skinny girl's workout

Skinny Girl’s Workout to Add Lean Muscle

While the majority of women who head to the gym are trying to lose weight, there are quite a few who are desperate to do the opposite. Of course, these skinny girls don’t want to put body fat onto their body; they are after lean, athletic muscle mass to give their body tone and shape. If you’re one of them, you’re at the right place. In this article, I’ll lay out an ideal training program for skinny women to kickstart muscle growth. 

Nutrition First

Before we get to the workout that you should be following to develop a toned body, we need to talk about nutrition. 70 percent of your success comes from what you put into your mouth. That’s because, unless you provide the building materials for muscle growth, you will not be able to benefit from your weight training workouts. 

The first thing you need to do is to add healthy food calories to your diet. Go here to work out how many calories you need to eat each day to stay the same weight. Then add another 500 calories per day. 

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You should make protein the foundation of your nutrition. It provides the amino acids that fuel the development of muscle tissue. Plan to consume 1.5 grams of protein for every kg of bodyweight. For a 150 pound woman that works out to about a hundred grams of protein daily. 

You should eat every 3 waking hours, with 3 larger meals and two snacks. One (or both) of them should be a protein shake consisting of whey protein powder.

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The best forms of protein are chicken, fish, red meat, eggs, and protein powder.

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You should also eat plenty of low glycemic complex carbohydrates. These will provide the energy you need to power you through your workouts. Your balanced diet should also include such healthy fats as walnuts, avocado, and coconut oil.

Workout Guidelines

In order for skinny girls to add gain weight the right way, they need to concentrate on compound movements with a range of reps from light to heavy weights. You should be doing full-body workouts two times per week, with each workout lasting for about an hour. Here is an effective workout program that many skinny women have had great success with.

You should be using a weight that is challenging for the last couple of repetitions of each set. On most of your exercises, you will be using a pyramid rep scheme, where you do fewer reps with a slightly heavier weight on each succeeding set.

The Exercises

1. Squats

1. Set an Olympic bar on a squat rack at shoulder level and set the appropriate weight.

2. Stand in front of the rack with feet hip-width apart. Get under the bar and unrack it so that it rests across your trapezius and shoulder muscles. 

3. Take a step back.

4. Maintaining an upright torso, hinge at the hips as your drop to the parallel squat position.

5. Push through the heels to return to the start position.

2. Deadlift

1. Stand in front of a loaded bar with your feet hip-width apart and your mid-foot under the bar.

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2. Hinge at the hips as you come down to grab the bar just outside shoulder width with a reverse grip (one hand forward and the other hand back).

3. Maintaining a neutral spine and looking directly ahead, pull the bar directly up to come to a standing position.

4. Lower and repeat.

3. Dumbbell Bench Press

1. Lie on a flat exercise bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands and resting on your chest with your palms facing away from you.

2. From a starting position with your upper arms parallel to the floor and elbows perpendicular, push your arms up and together to meet above your mid-chest.

3. Lower and repeat.

4. Overhead Press

1. Set the bar on a power rack at shoulder level.

2. Stand in front of the bar and grab it with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip with a palm’s forward grip. 

3. Unrack the bar and take a step back.

4. From a starting position with the bar resting across your clavicles, press directly up to just short of lockout.

5. Lower and repeat.

5. Alternate Dumbbell Curl

1. Stand with a pair of dumbbells held by your sides with palms facing forward.

2. Curl your right arm up to fully contract the bicep at shoulder level.

3. Lower to the start position.

4. Repeat with the left arm.

6. Triceps Pushdown

1. Stand in front of a cable pulley machine with the pulley set at its highest level and a rope handle on the end of it.

2. Grab the handles and hold the rope at chest level and your elbows in at your sides.

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3. Press your arms down to full extension.

4. Reverse and repeat.

Skinny Girl Workout

  • Squats – 4 x 15/12/10/8
  • Deadlift – 4 x 15/12/10/8
  • Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 x 15/12/10/8
  • Overhead Press – 3 x 10
  • Alternate Dumbbell Biceps Curls – 3 x 8
  • Triceps Pushdowns – 3 x 10


By combining the workout program described above with an increased-calorie diet that is built around lean protein and complex carbs, you should be able to add about a half-pound of body weight each week. Stick with the plan consistently and you will have added 13 pounds in 6 months, totally transforming your body.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should skinny women start with cardio or weight training?

Skinny women should start with weight training. In fact, they should not be doing any cardio at all. Cardio or aerobic training will burn off the valuable calories that you are consuming to for building muscle.

What’s the best type of lifting for building muscle?

The best type of lifting for building muscle involves compound exercises like squats, presses, and deadlifts with heavy weights. Beginners should do full-body workouts two or three times per week. Once they have been training for a year, they can then go to a split routine. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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