A Bulking Up Workout Plan For Skinny Guys To Gain Lean Muscle Without Ruining A Defined Physique
A bulking phase alternated with a cutting phase is the approach most take to build a lean and muscular body. Most of the time I feel that slowly building lean muscle is smarter & healthier than trying to put on a bunch of muscle all at once. Of course though, there comes a time when you’ll need to build muscle.
If done correctly (smartly) then you can get away with following a bulking workout plan and still maintain a low level of body fat.
Although I talk a lot on this blog about getting lean and defined muscles and not so much about bulking up, I do feel that it is important to have a good muscle base.
Most of the time, guys looking to get in shape have a decent amount of mass and should focus on getting lean and toned as a priority.
However, there are quite a few guys out there who would like to add some size.
I know I like to build muscle a few different times throughout the year and this workout plan is quite effective for adding size.
A Workout to Add Some Bulk
Here’s an example of a routine that you can use to put on a decent amount of muscle mass while still maintaining a solid look. Yes, this is the same routine that I outlined for the Vin Diesel workout — didn’t want to send you to that page and then have you come back to this page. 😀
By taking a common 3-day split and altering the sets & reps we can build overall muscle mass and density — producing a stronger looking muscle than the typical 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.
Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
- Incline Dumbbell Press – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Incline Barbell Press – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Standing Military Press – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Lateral Dumbbell Raises – 8 sets of 10-20 reps
- Skull Crushers – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Diamond Pushups – 8 sets of 10-20 reps
Day 3 – Back & Biceps
- Pull Ups – 8 sets of 5-8 reps
- Seated Rows – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Upright Rows – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Standing Barbell Curls – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Preacher Curls – 8 sets of 5 reps
Day 5 – Legs & Core
- Front Squats – 8 sets of 5-8 reps
- Straight Leg Deadlifts – 8 sets of 5 reps
- Planks – 3 sets at 2 minutes
- Side Planks – 3 sets each side 45-60 seconds
*Rep one should be done with the heaviest amount of weights as you can do for 6 reps — stop at 5 reps. Rest for 30-60 seconds and then do 5 more reps at 80% of the original (heavy) weight. Rest 30-60 seconds and then do 5 more reps at the same weight you did on your second set. Repeat this until you’ve done 8 total sets of each exercise.
What makes this so effective is the lack of rest combined with the sets and reps.
When NOT To Bulk Up
If you are already very lean or even skinny, that is the perfect time to build muscle.
If you are not lean then your muscles are not going to look as impressive as they could without the layer of fat that is covering them. Having said that, I do not recommend that you go on a bulking phase for too long.
You should not continue bulking for too long because you want to avoid gaining as much fat as possible.
You have probably read that you should expect to gain fat and even try to do so because that will help you put on muscle — completely bogus.
The truth is actually contrary to that theory.
The more fat you have, the harder it is to build muscle. When you are lean, your body is more prone to build muscle than to store fat. Once you gain fat, it is much harder to lose.
I’m a firm believer in looking good the whole time you’re working out. What I think is a big mistake is when people chow down and purposely get “fat” in hopes that more muscle will stick. Usually this happens when you’ve been bulking up for an extended period of time.
Eat Smart While Bulking Up
You’ve probably read that you should eat a TON of food whenever you are trying to gain muscle. This is fairly accurate, but I’m afraid many people will go overboard on this.
In order to make life easier and to allow you to eat smarter (all calories are not created equal, even while bulking up) it’s a good idea to keep the bulking up stage somewhat short. I’ve had great success in eating fairly low calories for a week and then moving straight into a high (quality) calorie phase for two weeks.
During this two week period it’s important to put a lot of energy into your weight lifting.
In addition to focusing on your workout though, you need to be careful to eat smart. You are going to be eating more calories than normal so you want to make sure that they are not empty calories.
If you need to bulk up while not gaining fat then I recommend you avoid the typical bulking and cutting phase. Smart weight gain is all about building lean muscle, not muscle and fat.
Bulking Up The Smart Way
To build a muscular and solid physique you do need to bulk up every now and then. You just do.
But it doesn’t end there.
In order look your best you cannot rely simply on having a lot of muscle.
You need to have dense, hard looking muscles and you need to have a low enough body fat for them to look good.
I’ve found that the Visual Impact Muscle Building program is a great approach to build muscle and cut fat.
I follow it a little differently than everybody else though.
It starts out with a workout for pure size … transitions into a hybrid workout for size and muscle density … then ends with a phase for getting super lean and ripped.
