Best-ectomorph-muscle-building-supplements

Ectomorph Muscle-Building Supplements

Written by on November 11, 2012 and it's about

(Updated November 2014) We’ve gotten a lot of questions about supplements for ectomorphs—which supplements are best for us, what brands we recommend, whether they’re healthy, and whether we need them at all. The answer to that last question is simple: you don’t need them. You can build muscle just fine with or without them. In fact, until you know how to build muscle without them you really shouldn’t be buying them at all. Once you’ve got the fundamentals down though, adding in some key supplements can drastically improve your results, make your life a helluva lot easier, improve your health and even save you some money… if you’re smart about it.

These probably aren’t the supplements you expect though—you’re going to find one them a little weird—and you might not be taking them for the reasons you expect either. Us ectomorphs need to supplement a little differently. So we’ve put together a protocol. We aren’t just recommending supplements, we’re recommending a specific combination of supplements taken at particular times that work incredibly well for ectomorphs looking to build muscle and stay lean.

(This is a research based article, and there’s a lot of research being done into muscle-building nutrition and muscle-building supplements. We’ll been updating this post every month with all the relevant new studies that come out.)

Ectomorphs need to approach supplements differently

Most supplements are targeted at the average guy. The average guy is overweight and looking to get leaner. Maaaybe he’s also looking to pack on muscle while he’s at it. This is the world that the supplement companies are presented with and, understandably, they respond by making supplements that are targeted at these guys. Us ectomorphs looking to build muscle mass thus need something a little different.

Look at BCAAs, one of the most common workout supplements available these days. They’re an ingredient in pretty much every workout supplement out there … yet us ectomorphs don’t need them at all.

See BCAAs are found in protein, and different protein sources have different amounts of them. As naturally skinny guys we’re much better off eating their calorie-rich cousin—whey protein. A classic 30g scoop of whey protein actually has about 6g of BCAAs in it, which is more than a typical 5g scoop of BCAAs has. (Obviously.) Besides, the other nutrients present in whey boost muscle protein synthesis post-workout far higher than BCAAs alone, making whey far superior for us ectomorphs. (study) But if you were the average guy, calorie-light BCAA supplements become a valid option.

This supplement protocol has one type of guy in mind: the naturally skinny ectomorph who’s looking to build muscle, i.e., gain weight. This is about leveraging ectomorph appetite tricks, insulin sensitivity and muscle-building fundamentals in order to allow us to consume enough calories to build muscle.

Do us ectomorphs need supplements?

Hell no. They aren’t magic, and they won’t build muscles out of thin air. Until you know what you’re doing, all the money you spend on supplements will be wasted. You won’t be getting anything out of them. In fact, once you know what you’re doing, you’ll probably realize that you don’t even need supplements, because your results will be so good without them.

  • Crappy program + supplements = no results, frustration, wasted money and giving up
  • Mediocre program + supplements = slow and unpredictable results, if any
  • Great program + no supplements = great, steady, reliable results. You’ll soon have a burly bod’ and bear-like strength.
  • Great program + intelligent supplements = “holy $%& man! Where did all those muscles come from!”

A good program (like ours) that includes both training and nutrition is the #1 place that you want to invest. (Um, we’re also admittedly a little biased… but it’s still true.) The benefits of investing in a solid plan last for life. You won’t eat your way through $200 of information and then have to go buy more. You can invest once, develop a solid training and nutritional foundation, and collect your results over the coming weeks, months and years.

The next crucial ingredient for success is actually doing the program. These two things will get you further than any combination of supplements—guaranteed. No amount of supplements make up for a not getting your ass off the couch. (That includes the people who are stuck in the “research” phase, waiting to know everything before starting anything.)

So, this supplement plan assumes that you’re an ectomorph with a weightlifting and nutrition plan. I’ll even take this one step further—this supplement list is for guys who are already having success building muscle. If you’re still working out the weightlifting and nutrition kinks save this stuff for later.

With weightlifting and nutrition handled though, these supplements will help you transform yourself much faster. This protocol is backed up by research, this is what we do personally, and this is what we recommend to our members.

Albert’s a good example of someone kicking ass with a busy schedule (young doctor with 14+ hour shifts), finding a way to eat enough good food anyway, training as consistently as he can, and supplementing intelligently as the cherry on the cake. The supplements aren’t the key factor in his gains, but they probably helped.

Why this supplement protocol kicks serious bony ass

You can do fantastically well without any supplements—many of our guys go that route and do great. This protocol can have a significant impact while making things a little easier though. The reason for that is simple: this protocol isn’t just a bunch of vitamins and fancy patent protected formulas—it contains a hell of a lot of calories, and calories are exactly what us skinny guys need. Consuming the right kind of calories during the right kind of circumstances is a pretty big deal when it comes to building muscle. In this study guys who added whey protein and maltodextrin into their diet gained an extra 7.5 pounds of muscle over the course of 8 weeks while simultaneously losing fat. An extra pound of muscle each week? Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now I want to be clear here. There’s a lot of marketing and hype about workout nutrition. You know—that magical anabolic post-workout window. That’s way overhyped: nothing trumps overall calorie and protein intake when it comes to building muscle. Whether you take this drink first thing in the morning, while training or right before bed it will still help you build muscle. That’s because the caloric, carb and protein content of the workout drink supersedes the timing of it. (studystudystudy)

We do recommend taking it while training though. Why? Well most studies out there would agree that as far as nutrient timing goes, this is where most of the opportunity lies, especially if you’ve already got some lifting experience.  (study) Is it the magical window that most supplement companies claim it is? No, but it’s still the best time to be taking this stuff. Since insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells will be heightened during and right after training, this gives you the absolute best shot at increasing the rate that you build muscle leanly, as it will invest the nutrients in your muscle mass instead of shuttling them off into your fat stores.

The fact that you’ll be consuming these supplements in liquid form makes this combo even more significant for us ectomorphs. Since liquid calories aren’t very filling, they up-regulate caloric consumption. (studystudy) Downing 1000+ liquid calories while weightlifting is a total breeze, and it makes hitting your daily calorie goals much more achievable. Okay so maybe downing the workout shake isn’t a total breeze—it’s a pretty gruesome drink—but it works!

For us naturally skinny guys this is the Buckley’s of workout nutrition.

We’re making pretty large claims and using at a pretty crazy study to base it on, so we wanted to double check our facts. Who do you go to when it comes to analyzing muscle-building nutrition research? Alan Aragon, obviously. He’s arguably the most brilliant researcher out there when it comes to muscle-building nutrition and supplementation. (I’ve already referenced two of his studies in this article alone.) He’s one of the most unbiased and evidence-based researchers out there, he’s rocking a masters in nutrition, and he handles the nutrition of a pretty fearsome roster of athletes: Olympians, the Lakers, bodybuilders, fitness models, etc. More relevantly still, he has the most respected research review in the fitness industry.

So I sent him the study and asked him his thoughts on our supplement protocol. He was a little dubious and a lot intrigued, so he wanted to take the time to fully review it. He did. He posted a review and breakdown of the study above in the December 2012 edition of his monthly research review. It checked out. The study was properly conducted and the trainees really did gain tons of muscle while losing a bit of fat. Let me add, as he did, that gains this incredibly rapid are only possible in relatively untrained dudes. Perfectly relevant for guys who are still relatively skinny, but if you’ve already built a ton of muscle, while it will still work, you’ll obviously progress a little slower.

So what did Alan think about downing tons of liquid calories to finally overcome our ectomorph appetites (or lack thereof) and build tons of muscle?

“I highly agree with you that the liquid meal can boil down to an appetite & compliance thing rather than a timing thing. No objections there at all. There are plenty of athletes whose energy demands benefit from liquid/refined nutrition, and they don’t necessarily fit the endurance athlete mold.” – Alan Aragon

Perfect.

Plus this stuff is cheap. It’s cheap compared with other supplements and even cheap compared with regular boring old food. I mean if you want to build muscle your calories need to come from somewhere. Whey protein is a very affordable type of high efficiency protein (compared with meat, eggs and dairy, which are also high efficiency protein sources). Carbohydrates are usually pretty cheap, but the maltodextrin that we’re recommending is extremely cheap. Best of all, these simple ingredients we’re recommending don’t just undercut the price of the fanciest and most complicated supplements out there—they perform just as well or better. If there were fancier supplements out there that worked better than these we’d tell you about them. But there aren’t.

As far as brands go we’ve done our best to hook you up with the most reliable ones offering the best products for the best prices. Full transparency: these are affiliate links to Amazon.com, so you’ll earn us around 4% commission if you buy them via the links—which would be fantastic. This are the supplements we use. This is what we tell our members to use.

I’m going to explain the four different muscle-building powerhouse supplements that we recommend. These are hands down the most effective and most thoroughly researched supplements for ectomorphs trying to build lean muscle mass. I know this stuff can often be hard to piece together, so at the end of the article I’ll outline the specific protocol we’ve designed so that you know exactly how and when to take all this stuff.

Oh, and, of course, consult your doctor before beginning any supplement regime that you find on the internet ;)

CREATINE

Creatine is the most powerful legal muscle-building supplement. Ever. That’s not just our opinion, the International Society of Sports Nutrition agrees. (study) It’s also 100% safe, with no reported disasters after decades of rigorous testing. (study, study, study) The only reported negative side effect is that sometimes some people get stomach discomfort after consuming it, and that’s just due to taking too much of it at once and/or not drinking enough water. (Creatine will pull fluid into your muscles, so drink a little bit of extra water.)

More muscle. Perhaps more interestingly, studies unanimously show that it builds muscle and improves strength. (studystudystudy, study) Secretly mixing creatine into a trainee’s coffee in the morning radically improves his muscle gains? Pretty fearsome.

Check out this study showing that following a great training program for 8 weeks with post-workout sugar produced 6 pounds of muscle growth, and 9 pounds of muscle growth with post-workout sugar + creatine. Not bad. That’s a 50% improvement in muscle mass due to creatine. (And the post-workout sugar? That’s up next.)

Less fat. You’ll also gain less fat. This is because creatine is a potent supplement for improving insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells—even in those with decent insulin sensitivity to begin with (like most of us skinny guys.) It does this by pulling glucose into your muscles instead of leaving it hanging around to be stored as fat.

How? Creatine helps your body replenish ATP, which increases anaerobic power—the type of power you need to haul heavy-ass weights. Being able to lift more weight increases the mechanical tension you’re placing on your muscles and on your body, meaning that you’ll have pretty fantastic muscle stimulation and a greater acute hormonal response to your training. The real benefit comes from the increased skeletal muscle synthesis and glycogen storage that comes along with having high concentrations of creatine in your system. This means that not only will you build more muscle via your training, you’ll also get more muscle out of the food that you’re eating.

Some guys joke that creatine supports the entire muscle-building supplement industry, and that isn’t too far from the truth. When you start reading supplement ingredients you’ll be amazed at how many of them have a few grams of creatine tucked away into every serving. How many supplements out there would still produce results if you yanked the creatine out of them? Not many. Not many at all.

Think of most supplements like mix drinks. There are a lot of cool colours, flavours and ingredients, but the whole point of them is the alcohol. Creatine is the alcohol. We aren’t really fans of mix drinks, so we’re recommending that you skip all the fancy proprietary blends and just head straight to the good stuff.

Click here to check out the creatine brand we recommend

Now, as with virtually everything in the supplement world, there are a lot of extremely expensive and fancy variations out there. You don’t need them. Simple creatine monohydrate is still the king of creatine. You’ll save a ton of money and get all the benefits. You also don’t need to get fancy with how you take it, as you may have heard. Mix it into your tea, coffee, water—whatever.

*Creatine is synthesized in a lab so it’s safe for vegetarians and vegans too.
**If you’re a vegan I would say it’s nearly mandatory, as you’ll be more likely to have a deficiency in creatine, which can cause some longterm health problems and reduce your cognitive function. (study)
***Beta-alanine is a similar supplement that can be taken in addition to creatine. It’s newer and there’s limited research available, but it’s very promising so far. Not as promising as creatine, but still promising nonetheless (study, study).

MALTODEXTRIN

Most fancy recovery drinks are packed full of dextrose or maltodextrin and cost an enormously scary amount of money. This particular tub is scary because it’s so cheap. At 24 cents per serving it’s almost too cheap to believe. You’d think you were buying a tub of sugar… and you’d be correct.

Sugar is a little confusing, since there are a few different common types. The carbohydrates that you eat are all converted into glucose, at which point your body can store them for use as a fuel source. If you consume them properly you’ll keep all that fuel stored in your liver and muscles (glycogen), instead of converting them into fatty acids (flabs).

One option is dextrose. This particular type of sugar, glucose derived from corn, is one of the cheapest foods on the planet, digests extremely quickly, and is a dirt cheap source of muscle-building carbs. Taken while working out it’s a pretty effective supplement for us ectomorphs trying to build mass. It’s a valid option, but it’s hard to find and hard to stomach (because it’s so damn sweet).

The supplement that we’re recommending is maltodextrin – a glucose polymer. It’s made up of many glucose units bound together. It’s a starch, so instead of tasting like sugar it tastes more similar to flour. It digests a teensy bit slower (probably a good thing), and we’ve found that our members much prefer the taste. It still has no fibre in it, so it’s easy on the appetite and will clear out of our stomachs relatively quickly, leaving us able to comfortably eat more later. (A big deal for us skinny dudes.)

That study in the creatine section is said to have produced “some of the highest non-steroid increases in lean mass” ever seen—badass. While the study was technically studying creatine, the carbohydrates they were giving them were a huge factor in producing muscle growth, which is why even the group or participants just supplementing with sugar did so well. (The training program itself was also a factor. It was a very well designed muscle-building program, which is surprisingly rare for studies.)

“But Shane, won’t consuming all these refined carbohydrates make me fat?!”

No. Perhaps surprisingly, this is actually a pretty good way to minimize your chances of getting fat. This has to do with the heightened insulin sensitivity in your muscle cells that accompanies weightlifting, the synergistic anabolic effect that the protein creates (whey protein creates a very strong insulin response), the fact that we’re strategically creating a calorie surplus and spiking insulin, and the fact that carbs aren’t very easily converted into fatty acids and thus aren’t very easily stored as fat.

To quote the brilliant nutrition researcher and fat loss expert James Krieger, who has a master’s degree in nutrition and has published of some of the best muscle-building nutrition studies out there—”Post-workout carbohydrates shouldn’t cause you any trouble in the long-run as you are extremely insulin sensitive after training. As long as you maintain a good diet, good activity, keep your body fat low, and your fasting blood sugar remains normal, then you should be fine.”

Click here to check out the maltodextrin brand we recommend

We picked this brand because it’s so pure and bare bones. It has one and only one ingredient (maltodextrin). It’s also really damn cheap.

WHEY PROTEIN

Whey protein powder is a cheap and convenient way of getting in your daily protein, but there’s really nothing special about it. It’s the quickly digested protein found in dairy products. It’s processed, but unlike junk food, the processing is fairly minimal. Nutritionally you can pretty much consider it a whole food instead of a supplement. It even has some vitamins in it.

Essentially it’s more or less equivalent to a chicken breast. A chicken breast would taste pretty funky blended up into a fruit smoothie though, so whey is sometimes best ;)

Muscle can only by synthesized out of amino acids (found in protein) so a shortage of those can easily slow down your efforts. Since most of us ectomorphic guys aren’t consuming enough protein to optimally build muscle, adding whey protein into your diet really will most guys build more muscle mass. (study, study)

Whey is especially effective when taken surrounding training. (studystudy) It digests quickly and contains a pretty stellar blend of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). If you really want to kick things up a notch, it works even better at stimulating muscle growth when combined with a carb source like maltodextrin. (study) The whey protein + maltodextrin combo is about as powerful as they come—it’s no secret—and almost every single workout recovery drink and commercial weight gainer will combine these two ingredients.

Click here to check out the whey protein brand we recommend

It’s a classic whey isolate protein powder from a reputable company, and the whey protein itself is very high quality. An interesting (indie) study recently looked into many of the popular brands of whey protein. The study got a lot of attention because of how controversial it was – a lot of popular brands were making false claims. This brand (Optimum Nutrition) wasn’t, and was thus ranked the highest.

*If you want a non-workout protein powder to take along with meals use this casein protein, but keep in mind it presents no advantage over real food. It’s handy and affordable though if you’re not much one for cooking.
**If you don’t handle whey protein well (allergies) or you’re avoiding it for moral reasons (e.g. you’re a vegan) then you can go with rice+pea protein, or another blend of plant-based protein sources. (The amino acid profile in individual plant-based sources isn’t complete, so blends are ideal.) SunWarrior is pretty fantastic both from a quality standpoint and from a taste standpoint. I use it sometimes and I’m not even a vegan.

FISH OIL & VITAMIN D

My personal favourite. It potentially directs more of your calories towards muscles and less towards fat. The research here is still young—just a handful of studies—although it’s rather promising. (study, study, study, study) Fish oil seems to improve carbohydrate storage, protein storage, metabolic rate, and, most importantly, muscle protein synthesis (MPS).

What effect should this have? You’ll gain more muscle and less fat.

The omega-3s in fish oil (EPA and DHA) do this by making the plasma membranes in your cells healthier. Modern diets are deficient in omega 3s, so our bodies are a little off-kilter by default. This will help bring you back to the way you should be already. (study) The side effects include better cardiovascular health, a reduced risk of developing cancers and a reduced risk of diabetes. Many people report feeling “better” after spending a few weeks supplementing with fish oil. This is likely because it can help reduce anxiety, improve your mood, increase motivation, and reduce inflammation and soreness.

Vitamin D is another powerhouse supplement when it comes to muscle-building, staying lean and improving your overall health. Fixing a vitamin D deficiency is more effective at boosting testosterone than testosterone boosters, it significantly improves insulin sensitivity, it’s great for your cardiovascular health, it can improve your bone density, boost your mood, and perhaps even help prevent certain types of cancer. (study, study, study, study) A recent study (January 2014) found that supplementing with vitamin D increased strength even in guys who weren’t deficient. The researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation was “an attractive complementary approach to enhance the recovery of skeletal muscle strength following intense exercise.”

Why do we bundle it with fish oil? Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning that it needs to be taken alongside fats in order to be properly absorbed. Having it in fish oil makes taking vitamin D very easy and effective.

We’ve linked out to the Nutrasea with Vitamin D. It’s got the EPA, DHA and vitamin D3 content that dreams are made of.

Click here to check out the fish oil brand we recommend

*As a skinny guy you want to rack up as much as 2g EPA and 1.5g DHA every day. That’s a tough challenge to do with dinky fish oil capsules, so we prefer liquid fish oil. (The purity is higher, too.)
**Fish get their DHA from algae, so if you’re a vegan … simply supplement with algae to get your DHA in.

THE PROTOCOL

Daily Creatine: Take 3-5 grams every day. Sprinkle it on your cereal, put it in your coffee/tea, mix it with water—whatever you like. On workout days you don’t need to worry about it, since it will be in your workout drink.

It will take a few weeks for your body to reach maximum levels from steadily taking it, so If you want to load up on creatine quickly just take three or four 3-5g doses for the first week (if you take more you’ll just pee it out). Research is unclear about whether there’s an advantage to loading up quickly vs steadily. I’m a steady guy myself—5g per day.

Training drink: 30-90 grams Whey + 60-180 grams maltodextrin + 5 grams creatine. A typical guy would want 30g whey, 60g maltodextrin and 5g creatine to create a good hormonal situation (insulin primarily) and optimal recovery from his workouts. That would maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis and take care of the nutrient timing benefits. (study) You’d want to take the protein carb mix within 1-2 hours of training for optimal results. (studystudy) There are even nutrient timing benefits to taking the creatine surrounding your workouts. (study, study)

This is similar to what you’d find in a pre-made workout drink, however many of them have BCAAs and creatine instead of protein, carbs, and creatine. We aren’t typical guys who need to be avoiding excess calories though, we’re naturally skinny ectomorphs. We want you guys being (falsely) accused of rampant steroid abuse and top secret military muscle-building experiments.

If you’re skinny-fat, consume the lower amount of carbs/protein. If you’re skinny skinny—a ripped ectomorph—then aim for the higher amount of carbs/protein. I’m about as stereotypical an ectomorphic as they come, and I personally mix up 90g of protein, 180g of carbs, and 5g of creatine when I’m really trying to gain weight. That bad boy racks up 1080 calories of exactly the kind of nutrition we want when training. (When I’m coasting I eat fewer calories and try to get more of them from whole foods.)

I start sipping on it as I warm up, and I chug whatever’s left when I finish my workout.  It tastes pretty crappy (think liquid cake), but nothing will guarantee muscle growth like consuming tons of extremely effective calories at the most crucial muscle-building moment.

For most of us skinny guys, who often have trouble consuming enough calories, this is the magic formula we’ve been missing.

Daily Fish oil & Vitamin D: 2g EPA, 1.5g DHA daily, and 2000-4000IU vitamin D. If you go with NutraSea + Vitamin D this works out to one tablespoon of fish oil every day. Pretty simple.

Taking vitamin D first thing in the morning works pretty well. That’s when the sun comes up and you begin synthesizing it naturally (if you were living beside a tropical beach). Taking it later at night could potentially interfere with your sleeping patterns.

Summary

If you use our links to buy the supplements, thank you! We appreciate it. If you don’t, that’s cool too. The supplements will work just as well wherever you find them. Here they are all in a row:

  1. Creatine for the improved rate of muscle growth.
  2. Maltodextrin for the extra easily digested calories.
  3. Whey for the muscle protein synthesis (and calories).
  4. NutraSea + Vitamin D for your health and hormones.

And once again, if you aren’t already getting results don’t spend any money on supplements. They won’t help. I know we have a bias here, since we have a muscle-building program for skinny guys, but if you aren’t getting results it’s best to invest in a good plan first, then delve into the world of supplements further down the road—if ever.

Think of supplements like a multiplier. If you build zero pounds of muscle and increase your results by 50% … you’ve still built zero pounds of muscle. If you’re gaining a pound of muscle every week and you add in that same 50% increase though, you’re now gaining 1.5 pounds of muscle every week. As an ectomorph who’s tired of being skinny that may be worth your hard earned money. Or it might not be, because, see, either way you’ll end up a beast!

Questions? Ask ‘em in the comments!

The b2b muscle-building Program for skinny dudes (yes, you)

Bony to Beastly Full Workout Ectomorph Program Download

If you want to master this once and for all and gain 20-30 pounds over the next couple of months check out our full step-by-step muscle-building system for naturally skinny dudes – complete with training program, nutrition program, recipe book, exercise videos, members community and individualized coaching from us.

So, what'd you think? 456 responses below.

Dave

Hoping to join in 3 weeks. But thought I would suggest you give affiliate links to more than just bodybuilding.com – how about to Amazon as well – maybe at the end of the article?

Shane Duquette

That’s a good idea Dave. We’ve personally used Bodybuilding.com and enjoyed it, as did Albert, so we feel very comfortable recommending it to others.

Have you used Amazon in the past for this? Good experience? Reasonably fresh supplements? (Hard to tell sometimes, but they should have an expiration date.) I love Amazon for books, so I’d imagine they’d be good.

Looking forward to having you join the program!

Albert

Haven’t ordered any protein or supplements off amazon yet, but my experience with bodybuilding.com was good. Their optimum nutrition protein wasn’t old. I even tried their own casein protein — cookies and cream flavor. No complaints overall, and price is generally cheaper than name brand.

Another thing I like to do is go on slickdeals.net, the “hot deals” forum. Often people will post up good sales on whey protein (amongst a million other things). I just bought 10lbs of EAS whey protein for $44 shipped to my house in 2 days. That was a good deal.

AJ

Hey Shane-looking forward to signing up on Friday-I’m 134 pounds and over it really glad I found this site-there should be a biggest gainer show on tv I reckon :) I am currently sourcing the supplements recommended by you guys as most suppliers on amazon won’t deliver to Australia found a few after some trawling so all good there bulknutrients.com.au and mrsupplements.com.au for future reference have different brands but ultimately the same products..just wondering what is included for the 197 as I think I am going to do this in phases-sign up,eat well,get my form right possibly with a few PT sessions in a gym I am going to join, get the supplements and start smashing out the beastly training program-what you think is this approach a good idea?

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s great AJ – I think you’ll really like it, and get a ton out of it :D

Ahaha I agree! I’d watch that show. I would even volunteer to be the Bob or Jillian, but I suspect I’m a little too gentle hearted and nerdy for it. I’d be the guy saying “hey man no need to go crazy – let’s master your form. Research shows that you’ll build even more muscle even more quickly that way” or “psh yeah, go out for dinner with your friends, man – plenty of room for flexibility in a balanced muscle-building diet. Check this study out that shows that if 20% of your calories come from non-nutritious food sources you can still get maximal results!”

Probably wouldn’t make for very good TV ;)

Our contestants would look and feel AMAZING though haha.

Ah Marcel, our most active Australian, has been recommending bulknutrients.com.au to a lot of our Australian guys! He likes http://www.bulkpowders.com.au as well.

We tried our absolute best to include everything you’d need. We’ve got an eBook outlining all the fundamentals of eating and training for building muscle (along with some other great stuff), we’ve got a recipe book with a ton of strategies to make the nutrition side more achievable/enjoyable, we’ve got the training program (and we just revamped it / reshot all the videos!), and then there’s the community / coaching, where we can help you track your progress, overcome any hurdles, answer any questions, and tweak and adjust to get you optimum results. (Or you can quietly prowl around to see the thousands of answers I’ve written up to every question imaginable already.)

I would recommend doing it in this order:
1. Train b2B style. We’ve got strategies for mastering form as you go. (Could also get a PT to help you with it though, if you like!)
2. Get the nutrition more or less on track – we’ll teach you how to do that.
3. Rev up the calories so that you’re gaining weight.
4. Leisurely explore the more advanced techniques, strategies and supplements.

If you start a bulking diet before you start weightlifting you’ll just get chubby. Need the workouts to get your body actively trying to build muscle with the nutrients you’re giving it. Similarly, if you start with supplements before getting nutrition / training right … you’ll just be flushing money down the toilet.

If, on the other hand, you start with the weightlifting … the worst that could happen is that you get stronger without looking much stronger (neural adaptations), you improve your technique and posture and movement patterns, you accidentally get a little more ripped (by losing fat) or you build a bit of muscle (but perhaps not as much as you’d like). All good things. Then nutrition will supercharge that.

And then you can take it to the next level with the more advanced stuff … if you want. Can make amazing progress with just a solid mastering of training / nutrition fundamentals. No need to go more advanced unless you want to.

Does that help / make sense?

Really hope you decide to join us man :)

Dave

Actually I checked Amazon and they were more expensive, and ended up ordering from your link.

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s awesome Dave! Thanks. Let us know how you find it!

Shane Duquette

We’ve officially switched to Amazon! Your suggestion was a good one. We price-checked first and they’re competing wickedly well now. Nearly identical prices on each.

Perhaps more importantly … Amazon has a better selection. We’ve now upgraded the fish oil to one that includes Vitamin D. (Amazon’s probably more reliable, too.)

Joram Oudenaarde

I’ve been following you guys for a while now, and noticed that you (primarily from the looks of it) focus on the muscletone of ectomorphs… with all those extra pounds of muscle and the tough workouts, do you also feel more energetic?

The reason I’m asking is because from what I notice with myself, I really need to do some serious cardio to even feel slightly more energetic (I get tired after 5 minutes of intense cardio-biking, so that says a lot on how bad my stamina is).

Shane Duquette

Correct. Our program is geared at making an impressive visual and strength transformation first and foremost. It’s about becoming big, strong, healthy, and having great alignment and posture to support it.

With that said, all of our workouts are functional, and Marco’s specialty is athletic performance and strength. His day job is training athletes. All of our workouts and nutrition advice should increase your performance—explosive performance. You’d be able to sprint much faster (football, basketball, running, soccer, etc) but not necessarily do a better job of running a marathon or long distance biking.

I personally found my stamina and energy levels went way up after strength training, and strength training is well known to be great for cardiovascular health.

If cardio work makes you feel better keep at it! We let our guys to cardio on their off-days if they enjoy it. It isn’t necessary to get results, but there’s no downside whatsoever, and many guys get a lot of value from it :)

Greg

Shane is right about the increase in explosive performance. I’ve noticed I can jump much higher and run much faster after completing most of the program.

Joram Oudenaarde

Also, how many times do you actually work out on a weekly basis? I’ve read in one of your articles that it was every other day or so (correct me if I misread though)… does that mean your program is also specifically targetted to people able to go 3-4 times a week? :)

Shane Duquette

We train 3 times per week for a few reasons. Some guys add in cardio, sports and recreation in between, and if they enjoy it, we highly encourage it. Jared and I just do the 3 weekly strength workouts, whereas it’s rare to find Marco NOT doing something physical.

Is 3-4 times a week ideal for you?

Joram Oudenaarde

Hah, I guess I still have too many questions… I’ll put it all in an email :)

I plan on putting some serious effort in my workouts when I’m back from my holiday (in 3-4 weeks). I have a new workout bench at home (I can do plenty of different full body exercises with it), so I was also hoping that that would also be enough… anyway, writing a rather large email again!

Sorry to bother you guys with them though ;)

Shane Duquette

No worries we like comments :)

Benches are definitely effective, and it’s absolutely possible to get great results using a homemade gym. Our program is designed for a gym, but it’s pretty easy to modify for guys training at home, and we help a few of our members do that.

Nick

Will starting out with push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups help a bit at the beginning of this program, or do I strictly need to start at a gym? I really don’t have the money right now for a gym membership so that’s why I’m asking.

Marco

If that is all you can do at the moment then yes! Anything is better than nothing. I would switch the situps to front and side planks as they tend to give you a bit more bang for your buck! It would also be helpful to throw in some bodyweight squats! hope that helps Nick!

hmkay

Wouldn’t slurping regular rapeseed and olive oil have the same effect or is the Omega 3 concentration so much lower?

Shane Duquette

Fats can get confusing. Olive oil is an incredible source of monounsaturated fat (omega 9), and you should definitely eat plenty. Monos should make up about 1/3 of your fats.

