4 Main Reasons You Are Skinny Hardgainer and 4 Simple Things You Can Do About them

Have you ever wondered:

  • Why am I skinny?
  • Why is weigh gain so difficult? or 
  • Why can’t I gain weight no matter how much I eat or train?
Do you why you are Skinny?

I have asked such questions, and having gained 24 lbs of muscle in 15 short weeks I have found some answers.

Here are 4 main reasons you are skinny and what you can do about them.

By the end of this article you will learn how to turn your skinny body curse into muscle building blessing.

Inside this article:

Once you read this article, do read the Hardgainer Muscle Building article to create your perfect action plan.

What and Why about Being Skinny

Skinny Vinny

Skinny. Lanky. Bones. Thin. Ectomorph.

You know the names. All these mean only one thing - Someone who looks like they have come out of an African camp, hungry since days and about to drop dead.

The word is not restricted to boys or girls because being skinny is a problem for both.

The only thing that is worse than being a skinny guy, is a skinny girl who looks like a small boy with nothing to show for whatsoever.

Lets see the real reasons for skinny body and what you can do about it.

4 Main Reasons You Are Skinny

Genetics, Hormones and Metabolism KEEP YOU SKINNY!

There are 4 reasons why you are skinny - 3 Natural and 1 Man made.

The 3 natural curses are:

  1. Genetics
  2. Hormones
  3. Metabolism

The 4th Man-made is environment - from birth to present day.

1. How Genetics Determine your Skinny Body

Your DNA, the genetic code decides your muscle mass

There is a saying in bodybuilding, "If you want to become big and muscular, choose the right parents". There is truth to this phrase.

Take 100 people put them on a weight training program. Here's what you will find:

  • A few bodybuilders grow by leaps and bounds. In fact they will see 4 to 5 times faster muscle growth than others {high responders}
  • A few bodybuilders who grow but very slowly and
  • A few others who do not now at all {non-responders}

How is it possible? What decides these differences?

Actually inside your cells resides the DNA, your genetic material which carries information regarding your height, your eye colour, and yes, your muscle mass & growth potential. {1}

1. Myostatin is a growth differentiation factor - 8 {GDF-8} that decides your muscle growth potential. It is present in your muscle cells, its rate of production decided by your genes. We skinny guys and girls get the wrong end of the the myostatin stick. {2}

2. Low number of Satellite Cells

Your DNA also decides how much reserve muscle cells you have. Satellite cells, that lie on the borders of muscle cells are inactive cells that, in response to training, merge with muscle cells and make them bigger.

Skinny people have less number of satellite cells and this makes gaining new muscle very difficult. {3}

3. Slow protein synthesis and protein activation  

Genes also influence protein synthesis. Studies have shown that skinny hardgainers have slower protein synthesis than responders. 

4. Less number of type II fibers

If this was not enough, your skinny genes also provide you with less number of type II muscle fibers. 

If you can recall from the how muscle grows section, type II fibers have highest growth potential. But skinny hardgainers have less type II fibers and more type I fibers.

Most skinny guys/girls excel at marathons and long distance events because you have more type I fibers, which are slow twitch fibers and do not grow big.

To Summarise:

Myostatin decides how much muscle mass you can add during your growth years and after training.

Your genes also decides the less number of satellite cells and your muscle fiber composition.

What can you do?

Not much. The genetic card has been played and there is nothing you can do about it.

Myostatin inhibitors have been tried in mice to remove the muscle block, but research in humans have been poor.

Lets see the second Big reason for being skinny...

2. The Role of Hormones

The Role of Hormones for Slow Muscle growth

Packing on muscle mass is a job of your endocrine system. These little "hormone factories" are present scattered in various parts of your body.

The 3 principles muscle building hormones are testosterone, growth hormone and Insulin-like growth factor {IGF-1}. {4}

Two more hormones that are important for skinny ectomorphs are thyroid hormone and cortisol. These are catabolic hormones, means they tear muscle and other tissues to release energy.

Skinny guys and girls have over-active thyroid and cortisol hormones.

Thyroid hormone dictates how much energy you spend and how fast. Hormone testing of my ectomorph clients show that thyroid hormone levels are on the high end of the normal range or slightly abnormal. 

This explains that no amount of eating helps us gain weight. Its as if a tap of energy leaks all the calories we eat. 

What can you do?

Although your hormonal level is decided by your DNA, proper training and nutrition produces short bursts of anabolic hormones that build muscle mass and help you gain weight. {6}

Secondly the increase in hormone level is local, meaning if you train your arms, the muscle building effect is restricted to your arms only. This highlights the importance of multi-joint, compound exercises as a ticket to faster muscle gains.

Thirdly, the response to training is specific. This means muscles grow in response to heavy training, marathon running doesn't build big muscles.

3. The Role of Your Fast Metabolism

Faster Metabolism Means Faster Calorie burning

There were times when I believed that I can eat 5000 calories everyday for weeks on end and gain no weight. I was partly right.

Skinny guys and girls can eat, eat and eat and gain nothing. Although your fatty friends might call you lucky, only you know the pain of being skinny.

You might have a very easy time eating carbs as you are more carb tolerant. But eating quality proteins is where you might lack.

