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Skinny 16 YO Looking to Put on Mass


I'm a skinny 16 year old looking to put on some mass. I really hope I'm not writing way too much.
Height: 5'10"
Weight: About 120 lbs.
Body fat %: Last time I checked was some months ago on a website. It said I was at 5%. I think there could be a slight inaccuracy.

Current workout setup:


Cardio session:
6x200 punches/kicks, punching with 3 lb. dumbbells for resistance
6x100 grasshoppers, moderate-fast pace
No rest between each set; if I bust my butt on it like I did today I can get it done in under 30 minutes


Lifting session:
2 sets, 6-8 reps each
52 1/2 pounds
Each rep is down 5, hold 2, up 5, hold 2

The only rest between each set is the time it takes to set up.

Bench presses - 2 sets
2 sets, 8-12 reps each
35 pounds
Each rep is down 5, hold 2, up 5, hold 2

Rest/Moderate cardio, depending on what I feel like doing. For example, I'll ride my bike to the store to get some whey protein, or just go on a jog outside and enjoy the weather. No matter what, I will not touch a treadmill with a 10-foot pole. It's so boring and I'm constantly a slave to these glowing orange digital numbers and... starts sobbing

Current diet setup:
I run a variation of the slow-carb diet by Tim Ferriss from The Four Hour Body. By that, I mean, I make my meals high-protein and high-fiber, until my mom threatens to kill me if I touch the cottage cheese one more time. I also make sure to include my fats in the form of peanut butter or extra virgin olive oil.

During school days, my diet is as follows. I have 5 meals a day, one about every three hours.
Breakfast - 7:00 a.m.
1 apple
2 T. Peanut butter (fats)
1/2 c. dry curd cottage cheese OR 1 whole egg with 1/4 c. dry curd cottage cheese

2nd Breakfast - 9:30 a.m. (Stuffed down between classes)
1/2 pocket whole wheat pita bread
As much cottage cheese as I can put in it before it bursts - generally about 1/2 c.*
1 T. olive oil
*If I have to, I'll use processed Sargento cheese. But it doesn't have the right kind of fats - it has the processed, homogenized fats that... do something bad... right?

Lunch - 12:00 p.m. I make my own lunch; I only get school food if I'm in a protein crisis. Luckily that only ever happened once before.
Red beans and/or brown rice
Generally some kind of meat
Maybe cottage cheese
If I'm really blessed, I'll get leftover vegetables from last night's dinner.

If it's a workout day...
Pre-workout meal - 3:15 p.m.
1 banana

Workout - 4:00-5:10 p.m.

Post-workout meal - 5:15 p.m.
1 whey shake (1 scoop whey in water, 22g protein)
Had two clementines, took off the stringy white stuff hoping that would make me absorb the sugars faster. Not sure how to handle post-workout carbs.

If it's not a workout day...
My super goulash meal - 3:30 p.m.
Beans, meat, cottage cheese, olive oil, all put into a bowl and microwaved. Delicious.

Dinner - 7:30 p.m.
As much meat and vegetables as I can get (but still not that much :()
I try to limit bread/starchy carbs here, but I eat what I'm given. My parents flip if I turn down food (You're getting too skinny! Look at your cheeks! puckerfish face)

Sunday is my "cheat day". I noticed it was pretty fun during the period of my venture into fitness before this one where I was all about getting skinny, and burning fat. Then one Sunday morning (1:00 a.m. that is) after eating four doughnuts and three candy bars, I realized it was probably an eating disorder. Plus, after doing more research, I found out I was supposed to have a day of fasting after it. Hell no.

So it's more of my "relaxed diet day" now. I plan on waking up at a sensible time, eating what I enjoy, and getting on with my life. I only eat the treats I make myself. This week it's cinnamon rolls. cue cool story bro pic

Well, what am I doing wrong?


Don't worry about giving too much info. Most people say something like "I'm skinny. How do i get big?" and that's it. You provided plenty of info.Great!

How long have you been working out? If you've only been doing this a couple weeks just be patient and you'll start to see progress soon.