Saturated should make up the second third. That’ll likely happen naturally. And then you get into the polyunsaturated fats:

Rapeseed is polyunsaturated, but has twice as much omega 6s as 3s, which isn’t ideal. We already get too many omega 6s from nuts, bread, cereals, poultry and vegetable oils.

Fish oil is an omega 3, which is great on its own, but a ton of the advantages come from the high concentrations of EPA and DHA :)

If you’re a vegan and can’t take fish oil then opt for flax oil instead, which is also an omega 3.

Hope that helps!

hmkay

Thanks. I did a little more reading and it seems the main difference between flax and fish oil is the DHA and EPA. Flax contains ALA only which has to be converted into DHA/EPA by your body and apparantly it’s not so good at it. But ALA is also needed for other fat conversions, so I probably try out 2 spoons of fishoil and add another of flax to get them all.

I just hope this won’t make digesting all the kalories even uglier.

Shane Duquette

You don’t need to get neurotic about fats. You likely already eat plenty of saturated fats and omega 6s, so if you make a conscious effort to eat olive oil and then supplement with fish oil (or flax) you’ll be doing stellar.

It’s not like we measure out our fats or anything. Our bodies are pretty good at taking care of themselves if you give them the rough ingredients they need.

Rob

Great article Shane.

2 questions:
Do you guys not use say a post workout and pre workout drink and just have the one mentioned in the article during working out instead?

Also have you guys come across Udos Choice Oil Blend for your fats and if so do you think this could replace what you have specified in this article?

Shane Duquette

Correct. That one monster of a shake is the pre, intra and post workout drink.

Udo’s is a great balanced source of fats, so if you like it definitely take it. It wouldn’t replace anything on this list though. You’d still want the EPA and DHA rich fish oil. If you had to pick one or the other go for the NutraSea.

Patrick

Hey Guys, i have a few questions before i sign up. It seems as if this has been what i have been looking for. Im 20 years old now and have only been working out seriously for about 4-5 months. i have gained about 5lbs of muscle but would really like to gain another 20 or so on top of that, it just seems like im stuck now though. You can see the difference in mostly my arms. should i do my same workout and start drinking your drink during and see if that helps? any tips?

Patrick

I am only 134 lbs now and 5’10” to put it into perspective. I use a pullup bar, dumbells, and my own body weight for my worksouts (pushups, dips, etc) and i primarily refer to this workout

Shane Duquette

That’s a good question. That workout looks pretty quick, pretty light, and doesn’t work your entire body, so you’d probably want to calm down with the workout drink dosage. Maybe take a single dose instead of a double or triple.

Hehe and make sure to also do a leg workout! Nothing will make you grow more than also hitting your legs, especially with squats and deadlifts. You’ll wind up with a way way better looking and stronger body everywhere. Your entire posterior chain will be much more powerful (back, butt, legs), as well as your arms, shoulders, and grip strength.

(I deleted the upper body circuit video you posted, as it was glitching out our comment box)

I hope you decide to join us man!

mark

Hi Guys,
I’ve been following you quite from the beginning on the foxhound website. After long long time researching myself I think your program fits the gap, great work. With 169 lbs and 6,45 ft I think I´m facing a challenge. Because I´m a vegetarian on the way to vegan I would like to know, If you are planning some tips or if you have some user experiences with special veg diet plans? Do you know if vegan protein (soy, rice, wheat) supplements are as effective as the the animals proteins – like whey – are?
Thank you very much for some help, and again: great work.

mark

Shane Duquette

We’ve got a few vegetarian members who are doing great. There a million and one easy options for vegetarians. You can follow our diet verbatim as a vegetarian, as it’s flexible to begin with.
Vegans are a trickier beast, and we currently only have one vegan member. I have a feeling he’ll do fantastic, but he only joined just last week, so I can’t really report on his progress yet.
Good question! Soy protein comes from monocultures and is heavily processed, so stay away from that one. Lots of problems associated with it. (Fermented soy, like soy sauce, is okay.) Wheat I actually don’t know anything about, which makes me think it’s neither great nor disastrous. Rice protein is awesome, and that’s what our vegan member is using. He has it enriched with BCAAs, too, which makes it fantastic for strength training and building muscle mass. It’s very comparable to whey protein.
Vega also makes a “sport” protein supplement which is very effective for building muscle, but our vegan has informed us that it tastes … not too good.
You may want to supplement with vitamin b12 and flax as well, as vegan diets are low in those nutrients.
I’d love to have you join the program! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no vegan expert, but I’d be glad to offer my two cents and help out in any way I can :)

mark

Hey, thanks for the fast and detailed information, helped a lot, especially the info about the rice and the negative issues about soy. Unfortunately, my currently Work/Lifestyle makes it hard to start the full programm, but I will change that soon and I´m “warming up” ´til then now.
Thanks

Mark

Eric

I calculated the monthly costs in the case of taking the amount you recommend: about 50€ jeez :D

Eric

Want to add a question: are the 197 USD for the program to be payed a single time? Or is it some monthly fee or something?

Shane Duquette

Just one payment :)

Shane Duquette

Ooo but did you contrast it against the same number of calories coming from similar whole foods? All of these, except for the creatine, replace nutrients that you’d otherwise need to consume in the form of regular food!

Mohamed

Hey Shane! Very interesting article. I was interested to know your measurements for this monster shake. I see you have 90g protein, 180g dextrose, and 15g creatine, but do you take this with water? If so, how many ounces? Let me know man :)

Shane Duquette

That’s a very good question. I fill up my water bottle with as much water as I can, which is around 12-16 oz. If you find you’re thirsty, which is quite common, you can bring along a second water bottle with just water in it. Hope that helps!

Tom

That doesn’t sound like it would dissolve at all. I use 30 g of whey protein in 8 oz and it’s fairly thick, triple that while only doubling the volume and add in the sugar and creatine, sounds like sludge.

Shane Duquette

It can be pretty sludgy, yeah, but it does dissolve! You can always, of course, use more water. Or divide it up into three servings (1/3 before, 1/3 during, 1/3 after).

I’m not going to lie though — it isn’t a fun drink to drink. It’s a lot of calories and it hits your stomach like a brick.

Works wonders at producing lean muscle mass though.

ian

hey shane! i also have an ectomorphic body, i want to follow your supplement intakes, just want to ask if can i use Serious Mass (optimum nutrition) instead of Gold standard whey protein (Optimum Nutrition) ?

Shane Duquette

Hey Ian,
Yep! You could use Serious Mass instead of the WHOLE workout shake. The weight gainer has all the carbs you’d need, so no need to add dextrose. It’s perhaps slightly less effective than our mix, but that’s hard to say, and the difference would be very negligible. The reason we don’t use it is because it costs around $10 a serving, whereas ours costs around $2. (Cheaper than food.)
Serious Mass tastes much better though!
Outside of your workout shake I wouldn’t use gainers. Stick to whole food or smoothies instead. Healthier, and you’ll get better results.
Hope that helps, and good luck!

Robin

Hi Shane, great work as always. Quick question: Can I use cornstarch as my source of maltodextrin? If so, I’m using the scoop from my ON whether protein. Is 3 scoops of cornstarch enough for a mid sized 152 pound ectomorph?

Shane Duquette

Maybe! However generally you want to use something that’s made to be consumed raw and in sizeable amounts.

Flour, while theoretically fine to eat raw, is expected to be cooked. As a result the packaging rules are less stringent, and if you eat it raw you risk consuming bacteria inadvertently. With tuna, if you eat a couple cans per week it’s fantastic for you. If you eat several cans each day you’ll get mercury poisoning.

Corn starch is presumably designed to be eaten cooked and in smaller quantities, so I can’t say that you won’t run into an issue.

(In a pinch just use whey protein and eat some fruit. I find a couple pre-workout bananas work well.)

Robin

Wow I didn’t know that. Great point, glad I asked you first, whew. Thank you so much man. I really appreciate the advice.

Shane Duquette

I figure I should give you some more details, since this stuff can get really confusing. The number one ingredient in Serious Mass is maltodextrin, which is their equivalent of dextrose. Very similar, except it’s a starch, making it more similar to flour. It’s one of the cheapest ingredients you can buy, and it allows them to list a sugar content of nearly 0. Since people are scared of sugar on nutrition labels this is a plus for them. And that’s fine — maltodextrin contains glucose just like dextrose does, just in disaccharide form. Our body will use it in exactly the same way. No advantage or disadvantage here, just a different way of accomplishing the same thing.

Next up on the ingredient list is a blend of protein. The reason why I prefer our homemade blend here is that we use a whey protein isolate. The purity is much higher. They use a blend consisting of whey concentrate + calcium caseinate in Serious Mass. Not quite as good.

All that is relatively minor though. The main difference is that you’re paying like $8 for a couple scoops of sugar, which should cost you pennies.

Ian

Wow , thank you Shane! That’s a big help! you’re a Genius. This site is awsome. I will refer this site to all my gym buddies so they can learn also the truth about training and supplements. Thanks!

Stephen

Hey bro shane, i got this 12lbs serious mass and 5lbs Gold standard whey as a birthday gift from my uncle, can i use whey along this serious mass? Just want to ask how to use these 2 type of supplements, how and when to take it? Thanks bro,

Shane Duquette

Niice.

Serious Mass makes a good intra-workout drink, so you could drink it during or right after training. The protein content is a little low, so you could drop the dose of serious mass a bit and add in some whey. You’d want to do it so that you get the carb/protein ratio listed up above in the protocol (with total calories depending on your bodytype and goals).

You can also take the whey along with meals where the protein content is low. Ideally in that case you’d mix with with milk, to slow down your digestion a bit.

Hope that helps Stephen!

Stephen

thank you shane! i’m also planning to buy creatine powder and fish oil, im an ectomorph an i want to gain fast just like you. i will drink serious mass in the morning, and then serious mass again pre or intra work out with creatine owder on it, then whey protein post work out. and in bed time, serious mass before going to bed. is that ok?

Shane Duquette

I would just use the serious mass while/after working out. Maltodextrin, the main ingredient in serious mass, is basically just flour, so having it for breakfast and pre-bed wouldn’t be great for your health. Might result in some fat gains too.

There are a lot of complex issues as to why, but as a basic rule you want lots of vitamin-rich foods that digest at a steady pace. Serious Mass is like having a slice of cake with a whey shake on the side.

If you like having shakes versus regular meals, I’d suggest blending up some whole foods, like fruit and dairy, instead of the weight gainer.

Stephen

oh i see, good thing i ask you first before jumping into actions, thank you so much shane! i will follow your advice.

Mathew26

Hey Shane what you think about casein protein before going to sleep? Is for us ectomorphs important or it dont worth that money and is better to eat some cottage cheese instead for example ?

Shane Duquette

Actually I bet casein protein is cheaper than cottage cheese. Protein powders are actually usually a pretty good price compared with whole food.

Cottage cheese would be more ideal, but probably a bit more expensive.

Greek yogurt is great, too, and also packed full of casein. It has tons of probiotics in it, which are great for ectomorphs trying to digest more food than their bodies are used to. It’s expensive though. Start mixing in berries and stuff, to make it taste better, and it gets even more expensive.

Eggs are another good source of pre-bed protein. So is milk. The sugars in milk digest extremely slowly, too, making them a great source of pre-bed carbs.

You can eat anything before bed though. So long as you plan on having breakfast at a reasonable hour it won’t matter too too much!

Hope that helps Matthew!

Craig

I’m an ectomorph weighting 155 pounds and currently have a large meal consisting of meats, mixed veg, and sweet potato about 1 hour and 15 minutes before I hit the gym. Currently I have 60g of dextrose and 35g of isolated protein straight m workout.

Should I have a 90g protein, and 180g dextrose instead split 1/3 before work out, 1/3 during and 1/3 after or instead have 60g protein and 120g dextrose due to my large meal before work out and have 1/2 during workout and 1/2 after workout? Thanks.

Shane Duquette

I’d do the double instead of the triple … if you have no problem getting in your daily calories. That pre-workout meal sounds pretty great, so if your diet consists mostly of vitamin-rich whole foods like that you should be pretty good.

If you aren’t eating enough though or struggle to, switch to a triple dose.

I eat well … but when trying to quickly build muscle I still have a huge 3x workout shake. My appetite isn’t that hefty, so even though the workout shake isn’t the most pleasant thing I’ve ever had, it helps me out a ton. These days I’ve actually grown kind of fond of it, since it seems so closely associated with my being able to consistently up my weight.

Hope that helps, Craig! Good luck!

Aaron

Great article man! I’ve read a lot that just aren’t as straight to the point as yours was, so thank you for saving my time!

I am currently 70kg guy and I’m really into running long distances but now want to bulk up for football. Would it be possible to just have post workout supplements because I’m a bit low on cash so can’t afford it all, what would be the best thing to buy? Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Yep, you could buy something like Universal Torrent and take a 2-3x dose! It isn’t, however, a money-saver. Buying the ingredients separately and mixing them yourself is the most cost-efficient way to go.

The main reason for this is that when you buy pre-mixed formulas you’re paying quite a bit for the carbs, where all you’re really eating is sugar/starch. It shouldn’t be any more expensive than, say, rice. By buying the dextrose separately you’re keeping your carb costs ridiculously low, and only really paying for the protein, which is always expensive, whether you’re buying whey or chicken.

Universal Torrent tastes a whole hell of a lot better though!

And keep in mind that money spent here you’d have to spend anyway—on food. It isn’t adding costs to your life, simply replacing grocery store costs with supplement costs.

Hope this helps you kick ass on the football field!

Elliot

Quick question – is the “couple of tablespoons” thing with the fish oil a typo?

It seems to me that if you want 2g EPA and 1.5g DHA, you’d need only 1 tbsp. According to the label, in a 1 tsp. serving, you get 750mg EPA and 500mg DHA. So, you’re looking for 3 TEAspoons to hit that 2g and 1.5g. This is equivalent to one tbsp. Or did I miss something?

I only ask because this stuff is so pricey, one versus 3 tbsp / day makes a big difference. You’re only getting 33 1-tbsp servings out of the 500mL, $38 bottle. At 3-tbsp / day, you’d need 3 bottles per month.

Thanks!

Elliot

*correction

I noticed that the article says 2 tbsp, one morning one night, not 3. Still, don’t we only need one tbsp to get to that 2g EPA 1.5g DHA?

Shane Duquette

Gah no you didn’t misunderstand. Kitchen fail on my part—I’m going to switch it to read teaspoons, not tablespoons.

Taking 2 tablespoons would be great for you too, but it’s beyond the point of diminishing returns, and certainly wouldn’t be necessary to get killer results.

Thank you for catching that!

Joe

Hi Shane,

Thanks for your information packed articles! What are your thoughts on adding AAKG to the training drink? I have seen numerous proponents supporting AAKG specifically for ectomorphs. What say you?

Shane Duquette

Arginine? That’s a good question. I’m going to give you a bit of a long answer, but the main reason we didn’t include it is that we feel the results are too insignificant to be worth it.

There are too solid studies I know of looking into this, and one of them uses very similar conditions to the concoction we’re recommending.

The first found that there were sliiiight power improvements with the arginine, but they were so slight that it was considered
“statistically insignificant”. (study)

The second found that arginine did not change the “hemodynamic and vascular response” to training, i.e., it doesn’t accomplish what it promises to. (study)

Considering that arginine is a performance enhancer, and not a muscle builder, it doesn’t really jive with the purpose of our drink, which is muscle gains, not improved energy/power while lifting. Caffeine would be the ultimate supplement for performance enhancement there, making coffee or an energy drink a great choice. These won’t improve your gains, but they might make the experience more enjoyable.

If you want to really geek out you could check out this review into arginine, which basically says that regular protein (or BCAAs) contain everything that arginine offers and more, making arginine a poor supplement when you could use protein instead. (review)

Shane Duquette

My recommendation is to save your money. (At least until further research is done!)

I hope that helps!

Dan

As an ectomorph’s I naturally have a fast metabolism which means I burn calories very quick. Do you think it would be better as to have other weight gainer supplements during the day to add more calories to my diet?

Shane Duquette

I think there are much better alternatives when it comes to trying to eat more calories, even if you have a small appetite.

The whole food equivalent of a weight gainer would be something like a fruit/protein smoothie, and that’d be much healthier and give you way better results. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was cheaper too, considering how expensive weight gainers can be (considering you’re basically buying flour and protein powder).

A really cheap alternative is a simple PB&J sandwich. Whole grain bread, natural peanut butter and your favourite type of jam. Bonus points for peanut butter and banana sandwich instead.

tammy

I’m Blessed this morning! I’ve been on so many different protein powders, weight gaines did wonders to help me get to my small body frame goal of 105-107, however, it caused fat weight in my Gut(48) woman & bloat. I started using regular protein powders mixing it with Almond/Coconut milk, which is fine, but NOW Loosing weight again. SO MANY website promoting their products. I’ve got upset stomach from a few of the whey powders, some not. I just bought Dymitize Isolate, but little anything in it. I don’t want to go back to the Weight Gainers, but I need to keep easy weight gain on me. Busy travel lifestyle. HELP, I relate to what you are saying. I also started loosing definition & small layer of fat over it. HELP? I eat pretty clean, but never know if I’m eating enough. I feel up pretty quickly, but breakfast is my best meal of the day. Thanks so much for this AWESOME site. You know what you are talking about, that is why I am reaching out for help in what you say. I take Creatine, BCAA, FIsh Oils, L-Glutamine, CLA, I need to put on more muscle gain, but fearful of the weight gainers shakes again with such high carb content. As I have to watch for no Pre-Diabetes.I had instance two years ago. Fine now, but Im only 5’2″ and want to maintain 105-107 Lean Muscle tone, not fat weight. As I said, Im down to 102 and not happy I’ve lost. Bless you & all that have great knowledge. Goin to a health food store, it like No Help, they don’t really know.

Shane Duquette

I sense that there is a question in there … but I must admit that I’m struggling to find it.

Justin Eastwick

Hello, I am ectomorphic and tired of it. I stumbled upon this blog in my quest to gain muscle. With reference to the supplements listed in this blog:

1. Should I mix the whey protein and dextrose powder before a workout, during a workout, after a workout or all of the above?
2. How should I attempt to consume creatine on a daily basis? Should I mix it with any liquids I consume?
3. Could I purchase any of these listed supplements at my local nutrition store (such as GNC), as I don’t feel like waiting for them to ship to my apartment? If so, what brands of these supplements do you prefer?

Thank you in advance for the response.

Shane Duquette

1. All of the above is good. I drink it all during my workout, but 1/3 before, 1/3 during and 1/3 after is probably the ideal.

2. Yep. You can mix it with anything. Tea, coffee, water, etc. You only need a few grams a day.

3. Yes sir! And most of the brands we list you should be able to find at the local GNC. That’s where I get my stuff when I don’t think ahead.

Dave

but of course you will most likely save a lot of money ordering online over local GNC.

Sean

Hello, I just stumbled across this blog and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, I am going to try and follow your supplements however I am from Australia so am struggling to find them, another thing, I read somewhere about a payment plan, I am interested if it’s still available?

Cheers.

Shane Duquette

Right on Sean! It’s a tough monster to drink, but the results are undeniable.

We’ve had a few Australians sign up recently – I’ve heard the head down under is brrrutal! You Aussies seem to kick ass at this, too. Some great transformations going on down there!!

Regarding the payment plan, shoot me an email at us@bonytobeastly.com and I’ll give you the details :)

Will

yo yo yo this sounds awesome brother! not able to run “gear” because I am joining the police academy in 2 years and they polygraph about that kind of stuff. I used to run PH’s and just eat healthy foods all day and train twice a day, gained 40lbs lean muscle in 1 month! But it had it’s very horrible side effect. Saving money, energy, and my body using this post! Takes a bit longer then the banned PH gods, but it is a hell of a lot safer. Keep up the good work my dude!

Shane Duquette

Glad you like it, man! We’re fans of doing this naturally, and I’m pumped to see that you’re getting into it! As far as we’re concerned it’s well worth it, and so long as you aren’t trying to be Coleman you’ll still make a pretty beastly cop. Won’t need a custom made uniform, either ;)

Sushant

Hey,
i was one of those really skinny guys and couldn’t gain weight at all so i finally decided to join the gym. I was 46 kg’s, 5’9 when i joined and now after 6 months of lifting i’m now 56 kg’s ! Till now all i have gained is because of a natural, high calorie diet with protein rich vegetarian food (pulses, nuts, cheese etc), eggs and a very basic protein supplement powder (32 gms normal protein per 100 gms)
I have gained significantly in my chest, decently in my back and have increased my tricep’s lifting capacity (although they still don’t look very big). My problem is that i do not gain in my arms, even though i pay full attention to them and they are still very thin. I don’t want to use whey protein and mass gainers (i take a good enough diet). I have a few questions and would be really obliged to get a response from you on them:
1.Can i use only creatine ?
2.Does it also help in muscle building and getting bigger, apart from providing energy to get those extra reps ?
3.If i use creatine, how much quantity is safe and sufficient ?
4.When should it be used before or after the workout ?
5.Is the loading phase necessary ?
6.Does the ability to lift more and size of muscles reduce if i stop taking it ?
7.And lastly, what are it’s side effects ? Is it hard to digest like whey protein ?
P.S i’m 20 years of age

Will

@Sushant
5 grams pre and post workout, technically the loading faze is not needed but recommended for ectomorphs.Not really any side effects just drink a gallon of water a day and you’ll be all good dude. I’d recommend getting 100% whey isolate for post workout to mix with creatine, also I’d recommend getting a pre workout to mix your creatine with like jack3d or super pump. Creatine is a really good supp for natural lifters you just gotta stay consistent with it to see results.

Sushant

Hey Will, thanks a lot for your reply mate.
You recommended me to get a pre & post workout mix as well whey but i’m actually a little hesitant using any powders right now. I had started taking Universal’s Whey Pro sometime back and it didn’t suit me much (maybe because i’m lactose intolerant) and i couldn’t get any results. Since then i’m a little worried about taking them but once i feel i’m ready to give them a shot i’d definitely go for exactly what you recommended. Creatine on the other hand i read is completely natural and found in red meat, but since i’m a vegetarian, my diet would certainly lack the sufficient quantity of it that is needed and i feel i should make up for it with a creatine supplement. Can i just go for creatine without any other pre/post workout mix and whey ?
I already have 6 eggs, protein biscuits, nuts and a very basic protein supplement (as i mentioned before) along with other protein rich food. So that makes up for about 55-60 gms of protein daily. Before workout i have 2 bananas, 2 eggs, 2 protein biscuits and almonds and immediately after workout i have 2 bananas along with the protein supplement (mixed with whole milk), 2 protein biscuits, 2 eggs and a high carb meal 2 hours later. Can i just add 5 grms of creatine to this diet ?

Shane Duquette

Hey Sushant – cool questions. First off, congrats on the 10kg! That’s a pretty sweet accomplishment. You must be pumped!

1. Yep. Vegetarian diets are low in creatine (it’s found in meat) so that could help for sure!
2, 3, 4, 5, 7. Check out the creatine section for details about what it does (it does a lot beyond helping with reps), and check out the protocol at the end of the article for how to take it. No need to mix it with anything or get all fancy with it.
6. The swelling your muscles will have from the water uptake that creatine causes will disappear (slowly) when you stop taking it, yes … but that’s not why you take it in the first place. The muscle and strength GAINS you make as a result of training/eating while taking creatine will stick around.

It seems like your real question is how to increase your arm size though, and that’s a whole different ballgame! Creatine won’t cause your arms to grow a disproportionate pace compared to the rest of your body, after all, so it sounds like what you need to do is:
a) Increase your weight on the scale by adding muscle to your frame.
b) Encourage more of that added muscle to be in your arms by increasing the training volume with your arms.

So, more chin ups, yates bent over rows, cable curls, tricep extensions, close grip pushups, etc. You could try tossing in some really high rep stuff too (50-100 reps) to build up some vascularity (if you like veins in your biceps) + get your body to store more glycogen in there (temporary, but visually impressive). And whatever you do don’t neglect your steak and potato lifts! (Squats, deads, bench, chins, carries, planks, etc.)

Sushant

Hey Shane, thanks a lot for all that information man. You guys are doing an amazing work with this site, kudos to you for that. I live in Delhi, India and unfortunately the body building industry here hasn’t yet become very professional. We have a lot of gyms here but sadly not many knowledgeable trainers, so there are a lot of us here looking for professional help in trying to understand our body better and gain and this site with people like you are doing a tremendous job. Thank you for that !
You cleared almost all my doubts about creatine and i might be going for it soon after gaining a little more weight. I followed your advice about the arm training and am waiting for some good results.
And now I’ll be coming back very often to ask u lot more questions, clear my doubts and ask for advice which might help me improve my training and getting better results.
Cheers man ! :)

Sean

Hi, as I am from Australia I can’t find anywhere to get the allmax creatine, I was just wondering if dymatize creatine is a suitable substitute? Sorry on my phone so can’t work out how to copy in website.

Will

@Sean
Go on bodybuilding.com you’ll ALLMAX Nutrition supplements there and even better creatine supplements for decent prices, and they ship to you. Buying products at shops is usually a rip off, trust me I worked at one for awhile Jesus would we sell supps for super high prices lol. Good luck with your supplement search brotha.

Shane Duquette

Yep Will’s right – it’s often expensive to get supplements at supplement stores. Luckily creatine is often relatively low in price, so you could probably still get a few months supply for a decent price.

Dymatize is cool, yep. 100% micronized monohydrate – exactly what you want.

If you’re buying a few things though you’ll probably save a bunch by ordering. Depends how much of a time pinch you’re in though, and how much saving a bit of money matters!

tim

180 grams of dextrose is 45x the recommended serving size; is that right? It seems like you were only tripling the dose of whey and creatine….

Great site by the way. I just stumbled upon it after getting a gym membership and looking into supplements.

Shane Duquette

Yeah, we take quite a bit of dextrose. Keep in mind that we’re quite ectomorphic and doing fairly involved strength training. You can still do great with a much smaller dosage!

And I’m glad you’re digging it :)

Brandon

hmm, where did you guys get your ideas to use dextrose? It sounds like it could be pretty dangerous on blood sugar levels…do you have a study reference?

Lately, I’ve preferred working out on an empty stomach. I believe the blood needs to occupy the muscle instead of aiding in digestion, but to each their own.

I’m not completely biased here…I may give this article some more thought.

Shane Duquette

Hey Brandon, that’s a really really good question.

Check out some of the studies linked in the dextrose section regarding the effectiveness of the protocol. I see what you’re saying about it being a pretty devilish prank to play on our blood sugar levels – and you’re right. When thinking of blood sugar we need to think not so much about the glycemic index and more so about the glycemic load, i.e., the quantity of quickly digested things and also how it compares to the quantity of slowly digested things in our system. You’ve probably done this and come to the horrifying conclusion that whey protein + dextrose consumed in isolation and in large quantities will absolutely spike our insulin. And your conclusion is correct – it will.

Let’s put that on hold for a moment.

You’re also correctly pointing out that blood should occupy the muscle when training. This drink won’t stop that, and that’s easy enough to test. Pump out some bicep curls at the end of your next workout and, with the help of this drink or not, you’ll pump that muscle up with blood.

Now let’s consider the role of insulin – it transports glucose, amino acids and fatty acids into our muscle cells (and other cells). By spiking our blood sugar levels and then sending all that blood into our muscles we’re creating the ultimate muscle-building scenario. We’re loading ourselves up with nutrients and then shooting those nutrients exactly where we want them to be used: our soon-to-be-bigger muscles.

This is why the studies show such rad results.

You’re worried about our health though, and that’s a very valid concern. We’re on the same page as you, too, as we think a rad physique should accurately indicate a healthy physique. This would have a negative impact on your health if you were shooting all these nutrients into fat cells, but we’re instead shooting them into muscle cells, and thus insulin is working how we want it too: as an anabolic hormone. And the healthier and more insulin sensitive you are, the better this technique will work. That’s why we recommend higher doses for the ripped ectomorphs, not the skinny-fat ones.

Will this reduce your sensitivity to insulin? No, it shouldn’t, unless you were taking it frequently (a few times a week is fine) or you were becoming obese from it. Plus, it’s maintaining high blood sugar levels that blunt insulin sensitivity, not never spiking it. (As always, though, your health is in your hands, so follow the advice of your physician!)

Does that answer your question?

Brandon

Yes, it pretty much does answer my question.

One more thing. Are you advocating that this concoction is a big secret to adding weight to your muscles? Is this one of the major catalysts to quick weight gain targeted at the muscles?

I’ve researched that for every pound of muscle you gain comes with it a pound of glycogen (or
water weight) and fat. I’d have to assume that’s what the explosive weight is in the form of, not pure muscle.

Joel

Is there a reputable supplement that contains dextrose, casein and whey (or similar equivalents)?

Shane Duquette

Tons and tons of them! They’re expensive as hell though. One I recommend is Universal Torrent, just keep in mind that you may need to adjust your serving size!

Russ

Hi Shane,
I only comment on this post because it was the one that lead me to this site, I’ve been all over this site. I’m not sure if you understand the holy grail this site seems to be after never gaining and exhausted research. And after reading many of the other posts about posture and ratios and watching some videos etc… I still wanted to ask you a question. I lifted all throughout high school and then some and never gained (hence finding your awesome site) then a gym accident and I stopped going around the age of 20. I turned 23 little over a month ago and have decided to go back to the gym and incorporate it into my lifestyle as I believe yes it does in general lead to a better life and happiness. To the question. I broke my left arm at the age of 14 and I have a slight labrum tear in my left shoulder and my growth plate in my humerus (bone that connects shoulder to elbow, I’m sure you know but just in case) on that arm fused and my left arm is slightly shorter than the right and the left shoulder sits a little higher. I know that you arent a doctor but you seem like a pretty smart guy. I am just curious as to your input on the arm situation in terms of symmetry and alignment and how you think it may develop in comparison to my right arm.

Russ

And the Dr. told me the fuse meant the arm wont grow much more if at all. I dont know if that means in length or density or altogether. I also dont know if the growth plate on my humerus has anything to do with the growth of the rest of the bones in that arm like the bones in my forearms, wrists, and hands. I just figure the more info I give you the better you are able to get an idea. And sometimes I do notice differences when using an olympic bar for say some wrist curls or regular curls the bar will not be straight. I know there are dumbbells and cables but I dont want to cut out exercise where I have to use both hands on one bar. I am just kind of stumped as to the best route to take with it.

