Marcel's Bony to Beastly Transformation + Milk

Does Milk Possess “Magic” Muscle-Building Properties?

Written by Shane Duquette on September 12, 2012

One summer I decided I was going to bulk up. This was back when I was 130 pounds and sick and tired of being 130 pounds. I was working at an ad agency as a junior designer on the illustration team. I was new there, and also newly determined to gain 20 pounds. Drinking a bag of milk (1.3 litres) each day was part of my plan to do that.

Err, okay, so that’s not entirely accurate. I thought I was drinking the entire bag, but I wasn’t. A couple months into the summer one of my particularly caffeinated coworkers started complaining to everyone that by the end of the day, each and every day, I would always finish the milk, leaving none for her after-work coffee. She was appalled that I was so consistently inconsiderate. I don’t blame her. Drinking 1.3 litres each day of communal office milk would certainly be an office foul. Shame on Shane.

When this was brought to my attention I felt awful. This was a really awkward situation. First, I had to tell her that I knew what she was saying behind my back, then that I understood her concerns… and then that I wasn’t drinking the office’s milk, I was bringing my own bag of milk in with me each morning. She’d been using my milk for her coffee throughout the day each day. At that point someone pointed out that there were communal milk and cream cartons in the door of the fridge. She wasn’t impressed: “How on earth would I know that? Who brings in milk to work like that?! You even have your own milk pitcher here!”

Who brings milk to work like that? Desperate skinny boys who are trying to build muscle, that’s who. Office politics aside though, milk’s still a controversial drink. I’ve learned a lot since then about bulking up on milk.

So what’s the skinny on milk?

Introducing “Muscel” Marcel

Muscle, Milk, Marcel – Bony to Beastly Ectomorph Transformation

Marcel was one of our earliest members of the Bony to Beastly Program. For over a year now he’s been one of the friendliest, most positive and most helpful guys in the community. He’s an Australian kid with an athletic build who assured us that he was an ectomorph. We didn’t believe him—he looked pretty buff. So he dug up some of his before photos.

Ectomorph indeed.

Marcel had already gained 40-50 pounds from training heavy and growing up (from 18 to 20) and was looking for a program that would help him get past the plateau he’d hit at just under 180lbs.

He was telling us that at this point all he was managing to gain was fat. He had been trying GOMAD (gallon of milk per day) and then adding in weight gainer shakes on top of it to pump his calories up even higher. His strength wasn’t moving up anymore, he was feeling terrible, and he was getting fatter.

I’d been there too. My “fat Shane” days were back when I was consuming ludicrous amounts of calories – many coming from weight gainer shakes. I mean, add in a ton of processed sugar and fat into your diet to drive yourself into a calorie surplus and you’ve got a recipe for two things: muscle and fat. During my “fat” days though I wasn’t even getting stronger or more muscular! Neither was Marcel.

That’s because there’s more to the puzzle than just calories, of course. A calorie surplus will make you gain weight. A calorie deficit will make you lose weight. However, what kind of weight you gain or lose depends both on the quantity and quality of your training and nutrition.

Where does milk fit into this? Is milk a good source of nutritious calories?

That’s a tough question. There’s a lot of anti-milk media out there. Vegans have always been (understandably) at odds with milk, but ever since Paleo came along, all of a sudden milk is more controversial than Coke. (The drink, not the drug.)

Interestingly enough though, Paleo isn’t actually totally at odds with dairy—at least not for us ectomorphs (and Paleo isn’t really designed for us in the first place). Anyway, to quote one of the biggest names in Paleo, Robb Wolf: “Dairy is great if you place a premium on muscle/weight gain. My go‐to approach for a mass gain protocol is simply Paleo plus dairy. There are all kinds of people recommending the same approach; I think EliteFTS is calling it the Mountain Dog Diet. Former NFL lineman John Welbourn has seen remarkable results with his football program combined with Paleo + Dairy.”

That’s not surprising to hear at all. Milk has a long history of being used to bulk people up, and over the years it’s built up a pretty impressive resume.  Check out 50’s strongman Paul Anderson, back when being a strong man was virtually unheard of:

Paul Anderson – Milk Monster (Not an Ectomorph)

Paul Anderson is one incredibly inspiring and incredibly scary example of milk’s amazing ability to make monsters out of men. On one hand, he became the strongest man in the world through smart training and consuming humungous quantities of milk. On the other hand he also got really really really fat and died in his 60’s (which actually isn’t so bad for a guy weighing nearly 400 pounds).

Paul Anderson – Milk Monster (Not an Ectomorph)


Milk: Muscle Saint or Monster?