I don't want to say don't do cardio - but for pure weight gain, it's really not needed. Some people would go as far to say don't bother with cardio because you are wasting calories on something that won't build muscle. You don't have to stop it, but you definitely don't need to do it either.

Also - make sure you eat enough. Everyone always think they are eating enough when they first start. Chances are you aren't. Don't worry about being super clean. Obviously, don't eat junk food. But you also don't need to eat super clean to look and feel good.

Biggest tip - make sure you are eating enough. Don't worry about carbs, protein, fat. Just eat and you'll see results. Welcome!


This post really concerns me. I think people should be cautious with any advice they give. Just saying.


^ I don't see much wrong with the advice given

At first glance,I would ask if you are part of any sports that require alot of conditioning, for the cardio. If you are truly trying to build mass, you may need to let go of the 5% bodyfat for a while. Keep the bodyfat in check, but it will be really hard to gain mass if you agonize over every pound.

Knowing nothing else, I would say if you insist on doing cardio, move it after your lift session, and limit it. Also, do not force yourself into the extra cardio sessions. In short, excessive, moderate cardio can be catabolic... you don't want to break down all the muscle you are trying to build.

Next, I would change your program. Its good that you know the bench press and squat, but it is not balanced. I do not see pulls, or overhead presses, if you have been taught these, that is. You will develop muscular imbalances if all you do is bench press and squat. There are plenty of good programs already designed on T-Nation for building mass. Do some research this weekend

Lastly, count up the calories in the meal you have just listed. I would bet you need to eat more, especially since you are 16 and growing. Again, more knowledgeable authors have written articles on bulking (personally, I have never had a problem with that, since I am a big guy). Read through some of the T-Nation archives (search bulking or nutrition, or something to that effect) and you'll find a wealth of information.


Ok. On the 5th of this year I weighed in at 158. Currently I weigh 176.2 (yes, I just got off the scale). I havnt had any noticable gains in fat. I am still a beginner, but I will tell you what has worked for me. I read the threads that have been stickied and made a few similar forum posts to yours. I got a lot of good advice. Here is how it manifested itself. You need to eat 6 times a day. At least 3 meals must be good wholesome food, rich in protein and veggies, and wash it down with copious amounts of milk.

For two of the large meals, you must eat until you feel sick. I usually eat until I am full, then go get another plate and force it down. The other 3 meals are protein shakes. How this works out for me is breakfast (sick), lunch (until im full usually), shake, dinner (sick), shake immediately after workout or at 9, possible late night food order (chineese, pizza, whatever), and a shake right before bed. Usually at the meals where I eat until im sick, I get all kinds of reactions from people, from damn you were hungry, to youre gonna get fat, to people asking how my cholesterol looks.

Now for the weight room. A lot of people will tell you that what im gonna say is poor advice, but it has worked for me. I made a routine that works every muscle in the body. I aimed for mostly compound lifts. I warmed up, and then absolutely punished one muscle group for an hour (anything longer than an hour is counterproductive in my book. if you cant do it in an hour it cant be done, and yes I do go 5 times a week).

Every time, I picked a weight I could get for barely 10 reps and then I went to failure between 5 and 7 times (no forced reps, once I couldnt get a rep, I just ended the set so it wouldnt mess with the next set, and if youre gettin all 10 every time, you need more weight. pay attention to your rest intervals also, youll figure out why after you play with it for a little while). I trained every muscle group once a week as hard as I possibly could. (Dont skip legs. It releases shit loads of hormones that will enter your bloodstream and aid in growht overall.)

The final thing that has worked for me is, drum roll please...I changed my sleeping habits. Not only did it make me feel better and have more energy for lifts, but sleeping is absolutely the best thing you can do for recovery in my opinion. It is just as important as diet in my book. Also, I straightened out my study habits and prioritized lifting/stopped bitching and making excuses.

