If you haven't already done so, including a few sets of heavy barbell squats into your weight training routine each week is perhaps one of the best things you can possibly do. Why? Simply because there's no other exercise that is more important for building muscle mass (except maybe Deadlifts).
Doing squats properly gives you the potential to pack on huge amounts of muscle mass onto your body. They are by far the most important leg exercise you can do, yet their benefits don't stop at the legs.
Many people regard squats as the single most effective exercise for muscle gain, because of the overall growth that results from doing them. Squats don't just pack muscle onto your legs, your entire upper body will benefit from them as well.
How will squats affect upper body? Well, since barbell squats (or dumbbell squats) requires a lot of strength and energy to perform due to their high level of difficulty, they force your body to release more amounts of vital anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. This enables you to pack muscle mass onto the whole of your upper body as well as your legs.
This means that by doing squats you will see an increase in strength all over your body. For example, including squats into your weekly routine will increase the amount of weight you can bench press almost instantly. Pretty useful if you ask me!
So why is it that so many people don't include squats in their workouts? Since they are such a difficult, uncomfortable and painful exercise to perform, people will do anything to avoid them.
There are a lot of reasons out there that stop people performing squats, but I really should call them myths because that's what they are. Excuses such as "they are dangerous to me knees" or "they are dangerous to the heart" are just that, excuses.
Squats are only dangerous when performed with improper form. So if you get the technique down right, then you're set for amazing muscle mass gains all over your body.
If you're not already squatting, why not start now. You'll be glad you did in a few weeks or so when you notice the great benefits from doing them.
Learn to perform barbell squats the correct way with our article:
How To Do Squats: Proper Squat Technique.
Hopefully this article has helped, but always remember to never get stuck in research land - information is great, but what's infinitely more important and the only thing that actually matters to get results and change your life is to be hitting the gym week in week out, with a properly structured, well-balanced and optmized training and nutrition plan for your specific goals (which if you're reading this is likely building muscle mass as a hardgainer/skinny guy).
To do that there's essentially 3 paths you can take, each with their pros and cons:
Path A: Design Your Own Mass Gain Program (cheapest)
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
Path B: Follow A Proven Mass Gain Program ($)
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point.
Sean Nal's hardgainer transformation program (you can see my full review and before/after pics using the program here) is the complete all-in-one online program I'd recommend to most people and especially beginners, and is the one I personally got the most out of when I first started.
Ignore any slick marketing, this guy's the real deal and easily one of the smartest hardgainers-turned-fitness-models I've come across online. Vince Delmonte's Mass Gain program comes in at a close second, who's another smart guy with the real-world results to back it up, who has another effective and proven step by step online program that's helped thousands of guys transform over a few months (rather than years).
Path C: Find a (Good) In-Person Trainer ($$$)
The most expensive option to achieve your dream physique, but if you have the money to spend (1 on 1 coaching can quickly add up in costs) then ensure you pick a trainer who understands the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly choose one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want. If you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who has been in your shoes before and started out as a skinny hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully, otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you and give you unhelpful generic advice.
Whichever path you choose - stick with it for long enough, don't give up, and your success in transforming your body, strength, health, posture, and confidence will simply be a matter of when, not if. I'd say good luck, but you understand that last sentence I said you won't need it ;)
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12+ Years
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor (real-world experience > school)