Milk is pretty controversial, so the first things we need to consider when looking into a study or article concerning milk are the various biases. The dairy industry is a huge powerhouse (especially in the US) with a lot of money and political power behind it. This means there may be a strong bias in favour of milk. Vegans are against milk because it comes from domesticated animals, which gives the potential for a negative bias. In addition to this, some people have milk allergies and intolerances, magazines have a vested interested in publishing only controversial findings, some people come from cultures where milk is either a staple food or is totally socially unacceptable, some guys spent their entire childhoods consuming loads of milk, etc.

Tons of biases.

Some people love milk and some people hate it.

I don’t love it or hate it. I don’t have a moral issue with it either, and I’m not affiliated with the dairy industry. I could never drink milk again and be totally happy. Or I could drink a litre a day for the rest of my life and still be totally happy. If it’s healthy and helpful, I’m in. If it isn’t, I’m out. I’m pro-health and pro-results, so whenever I look into stuff relating to food I always try my best to be open-minded to whatever the science and research indicates.

So let’s dig in to the research:

  • We’ve been consuming animal milk for over 10,000 years. We eventually more or less settled on cows’ milk because it has a very mild and rather pleasant taste. (Carnivores have especially weird tasting milk, and thus we’ve never much been a fan of, say, dog milk.)
  • Milk contains zinc, selenium and magnesium – three vitamins that bodybuilders and strength athletes often supplement with because of their effect on anabolic hormone production (like testosterone). It’s often fortified with vitamin D as well, which most people are deficient in. (It also contains vitamin A, vitamin b12, vitamin b6, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folate, potassium, etc.). This makes it especially nutritious for guys trying to build muscle.
  • The protein in milk has a favourable and balanced breakdown of amino acids (BCAAs), making it great for inducing muscle growth. We can process it to create whey protein powder—by far the most famous muscle-building supplement in the world. To quote Alan Aragon, arguably the most educated and evidence based nutrition researcher out there: “Cow’s milk has among the most biologically available protein fractions in the known food supply. It’s a particularly potent dietary source of nutrients for the growth and maintenance of lean tissue in humans. Isolated whey and milk protein are among the highest-rating proteins across the various protein quality indexes.” (source)
  • Most experts agree that milk is great for bone health and bone density, due to its calcium content. Some vegan experts disagree, and some even disagree that calcium is good for you (which would also mean avoiding spinach, soy and almonds). Robert Heany, one of the more respected researchers of bone health, put together a meta-analysis of all the studies looking into bone health and concluded that milk and calcium were fantastic.
  • In the 1900s we became more aware of bone health and started to understand exactly how rich in nutrients milk was. Understandably, it became immensely popular, and bigger industries started to get involved. At this point we started sterilizing and pasteurizing our milk. The sterilization process removes some of the nutrients, but also makes it safer to consume. Luckily, the processing that milk undergoes is usually fairly mild. Most nutritious researchers still consider it a minimally processed whole food.
  • Raw milk isn’t pasteurized, and thus supposedly retains even more nutrients. It isn’t guaranteed to be free of bacteria though, so in some countries (and many US states) the legality of it varies. Moreover, studies are finding that the pasteurization of milk doesn’t seem to actually reduce the nutrient content of it anyway (study). If you have a trusted source, raw milk can be a good option. For most people pasteurized milk is a better bet.
  • We can ferment milk to create cheese, yogurt and kefir. All three can contain impressive amounts of probiotics. Probiotics (good bacteria) are great for our immune system and digestive health—two things we want in peak condition when trying to eat enough to gain weight.
  • The protein found in the milk that we drink is mainly casein, which digests very slowly and steadily. (In supplement form casein isn’t as popular as whey protein, but it’s a good protein powder supplement as well.)
  • Casein may also be (very mildly) addictive. Our bodies break it down into casomorphins, which is the nerdy younger sister of endorphins. The casomorphins in milk have about 1/10th the painkilling effect of morphine.
  • Milk contains lactose, a very very slowly digested sugar that some people have trouble digesting (making them bloated and nauseous). To digest lactose we use the digestive enzyme lactase, which some people have more of than others. Generally, if you consume more milk your body will start producing more lactase so that you can better digest it. This means that even people who are lactose intolerant now can often become tolerant. However, some people remain lactose intolerant despite regular consumption of milk. It’s uncommon, but it happens. Because of this, we have lactose-free milk. Lactose free milk isn’t actually free of lactose, it just has the digestive enzyme lactase already in it. All of a sudden you can digest milk even with no lactase production.
  • Since whey protein is just protein—no sugar and thus no lactose—most lactose intolerant dudes can still consume whey protein isolates.
  • Some studies have indicated that some cultures digest milk better than others. People with Northern European blood handle it well, whereas many people of Asian and African descent struggle with it (study). At first researchers thought this was due to genetics, but now they think it’s due to culture (study). Since some cultures don’t raise their kids on milk, these kids grow up never needing to produce lactase. A slow introduction of milk will still rev up their lactase production, allowing them to drink regular milk.
  • Switzerland, Australia and Sweden are in the top 10 countries for largest consumption of milk… and also in the top 10 countries for longest life expectancy.
  • Some people are actually allergic to milk, which is a whole different ballgame from intolerance. These people, and they probably know who they are, shouldn’t be consuming milk. That’s fairly rare though.
  • The “wholesomeness” of milk varies from country to country. Some milk, depending on where you live and what brand of milk you buy, may come from cows who were given hormones and/or antibiotics. The United States is pretty loosey goosey with their regulations, whereas many other countries, like Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan etc., restrict most of that stuff. Consuming antibiotics and hormones is probably quite bad for us, but it’s uncertain whether consuming the small (nearly undetectable) quantities found in milk would produce any negative effects. Also, pasteurizing the milk may completely neutralize the bad stuff. I haven’t found any studies definitively showing that these kinds of milk are either definitively dangerous or safe. Some countries err on the side of regulation and caution, others err on the side of freedom and profit.
  • Organic milk is very similar to regular milk, but in the States a key difference is that the cows aren’t given hormones or antibiotics. Most tests can’t detect a difference, but this may be a safer bet for Americans, as most (if not all) of the studies linking milk to bad things, like cancer, are using processed milk from big industries that are giving their cows antibiotics and hormones. The good news for people living in the States though is that expensive hormone-free milk there is still cheaper than regular milk is in other countries, which is hormone-free by default and thus always expensive. All milk here in Canada, for example, is both expensive and hormone/antibiotic free.
  • Milk is incredibly balanced. 2% milk is 27% protein, 38% carbs, 35% fat. That’s a balanced meal on it’s own. (Looking for a meal while on the go? Pop into a corner store and grab a litre of milk.)
  • Whole milk is the most anabolic type of milk. For some reason it seems to produce the best muscle growth (study). At first this was thought to be because it was higher in calories, but it turns out that even if you’re consuming the same amount of calories from skim milk as you are from whole milk, the whole milk still produces more muscle growth— even though the same caloric load of skim milk would have almost double the protein! This may because the processing of whole milk is less extreme, or that since many of the vitamins and minerals in milk are fat soluble, meaning that whole milk contains more muscle-building micronutrients. However, since whole milk is high in fat, and dietary fat is easily stored as body fat when in a caloric surplus, this would also be the type of milk that would mostly likely lead to fat gain. For this reason I usually choose skim milk.

