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SF AppWorksNov 17, 2021 1:28:00 AM5 min read

Skinny to Buff | The Ultimate Fitness Guide

Going from skinny to buff is a long, exciting, and sometimes tiresome journey. You’re lifting heavy, bulking on calories, but the scale isn’t budging. Never fear! Here we’ll outline how you can most efficiently go from skinny to buff and smash your goals.


Tip 1: Skinny to Buff Means Eating Enough


This basic metabolic formula defines weight change:


Calories in (FOOD) - calories out (EXERCISE) = change in weight


Firstly, start by using a calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need to eat to gain weight. Note that this is an estimate, so you’ll want to experiment with calories and weigh yourself frequently to see if the numbers are working.


If you are using this estimate and find your weight plateauing, increase calories by 200-300 per day for at least 1-2 weeks, then reevaluate. If your weight still isn’t increasing, repeat the process until you find a daily intake that works to increase your weight slowly over time.


Many people both over and underestimate the number of calories in their food. It can help to track your intake via food scales and/or an app like MyFitnessPal to make sure you’re eating the number of calories you think you are.


You don’t have to track your food indefinitely throughout a bulk, though that can be useful for some. You do, however, want to get a healthy idea of the calories you’re eating each day.


Tip 2: Have a Gym Plan


Training aimlessly and making up your routine as you go is no way to transform from skinny to buff. Building large, well-defined muscles and a well-rounded physique requires intention. You need to hit all major muscle groups and all major movements, including:

  1. Squats

  2. Deadlifts

  3. Pull-ups

  4. Rows

  5. Overhead presses

  6. Dips


Figure out how you want to split your weekly workouts, and make sure you’re hitting these movements strategically. Also, figure out how often and for how long you wish to exercise. While some people spend 2-3 hours at the gym five times per week, that may not work best for you.

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Tip 3: Harness the Power of Progressive Overload


Going from skinny to strong means continually challenging your muscles via progressive overload. This is defined as slowly but regularly increasing the difficulty of your exercises so that your muscles are being constantly challenged, broken down, and repaired.


As you work out, your body does what it’s designed to do: it adapts to make hard work easier. Your muscles get stronger and can bear more weight.


That’s why it’s essential to track the weight you’re lifting and make sure you’re slowly increasing the time your muscles are under tension, whether by increasing weight, reps, or adding in movements like static holds.


Take note of how often we’ve used the word “slowly” here. This is because increasing the time under tension too quickly can result in catastrophic injury such as a torn muscle or slipped disc in your back.


These injuries can set you back for days, weeks, or even months, so listen to your body and never push through pain.


Tip 4: Keep It Simple, Silly!


Basic internet searches are bound to turn up intricate details on both lifting and your nutrition to “maximize gains.” While there may be very minimal impacts of these techniques, you’re better off focusing on the basics and sticking with those.


Remember those few basic movements we mentioned earlier? Stick with those and get stronger at them. And, of course, use tip #1 to make sure your calories align with your goals.


Tip 5: Find a Routine And Be Consistent


If you fall off the “skinny-to-buff” wagon, you’re going to lose your progress. That’s why you must find a routine suited to your lifestyle.


Not everyone can afford to take 2-3 hours per day for the gym. Some of us have 30 minutes for a high-intensity bodyweight session. Others can take those 2-3 hours, but only 3-4 times per week. Whatever the case for you, find a routine that you enjoy and stick with it.


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Tip 6: Prioritize Recovery


Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things and feel like you’re making progress, it’s tempting to hit the gym harder and more often, sacrificing rest and recovery. However, remember that muscles need at least 24-48 hours to properly recover so you can maximize progress during your next session.

The 24-48 hour window emphasizes the importance of staggering your training sessions so you’re never hitting the same muscle group two days in a row. This also emphasizes the importance of rest days where you don’t work out at all. Take at least 1-2 rest days per week.

Lastly, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. While one night of poor or inadequate sleep likely won’t have a significant impact, any more than this will. Your performance, and progress, will suffer, and you’ll be far less motivated to hit the gym by virtue of being exhausted.


Final Word


By following these tips, you should have a successful journey from skinny to buff. Ultimately, with enough time and attention and avoiding common mistakes, you’ll see the progress you’ve worked so hard for. This journey can take months––but it’s worth it! Remember to enjoy the process!


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