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Q: I’ve always been a skinny guy who has trouble putting on weight. I’m not looking for a bodybuilder’s physique, but I would like to bulk up a bit. Any suggestions?

Illustration of a skinny dude lifting weights.

Tonya says...
Normally I wouldn’t encourage someone to increase their caloric intake, but in this case, you should consider it. In order to gain one pound of muscle, the body requires 2,500 extra calories per week, including plenty of protein. Many experts and nutritionists recommend that an athlete consume 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. Include various sources at every meal: lean meats, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, yogurt and/or low-fat cheese. In addition to changing your diet, you should also adjust your workouts. Weight training several times a week will help you build strength and size. Start with three sets of eight reps each. (It should feel difficult to complete the last few.) Work large muscles first: arms, chest, back, abdominals, legs and buttocks. I also suggest that you hire a personal trainer in order to prevent injury and to help personalize your workouts. For more info, check out Weight Training for Dummies (For Dummies, 2006), one of my fave books on the subject.

Tonya Rouse Hillenbrand is a certified fitness and nutrition expert, and a former national triathlete and duathlon team member. Click here to send her your questions.