What happened to Marcel and Me?

I had never been able to gain 20 pounds before, and oh man had I ever tried. The milk was just one component, but a really damn useful one. That bag of milk that I rather affordably enjoyed consuming each day added 700 calories, 45g of protein, 63g of carbs and 26g of fat into my diet (minus whatever that lady was drinking in her coffees). Not bad.

That brought me up to a not-quite-so-skeletal 150 pounds – into the realm of normalcy, finally – and put a stop to the skinny jokes once and for all. More importantly, it gave me the confidence I needed to go on and gain another 40 pounds. Now, at 190 pounds, milk is still a staple part of my diet, especially when busy or travelling, since it’s so accessible (and so delicious).

Shane Duquette the Bony to Beastly Milkman

And Marcel? He stopped with the gainers but kept on with the dairy. When Marcel described his revamped bulking diet, it sounded something like this: “So I had breakfast along with a couple glasses of milk, and then a snack with another glass of milk, and then some milk, and then lunch with milk, and then I had some fish oil capsules washed down with some milk, and then dinner, and another glass of milk before bed.”

Marcel has just just crushed the 208 pound mark—and at a similar body fat percentage to when he started! That puts his total weight gain, 78 pounds, at more than mine (60 pounds). Prrrretty sweet for a 20 year old ectomorph who’s only been training for a couple years now. Best of all, after his massive success, Marcel is now in the middle of a 16 week personal training course so that he can help other people accomplish their goals too.


The How-To Part

We’ve essentially got three options here, depending on how you feel about and respond to milk:

  1. If you’re looking to add milk into your diet, start small—a cup of milk per day. Then work your way up gradually. All of a sudden loading up on tons of dairy might overpower your body’s ability to digest it. (If you feel bloated or nauseous then your body isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes yet.)
  2. If you already drink milk, you might want to try experimenting with drinking even more to see if you can build muscle even more quickly.
  3. If you’re allergic, intolerant or morally opposed, no worries. You can still build equally impressive amounts of muscle without it. Milk is just an option, not any kind of requirement.

So should you drink milk? That’s totally up to you. If you do decide to drink milk though you’ve got one incredibly powerful muscle-building food on your team (study, study, study, study).

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So, what'd you think? 58 responses below.


how tall is marcel? just wanna get a rough idea how i would if i was to be 200lb

Shane Duquette

Haha yeah I do the same thing. He’s 184cm, so a touch over 6′.