What can you do?

Ditch too many carbs as they will make you skinny fat. Instead concentrate on high quality, first class proteins and fats.

They provide muscle building nutrients, that with proper training can build lean muscle mass, not some flabby fat.

4. Poor Environment during Growth Years

Childhood Infections and Poor Nutrition keep you Skinny

How was your environment during your growing years? I am not talking about your family's financial status but your health status.

Most skinny people remain so due to childhood infections and improper nutrition.

Did you know that a single childhood infection can offset your hormonal balance such that you remain under-weight for the rest of your life? Yes, its true.

Although this is man-made, you had little control over your health as a child.

What could be done?

High quality proteins, fruits and nutrient dense foods and a healthy childhood are the key factors that dictate how much weight you put on in your teen years.

If these were in order, things would be different for you.

P.S. Don't blame your parents. They did the best they could. Its your time now. That brings me to the final reason why you are skinny...

5. The BIGGEST Reason You are SMALL

Genes make you Skinny, but Blame Game Keep you Skinny forever!

The above 4 reasons are non-modifiable factors in your poor weight gain story. But the 5th one is entirely your mistake.

5th Reason:

Blaming bad genetics, poor metabolism and hard luck are the biggest reasons most skinny guys and girls remain skinny.

Its ok if you were once skinny, but once you know the reasons and do little about it, who is to be blamed? You, of course.

I say this because I too blamed my bad DNA and fast metabolism. What else could explain all the muscles my mesomorph friends were adding while I remained skinny for years!

But here is what I learned:

Although I am a hardgainer, there are specific strategies that I can do to become an easy gainer. 

The keys are:

"Train with high threshold muscle building exercises, eat high quality nutrient and caloric dense foods and recuperate with proper sleep and supplementation."  {6,7,8, 9}

Once I put together a system for my growth, my life changed.

I began to grow every week and in 15 weeks I built a record 24 pounds of muscle mass! Vince Delmtone added 41 pounds of muscle mass in 24 short weeks. {10}

I had overcome the Big 4 obstacles to muscle growth. I explain my method in the 7 step muscle building formula here. The Hardgainer muscle building Section offers best advice.


As a skinny guy you need a program designed for hardgainers. I highly recommend the No Nonsense Muscle building Program by Vince delmonte. Vince, a former skinny guy added 41 pounds of muscle mass in 24 weeks and got rid of his skinny body forever.

NNMB is a 26 week muscle building program designed for skinny hardgainers. Click here to watch a free video where Vince shows his muscle building methods.

FOR WOMEN: Build the right curves, in the right places

Jayne Davis a former skinny model reveals women's weight gain secrets in her Gain Weight Fast Guide for Women. Do check it out.

Summary and Action Plan

Your genes, hormones and metabolism are stacked against you. Lets have no doubt about it.

But that doesn't mean you cannot build muscle mass. It only means that you cannot train like mesomorphs or big professional bodybuilders who take steroids.

You need to follow a plan laid by someone who knows the right path.

TheMuscleSecrets.com is the best place to start. And NNMB is a complete skinny to muscular program I have found.

Use it, overcome the obstacles and WIN.


1. Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, Bellamy L, Parise G, Baker SK, et al. (2013). Muscular and Systemic Correlates of Resistance Training-Induced Muscle Hypertrophy. PLoS ONE 8(10): e78636. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078636

2. Lutoslawska G, Tkaczyk J, Keska A. Myostatin and its role in the regulation of muscle mass and metabolism. Med Sport 2012; 16(4): 165-74.

3. Petrella JK, Kim JS, Mayhew DL, Cross JM, Bamman MM. Potent myofiber hypertrophy during resistance training in humans is associated with satellite cell-mediated myonuclear addition: a cluster analysis. J ApplPhysiol 104: 1736–1742, 2008.

4. Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M. Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adaptations and strength development during strength training in strength-trained and untrained men. Eur J Appl Physiol 2003; 89: 555-63.

5. Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, Bellamy L, Parise G, Baker SK, et al. (2013). Muscular and Systemic Correlates of Resistance Training-Induced Muscle Hypertrophy. PLoS ONE 8(10): e78636. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078636

6. West DW, Phillips SM (2012) Associations of exercise-induced hormone profiles and gains in strength and hypertrophy in a large cohort after weight training. Eur J Appl Physiol 112: 2693-2702. doi:10.1007/s00421-011-2246-z. PubMed: 22105707.

7. McKay BR, O’Reilly CE, Phillips SM, Tarnopolsky MA, Parise G (2008) Co-expression of IGF-1 family members with myogenic regulatory factors following acute damaging muscle-lengthening contractions in humans. J Physiol 586: 5549-5560. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2008.160176.

8. Kumar V, Selby A, Rankin D, Patel R, Atherton P, Hildebrandt W, Williams J, Smith K, Seynnes O, Hiscock N & Rennie MJ (2009). Age-related differences in the dose–response relationship of muscle protein synthesis to resistance exercise in young and old men. J Physiol 587, 211–217

9. Schoenfeld, BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res 24(10): 2857–2872, 2010

10. No Nonsense Muscle Building Program

› Why Are You Skinny

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