Do your arms resemble two strings of spaghetti poking out of a t-shirt? Perhaps your legs are like sticks and your chest is flatter than a pancake? If so, it might be time to hit the gym and beef up a little, or a lot. For skinny guys, a lot of the time they want nothing more than a muscular, toned, athletic physique, packed full of plenty of muscle. If you’ve ever tried to build muscle however, you’ll know just how difficult it can be to actually do so. When we hit a plateau with our training, it seems as if no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get our muscles to grow. If that sounds familiar to you but you’re looking to bulk up, here are four great tips for building muscle.

Eat! – If you’re looking to build muscle and bulk up, you need to eat, and when we say eat, we really mean it. In order for the body to build muscle, it needs to be in a caloric surplus. This means that you need to be taking in more calories than you are burning off at maintenance. Before you get all excited and rush off to the nearest pizza place, it’s important that you get the majority of your calories from healthy, nutrient-dense, foods and drinks. Eat plenty of vegetables, stock up on lean proteins, invest in healthy fats, and for sustained energy, don’t forget your complex carbs. You can enjoy the occasional treat now and then, but ultimately you should aim to keep your meals super-clean.

Vary your workouts – If you’re going into the gym and doing the same routine, lifting the same weights for the same number of reps day in and day out, the body will quickly catch onto what you’re doing, and you will no longer shock the muscles. Suddenly the body is wise to what you’re doing, so muscle growth will be kept to a minimum, if anything. To get the most out of your training, try to vary your workouts. Do different exercises, train different body parts, lift different weights, perform a different amount of reps, and always try to keep the body guessing. We’re not saying that every single workout needs to be different, but every so often, do something new to keep the body guessing.

Begin with heavy compounds – Compound exercises are those which work multiple muscle groups at once. They trigger the greatest levels of protein synthesis and muscle growth, which is why you should really put everything you’ve got into them. When you perform compound lifts, once you’ve warmed up and stretched, begin with heavy working sets and always train to failure. Once your compounds are out of the way, then you can jump onto the machines and start doing some isolation work. At the start of your workout when your strength and energy levels are at their highest however, always go with heavy compound lifts first.

Eat regularly – If you’re used to eating two or three large meals per day, it’s time to knock that on the head if you’re trying to bulk up. To keep your metabolism ticking over nicely, and to avoid feeling bloated and lethargic, aim to eat a small/moderate meal every three hours. This will ensure your body always has proteins, nutrients, and energy, and it helps ensure that you feel your best and that you perform at your best while in the gym.