I’m actually 191 cm !
I have grown since I started B2B

Shane Duquette

Niiiice 🙂


Shane- haha! You already know how I feel about milk, BUT one thing I wanted to say that was not mentioned and that I recently found out is that IF it is available to you and from a trusted source even lactose intolerant people can (80% or more of the time) actually tolerate RAW milk. My daughter being one of them. She has not been able to tolerate cows milk, yogurt, ice cream, etc at all without serious GI problems. It was bad. Bleeding in the intestinal tract, leaky gut problems, but I switched her over and she immediately tolerated it! Up to two glasses a day within a week, and she started gaining weight! 3 lbs in the first 5 weeks. Normally it would take her a year or so to gain that amount! So I guess my point is that it’s a good weight gainer and can still be an option for those that think they can’t tolerate it.

Shane Duquette

I’ve yet to ever even try it! I’m kind of excited. Going to be keeping my eyes peeled for it.

That’s awesome about your daughter, too! Glad to hear she’s doing stellar now 😀


I’m an incredibly hard-gainer. Milk was/is hands down the most effective (and cost effective) thing I’ve added to my diet. It put on weight, good weight, like no other supplement or food.

As for the anti-milk crowd, especially those that claim it as a cause or catalyst to cancer, I frown at the claims. Even tap water now has been “linked” to many physical problems (not that I buy into the claim). Don’t believe the hype, believe what works for you.

Shane Duquette

I’m going to keep my eyes on the emerging research just incase, but right now I’m totally with you—milk is looking both wholesome and effective 🙂

Truly is the perfect weight gainer for many of us ectomorphs!


Just recently read this article, wanted to reply with the update.

This argument has been around for a bit, but recently has seemed to gain a lot of attention. Probably why the milk “alternatives” are flooding the shelves right now. But, this breaks my heart, could this all really be true? That instead of drinking a sweet nectar of results we are drinking a poison made for calves only? This is turning my world upside-down.

Milk, hands down, has brought me great results. From a nutritional standpoint, I simply cannot see how milk can be “that bad” for you; other than the possibility of added hormones and antibiotics (just buy organic).

What is everyone’s thought on this? Comfort my milk drinking self. 🙁

Shane Duquette

Hehe I always find that “milk is made for calves” argument funny. I mean … it’s not like cows themselves, chickens, eggs, many fruits and veggies, or even water were ‘made’ for human consumption either.

Some experts, like Alan Aragon, argue that hormones in milk aren’t much to worry about, as they’re digested in the stomach. I mean, it’s not like we’re injecting milk into our bloodstream or anything. Only some hormones can be taken orally.

With that said, you’re absolutely right – very easy to play it safe in that regard and opt for organic.

I haven’t come across any reason to avoid milk in my research yet, and there are TONS of studies showing that milk is incredibly nutritious:

I’m not saying it’s for everyone, or that it’s NECESSARILY safe (what is?) but just that the current body of research seems to show that it’s great for most people’s health.


A few weeks ago, I told Shane that I had just found out I had a slight milk allergy (which sucks because I love me some milk). One can be allergic to the whey or casein proteins in milk, and these proteins can be structurally different from one species to the next.

I eliminated all dairy from my diet for 3 weeks. This week, I added back in a whey protein shake (no casein) and everything was great! No excess phlegm, no bloating. Looks like whey and I are cool. As an experiment, I’ll add a whey-casein blend to my shakes in two weeks and see if there’s any reaction.

If casein is indeed the problem for me, milk from another animal (goat maybe) might be a good option for me.

To anyone with a milk allergy: try an elimination diet to determine what in milk you are sensitive to, then you’ll have options to work around it!

Shane Duquette

That’s a really cool and insightful comment Jesse—thanks man!

And pumped to hear that whey is working for you. Curious to see how goat milk treats you. That stuff is funky in a really cool way. (Or perhaps that’s just the raw-egg-drinking side of me talking.)

Also, badass Gravatar. Doesn’t hurt that your location reads “Nashville” either.


The best part about you writing this article was getting me switched to whole milk.

Tastes so good!


Grammatically speaking, it should be “What happened to Marcel and me”, not “Marcel and I”. Good article though!

Shane Duquette

Ayy you’re right! Thanks for pointing that out man! Fixed 🙂

Ahaha and glad you liked the article!


So, here’s the thing. I’m 6’5” and weigh a little below 180 lbs. This, by no means is bad, but trust me when I say this, I look thin. Skinny. Weak. Do you think I can email some pictures and get an opinion on this? I drink loads of milk, exercise very regularly, and eat a good healthy diet. I can across this blog a few days ago, and it has been immensely inspiring. I was going to start the program, but I may have to wait a while, because of heavy course load in college. Great articles though!

Shane Duquette

Hey I just noticed I missed this comment. Did you ever manage to shoot me an email? Of course I’d be glad to take a look!


