It shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone that I am tall. I am actually 6’8″ and that is taller than all my friends and family. I am pretty much the tallest guy I know, and I have always been super skinny to0.
Although, that is not entirely true, because I have been working out for the last 6 or 7 years with some results.
I think I weighed about 85 kg / 187 lbs when I started. And now my weight is just around 105 kg / 231 lbs. So that is quite an increase in body weight, and it all comes from muscle since I haven’t gotten any fatter.
How did I gain muscle?
Some of you guys have seen pictures of me, like on the right side column, and since you are asking about my regimen and my nutrition, I am guessing that you are looking to gain some weight in terms of added muscle mass – just as I have done.
So I have decided that I want to write this blog post about training for tall guys – my “tall guy workout” guide. I’ve already written one blog post about the subject called “5 tips to going from scrawny to athletic” which you can read also. And I’m constantly working on the grand ‘Skinny to Muscle’ guide, that covers exercises, nutrition, supplements and much more.
This time around however, I am going to cover some of the best practices and fundamental principles that I have found works for me, and that I think will work for you too if you are skinny and have a scrawny frame as a point of departure.
- I am going to tell you about my experiences with mindset.
- I am going to tell you about the nutrition and diet that I have been utilizing in gaining weight.
- And I am going to talk about my training and how I am structuring that part of gaining size.
Because the thing is.. you can’t really gain muscle just by working out. You have to set your mind up to it. And you have to get your diet in order. Training really hard and killing it in the gym simply isn’t enough.
How to build the right mindset
Let’s start with the mindset. It can be really frustrating to be super skinny to start off with. But almost everyone no matter how their frame (meaning there body composition) is to start off with can gain muscle.
I think I read somewhere that it’s only about 1% of the total population who has some kind of genetic disorder that makes it impossible for them to gain muscle.
So unless you have some kind of genetic disorder that limits your ability to grow muscle tissue, then I am pretty sure that you can get as good or better results than I have gotten.
When you have decided to commit yourself to a workout routine, you really have to stick with it. Because it is not going to be a short project where you work out for some time and then you’re done.
No, it’s going to be a part of your lifestyle and you have to keep at it for years and years. So you might as well get to like it – the sooner the better.
The importance of continuity
Continuity is really, really important when committing yourself to this fitness life. Continuity means that you keep at it also when you don’t see much gains.
The thing is that everything works pretty well to start off with – without you having to do very much for it. If you are completely unexperienced within fitness and weight training, then you will see fast and quite clear muscle growth within the first couple of weeks.
This growth is however limited to the very early beginning of your fitness journey. In order to keep growing, you have to keep going and this means that you work out day in day out, and that you have the mindset to stay on top of your training – even though it seems like your growth is slowing down and maybe stagnating.
So before you even start considering this fitness life or wish to grow in size then you have to make up your mind and tell yourself that you really want to do this and that you want to stay on top of it and keep at it.
Because if you don’t, you might as well satisfy with the body you have and learn to love it. However, if you are ready to make fitness a part of your life, which I can really recommend because it brings about so many other great effects, then you can move onto the next part – which is the diet.
The importance of a good diet
Diet and nutrition is the second most important aspect of growing and building muscle. If you have made up your mind and told yourself that you really want to do this and that you’re going to give it 100% for a long period of time, then I will take you through what the basic principles behind my diet is.
Depending on your metabolism, you either burn calories very fast or you save them and store them as body fat. As for me and my body, I have experienced that I have a very high metabolism, and that I therefore have a hard time gaining weight.
Some call my body type ectomorph or hardgainer which refers to the fact that I have a hard time gaining weight. If you have a hard time gaining weight too because of your high metabolism, then you have to eat a lot and you have to eat often.
The periods in my fitness life where I’ve grown the most is the periods of time where I have taken in very many calories each and every day. In order to know how many calories you need, you have to calculate your daily caloric need.
This basic daily need of calories will cover your basic functions and all the different things that your organs do and that your respiratory system is doing.
All these functions are something that you cannot control yourself. It is just something that happens every day and that needs energy and calories in order to work.
The thing is that you need excess calories – meaning more calories than the amount that covers the basics in order to have enough for your muscles to grow.
The body is constructed in such a smart way that if you don’t have the basic needs covered, then the body won’t allocate energy to building muscle. So if your daily calorie need is 3500 cal, which it is in my case, then you have to add an extra say 500 cal to that number in order to have enough calories for muscle growth.
When you know how much you need every day, you have to get an idea of what your daily meals and consumption of food consists of. For this I recommend using an app that tracks your food, and I can recommend My Fitness Pal or Lifesum.
Do I have to weigh everything I eat?!
To some people, it might seem crazy to track everything you eat, but you don’t really have to weigh everything. As soon as you get a basic idea of how much 100 g or whatever measurement you use is, you can cut back on the actual weighing and just guesstimate.