Shane Duquette

First off, thanks for the kind words! Glad you dig our style.

Second, everyone has their challenges, limitations and setbacks. While it might feel like you’re different because of your funky shoulders … you’d actually be more unique if you were totally symmetrical and uninjured! Jared has super damaged knees from skateboarding + severe tendonitis (from computer nerding), Marco has a ton of issues from sports and weightlifting, and I’ve got a shoulder that used to like to dislocate (which building up muscles via weightlifting fixed). If you play sports or lift weights you’ll eventually run into a problem (while also probably living a very healthy overall life) and if you stay safe and sedentary you’ll likely run into a slew of dastardly health problems from being inactive along with a bunch of imbalances from spending so much time sitting. Anyway, life takes a toll on us, and that’s not necessarily bad, so long as you get the most out of life while you’re at it!

As for your shoulder being higher … are you certain that has to do with your injury? Everyone has a higher left shoulder – and I mean everyone. This has to do with asymmetrical organs and innards, and how that affects our breathing.

There was ways to “fix” it and develop a more symmetrical torso, but that’s hardly the norm. Jared, Marco and I all have high left shoulders, as do 99% of our members!

And regarding whether your arm will grow symmetrically with your other arm … that’s a very good question. I would go with your doctors advice on that one, as he presumably knows your situation (and the human body) far better, and work with a coach or personal trainer while you train. We can do that online if you like – we’d love to have you, and Marco has tons of experience dealing with injured dudes – or you could seek out a more local expert :)

Does that help at all?

Russ

No, thank you. And yes your information does indeed help. As far as the shoulder sitting higher that could be I just dont know if the growth plate ties into muscle or tendon growth as well, just something I will have to look into. I am looking into getting a second opinion on it for sure. As far as joining I would like to but at the moment I am a little strapped for cash as in I couldnt even offer you the $200 to do a couple weeks and then do money back but when i do have more cash flow I am definitely interested if time allows (new career choice is a little rocky but it makes me happy). And also yeah I see what you mean about muscle building helping to keep the shoulder in place because it only popped out once while i was in high school and doing padded football almost everyday with people bigger than I and we also had to lift just about every day. And now it cant even hold up in a game of sandlot? Definitely a defining moment in wanting to take my fitness life back on the right track. I checked out the creatine, dextrose, whey, and fish oil and will probably be purchasing that and giving the super drink a try at least due to it being amazingly low in price and actually may be even better for me in general considering whats on the rest of the market. I just finished some Intek evolution protein powder that Lou Ferrigno at total nutrition recommended when I went in asking for the equivalent of a product I used to take and saying that was the same thing but this just has more natural vitamins and it tastes good even after I said I dont care about taste just how it affects my body in terms of health and results. But I am pretty positive he just looked at my size (males subconsciously judging other males based on shoulders etc…) and figured I was a January resolution monther and just wanted me to buy what he needed to sell. So I would rather buy from people who actually care about what they are telling people to put into their body. I can at least use your links to throw some kickback your guys way. I would like to get the largest amounts possible from those sites but like I said a little strapped lol. So I will probably get 1000 grams of creatine, two lbs of dextrose, two lbs of whey, and 200 mL of fish oil for around $100. I would love to discuss more and more like how I workout and where the hell you guys go and jump in water with icebergs in it and everything but hopefully I will be able to in the near future. Thanks for all your help and if you have anymore you feel like offering please go right ahead haha. Have a good one.

Joel

So you rate universal torrent better than optimum serious mass then? Or would i be better of just starting with the gold standard 100% whey (even though it has no casein/dextrose)

Sushant

Hey Shane, thanks a lot for all that information man. You guys are doing an amazing work with this site, kudos to you for that. I live in Delhi, India and unfortunately the body building industry here hasn’t yet become very professional. We have a lot of gyms here but sadly not many knowledgeable trainers, so there are a lot of us here looking for professional help in trying to understand our body better and gain and this site with people like you are doing a tremendous job. Thank you for that !
You cleared almost all my doubts about creatine and i might be going for it soon after gaining a little more weight. I followed your advice about the arm training and am waiting for some good results.
And now I’ll be coming back very often to ask u lot more questions, clear my doubts and ask for advice which might help me improve my training and getting better results.
Cheers man !

Shane Duquette

Right on man, good luck packing on some muscle! Look forward to hearing about your progress :)

Jay

Shane-

Great read dude, Checking in here from Los Angeles. Just came across this website on Sunday and I’ve been reading all the articles. I really dig ectomorph fitness articles, as long as they’re written by actual ectomorphs, which upon thorugh reading, I can see is the case. There’s just some things only another ectomorph would know or understand, and you guys obviously understand and have dealt with these issues personally. Honestly, every single thing you described in the video (on the product description page) has been a feeling or experience that I have gone through personally. Props to you for speaking the truth.

I’ve been training for 5+ years but I’m just working my way back from a year long battle with Crohn’s Disease, where I fell from 6’2, 173 lbs to 147. I wasn’t able to work out in the gym for the entire 2012, so 2013 is my redemption year. This is my first month back in the gym and I’m back up to 160 after 4 weeks of training, solely from compound lifts.

Just ordered my Dextrose, Creatine, and Protein from the links and I’m pumped to get started with that. I used to make a similar drink with gatorade/juice instead of dextrose, but hopefully this will be a little more efficient and better tasting. Should be a lot better and more legitimate.

As far as the program, I’m curious. Gonna have a sample sent to my email from the product description page. I’ve been working out with mostly compound lifts for the last couple years, with decent success, and they’re pretty much all I believe in, for the most part. But the program I use (Stronglifts) is not necessarily tailored specifically to ectomorphs. It works, but I feel if it was more personalized, I could legitimately have a chance to reach my goal of 185 lbs, with a nice body (not a fat ass).. I’m wondering if you guys have ever seen Stronglifts, and some of the key differences from you program and Stronglifts? I’m tempted to join your program, but just want to know a brief outline of how it’s structured.

Otherwise, great work guys. Thanks for keeping it real on your site. Hope to hear back from you soon.

-Jay

Shane Duquette

First off congrats on the gains! Everyone runs into a challenge at some point, and I’m really glad to hear that it sounds like you’re already overcoming yours! That’s a huge accomplishment man. Congratulations!

That’s a very good question, and I have to admit I don’t know much about Stronglifts. I mean, know a lot about 5×5 training plans, and strength training in general … but not much about the Stronglifts brand.

I gave the site a look and it looks like classic strength training, which is pretty badass. It’s not tailored for ectomorphs, no, but strength training has positive effects on nearly everyone, as you know obviously know :)

I’m a fellow 6’2 ectomorph who’s gone from 130 to 190ish so I can definitely relate to your goals and your struggles!

Let me try to answer your question as best I can, but go easy on me, as I’m only guessing based on a cursory look through the Stronglifts material. I can’t really pinpoint differences, but here are some things you may love:

1. We’re a program for naturally skinny guys – ectomorphs. I find it’s a pretty different perspective, and we run into some unique challenges, both with nutrition and training. We also have some cool things we can take ADVANTAGE of. I don’t see being an ectomorph as being a disadvantage. I quite like it.

2. We place a big emphasis on nutrition, and mastering things from that side as well (results, health and feeling great). If you’re having trouble getting to 185 I can almost guarantee that smart ectomorph-style nutrition is the fix.

3. We aren’t just a strength training program. Marco’s big into athletics, postural correction, alignment, mobility AND strength. You’re going to get strength, athleticism and aesthetics.

4. We try to make it easy and enjoyable. We’re all about cooking food in bulk (or cheap, or easy, etc), avoiding unnecessary restrictions, loving the gym and building a fun lifestyle around it.

5. You get as much coaching as you need/want. This isn’t a program where we hand you a pdf and bid you good luck. We can help you track your results, tweak the program to fit your goals and situation, and give you feedback and suggestions as you go through. Our members are all great guys too – I love it.

6. You’ve been at it 5 years, so I think you’d learn a ton and enjoy the change. Training in a slightly different style could give you some sweet results, too, as it gives you a new arena to master.

7. I agree with you – I think we can get you to 185 and looking rad :)

I hope that helps! If you’re curious about anything just let me know and I’ll answer any specifics you’re interested in.

I hope you decide to join us man, it’d be great to have you!

-Shane

Zenith

Fantastic article, Shane!
I weigh 148 lbs and stand at 5’11. My blood glucose level has always been normal.The last time I ‘d consumed Serious Mass, I gained 22 lbs. But it caused my fasting glucose level to shoot up to 103. Ever since I gave up Serious Mass, my blood glucose level has returned to normal. My question is, can I consume your ‘training drink’, without the dextrose? Or how could I safely substitute the dextrose?

Shane Duquette

Hey man that’s a really good question! If you scroll up to a couple questions above you’ll see that this shouldn’t have too much of negative effect on your blood glucose levels or insulin sensitivity, since you’re doing it just a couple times a week and combining it with physical exertion.

With that said, there’s no need to take a risk if you have a history of having glucose issues when dealing with this kind of thing. Truth be told this is quite similar to Serious Mass, just a bare bones cheaper alternative with dosages designed for ectomorphs. Some questions – were you taking the serious mass peri-workout, or as a meal replacement? Were you taking it in a fasted state, i.e. first thing in the morning, or in combination with other foods? I’m very curious, as I want to do everything I can to make sure that the things we recommend are, in fact, good for people’s health, and not just their muscles.

Can you ditch the dextrose? I wouldn’t, as you need those carbs! Those are possibly responsible for even more muscle growth than the protein! But you can certainly replace them. Bananas, bread, fruit, potatoes, ground up oatmeal (as some of our members do) … or even milk. A popular bodybuilding trick among the DIY crew is to buy a litre of chocolate milk and have that as their post-workout shake. That’s a valid approach, so long as you aren’t intolerant to lactose.

One benefit of these workout drinks is that you do get an insulin surge, which, combined with training, is extremely anabolic – some bodybuilders even inject insulin to achieve an exaggerated effect – but in order to get a hearty anabolic effect you don’t need to worry too much about the glycemic index or anything. Using casein, milk, non-dextrose starchy carbs – it’s all good.

If you’re looking for a powder supplement, you could always go for waxi maize. Expensive, but it’s one of those big-ass heavy starches that takes longer to digest.

I’m not sure what affect subbing this out would have on your glucose levels, if any – I’m not expert when it comes to that – but I hope my 2 cents help!

Zenith

Thanks bro, for your reply! I will certainly try out the dextrose- substitutes suggested by you. Could you please suggest a few more subs? Looking forward to gain some lean mean muscle.
To answer your question, I used to take Serious Mass as a post work out shake, thrice a week. On the days I didn’t work out, I took take it either with breakfast or after dinner.

livestrong

im 15 is that to young to start?im tired of calling me weak im 5 9 and skinny i need to gain weight need bigg time help can i take the stuff above

Sushant

@livestrong
mate, i would suggest you to indulge in all kinds of physical activities rather than starting with gym at this age. Play basketball, tennis or any other physically demanding sport and take proper nutritious meals with a balance of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals. You are at a stage of your life where you will notice a lot of changes in your body, your muscles will naturally get bigger, you will become broader and grow taller. Don’t worry about your weight as at this age, the metabolism rate is usually very high, so even if you eat a lot you won’t gain much weight.
Play as much as possible, run around a lot, keep your physical activities high and eat well (especially meat, eggs, green vegetables, fruits, whole milk). Rather than having 3 big meals a day, try to eat 5-6 medium sized meals everyday
But if you still want to go for supplements, there’s definitely a strict no-no for creatine until you’re 18, about whey and other stuff, Shane would be able to tell you better.My advice to you would be to eat naturally nutritious protein and carb rich food and play physically exhausting sports or do any physical activity regularly, you’ll definitely be big and strong by the time you’re 18 and come through puberty ! :)

Livestrong

Can I take nutrasea?

Shane Duquette

Lots of relatively young guys get into weight training, especially if they’re heavily into sports (football, wrestling, etc). I know Marco trains some high school sports teams in the gym to improve their performance on the field and help keep them injury-free.

Weight training, while it has a badass rep, is actually pretty safe compared to sports that are often assumed to be kid-friendly, like soccer.

Here‘s a study looking into weight lifting in school-aged children (6-18). Out of over 4000 participants who had engaged in weightlifting, only 3 reported an injury. One was serious. Only 500 participants had engaged in rugby … but 50 of them sustained injuries. 10 of them were serious.

This matches my personal experience. I dislocated my thumb playing dodgeball (hospital, quick recovery), tore my calf muscle running (hospital, long recovery) and cranked my shoulder being a goof in the gym without proper instruction (university health clinic – quick recovery). Of all of my friends in high school, none had any real weight lifting injuries, but concussions and torn muscles were popping up everywhere on the sports field.

There’s a risk of injury with every physical activity … and problems that could results from AVOIDING engaging in any physical activity. (Look at all the health problems out of shape people have.) Generally in the sports world weight training is seen as a way of improving performance and protect them against injury! Marco coaches a pro football player and an olympic athlete doing exactly that: keeping them in perfect condition so that they can compete injury free.

In the end it’s up to you (and your parents, doctor, etc) to weigh the risks!

Shane Duquette

Regarding supplements though you could always try milk! Drinking tons of milk, if you tolerate milk well, would have a very very similar effect (and even some advantages), and your mum might be more inclined to supply you with it ;)

Fish oil might be a good bet. You could ask your family doctor about NutraSea + vitamin D. I would imagine that would be a solid supplement for you … but this is just a guess!

Live strong

Thx dude, I always thought sups were the way to go because my friend always gets free samples at gnc and he gives them to me and I took c4 for a bit but that did nothing because I stopped. so fish oil and milk? Could I eat stuff off your diet tho?

Shane Duquette

Yeah of course!
And I mean if you struggle to eat enough protein you could definitely grab some whey. Nothing too sinister about dextrose or anything either. These aren’t crazy experimental supplements or anything.

Marco started training at about your age, and he slowly grew to 6’3 and 200+ pounds. I wish I had started younger.

Livestrong

Could you send me a gourshy list so my mom can go to the store what about creatine

Shane Duquette

Creatine has proven to be safe in every study I’ve seen … but I haven’t seen anything about younger guys taking it. I’m not sure.

If you want to make it easy on your mum, and she shops once a week, just tell her to get a litre of milk for every day of the week. Drink a litre of milk a day, in addition to what you’re already eating, and see if that moves your weight up.

Some extra fruits and vegetables won’t hurt. Maybe some whole grain bread, peanut butter and bananas, so you can make peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Livestrong

Okay sounds good

Avery

Do you mix your (creatine/dextrose/protein) workout shake with water or milk?

Shane Duquette

I mix it with water, although many recent studies are showing that milk, while it digests slowly, is actually pretty good as a post-workout drink. Lots of DIY guys will either make a drink like ours our down a bunch of chocolate milk! So hey if you want to mix it with milk more power to ya! Just use a bit less powder to take into account the nutrients coming from the milk :)

Shane Duquette

(Skim or 2% is fine, but I wouldn’t go for whole fat post-workout.)

Sam

Hey guys,

First of all, a MASSIVE thanks for this site. It’s so refreshing to see scientifically grounded advice given by real ectomorphs who also have anecdotal experience. Following your guidelines, I’ve gained 15 pounds in a month and couldn’t be happier. Excellent articles, and really love the fact you’re intelligent guys who want to help others through what you’ve learnt. So thanks! I’ve also got a specific question or two…

Regarding creatine: do you guys cycle it? If so, how long are you on and off it for? And, is there a noticeable loss in mass and strength gains?

Cheers guys

Shane Duquette

Hey Sam so glad to hear you’re doing such a rad job! Congrats man, that’s awesome! Glad we could help :)

Cycling could be good, yep. We often recommend holding off for a few weeks and building muscle sans-creatine to get a better idea of what just food and training will do for bumping the scale up. Guys will often gain 10+ pounds in the first 5 weeks and realize they can kick ass with or without supplements, which is reassuring. After that, if they hop on creatine, they usually get some sweet creatine “honeymoon” gains and love it. The 0-10 pounds from the fluid uptake will disappear (very slowly) when you stop taking creatine, sure, but the gains made while on creatine (often quite significant!) will remain so long as you keep eating and training well!

You could do a couple months on and a couple months off. As far as I know research isn’t very clear on creatine cycling. I haven’t ever heard of downsides from continued use – except to your wallet – but the acceleration of muscle gains from the creatine definitely definitely slows down. Cycling is more of a theoretical danger-dodger as far as I know. Better safe than sorry though!

Plus, unlike exercise and healthy whole food, creatine and supplements aren’t necessarily something you’d want to work into your lifestyle forever. We suspect that after our 5 month program most people will ditch most of the supplements. I regularly take fish oil and I often use whey protein … but that’s about it these days.

Does that answer your question?

Sam (London, UK)

Amazing, that more than answers it! I definitely think a good amount of the mass I’ve gained is due to the influence of the creatine although I only started using it recently. Eating like a beast is certainly the way to go!

Thanks again for taking the time to respond – you guys put in a hell of a lot of effort helping others and it really has transformed my whole mindset when it comes to getting in shape.

Cheers bro

Shane Duquette

No problem Sam! We’re pretty passionate about this stuff, and we love working with all you guys.

Good luck man!

Sean

Hey guys, I’ve been reading throuh your articles for the last few days and have found them throughly enjoyable to read and full of useful information. Thanks for all your hard work, it’s given me the motivation to try harder and hopefully put on some weight.

I’m 5′ 9″ and have always been skinny with small muscle structure, I weigh 58.5kg. I decided to start bulking up recently and started a new high calorie diet last week. Full of protein and carbs. I’m hitting about 3500 – 4000+ calories a day, I am almost a week in and I am waiting for my gym induction before starting strength and weight training.

I was wondering, what would be a good regime to get me started in the gym, what exercises are good to start with/what exercises should I avoid?

Shane Duquette

Hey Sean glad you like our stuff! That’s sweet that you’ve decided to kick some ass and take control of your situation, too :)

Your question … is a big one. There are a lot of components to a solid workout program, but they can often be broken down into: squats, hip hinges (deadlift variants), upper body presses (overhead, bench, etc), upper body pulls (chins, pull-ups), core stability and anti-rotation (e.g. planks, pallof press) and loaded carries (e.g. farmer carries).

I’d try and find a program designed by someone you trust that includes all of them, and then just follow it to a T! Workout programming is something I’d leave to people who fully understand it, or you might not get the most out of it.

If you’d like to join our program, we’d love to have you! Marco’s a champ at building unbelievably smart and effective workouts. Otherwise … stay tuned because in the next couple days we’ll be posting an article about weightlifting for ectomorphs and modding classic exercises to suit our anatomy. We’re always trying to put out sweet free content.

Hope that helps man, and good luck!

Sushant

Hey Sean,
i read your post and couldn’t help myself but to relate to it. You’re about the same physique as myself. Great that you’re starting with gym soon and believe me no one better to guide than Shane and this site (they are definitely genius’s of this field). Adding to what Shane wrote, i would like to give you just a small advice (this helped me gain and will hopefully help you as well), rather than training an isolated group of muscles, train the whole body (or maybe upper body one day and lower body the next day) with about 3-4 sets per group of muscles for about a month. This would help you in 2 ways-
1.warm up your muscles & make them use to the exercise regime which would prevent any risk of injury when you do isolated exercises.
2.when you do mixed exercises, the body tends to release more testosterone (growth hormone) which means you’ll gain more as compared to the isolated exercises.
And eat like crazy as soon as you finish your workout.
Hope this helps you in some way. Happy gym-ing mate :)

Khevin

Hi Guys,

I’m glad I’ve come across your awesome website. By the way, I live in the Philippines and I’m wondering if you have payment plans for your membership fee? :)
Also, I checked on the Dextrose brand you recommended but the site no longer sell them. Do you recommend another brand similar to NOW Dextrose?

Thank you in advance for your reply

AJ

I too would like to know if you have a recommended alternative for the NOW Dextrose?

Many thanks.

Shane Duquette

Any brand of dextrose is cool – I just selected that one because the price was good. (It’s sometimes called glucose too, so look out for that.) Other alternatives are maltodextrin and waximaize – great options both.

Shane Duquette

Any brand of dextrose is cool. (It’s sometimes called glucose too, so look out for that.) Other alternatives are maltodextrin and waximaize – great options both.

Shane Duquette

Hey Khevin, any brand should work. It’s really nothing magical – just a particular kind of sugar. Any brand of dextrose, maltodextrin or waximaize will do :)

I’ll shoot you an email with the payment plan info!

Amy

Hi Shane,

What about women who are ectomorphs and would like to build a great posterior? I do not gain muscle easily in my lower body.

Thanks!

Shane Duquette

We’ve had a few requests from women looking to do strength training and build up some muscle … but with the goal of getting curvy, not beastly. So. We’re beta testing a strength training, athletics and aesthetics program for women called Bony to Bombshell. It’s still in development, but we’re taking on beta testers. Check it out:

http://www.bonytobombshell.com

If it sounds like your cup of tea shoot me an email! (us@bonytobeastly.com)

Jacob

Hi Shane,

Ill try and be brief so that I get the best answer from you.

– Im 26, 5 foot 6, 122lbs – small boned or slim. I dunno if im skinny fat because I do have a bit of fat around my stomach & chest area (nipples), however struggle to gain and retain muscle.

My questions:

– Ive read that protein consumed over your recommended is taxing on your kidneys and leads to issues..Is that a fact?

– Also is there any damage done to your heart with excess of protein?

– Im also a bit skeptical about not working out enough to the protein i take and this leading to becoming fat. How long does your program recommend a single training session? Or does this depend on your body type etc etc??

– I can’t afford the gym but I do have a home gym which i train on. Is this ok??

Thanks for the help
Jake

Shane Duquette

Hey Jacob, good questions man.

Check out our article on protein, and you’ll see that for us slim guys we don’t need THAT much. You’ll likely be better off getting around half of your calories from carbs and just 20-25% of your calories from protein.

The kidney/protein thing is largely a myth. I mean if you ate a ridiculous amount of calories to the point where you became obese and developed diabetes, well, you’d be at a huge risk for kidney disease. And yep, you can become fat by eating tons of calories – whether from protein, fat or carbs – so becoming fat from protein, while unlikely, is possible.

It’s unlikely because:
-Your body doesn’t convert protein very easily into fat.
-Protein, unlike, say, cola, is very filling, so it’s quite hard to consume “too much” of it. You’d almost certainly run out of appetite first.
-Around 25% of calories from protein are burned off as you digest them, due to the thermic effect of food – the highest of the macros.

Check out this study. A bunch of obese people at risk for kidney disease were put on a high protein diet (33% of total calories) and their health improved in pretty much every way versus the control group.

Taking it even further, many athletes and bodybuilders eat upwards of 2g/lb/day of protein and are in stellar health.

There are many factors at play here though, including our training, our bodytypes and our goals. Most guys in our program are trying to gain weight overall, too, which means we’re “bulking”. When bulking we need a smaller percentage of our calories coming from protein, as we’re playing with so many calories.

(We train for about an hour at a time, and we train three times per week.)

A home gym is great! I personally prefer the gym, but we’ve got a ton of guys using home gyms.

Hope that helps Jake! Does that answer your questions?

nate

Hi Shane,

The issue I run into when lifting and drinking supplements is that my body looks fine but I start putting on alot of weight in my face. any advice on how to handle this?

Shane Duquette

One solution would be to not take supplements, if that’s what’s causing the problem. Supplements aren’t by any means necessary – just the cherry on top of the cake. If they don’t suit you, ditch ‘em.

It’s possible your face is bloating up because of water retention or some such when you start eating more calories … and it’s also possible you’re allergic to something that you’re drinking and you’re swelling up. (Check this allergic reaction out ahaha.) Hard to say without knowing more.

Does that help at all?

Nick

Instead of consuming the Dextrose…Can I substitute it for the brand Universal Nutrition : Carbo Plus???

Shane Duquette

Yeah for sure. We just chose dextrose because it’s the cheapest and most generic. You can really use any type of carb with an underlying glucose structure for the same effect, whether that’s dextrose, maltodextrin, waximaize, etc – they’re all either straight glucose or glucose polymers. (Carbo Plus lists “glucose polymers from maltodextrin” as the carb source.)

Eric

Hey Shane,

Great site and great article. As a long time ectomorph (now 34), I’ve always struggled with adding muscle. I’m very tempted to try your plan as I plan on hitting the gym again after a 4 month hiatus. I’m been out due to a herniated disc in my lower back. Prior to the injury I did p90x and classic power lifting techniques. P90 killed my back with the plyometrics. It sounds as though some of the complex movements (ie squats, powerlifts) would put a lot of strain on my injured disc. Do you guys have other excersises you could recommend that would be more safe with my ailment? I was planning on doing leg press instead of squats, but it doesnt seem to be as much of a complex movement. Thank you so much and again great job. The video hit home.

Shane Duquette

Hey Eric, have you read out latest article? (Ectomorph Weightlifting.)

Many back issues can be corrected over time by strengthening the musculature in your back and working to improve your posture/alignment. Exercises like deadlifts, done correctly and with care, can often work magic on back health. That isn’t always the case, but I wouldn’t necessarily prematurely start totally avoiding training your back.

Avoiding exercises that strengthen your lower back won’t do much good if you do exercises (e.g. a military press) that require stability there.

If you think of your body like a 2 story house with a damaged first floor … the solution wouldn’t necessarily be more mass in the basement and second floor – you may want to fix the damage on the first floor.

I would recommend getting your back checked out by an expert and seeking out a solution that sees it getting stronger. Chances are you’ll be back to performing perfectly with a little bit of a smart training and some patience :)

musclee

link for dextrose:

NOW
Dextrose
IS A DISCONTINUED PRODUCT !!!

danger ?? useless ??

:(

Eric

I got my NOW Dextrose 10lb from Amazon today. I believe the order was fulfilled by NOW. I think Amazon may have stopped selling it themselves so you couldnt get it via prime. Checked the NOW website and their still selling it.

Shane Duquette

Whoops good catch!

They replaced it with Maltodextrin. Probably not a bad idea, as we’ve had tons of guys having a hard time with the sweetness of the drink, especially combined with the sweeteners in whey protein.

I just updated it to their new product: Carbo Gain. Dextrose, if you can find it, is still a totally valid option though.

Tyler

Hey, question. I’m naturally a pretty skinny ectomorph but I’ve managed to put on 7 lbs in 3 weeks with the right eating so I’m not sure how much of an ectomorph I am, but anyways. With the training drink what do you suggest a double dose or your suggested triple dose? Almond milk? 16 oz? 8 oz?

Thanks!

Shane Duquette

That’s awesome man, congratulations! 7 pounds in 3 weeks is badass.

I think there’s a tendency to think that ectomorphs suck at building muscle. That’s not necessarily the case. Most of us, once we start training and eating well, can pack on muscle at alarming rates.

Almond milk? Why almond milk?

A double dose, or even a single dose, is fine if you’re already succeeding at gaining weight at a sweet pace like that. The main advantage of going beyond that is simply the calories, and you’re obviously already consuming enough of those! :)

Jon

Great article. I am very interested into your mid workout drink – did i read it was 1000 calories! :O ! I am 6ft2 and 150 pounds and my strength has been increasing however I know that my calorie intake is no where near bulk stage. I find it difficult. What makes your mid workout shake so high calories and do you need an post workout shake after it?

Shane Duquette

When doing a single dose you can do it right before, during or right after working out. If you’re doing a triple dose I’d say drink a third of it before, a third during, and a third after.

What makes it so high in calories? The carb and protein powders :)

Yeah … not consuming enough calories is something most of us skinny guys struggle with. This is one creative way of helping to solve that problem. I hope it helps you man, good luck!

Tord

Hey and thank you for this great website!

I just tried drinking the triple dose and luckily I don`t find it that hard to drink. I`ve actually found it more practical to drink it all up right after my workout. Is this bad/less fortunate for my muscle growth or do you recommend drinking it before, during and after because its easier for a lot of people to drink it if they split it up? Hope this question makes sense :)

Shane Duquette

Hey Tord, the “anabolic window” you’ve got for getting your protein/calories/carbs in surrounding your workout is actually pretty wide, and you’ve got a lot of flexibility there. I prefer to start sipping right before training and finish sipping it as I finish … but chugging it all afterwards should be equally as effective :)

(The one downside I can think of is that if you struggle to consume enough calories overall each day, that might fill you up for a little longer after training, since you’re drinking the shake later. If you’re trying to fit a dinner in afterwards or something that might be tricky. But that’s just a lifestyle/preference thing.)

Steve

What if I’m 17, is it bad to drink whey and creatin seeing as my body isn’t fully developed

Shane Duquette

I haven’t seen any research indicating that creatine is bad for guys who are still developing, and quite a lot of research has been done into possible downsides. I also haven’t seen any research indicating that it’s safe for guys still developing either … so that’s a toughy. Creatine is hardly necessary though so if you aren’t comfortable using it, just ditch it.

Is whey bad? Nope. It’s just a processed form of the protein found in dairy. Having a solid protein intake is likely more beneficial for guys who are still growing, if anything. (Getting most of your protein from whole foods though, since whole foods are higher in vitamins and minerals, is still a good idea.)

Does that help at all?

Steve

Yes, thanks a lot my older brother has a jar of whey protein I might use that in a couple months after I develop more muscle at least

Tammy

Thx for super posts. Feel I’m at Supplement Overload, listening to too many w/out checkin sites as this due to body structure.
I’m still 5-7 lbs away from goal. I’ve just stopped gaining & muscle definition/tone is less. Even tried N.O.only 4 terrible Side effects. I’m 48, having hormone issues, so that can be the case. I’d appreicate any “Advice & Direction” on Pre-Post-Supplements & Diet. Even considering IGF, which is last resort for a lady. Thanks much.

Shane Duquette

Hey Tammy,

I’d say supplements are a great bet for healthy people who are already getting the results they’re looking for, and just looking to take things to the next level. If you’re struggling to see progress I’d look at the foundation of your diet and training plan first – that’s where the real results are made!