I did not actually. I do not have an email ID to mail it to though. :\

Shane Duquette

Send it to 🙂


I wanna load up on milk so that I can look like Shane who looks like a lion with a bass 😀

Shane Duquette

Ahahahahha 😉


Hi guys,

Thanks for the article, yet another great read! In terms of food what are your thoughts on things like Quinoa Flour as a carb mix. Whilst I have your attention I’d also love to know your thoughts on Rock climbing as a back work out, and HMB as a supplement.

Many Thanks in advance!


Shane Duquette

Hehehe such different questions packed into such a brief little comment! 😉

Quinoa flour is cool, but be careful when consuming things that aren’t designed to be consumed raw. Some things, like regular old white flour, isn’t intended to be consumed raw, so they manufacture it with the assumption that any bacteria will be killed by the cooking process, i.e., consuming it raw can mean you’re consuming bateria that you really shouldn’t be. You’d likely need to get fairly unlucky to ever run into an issue, but it’s certainly something to be mindful of!

I personally use maltodextrin, but hey there are tons of creative options out there. A few of our Australian ectomorphs (like Marcel) grind up oatmeal to use in their workout shakes.

With amino acid supplements (BCAAs, glutamine, Leucine, HMB, etc) you’ll often get all the benefits from just eating regular old protein! Especially if you’re consuming animal protein (eggs, dairy, meat, etc) you really won’t be missing anything there! Plus you’ll get all the advantages of eating whole foods, which typically far outweigh the benefits of taking an isolated and processed little bit of it (notable exceptions being creatine and fish oil).

Most rock climbers wind up with pretty fearsome backs, but if you’re looking to guarantee a fearsome one I’d approach it the other way: work out your back to become a better rock climber, not rock climb to work out your back.

I’ve gone rock climbing with a few friends and I always feel incredibly thankful that I’ve got a strong grip and a strong back from deadlifting. Makes things so much easier!

Does that help at all?

My best,


Hey Shane,

Another Aussie here, but living in Shanghai. No way to get maltodextrin here, as far as I’m aware. For me to be in shape I’ve had to forgo weight gain in the past and go for simply lean, as I’ve been working as a model for about the past 6 years.

Being half-Indian, I have that thin-boned lanky ectomorph-like body type, but can also put on weight pretty easily and end up looking like those lanky old Indian gentlemen who also rock a sizable belly and arse!

But in the last 6 months or so, I’ve wanted to put some lean size on, with mixed results. Now, however real progress has been made.

From your site, I’ve adopted drinking moderate amounts of whole milk to great effect, and also transformed my post-workout shake into a ‘during-workout’ shake packed with calories and good stuff.

So, in place of maltodextrin, I add a splash of milk and top up with water, I add 2 bananas or during summer, 1 banana and 1 mango (fruit and veg are thankfully cheap here!). I add a handful of sunflower seeds, a handful of pumpkin seeds, a handful of rolled oats, sometimes some honey and a spoon of coffee or chocolate. Some flaxseed powder if I have it, give it a whiz in the blender and it’s good to go.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve upped the protein powder scoops from 2 to 3, and hey presto, the scales are reading that I’m now 69kg, up from 66.5 about a month ago (I’m 183cm tall). All muscle mass I’m glad to report, finally!

I would love to stabilise above 70kg, we’ll see how I progress. The only times I’ve been above 73 or 74kg are times when I’ve started looking a little too flabby around the edges.

Thanks for the well-written and balanced advice!

Shane Duquette

Ah that’s amazing Ashok, congratulations!

Glad we could help and that you found value in our articles 🙂

Gaining nearly 3 lean kilos is badass, especially in just a month – that’s suuuuper badass.

Good job man, you must be pumped!

Marcel grinds up oats to use in his workout shakes too. You aren’t alone on that one.

Fruits are a good idea as well. They also contain fructose, which can be a little controversial, but I wouldn’t even bother worrying about that stuff – I say fruits are a pretty perfect alternative!

Milk is also totally cool surrounding training. There’s even a DIY group of really really smart and capable guys (like Alan Aragon and Lyle McDonald) who advocate drinking chocolate milk along with workouts. That’s an option too, if you’re looking for a little more carb power in your shakes!

Good luck!


Hi guys,

i would like to know what milk are we talking about here. UHT milk? or the milks that has short shelf life. which means less chemicals

Shane Duquette

We’re talking about milk in general here. If you’ve got access to minimally processed milk that’s reliably safe … I say go for it!


Dudes, I gotta say I am so so so appreciative of this blog. And I talk about it all the time. You have given me hope as an ectomorph who thought couldn’t gain weight. When I started out I was at 150 lbs and my arms were sickly, and worked my way up to 195 lbs! It’s totally possible to gain weight, and you don’t have to do it with supplements (I didn’t use any at all). Thank you guys for your work to bring this information out into the light. I’d almost be inclined to say I love you for it.