In my opinion, it’s better to start out ripped. So when I follow the workout plan I simply follow it backwards.
I make sure I’m pretty ripped before I start bulking up.
Bulking up can be a good thing or a bad thing … depending on your approach.
Build solid muscle & stay lean while you are bulking up and you’ll be good. If you are lean before you start you are going to look much better throughout the process.
April 15, 2012 @ 4:23 pm
Hey. I was just wondering if there’s any specific reason to why there isn’t any shoulder exercises? Military presses have been working fine for me, so I wouldn’t like to ditch that, but the program looks awesome otherwise. I also want to say GOOD JOB on this page, and i’m very happy to real about how to have a better looking physique compared to other juice-heads 😉
July 27, 2012 @ 12:09 pm
Yes there was a reason … I forgot! 🙂
Thanks for the heads-up. I too am a BIG fan of military presses. I added shoulders in there with chest and tris since the routines are based off of push/pull days.
July 29, 2012 @ 11:32 am
does it really work? alli have is 30 days ):
August 16, 2012 @ 8:58 am
I think your article is superior the video by Kyle Leon. He uses the gimmicky video style that takes far too long to get to the point. He also tries to use the “girls will be all over you” approach to “sell” his concept, which I’m still not sure what he was getting at because he’s terribly long winded. I listened to his video for five minutes and closed it. It took five minutes for him to mention one useful fact, when reading your article takes me 30 seconds to get useful information.
August 16, 2012 @ 11:21 am
Yeah, you can tell he’s trying to sell something. It’s a good product but a bit over-hyped in the video.
August 19, 2012 @ 12:03 pm
Do you not have to do ab exercise?
January 22, 2016 @ 12:58 pm
If you’re trying to bulk up and put on muscle mass, i really don’t think a person needs to put in extra time on ab workouts. Some of these legs exercises will work your core good, but who really cares, just trying to bulk up right?
August 19, 2012 @ 2:52 pm
Would you try and push to failure on say the 7th or 8th set when you’re feeling fatigued? Or would you stop a rep short before failure?
June 17, 2016 @ 7:45 am
I think he meant your 6th rep should be the failure point but stop at 5. On the first set.
September 2, 2012 @ 10:21 pm
Thanks for all these tips .. they are great. I do have a question though: at no stage do you mention cardio in your workouts. So eg there is nothing in this article for day 2, 4 and 6 assuming that 7 is a rest day, should i do some amount of cardio as well? or just the weight lifting exercises 3 times a week?
Thanks a lot for this article.
January 22, 2016 @ 12:59 pm
cardio isn’t good for a skinny guy trying to gain muscle mass..
September 4, 2012 @ 8:09 am
Hey man, I have a question.. Do you take a Rest Day after Day 5, or do you go straight back into Day 1?
June 4, 2013 @ 7:20 am
I believe the program is setup to have a rest day in between each workout. See below
Day 1 – Monday (workout)
Day 2 – Tuesday (rest)
Day 3 – Wednesday (workout)
Day 4 – Thurs (rest)
Day 5 – Friday (workout)
Day 6 and 7 – Sat and Sun (rest)
You would not go back into day one. The resting phase is just as if not more important than the actual workout. Your muscles need time to repair or else you won’t see the bulk.
September 28, 2012 @ 7:32 am
Just started this last night… looking forward to see the results.
November 11, 2012 @ 10:37 pm
Hey man just wanted to say thanks and this is a very solid workout!! Been doing it for a month now seeing good gains gained 15 pounds inthe last month with the workout and solid eating keep it up! Gotta few of my buddies from my battalion doing it with me now 🙂
December 23, 2012 @ 7:23 pm
Hi, would like to thank you for sharing a great workout. I do have a question about the 3rd day (back and bicep). I’m only able to do a solid 8 pull up max so i cant keep up with 8 or even 5 pull ups for 8 sets. Any alternative?
January 11, 2013 @ 8:19 am
I have been doing various exercises in different gyms for the past 6 months but with little increase in muscle weight
If I am following this workout schedule, how much time would it take? Further should I be increasing the reps or sets with time?
January 22, 2016 @ 1:01 pm
eat eat eat! nothing will happen if you really work hard in the gym but dont get enough calories/protein to help your muscles
January 15, 2013 @ 3:07 am
hi, im just starting out and found this site really helpful, i am skinny but cut, i need to bulk and want to use your routine but i dont know how to do half the excercises is there anywhere where i could watch videos or see pics of how these excercises are carried out?
