If you’re a skinny guy who hasn’t made any gains despite all of your bench pressing, you’re doing something wrong, and chances are pretty high it’s more than one thing you’re doing wrong. I’m a certified personal trainer.
The first mistake you might be making with the bench press that’s preventing muscle weight gain, is that you’re doing it incorrectly. You’re focusing on how much weight it looks like you’re lifting, rather than getting stronger.
I’ve seen skinny men put more weight on the barbell than it seems they can handle, and not surprisingly, they lower the bar only half way or three quarters of the way. An incomplete bench press is a big mistake that will prevent a skinny man from gaining muscle.
Add to this mistake that of arching the back off the bench, which causes the legs to absorb some of the barbell’s resistance.
To gain chest (and arm) size, you must put all the resistance on the chest. This means bring the bar down to your chest and graze it for a split second, then push back up. If you must lighten the load to do this, then do that. And keep your back flat on the bench.
The next bench press mistake is that of not using enough weight. This sounds like a contradiction to the information I just gave, but you must use enough weight in combination with excellent form. You can have perfect form, in fact, but if the resistance isn’t heavy enough, a skinny man won’t put on the muscle he wants.
For the bench press, load the bar so that eight reps are possible, but 13 are not. If you can hit 13 reps, increase the load.
Another reason you may not be seeing progress is you’re taking too long in between sets. Skinny men who want to put on respectable size should rest 60 to 90 seconds in between sets.
You should bench press twice a week, such as Mondays and Thursdays, or Tuesdays and Saturdays, or Wednesdays and Sundays.
Another mistake with the bench press is that of doing shoulder or triceps targeting exercises beforehand. If you do, for example, dips, overhead presses, side raises, triceps push-downs or skull crushers before bench pressing, you’ll be too fatigued to give it your all.
An exercise as big as the bench press should be done at the beginning of your workout, when your muscles are as fresh as possible.
Finally, within 30 to 45 minutes of the end of your session, eat 25 to 35 grams of quality protein with a fast acting carbohydrate such as juice or fruit. The fast acting carb will help get the protein to your muscles faster. If you like milk, include milk after your workout. Even though it’s not high in carbs, it’s “insulinogenic,” meaning, it spurs insulin to help shuttle protein to the muscles.
Not eating enough will stunt progress. Make sure you’re eating breakfast (25-30 grams of protein) within an hour of awakening. Some fitness experts advise eating as soon as possible after awakening, but this may not be practical for all.
A skinny man should also have patience in gaining mass. In addition to the bench press he should do the deadlift, squat, leg press, rowing movements (e.g., bent-over dumbbell row), seated chest press and shoulder press.