Shane Duquette

Thanks Trevor, both for your words here and for spreading word about our blog! We really appreciate it 🙂

You gained 45 pounds?! That’s totally badass man, congratulations!! That’s huge.

195 is a totally badass weight too. I hear it’s the best weight ever, actually. (And it just so happens to totally coincidentally be what I weighed this morning too.)

What are your goals looking like these days? Have you moved on from trying to gain weight?


I had been off my game for a time. I live and work in S. America and I spent three months in Peru where I lost a bit of weight. Now, I am working on getting that weight back. I lost about 15 lbs and am back up 10 lbs, only 5 more to go.

After that, my goals are to get lean, and to work more on my legs. Living in S. America I’m really limited to what I do. I actually do all my workouts with elastic bands (bodylastics) which have worked amazingly for me. I also do weighted exercises like weighted push-ups with a backpack on filled with bags of flour, jugs of water, and books and odds and ends from around the house. Sounds ghetto, I bet, but it’s working!

I’m so excited to get back home to the States to show all my friends and family my transformation. It’s going to be great.

Again, I appreciate you guys so much.

Shane Duquette

Congrats on regaining the 10 pounds! Most people lose more fat than muscle when they lose weight, and intelligently bulking up you’ll be gaining more muscle than fat … so hopefully you come out leaner and meaner by the end of it 🙂

Ahaha ghetto workouts work too! Sometimes you run into a wall – you become too strong for the weights you have at your disposal and thus stop making size / strength gains (being too strong for calisthenics is not the worst of problems to have). But oftentimes you can overcome even that with a little creativity.

Sounds like you’re doing well! Keep it up man!

(If you want to upgrade your arsenal, a lot can be doing with a big heavy kettlebell and/or a big heavy adjustable dumbbell!)

Good luck with the last 5!


This is some good info here! I’m at the very first step here,literally. Research,trying to learn more about what I need to do to go from the measly 140 lbs that I’m currently at (standing 6′) to a desired 175-195 lbs. Milk is definitely on the grocery list for sure now.

Shane Duquette

Right on Jared, good luck man! You’re starting out at 10 pounds heavier than Marcel and I did (and we were taller!), so you’re already off to a good start haha 😉


i drink about a litre a day i do not gain weight i am not adding skin nor getting fatter but my bones are becoming stronger. my rib case is getting bigger but i want to add mass onto my body i do squats curls shrugs pull ups not working tho ?

Shane Duquette

Hey Moe, it sounds like you’re doing a whole lot right already. Are you following a plan?

Chances are you need to tweak something a little in order to get your ectomorph body a changin’.


I like milk but when I tried to drink a whole milk, my digestive system was disturbed. But, reading your article and know that some people gained their weights because of milk, I will try to drink it again.

Shane Duquette

Hey Tim, glad it inspired you! 🙂

Forcing down milk when you’re intolerant probably isn’t anything to worry about – it just isn’t digesting well and it’s passing through awkwardly.

… but it’s usually best to listen to your body and eat foods that agree with both your preferences and your digestive system.

Definitely worth trying to gradually introduce into your diet though to see if your body will start producing the necessary digestive enzymes. (And it probably will.)

Just follow that advice at the bottom of the article – start with just a cup of whole milk per day.

Good luck man!


Hi shane,
Me again lol, thanks for directing me to this article, real encouragement and inspiration here. Marcel @ 200 lbs looks shit hot! Well done to him. My goal is 200 also. Aparently im an ecto but with high test levels (1250) my doc says. Too good to waste in my opinion. I’m still gaining fast at the mo (166 lbs) this eve with no signs of hitting the wall as of yet. I’ll email you my before and after pics. Warning, I look truley gaunt in my 138 lbs snap!

Shane Duquette

It’s pretty sweet how a lot of us build muscle impressively fast eh? From see I see from the guys in our community, currently being skinny is a very poor indicator of the potential for rapid muscle growth / genetic potential!

I’ve been doing a ton of research into ectomorphs, hypertrophy and genetic potential lately and it looks like even a naturally very very skinny dude would be able to make about 95% of the gains of a naturally muscular guy … so even worst case we aren’t doing so bad!

It’s seeming more and more like it’s less our genetics holding us back and more just a lack of knowledge of how to train and eat for our body type.

Sounds like you’re crushing it man! Keep it up!

(And definitely send those photos our way!)


so Shane you mentioned Raw eggs in a previous comment. are they good or bad for you as far as the protein aspect? Also is there a risk of getting some funky chicken disease?

Shane Duquette

They’re good as far as protein goes, although not AS good as cooked egg white protein. That’s not really an issue though.

If you were to consume loads of raw eggs over a long period of time you may run into a biotin deficiency though, so I wouldn’t base your diet around them or anything. (And if you did, you may want to either remove the whites sometimes and/or eat plenty of biotin rich foods like egg yolks, carrots, etc.)