Hormonal issues can definitely throw a wrench into things, and we’re no experts at dealing with abnormal hormones. I would trust your doctor for advice on that one. Whatever issues you’re dealing with though, don’t let that become an excuse not to accomplish your goals. Everyone has challenges, whether that’s hormones, time, money, appetite, injuries, etc.

Keep in mind that if your goal is a very lofty one, that it takes more time, effort and sacrifices to reach it!

I hope that helps!

My best,
Shane

Tammy

Shane, with reading all the suggestions you’ve given to many, you seem to Rock at helping others. Great job!

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words Tammy, I hope it helps!

Tammy

Shane, It truly does help. I’m enjoying reading many of your articles and putting them into practice. Thanks again.

Gordon

Shane –

In your training drink you mix whey + dextrose + creatine, but in the text of the post you mention malodextrin? Are you recommending malodextrin in the training drink, or dextrose, or are those terms somewhat interchangeable? Great advice, looking forward to giving this a try! Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Gah – we just switched the above link to maltodextrin. Forgot to switch it everywhere, I suppose. I’ll fix that up.

To answer your question though – you’re correct. They’re quite interchangeable (in this context) and either will do the trick. They’re both made out of glucose, and that’s what really matters.

Steve McManus

Hey Shane, nice article. I’ve been following the blog on here for a while and taking the advice on board and incorporating it into my lifestyle and training. I am a 5ft10 ectomorph that weighed 130lbs. I started training in mid January this year and since then I have managed to gain 20lbs. Mostly through eating lots of whole foods and upping my calorie intake and incorporating compound lifts (bench press, barbell squat, deadlift, chin ups and t-rows) into my training plans following your advice.

I have now reached a point where I have decided to start taking supplements and being in the UK I couldn’t use the links you posted in the article so I decided to source some alternative brands/products but still follow your advice.

Just wanted to throw a recommendation out to any other UK people that myprotein.com products are pretty badass and very reasonably priced.

I bought their Impact Whey Protein (Cookie and Cream flavour), Maltodextrin, L Glutamine and Creatine Monohydrate. Mixed up the double dose (slightly concerned about the triple dose making me fat) and it tasted good! Either I have weird taste buds, or these products seem to go together well. Mixed up great to my surprise with no lumps and wasn’t as thick as I expected either.

Plus I worked out that it only costs me £1.45 to make this shake up, so doesn’t break the bank at all!

Not so much a question in here, just thought I’d recommend the above products for UK based people and say keep up the good work!

Money is tight so can’t afford to buy the program yet, but definitely interested in getting it soon. Can you shoot me details of the payment plan, if there is one?

Cheers

Not so much a question

Shane Duquette

Hey Steve, glad you’re liking our stuff man! Your results are awesome! 20 pounds is totally badass.

That’s awesome man, thanks for the tips! That stuff’s really helpful. We’ve got a few UK guys doing the program, and it seems like every continent has to adjust things ever so slightly. Our Australians have been buying ground up oats instead of maltodextrin, for example, and our Germans are getting dextrose from DIY beer breweries (for unbelievably cheap). Pretty cool.

Yeah man, I’ll shoot you the payment plan info. Hope to see you on the other side!

Lewis Lane

Is it safe to drink 50g whey protein, 100g maltodextrin, 10g creatine and 5g glutamin mixed with 450ml in one serving?

Shane Duquette

Do you mean from a hydration standpoint? I would recommend drinking plenty of water. Maybe that means bringing a water bottle with you. We have water fountains at our gym, so if we make a particularly hearty concoction we also mix in some sips of water.

If it’s especially hot and sweaty you might want to be extra careful to avoid dehydration.

I hope that helps!

Sambo, (UK/Mexico)

Hey, great site! I had a few questions as I really don’t know how to go about getting to where I want to be physically. I’m 22, ectomorph, 5’10, around 60kg, i’ve always been about the same size. My body is out of proportion. Luckily i’ve been blessed with naturally large calves and my legs are a nice size generally, it’s just my torso and my arms. My arms are so skinny and always have been and I have NO chest and my stomach is fairly flat, not much really going on, so I know that if I can do things right, I could end up getting a pretty decent body. As for now, it seems like the bottom half of me doesnt match the top. I’ve tried gyms before but never managed to get it right, ending up in no improvements and giving up.
At the start of this year I’ve moved to Mexico, Playa del Carmen, so for anyone who knows this place and who are also in my position phsically will understand that after the first day I went to the beach it started a new fire in me to really do it this time. So I spoke to friends, watched endless youtube videos on workouts and diets and read endless articles. Money right now is a bit of an issue so the gym was a no no. The first 2 months went ok, a lot of different variations of push-ups and squats, changed my diet, started eating a lot more, I noticed some kind of improvement in muscle size but in weight I have no idea as I have no scales in my apartment to keep a check. As I wasn’t seeing as much improvement as I wanted to I had a lapse and gave up again for about 3 weeks and then after going to the beach again I kicked myself and realised i’m not gonna get anywhere if I keep giving up and I pushed myself back into it, this time changing what i’m doing working out, adding burpees, mountain climber, other push up variations, sit-ups, planks and squats, i’ve been doing this new routine for 2 weeks now and I definatley feel like its working out better this time. So right now I find your site and all this great advice and all these questions with great responses and I feel like I can get some genuine great advice now.
So first I wanted to ask about the supplements. As I feel like this new routine is working for me and will have some money in a few weeks I want to invest in a these suppliments and this great recipe for a training drink, but is it really necessary for me to get EVERYTHING mentioned above to really get great improvement that I want?
2. What else could you recommend for how I could get a workout better without any equipment (as I don’t have any)? and how long a good workout should be?
3. How many calories should I be consuming daily and how often do you think I should be eating?
Also after explaining what it is i’m doing, do you even think its gonna get me anywhere at all and do you think I should even be going anywhere near supplements yet?
Any response would be greatly appreaciated as I am so clueless about what I really should be doing and how!
Thanks in advance

Shane Duquette

Hey Sambo, thanks for taking the time to write us! That’s a pretty hefty message! Congrats for finally taking control of your life and trying to accomplish your fitness/strength/health goals, too!

Let’s see what we can do about those questions.
1. None of these supplements are necessary no, and regular whole food has a whole bunch of advantages too, like being unprocessed and packed full of micronutrients. These supplements may be cheaper than food, so in theory they should help you save money though. Whole food protein is usually more expensive than whey, and whole food carbs are usually cheaper than dextrose/maltodextrin. This presents an advantage as far as appetite goes, too, as it’s relatively easy to consume and very easy to digest.

2. Calisthenics (working out using your body weight) is cool, and you can make muscle gains at first. At a certain point the exercises become too easy, and it becomes less about strength and more about endurance. (Going from 15 pushups to 30 pushups, say, will increase your endurance, not your muscle size/strength.) You can be constantly making things more difficult (having someone push down on your back, doing explosive clap pushups, etc) but it quickly becomes complicated, and often takes a lot of athleticism (handstand pushups, say). With weights you can constantly be increasing the heaviness, resulting in progressively bigger muscles as your strength increases – much simpler and more reliable. But, as you probably know, sometimes the cheaper route comes with more challenges. That doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your goals though … it will just be trickier.

3. How much should you be eating? Enough for your weight to increase! There are some advanced ways of figuring that out, like what we use with our members, but you can often get a rough idea by taking your weight and multiplying it by 20. If that still doesn’t have you gaining weight … then you need to eat more. You also need to make sure that your weight is coming in the form of muscle though, so you’ll need to make sure you’re giving your muscles a reason to build strength, not just endurance.

Does that answer all of your questions? I hope that helps man!

Sambo, (UK/Mexico)

Hey, ha thanks for the reply, I realised after that the last message was an essay!
But yeah everything you said makes a lot of sense, I’m gonna see what I can do, mainly I think now I just need to maybe get a gym membership more than anything, calisthenics are gonna have to do for the time being though but better than nothing at all!
By the way I forgot to say before, that video is very impressive and really sold me and if I was in a better financial situation right now I would sign up. I’ll put some money aside when I can and if I can’t get any improvement alone I’ll sign up for sure, finally the real deal!
Thanks for the help and good luck man, I’ll spread the word!

liam

Great article. Just wanted to ask for your opinion on using waxy maize starch as opposed to dextrin or maltodextrin in post-workout shake.

Shane Duquette

Yep, that’s totally cool. It’s a “heavier” starch, which just means there are more glucose molecules connected together. It’s sort of a more slowly digested form of maltodextrin. Great substitute.

Sushant

Hey Shane,
how’re u doing mate ? I started with creatine a couple of months back as per your suggestion and have noticed gains in my lifting capacity but not so much of muscle gain. I also took a gainer called N-large 2 by Prolab but i didn’t gain much at all. It seems like i’ve probably reached a plateau. I am now looking to gain some big ass muscle and hence have a few questions..
1. How effective are the gainers available in the market ? Are they really effective ? I’ve heard people saying that they are useless and one should rather make their own using whey and adding stuff like peanut butter, oats, bananas ets to make a gainer. So should i buy a gainer or whey, considering that i’m looking to bulk up ?
2. What is the best gainer out there in the market which is really helpful for ectomorphs like us ?
3. How much of it should be taken per day ? Is 1 scoop after breakfast and 1 after workout enough or should i be taking more ?

Shane Duquette

Hey Sushant, glad you got some gains man! Everyone responds to creatine differently … and it isn’t magic. So if you aren’t gaining weight and building muscle it won’t make any results burst out of thin air. If you’re ALREADY building muscle though it can certainly accelerate those gains. Does that make sense?

1. I agree with what other people are saying. If you look at what’s actually in them, gainers are like eating cake + a protein shake. It’s mostly maltodextrin (very similar to flour) along with a bunch of other cheap processed calorie-heavy carbs. You’d be better off having the protein shake along with peanut butter, oats, bananas, etc. Some other favourites of mine are: yogurt, milk, other nuts, coconut milk, dark chocolate and raw eggs.

(If you’re into cake, you can, of course, actually have cake along with a protein shake. Ironically, it’s cheaper than most weight gainers and just as effective … but it tastes better. Still not as good as making your own though.)

2. Optimum Nutrition is a very professional company that produces products that actually seem to be “as advertised” perhaps not in terms of results, but at least in terms of ingredients. If their mass gainer (Serious Mass) says that it’s got 30g of whey protein it will actually have 30g of whey protein … which is surprisingly rare in the supplement world.

3. If you’re making your own out of whole foods, you can eat as much of it as you want – it’s healthy afterall! If you’re buying a store bought one that’s heavily processed … then it’s kind of like junk food – you want to eat it in moderation. When bulking you’re probably cool getting 20% of your calories or so from “empty” calories, i.e., calories that aren’t nutritious. As for how much you should consume to grow? You don’t need to consume ANY. But your overall intake should be enough for you to gain weight on the scale and improve on your strength in the gym.

Surrounding training though you can take advantage of a pretty potent advantage that nutrient timing offers. Studies are pretty promising there (as explained in this blog post) so I’d take a hearty amount. You could use it as a more expensive version of what we’re recommending, so just read the end of the article to figure out the dosage that works best for you :)

Hope that helps man! Good luck!

My best,
Shane

Oscar

Hello,

I’m 118lbs and 5’7” and I would like to gain at least 15 lbs by Mid August when I go to college. Would it be possible, especially increase my arm size. Any advice helps I’m pretty desperate.

Shane Duquette

Yeah man, I’d say that’s definitely possible! You should get started soon though!! That’s no small amount of weight and August is getting closer each day ;)

We’d love to help you get there so I hope you join us!
I’m sure you’d be able to do it yourself though, given enough motivation and effort!

Chris

Hey Shane,
I’ve been concerned about taking too many calories because I’ve heard high calorie diets increase risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer…basically decreasing longevity. Now I don’t believe 1000 calories for a workout shake is too crazy. It’s what you’d find in a typical Five Guys bacon cheeseburger. However, if I wanted to workout 4 times a week, do you think there would be any negative high calorie effects associated with taking that many calories?

Shane Duquette

That’s an interesting question, because the main point of consuming a shake that large is because we’re actively TRYING to eat more calories.

My understanding of the health component of consuming a lot of calories is that it depends on where those calories are going. It also depends on whether you’re consuming too little, enough or too much, not whether you’re consuming a little or a lot. Does that make sense?

Overeating > obesity > diabetes.

Eating enough to build muscle but not so much to get fat > lean muscle gains > beastliness.

Does that make sense?

Alex

Hi guys,

What a great article, I love the fact that you use research studies to back up your claims. Your photos are also a great testament to your hard work.

I’ve been a skinny guy my whole life but have recently, through training and eating, started to increase in size. My situation is made more complex by the fact that I’m gluten intolerant which rules out wheat pastas, lots of training shakes, bread, and many of the easily available carbs.

I’d love to get a little more info from yourselves relating to the ingredients that you use in your recipe book before I go ahead and purchase your product. How gluten free friendly are you guys?

I’m currently working on a few recipes using quinoa is a flour substitute for protein bars and cakes. Nutritionally they should be very beneficial with the complex carb and protein base of the quinoa so I’d be happy to keep you posted.

If you do have any advice relating to gf training I’d love to hear it.

Kind regards

Alex
United Kingdom.

Alex

Hi guys,

What a great article, I love the fact that you use research studies to back up your claims. Your photos are also a great testament to your hard work.

I’ve been a skinny guy my whole life but have recently, through training and eating, started to increase in size. My situation is made more complex by the fact that I’m gluten intolerant which rules out wheat pastas, lots of training shakes, bread, and many of the easily available carbs.

I’d love to get a little more info from yourselves relating to the ingredients that you use in your recipe book before I go ahead and purchase your product. How gluten free friendly are you guys?

I’m currently working on a few recipes using quinoa is a flour substitute for protein bars and cakes. Nutritionally they should be very beneficial with the complex carb and protein base of the quinoa so I’d be happy to keep you posted.

If you do have any advice relating to gf training I’d love to hear it.

Kind regards

Alex
United Kingdom..

Shane Duquette

Hey Alex, glad you like our stuff man!

Being gluten intolerant actually isn’t all too bad for bulking up! I had a girlfriend who was gluten intolerant for a while … at which point I realized I ALREADY wasn’t eating any gluten. I eat a ton of beans and plenty of potatoes. Lots of guys eat tons of rice and quinoa. Flour isn’t all that nutritious, and, well, I haven’t found it all that delicious either. Pizza and pasta have never been big favourites of mine even from a taste perspective. I’d much rather have chili (beans+corn) or stew (potatoes). At restaurants I always go for the meat+potato meals, too. Or seafood.

So I’d say we’re very very gluten-free-friendly :)

Does that answer your question?

I hope you decide to join us man!

My best,
Shane

Tremayne

Hi Shane! I’m really tiny. I’m 120 lbs at 5′ 9″ and I want to start this plan soon. What dosages do you reccomend for me personally?
Very good article though.

Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Hey Tremayne, I’d start with a regular size drink and then, if you feel good, increase the size of it up to the 3x size :)

Tremayne

Hey Shane again. I was re-reading the article and was wondering, do I mix 90g of protein, 180g of carbs, and 15g of creatine also or triple it so it would be 270g of protein, 540 grams of carbs and 45g of creatine? I don’t want to mess up. As I said before I’m 120 pounds at 5’9″. What’s the regime you use? Would I mix the 3, drink it before, after or during my workout? When would I have to drink the fish oil?

Thanks!!

Shane Duquette

I would start with 30g whey protein and 60g maltodextrin. If that goes well and it comes time to increase, then up it to 60g whey protein and 120g maltodextrin. Then, finally, up to 90g protein and 180g maltodextrin … but that’s a hefty drink so I’d work up to it!

Jack

Hey man, I started taking 2 2.5g of creatine in chewable wafers daily for the last 5 days. I’ve noticed that it makes me much thirstier than usual so i’ve been drinking a lot of water. I know that creatine has a unique relationship with water but if i have a lot of water, will i flush the creatine out of my system when i go to the bathroom?

Shane Duquette

Some, sure! You want to take in a bit more than you need for that reason. For your body to take in 3g (which is around what you want to be giving it) you need to consume 5-6g :)

AB

What is the best dosage for the NutraSea Fish oil? Just pour into a tspoon and consume once a day?

Shane Duquette

Yep, consuming once a day is perfect. You’d likely want to pour it into a tablespoon though, not a teaspoon.

Drew B

—-“That bad boy racks up 1080 calories of exactly the kind of nutrition we want when training.”—-

– One question, are you factoring in the calories from whatever it is you’re mixing it with? –

I ask because I normally like using a half a liter of whole milk (~300 calories) as the basis for my own workout shake.

Or are you just using water in your shakes? Are there any advantages or disadvantages to using milk instead of water?

So many questions…

Shane Duquette

Milk is a surprisingly potent workout drink, considering how ridiculously slowly we digest it! It has a lot of muscle-building benefits built into it, since there are so many rad vitamins and minerals in there, alongside a great source of protein.

The protein shake we drink, however, is mixed with water.

If you’re mixing yours with milk just use a bit less protein and maltodextrin in your mix so that you wind up with the same total amount of carbs and protein in there.

You may dig this article, too:
http://bonytobeastly.com/milk-muscle-and-marcel-the-ectomorph-dairy-guide/

Does that help?

Albert

Hi there. I have a very limited budget so I would just like to ask if buying creatine and whey protein will be enough? Or should I buy whey protein and fish oil isntead? I am a beginner when it comes to working out so forgive me for this question. I also read that there are harmful side effects when using fish oil, are those claims true? thank you.

Shane Duquette

If you’re using a quality fish oil like NutraSea I can’t imagine you running into any harmful side effects at all … it’s pretty universally considered an incredibly healthy supplement. You can certainly ask your doctor though! (With any exercise or nutrition program that’s always a wise idea, as everyone is a little different.)

Creatine is cheaper and is absolutely incredible at building muscle, so if that’s your main goal I’d go for that one.
Fish oil is great for your longterm health though, so perhaps that’s something you’ll want to incorporate into your diet down the road if you ever have a bit more disposable income to invest in your health :)

Does that help?

Rafeh

Hey I had no idea what an “ectomorph” until yesterday
I watched your video and like yourself I struggled for years gave up tried again and to avail came close to my aspirations.
I tried protein drinks but I’m not sure what happened once I stopped sweating.. I would also get kidney stones.. Or bowel movement would stop or go crazy if you get what I mean lol..
I even messed up my back by doing squats and slipped a disc
I’m 6ft and 140lbs and man I’ve tried it all!..
You think this program can help me

Shane Duquette

Hey Rafeh, it sounds like you’ve had a rougher than average run of things! Almost all of us run into our share of mishaps, struggles and challenges with this stuff—I know I did!—but you seem to have struggled with quite a few!

Yes, I think our program could help. We take a pretty methodical approach to this and the goal is to make you even more resistant to injury, not set you up for it. We’re also trying to recommend a healthy diet that has you naturally building muscle, not one that has you sacrificing your health in order to look a certain way.

I haven’t ever heard of whey protein causing kidney stones or causing people to stop sweating though. Stopping taking whey protein sounds like the right idea, especially since having bowel issues makes me think you may be allergic or intolerant to it, but you may also want to ask your doc just incase it’s something unrelated to the whey protein.

You may want to get clearance to do squats and deadlifts again, too. When done properly these exercises have the potential to fix disk issues, or at least remove the symptoms, since you can build up a lot of protective muscle surrounding your spine + learn how to move better / more safely / more athletically / more naturally … but if you have a pre-existing injury you should definitely get it checked out by a medical professional.

The good news is that a couple months or years from now you can be a fearsomely healthy, strong and athletic dude with a body that makes you proud of what you were able to accomplish … and all these struggles could be something that you affectionately laugh at ;)

Does that help?
And I hope you decide to join us man :)

Shane Duquette

You may find value in this article, too:
http://bonytobeastly.com/ectomorph-weightlifting/

Jesse

Do you take the maltodextrin on days you don’t lift? If so, how much do you take?

Shane Duquette

No sir! On non-lifting days I try to eat as much whole nutritious food as possible. When it comes to starches my go-to favourites are: legumes (e.g. beans), whole grain bread, peas, potatoes and fruits. There are tons of options out there—another big favourite for a lot of healthfully-minded dudes is quinoa.

So long as it’s a real food and it’s been minimally processed you should be good to go! (So processed white rice and processed white flour aren’t ideal, while, say, oatmeal and whole grains would be.)

Hope that helps!

kobby

i would like to know more about your products

Shane Duquette

Right now we’ve just got one landmark program: Bony to Beastly. Check it out:
http://bonytobeastly.com/the-program/

I think you’d get a lot out of it. Give it a read and see if you’d be a good fit?
If you are, we’d love to have you man :)

Omar

Do you consume the same amount of supplement servings on your rest days as well, or is it only on workout days?

Shane Duquette

Only workout days. On rest days it’s best to stick with nutritious whole foods :)

Gray H.

Are there any alternate body building supplements without Creatine, because doctor suggested me not to use because. Creatine is not suitable for me.

Shane Duquette

For sure, just don’t add the creatine :)

Maltodextrin + whey protein still makes a fearsome workout drink. And fish oil is still a great addition to your daily nutrition.

Does that help?

Ree

Hi. I’ve been following your website, and am considering getting your program, but I have a few questions.

I’ve a skinny skinny ectomorph (quoting what was said in the article). I’m ripped skinny, and I’ve been trying to do body weight exercises and compound exercises like squats, pull ups, crunches, but have not added much to my mass. It’s a little hard for me to prepare high calorie meals because of family members (and I cook for everyone), so I was considering supplements to aid me.

However, the protocol seems a little scary. I’ve had reservations about supplements for years because people kept telling me that I’d be fat when I’m older (I’m 23 now).. What do you suggest? I was thinking of going for whey protein first. But would that not add a lot of gains? I’m 174cm, weighing 54kg? 5’9, 121 pounds. I hope I converted that right. I wanna gain muscles so bad..

Hope to hear from you. And thank you for this article, and for helping me.

Shane Duquette

That’s sweet Ree, glad to hear you’re considering our program. I hope you do wind up deciding to join us :)

Bodyweight exercises are a good place to start, and they can often spark some initial gains and get things going … but since they aren’t necessarily “heavy” it’s often hard to keep your muscles growing beyond a certain point. You begin to build up muscular endurance instead of muscle strength / size. Guys who can do 50 pushups don’t necessarily have bigger chests than guys who can do 20. Does that make sense?

We’ve got a lot of sweet strategies for eating more calories, so I think you’d be set there, whether they come from supplements or not. On that note, I’m a little confused by your concern with supplements. What do supplements (like creatine, whey, fish oil, etc) have to do with becoming fat when you’re older?

Haha I know what you mean about wanting to gain muscles so badly! It’ll happen.

Sultan

hey shane,
thank you for the great article

I’m considering joining the program. I went through the comments and i hope that you reply on the few ones on top. That will clear out and help me a big time.

Shane Duquette

Hey Sultan, I try to answer every single question! Sometimes they slip by though on here, so if I’ve missed anything give me a shout and I’d be happy to answer it :)

Kaka

hey shane the article is quite impressive definitely going to try it, I just want to know one thing you said to consume 3-5g of creatine a day.
Do i have to take creatine dosage plus add creatine it to my drink for workout day or the drink is enough?

Shane Duquette

The workout drink is more than enough creatine for the day! If you’re taking a triple dose of the shake and you triple the amount of creatine that’s likely enough creatine that you don’t even need to take it on rest days!

Ryan Cummings

Hi Shane my name is Ryan,
I just so happened to stumble across one of your articles a couple hours ago and since then have thoroughly enjoyed most of what your website has to offer. Must say very impressed! :) I normally dont comment on websites but seeing how thoroughly you respond I figure I will give it a shot; my apologies however on the length of my post before hand.

A lot has changed since high school, I am 20 years old now and 5 months away from shipping out for basic training for the military (cant enlist until braces are off).

high school I played a lot of sports ate healthy and was incredibly skinny couldn’t gain weight. 5-9 100 pounds. Def ectomorphs.

Now couple years later terrible diet, virtually no excersise, and no supplements. I am 6foot 1 and 190 pounds. Not chubby at all but def fat has hidden my 6 pack away :/

As I said I have a few months to jump back on board and I am dead serious about getting in the best shape of my life. I just bought YMCA membership and signed up for swimming lessons. I don’t want to spend more than $1,000 in the next few months on supplemts/your program and food but will if thats what it takes.

My question for you is your program the right fit for me?

I want to bulk up with some serious muscle mass and burn some of this 22 percent body fat and get it back down to healthy level.

And will your workout shake/supplements work for me even though I am no longer a twig ( :) my shoulders finally broadened out!) Or will I need to make adjustments?

Again, sorry that was alot…

Shane Duquette

Hey Ryan glad you took the time to write that epic message up, and stoked that you dig our blog.

They don’t take guys with braces? Hah that’s wild—who knew.

Props for getting up to 190! You’ve gained 90 pounds! That’s crrrrazy.

On some blogs that might not be admirable, but here that makes your stomach a hero ;)

Most people need to make some adjustment or another, as everyone is a little different. That’s one reason why I think the community/coaching is so important, as it’d give you a chance to get things customized until they fit you perfectly.

Gives with a higher body fat percentage are often less resistant to fat (for one reason or another) so depending on why that is there’ll be some changes that we recommend, whether that’s to your diet or training or both.

Yep, the workout shake will still work. Just stick with a single dose—for now at least. If you’ve really got a tendency to overeat feel free to skip it though—you can just as easily have whole foods instead, which are more satiating (and probably more enjoyable).

Hope you decide to join us man! We’d love to have you, and I think you’d get a lot out of it.

Brandon

hey, i just stumbled upon this site because i am looking to find some information on how to gain serious muscle. i am currently 18 years old 115 lbs and 5 foot 6 inches do you think your program will help?

Shane Duquette

Muahahaha packing fearsome amounts of muscle onto thin ectomorphs is our specialty!

18 is a great age to start, too. Hell, I wish I’d started that young (or rather I wish when I’d tried at 18 I hadn’t failed so miserably and given up so prematurely!).

Your hormones should be doing wonderful things for building muscle right about now, too :)

I think you’d get a lot out of our program, so I hope you do decide to join!

-Shane

jason

bro I weight 52 kg and I’m 5’11 and I am 17 and need to gain some serious muscle..what would be the best way bro?And I’m confused wheather to take serious mass as I play football and burn alot of calories..please help me bro :)

Shane Duquette

You’re a football player looking to build serious muscle? You sound like you’d be perfect for our program. Marco’s huge into strength and athletics and coaches a ton of football players — right up the professional level. Our program will work wonders at getting you into wicked shape to kick ass on the football field :)

17 is a great age to start into all of this stuff, too (with your parents’ permission, of course).

Chadd w

I bought everything. I’m 5’10 / 135 / 21 . Lets fucking rock and roll

Shane Duquette

Young, lean and well equipped — right on man.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes! :)

Michael

Great article! I’m a fitness buff who’s a trainer for equinox in Toronto, and I commend you on your information. Quick question: in regards to fish oil, I haven’t quite found a reputable source that suggest a best time for it to be taken? What would you suggest?

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s sweet man! I checked out Equinox’s website and it looks like a pretty badass premium club. And it’s right here in Toronto! (We live in Toronto too.) Seems like a great place to train at!

With stuff like that, when no one can agree what the right answer is, it often means that there isn’t one superior option. Fish oil timing is one of those cases. So long as you take it each day you’re set — timing doesn’t really matter.

I take it first thing in the morning just because it’s easy for me to remember that way.

Oliver

This program sounds awesome! But the links you attached with the four supplements you recommend aren’t valid any longer, could you maybe fix it or something? And man, looking at this site just makes me so excited to join and try!

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the heads up Oliver! You’re right—it looks like Bodybuilding.com switched service providers. This will take a couple hours to update — we’ll try and tackle that tomorrow!

Oliver

Hey Shane, thanks for your reply. I noticed that you have updated the links, but not all of them. The ones of whey protein and Maltodextrin are still invalid.

Gregg

What kind of drink do you use in the shake?

Shane Duquette

Do you mean what do we mix the powders with? I recommend water. Some of our guys use milk though (and use a bit less whey and maltodextrin so that it has the same overall nutrient breakdown).

sujith

Hey shane
I’m from India.Read your article it’s so helpfull.
But I’m confused with buying supplement.
I only weigh 47kg.Can you please suggest me a good one.I already used BSN TRUEMASS but it’s didn’t show any results.
Thanks

Shane Duquette

Hey Sujith, we’ll be updating the supplement links tomorrow. They seem to be broken right now, as bodybuilding.com switched their service provider. Sorry for the confusion!

sujith

Ohh thanks for replying,but my point is I used bsn truemass 4 months ago but it didn’t show any results.So which one will give me better result.

Shane Duquette

Hehe I think the drink we recommend making in this article will give better results!

If you aren’t making gains though the problem isn’t with your supplements, it’s with your training or diet. Supplements accelerate gains … but if you aren’t making gains to begin with, they won’t be the magic solution. It’s all about the fundamentals for that!

Am I understanding your question correctly?

sujith

Loud and clear :D

Did you updated the links !?

Shane Duquette

Still working on it! They changed their system up and we’re still waiting to hear back so we can put in the new links. I’m hoping we can get it handled in the next couple of days :)

sujith

Man please name the supplement which should I buy.

Dave

Hi Shane, thanks for the great post here. The info you guys provide has been very helpful in my quest to gain weight. I just started using the fish oil that you have recommended ( thanks for the links ) and you were right, this stuff is really quite easy to take. However, I just read a study which links omega 3s to a higher risk of prostate cancer. I was wondering if you have read this study yet? I’m not sure what to think about it yet. I figured I will talk to my doctor about this one before continuing with the omega supplements. Thanks again.

Shane Duquette

Oh man that study has been making waves! For other guys reading this, I’m thinking you’re talking about this study.

First, it’s a correlational study so you always need to take those with a grain of salt. Correlation doesn’t prove causation, so those are a starting point at best … and when compared with the overall body of research into omega 3s and fish oil in this case it really doesn’t measure up. There are many other studies that were conducted in a much better and more conclusive manner that haven’t found the same.

