You couldn’t imagine how many emails I get on a daily basis from people asking for fitness advice.
I don’t mind it, though. It’s what I love and am passionate about. I could talk about it all day…everyday…twice…
But here is where it gets a little annoying.
“Dear Alain, how come I am not able to build muscle? Any tips?”
I know absolutely nothing about this person. Not how long they’ve been training, what type of split/program they’re on, what their diet looks like, hell I don’t even know their name!
I am going to need to know a lot more than your email address to figure out what is causing this problem in your training.
With that said, I have decided to write 7 Truths About Muscle Building for Skinny Guys that Experts Never Tell.
1. You MUST Remain in a Positive Net Energy Balance…
Fact: If you are not gaining weight, you are not eating enough, period!
If you’re eating a lot now, but you’re not gaining any weight, then guess what…you have to eat more.
Gaining weight is a simple matter of energy balance. Nothing more, nothing less. If you can manage to consume more calories than you are expending, consistently, then you will put on weight. Now, if your goal is to build muscle, then your macronutrient ratio is what will determine whether you are gaining fat, muscle, or both.
Read this article I wrote where I reveal the formula for calculating your calories in the appropriate macronutrient ratio for building muscle without losing your abs.
2. You have to keep getting better…Consistency is not always the key
Chest not growing?
How long have you been bench pressing 185 lbs?
For me, understanding this was one of the major game changers in my training and I believe it can be for you as well.
I used to eat enough, train enough, but couldn’t build an ounce of muscle.
Because I relied on my consistency to produce the gains I wanted. Fact is, our body adapts to a stimulus by building enough muscle to handle that stimulus. And until we introduce a new stimulus that will cause our body to adapt, it won’t ever feel the need to build new muscle.
So if you’ve been hitting the gym for 1 year straight without ever missing a session, but you’ve been pushing around (roughly) the same loads, then you, my friend, are relying on your consistency like I did and it’s robbing you of time and muscle gains.
Want to guarantee new muscle gains?
Start focusing on getting better with each lift, every time you walk in the gym.
3. Supplements only work if you do…
No, I am no advocate of supplements or supplement companies. However, I do believe that there are a handful of them that can aid in recovery, performance, and muscle growth.
Here are the top 3 supplements worth your money, in my opinion.
One thing you must understand about supplements is that they are not magic pills or powders. They are not a shortcut. And they’re only shown to give you a very small “edge”….which as a natural athlete we must take what we can get.
The problem comes from trainees who are not seeing results and assume that a new supplement to their stack will fix this.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Let’s say creatine makes a 5% difference (which may be a stretch) in your training. But what is 5% of 0? It’s still zero, right?
If your diet and training is not working, then no supplement is going to fix that. So make the adjustments necessary in your training and nutrition and THEN consider adding that extra “edge”, if you will.
4. An off-and-on relationship is never healthy
I mentioned earlier than consistency is not always the key, but inconsistency is never a good thing.
Have you ever met a couple who is constantly breaking up and getting back together?
Do you think a relationship with that much doubt and inconsistency can last or grow?
It’s the same thing with your training. It takes time, dedication, persistence, and the list goes on. But if you quit every time your progress slows down, then you’re constantly going to have to start from square one.
You won’t believe how many emails I get from trainees saying “I am motivated again so I’m getting back in the gym after 3 weeks off”.
Be honest with yourself…
How many 3-weeks-off have you taken?
How long did you give yourself of consistent training and nutrition before you got “unmotivated” to train?
Add it all up and I can almost guarantee that you’re spending more time being “unmotivated” and less time kicking ass in the gym and pushing through those tough points when progress slows down.
Stop focusing so much on how you feel at the time and start making commitments to yourself.
5. Your big buff buddy has no idea how he got that way…
But would you rather take business advice from a rich kid who made his millions through family inheritance, or a once homeless man who created a business from the bottom and earns a good living?
You see, just because someone has a solid physique, doesn’t mean they can get you the same results.
A guy who started training in high school, has good genetics, and trained hard consistently for years may attribute his progress to post workout shakes, brown rice and chicken, and consuming 6 meals a day. So he may suggest that you do the same…but nothing happens…why?
Because although he got to where he is, he may have no clue what contributed to his success.
My solution is simple…educate yourself and always be learning. Never base someone’s knowledge of fitness by how big their arms are.
6. This shit takes time…relax and enjoy the journey
Scenario: A guy purchases my Bony to Brawny program in hopes to achieve the same results as myself and my clients. One week goes by and he’s not in shape to be Mr.Olympia. Ok maybe that is a slight exaggeration…One week goes by and he gains 1 pound instead of 5. He immediately gets discouraged and is on the search for another program and repeats this cycle for a year. 12 months later, no gains have been made.
Fact is, most of these proven programs that you see out there are solid and will produce good results if followed in their entirety. Problem is, these internet ads and muscle magazines promise 20 pounds of rock hard muscle in 14 days and when the consumer doesn’t see those type of results, they assume the program sucks.
Look bro, there is no shortcut and no magic routine that is going to defy physiology. This takes time and if you can manage to eat enough, stay consistent, and focus on performance, then the gains will come…but it won’t happen over night.
Give your training program the time it needs before ruling it out and hopping onto the next popular thing on the internet.
7. Maybe you just aren’t going “H.A.M”…
I hate to burst bubbles, but maybe you just aren’t as dedicated to your fitness as you think you are.
Showing up to the gym 5 times a week and doing lat pull-downs and wrist curls for an hour does not automatically qualify you as a serious lifter.
Are you weighing your food out every single day to ensure you are eating the right amount?
Are you calculating every single calorie you consume to make sure you are hitting your macronutrient goals?
Do you have any clue what intensity levels you are training at on any given day?
Are you scheduling life around your gym sessions?
Look, I am not saying that you must do these things if you’re serious about your training, but I think it’ll clear up your vision a bit about how serious you are currently taking your fitness goals.
Here is a simple test you can take to see if you’re really as serious as you think…
- Think of 5-10 people who are closest to you.
- Send each one of them a text that says something like “I am considering a new program and one of the exercises I have to do is text 5 people who are the closest to me in order to find out how serious I am about my fitness. Out of 1-10, 10 being the most dedicated, how would you rate my level of dedication to fitness?”
- Don’t argue or go back and forth about what they rate you.
- Add up the scores and find the average.
Some of you are in for a rude awakening.
There you have it, 7 Truths About Building Muscle for Skinny Guys that Experts Never Tell. I hope you had as much fun reading and I did writing.
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Has one of these 7 truths opened up your eyes to something in your training? Leave a comment below and let me know which one and how!