’re gonna spend 6 years like I did training in the gym with no results? I hear ya! It sucked, hahaha.

It’s why we started our 1-on-1 online coaching program, so you can work with a member of Team Nerd Fitness that gets to know you and your situation and you’ll interact with regularly as you complete your personalized workout and eating strategy!


photo credit: W_Minshull Hardcore Stormies Hit The Gym


Get The Rebel Starter Kit

Enter your email and we’ll send it right over.

  • The 15 mistakes you don’t want to make.
  • The most effective diet and why it works.
  • Complete your first workout today, no gym required.
  • These are the tools you need to start your quest.
  • pharma afreen

    Phytoscience Double stemcell 100% orginal product works incurable disease and organ
    Double Stem cell treatment is by far the biggest of the medical world and the most important discovery techniques by which to treat incurable diseases and organ. Phytoscience Double stemcell is one of the most effective medicine to treat fatal diseases and deadly organs.
    For more visit
    Cancer treatment

  • pharma afreen

    Pharmascience Health Gainer for Weight gain
    Mens need many calorie requirements that many men have proves to be incredibly trying Pharmascience health gainer a weight gainer makes this far easier. If you consider the fact that there are weight gainers available that pack in over a thousand calories per shake .
    For more visit
    Weight Gainer

  • pharma afreen

    Phytoscience Double stemcell 100% orginal product works incurable disease and organ
    Double Stem cell treatment is by far the biggest of the medical world and the most important discovery techniques by which to treat incurable diseases and organ. Phytoscience Double stemcell is one of the most effective medicine to treat fatal diseases and deadly organs.
    For more visit
    Double Stemcell

  • pharma afreen

    Pharmascience medicine Blood Control for Anti Piles Diseases
    Anti Piles Medicines are made in our modern units in totally hygienic conditions, with the use of 100% Ayurvedic ingredients, to maintain their quality & effectiveness. Our experienced pharmacists ensure that the medicines are well-tested for effectiveness and safe consumption., Our Product Blood Control can very effectively work on Anti Piles Medicines helps the user get sure shot relief from Piles.Our Product Blood Control can improves Piles Disease Easily.
    For more visit

  • pharma afreen

    Phytoscience Double stemcell for proof physical condition of human as well as medical fields
    Double Stem – cell- like cells that generate these 220 the most important stem cells at birth the placenta is found in the center of mother as well as child, who are create inside it intended for the protection currently available stem cell bank. If humans lose his cell for any disease and problem, double stem cell help to visit make cells back.
    For more
    Cancer Treatment

  • First Last

    The first pic doesn’t look skinny tho.. The second one looks like the addams families uncle fester in his white suit.. Guys have become so brainwashed by media about whats “skinny” and what they should look like. I think you and a lot of people reading this are suffering from body dysmorphia.

  • Magik

    Try 125 and 6’1″


    144 and 5’10” is it still skinny or average?

  • Berries

    Try being 5’5 and 90 lbs ?????

  • Chris

    Very nice article here. Thank you for the tips. I’m inspired. More power!

  • Nojuan Especial

    “I used to be skinny too (see above).” [Above are two images of a built guy, one where he’s fit, the other where he’s excessively-muscular]
    PFFFFTTTTTTT… You know nothing of being skinny, and in fact, I’d suggest therapy if you HONESTLY think that the word “skinny” applies AT ALL to the picture on the left.

  • Nikita Saini

    Pharmascience Health Gainer for Weight gain
    Mens need many calorie requirements that many men have proves to be incredibly trying Pharmascience health gainer a weight gainer makes this far easier. If you consider the fact that there are weight gainers available that pack in over a thousand calories per shake .
    For more visit

  • Shar

    Omgosh I need to gain too. I’m 102 lbs and 5’4”. female I want curves and weight in my face and arms and everywhere instead of being this stick.

  • Atbm

    I find it easier to have a large proportion of my calories in the evening despite working out in the morning. Is that a problem? I realise it’s not ideal but as I can’t put weight on anyway at the moment I figure I should go with the grain when trying to eat more, not against it!

  • Adam McLauchlan

    How does your eating on rest days compare with workout days? There’s a huge amount of contradictory advice (like with everything in fitness) on whether to eat less/how much less.

  • Aileen

    So I wanna gain weight (fat) only on my legs and but but I heard need to eat more for u won’t just work with what u have on ur behind and on ur legs and that would build muscle on how much Fatting u had from the beginning but want my legs and behind to look really good for this summer and hopefully by the time of my 15 in 2019 but I’m having trouble knowing how much more calories I need a day to gain and how do I even gain fat on the right places but NOT on my stomach …. I also wanna tone up my stomach but need help on what workouts are the best and I need fast results by Atleast by the time of my 15 ! ? anyone got any tips ????

  • Iron Mike Sharpe

    Fuck you parasite, you ASSHOLE

  • Yep

    How about being 5’9 and barely 105 pounds…

  • luke

    yo someone who knows what theyre talking about i need some advice, im 23 6’3 and i weigh roughly 65kgs, i eat only healthy foods and loads of it, i drink plenty of water and i excersise. if i buy a mass gaining protein and drink it twice a day between meals, will that be enough to gain substantial weight???

  • Ali Adat

    I have a question. After gaining weight and working out and eat in bulk, what if I stop doing all of that? Will I become skinny again?

  • Ali Adat

    Do you still go to gym and work out regularly?

  • maro

    i am really skinny people say i am like a stick i do almost everything i eat a lot like more then double of what normal people eat plz helppp i am 13 and i am only 45 and half of that is because i am tall

  • Faizi Anwar

    Thanks mate! I have gained 25lbs muscle mass. You can see the changes in my photo too, I look fine with those muscles. Damn!! it feels s good to get rid of that skinny structure now haha

  • Faizi Anwar

    I was a skinny guy but started working out last year in September 2017 and in just few months I gained 25lbs muscle mass (Keep in mind that diet is the key). I stopped working out since march 2018 but I dont see much changes, and I still look fine with those muscles I gained. I will join again after Ramzan

  • varunram

    Yes your right Mr.rahtorc
    But we have to try healthy p protein foods

  • Asgar Ali Hospital

    Nice article! Another great post! keep going….

  • Rozy Dhiman

    Arogyam weight loss product has proved beneficial to me.I have lost 4 kgs in 1 month.Arogyam team is very much helpful especially Dr. Vipul Sharma is in continuous touch with me.Thanks alot