Exercises for Skinny Guys

By Marwan / July 9, 2014

What exercises are there for skinny guys?

I want to help my fellow skinny guys in their exercise selection.  You might have heard a lot of people talk and say “compound exercises are the best to build muscle”.  Whilst there is some truth in this, it is very simplistic.  So we know there are 2 types of exercises, compound and isolation.  What that means is:

Bilateral (compound) – that means 2 or more muscles are involved.  This is what we refer to as a compound exercise.

Unilateral (isolation) – The opposite of Bilateral whereby only one muscle is involved.

For every exercise there is a skill, there is a movement. For every skill there is a piece. So when it comes to selecting to selecting an exercise to build muscles, don’t just go with the trend and think “oh yeah bench press is the best exercise to build my pecs”. It’s not that simple.

There are no “good” or “bad” exercises. There is no worst or best or you should do this or that exercise. This is a very simplistic way of looking at it.

So what do we take into account when we select our exercises? We need to take the following factors below:

  • Goal – what is your goal?
  • One’s Need
  • Mobility
  • Joint Structure
  • Where they are today in terms of experience and training age

No two people are alike.  Most skinny guys (ectomorphs) were born with long tendons, limbs and shorter muscles.  Tendons are what hold the muscles together.  That in itself is a disadvantage as longer muscles have the capacity to generate more force.  A bit of anotomy for you guys.

I bet you been in a situation when training with one of your buddies and were doing as an example a bicep curl and one person was stronger than the other? Ever wondered how as both have been training the same time?

Well it’s all to do with the insertions of the muscles. The bicep tendon inserts from the elbow.  Even as little as 1/2 an inch insertion point further away from the tendon can make a difference.  Don’t be the guy or girl that follows the next trend OK? I want you guys to be smarter and stand out from the rest.

A bench press for me is not a good exercise as I have long arms and a shallow ribcage. Therefore when the bar comes down there is a lot of stress being put on the external rotators of such as the Infraspinatus and Teres Minor.

Again different grips dictate where you will recruit the muscle. The position of the elbow also has dictates what we are talking about.

Doing a bench press is not a good idea if you don’t know how to keep the tension on your pecs and not on your joints.  Therefore it may be better to use  “unilateral” exercise.  Believe it or not you can work your rhomboids and rear deltoids instead of your chest if you are not doing this exercise the right way.

Squats, again so many people say to me they need to do squats to build their legs and their glutes.  I bet you have heard  people say squats are the “king of all exercises” Well, if you have a dorsi-flexion defecit its not a good idea as you cannot squat upright therefore the trunk comes forward to compensate.

If you don’t know how to recruit your glutes at the bottom or control knee flexion with a weight then it’s better to do an isolation exercise.  Foot placement helps determine the range of motion and the load that you can handle.  I have a long femur so the distance to squat is greater than some shorter guys who are able to squat bigger.

Dead-lifts, again the same applies.  If you don’t know how to push off the floor using your glutes its no good doing dead-lifts.  If you are not using your glutes at the bottom the chances are that you are dead-lifting with a rounded back and that is an injury waiting to happen.  So it might be better to do single leg glute/hamstring raises to learn how to isolate the muscle that you are trying to work.

Traps, better to start using seated with abs locked down and learn how to initiate with the trapezius instead of standing where you will be using hips, arms etc..

The more joints involved in an exercise the harder it is to control.

If you have any weak muscles/ muscle imbalances, again unilateral exercises are a better choice in this instance.  Pick muscles first, exercises second. If one of your shoulders is slightly more forward than the other then you will find it very hard to do certain exercises such as bench press.

So when you walk into the gym have a goal in your mind.  From that goal you can select which exercises would serve you better.  Don’t select the exercises bases on what you want, rather base it on what you need.  So another example on a lat pull-down if your body doesn’t know how to recruit or use your lats is it a good idea to do this exercise? Don’t base the exercise on who is watching dudes! You know what I mean?Ask yourself does this tool help me accomplish what I am trying to achieve?

Take your current fitness into account when selecting exercises.  If you cannot control the weight at a certain tempo and rest period you are not in a position to do this exercise.

What about equipment availability? Are you training at home or in a commercial gym? This  is not so important as the body does not know that you are lying down on a bench press or squatting, all it knows is forces.

Some exercises are better now but become less effective later.  The single leg glute/hamstring raises is an example.  Once you learn how to recruit the muscles you don’t need to do this particular exercise and you can progress further.

Remember transformation is an event not a process and each process has to take its course.

So I want you guys to follow my motto, that would be to isolate before you integrate.  Learn how to control the weight in a single isolation movement before you move into the compound exercises.

I hope you have learned about what exercises to do for skinny guys, please leave any comments below.

About the author


Hi, my name is Marwan and I set up this site to help skinny guys and girls just like you to end their frustrations and have the body of their dreams. I believe there are no limitations to what mankind can achieve.