When I was in High School there were 90 year old women who were bigger, stronger, and taller than I was. I’ve since gained 60 pounds of muscle–though, I haven’t gotten any taller. I’ve helped a lot of other skinny kids (and adults) pack on pounds of muscle over the years, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not as impossible as you’d think to gain upwards of 20 pounds of muscle a year throughout your High School and College career (until you start butting up against your genetic limit, of course). If you’re determined to be as big and muscular as you can possibly be, read on.
[WARNING! If you are NOT a skinny high school kid with a blazing fast metabolism, then for God’s sake don’t eat like I’m about to tell you to. You’ll just get fat. If you ARE a skinny kid with a crazy fast metabolism who works out hard but can’t gain weight, then read on.]
You’re in High School. So, right now, your metabolism is fast–blindingly fast. You’re constantly busy with a lot of home and school work (you may even have a job). And, up till now, you’ve let your parents do all the thinking for you regarding your diet. I can’t do anything about the first two problems. But, I can help you with the third.
I’m going to take a (not so) wild guess that you are making one (or more) of the following diet mistakes right now:
- You don’t eat breakfast
- You don’t eat right after your workouts
- You don’t eat right before bed
- You don’t eat more than 2 meals a day
- You do eat at these time, but you are following the diet of your favorite Bodybuilder.
The first 4 of these are cardinal sins if you ever want to get big. You can have the perfect weight training routine, but you’ll still be skinny if you don’t eat a lot. You have to eat a ton of food. Period. There is no breaking of that rule–ever. Eat breakfast, eat post-workout, eat before bed. Those are the 3 most important meals of the day.
The last mistake (number 5) is more of a problem than you might think. The trouble with bodybuilding diets is that they are too healthy. I’ll repeat that. They are TOO HEALTHY.
While bodybuilders are a frequent source of laughter among us strength coaches because of their ridiculous training programs that only work if you’re on steroids, they HAVE figured out diets that are great at getting you leaner and more ripped. Bodybuilders are very good at that. But, that is not your goal!! You have to get big before you can diet down and show off your muscles. I don’t mean you should get fat, of course, but you have to give up on your abs for at least a year.
You need massive amounts of calories if you are going to put on 20 to 50 pounds of muscle. You CAN do this. I was a skinny kid too, and I did it. And the way to do it is actually quite simple and enjoyable.
The Trick? Eat crap all the time–yes, crap. Mac and Cheese, ice cream, burgers and fries, fried chicken, pizza, etc. Fun, right? Get only as much protein as you need to feed the muscle rebuilding process (about 3/4 to 1 gram per pound of body weight), and focus the rest of your eating on carbs and fat (mostly carbs). You see, your problem isn’t that you aren’t building muscle fast enough, it’s that your body is eating away all the muscle that you’ve build!! But, if you give it enough calories (carbs) to fuel itself, then you’re protecting your newly built muscles from being devoured by your freaky-fast metabolism.
OK, OK, so what’s the diet already! Below is a simple 5 meal a day diet (4 meals and 1 shake) that has worked for many skinny kids I’ve worked with over the years (again, if you ain’t a skinny young male, don’t do this!).
4 whole eggs
2 pieces of toast, each with peanut butter and jelly on them
16 oz of whole milk
You could instead eat Pancakes and eggs, or steak and eggs. I used to eat a whole can of ready-make buiscuits with 4 eggs, syrup, butter, and a large glass of milk.
(you can easily pack this in tupperware and bring it to school)
1 whole box of mac and cheese, mixed with
1 whole can of tuna
You could use ground beef instead of tuna. Mac and Cheese is great because it’s easy to make before school, easy to carry around, cheap as dirt, and very high in calories (one box has over 1000).
Snack (an hour before working out):
Bagel, cream cheese, 160z Milk (you can add protein powder to the milk if you want)
32 oz. Chocolate milk
Whatever Mom makes (eat 2 servings), this is a good time to get vegetables.
Things like Burgers, pizza, etc are perfect. But, it’s hard to say no to meat loaf, or Teriyaki chicken and rice! Even better, YOU should start cooking dinner for your family (give your Mom a break, man!). Some day you’ll be on your own, and if you don’t know how to cook, you’ll never reach your strength goals.
Large Bowl of ice-cream, or large bowl of cereal (always, always, always eat carbs before bed – till you get older and your metabolism slows, of course.)
Now just workout with weights 3-4 days a week on compound movements (squats, cleans, snatches, deadlifts), and do 2 days a week of cardio (cardio makes you hungry, this is very helpful–I hate cardio, too). What are you waiting for? Go eat!
Parents: I know that the above looks very unhealthy. It is. Especially for us adults. WE can’t eat like that. But, a young High School kid who is actively working out a lot and has a naturally high metabolism will thrive on the calories. These kids are like aliens compared to us.
What you can do to mitigate any potentially negative effects would be to make sure they eat vegetables at dinner time, take a multi-vitamin every day, take extra vitamin C and E, and take Fish Oil capsules. You combine that with the amount of training they are doing, and they’re fine.