Dont get too attached to your bodyfat percentage, the mirror is a better indicator of progress. You may lose your abs, but you will be bigger, and you will be able to lose whatever fat you may gain later. If you feel like you are only gaining fat, then ajust the food types you are eating (some people think theyre gonna get big on coke and doritos). It will take you sevral weeks to determine if you are gaining fat, and since youre natrually skinny I wouldnt worry about it at all. I know that youre gonna say something about keeping your abs because women like abs. Let me assure you that they like it a lot more when you fill out your clothes.

I have a lot of work to do and progress to make, but this is what has worked for me so far. I hope it helps. Again, I would read a lot on the stickied threads here in the forums. Dont quit, just keep asking, learning, and working and you will get to where you want to be.



In the summer I do tons of cardio as I like to do bicycle racing. I gave it up this year to gain weight. Will I still ride my bike this summer 50 miles at a 20 mph pace occasionally? YES. Will I eat a lot more calories on that day? HELL YES. Honestly I love cardio, but I want to be larger, so I kinda gave it up sorta...just a bit. Personally, It sounds like your workout needs to be redone, and you need to eat more.

It sounds stupid because its been said so many times before, but its true: Eat big, lift big, get big.



Get a real lifting program

Eat more

Figure out what it is you want to achieve more specifically and find people who have acheived this. Copy them.


No, I do not do any sports - I just like the cardio. I considered shifting my days, but that would either require me to work out on the weekend (which I don't like) or limit the time for cardio or lifting.

The reason I've never had other lifting exercises is that there's no time - 30 minutes cardio, the lifting as it is takes about 30 minutes, and over an hour in the gym (my basement) is counter-productive.

I should cut the cardio in half to give myself more time for lifting. Thanks for the tips, I especially look forward to eating more :smiley:


No, I do not do any sports - I just like the cardio. I considered shifting my days, but that would either require me to work out on the weekend (which I don't like) or limit the time for cardio or lifting.

The reason I've never had other lifting exercises is that there's no time - 30 minutes cardio, the lifting as it is takes about 30 minutes, and over an hour in the gym (my basement) is counter-productive.

I should cut the cardio in half to give myself more time for lifting. Thanks for the tips, I especially look forward to eating more :D[/quote/]

There is not some magical rule that means spending more than an hour in the gym is counter productive, do the cardio after lifting and make sure you add in a deadlift, row, overhead press and a vertical pull variation into your training program.


I'm going to echo what PJS2010 wrote and suggest that you take as much time as you need during your training sessions to fit in the "mandatory" exercises. Some people have workouts that last 45 minutes to an hour, some have workouts that are two hours or more. From what I have observed, the time it takes to actually finish the workout is not a significant factor for muscle growth (or muscle loss)--so long as the work i.e. lifting is actually getting done.

On a side note, I used to "time" my rests between sets like a lot of pre-written programs suggest, and it didn't seem to make any difference to my strength or physique. Now I almost always just rest however long it takes me to feel like I can lift another set with heavier weights.


"Each rep is down 5, hold 2, up 5, hold 2 "

Just wanted to point this out. No need to lift like this - controlled negative, forceful positive, and don't be trying to count seconds mid-rep.

You may be able to immediately double your weights if you just start doing the reps in a normal fashion lol


Amen to that,

I'm skinny 146 pounds and 5'5". I twisted around my eating schedule and man the results are insane. I use to just workout hard and just eat the same amount everyday. Which put me at a Plataea for about a good five months.

The way I see it, getting a good workout is the easy part. If your skinny the hardest part is eating because your stomach isn't ready for the penetration. Always be setting the bar higher in the kitchen and you will get good gains in the gym. When you see those gains it will give you a FAT amount of motivation to eat more.


I forget who it was, or when the article was posted, but one of the contributors said to have one or two meals a week that you sit down for an hour and eat until you cant possibly eat any more. I think the purpose of this was to stretch your stomach. I try to do it twice a day, mostly to get the calories, but also to be able to eat more.



I haven't read the article but dude this is how it needs to be for every meal. I find it helps to sit in front of the tv or sit on the computer, I'm eating right now. You wont be as focused on the eating and it will go down quicker.



Obvious troll is apparently not obvious....