The chances of you getting salmonella poisoning from raw eggs is very very very very very small, but it IS a possibility. Of the people that get it, it’s usually the infants, elderly and infirm who struggle with it. (It’s an afternoon on the toilet for most.) I’m not saying you should take it lightly though. You may want to ask your doctor whether you should be downing your eggs like Rocky.

Free range is apparently even safer.
I have a few raw eggs every day and I do fine.
Cooking them is totally cool too, of course.

Hope that helps!


Thanks Shane


Hi, just really wanted to thank you for the info. I just deployed to Afghanistan earlier this month so this is the perfect time to put on some much needed weight. I’m currently at 125lbs, standing at about 5’9. I’d like to get to about 150 in the next few months, which should be no trouble at all now seeing as we have a pretty decent gym put together out here, and my PL also just bought $150 worth of preworkout and protein to twist my arm

Shane Duquette

Hey Dave, thanks for the kind words man – really glad it’s helping.

That’s great that you’re using it as an opportunity to accomplish your muscle-building goals, and it’s sweet that you’ve got the support of your PL! Having people egging you on is a great asset 🙂

I hope Afghanistan goes well! Best of luck.


Hey Shane, I am a sport student in the UK who has been training in the gym for a few years now, but have recently started to taking me gym training a lot more seriously and am learning more each. I have read a few of your articles and found them very interesting, especially the one that talks about converting workouts from a split program to a full-body one in order to generate more growth. Leading on from that I was just wondering a few this about your programme;

Firstly, how many times a week do you train, I currently work a 4 day split of
– Back,
-Shoulders & legs,
– arms.

Secondly, how many exercises in each of your workouts? And what set and rep range do you work with?

Thirdly, are all the sessions whole body or do sometimes focus on different parts?

I have found that recently my gains have plateaued and I’m looking for something new in order to get to that next level

Shane Duquette

Hey Dan, that’s awesome man. Cool that you’ve already built up solid training habits – will make taking things to the next level much much easier!

You can divide up training volume in different ways, so there isn’t just one correct way of doing things. Hitting a muscle group just once per week works brilliantly well, don’t get me wrong … just not 100% optimally. The studies are pretty unanimous when it comes to stimulating a muscle group 2-3 times per being being the way to optimize things, so if you were doing a 4-day split you’d perhaps want to train 8 times per week so that you’re doing each workout twice and thus hitting each muscle group a couple times per week. (You’d need to make sure you weren’t overdoing it on volume though, so your workouts would be pretty short.)

(If you wanted to train 4 times per week a two-day split works well, which lets you hit each muscle group twice with just 4 workouts.)

We prefer hitting each muscle group three times per week, so we do full body workouts and use a lot of big compound lifts to hit a bunch of different muscle groups all at once.

We use a variety of set and rep schemes to optimize muscle growth! Sometimes we’ll go as low as three reps, sometimes as high as twenty. Mostly we’re in the classic hypertrophy neighbourhood of 5-12 reps though.

Our program varies phase by phase, but generally each full body workout has a different emphasis. So you’d be doing three different full body workouts per week, each hitting every major muscle group, but also stimulating each muscle group a little differently each time.

And the number of different lifts we do per day depends on the set and rep schemes we’re using. Usually it’ll involve a couple big heavy lifts to emphasize mechanical tension and strength, a couple exercises in moderate rep ranges to emphasize metabolic stress, and a couple postural (external rotation and stuff), core exercises (planks, etc) and vanity lifts (like curls) at the end.

I think you’d really get a ton out of it. Not only is our program about as conducive to building muscle as they come … but also the fact that you’ve been doing a different style of lifting for a while now will probably mean you’ll see some “newbie gains” when you switch to a different style of training. I think you’d really dig it 😀

Already having good habits in place means your chance of success is pretty damn high, too. Plus, it’s always tons of fun to work with more experienced guys, as their training needs to become more individualized and more tweaking/adjusting needs to be done to get things going optimally. We love helping guys with that stuff in the community 🙂


Hey Shane,
I really love your website and I find it pretty informative. I appreciate these articles. it shows that you guys really care about us. Thank you.
I am an Ecto trying to bulk up and I’m hitting the gym three days a week. I read this article and loved it and now I’ve incorporated whole milk into my bulking diet. I drink half a Liter a day (half of it in the morning half before I sleep) I love it and i find myself wanting more.
I was wondering though if i can switch to milk powder because it is cheaper for me. Also if there is a way i can mix the milk powder at a certain ‘ratio’ with my whey Iso and still get a good percentage of protein as long as it fits my protein demand for that meal (I’m trying to make my whey last longer because its kinda expensive and doesn’t last long ) . what do you think?