February 26, 2013 @ 5:57 am
Hi Cris, my name is Gabit. I’m skinny too, so it’s very interesting, could you kindly reply, did you gain weight with this program?
February 4, 2013 @ 4:12 am
This workout looks great. Though its hilarious that when I get in the gym people think Im strength training when doing just 5-8 reps. Though strong ripped muscles are the way forward and this plan hits that goal perfectly. No one wants to look blubbery
March 8, 2013 @ 9:28 am
For Day 1, is it supposed to be incline bench for both dumbbell and barbell, or is one of them flat bench?
June 17, 2016 @ 8:08 am
I’m going to make the Barbell Press flat, and leave the Dumbell as Incline. More diversity in the Pecs in my opinion. Also leave flys as incline, find it works better.
March 17, 2013 @ 9:38 pm
Hello my name is Brian i weigh 150 and am 6’2″ but very athletic. I am looking to gain some more bulk though and this workout seems like a great one! What im looking for is someone who is motivated to start with! If anyone is interested in being my workout partner could you send me an email? my email is email@example.com the email is a long story lol. Thank you!
April 14, 2013 @ 11:23 pm
This looks like an awesome workout and I’m planning on using it after I use your cutting phase. I do have some questions though about your special report workout plan with the diet… Does it matter when I workout during the day with the dieting program because I plan on doing a midnight regime? Also when it comes to your bulking up phase the 3 day split M, W, F do I rest on Saturday and Sunday? And could you provide a diet plan for the bulking phase… I really do appreciate the blogs. I’m really excited to start this regime you’ve created. I’m 6’1 180 lbs and the fat sits in the stomach so I’m a little chubby with a bmi of 20%.
May 16, 2013 @ 5:56 pm
I have a routine which is nearly identical to your one man! Just to add to the community, I read an article on fiber while bulking which is pretty interesting that people may like to check out. http://bulkingmode.com/how-much-fiber-should-you-have-while-bulking/
Never really used to think about fiber in my diet as I’m a young dude haha.
June 7, 2013 @ 12:36 pm
Hey man, got confused on your reps and sets system. 8 sets right? 5-8 reps? So 1st set is with max weight, 2nd set with 80% weight, and then for all of the other sets that same weight? Or each 2 sets you go down 80%?
July 4, 2013 @ 4:58 pm
hey i am confused about the same thing :/ because normally people start from the lowest one but in this workout do i need to start the the max weight i can do?
July 4, 2013 @ 5:14 pm
hey i am confused about the same thing :/ because normally people start from the lowest one but in this workout do i need to start the the max weight i can do??
June 16, 2013 @ 11:54 am
The program is awesome.
I have just started working on it.
Can you please tell me how long will it take for the results ?
July 3, 2013 @ 1:55 am
I was asking something recently and I guess my post got deleted? I was asking how you can bulk when ripped? I have never been ripped but am not fat either I’m skinny. How do you go about doing this?
August 2, 2013 @ 2:37 am
Hey was wondering how long should I be on this bulking phase? Do I stop straight after I see the results and change to a cutting phase? Or keep going until my result has peaked and move on to cutting? Your reply would be most appreciated, thanks!
August 29, 2013 @ 5:28 am
This is awesome program.
September 19, 2013 @ 12:48 am
I’m a bit lost on the eating part. do you have any suggestions on what food to eat for the right calories?
November 5, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
For the side planks, it reads “s” minutes. How long do I hold the side plank for?
November 11, 2013 @ 10:32 am
Good catch David! I put 45-60 seconds per side.
December 9, 2013 @ 5:21 am
Been using this program for the past 90 days along with a few other resources. Great gains so far!
December 16, 2014 @ 8:15 am
THIS PROGRAM IS AMAZING !!
i am hetting really fast with this program also without any kinds of whey protien .
i am only eating 5 meals a day and this program is unBELIVABLE !!
February 24, 2016 @ 5:40 pm
Hey man i just want to know for how much days i need to follow this routine or i have to switch to another exercises after few weeks. Please let me know
July 21, 2016 @ 5:57 pm
Hey so on each day it obviously lists a set of exercises but I was wondering if your supposed to do them in that specific order?
October 27, 2016 @ 9:30 am
Do you keep going down it weight or leave it at 80% after set 2
December 17, 2017 @ 10:31 am
I like the look of this so will start this week. I was wondering why 3 of the cheat exercises are all incline?