Try to track your food and diet for a couple of days to get an idea of how much 3500 or 4000 cal is. When you wrap your mind around that and you get an idea of how much of the diet has to be carbohydrates, how much is fat and how much is protein, then you can cut back a little bit on the tracking and make it something that you don’t really think about anymore.
Now that you have your diet in check and know how many calories you need, and you know how to track what you eat, you can move on to the real deal. When you have your mindset in order and you know how much to eat and how your macros are distributed within that diet – then you can move on to the training.
The importance of training right
Training as a tall guy is a little bit different than training as a normal sized guy. In order to grow,
- We have to focus really hard on full range of motion.
- We have to focus very much on heavy weights.
- And we have to focus on the right exercises to stimulate the muscles in our long limbs.
I am structuring my training around a split that consists of 3 parts:
- First part or first day of my training regimen is focusing on the legs and the ab muscles.
- Next training day is focusing on push exercises where I target triceps, chest muscles and the shoulders.
- The third and last day of my training regiment is focusing on pull exercises where I train muscles around the back and biceps.
By completing all 3 days within one week, I make sure to target almost every muscle in my entire body, and by splitting up the body in 3 different days, I have the opportunity to focus really hard on only some of the muscle groups instead of all of them at once.
This makes it possible to apply much more focused stress and pressure on each of the muscles. To get more detailed into my favorite exercises, I can recommend visiting my Skinny to Muscle workout guide and scroll down to the Exercises section. There, I cover how to perform each one, what to keep in mind and why I like these particular exercises.
Go heavy or go home
I cannot stress enough the importance of heavy weights. I see a lot of skinny guys working out like the professional bodybuilders with many repetitions in the range of 15 or 20 repetitions per set.
This is not something that you want to be doing – unless you are doing drugs like the pros. You have to work with a load that accounts for as much as 80% of your maximum strength.
Let’s take the benchpress as an example. If you can benchpress 100 kg once, then you should be working out with loads around 80 kg. This would be 80% of your one repetition maximum. Go for 6 to 8 reps per set.
I am not going to lay out a complete and detailed program or plan for you right here and now. You should choose the exercises that you like, that fit your body and are available in your gym.
However, what I want to make sure that you are doing is that you focusing on compound exercises that involve more muscle group at the time – instead of small and silly isolation movements.
In my other article here on Tallsome, I really tried to stress the importance of stretch and squeeze principles. All this talk about stretching and squeezing comes down to the one point of full range of motion.
It has been proven many times within the science of bodybuilding and strength training that range of motion is of utmost importance when aiming at building muscle. So go heavy and full range, when you are dealing with the weights.
Conclusion and sum-up
If you only were to read this part of the this blog post, I would tell you these things.
- Make up your mind and find out if you really want to make fitness part of your lifestyle. This is the most important thing because no diet or training regimen will take you to the gym if your mind doesn’t tell you to.
- Number two thing is that you eat enough, that you eat often and that you eat healthy. You really have to get an idea of how much you need to eat. How much you need to take in every day to cover your basic needs and still have excess energy to provide your muscles with the nutrients they need in order to grow. The diet is much more important than the training itself because the training is stimulating the muscles to grow, but they can only do so if they have the building blocks to do it. When your mindset and your diet is in control, and you are on top of these two very important things, you have to build a good weekly training program.
- When structuring your training, I recommend that you split up the program in three different days that target the legs and abs on the first day, push exercises on the second day and pull exercises on the third day.
If you don’t want to spend too much time in the gym, you can do these 3 workouts over the course of 1 week. If you are a little more serious about your training you can do these 3 workouts 2 times a week – meaning that you work out 6 times a week.
Keep your workouts real short – get in, do the work and leave after 45-60 minutes. Drink a shake immediatley after working out.
When choosing exercises you have to go for the bigger compound movements and make sure that you load up the weights real good. Go for full range of motion with heavy weights that only allow you to do 6 to 8 repetitions per set.
One thing that you have to realize is that only heavy weights will stimulate your muscles to growth. This is my experience and this is what has worked for me.
When I have had periods where I tried different principles and other approaches to building muscle, I have slowed down or failed to grow. Heavy weights being moved in compound exercises is the way forward.
These are the principles upon which I have built my training, my diet and my overall mindset around working out. If you want me to go more in detail with each of the aspects, throw on some good music and read my full Skinny to Muscle guide. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions – or contact me on social media.
I will be more than happy to help you with whatever you are struggling with. Just be aware of the fact that I can only talk from my own standpoint, and I can only recommend what I have experienced work for me.
That being said I don’t really recommend you get yourself lost in the jungle of articles and forums talking about bodybuilding, strength training and all kinds of other training.
Stick to 1 principle and dedicate yourself to utilizing the basics of what has worked for decades and decades within fitness and bodybuilding.
I have built my training upon science and knowledge obtained through books, magazines and the Internet. And I have altered the principles and tweaked my training along the way, as I have found out what works specifically for me being a tall guy.
I hope that I have inspired you alter your regimen or to start your fitness journey and adventure towards your own goals for your mind and body.
What are you struggling with? Leave a comment below!