Hard-gainers, skinny bastards, or (to use the technical term) ectomorphs tend to think their inability to gain muscle is because they're not training hard enough. They're actually training too hard and not eating enough. Hit it hard with three moves that work the whole body, and then get to the kitchen table to chow down.
Perform these exercises three days per week, resting at least a day between sessions. Vary the sets and reps, too. On Day 1, complete five sets of five reps for each lift, resting two minutes between sets. On Day 3, do four sets of 10, resting 90 seconds. On Day 5, do three sets of 15 reps with 60—90 seconds' rest in between.
Set up a barbell on the supports of a squat rack. Step underneath the bar, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and let the bar touch your upper traps. Grab the bar with your hands as close together as is comfortable. Nudge the bar off the rack, take three steps backward, and stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned slightly outward . Take a deep breath and bend your hips back as far as you can, keeping the arch in your lower back. Then bend your knees and lower your body as far as you can (try to squat to where your thighs are at least parallel to the floor) . Explode back upward to the starting position. That's one rep.
2. Clean and Press
Set a barbell on the floor, crouch down, and grab it with hands shoulder-width apart. Your lower back should be in its natural arch . Explosively stand up and shrug the bar, coming up onto the balls of your feet. As the bar rises to chest level, flip your wrists over so that your palms face the ceiling and your upper arms are in the bottom position of a shoulder press . From here, press the bar straight overhead . Reverse the motion to return the weight to the floor. That's one rep. If you feel your back is rounding when you pull the weight off the floor, perform the exercise by starting with the bar at just above knee height, and "muscle" the weight up from there.
Grab a pullup bar with an overhand grip, hands outside shoulder width. Allow your body to hang . Pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar , and then lower yourself back to the starting position. That's one rep. Depending on how many reps you need to do, you can add weight using a belt or holding a dumbbell between your feet (you may need to do this on the five sets of five day). You can also use an elastic exercise band to help you perform more reps (such as on the 10- and 15-rep workout days). You can get a jump stretch band that works great for this at elitefts.com.
EATING FOR MUSCLE
1. Write down what you're currently eating and tally up the calories. Add servings to your meals and maybe even another meal or two in the day so that you're eating 500 additional calories per day
2. Try to get 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight each day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be consuming 90—120 grams of protein.
3. Embrace healthy unsaturated fats, such as those in nuts, seeds, and certain oils. With approximately 120 calories per serving, you'll get plenty of muscle-building fuel without having to choke down huge portions.