Shane Duquette

Thanks for the kind words Max, glad you’re digging the site! Hope it helps 🙂

Whoa that’s an interesting question. I hadn’t even heard of that before. I just googled the nutrition label though and I’m thinking no. Not only is it (obviously) rather heavily processed, but it doesn’t even have the same macronutrients in it! It’s almost entirely carbs.

I think in this case you’d be getting what you paid for – not very much.


Hey Shane, great posts, really informative and, thanks for putting a lot of time. I don’t problem with gaining weight, my problem is getting tall! (5″4 @ the moment). Any advice on how to increase one’s height?

Shane Duquette

Haha well in that case I hope you’re young, as you might still have some growth in you! This isn’t a height grain program haha, and your options might be limited by your genetics there.

You can, however, maximize on the height you do have by standing tall and with excellent posture. Most guys in our program will likely gain an inch or two in height simply by standing with better alignment … but that’s more about getting them to their full natural height, not making them grow taller, you know?

I wish I could help more!


Hey Shane, this is a fantastic article. I was wondering if chocolate milk leads to greater gains than regular old white milk? I know that chocolate milk has more sugar, but for an ectomorph like me this won’t be a problem right?

Shane Duquette

You mean because chocolate milk would be higher in calories (from the sugar) that it would lead to more weight gain? Yep! More calories will indeed do that. Just make sure that you get enough of your calories from whole foods that you’re getting in the vitamins, minerals and fibre that you need to be healthy and stuff, and chocolate milk is great! Some guys like to use chocolate milk as a post-workout muscle-building supplement, even!


Hello Shane,
I am interested in joining this program. From my experience I don’t have too much of a problem gaining size in my upper body but its my lower body that I struggle with it. Therefore if I was to sign up with this program will it help me gain size in my thighs, butt, calves, hamstrings and that too by just using adjustable weights? It is more so my lower body that I am interested in transforming rather than my upper body.


Shane Duquette

Ah that’s sweet! It’s a rare thing to have a guy whose favourite day is leg day. (We, err, well we train our entire bodies each workout, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, your quads and posterior chain are going to see some really solid growth for sure! If you ever run into stubborn muscle groups we customize things for ya too 🙂

You’ll need to have weights that are heavy enough to stimulate growth, and lower bodies can often get very strong. With a pair of heavy adjustable dumbbells though we can get pretty creative. When things become too light there are lots of ways we can progress them to keep them heavy enough … but at a certain point you may also want to get some heavier stuff. That’d be down the road though.


I think maybe the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol are what make whole milk more anabolic. It’s funny I’ve wasted so much money on weight gainers when I could have bought a gallon of whole milk for $3 a gallon. Over the course of three months by supplementing eggs and whole milk as part of my daily diet with very little change to my training regime I’ve gain over 40lbs finally breaking the elusive 205lb mark. I had managed to reach 185 before with gainers but I plateaued after that. Anyways I’m glad your spreading the word about whole milk. My friends think I’m crazy but if there was one “supplement”, if I can even call it that, I wouldn’t go without it would be whole milk

Shane Duquette

That’s awesome will! Congrats on gaining 40 pounds of muscle! 😀


This is LOOOONG after the last comment, but I think you could mention coconut milk as a very nice solution if people have any troubles with milk. I don’t have any digestion problems but I know that my skin doesn’t reaaaally enjoy lots of milk, which is quite a mark of non-tolerance.
Coconut milk is a bit heavier in fats but these are medium-chain saturated fats which are very good, and I believe whey or normal foods brings enough proteins anyway. My cans have 99.9% coconut+water, and casein. That’s 1000kcal a can… and still less than $3 for these

Shane Duquette

Hey Ben,

Coconut milk doesn’t really nutritionally resembles milk. Milk is high in protein, spikes insulin and muscle protein synthesis, has unique proven growth properties, is high in calcium, etc. A pint of skim milk might have 180 calories with maybe 18 grams of protein and 24 grams of carbs. Milk with more fat would have a bunch more calories coming from fat, some saturated, some not.

A pint of coconut milk might have something like 1100 calories, with 114 grams of fat (a whole day’s worth), 26 grams of carbs and just 10 grams of protein. Since coconut milk is made up nearly entirely of saturated fat, that pint would also give you 3x the recommended amount of saturated fat for a guy consuming about 3,000 calories per day. You’d need to be checking in with your doctor to make sure your heart stays healthy! (Some would respond well, others wouldn’t.)

Both are whole foods that are nutritious for most when consumed reasonably, but the two aren’t very similar other than the fact that they’re both white liquids that can be used in smoothies? I wouldn’t recommend consuming coconut milk in large quantities as a bulking food.

You’re totally right that there’s no need for milk though. There are plenty of other whole food carb/protein sources: legumes, seeds, whole grains, and many more. Or, for another easy to drink fluid, something like a fruit/protein smoothie.

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