Second, this study measured BLOOD SERUM levels of omega 3s, not DIETARY CONSUMPTION of omega 3s. The two are very weakly related … so this study really doesn’t really even say much about supplementing with omega 3s at all. (Plus the researchers, apparently, don’t think these guys were even supplementing with fish oil.)

Interestingly enough, fish oil actually reduces your chance of getting prostate cancer in several other ways: improving your hormonal profile, reducing risk of obesity and reducing inflammation.

Aaaaand keep in mind that MOST studies still show that consumption of omega 3s reduces your risk of prostrate cancer!

The media is always coming out with sensational stuff like this, as this new research is shock worthy and increases readership. It’s usually best to let the dust settle and THEN evaluate. So far it’s seeming like when the dust settles on this one fish oil will be back in the clear :)

With that said, always check with your doc!

Misha

Thanks Shane, what a great article! As a ectomorph struggling to put on weight this is very helpful.

I was going through the comments and must appreciate the fact that you take the time to answer all questions your readers have. Most of my doubts got clarified as I went through your answers. So, thanks again.

Shane Duquette

No problem Misha, glad it helped! Stay tuned for the new articles we’ve got coming out for ectomorphs struggling to put on weight :)

And if you’ve ever got a question always feel free to drop a comment.

Stan

You realize that your website isn’t even indexed in Google?

And this post is broscience all the way. You don’t need supplements at all. Just eat and lift heavy.

Dave

Stan, did you even read the article?

Jean

Hey there, I’m 5’7 and jump around between 155 to 160 pounds. I’ve been working out for a few years and have gotten pretty good upper body definition. My legs could use a lot more work though. I’m still not quite satisfied. I looking to gain another 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. I train for strength as well for definition. I’m on Creatine and a Mass builder protein supplement. I don’t have a great diet, because I eat whatever. I’m what you call a hard gainer. Even though I know I’m stronger I still want the mass to go along with it. I’m wondering if you have any advice for me or if a program like this would work for me?

Shane Duquette

It’s refreshing to hear a guy say that they need more LEG work! That’s sweet.

If you’re a guy who doesn’t eat well … you may be selling yourself short as far as your genetics go! You may not be a hardgainer at all, just a poor eater! ;)

You sounds like a good fit for this program, yeah. We can definitely bulk up the stilts, and nothing will do a better job of giving you a strong balanced physique than squats and deadlifts!

Check out some of the transformations here. You can see some thighs absolutely explode:

http://www.facebook.com/bonyToBeastly

Dom

Hey Shane, what is your opinion on oatmass as an alternative to maltodextrin? (Or, rather, blended oats, as they are essentially the same, right?) It’s just all supplements cost a ton in Australia and I was wondering about other options. Cheers

Shane Duquette

Yep that’s totally cool. The main thing is that a) it’s made to be consumed raw, and b) that it’s a starch.

You’re not the first person to ask this – we’ve got a lot of Australians in our program doing the same thing ;)

Chadd

Yo Shane I’m a month in and gained 8 lbs double dosing. I’m tripling up to hit 150. This stuff is working!

Shane Duquette

Niiiiice! That’s awesome man, keep it up!
8 pounds in a month is amazing :D

James

I’m interested in taking your program, but I wanted to confirm that I was, in fact an ‘ectomorph’. I’m 6’2, and I’ve been naturally skinny my whole life. However, Ive gained unwanted fat in my middle section, and thighs, where that was never happening in the past.I weigh now around 165 lbs. I still appear skinny to most, but I may be average. Do youvthinkbthos program is right for me?

Thanks!

Shane Duquette

It’s very rare that someone is a total ectomorph is every way. Most guys have a bit of this or that mixed in, often in the form of carrying a little bit extra around the middle hehe.

I’ve been overweight back in the day too, back in one of my failed weight gain attempts.

I think you sound like a great fit, and we’d love to have you man! I hope you decide to join us :)

Jhon

Dudes,

I’ve been reading a lot about muscle building recently, and I very much started seeing some patterns in “what is the fastest rate in which you can build muscle?” It seems that you can around 0.5 to 1 lb of muscle per week if you’re a newbie (my case) and about 20-30 lbs in your first year of training with proper nutrition.

Now, I’m not saying that gaining 20-30 in 12 weeks isn’t possible. I’m actually looking forward to that. I’ve been gaining about 1 lb of muscle per week for about three months (gained aprox 12 lbs of muscle in that time span) WITHOUT taking ANY supplements. Now, here comes the problem: it is becoming unsustainable EATING all those calories and I pretty much reached my (eating) limit (for now), so I started thinking about taking supplements.

I’l probably go with malto + whey protein. Considering that that will almost certainly boost my muscle building rate, I’ve been wondering:

Does you guys or any one of your clients ever got ANY stretch marks on your skin due to rapid muscle building?

Shane Duquette

12 pounds in 12 weeks?! Niiice! Congrats man, that’s amazing!

Sounds like you’ve got a great handle on this :D

Hmm no I’ve never heard of stretch marks from growing outwards. (Even my tattoos seem to be doing fine, and I’ve gained 70 pounds!) A lot of us ectomorphs have stretch marks from growing UPwards though. A lot of us take to puberty by rapidly shooting sky high instead of getting muscular, it seems.

If you’re worried about stretch marks you can just use a moisturizing, drink plenty of water, etc. So long as your skin elasticity is good you won’t get stretch marks. You can google tricks for pregnant women if you like ;)

There are a lot of problems with those max-rate-of-muscle-gain studies and I won’t really get into that here, but I’m glad you’re already proving them wrong, as many many guys have, both inside this program and out!

Replacing whole foods with whey and maltodextrin won’t necessarily boost your muscle-building rate … but you’re right in that if it allows you to consume more calories, then the extra calories certainly will!

The supplements that improve your body’s ability to build muscle are rare, and for that I’d recommend creatine!

Congrats again on your gains!

John

Shane, dudes, thank you!

It awes me how much you guys are into this for us, ectomorphs. It’s incredible to find this community of ectomorphs that you were able to built. It’s nice to see that you’re open for our questions, too :) I’m a student, so it’s kinda hard for me to pay for the program right now, but I guarantee I’ll buy it in the future just to show my support!

Haha, thanks, but as I said, it’s been difficult for me to put all those extra cals in. The past two weeks I merely stood at my current weight. Hopefully the malto + whey drink will help. I’m planning to adjust my diet to go a little bit higher in cals, too. Even being a skinny skinny ectomorph, I feel afraid of gaining fat (I must confess that the TRIPLE dose scared the hell out of me! hahaha), and was a little bit conservative about eating too many calories. I want to have the leanest possible bulk ever (cutting being an ectomorph? Nah, I’ll pass that haha) :)

I’ll step back from creatine for now because I drink SO MUCH water naturally that would bug me to drink even more due to use of creatine. If the malto + whey doesn’t prove to be helping a lot, maybe I’ll give it a try.

Shane Duquette

I know what you mean. Sometimes when you’re impressively lean it’s tough giving that up on the way to becoming buffer. You wind up passing through that “average” zone where you’re neither impressively lean nor impressively healthy, and that can be a bit of a bummer. By super leanly bulking you can always maintain your strength of being lean while adding on the new strength of being strong and healthy.

Don’t let it undercut your gains though! You need to gain weight to grow, so a calorie surplus is your friend!

Marco has the “always see your abs” rule that he follows. I like to track using the vein on my bicep. I’d find something like that on yourself and then start ramping things up and up, while always tweaking when necessary to make sure you aren’t getting too “fat” for your preference.

Sounds like you’re on the right track already :)

Good luck man!

HK

Bought some:
– Creatine
– Dextrose
– Maltodextrin
– Whey

Bodyweight 64 KG – 1.85 M tall

I take creatine with some food and use whey after workout but how to use dextrose and maltodextrin:
-Pre or post?
-Mix dextrose with maltodextrin?
-Mix both with whey is better?
– how much g/KG(Bodyweight) of both

Just let me know so I can begin, Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Hey HK, that’s sweet!

Read the “the protocol” section of the blog post and that should give you all the info you need :)

HK

Shane, I read that you use 15g of Creatine when you try to gain some weight. But people say 5g is the max because if you take more, you’ll just pee the rest out and your body would see the other 10g as trash. Is this true or is our maximum of creatine as being an ectomorph much higher?

Shane Duquette

Yeah I used to take 15g of creatine spaced out over a couple hours. I’d take 5g half an hour before training, 5g during and 5g after. Some creatine might have been flushed out, yeah. It’s pretty cheap and safe so I’m not all too concerned if that’s the case, but you can definitely use 5g of creatine in your workout shakes!

That’d be interesting to follow up on and see if any new studies shed some light on that!

Dave

Hey Shane I wanted to know other than the days im working out and making that double dose shake, should i be having just a regular whey protein shake the days im off? And is having all that protein healthy for you?

dave

Shane also why not just use a weight gainer protein shake as opposed to the whey protein

Shane Duquette

You could use a gainer if you like, but they’re much much more expensive and might not have quite the right breakdown.

Universal Torrent is a pretty good gainer, although once you start having several servings at once the cost quickly adds up!

With something like Torrent you’re paying a fair price for the whey protein (although it’s often a lower quality whey in gainers) but you’re getting totally ripped off on the filler ingredients. The maltodextrin they load the stuff with costs them pennies and costs you several dollars. I figure may as well just buy it yourself, mix your own perfect ratio, and save a bit of money.

It’s versatile too. Can trim the doses down and fiddle with things if you ever decide to cut or anything.

Shane Duquette

Getting your protein from a variety of sources is best, and yep whey protein is a totally valid place to get it.

On rest days you can absolutely use whey / supplements if your diet is otherwise lacking. If you’ve got tons of protein coming from whole foods already … probably not necessary

When bulking I find I don’t ever really need whey protein on rest days, as I eat plenty of meat, dairy, beans, peas, etc. I get more than enough there.

Does that help / make sense?

mohannad

Can you refresh the links of the lists of supplements please.
Thanks in advance for your reach article that helps me a lot.

Shane Duquette

Hey Mohannad, we’re trying our best to get the links up and running again. Bodybuilding.com switched all their supplement affiliate stuff around and we’re still getting re-approved and all sorts of not so fun stuff.

I’m hoping we can get it running in the next couple days. If we can’t … we’ll just scrap the whole affiliate thing and just link out to the supplements normally. I’m still hopeful we can make it work though!

Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for the support!

Juan Cruz

Hey Shane! I just want to say that I’ve spent a lot of time reading your articles and they are truly amazing, I cannot describe how much you’ve inspired me, and the information you provide is pretty wise and quite easy to understand, I just wanted to ask you a question that has been stumbling my mind for a few months now, I am currently taking gold standard whey protein, and for my post workout drink I blend about 48g of whey, add in 2 bananas which contain around 28g of carbohydrates each, and finish it off with a Gatorade which has 30g of carbohydrates, I read that in order to achieve greater results your carbohydrate intake should double your protein intake, but I was wondering can you develop tolerance from taking in the same amount of protein everyday? Lets say will I have to increase my protein intake overtime? And I also read that your body absorbs about 25g of protein in an hour so what would be the point of doubling your protein intake if it would all be converted into waste? I am looking forward to stop drinking Gatorade as it contains quite a lot of sugars, and buy maltodextrin instead as it looks much healthier, thank you Shane for your time and keep it up! Your site is great.

Juan

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words Juan! Comments like yours are why I love writing blog articles so much.

Gold Standard is sweet. ON is a good company. Bananas are sweet too, and a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as being a good source of carbs. I don’t know why you’re using Gatorade as a carb source exactly – the flavour? I think Gatorade is made out of sucrose, which contains fructose. Fructose is absorbed very differently from glucose and not necessarily in a beneficial way. Not the best thing to be taking in high doses while training. I mean, 30g isn’t that high a dose, and bananas have fructose in ‘em too … but as far as empty carbs like Gatorade go, you could probably do better! I mean bananas have so many amazing things going for them. I’d go for maltodextrin, dextrose or waximaize over gatorade. If you like the flavour of Gatorade, you could try adding a scoop of Xtend to your drink. Some quality amino acids and some berry / citric acid taste. (You can buy flavouring like citric acid separately too.) I’m nitpicking though, and what you’re doing sounds pretty good overall.

Yep, you can develop an intolerance from eating too much of anything, really! It’s common with nuts, berries, milk … and whey protein (among many others). We train three times per week and recommend taking this just three times a week when bulking … which isn’t that often to be having whey protein. If you’re consuming whey protein more often than that and/or in high doses you can buy a couple different brands at once (maybe grab some IsoNatural or something) and cycle ‘em. Your body will no longer be getting the exact exact same type of whey over and over again, and it should solve that (if it’s even a problem to begin with).

If your body can only absorb 25g of protein in an hour then drinking more than 25g of whey in an hour will just mean that it takes longer than an hour to digest all of the protein! That’s not an issue. Most meals take 10 hours or so to digest if I’m remembering correctly!

(If we just peed calories out if we ate them too fast that would be the best news ever for chubby guys and gals, who, presumably, could eat entire cakes just fine so long as they ate them quickly enough. Sadly, for them, that isn’t really the case.)

Does that make sense / help?

Christopher Laza

Sorry for the bad english*filipino here :)
Hi! How much oz. of water needed for the Whey + maltodextrin + creatine. I use a protein shaker(20oz.). Thanks in advance :)

Shane Duquette

A lot of water is needed!

I’m Canadian so I had no idea what 20 oz meant … but it turns out my shaker is American and it says 28 oz. 28 is enough for me to baaaarely get in the triple dose, and I also sip from a water fountain sometimes, as it’s still thick enough to make me thirsty.

With a 20z bottle you’d definitely be able to fit in a single dose, which is where you should start anyway. If you wanted to do a triple you’d need to batch ‘em. You could drink 1 in the change room beforehand, 1 in the gym and 1 after. Three is overkill for many/most guys though, so see how one treats you!

dave

Thanks Shane for all the help and advice. Can i make this with milk or is the taste not gonna be as good? Also how much milk would you use if you use 28 oz of water?

Shane Duquette

You could probably make it with milk so long as you feel good while drinking it. I don’t know how much you’d use – maybe a similar amount? You’d reduce the amount of protein / carbs from the whey and maltodextrin though, as you’d be getting some from the milk.

Admittedly, this would digest more slowly (milk digests very slowly) but you’d also be getting lots of benefits from the milk, so the net result would probably be great.
Also if you’re going for milk you might be getting some fat in there (if you use a fatty milk) which, again, isn’t necessarily the best … but then you have studies showing that whole milk is the most anabolic type of milk taken post-workout, so again, the net result is probably good! (Could be that fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin D, work better in whole fat milk.)

Christopher Laza

Got it! Thanks Shane! :D

david

Shane im sure you answered this somehwere but since carbo gain doesnt have a scoop how do you measure out a serving size? Or how many scoops would i use if i used the scooper from the gold whey box

Shane Duquette

Haha nope – we haven’t answered that question elsewhere on the blog. The tub should have nutrition information on the side … but who weighs their food? Not me …

So that’s a reallllly good question. I think the scoops we had for another brand of maltodextrin that we tried was about the same size as the whey scoop, so I imagine the calories/scoop would be similar.

Right now Jared and I are trying waximaize (maltodextrin is way more enjoyable – waximaize seems to be the twin of corn starch) and it came with a scoop.

I think the correct answer is to weigh it, but I’d use the whey scoop. This stuff isn’t SO finicky that messing it up by a few grams would screw you over anyway :)

David

Sorry Shane so its give or take 1 scoop of the carbo gain using the whey scooper right haha?

Shane Duquette

Yeah it should be close to that!

Cj

Shane which is better MP-Combat or On-100%Gold Standard. Dextrose or waximaize. And can you help me choose the best creatine brand? Thanks Shane!

Shane Duquette

Hey CJ,

I don’t know what MP-Combat is, and ON does wickedly well in independent consumer lab tests … so I’d go with ON.

Dextrose tastes like milk sugar, and waximaize tastes like cornstarch – up to your taste buds! I’d go with waxi, but I don’t really like sweet things. (Might be better for the teeth, too?)

Allmax and ON make good creatine. Any Creapure micronized monohydrate should be good though!

Hope that helps!

Cj

Thanks Shane! Keep up the good work!

Ahmed

Hey Shane,
great article ,it’s the first article i read in a while that has all the information i need….
i just got small problem,as english isn’t my first language i got confused about the amount of supplements i should take and when??…could u please mention that in a brief…Thank you :)

Ahmed

btw im 135 lbs and 5’6″

Shane Duquette

Try 60g maltodextrin + 30g whey protein isolate + 6g creatine. Have it right after you finish your workout.

If you feel great, you’re skinny and ripped and itching for quicker muscle gains … try drinking a second one during your workout. That will double the dose and give you some extra calories and extra protein to play around with. (No need to double the creatine, although you could!)

Does that solve ‘er?

Ahmed

That really helped :) ,
About the fish oil,when should i take it?…and that’ll be all :)

Shane Duquette

Anytime you like. I’d take it at a time that you remember to take it, so perhaps first thing in the morning or right before bed.

Ahmed

Thanks alot Shane….keep up the good work

david

I am 17 years of age.my cheeks hv got a litttle bit sunken and I want a supplement. plzzzz email me the name if the supplement

Shane Duquette

Sounds like you need to find a way to consume more calories if you’re losing weight / your cheeks are becoming sunken. Supplements might be something you want to look into down the road, once you’ve got the nutrition fundamentals figured out.

Not a glamorous or exciting answer, perhaps, but I think you’ll see much better results :)

Good luck man! I know eating more and being beastlier in the kitchen is easier said than done, so just take it day by day and try to build up progressively better and better habits!

2kAN

i used to be worried about my skinny body but after i read the above, i stop this thought of buying suppliments, i ll focus on eating god food and training program

Shane Duquette

Right on man, that’s definitely definitely the place to start. Supplements are the gravy on the steak, not the steak itself :)

Good luck, and let us know how it goes :)

Jake

Dudes,

After all your gains, do you still take supplements? I mean, when people reach their goals in terms of bodyweight, do they stop taking supps easily?

I ask because in my country supps are overtaxed, so I see it as an investment, instead of a cheaper alternative to food. I don’t want to become dependent on supps.

I’m gaining weight reliably, but I’m sincerely tired of being scrawny, and there is still 20 lb to go. I stress constantly about it, and I just been thinking about anything that could help me with building muscle (drug-free) is a go, so supplements are my first choice.

Buuut… people become hostage to this shit. They won’t have the willpower to go to the gym without it after using it a couple of times… and I’m not talking physiologically, but psychologically. I wonder if it would be possible to drop naturally, with ease, them once I packed those 20 lb. Would you guys mind telling me a little about your thoughts and experiences?

Jake :)

Shane Duquette

That’s a really good question!

I used to wonder that all the time myself. First off, let’s break ‘em up into categories and then see what I can do.

Ergogenic supplements (SuperPump, NO xplode, jack3d, etc): These are the performance enhancing pre-workout supplements … and they’re the hardest thing to stop using ever. I felt like I went from being superman to a weak old man when I stopped training with them. They’re also WICKED expensive, don’t contribute to gains at all, and aren’t necessarily the best for you … so we don’t even recommend them. The solution: have a cup of coffee instead. Much better for your health, even offering some advantages, tested for centuries, still very effective (caffeine is great for working out) and if you ever decide to stop it’s pretty easy. I don’t feel compelled to have it or anything pre-workout.

Intra-workout nutrition: These are the caloric ones that actually contribute to your gains, as they’re comparable to food in that they actually contain muscle-building nutrition. This is what we heartily recommend in this post, but it isn’t in any way NECESSARY in order to get rad gains. The pre-made premium intra-workout / recovery drinks like Universal Torrent, Surge Recovery, etc – those are very expensive. The homemade ones are very cheap, and, for MOST people, cheaper than their whole food equivalents. (If that isn’t the case for you and you find yourself able to eat enough calories day by day … I’d just go for whole food always.) These aren’t addictive at all, either physiologically or psychologically. You can accomplish your gains and then use very minimal dosages or stop using them entirely.

Creatine: kind of deserves a category of its own. In most countries it’s dirt cheap. It’s safe (and arguably good for your healthy). It’s very effective. It’s not remotely addictive at all in any way, and you can stop it at any time.

Gainers (QuickMass, Serious Mass, etc): Kind of useless to begin with and massively overpriced. I don’t really recommend ‘em. If real food is cheaper for you you’d get waaaay better results from whole food smoothies anyway.

Food replacements, like whey protein: You can just use whole food … so there’s no use for these. Plus, once you accomplish your goals your protein requirements drop by about half, so chances are you won’t need to supplement with protein anymore anyway.

Health stuff: Stuff like fish oil you might want to take forever. It’s kind of difficult to get in a balanced fat intake … although you could certainly eat more fatty fish and algae and stuff. If you’re a guy who loves salmon that’s covered. (If salmon is cheaper than fish oil that’d definitely be the way more awesome way to get that in anyway.)

Deficiency stuff: Stuff like vitamin D is tricky to get naturally, as you need to be outside a lot to encourage your body to synthesize enough of it. Most people need to supplement with it (or drink milk, which is fortified with it).

Anyway, the short answer to your question is no: you don’t need to take supplements once you accomplish your goals. Hell, you don’t even need to take supplements BEFORE you accomplish your goals. If nutritious whole food is cheaper and more accessible for you (and you have the appetite to eat it) then you could forget about supplements altogether!

(And if money is a concern don’t ever waste it on pre-workout ergogenic stuff. I suspect this is the psychologically addictive “must have before training” stuff you’re talking about anyway.)

Does that help?

Shane Duquette

Good luck gaining your final 20!! I recently finished gaining MY final 20 (bringing me from 180 up to 200 – a total of +70!) so I know how satisfying that can be.

Let us know how it goes!!!

Jake

Supplements are still cheaper than most whole foods, but not as cheap as you might think. It is still cheaper taking malto than buying whole food (price per calorie), but in the specific case of whey and pre-wo, they are way off the range.

Yeah, that helped a lot! You see, creatine is still cheap enough for me to take regularly, so I’ve been thinking about it, but I’m afraid that:

a) I become more round due to water retention
b) I might lose something when I stop taking it
c) It might make that placebo effect where I can’t ever go to the gym without creatine anymore (with a little bit less of drama! haha)

Also, how much lean mass one can expect to gain while taking creatine?

Thanks brother! 70 lb is some serious mass you put on there! So, did you stop taking supps entirely now that you reached your final weight?

Shane Duquette

I wouldn’t say I’ve reached my “final” weight, I’d say I’ve reached a weight that I’m really psyched about. With weightlifting I think I’d actually be pretty bummed if I ever totally “finished”, you know? I really like it, and I like having goals to work towards.

Right now I’m trying to work on my hip mobility, core strength and I’m trying to improve my bench form so that I can lift more through a wider range of motion.

I still take supplements. I take fish oil + vitamin D still. I always have whey in the cupboard, and some days I’ll use it.

It sounds like things are different where you live – I do know that food in Canada is expensive relative to other countries – but whey here in Toronto is muuuch cheaper than, say, chicken breasts, steak or ground meat. It’s the most cost-effective form of protein (price per calorie) here … as far as I know. It’s definitely not increasing my living costs!

If you call it a supplement I also absolutely adore coffee! I have a nice hot mug before pretty much every workout and love it pretty heartily.

As for your creatine questions:
a) If by round you mean more muscular looking, then yes, that happens to some people. Not everyone gets water retention from creatine. (I don’t.) If won’t make you round like a chubby person looks round (i.e. saggy). The water is drawn into your muscles after all, so it’s your muscles that will inflate.

b) You’ll lose the water retention and the extra strength that comes along with having superhuman levels of ATP when you stop taking it. All the extra muscle you built while on it … that will stay. Keep in mind that the point of taking it isn’t to temporarily increase water retention, but rather to improve the rate that you can build muscle.

c) In this case the placebo effect could be a good thing! If creatine works AND you believe that it works you’ll probably get EVEN BETTER results. Creatine, unlike something like caffeine, isn’t an energy high or anything – you won’t really feel any different on it or off it. I really really doubt you’ll have any problem training without it. I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone.

How much lean mass can you expect to gain? I went in an added a bunch of studies to the creatine section today. You could check ‘em out!

How much you’ll build really depends on how good your training program and how good your diet is. The studies up above might give you an idea about how much creatine factors into that :)

Shane Duquette

Why not build some muscle without supplements and learn that it’s achievable. THEN, when you buy supplements – if you still even want them – you’ll always know that you can do this without ‘em.

Jake

Shane, man, it’s been a long time!

Well, that was the original plan. Turns out that after what, 7 months, I haven’t packed any of those 20 lbs. My routine it’s pretty solid, based on big moves 3-4x times a week, etc.

To be completely honest, I did take around 120 g of malto after workout days for a few weeks and gained some weight. Not that much, though, never passed on my max weight. Maybe 1 or 2 lbs. I slowly started eating more, and at 145 lbs I’m eating around 3100 kcal/day (logged) and still no results.

What bugs me the most is that my number are coming up, but my weight doesn’t. VERY slowly, way slower than I would see elsewhere. For instance, I’m benching around 90 lbs for 6 reps and I’ve been working out almost a year. But I can’t understand why my weight doesn’t come up at least a couple of grams…

I did take ON’s whey too, but it left me COMPLETELY bloated. I mean, took 2 scoops at 1 pm, didn’t eat anything till the next day. 1 scoop was slightly more manageable, but I still couldn’t eat until very late that day. I can drink 1 litre of milk with ease, but I made a point to test hydro whey and see if it’s something with lactose.

Anyways, my point. I think I’m eating enough to build muscle, my numbers on big lifts are going up, but I don’t see results now and haven’t seen for months. I think it’s worth giving creatine a go by now, otherwise I’m just wasting my willpower at the gym. (I realize that going anyways it’s good for your health, but I’m sure you can relate my lack of willingness to go the gym, given that I can’t seem to pack muscle.) I’m just afraid that the 5 lbs or so that I might gain leaves me “addicted” to that look, because, let’s be honest, 5 lbs is a fucking lot to someone who weights 145 and don’t pack muscle easily despite eating way more than his chubby friends.

To summarize:

1) My routine it’s pretty solid, my numbers (or reps) on lifts goes up, but I don’t see results;
2) I think I’m eating okay. May not be optimal, but it seems to me that 3100 kcal/day for someone who is 145 is decent. One thing is the scale moving slowly, other thing is the scale not moving at all! I can really eat 1 and 1/4 of a pizza even if I ate other shit throughout the day;
3) I didn’t take supps regularly, but gave malto a try at 2x the dosage and no reliable results. Had problems with whey concentrate, might try isolate. Didn’t take creatine afraid that I could be “hooked” not to it as a supplement, but the water retention it might provide.
4) I literally don’t know what else to try, and it’s demotivating.

Shane Duquette

Oh no! Sorry to hear you haven’t made any gains, man. The good news is you’ve been exercising consistently. While you may not LOOK the way you want, at least you’re taking advantage of the numerous health, cognition, energy level, etc benefits :)

1. Sounds like you’re making neural gains. Since your body doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to construct new muscle, it’s learning to use the muscle it ALREADY HAS more efficiently. This is similar to what someone who’s trying to stay in the same weight class would do – keep bodyweight constant and work on improving relative strength.
2. It may SEEM like you’re eating enough, but you need to trust the scale! If the scale doesn’t show you gaining weight … you need to listen to it.
3. Maltodextrin won’t create gains out of nothing, it will just make it easier to push your carb/calorie intake higher. It’s not much more magical than a potato, just less filling (and perhaps cheaper). If it isn’t pushing your carb/calorie intake high ENOUGH … you still won’t make gains. I wouldn’t recommend turning to supplements to solve your problem. It doesn’t sound to me like that’s what you’re struggling with?
4. If you’re confident your training routine is decent enough to promote muscle growth, keep at it. Focus on moving up your weight on the scale each week instead (i.e. focus on nutrition). To me it sounds like you’re struggling to consume enough to get your weight consistently moving up. I’d check out this article.

I hope that helps, Jake!

Jake

PS: When I say “numbers”, I’m actually making a reference to how much weight or plates I put on the barbell to lift.

Jason

Shane! I live in a place where there’s not much meat, only fish, green vegetables, tofu,eggs etc. Meat is expensive plus I can’t cook, so I’m thinking of incorporating Whey protein into my daily diet.
I already have the Universal Nutrition Creatine, but I’m pretty sure it’s not gonna help without the supps/eating extra(which I can’t really). I’m around 6’0 and at 150 pounds, having gained a little fat recently(by fat I mean my skinny guy 4 pack is now a flat stomach).
I love your article and the genuine commitment to help fellow ecto’s and have come to trust your opinion.
Now that you have my info, my questions: I want to order 1 supplement only, and I’m thinking “ON Whey”. Do you recommend otherwise, and how many servings per day(and when is the best time)? Please mention the creatine servings too. I noticed last year, although not sure, that briefly taking Whey with milk induced mildish stomach pains. Any opinions?
Also, how much cardio should I do? Is jogging/biking for 5 minutes prior good enough? Last Q : Is a 30-40 minute session good enough? I usually go start with 1 set wide pull-ups, 1 set push-ups, then 1 set dumb-bell chest-press, 1 set crunches. REST, repeat 3 times.
I substitute the chest-press with the lat pulldown on alternate days, and also include bicep curls, and traps sometimes, and holding a dumbbell while squatting. I make sure I exhaust myself + use heavy weights without losing form, breaking down as many muscle fibers as I can. What do you suggest overall, and how is my plan looking? Where would I be in 3 months? Thanks bruv.

Jas

I’m 21 years old.

Shane Duquette

Hey Jas,

You live in a place where you pretty much only have access to fish, green vegetables and eggs? That’s pretty cool. Sounds like some sort of super-health haven!

If you’re having trouble hitting your daily protein goals than whey protein would definitely be a great supplement to get! It’s caloric, too, so it’ll help boost your calories higher – great for an ectomorph.

As for creatine, you want around 6g a day. Your body needs about 3g per day, but we lose a few grams when we take it. 6g a day should get your levels up and keep them there :)

(You don’t need to take it with milk or anything – perhaps try water!)

It sounds like by cardio you’re talking about a pre-workout warmup, yeah? If it’s really cold out or really early in the morning you might want to do that just to literally warm up … but otherwise you don’t need to.

