Hardgainer Workout – Best Training Routine & Diet For Skinny Bastards

Quick heads-up: if you use my links to buy something, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you, of course). It's one way to support the work I do here. For the full scoop, check out this page.

One of my followers asked about how to build muscle fast at home using nothing but a barbell, adjustable dumbbells, plates, and a bench.

He told me that he’s been skinny his whole life and wants to change that for the better. I’m sure all of you guys reading this are in the same boat.

I understand his sentiment; nothing is worse than doing set after set and not making any progress.

So, let’s go over what I recommend for building more muscle fast!

Are You Skinny? (Do This To Build Muscle Fast!)

Stimulate, Don’t Annihilate

Obviously, you want to gain muscle; the easiest and fastest way to do that is to train as much as you can but still recover. 

So for skinny guys, I recommend 3-4 training days using a push pull legs split. I find it’s the best split you can use to maximize muscle mass and recovery. 

c36ebe8d216510491b906820a3fc0ce1 e1622920613993

Another important point I need to make is that because you’re naturally skinny, you need to focus on two key areas. 

The first is diet, and the second is your training, of course. 

How To Gain Weight For Hardgainers

As for diet, I recommend you take your current body weight and multiply it by 16. This is a good starting point to figure out how many calories you need to build muscle.

Best Macros For Hardgainers

If you’re 100 lbs, this would be 1600 calories; 200 lbs, 3200 calories, etc.

Let’s say you’re 170 lbs!

170×16=2,720 Calories

After that, you need to determine what your macros will be.

First up is your protein intake which is super easy to figure out.

Your minimum protein intake daily should be no lower than your bodyweight.

So for this example, you’ll take in no less than 170 grams of protein.

Fats can be as low as 0.25 grams per pound of bodyweight.

170×0.25=40ish grams of fat

Finally, carbs can be the remainder of your total calories.

This is simple to figure out. There are 4 calories per gram for protein and carbs, while fat is 9 calories per gram.

All you have to do is add up the calories from your protein and fat intake and subtract it from your total calories.

Then you divide the remainder by 4 to get your carb intake.

Here’s how to do just that!

  • 170 grams of proteinx4=680 calories
  • 40 grams of fatx9=360 calories
  • 680+360=1040 calories from protein and fat
  • 2,720 Total Calories-1040 Calories=1,680 calories of carbs
  • 1,680/4=420 grams of carbs

Here’s what your overall calorie and macronutrients will look like.

  • Calories 2720
  • Protein 170 grams
  • Fat 40 grams
  • Carbs 420 grams

What To Do Once You Stop Gaining Weight

From here, you’ll weigh in every week and see if you’re losing, maintaining, or gaining weight.

If you aren’t seeing the weight gain you want, increase your calories by 10% and keep going.

Whenever you increase your calories, keep your protein the same and increase your carb and fat intake to drive your surplus.

If you're curious whether you need protein powder to gain muscle, this article covers just that!

Hopefully, this makes sense but feel free to ask more follow-up questions!

As for training! 

Hardgainer Workout Plan

Workout Plan For Hardgainers

Since you’re naturally skinny, using a high-volume approach isn’t a good idea.

The main reason for this is simple, high volume training burns a ton of calories already. If you’re skinny, this is counterproductive as you’ll need to increase your calorie intake far more than normal to fuel that kind of training.

You want to keep your workout volume low and push close to failure. That way, you can stimulate your muscle and train efficiently without doing a bunch of junk volume that doesn’t aid in gaining muscle.

  • The best way that I recommend you do this is pretty simple, for each exercise you do, start with a weight you can do for 5-8 reps or so. 
  • Then, the next week, you want to beat the reps you did the previous week. 
  • If you did 7 reps on the bench press, your goal is to beat 7 reps. 

Pretty simple. 

Once you get to 8 reps on an exercise, increase the weight by 5 lbs for compound exercises and 2.5 lbs for isolation exercises. 

Basically, you’re working in the 5-8 rep range and adding weight once you hit 8 reps. 

Literally, just continue doing this until you can’t beat your reps on a movement two workouts in a row.

Once that happens, add another set in the 5-8 rep range and continue progressing like normal.

