Assuming you’re training is dialled-in (compound movements, heavy weights, sufficient frequency etc) one of the most important things, as quoted from John Berardi’s 10 Tips article is this:
Lesson #3: Skinny Guys, If You Want To Get Big, You’d Better Eat Big!
This lesson is one I learned the hard way, being a former skinny guy. Of course, it’s not necessarily applicable to everyone out there trying to gain muscle mass, but if you’re a classic ectomorph, lean and lanky, the story below is the most important you’ll ever hear.
Once upon a time, there was a scrawny kid named John. After two years of training, at 5’8", scrawny John had only managed to hit an embarrassing 150 pounds at 10% body fat. With a goal of bench pressing his body weight, scrawny John toiled away for two years without reaching this achievement. Cursing the gods, believing he was doing “everything in his power” to gain muscle mass, scrawny John was about ready to give up and take up an endurance sport or something.
But just before exchanging his weight lifting belt for some cycling tights, he had an epiphany! A friend of scrawny John’s went away to a football training camp for a month and came back 15 pounds heavier. Begging for the secrets produced nothing. The friend told scrawny John that there weren’t any. Simply, he and the other guys at camp were taught to eat five or six big meals per day. Angry, scrawny John told him that he already did that.
But when scrawny John realized that he’d need to eat breakfast meals that consist of 12 whole eggs, four packets of plain instant oatmeal, and four slices of rye toast; lunches that consisted of three whole grain bagels, a pound of lean beef, and a huge salad; and dinners that consisted of a full pound of pasta, a few cups of broccoli, and a half pound of lean ground beef, he understood where he was going wrong. And not only did he adopt these breakfast, lunch, and dinner strategies, he began eating five whole grain bagels slathered with natural peanut butter and drinking a couple of liters of protein drink throughout the rest of the day.
Sound absurd? Well, not only does it sound absurd, it looked absurd. But, after two more years, scrawny John wasn’t so scrawny any longer.
As you can imagine, scrawny John was me. Utilizing these feeding techniques, I went from a 5’8" 150 pound guy (at 10% body fat) aspiring to bench press my own body weight, to a 210 pound guy (at 12% body fat) bench pressing 315 for multiple reps.
If you think you’ve “tried everything,” think again. You’ve gotta eat big to get big.