We do some dynamic stretches, a few mobility drills and practice our lifting technique at the beginning of every training session.

You don’t really need to exhaust yourself or worry about “breaking down” muscle necessarily. The goal is to BUILD muscle, not destroy it, after all. I like the mantra of “stimulate, don’t annihilate.” That depends on what methodology you’re following though. Different programs are constructed in different ways.

As for a specific workout program for you, I would follow one made by an expert! You could use our program (which I obviously think is the best one out there ever), or any other number of great programs out there.

Where will you be in 3 months? You’ll have to stay in touch and let us know! :)

Prestige

Hey Shane, I’ve been reading through the website for two days now. Definitely thinking about joining the program but have some questions about what I can expect in your program.

Would love it if you shoot me an email with some info.

Shane Duquette

Ahahaha you’re just packed full of questions, eh?

Shot you an email :)

Shane Duquette

Nevermind – the email bounced from the account you have attached to your comment. Shoot us an email at us@bonytobeastly.com

Mike

Hey shane i was wondering how many scoops of the carbo gain using the scooper from the gold standard whey is equivalent to 1 serving? If i am trying to put on a good amount of weight do you sugesst using the 3x dose ?

Shane Duquette

Hey Mike,

It should say on the container how much is in a serving … so it’s a bit of a bummer that it doesn’t. It’s also a bummer that the servings are measured in grams (weight) rather than by scoop size (volume). That means that a scoop of whey isn’t necessarily going to hold the same amount of grams of maltodextrin – they might weigh different amounts.

It’s definitely a little frustrating.

A whey scoop holds about 30g (24 of which is protein). That same scoop of whey would get you “about” 30g of maltodextrin (29g or so of which is carbs).

For every nice full scoop of whey you put in the drink, put 2 kind of wimpy scoops of maltodextrin in.

Does that help?

As for how much you should take, I would let your abs decide. It’s largely a matter of insulin sensitivity and how well you handle carbs/calories. I handle them well, as do most naturally lean super skinny dudes, so a triple dose works well for me.

Not all slim dudes are super lean / tolerate carbs brilliantly well though, so if you don’t “effortlessly” have abs you might want to go easier on the serving size, taking just a single (or maybe double) dose.

It also depends on how much you’re able to eat elsewhere. If you struggle to get in enough calories, well, this’d be a good place to add more in!

Start with a single, scale it up. It’s a brutal drink in large servings sizes so you almost need to treat it like lifting weights: work up to it! ;)

mike

Thanks a lot man that def helps…Il be putting in 4 wimpy scoops of cargo gain then for a double dose!

Shane Duquette

No problem Mike, good luck!

Phil

Great article! Are you drinking this concoction only on workout days? If so, does this mean your daily caloric intake swings quite a bit between workout days vs. non-workout days?

Shane Duquette

Yes and often yes! If you were to keep your other meals pretty steady from day to day with only the workout drink changing you’d be creating a carb cycling / calorie cycling effect. It wouldn’t be anything crazy or magical or anything, but generally that’s considered a good thing, especially for youngish dudes. We seem to respond pretty well to cycling carbs and calories.

That doesn’t mean you NEED to though, so you could always shoot for the same total calories from day to day, using the workout drink as a tool to make your daily eating a little less extreme. (You could skip a snack or shrink the serving sizes of some meals, etc.)

Shane Duquette

Oh – and thank you for the kind words Phil! Glad you liked it :)

DrHung

Excellent article with studies. I read most of them and went out to buy the 8 lbs of Maltodextrin. I went to research more into Maltodextrin and came across this study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23251695) which says that “MDX-induced E. coli biofilm formation was independent of polysaccharide chain length” and is associated with Crohn’s disease.

Shane Duquette

This is a petri dish experiment, so it’s preliminary. We’d have to wait until there are more studies before we really come to any conclusions. A lot of what they’re saying totally makes sense though. Our diets DO affect our gut flora, and the healthier and more balanced our diet tends to be the healthier and more resilient that flora tends to be.

I’m the furthest thing from an expert on Crohn’s disease, what causes it, and what needs to be done to treat it. People with Crohn’s do, I believe, have a lot of restrictions about what kinds of starches and sugars they can consume though. WebMD is telling me that these foods commonly cause symptoms to flare up:

alcohol (mixed drinks, beer, wine)
butter, mayonnaise, margarine, oils
carbonated beverages
coffee, tea, chocolate
corn husks
dairy products (if lactose intolerant)
fatty foods (fried foods)
foods high in fiber
gas-producing foods (lentils, beans, legumes, cabbage, broccoli, onions)
nuts and seeds (peanut butter, other nut butters)
raw fruits
raw vegetables
red meat and pork
spicy foods
whole grains and bran

This seems to be along the lines of what the introduction of the study is saying as well:

“Current disease models hypothesize that genetically susceptible individuals develop abnormal immune responses to bacteria in response to environmental stimuli, resulting in inflammatory bowel disease. Currently, it is unclear how environmental factors contribute to the development of disease.”

Sounds like, similar to how a small subset of people don’t handle gluten well, that those with inflammatory bowel disease (or with a genetic predisposition for it) don’t handle maltodextrin well (along with a slew of other things that are generally understood to be unhealthy when eaten in disproportionate quantities).

“The factors which induce this dysbiosis are unclear, but genetics, lifestyle and a “Western” diet (a diet high in fats, sugar and protein but low in fiber) are all proposed to play a role”

“One factor which clearly influences the composition and characteristics of the microbiota is diet. Dietary studies in both mouse models and humans demonstrate large shifts in the composition of the microbiota dependent on diet [16], [25], [26], [27]. Comparisons of 16 S rRNA gene profiles between mice harboring a humanized microbiota and fed a high-fat/high-sugar diet (“Western diet”) versus those maintained on a low-fat/high polysaccharide diet revealed shifts in Bacteroidetes and an expansion of Bacilli and Erysipelotrichi [25]. Likewise, human studies comparing obese and lean twin pairs demonstrated changes in Bacteroidetes prevalence and a decrease in microbial diversity in obese individuals [47].”

The last line says:
“This leads us to postulate that consumption of MDX could increase bacterial loads in the ileum and prime these individuals to have a greater translocation of bacteria after intestinal injury. If these individuals carry other risk factors for CD (genetic variants of anti-bacterial response genes such as ATG16L1 or NOD2, for example), this may result in the development of disease in these susceptible individuals. These findings describe a potential disease mechanism linking the ubiquitous dietary additive MDX to microbial changes in the intestine of CD patients and suggest a novel therapeutic area for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.”

I’m not trying to play doctor here though – a lot of this stuff is waaaaay over my head – and this sounds like a question for your doctor (especially if you have Crohn’s Disease or you’re genetically predisposed to get Crohn’s Disease).

You are also, of course, perfectly welcome to play it safe and get your carbs from somewhere else! :)

It’s not like maltodextrin is necessary when it comes to building muscle or anything, it’s just one of many options!

What do you make of the study?

LJ

Hi,

just a quick question: What changes did you make in the October 2013 update? I might have a bad memory, but could it be that you had glutamin in there before? If so, why did you drop it?

Shane Duquette

Hey LJ, the changes are prrretty small. We added in a little excerpt from Alan Aragon, explained the methods behind our madness a little more clearly, and we added in a couple more reference studies.

There’s still a tiny little bit on glutamine in the whey protein section, but it’s a really really minor player in all of this.

Last month we made a slightly more significant change though – we added a TON of new studies, we switched over to recommending Amazon.com instead of bodybuilding.com, and we can now recommend a fish oil supplement that includes vitamin D! (Amazon is one of the few sites that stocks it.)

The basics are all still the same:

Consume lots of easily digested proteins, carbs and calories surrounding your training (and in general) … but still get the majority of your calories from minimally processed nutritious whole foods.

Creatine is the most powerful legal muscle-building supplement out there, and it also happens to be cheap, healthy and very very well researched for decades now.

Fish oil helps you get a more balanced fat intake and it has a bunch of promising effects on your health and body composition.

Now we’ve added in vitamin D though, which is fourth on the list of badass healthy muscle-building supplements. Almost everyone is deficient, it’s safe even in relatively high doses, and fixing the deficiency has a bunch of health benefits. Plus, it’s often a limiting factor when it comes to testosterone production. Eliminating the deficiency allows your testosterone output to reach higher/healthier levels. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, so taking it alongside a fat like fish oil allows it to be properly absorbed. (Vitamin D fortified whole milk is another effective way to get your vitamin D in.)

Aaron

Hey really interesting article man,
Having gone through most the stuff on this site, it’s been really helpful.
I’m a fellow ectomorph like yourself, a really skinny one (58kgs at 5’10).
I’m looking to purchase the program soon even though I live in the UK, I was wondering whether you could help me out with a payment plan? as the one off payment is quiet alot for me (I’m a student short of cash atm lol) or if not I hope to make the purchase in the coming year where I have abit more money.
Anyway for now i was really hoping if you could help me anyway with some tips, having just bought some malto and whey i made my first post workout drink of double dose, and for 30 mins afterwards i felt pretty sick lol.
I train 3 times a week doing all the major compound lifts, I eat around 3000-3500 calories a day but it seems nothing is paying off right now, being stuck at this size is becoming really disheartening, really knocking my confidence man.
I was wondering if maybe you had any tips for me, tired of being this skinny where i can see my hip bones lol

a response from yourself or anyone would be greatly appreciated, and i really do hope to join you guys soon, Thanks

Shane Duquette

Hey Aaron, glad you like our articles.

Being in the UK is great. One of the strongest and most helpful guys in the community, Steve, is British.

Yeah some people handle the drink better than others. I’d just trim down the dose until it feels healthy-ish. Try a 1/3 dose and see how it goes.

(Was there creatine in there? Were you adequately hydrated?)

Muahaha we’ve got a LOT of tips for you! The best thing though is to get a really firm grasp on the fundamentals of lifting and eating to build muscle. We’ll teach you all that in the program, and then we can give you some individual coaching to make sure it’s working for you personally :)

And yeah we can set you up with a payment plan – I’ll shoot you an email with the details.

mike

Hey shane can you please tell me does cargo gain cause man boobs ?

Shane Duquette

Hey Mike,

Hehe no it won’t.

Carbs wouldn’t make you grow man boobs.

Man boobs have to do with hormones and/or body fat, not macronutrients.

Don’t fret :)

Snake

Shane I think you saved my life…
I started bodybuilding a few times, never really bulk any weight…
So this time I was determined to use steroids…
Gladly I found your website.

THANK YOU!!!

Now I would have a question…
In my country gainers are much more cheaper than protein, so I will use Serious Mass.

The serving size is 195gr.
Could you tell me please how much sould I take during a day, and if I must take-it in non-workout days too?

Thanks again.

PS: I have some financiar issues, but when I will overcome those, definitely I will sign up for your program. Then I will hit the gym HARDDDD

Rock & Roll \m/

Shane Duquette

Hey Snake, glad we could help!

Gainers are usually cheaper than protein but more expensive than maltodextrin. Buying protein and maltodextrin and mixing it up yourself is often cheaper.

If gainers are cheaper though that’s obviously totally cool. Definitely the same idea – the ingredients in Serious Mass are first maltodextrin and second protein (albeit a blend). There are perhaps some iffy ingredients in there, but ON’s a good brand and I’ve heard good things about Serious Mass.

The same protocol still applies, so you’d want to take between, say, 360 and 1080 calories. (1/3 to a full serving.)

I wouldn’t take it on rest days unless you need to in order to hit your calorie goals. Whole foods will be markedly better.

Good luck man! Hope to see you in the community soon :)

Sushant

Hey Shane

Wassup mate ? I’m back to B2B seeking some more cool advice from you. I just noticed the new pictures that u put up of yourself..dude u’ve buffed up ! Who would say that you’re the same guy as the one whose pictures you put up in the video. Awesome gain man ! I wud also like to share that i gained 5 more kgs since i last messaged you so i weigh in at 61.5 kgs at the moment.
I had reached some sort of plateau at 57 kgs and then last last month i decided to get a weight gainer (ABB Xtreme XXL) and creatine (Scitec 100% creatine monohydrate) and in about 15 days i gained close to 4 kgs (don’t know how much of it is water due to the creatine though)
So now i’m about to finish my bucket of Xtreme XXL gainer and have a confusion whether to buy ON Serious Mass or Musclepharm’s Combat powder. My aim is muscle gain (especially in the arms). Can i mix whey or a protein blend and mix it up with milk, bananas and peanut butter to achieve the same effect as Serious Mass ? Have you used Serious Mass or Combat before ? I’ve heard good things about both
Please advice me what to buy ? Musclepharm Combat 4lbs (blend) or Serious Mass 12 lbs ? Keeping in mind my aim of muscle gain and of-course cost effectiveness.
Eagerly waiting for your reply.
Rgds

Shane Duquette

Congrats on the 5kg Sushant, that’s amazing man!! :D

No, the effect would be different. Bananas, milk, peanut butter and whey will not only likely be cheaper, but they’ll also give your body tons of micronutrients. You’ll likely see BETTER gains ;)

Weight gainers do work for ectomorphs – they provide carbs, protein and calories, after all. That’s often what us skinny guys need most in a supplement. I find them kind of expensive though, and I’m not the biiiiggest fan of getting so many calories from processed foods. Taken surrounding a workout they can be convenient and exactly what we need … but even then I prefer our homemade concoction, since we have more control over the quality and quantity of the ingredients (and it’s waaay cheaper).

I’ve used Serious Mass, Mutant Mass, Myoplex, and QuickMass … so I’ve definitely been there and done that. I don’t ever plan on using them again or see the need to though. If I could go back in time I’d save myself the money and stomach aches. Man, I felt like such crap after taking them.

I’d really recommend your homemade whole food option. Bananas are badass at building muscle. Their satiety score is moderate at best, so it’s they’re easy to eat without filing up, and they contain a ton of micronutrients that are useful when it comes to building muscle. Same deal with peanuts and milk – totally badass in all kinds of subtle ways in addition to being great sources of macronutrients and calories.

As for gaining in your arms, stay tuned! We’ve got a new little add-on program coming out in January (I hope) for ectomorphs looking to build muscle size in their arms. A lot of us skinny guys have long lanky arms and struggle with catching them up (myself included), even after gaining a bunch of proportional weight. It wouldn’t be good for a beginner, but as a guy who’s already gained a fair bit of muscle and who’s noticing his arms lagging behind it might suit you well! We’ve already begun beta testing it with some of our more experienced members and it’s going even better than we expected – and we expected a lot :D

Good luck man!

Sushant

Thanx a lot man ! And yes..i’ve also got really long arms which don’t seem to grow at all..especially the biceps. On the other hand i gain quite quickly on the chest (which reminds me the pic you uploaded for the home gym article shows what badass chest and abs you’ve developed dude..truely amazing)
There’s one more question i wanna ask..will using amino be beneficial for me ? Is it really needed or is it available in a sufficient quantity in the protein drinks or gainers ? Also do u guys use them ?
And as a fan of Bony to Beastly i’d like to thank you for the amazing advice that you give. Also i would like to make some requests..
1. Can you please also make a page where you review various supplements in a video form and discuss about its effectiveness, cost effectiveness and profile ?
2. Please upload some videos showing the proper form and movements with which exercises should be done..atleast for the basic exercises.
3. Please upload some pictures of your own transformation over the years and last few months..it really motivates us ectomorphs to hit the gym hard and be like you guys :)
*your big fan*

Shane Duquette

Thanks man :)

We’ve got a YouTube channel and we’ve juuuust started uploading some exercise videos. We’ve got chin-ups and deadlifts up so far, with more in the works!

As for shooting videos reviewing the best supplements for skinny ectomorphs, building muscle and health in general … that’s not a bad idea.

As for BCAAs and other amino acid supplements – don’t bother. No need to worry about them. That’s what whey is made out of, and you’re already getting way more than enough if you’re hitting your protein goals (which aren’t even that high when trying to build muscle).

The only two significant supplements I can think of that aren’t mentioned here are beta alanine, which is sort of like creatine’s younger brother. It’s not as effective as creatine, but if you’re trying to spend more money … it’d definitely get you further than BCAAs. I bought a little tub today to give it a try. I’m toying with the idea of adding it to this article.

The other is caffeine. It makes a pretty potent pre-workout supplement. Won’t necessarily help you build more muscle, but it can do a good job of making workouts more enjoyable. No need to get fancy – a cup or two of coffee is fine.

We downplay vitamin D a bit here too. You really do want to get your vitamin D levels in order. If you get that NutraSea supplement we recommend then you’re covered … but otherwise get some D3 separately. It’s cheap and very helpful/healthy.

More pictures and experiments to come!
Stay tuned :)

dave

Hi Shane,
I Have been drinking the shake for about a month now and still cant seem to gain any weight. I use 2 scoops of the whey and 3 scoops of the carbo gain using the whey scooper. Any recommendation of what I can do to increase my weight gain?

dave

Sorry also can you send me the link to where you have posted some of your workouts.
Thanks

Shane Duquette

Hey Dave,

Man that’s pretty much the most frustrating thing ever. I’ve been there way too many times in the past. Nothing worse than pouring money into all kinds of supplements and not getting anything out of them at all.

Did you read the beginning of the article? Taking supplements without first mastering the fundamentals is like upgrading the engine of a car that has no fuel in it. I mean, the car still won’t go anywhere.

Supplements work well in that they can increase the rate that you build muscle, but if you’re struggling to build muscle they won’t really help very much, if at all. As skinny guys / ectomorphs that’s especially true.

We’ll be releasing more free information in the future, although I don’t know if we’ll ever come out with a free workout program. We’re perfectionists with this stuff, and we really try to do it as absolutely perfectly as we possibly can. We’ve got a full muscle-building program for skinny dudes / ectomorphs, and it includes everything you need to totally master the fundamentals of lifting weights and eating to build muscle.

If that isn’t up your alley, a couple years ago when we first started trying to transform we made a video documenting what we were doing. It’s not the best program – we were pretty new to this stuff at the time – but it IS free, and it did work well enough to get us results :)

I hope that helps man. And don’t give up or lose hope! We’ve all been there.

dave

Shane
I want to buy the program. Can you tell me how many days a week are you at the gym for the program?

Shane Duquette

That’s awesome, Dave!

We train three times per week, each workout lasts about an hour, and we hit each major muscle group each time.

Hope to see you on the other side :)

Snake

Hey Shane.
It’s me Snake again.

As you know already my budget is very tight (me and my dad are building a bench), and I also found a very cheap maltodextrin in my country (more than half of the price of NOW Carbo Gain – the one that you recomended). BUT here is the description:

“Glucidex maltodextrin is a slow absorbtion carbohydrate recomanded for long-term physical activity…”

Supplement facts: 400 Kcal / 100g and of course 100g of carbs.

Now I saw at Carbo Gain supplement facts that it’s made of 100% pure maltodextrin (from corn).

On Glucidex there is no such detail… do you think this maltodextrin is good?

By the way when i’m joining (in january) i’m gonna put some pictures with my home made bench, pull up bar, and dip station… ha ha ha I can’t wait.

Rock & Roll \m/

Shane Duquette

With supplements it’s not time to go bargain hunting. You always want to buy from respected brands – ideally big companies that are getting tested by independent consumer labs. The bargain basement price supplements are notorious for being devilishly shady, so I’d stay away from ‘em.

The brand we recommend, NOW is one of those respected brands … but I’d look into the one you’re thinking of ordering from first.

I hope that helps!

See you on the inside soon I hope :)

Snake

Hey Shane.

I would like to get your opinion on these studies….

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15212752

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15105028

http://www.livescience.com/8086-protein-supplement-myth-revealed-body-work.html#

thank you!

Keep up the good work!

PS: My dip station is already done :D

Shane Duquette

I’ll be the first person to admit that a) we don’t need protein supplements if we get enough protein from whole foods, and b) we don’t need an especially high protein diet. We need enough protein, not as much protein as possible. Check this article out:

http://bonytobeastly.com/carb-or-protein-diet-for-ectomorphs/

With that said their numbers seems a little off. You’d probably have better luck looking at meta-studies into protein requirements – studies that look into ALL the studies done concerning protein and muscle.

It also very much depends on your goals. If you’re building muscle rather slowly your requirements go down, whereas if you’re trying to build muscle rapidly (as we’re doing) then protein requirements are slightly higher:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11023001

This study explains that as we’re building muscle and adjusting to having more and more lean mass our bodies need to become more efficient at using protein, but until that’s taken place we need a little more:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17374665

Basically in order to rapidly build muscle you’d want a protein intake more like 0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight, not 0.5 grams.

That article seems to be trying to be controversial. I mean, you can get your protein from chicken or protein powders. There’s nothing wrong with taking protein powders or anything, and given that they often cost less than whole food protein, it’s not like it’s a waste of money – they can often even save people money! Their claim that people already get enough protein and that protein supplements don’t help I would also argue is factually wrong:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23134885

(For us skinny ectomorphs protein powders also help on the appetite front, since they’re liquid.)

Can definitely get your protein from whole foods if you prefer though.

Blackmask

Greetings, Shane & guys!

Bro Shane, I wanna ask does taking vitamin C (1000mg) a day actually affects the creatine intake I am consuming right now (2 times, 5g per intake daily) the brand’s ‘Muscletech’ from GNC. I will get those from your link once I get a credit/debit card haha.

Also what I’m concerned about is will I clear out the creatine or nutrients from breakfast in the morning when I clear my bowels approximately 1 hour after that?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, you guys rock! I will see you guys on the beastly side next month after my payday LOL!

Shane Duquette

So long as you get your 5g in per day you should be okay.

(It takes many hours for things to pass through your intestines, so absolutely no worries of it coming out the other end that quickly after you ingest it!)

See you on the other side man :)

Blackmask

Sorry it’s me again. I hope a brief description of my current physique weight/situation could help contribute to my fellow ectomorphs here (B2B is a touching and awe-inspiring article to read haha).

I’m a 5 feet 8″ Asian male. 6 months before I was struggling to add mass to my small frame at only 123lbs (56 kg) before discovering the B2B website (seriousy it’s like a holy relic I never knew I had been searching for) and things changed after that.

It made me realized that I’m actually less committed to gain mass than I truly wanted to. Thus I started lifting much heavier weights and eating seriously as much (as we all know, nutrition and workouts can’t leave without one another in order to gain muscle mass).

I have at least 5 meals per day with at least 3 being lots of white rice as it opens up my appetite too. The other 2 consisted of olive oil tuna + wholemeal bread. Coupled with 1000mg of vitamin daily, I gained about 20 pounds of lean muscle mass.

As Shane mentioned before, things will really change. People are taking me much more seriously now not that they are shallow but in a natural human reaction kinda way. Our pyshique and confident attitude plus aura we exude really tells alot about us.

Being 143 is no biggie to me yet but it made all the difference when everyone who knew you WILL notice and the compliment they give only serve as further motivation. Sorry for the long comment but I just wanna encourage all my comrades to be strong, literally :D

Cheers, I’ll check out this awesome site often.

Shane Duquette

Thanks for sharing man. Really really stoked to hear that you’re making awesome progress, enjoying the results and that we could help!

VT

Is carbo gain similar to the dextrose you recommended before?

Shane Duquette

Very similar, yeah. Either dextrose or maltodextrin would be fine, although this one certainly tastes much better!

Gio (Holland)

Hey Shane, good blog! I’ve been working out for 2 years now and it is only since I saw bony to beastly 2 months ago I actually started to gain some weight. Big Up!! Now I have this question:

1. I use dextrose instead of maltodextrine. Whats the difference between using dextrose in the shake instead of fine (powder) oats? Is it better to use dextrose in the training shake and fine oats after training or vice versa?
2. A friend of mine also uses amino acid tablets instead of amio acid powder. But he’s not an ectomorph. Which one do you recommend for an ectomorph?
3. I also use this supplement called Anabolic ZMA ( Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and vitamin B-6) combined with A casein shake before going to bed. Whats your thought on this ZMA supplement?

Thanks in advance!!

Shane Duquette

Hey Gio – greetings from Canada.

Really stoked to hear our blog has helped you gain some weight! Congrats man :)

Dextrose and maltodextrin are both fine. Both are rather quickly digested sources of glucose. Very similar. Dextrose is a sugar, so it’s sweet. Maltodextrin is a starch, so it’s more flavourless (and digests ever so slightly slower). Both are easy on the appetite, too, since their fibre content is, well, non-existent.

Powdered oats are cool too, and a lot of our Australian members go that route, for some reason. They’re digested more slowly, less refined, more rich in fibre and micronutrients – all good things. Less easy on your appetite perhaps? Hard to say. You could definitely go for powdered oats.

I would recommend protein powder for an ectomorph, not BCAAs. (See the beginning of the article.)

ZMA is okay. I presume you’re doing it to try and eliminate any nutrient deficiencies that could reduce your testosterone production? Vitamin D is easily the king in that regard, but if you’re deficient in zinc or magnesium, then ZMA could help (a little bit perhaps) as well:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6361778
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3053862

(If you aren’t deficient it won’t really do anything. It’s not like creatine, where boosting it to superhuman levels helps.)

Aaron Coleman

What do you suggest for pre workout?

Mine is:
1. 3 in 1 Coffee mix with 1 heaping teaspoon of creatine.

Shane Duquette

Coffee is great pre-workout! That’s almost always what I’ll have. During cold Canadian winters it’s nice to trek to the gym with a nice warm mug of coffee in your hands, too ;)

(Creatine you can take whenever, so I usually just mix it into my workout drink or have it with breakfast.)

If you want the caffeine and creatine in a non-coffee format there’s this muscle-building pre-workout supplement you could opt for instead:

Tier One Pre-Workout Supplement

Ideal dose of caffeine, ideal dose of the best brand of creatine and the ideal dose of beta-alanine (which is promising but not very well studied). The guys that make it are great, the flavour is delicious, and they’re an extremely evidence-based company with a great reputation … which explains the ingredients that actually line up with the studies.

Eli

Hey Shane,

How many calories do you estimate you were eating when you gained your first 20 pounds? And did you use supplements then?

Your website rocks. Happy almost new years!

Shane Duquette

I really have no idea how many calories I was eating. I wasn’t counting calories back then. If I were to guess I’d say 3500. For a 130 pound guy that’s quite a bit, but I’ve got one of those highly adaptive metabolisms – very ectomorphic in that regard – so I’ve always needed to eat quite a bit in order to be able to build muscle.

Nope, no supplements! I could have saved myself some time, money and trouble had a I bought supplements, but back then I was eating tons and tons of whole foods – lots of chicken, fish, whole grain bread, cheese, milk, potatoes, etc. In retrospect, even just whey would have helped a ton. Preparing all that meat was expensive and a huge hassle, and the chicken and fish leftovers I was warming up in the microwave tasted pretty awful …

It worked, since I had the fundamentals more or less down, but oh man I’ve learned a lot since then about making things easier, cheaper and more enjoyable ;)

sal

When is the proper time to take this shake? Is it 1-2 hours before going to the gym or during your workout? Also, should i be taking another shake after my workout? With 30 grams of protein and 5 grams of creatine?

I have taken this shake once before with 30 grams of protein, 60 grams of Cyto Carb and 5 grams of creatine and the shake seemed kind of thin, should i be increasing my dosage?

Thanks.

Shane Duquette

Hey Sal,

The “anabolic window” that a lot of the nutrient timing stuff is based on is pretty large. There’s a good study on that here by Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld. 30g protein a couple hours before and 30g of protein couple hours after would be pushing the limits of that window … but you’d still be in it. So yep, that would take care of the nutrient timing benefits.

You’d be missing out on arguably the best part of the shake though – that it frees up your appetite. If you have a meal a couple hours before training, a shake while training, and then another meal a couple hours after training (which is probably possible, given that the shake shouldn’t fill you up for that long) then it’s a great opportunity to get in more calories/protein/carbs easily and comfortably, which is often a bit deal deal for us skinny guys.

As for the dosage, that depends. If you’re consuming enough calories comfortably then you can probably stick with the smaller dose. If you aren’t, then you may want to up the size of the shake to make hitting your calorie goals easier.

Does that make sense / help?

I start sipping on it while doing my warmups and I finish whatever’s left after I finish my last set of the day. So I have it during. That’s about as smack dab in the middle of the anabolic window as possible ;) I also suspect that’s the best way to take advantage of the beneficial insulin sensitivity that comes along with weightlifting, although that’s just an educated guess.

sal

thanks for the reply Shane. I will defiantly start taking my shakes while at the gym. i hope someone here can answer my next question. my biggest issue is with meal timing especially in the evening hours. i have a typical 9-5 job and i usually goto the gym around 7-730 pm. most of the time my pre-gym meal is at 6-630 ish. does my body have enough time to digest my last meal and will my body take full advantage of the shake i take during my workout? i also take another protein shake after my workout with a piece of fruit, or carbs. Just before bedtime i have some plain yogurt with a sprinkle of Protein powder.

thanks everyone, this site is amazing.

Shane Duquette

Most of the research into nutrient timing is done on people in a relatively fasted state, which is why it’s so commonly thought to be incredibly important. In a fed state (aka “post-prandial”) the importance of nutrient timing is actually pretty small if you’ve got your nutritional fundamentals down pat, because there’s an abundance of nutrients already being digested and absorbed. These two studies summarize that well:
http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/5
http://www.jissn.com/content/5/1/17

So no, your last meal definitely won’t be digested by the time you hit the gym … and that’s totally cool.

And yep, you’ll still see benefits from your intra- and post-workout shakes – if they help you achieve the overall nutrition goals that you’re shooting for that day :)

The nutrient timing component is a very small part of the benefit of workout shakes, since what us skinny guys are trying to do is spike the OVERALL amount of protein/carbs/calories that we consume. Given the insulin sensitivity in our muscles that comes along with training, the fact that the drink is liquid and quickly digested, etc, it makes it an amazing way to get in the nutrients we need to build muscle leanly in a way that won’t destroy our appetite.

Adam Carter

Hey Shane,

This website is freaking amazing!!! I am a 24yr old ectomorph weighing in at 54kgs and haven’t budged from that weight in years. I have always been skinny, not only skinny but the skinniest amongst every group I have ever been a part of :(. A couple of years back I joined a gym and initially had some small gains but they slowed down and eventually to my disdain I gave up! But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about starting again and have been reading a lot of your articles lately which have definitely inspired me. I am seriously contemplating joining!!!