When you can’t get either of your sets to budge, add a third and final set.

Once you get to the point where you maxed out the volume and cannot add weight/reps, swap it out for something else and push for rep PRs on that new exercise like normal. 

Following this progression makes training a lot more fun as you’re always trying to beat your reps and kick some ass. I absolutely prefer this instead of doing a million sets that beat your body up and leave you fatigued.

Hardgainer Workout Split With Minimal Equipment

As for the training split, here’s what I recommend for your setup. 

Since you only have access to a bench, barbell, and dumbbells, you’ll be limited on what movements you can do. But luckily, we can make it work!

  • Push Day
    • Dumbbell Bench Press 
    • Dumbbell Lateral Raises
    • Rear Delt Swings
    • PJR Pullovers
  • Pull Day
    • Barbell Row
    • Dumbbell Lat Row
    • Dumbbell Shrugs
    • Barbell Curls
  • Leg Day
    • Romanian Deadlift
    • Split Squats
    • Calf Raises

Getting more equipment over time to expand your training options is definitely a good idea as well though.

Best Workout Routine For Hardgainers

If you have access to a full gym then you’re going to have better options to build muscle.

Here’s what I recommend for most hardgainers with no equipment limitations.

  • Push 1
    • Converging Chest Press
    • Overhead Machine Press
    • Cross Body Cable Extensions
  • Pull 1
    • Upper Back Machine Row
    • Lat Pulldown
    • Cable Curls
  • Leg 1
    • Leg Extension
    • Glute Bridge
    • Pendulum Squat
    • Calf Raises
  • Push 2
    • Incline Chest Press
    • Cable Lateral Raises
    • Dips
  • Pull 2
    • Rear Delt Row
    • One Arm Lat Cable Row
    • Hammer Curls
  • Legs 2
    • Leg Curls
    • Glute Leg Press
    • Stiff Leg Deadlift
    • Seated Calf Raises

This split is the same push pull legs but as you have more options, you should split it up to make sure you train everything equally.

For each movement, work up to a top set of 5-8 reps to failure and add weight/reps each week.

Once you can’t beat your reps or add weight, add another set in the 5-8 rep range and keep trying to break PRs.

Simple and effective.

Common Questions I Get About Hardgainer Training

Common Questions I Get About Hardgainer Training

I got a few follow-up questions after this from my follower that I answered as well.

“And with the 8 reps, it’s just one set? Is it not 2 or 3 sets? 

I gotta try and work out how much I can lift for 8 reps. I guess that’s just trial and error. 

And judging by the push-pull program you’ve given me, you recommend a dumbbell bench press over a barbell bench press, or it’s not too important which one?”

These are common questions that I get a lot, but after this, hopefully, it makes sense to all of you.

Yeah, it’s just one all-out set starting out. You don’t need to do 10-20 sets per muscle group to maximize muscle growth.

5-10 hard sets per muscle taken close to failure is far more effective for getting stronger AND building muscle.

If you can’t add more weight or reps on a movement, add another set and you should start seeing progress for a long time.

As for finding the correct weights, you should just add weight until you find a weight that’s pretty easy for 8 reps for the first two weeks. 

No need to go straight to failure. Just get used to the training program and find weights that are challenging without going overboard. 

For gaining muscle, it’s important to find exercises that stress your musculature in the way that they’re designed. 

The barbell bench doesn’t allow you to train the chest in the way it’s meant to function very well. 

But with converging machine presses and cables, you can get a huge stretch at the bottom, and your hands can come in at the top. 

That’s why it’s recommended for building muscle over a barbell. It trains the pecs through adduction, which is their primary function.

You can load more with a barbell, but if you want to train as efficiently as possible for more muscle – cables and machines are actually king.

Frequently Asked Questions


Hopefully, this helped some of you figure out what you need to do to build the most muscle possible as a skinny bastard.

Building muscle is incredibly simple, but most people just don’t want to train hard enough consistently enough to make it happen.

Also, I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t eat to grow, it’s just not going to happen.

You can’t build a house without the proper materials, and the same goes for muscle. You have to fuel it somehow.

Eat in a surplus, train hard, recover, repeat.

That’s it.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below!

Until next time,


Leave a Comment