My main question is that I am from Australia and I’m wondering how this will affect me and whether it’s still worth joining? I clicked on the links and was about to purchase all of the products but found out that they don’t ship any of them to Australia. Do you know of anywhere I can get them from? Or any equivalents that an Australian ectomorph could get his hands on? :P. I have also recently become a vegetarian and was wondering whether your program is ok for my lifestyle?

Thanks,

Adam :) :)

Shane Duquette

Hey Adam, thanks for the kind words man – glad you like it!

Ahh yeah that was me back in the day too. I was always the skinniest and it made me feel like I was the little brother in my groups of friends, since I’d always get playfully pushed around. My friends weren’t malicious or anything – they treated me wonderfully – that’s just the role I stumbled into, and it wasn’t the role I wanted.

Lots of our raddest members are Australian! Marcel, for one. As far as supplements in Australia goes, he recommends bulkpowders and bulknutrients.

(Many Australians go for powdered oats instead of maltodextrin, and that’s totally cool.)

Yep! We’ve got a fair number of vegetarians and a bunch of vegetarian recipes and such, too. (And some vegans.) No problem there either. We aren’t a very restrictive or rigid program. We’re very very tailored to skinny guys looking to build a ton of muscle, but regardless of where you live or whether you eat meat or not (or have food allergies, gluten intolerances, etc) you’ll fit right in :)

I hope you decide to join us man!

Adam Carter

Thanks for the quick reply!! The bulkpowders website looks great!! I shall definitely get my supplements from there :) :). Do you know of any equivalent fish oil/vitamin D blend that you can get in Australia?

Thanks again,
Adam

Craig G

Hi Adam – This is an awesome site – thank you for creating it. I’m in my mid 30’s and weigh exactly what I did in HS @ 126lbs – ugh. The only changes I’ve seen is that as I’m getting older, my shape is changing (i.e. love handles and missing the bottom of my six pack), but my weight is still the same, my waste is still the same, etc. I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard recently (2 months), taking pre workout supplements, etc and now I’ve recently added the formula you have above. I’m still trying to find my balance of how much of each to take along with timing to my workouts. I’ve noticed over the past few weeks I’ve seen a little size/definition change (fiance has too) and increase in strength, but weight is still the same. Does that mean supplements wouldn’t work for me? I guess what I’m trying to find/figure out is if joining the program is right for me and how to set my expectations. Again, not having any real gains since HS (18 years ago), I do have a lot of reservations about what I can do and what’s possible…Thanks in advance for any insight and direction to the program.

Craig G

Hey Shane – Hoping for any insight you can provide. Would love to join the program if it’s right. Thanks in advance. CG

Shane Duquette

Hey Craig,

Adding supplements in on top of a routine that isn’t working doesn’t usually help. Usually it’s best to fix the kinks in the system and THEN worry about optimizing your plan further with things like supplements.

Some supplements, like creatine, may have non-responders. It’s possible that it won’t work as well for you as it does for someone else (although until you’ve got your muscle-building fundamentals in order it’s impossible to say).

Other supplements, like whey protein and maltodextrin, well, they’re pretty much food. They’ll certainly contribute to your daily calorie/macro totals, and make eating enough to grow much easier, more convenient and probably even more affordable. Again though, without the fundamentals down, they aren’t magic.

Does that help at all?

As for not gaining weight, I’d check this article out :)
http://bonytobeastly.com/the-research-on-ectomorph-appetite-hardgainer-metabolisms-and-skinny-stomachs/

And as for b2B … we specialize in guys who are naturally skinny and who have struggled to put on muscle mass / gain weight. That’s who we’re BEST at helping. If you’ve read my story you know that this didn’t come easily to me either. I’ve got tons of failed attempts under my belt, as do Marco, Jared and almost everyone in our community.

If your worst fears are true and you really are a “non-responder” as far as lifting goes … we’d help you tweak things until you start responding. We leave no bony behind!

aliraza

hii… i wanted to know how much creatine does an ectomorph need per day… standard creatine says to have 5gms daily….. does having more really help?

what else do u need to have apart from creatine… I eat rice daily which helps in the intake of carbohydrates and drink one glass of milk a day….. and eat meat regularly but not daily… atleast 3 to 4 times a week.
i train 6 times a week plus play other sports

Shane Duquette

Hey Aliraza,

How much creatine you’d want to take each day would depend. I’d recommend taking the standard 5 gram dose per day, but if you wanted to load up your creatine levels even more quickly you could take several 5 gram doses each day. I don’t know of any real long-term muscle-building advantages to doing it that way, but you’d get your creatine levels higher faster. I think 5 grams of creatine per day is a pretty solid bet.

You don’t need to have any supplements. If you struggle to reach you calorie, protein or carb goals you might want to try incorporating the workout drink that we recommend. If you don’t eat much protein/carbs/calories surrounding your workouts that would be another reason to incorporate the drink into your routine, in order to take advantage of the nutrient timing component.

I hope that helps!

Lucas

I’m just curious, how do you mix all that powder (30-90 grams Whey + 60-180 grams maltodextrin + 5 grams creatine) together. I’m already having trouble dissolving 1 serving of the whey, there will be chunky bits floating about.

Shane Duquette

I have a 28 oz shaker, and to get rid of the chunks I just shake harder and longer. Sometimes there will be chunks, too, which doesn’t really bother me. (Further shaking tends to get rid of them.)

Some of our members mix the shake up earlier in the day and let it sit in the fridge, which apparently lets things dissolve pretty nicely.

I think the easiest way to solve the problem is just to get a shaker that comes with one of those whisk balls. The little whisk thing breaks up all the chunks :)

sal

Can anyone recommend a good calorie counter app for android?

Shane Duquette

I really like MyFitnessPal!

Francisco

Hi,

You say that protein intake should be 30-90 grs. According to another system, my intake (depending on heigh, age, etc) should be 300grs (workout days).

Can you help me clarify this? I feel lost.

Thanks!

Shane Duquette

Hey Francisco,

We’re recommending supplementing with 30-90g of whey protein while training, not as a daily protein goal.

If you were a lean-ish 200 pounds then 300g of protein per day might be helpful (1.5 grams of protein per pound bodyweight). That would be at the very high end of what would be considered maximally effective, but there is indeed reason to believe that a protein intake that high may result in (albeit very slight) improvements in the rate that you can build muscle.

Most research points to 1 gram of protein per pound day (or even 0.8 grams) as being optimal for building muscle. Hard to say though. We have a much better understanding of protein requirements in deficits than in calorie surpluses right now. I’m hoping more studies shed more light on this soon. I suspect they will! Eating up to 1.5g per pound though is cool. The benefit is theoretical and slight though :)

Francisco

Hi Shane,

Let me see if I got it right….I’m 165 pounds and would like to reach 180 pounds.

So my “daily” intake should be 180x1gr = 180 grams of protein. (180 instead of 165 because that’s my goal)

While “training” 90 grs only. And the difference (90 grs), take it during the day (meals, etc.)

Am I right?

Shane Duquette

Sure! You don’t need to use your goal weight, but nothing wrong with more, and like I said, there’s some theoretical potential benefit from it. So 180 grams or protein per day is great :)

And you’re spot on with 90g while training and 90 or more grams during the day.

Francisco

Thanks a lot for your help :)

Boon

Hi Shane,

First of all, fantastic stuff here! I’m a skinny guy attempting to gain weight, and thanked god I stumble upon this site. What you guys are doing is great. I will join the program soon!

I’m looking for a way to make a variation of protocol drink, it suits me because it is quick to prepare and the amount of calories makes for a convenient for my working lifestyle. However, from where I came from, it’s very expensive or not feasible to get some of the products you recommend. I will be able to get alternative products that are nearly as good – except maltodextrin or dextrose, so that has to come from some other sources. The cheapest and readily available would be oats. I hope to get your thoughts on using oats in place of maltodextrin/dextrose, as well as ideas of their alternatives for the workout drink.

Thanks a lot.

Regards,

Shane Duquette

Oats have more fibre, which could be good or bad depending on how much fibre you eat elsewhere / how much you struggle with appetite (since your drink will be more filling for longer). As far as the effectiveness of the drink goes though ground oats is great. We’ve got quite a few members who go that route actually (and especially the Australian ones).

Boon

Luckily, I found a good source for waximaize at a more affordable price!

mj

Hi,

didn’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this has already been brought up, but I have a question re: fish oil. On the NutraSea+D product page, it says that 1 tsp. will get you 750mg EPA, 500mg DHA and 1000IU vitamin d3. This is still quite a lot, but nowhere near the numbers you report (2g EPA, 1,5g DHA, 2000-4000IU vitamin d3). So how much would you take / are you taking?

Shane Duquette

Ah we recommend taking one tablespoon!

peter

HI, very interesting reading, considering signing up, can you send me the deets on the payment plan. ( UK here).

I’m 43, been very skinny all my life. 30″ waist, no meat, no muscle, 5’6″ and weigh pretty much the same as i did when i was 13!.. (the benefits your now missing out on ..i can fit into my kids clothes!). On a serious note.

i need to bulk up, not necessarily muscle but with my life style as a full time single parent i cant get to the gym, or have space for a home gym.

Do you recommend supplements, healthy eating and a home workout routine like the Insanity program or T25 as a route to take.

peter

update . my weight is only 50kg!

Shane Duquette

Hey Peter, greetings from Canada!

If your goal is general health and fitness then I think something like p90x or T25 would be great. Those guys do a good job of putting together a challenging workout that will stress your aerobic/cardiovascular system. Those workouts would give you very little muscle mass, if any, but they ARE good forms of general exercise, so, as you would with our program, you’d get higher energy levels, reduced feelings of stress/depression/anxiety, improved brain power, longer lifespan, etc.

If you want to bulk up though I’d lift heavy! That’s really the only effective way to do it, especially if you’re not genetically gifted. Have you seen our post on building a badass home gym? That explains the basics of how to go about building the simplest possible muscle-building setup, why it works and what to do with it. I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is / how little space it would take up!
http://bonytobeastly.com/how-to-build-a-badass-home-gym/

If that doesn’t work, there’s always the dad home workout ;)

I hope that helps!

Drake

Hey guys,

I see you recommend ON whey, but I’m wondering, what is your take on Aspartame? Aren’t artificial sweeteners that are used on whey protein, such as aspartame, toxic to the brain? Do you have studies that prove that they are safe or anything…?

Shane Duquette

Hey Drake, it’s always very hard to definitively prove that something is safe, but so far after decades of research there’s very little to show that it ISN’T safe, even at relatively high doses. (To go over the safe amount suggested by the FDA you’d need to drink a dozen or two diet sodas per day.)

Some correlational studies found issues, but in this case that doesn’t tell us anything – given that unhealthy people often consume “diet” things, that would of course be true whether or not the artificially sweetened “diet” foods are problematic. Anyway, most studies find the opposite – no problems:
http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/1/40.long

I think the worst known side effect is headaches.

But this is a question you may want to ask your doctor, and hey if in doubt just opt for an unflavoured whey protein!(That’s what I drink, although it’s a relatively unpopular choice and I don’t see much reason for it from a health perspective – I just like to put it in smoothies and having it unflavoured helps.)

Pavinder

Hey Shane,

Living in Japan, the range of products is quite different than Europe/US/Canada. I’m currently using Savas powder, it’s unflavoured, and has glutamine.

Unflavoured is excellent – makes it a “no limit” ingredient, can add it to anything.

But reading your suggestions I looked at the ON Natural. This has a ton more glutamine than the Savas, but unfortunately is flavoured and reports suggest it’s quite sweet.

So which is the unflavoured one you’re using?

Shane Duquette

I agree! I love the unflavoured supplements. It’s rare that guys feel that way though, and most of our members prefer chocolate whey protein and such. I use unflavoured IsoNatural or the ON one – either one.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the glutamine content. All whey protein will have enough glutamine in it, and the one you’re already using looks great :)

Pavinder

I’ve looked at the ingredient lists on the back of the packs of various whey protein powders here, and only 2 list glutamine as an ingredient.
Does that mean the others don’t have it, or is it actually a component of some other ingredient?

Another question is the cheaper powders don’t list a bunch of vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, magnesium, niacin etc). Are these vitamins/minerals actually beneficial in a powder, or should a balanced diet provide enough of them anyway?

Shane Duquette

All will have it to some degree or another! Glutamine is an amino acid, so it’s actually contained in whey protein itself. It would be part of the “whey protein” you see on the ingredient list. Some have extra added in though.

I think any will do just swell :)

Adam

Hey Shane, I just wanna say that I really do appreciate you sharing all this vital information for all of us. I know a lot of us have been struggling to gain weight and couldn’t find the right solution to it. But thanks to you, now we have. Just have a quick question for ya. I tried reading through this large list of comments and posts but couldn’t find this question I had for you.
I just started doing a routine which requires you to workout 6x a week. Would you recomend using your workout drink 6x a week, especially if your double or triple dosing it? Or would you recommend using single doses and doubling it or tripling it every other day so to say? I ask because I have seen that your program is only 3 to 4x a week compared to the 6x that I am currently doing. And just a quick fyi on myself, 6′ 4″@ 150 lbs.

Shane Duquette

No problem man – glad I can help!

I’m guessing it’s some sort of triple split routine or something? Legs, pushes, presses, legs, pushes, presses? Hit each muscle groups twice per week with a short 20-30 minute workout, unlike the three times that we hit each muscle group with our hour-long workouts? Similar idea to ours, just a different way of structuring it for people who like training much more frequently.

If you’re having this massive muscle-building shake every day it might be hard to get in enough calories from whole foods for your diet. You might not get all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that you need for your body to work optimally. You could use smaller doses, yep! A single dose, for example, would still leave plenty of room for whole foods :)

Good luck man!

Rodrigo Pacheco

Hey, amazing article! I wanted to ask you if there are any differences, maybe advantages or disadvantages between On Whey and Nitro Tech? I am trying to afford one of those, but I am not sure which one.

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words man, glad you liked it! Um I’d just buy my whey protein and creatine separately, since that would give me more control over the dosages and would likely work out to be cheaper. But Nitro Tech, with both creatine and whey bundled together (and admittedly a couple other relatively useless ingredients – not sure why there’s fat in there) would still be great! It’s protein and creatine, after all, both of which are pretty much the best muscle-building supplements ever. Whichever you like :)

Branden

HI Shane!

Im 130Ibs. and I did a bulk last Summer from 118Ibs.-140Ibs. like a boss in only 4 months. Only problem was I had a gut so people were shocked about my arms muscles but when they go tuh touch my stomach haha! That was not so good LMAO! Anyway. Now im 130Ibs. Taking a weight loss program that does cardio and light weight lifts. Has me making veggie meals and having a High carb meal as post and pre workouts meals. the other 3 meals are low carb. Do I want this in my 130Ibs. gut situation?..or do I want Cardio every other day with Complex Movements. I just thought that with the fat and all, maybe ide want fat loss foods and such? Not sure, maybe you know which I should do. I hear a lot say do Complex Movements and Cardio every other day. I also hear do fat loss but im worried that too much cardio and veggies might make me skinnier actually!? BUT i have a gut so im confused as to what i should do. Im also worried that Complex Movements with my gut might not work and so i was thinking i should continue with a weight loss program? What do you guys think and would Complex Movements help me gain abs with my gut at 130Ibs. i have now. If i do Cardio every other day. Which between these too seems more beneficial in my case? If you’de like to see a pic of how i look. Ill post it where you want me to if i must.

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s awesome Branden! Gaining 22 pounds in four months is no joke – congratulations! :D

You actually want to continue doing a muscle-building weightlifting program. The last thing you’d want to do is successfully build a ton of muscle … and then lose it all by doing a weight loss routine. That’s very very common, especially for guys like us. The problem is, then you get in this cycle of bulking up and gaining fat, cutting down and losing muscle, etc. It’s hard to get ahead that way. You want to keep doing everything you can to build muscle even when losing weight, because that is what will guarantee that your muscle sticks around as you burn the fat off!

So I mean … cardio – meh. I don’t do cardio when I cut. None. I just lift weights the same as ever. All I do to lose weight is adjust my diet (mainly by reducing my calories so that it brings me into a calorie deficit). Weightlifting + a strategic calorie deficit = losing fat AND ONLY FAT.

Similarly, when it comes time to bulk again (if you ever want to bulk again) then you’ll want to be a bit more mindful to keep it lean, too.

Check this post out:
http://bonytobeastly.com/should-ectomorphs-do-cardio-while-building-muscle/

(You’ll see an example/photo of what a good cut looks like, too.)

I hope that helps!

Branden

That sort of helps man. Ive been making a diet for a few weeks now and working out. I lost muscle still because ive been looking up what exactly I need. I just spent $37 on a weight loss program cause I thought I wanted too lose the fat. Turns out that will just make me skinnier. I really need a vegetable diet that has me taking in veggie drinks called a Detox Drink in the morning (you blend up a ton of veggies for the vitamins). Then if im going for abs and muscle building. No gut popping out. For the morning meal. Would I want to start my morning with something like Oatmeal with some Whey Protein in it?..or would I want to go with a veggie drink and some Spinach Salad? I don’t mind either 1. Which ever would benefit muscle and no gut the longest. I don’t need a 6 pack but I don’t want a gut either. So do you recommend in my situation (being 130Ibs. with a gut) a Low Carb meal with half scoop of Whey Protein in the morning and High Carb post workout with a Multi-Vitamin?..OR a High Carb meal for the morning and with that Oatmeal and Whey Protein inside that? Also if I don’t want a gut. Should I do my best do get calories from FAT FREE MILK? :) Let me know how you’de go about this and if I can send you a picture through email please allow me to. As I have spent about $1500 total looking for help and I just want real help now. Thanks for your time.

Eric

Hey Braden. As a skinny fat ectomorph who has lost the belly while gaining some muscle, I can understand your situation. My advice is that everyone is a little different on how their body reacts to certain foods. I’ve read a lot of advice on the web and it differs greatly. What I found that works is too experiment with your foods and what you eat. Keep the vege’s and protein constant and see if carb’s or fats make you feel more bloated. For me, I found that a lot of carbs did it to me, especially fruits. So I cut fruits out except for after working out. Now that I’m a little bigger and eating cleaner and more protein, 200g per day, I can handle and actually need the early morning carbs in the form of steels cut oats or sweet potatoes. But you may be different. Remember to try and change one thing around and see how that effects you, that way you can pinpoint it. Also, I noticed that the more food I put in liquid form, the worse the results. Eating solid foods, especially proteins helps a lot. Easier said than done when you’re trying to get to 200g of protein per day.

Branden

Wow thanks! That advise will really help me out and I heard Fish oil in liquid form is best for us. Better benefits. Also since you said stay aways from too much liquid. This is not implying water right? If it is. How much water do you recommend as I drink anywhere from 6-10 Tumbler cups worth. Let me know if that’s too much. Also look at what a tumbler cup is lol. There big but I thought that it was the right amount for each full drink of water. They say 6-8 bottles a day. Maybe my Tumbler cup is worth like 2 bottled waters. Also could you tell me what you eat daily when your trying to build yourself up (working out)? Im struggling with my Diet and I have my workouts completely written down. Here are my workouts for each week. I mix it up but not sure if its necessary. Here it is:

Compound Movements: Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Clean and Presses, Close Grip Bench/ Close Grip Curls. (3 sets of 5 reps on all) I do this Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Then I do Muscle Groups in form like this. Chest/Triceps. I do these in movements that use both muscles at once cause I heard we don’t want isolation movements because we need our workouts to be done fast.

In order too maintain a 6 Pack you must involve abs workouts and some cardio. Just not running cardio or long cardio. I do use HIIT Cardio after Compound Workouts. Is this good use of workouts and seem just right, or do they seem like they could affect me. I heard eating is usually our problem but maybe my workout plan is too. .?

Shane Duquette

Hey Branden, I’d focus on the bigger picture first. I would worry more so about the overall quantity and quality of what you’re eating, and less so about WHEN you’re eating those things. For breakfast and every other meal you can have what you like – all your options sound great – but I would also aim to set up your meals so that they’re making it easy for you to get in the daily calories / macros you need to accomplish your goals.

So, for example, you’re having a vegetable smoothie for breakfast. Smoothies are a great way to more easily eat more calories, since they’re liquid (and liquid calories are very easy on the appetite). I would put a protein and fat source in there to fully round out the meal. Maybe some whey, milk, greek yogurt, eggs, or etc. At that point it would be helping you consume enough protein, veggies, fats, etc to build muscle and gain weight.

(You don’t need a detox drink. We have livers, urine, feces, kidneys, sweat, etc., and those bodily functions do a great job of keeping us free of toxins. You can definitely blend up fruits and vegetables though – they’re fantastic for your health.)

It sounds like you also want to trim off your belly though, so maybe gaining weight isn’t at the top of your priority list right now, and you instead want to emphasize burning fat. In that case you’d want to be consuming FEWER calories to get your weight moving down overall. You’d still want lots of protein (to maintain/build muscle mass) but at that point you might not want to be getting it from liquid sources, like smoothies, since they make it easy to eat too much.

No need to do cardio or ab workouts in order to have visible abs. Cardio is what you’d do if you wanted to build up better cardiovascular endurance. It’s not really a body composition thing, unless you’re using it to create a calorie deficit. See this cardio article for more on that.

If you’re looking for real help, individual coaching is included with the program, and we’d love to have you! It sounds like you need a solid breakdown of the fundamentals of this muscle-building and fat loss stuff, so I think you’d really get a ton out of it :)

Branden

Hey thanks for that great advise. So you program will cost $197? That way too much. Almost all programs that offer the same thing cost anywhere from $30-$90. If this program costs almost $200 ill have to go with a cheaper program but I like the advice. Ide rather do what im doing now and wait until I find what I need for about $100 cheaper than a near $200 program. I have a lot down well right now. So is the program really $197 did I see that correctly haha? Also doing Compound Movements 3 times a week. Then Muscle Group Workouts 2 times a week. Then repeat, is this a good set up for mass and strength. Note that between these days, I have abs exercises between workout days so that I maintain a 6 pack and don’t end up fat again. You like this set up?

Shane Duquette

Hey Branden, no worries – we’ve got the blog for guys who don’t want to sign up, and this year we’ve got plans to come out with some really cool free articles and content! I hope that helps :)

I’m sure there are many good programs out there at various price ranges too, so I suspect you’ll be able to find a good one for you, if you decide to go that route.

Compound movements three times per week sounds great – that’s what our program involves as well. You don’t need to do ab work on rest days, and that wouldn’t really influence how fat you’d become. Your abs are like other muscles – if you train them to get bigger and stronger they’ll get bigger and stronger. This won’t cause fat loss, it would instead cause muscle growth. As a result, causing growth in your abs would actually make your waist BIGGER. It would be bigger in a muscular sense, but if you’ve got any fat on top of the muscle it will just push it out further. On some people this can make them look fatter. If you’re lean though, a very muscular waist can often look good! It depends on your goals.

I don’t think training your abs six times per week would result in more muscle growth than training them three times per week though, just like training your arms six times per week wouldn’t result in bigger arms than if you were to train them three times per week, so I don’t necessarily think that would lead to a bigger waist … or really do much good at all!

Good luck man, and I hope you continue to check out the blog!

Branden

Wow thanks. That advice was very helpful to know. God Bless! :)

Shane Duquette

No problem, man – glad I could help. Happy Easter :)

Branden

Oh yeah thanks lol! Happy Easter :)

Ian

Hi! What do you think about “Carnivor Mass” as a weight gainer for ectomorph guys?
I only can afford to buy a post-work out supplement, and this one got proteins and carbs, and some other things.

Thx

Shane Duquette

Ah if you buy a pre-mixed gainer you’ll burn through it in a flurry. Since the bulk of those tubs are just dirt cheap carbohydrates (maltodextrin, usually) you’ll use up the entire thing in just a few servings. The only reason I’d recommend something like that is if you had a SURPLUS of things you can afford :P

One of the reasons we recommend mixing up your own blend is for exactly that reason – so you aren’t wasting a ton of money being uncharged for cheap carbs. Maltodextrin on its own is crazy cheap, maltodextrin pre-mixed into a gainer is crazy expensive.

I’d go for whey protein instead, which will cost a similar amount but last you faaaar longer, and get your carbs separately from cheaper sources, like a maltodextrin supplement, rice, beans, bananas, potatoes, or etc. You’ll build just as much muscle that way and save yourself some money :)

Ian

I see. So i guess its better to get some protein and prepare some carbs at home. By the way, what do you think about those supplements that combine more than 1 type of protein? Something like Myofusion:
“Whey Protein Concentrate and Isolate, Egg Albumen, Milk Protein Isolate and Whey Hydrolysate”

Shane Duquette

I prefer whey, but blends are certainly good too! I’m not sure how reputable that brand is – there’s been some controversy about some of their products – but I really can’t say for sure. I’d do some research into it first, anyway.

Ian

It would be great. Thanks for your answers!

Jason

Hey,
I am a 37yo male and my height is 5ft10 and only weigh 65kg. I think that’s about 143 pounds (very thin). Is that weight very abnormal for my age and height?(medical problem) Or is it just that i am a ectomorph/hardgainer? Not sure where to even start being so underweight.

Shane Duquette

Hey Jason, I started off at 6’2 and 130 pounds, which is what my dad used to weigh back at my age too. Many of us are just thin as a body type – we’re just slenderly built. That has to do with our metabolisms, bone structures, stomach capacities, muscle makeup, appetite, limb lengths, insulin sensitivity, etc.

Where to start? You’d want to start strategically lifting weights to encourage your body to grow stronger, and you’d want to eat enough quality food to grow bigger and heavier!

More specifically, haha you’d want to start with a program like Bony to Beastly! Helping naturally thin guys build muscle and improve their health is our specialty. And on that note, I really hope you decide to join us :)

danny

Thanks for the great article.

May I ask what are your comments on beta alanine and how much would you recommend taking when first beginning and what would your schedule for taking that amino acid be? (I’m intending to take it with creatine)

Cheers,

Shane Duquette

The studies looking into beta-alanine and building muscle use around 4g per day, and it seems to be effective at that dose! Not nearly as effective as creatine, and it hasn’t been nearly as well studies … but I think if you’re looking for a little extra edge that’d be a good supplement to add on top of your creatine – good call :)

Like creatine, you’d take it everyday and the timing doesn’t matter much. Consider it like a vitamin, where you just want chronically higher levels.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21659893

Richie

Hello,
This looks like a site that’s for me.
I’ve never been able to put muscle on even after years of going to the gym.
I’m 5foot 8 and 140lbs however my big disadvantage now is that I’m 51 years old.
I’m still fit but now want to at least try and bulk up.
Is my age going to that big of a stumbling block? Will I have to modify the workouts?

Richie

Shane Duquette

That’s a good question! It will probably be a little harder to build muscle than it would have been if you were starting at a younger age … but I mean it’s always best to start these things way in the distant past, and there really isn’t much you can do about that at this point in time. I too wish I’d started far younger :P

You’ll just want to take a couple extra considerations. If you join the program give me a shout and I’ll set you up. We’ll start you off with the higher end of the hypertrophy range at first so that your tendons and ligaments get a bit of time to adapt while you’re still building optimal amounts of muscle … and then we can gradually gear you down into the heavier strength stuff so that you can take full advantage of that side of things.

The really good news is that at your age this stuff is INCREDIBLY good for your health. Maintaining (and building) strength and mobility as you age is what keeps you young. This style of training is often called “the fountain of youth”, and it becomes especially important at your age, where you risk losing muscle mass as you age if you aren’t proactive about it.

Does that help? And I hope you decide to join us!

dave

Can you tell me why using the gold standard whey protein would be better than using isomass extreme weight gainer protein? It seems to have more protein more carbs and more of everything else than the gold standard whey.

Any advantages of using the gold standard? If im trying to gain muscle mass wouldn’t the isomass gainer be better?

Shane Duquette

It’s not that one is “better”, per say. The weight gainer you’re looking to use will probably taste pretty decent (as far as gainers go, anyway) and be very convenient. The downside is that you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for simple carbs (like maltodextrin) because it’s pre-mixed into the gainer. If you calculate out the cost per serving, and then look at how many servings you’d need to take to hit our recommended intake … you’ll find that it’s really quite expensive!

We’re essentially making our own weight gainer so that we can get the best of all worlds. We like to buy the protein separately from the carbs in part because it’s way way cheaper – wey is the cheapest and most convenient type of protein, maltodextrin is the cheapest and most convenient type of carb – and also because it’s more versatile and customizable. You can easily mix and match your ingredients to help you hit your daily macros. (You’ll have protein on hand if you need to boost your protein intake on rest days, for example.)

Does that make sense?

Dave

Yes makes perfect sense. Just seems that on the back of the gainer it has alot more amino acids and other ingredients that are not in the whey protein. They might just be fancy names on the gainer but if you can take a look at the supplements in the gainer and let me know if everything i need is already incorporated into your shake.

Shane Duquette

Ah amino acids are simply a more complicated way of talking about protein. Protein is broken down into amino acids, just like fat is broken down into fatty acids. So whey is made up of fancy amino acids too, it just isn’t bragging about it quite as well :P

The gainer is just very well marketed is all.

tarek

hey , wat do u think about pro complex gainer is it good for us with good workout and eating ? ( i try to eat alot ) :D

Shane Duquette

If you browse up a couple comments (or search for the word “gainer”) you’ll find a bunch of answers about weight gainers. Long story short though: I’d save your money and buy the ingredients separately, as outlined here.

habib

what about casein protein before bed ??

Shane Duquette

Sure!

Shane Duquette

Sure! :)

Phil

Putting together a “supplement budget” and will be purchasing through your affiliate links. My question is this: regarding the fish oil, did you mean the serving size is a teaspoon or a tablespoon? Amazon has the serving size as tea but you have table. Just wondering which one I should go with as a 160lb 6ft ecto. Thanks for all the great info here and looking forward to the next installment. Always learn a bunch!

Shane Duquette

No problem man, and glad to hear we could help!

The dosages on the bottle don’t always line up with what the studies show to be most effective / safe. I meant tablespoon, but many of the benefits can be seen with just a teaspoon (the longterm health benefits especially) so you could use the recommended dosage on the bottle if you like! (You can also consult your doctor with this stuff.)

Higher dosage means less muscle soreness, a more balanced overall fat intake, potentially maybe some body composition benefits, etc.

I hope that helps!

Phil

Yes, that does help. Thanks Dr. Shane!

Patrick

Hi Shane – First off thanks for all the amazing info you guys have put together for free on this site. I found it about 6 months ago when I started working out and was looking for ectomorph-specific advice. It really helped me make sense of things!

Unfortunately I can’t afford to do your program (yet!) but have instead been learning bodyweight progressions which I have LOVED! It’s been a great entry into fitness –  I’ve gained about 25 lbs, more strength than I’ve ever had, and the changes in appearance have given me a new found confidence.

I have a couple questions for you though about this supplement protocol since I only added it to my routine about 3 or 4 weeks ago:

First off I’m taking about an equal 90g whey / 90g maltodextrin which I consume throughout my workouts. About 15 minutes afterwards though, I feel awful – like the worst sugar crash ever. Yet your reasoning for the high dose of maltodextrin seems solid – Incorporating the shake into a diet that’s reduced in carbs and higher in protein than what I’d been doing the previous 5 months has for sure produced a leaner bulk. I like that! But the crash is really rough – I even get a headache. Should I consider a different carb for the shakes or maybe just reduce the amount of maltodextrin per dose?

Secondly – Is a shake like this appropriate to accompany bodyweight exercise? I’ve heard elsewhere that creatine is more intended for traditional strength training but I don’t know enough about it to understand the reason. I work my muscles to failure as I would if I were lifting: 12 reps x 3 sets per exercise and usually 4 different exercises per muscle group 4 – 5 times a week.

Anyway that’s a lot for 1 post so I’ll just leave it at that – look forward to hearing from you when you’ve got a sec. Thanks again and hope to have some cash saved to give your program a try in the near future. Peace!

Shane Duquette

Hey Patrick,

Your rep range is good – 12 reps is heavy enough to cause muscle size growth … if the intensity remains high enough. If someone held a gun to your head at rep 12 and told you to do three more reps … ideally you’d be able to grind out no more than two more and then fail (and, sadly, be shot).

If you become stronger with your bodyweight lifts to the point where the intensity of your lifts is no longer high enough, then consuming a big calorie surplus will probably start to make you fatter, not more muscular. You’re going all the way to failure though, so you’ve even got some intensity to spare. And you’re still in heavy rep ranges. This whey/maltodextrin protocol should thus work very well.

Creatine will work well for you too – heavy/moderately heavy rep ranges are exactly what it’s for. It will help you crank out more heavy reps and build even more muscle.

As for feeling sick afterwards, reduce the dosage. Try using 1/3 the size to start, and then work up as needed/desired.

I hope that helps!

Anthony

I’m about to start this protocol. I’m feeling optimistic. wish me luck!

Shane Duquette

Good luck, man :)

Bowker

As an ectomorph who finds it hard to build muscle despite optimal exercise routines, I must thank you for a wonderful series of posts that have guided me to the best results I’ve experienced for YEARS! I have no idea if creatine and whey protein supplements had anything to do with these results (I haven’t tried them before), but if that’s the “secret”, then I owe you big time for the recommendation, Shane. :)

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s great, man – really glad we could help! Whey protein and creatine can be really useful muscle-building supplements indeed :)

Eric

Hello! I got a question and I am wondering if you an clear.this up for me. So I just finished reading this article and I am surprised.there is nothing about Weight Gainer protein supplements? Are those just out of the picture for us skinny guys? Or are they just not recommended? I know no supplements are the best. But you seem to leave only choices rather than a true recommendation? This site seems to actually give me some confidence for my gains! Planning on purchasing the ebook.

Shane Duquette

Hey Eric, good question! Far from being out of the question for us, weight gainer supplements are designed specifically for us! In fact, what we’re doing is essentially CREATING a weight gainer supplement from scratch with proportions designed to optimize results for us. A weight gainer is just protein (usually whey protein) mixed with cheap carbs (usually maltodextrin). Pre-made weight gainers are fine, and you can go that route if you prefer. This is a little more custom tailored and a little cheaper because you aren’t paying a premium for a proprietary blend of empty carbs. The maltodextrin we’re recommending is very effective and very cheap (as it should be). Sometimes the pre-made ones will add in some sort of marketing angle, like talking about the leucine or amino acid profile of the protein or whatever (although it’s just regular whey, and all whey is rad).

Having all the ingredients separately also means that you have a protein powder on hand for days when you need some extra protein in your diet, you have creatine that you can take separately on rest days, since you should be taking creatine every day. And you’ve even got maltodextrin if you need to toss some carbs into your diet in a hurry.

Weight gainers are very convenient though, and Optimum Nutrition makes a decent one called Serious Mass. It’s only a tiny little bit more expensive than buying the ingredients individually :)

I hope that helps, and also that you do decide to join us, man!

Eric

Shane, thanks for the response. Now I got a few more follow up questions, if I may! I really researched for the past few days and I believe you are right. I would rather stick to the “mixing my own protein shake, the cheap way” route. I ordered myself so far the the Creatine supplment you recommended, and the Whey protein so far. I could not get my hands on the Maltodextrin stuff, unfortunetly (I love in Korea). So:

1.) Are there any other sources of Maltodextrin through whole foods? (I really am trying to stick myself to a whole food diet and really would like to keep the mind set you have written about how supplements should be the icing on the cake). If not, are there alternatives or other names that I can go shopping for at my local nutritional store?

2.) At what time of the day do you recommend on consuming my shakes? For example, should I take my shakes only on workout days? So in other words, how can I maximize my proportions without going through the whole tub without being wasted…(?)

Eric

3.) Sorry! In terms of the actual shake itself, do I mix the creatine, whey, and other ingredients all in one package? I am confused as to what to mix with what and what time of day!

Once again, thank you so much.

Shane Duquette

1) Maltodextrin is just a simple starch. It doesn’t have any magical skinny-boy muscle-building nutrients in it. It’s processed and low in fibre, which is often a downside, but in this case it can mean more bioavailable calories, an easier time digesting it, and less time spent feeling full. It’s in liquid form too, so it’s very easy on the appetite in the first place – very handy for us ectomorphs. And it’s ridiculously cheap. There are other powder alternatives: dextrose and waximaize are also both made out of glucose and will work just as well. (Waximaize is expensive though, so at that point you lose the cost advantage.) For whole foods you’d lose the appetite advantage, but whole food starches will work too: rice, potatoes, flour, etc.

2. While training. Only while training.

3. Creatine + whey + maltodextrin is your workout shake.

Hector

Hi Shane!

I am willing to buy the 3 products you recommended:
– Whey
– Maltodextrin
– Creatine

I got a few questios i hope you can answer (please :D)

1.- Ill use them as a post-work out mix. I only go 4 times per week to the gym. The other 3 days, would you recommend me to use any of those? Creatine? Whey? (Maltodextrin ill use it only as a post-work supp because of carbs).

2.- ¿If i dont find these brands, could you recommend me 1 o 2 more for each product?

3.- My height is 1.75 m, and i weight 138 pounds. What proportion of servings would you recommend to me as a post-work drink?

4.- Thanks a lot!

Shane Duquette

Hey Hector,

1. Use the creatine on off days. You want to use creatine every day. You can use whey as needed to help you hit your daily protein goals. Whether you need/want to use it or not will depend on what your overall diet consists of. Maltodextrin I wouldn’t really have on rest days, but if you need it to help you hit your calorie goals then that’s okay.

2. Ah your guess may be as good as mine at that point! Just do a little research first, and with supplements it’s generally best to choose big companies with lots of independent consumer lab testing. Sometimes the smaller companies aren’t as heavily regulated/tested, so it’s more risky!

3. Start with a single dose, and increase as needed to help you hit your calorie/protein/carb goals for the day! If you take just a single serving and already easily hit your calorie goals for the day, no need to increase the size of the drink further.

4. No problem – I hope that helps! :)

John

What about “Carnivor” from MuscleMeds? Is it a good option?

Shane Duquette

Hehehe beef protein isolate. Yeah that’s cool. It isn’t necessarily the most well studied, and I can’t think of a reason to choose that over whey, which is exceptionally effective, reasonably priced and very well tested … but beef protein isolate is a valid option as well, sure!

John

Carnivor comes with monohydrated creatine, BCAA’s and it also has glutamine. And it has a “Carnivor Mass” line, that seems to have maltodextrin with it and some insulin spike technology aswell. The problem is that it doesnt say how much creatine and glutamine comes with it, but if the price is not the problem, i think it is a good option instead of buying 3 things separately, am i right?

thx

Shane Duquette

Much simpler (and probably cheaper) to just buy Creatine separately. You need a few grams every day, which wouldn’t necessarily line up with your protein needs.

Glutamine and BCAAs are amino acids. EVERY protein source (chicken, fish, eggs, milk, protein powders, etc) will be full of amino acids – that’s what protein is! Whey tends to have the best amino acid profile for building muscle, which is one reason it’s so popular.

Similarly, all protein sources will spike insulin. Again, this is just something that protein does in general. (Cool factoid: this is one of the reasons that protein is so filling – because it spikes insulin so effectively.)

It’s a good option – all sources of protein are good options – but whey would still be the ideal protein powder for building muscle (assuming you aren’t allergic or morally opposed or whatnot). The differences, however, will be small. You can use whichever you prefer.

David

Hi Shane,

At the risk of repeating a question that has been asked multiple times…

Is there a pre made product that is similar to the workout drink you suggest? I’ve researched a lot of post workout drinks and the list is ENDLESS, but they all seem to be low in calories.

Thank you

Shane Duquette

Yep! I wouldn’t look for a pre-, intra- or post-workout drink, but rather just a basic weight gainer. Most of the peri-workout drinks are designed to boost your energy levels (caffeine, b vitamins, taurine, etc), give you a pump (arginine and such), and give you some protein (often in the low calorie form of BCAAs). That’s great for your normal dude, but won’t do much to bulk ya up.

There are some good weight gainers on the market at a decent price point. Serious Mass is made by a good company, has good ingredients, it’s well priced, and we’ve got some members who have spoken highly of it. (I’ve never tried it personally.)

I hope that helps!

Edward

After following you guys for a while I decided to give this a go. I made my first drink after a workout this afternoon with rice protein instead of whey (I’m lactose intolerant)… man I was surprised how much volume there actually is!

It pretty much tastes like dirt mixed with paint but I’ll keep trying it over the next few weeks and hopefully I see some gains :)

Thanks for the great post.

Shane Duquette

Hehehe dirt mixed with paint. Yeah. That doesn’t surprise me. (The dirt taste is the rice protein. That stuff tastes “earthy” I like to say.)

I hope it works out well! If it allows you to hit your calorie/protein targets, and it’s combined with a solid training plan, you should see results indeed. Just make sure you aren’t relying solely on the supplements. They’re just supplements after all, not any kind of solid muscle-building foundation. They really should help though :)

Edward

Thanks for the tips! I started out by simply eating more the past few weeks, and I’ve been seeing some gains, so I thought I’d see if adding supplements makes a difference too.

Shane Duquette

Perfect :)

Mischa

Added whey protein to my bodybuilding diet – and boy, near-instant impact! I’m not exactly an ectomorph, but have struggled with gaining muscle (partly because of my lack of discipline in working out). But three months ago, I promised myself to both exercise regularly and take supplements. Whey protein is the only one I started with – and already the effects are visible.

Mike

Hi there,

I stumbled across your site when searching for how skinny guys can gain muscle. Been browsing the website and reading a bunch of articles and comments for the past couple of weeks. Very impressive website and info. Really like the emphasis on research and health benefits other than just “being big” (e.g., posture is huge!). I’ve got a few questions, but first a little background about me so you know where these are coming from.

Late 30’s male, 5’6”, about 138 lbs. Never really got into working out earlier in my life, but my goal now is to be in the best shape of my life by age 40. Always been ectomorph, but I’ve gained some fat around my torso as I’ve aged…not just skin and bones anymore. For the past 8 years I’ve had a *completely* sedentary job. I literally sit for 12 hours/day. Started P90X3 (gain mass schedule + elite block) about 2 months ago and am half-way through. The *only* time I can workout is at night (end around 9:30, in bed by 10 PM). Also drastically improved my diet at the same time (e.g., only drink water, cut sugar by huge amount, more bananas/peanut butter/tuna, etc.). I’ve been using various supplements, too (Universal Torrent, ON Pro Complex, Creatine). I notice some increase in muscle, but only little weight loss.

1) The shake you recommend…WOW. It IS a beast. Tried it for the first time last night and it felt like lead in my belly. Didn’t eat until 11:30 today (more than 14 hours later). I mixed it so it had 60g of protein and 60g of carbs. I was afraid of gaining unwanted weight with the carbs since I’ve already got to lose 10-15 lbs, so started with a 1:1 ratio. Can’t imagine what it would be like if I gave it the full 2:1 ratio by doubling the carbs. Will those carbs make it impossible/more difficult to lose those 10 lbs?

2) Do I need to “downsize” the shake based on my age/height/weight and my goal to lose 10 lbs of fat while adding lean muscle?

3) Also, last night my body temp was high all night, and I think it was related to the shake (digesting it?). Any downsides to drinking it right before bed?

4) My current workout seems stalled. When lifting, I go until failure, but over time have not been able to add more weight or reps. I struggle the same amount now as I did 4 weeks ago on the exact same routines (especially with pull-ups). Yet, I have practically no muscle soreness the day after working out. Have seen slow but steady progress in the cardio parts of P90X3, though. What am I doing wrong?

My plan is to finish the P90X3 cycle I’m on, and then start your program. While I’m tempted to switch sooner than that, I feel I should complete the entire course and judge at that point. You guys seem great…really responsive, supportive, and knowledgeable. If I won the lottery, I’d pay you guys to be my personal trainers. Sorry for the length, but I’ve been storing these up :)

Shane Duquette

Hey Mike, congratulations for trying to get into better shape man! Going from a totally sedentary lifestyle to an active one I think you’re going to be noticing all kinds of improvements, both in your body and in your brain! More focus, intelligence, less anxiety, more energy, etc.

1) P90x is a general fitness program. That’s great – all of those benefits I describe above are due to exercise/fitness in general, and P90x is a great exercise/fitness program. Our program is all about health and fitness as well, but since we’re a program for naturally skinny guys trying to build all kinds of muscle mass, there’s also a huge emphasis on building lean muscle (or cutting while maintaining/building muscle). As such, our workout shake is a muscle-building / mass building drink. If you combine it with something like p90x, which is optimized for general fitness / convenience and isn’t really optimal for building muscle / maintaining muscle while cutting … it may not have the desired effects. For a number of reasons, your muscle cells won’t be as insulin sensitive, so they won’t be hogging all the calories you’re drinking. More on weightlifting/exercise for muscle-building here.

2) I would just have the protein. I’d get your carbs from whole food instead. As for how MUCH protein to have, that would depend on how much you’re getting elsewhere in your diet. The most important thing is hitting your daily protein goals, and yours are probably somewhere around 1g protein / pound bodyweight / day when cutting. 30-60g in the shake itself would probably be good. (Having a carby pre-workout meal or a banana or something 30-60 minutes before training might help if you find the carbs help your energy levels.)

3) No downsides that I can think of, no. Sounds like that’s what best works with your schedule. The heat could be due to any number of things. I suspect it will self-resolve as you acclimatize to a higher protein diet and a more active lifestyle … but if you’re concerned you could bring it up with your doctor.

4) Hrmm I don’t really know enough to hazard a guess there. It could be your nutrition that’s causing the plateau, it could be that you’re going to failure several times per week and under-recovering, it could be that you aren’t building muscle mass and thus aren’t getting stronger because there’s no new muscle to lift extra with, etc. If you’re maintaining strength, losing fat, and seeing progress in the cardio department though I suspect you’re totally winning at p90x, no? Sounds to me like you’re doing better than you think :)

(Muscle soreness doesn’t indicate all that much. It feels like it would mean a lot since it hurts, but I wouldn’t pay it much attention.)

I think your plan is a good one! We’d love to have you, and I think you’re going to love this program. Having a good fitness base from p90x is sweet, too. You’ll be joining up in pretty sweet condition to kick ass at emphasizing building muscle (or cutting while maintaining/building muscle) :D

Mike

Well, it’s been 2 more weeks and the bottom line is you give great advice. Went to just using the protein shake (50g) + creatine (5g) once per day, and it’s been working great. The whole heat thing at night has resolved. I do notice over-all having a slightly higher baseline body temp (I used to get cold very easily ), but I suspect this is due to improved cardiovascular functioning and metabolism (?). I think the plateau was over-training. I was doing too much too quick. Could be seen as impatient, or really, really driven…I like driven better :) But, I do recognize my form was suffering. Decreased the weight and focused on form, and that was it. I’m seeing visible results…muscle gain and fat loss plus improved cardio. I’m even seeing some definition in my abs. Still early on and need to lose about 5 more pounds, but you were right…I was doing better than I thought. 1 more month to finish this P90X3 program, then I’ll be ready to start the B2B program.

Shane Duquette

Perfect. Glad to hear it, Mike :)

I think you’re right. Better cardiovascular function (and blood flow) would help distribute heat throughout your body, and the extra overall heat is likely a result of your metabolism burning off extra energy in the form of heat. There’s a bit more on that here:

http://bonytobeastly.com/the-research-on-ectomorph-appetite-hardgainer-metabolisms-and-skinny-stomachs/

Sounds like you’re kicking ass – keep it up!

Saleh

Hi Shane,

I was (am?) an ectomorph asian guy [I thought the tropical weather here might effect our body physiologically and diet]. I gained 14kg from 54 to 68kg on early 2012 – 2013. Now I am maintaining at 67.2kg, 17.6% bodyfat and 52.5(% ?) muscle mass, 29 years “young” with 23 metabolic age :)

I’m planning to gain more muscle,reduce fat and break my plateau using this article.

1. I am not sure if i’m still an ecto or ecto-meso type?
2. I’ll take ON whey 5x a day mixed with oatmeal and bananas for during training, is the maltodextrin still necessary?

Planned to work out 3x a week starting this fasting(tomorrow) month.

Thank you.

Shane Duquette

Hey Saleh, congrats on your gains! That’s awesome :)

I think wondering if you’re still an ectomorph or if you’ve become an ectomorph/mesomorph is sort of a semantics question. Is a very muscular ectomorph still an ectomorph? I don’t know. I think that depends on whether you consider ectomorph to mean skinny or to mean having a slender bone structure, small stomach capacity, fast metabolism, etc. Some things can change too, like insulin sensitivity in your muscle and fat cells.

You have whey protein five times each day?! That’s wild!

Maltodextrin isn’t ever necessary, no. If you can get those carb calories from whole foods instead that’s great!

Good luck!

Saleh

I’ve just found out the real calculation of protein intake i.e : LEAN mass(lb) x 1to1.1g protein. Re-adjust the whey to 3x a day. Now I am 67.8kg, 17.1% b.fat , 22 m.age , 53.3kg lean mass, after 4 days. I also took creatine using the table here http://www.creatinemonohydrate.net/creatine_doses.html .

Hoping to get 18 m.age by Friday.

Thanks Shane ^_^

Shane Duquette

Ah right on man, keep it up! And no problem :)

Brandon

Shane,
Curious what you think about accelerated hair loss due to creatine use. I’m 27 and my hairline is already receding pretty badly. I’d like to take creatine for all of it’s many benefits (and have already purchased it using your links) – but losing more of my hair is less than ideal. The studies I’ve read were inconclusive but it seems like a lot of people have issues with hair loss after being on creatine for a while. Any thoughts on this?

Shane Duquette

You mean because of the possible link between creatine and the masculinizing sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT)? As far as creatine goes, if it affects DHT then it could theoretically have an effect on manly man things… like male pattern baldness. One older study looking into creatine’s affects on hormones found that it did have an effect on DHT. Two more recent studies showed that it didn’t. (There are 0 studies looking into creatine and hair.)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19741313
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14685870
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11252073

Unfortunately my conclusion is the same as yours — the research is inconclusive. My guess would be that there isn’t much to it. But if it were me and I were trying to hold onto my hair I wouldn’t take it, just because the worry wouldn’t be worth it.

(I should point out here for anyone else reading this that in almost all cases having hearty DHT levels is just fine — it’s what gives us our male appearance after all – and not something we need to worry about. However you’d perhaps want to worry about DHT levels in very very specific situations, one of those situations being when trying to stop the progression of male pattern baldness.)

Greg

I have a question for you. Three months ago I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. So essentially I am not allowed to eat processed foods or refined foods anymore, all whole foods for me now (really it isn’t so bad because I will be very healthy now). In saying that I am also struggling in the gaining weight part a lot.

Is it alright for me to take creating? I do the fish oils and vitamin d routine but I can’t dive into the sugar, only complex carbs (even artificial sweeteners send me into the up and down of the blood sugar roller coaster).

Anything you would recommend for a guy like me. I’ve been the same size since I have been 16 ( 6 ft 145 lbs). I was a very promising athlete, but everything my coaches and trainers tried to pack weight on failed and made me feel miserable (12 years later we now know why).

Shane Duquette

I can’t imagine how creatine could affect you negatively… however I’m totally absolutely unqualified to speculate about that stuff. I’d ask your doctor.

Whole foods are great! Check this post out, if you’re struggling to eat enough to gain weight.

Not being able to have sugar or maltodextrin shouldn’t be a problem :)

Spurgeon Chatla

Hey, Im on a nutrition thingy where I’m supposed to take cell activator pills, whey protein and multivitamin tablets and I follow a systematic routine. This sorta thing is primarily for gaining mass, my nutritionalist says. However, I would like to include muscle gain supplements with this supplementation program that I’m on and I was wondering if it would be OK to do so and if it would help me put on some muscle fast. By the way, I’m a hard worker in the gym, though I’m skinny. Please lemme know your thoughts on this and any supplements that I can incorporate into my current program. Thanks.

Shane Duquette

Hey Spurgeon,

Your nutritionist has you taking aloe, whey protein, and multivitamins as a mass gaining protocol? I can’t imagine why adding in more calories from whey/maltodextrin, and also adding in creatine/fish oil would be a problem. And that would help you build muscle, yeah :) However with all of this stuff you always want to ask your doctor, of course!

I hope that helps, and good luck!

James

Hey there I’m having trouble finding the maltodextrin or how ever you spell it but I seen a post of someone asking if mass gainers are fine as my wife had just recently brought me some Mutant Mass, Creakong and Rehab all from Mutant and was wondering if this mix was any good and how you recommend on having these throughout the day or if whey is some special muscle building supplement, I have a very active job in the construction area and I need them easy calories as our breaks are far and few in between. I’m still guessing the fish oil and vitamins are still necessary though and if there was any special kind to get as I cannot find the labels you provide in the article as I’m from New Zealand and do not want to pay for shipping, the main supplement site for New Zealand is shotgun supplements if you’ve heard of it, thanks for giving us skinny guys some hope

Shane Duquette

Hey James, none of the supplements are necessary by any means, so don’t worry about missing the fish oil or vitamin D. These are just extra things you could add in if you wanted to slightly improve your results. Weightlifting and nutrition (and lifestyle things like sleep) will be what determine 99% of the results you’re getting (or not getting).

As for the supplements you’ve got—that sounds sweet. If you check out the ingredient list on your Mutant Mass you’ll see Waxi Maize listed as the first ingredient and maltodextrin as the second ingredient. Both are essentially the same thing—easily digested glucose polymers (aka starches). There’s also protein powder in there. So Mutant Mass would make a great workout shake. One serving is about the size that we recommend, too. (Rehab is similar, although more specifically made to be taken during the workout period and for a more general body type, so it’s lower in calories. You could take this instead.)

Could you have it instead of a meal, rather than as a workout shake? Yeah. It’s not exactly the healthiest meal out there, but it’s still a source of carbs and protein, so it would be functional as far as building muscle goes.

Similarly, the first ingredient in Creakong is creatine monohydrate, so that’s a good alternative to the creatine monohydrate that we link to.

So it sounds to me like you’re set. Good luck, man! :)

Rohan

Hi Shane!

I am having trouble knowing what was actually updated in September. Can you please let me know how do I identify the updated parts? Also are these updates reflected in the B2B eBook?

Warmly~Rohan

Shane Duquette

So far the updates have mainly been adding in newer studies to support the existing ones. If you were to search “study” each month you’d see the list of references growing slightly longer each time :P

(The Alan Aragon and James Krieger bits are fairly new too.)

This past month I just went in and updated the writing a little to make things a little clearer based on questions I’d been getting. I also made the article a teensy bit shorter. I think the beta alanine bit is from the September edits as well (or perhaps August):

“Beta-alanine is a similar supplement that can be taken in addition to creatine. It’s newer and there’s limited research available, but it’s very promising so far. Not as promising as creatine, but still promising nonetheless (study, study).”

The b2B book is still current, and if something ever changes we’ll update it straight away. The member content is always the most current. As far as beta alanine goes, for example, we had it in the member area many months ago! And the section on this workout drink is much more detailed :)

We’re releasing an update to the eBook in the next couple days, too! I’m going to update the supplement section with a couple new things, but not concerning this workout drink (except perhaps to make it more clear/more concise!).

And now that you’re a member you should post an intro!

Rohan

Shane, I am going to post my intro in this week. See you in the member’s area then ;)

Damien

Hello, I am a skinny guy (unfortunately) thanks to my father that is also skinny like me. I have a few questions that I hope you can answer if you have the time :) I am 18 years old, and of course at that age you want to look good and want to be confident, and obviously because I’m skinny it is quite difficult, I don’t like the fact that my legs are skinny and just the way that my body looks like…
So after reading your page, it looks that you know a lot of things. So my questions are :
1. Because my father is skinny, can I still gain weight or it is physically impossible due to genetics ? I know that I have tiny bones, like my father, so even with those tiny bones will I be able to muscle/fatten up? Also I know that if I eat a lot of food and especially junk food I’ll fatten up, but only on my stomach (not even on my skinny legs lol).
2. I work out a lot since a few weeks, maybe 6 days a week, one hour per day normally. I start to see some improvements, but even if I am more muscular it doesn’t seems that I get bigger (If you know what I mean). So should I train less? I see a lot of people saying that for skinny guys 3 days a week is good, but I want to see better improvements (I don’t want people to judge me only by my skinniness).
3. Finally, I am also intolerant with lactose and eggs…nice combo lol…I am not 100% intolerant but It does hurt my stomach when I drink a lot of milk or when I eat several eggs. So my question is because I am lactose intolerant, the milk that I drink will not convert into muscle because I have that intolerance? Also, because of my intolerance, can I still take protein supplement?
That were my 3 big questions :) I’m sorry to bother you but at my age I want to look like a normal person, I don’t want to have skinny legs, I hate when people tell me I’m skinny (like if I didn’t know), especially when they tell me to eat more when I more than them (I do eat a lot, but I don’t know where the food goes).
Well, thank you, and I am ready to invest in whatever thing that can help me out of this misery ! Bye
PS: I am french, sorry for any mistakes I made.

Shane Duquette

1a. Guys with skinny genetics are actually the best at gaining weight (study). It’s harder to reach a larger absolute size, so you may not be able to beat out Phil Heath for the next Mr. Olympia title… but you’ll be able to gain muscle at a faster pace than any other body type until you reach a fit/athletic level of muscularity—looking like Brad Pitt or whatnot.

1b. Manly men store fat in their stomach first, so gaining fat thus means a larger waistline for most guys. You’ll probably find you look better if you aim to build muscle instead of just gaining any kind of weight (and it’ll be better for your longer term health as well).

2. If you’re seeming more muscular but not bigger, chances are you’re losing fat and revealing more of the muscle you already have. Better muscle definition, not larger muscle size. Check this article out as far as training for muscle size goes, and this article for how to eat for muscle size as a skinny guy.

3. The part of milk that you’re intolerant to, i.e. the part that you’re unable to digest, probably won’t contribute to your muscle gains, no, since it would be passing through your body undigested (and causing you discomfort along the way). Lactose is the sugar in milk though, so you’d still be digesting the protein… and thus still getting much of the muscle-building benefit of it. With that said, you’ll probably want to limit/avoid milk (or consume milk with lactase added—the digestive enzyme that you’re missing). Whey doesn’t have lactose in it, since whey is strictly protein, so you should be fine—especially if you buy whey that has more of the carbs filtered out, like whey protein isolate or even hydrolized whey protein (as opposed to whey concentrate). Plus, there are plant-based protein supplements, like SunWarrior! However I’d consult your doctor about this stuff.

I’m French as well, as you may be able to guess given my last name :)

If you’re looking to invest in good muscle-building resources, I’d also recommend our program! That’ll answer all of your questions, and a few months from now you’ll be 20+ pounds heavier—guaranteed.

I hope that helps, Damien. And good luck!

Damien

Thank you Shane for this elaborate answer !
I might buy your pogram because I’m very interested as I want to get weight + muscles ! I just need to wait to get enough money, I think that my mom can help me out as well.
Au revoir !

Shane Duquette

Right on, man—hope to see you in there soon! :)

Dragos

Hey Shane,thanks for all the great articles. Regarding this one, i live in Europe so i can’t get my hands on the fish oil and maltodextrin you recommended. Can you give us some alternatives? A list of 2-3 alternatives would be awesome, since international shipping costs a small fortune for me so i’d rather buy from the local online shops. Thank you.

Shane Duquette

If you search for fish oil at your local shops I’m sure you’ll find a few options. Look for mackerel, sardine, anchovies, salmon. Those are all good sources. Cod, not so much. Then you just want to make sure there’s plenty of DHA and EPA in there, since that’s more or less the whole point.

As for maltodextrin, any will do. (Waximaize or dextrose would be good too.) Hell, you could even buy some oats and grind ‘em up in your coffee grinder! Or have some bananas. No need to get fancy. Maltodextrin is just carbs.

When it comes to picking a particular brand, supplements are a situation where bigger companies offer some advantages. They’re more likely to be more closely monitored and thus have better practices / more accurate labels / more third party testing. I would only buy from a small unheard of company if you know and trust them.

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