Illustration of vegan bodybuilder bulking up

Vegan Bulking Guide: How to Build Muscle on a Plant-Based Diet

Bulking on a plant-based diet can work very well, with vegans building just as much muscle as anyone else. In fact, vegans already tend to be one step ahead of the general population when it comes to their health, especially if they eat a proper plant-based diet, and especially if they exercise (study). Vegan diets can lend themselves quite well to building muscle, too, given that the best bodybuilding diets are made up mostly of plants: fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes (study). 

So bulking on a plant-based diet can absolutely be done, it doesn’t need to be difficult, and you won’t necessarily be at any disadvantage whatsoever. However, it still really helps to know what you’re doing.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The general principles of building muscle as a vegan.
  • Considerations for pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans.
  • What does a fully plant-based bodybuilding diet look like?
  • What muscle-building supplements should vegans take?
  • How to gain weight more easily on a plant-based diet.

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Are Bodybuilding Exercises Good for Gaining Muscle Size? (Push-Up Illustration)

Are Bodyweight Exercises Good for Building Muscle?

Bodyweight exercises can certainly stimulate muscle growth. There’s a lot that can stimulate muscle growth, though, ranging in intensity from resistance bands all the way to heavy barbell strength training. In fact, there’s even research showing that simply flexing your muscles can stimulate a bit of muscle growth (study).

But the question isn’t whether bodyweight exercises can stimulate any muscle growth, the question is whether they’re any good at stimulating muscle growth.

  • How do bodyweight exercises compare against lifting weights for building muscle?
  • Is bodyweight training a good way for a beginner to ease into bulking?
  • How do push-ups compare to the bench press for building muscle?
  • What advantages are there to bodyweight training?
  • What are the disadvantages of bodyweight training?

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Ketogaining: is keto good for bulking up and building muscle?

Is the Ketogenic Diet Good for Bulking?

The ketogenic diet has been used as a weight-loss diet for over 200 years now. In the 70s, for example, it saw a surge in popularity because of the Atkins Diet, which started off with a strict ketogenic phase. But the fact that it has a long history of helping people lose weight doesn’t tell us much about whether it’s effective for bulking up. Are there any advantages to using keto for building muscle, gaining weight, and getting bigger?

In this article, we cover:

  • How does keto affect lifting and muscle growth?
  • What happens if you bulk on a ketogenic diet?
  • Should you bulk on a ketogenic diet?
  • How do you bulk on a ketogenic diet?

Let’s dive in.

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Strength training isn't good for gaining muscle size or bulking up

Is Strength Training Good for Gaining Muscle Size?

Is strength training good for gaining muscle size? For getting bigger? For bulking? If we look at a recent study comparing strength training against hypertrophy training, we see that hypertrophy training stimulates more than twice as much muscle growth per set. But if that’s true, why is strength training so popular with skinny guys who want to get bigger?

In this article, we cover:

  • What is strength training and what’s it for?
  • What is hypertrophy training and what’s it for?
  • Is hypertrophy training the same as bodybuilding?
  • Is strength training good for gaining muscle size?
  • Does strength training cause myofibrillar hypertrophy?
  • Does bodybuilding cause sarcoplasmic hypertrophy?
  • Does bodybuilding make people big but weak?
  • Does strength training make people small but strong?
  • Are the big 3 powerlifting lifts ideal for bulking?
  • Which type of lifting is best for getting bigger and stronger?

Let’s dive in.

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Newbie Gains Guide: How Quickly Can a Skinny Beginner Build Muscle?

If you’re new to lifting weights, it’s possible to build muscle incredibly quickly. Lifters call this phenomenon “newbie gains,” and it lasts for about a year. During that first year alone, the average man will often claim to gain around 20 pounds of muscle. Skinny guys often claim to be able to do even better, gaining upwards of 40 pounds in just a single year. Can beginners really build muscle that quickly?

However, although newbie gains seem to allow some beginners to build muscle unbelievably quickly, research shows that other lifters fail to gain any muscle when they first start working out. When that happens, they’re dubbed non-responders. Do non-responders really exist? And if they do, how do you know if you’re a non-responder?

Why are some guys able to build a lifetime of muscle in a single year, whereas other guys spend an entire lifetime unable to build a single year’s worth of muscle?

Let’s dive into the science of newbie gains.

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What equipment should you buy if you're trying to build a barbell home gym to train for size, strength and aesthetics

How to build a simple barbell home gym that’s perfect for bulking up

Let’s say your goal is to build muscle and bulk up, you want to do it at home, and you have the space to build a simple barbell home gym. What equipment should you get?

In this guide, we’ll go over how to build a simple barbell home gym, including:

  • What lifts your home gym should be designed for
  • How to make your home gym perfect for gaining 50+ pounds of muscle
  • How to lift safely and effectively in your home gym without a spotter
  • What specific equipment you should buy

None of these are affiliate links or anything. There’s no conflict of interest. I just remember how confusing building my own home gym was, so my hope is that I can make the learning curve a little smoother.

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The Growth Mindset

One of the biggest obstacles to transform our bodies might not be in our genes. It’s not about being skinny. It’s not about being ectomorphs. Many times, what holds us back are our beliefs. We want to change our bodies, but… how can we get started on a new journey when—deep inside—we believe we won’t make it?

We say we want to gain weight and put on muscle, but part of us holds back. Otherwise, we should have already solved this, right? If you are still struggling with being skinny, chances are you need to take a look at your mindset.

In fact, if you can adopt the right mindset, it won’t just change your psychology, it will also change your physiology. It will improve the rate that you build muscle through a process akin to the placebo effect, where simply believing that you can grow will physically increase the rate that you’re able to gain muscle.

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Muscle Size and Strength Standards for Ectomorphs

How much muscle and strength can an ectomorph gain? There’s plenty of research looking into rates of muscle and strength gain. But what if you’re a naturally skinny guy? Are there different strength standards for ectomorphs?

Ectomorphs do start off with less muscle mass, but what effect does that have on how quickly we can grow? Do we have an extended period of newbie gains, allowing us gain muscle and strength more quickly? Or does having less muscle mass mean that our genetics are poor, causing us to build muscle more slowly?

We do have thinner bones and narrower frames. We tend to start off weaker. Is that going to limit how strong we can become? Or can we still expect to become as strong as any other lifter?

In this article, we’ll go over two main questions from an ectomorph’s perspective:

  1. How much muscle can an ectomorph gain in his first year? Most guys can expect to gain around around twenty pounds of muscle during their first year of lifting weights. How does that change for an ectomorph?
  2. How strong can an ectomorph get after a year of lifting weights? With a good workout routine, most guys are able to bench press 225lbs (100kg), squat 315lbs (140kg), and deadlift 405lbs (180kg). Are these numbers realistic for an ectomorph?
  3. How much muscle can an ectomorph gain in his lifetime?
  4. How strong can an ectomorph get with a lifetime of serious training?

Let’s dive in.

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Should you lift while sore? Is it bad not to feel sore after a workout? Is soreness in your lower back normal?

Everything you need to know about muscle soreness while bulking

When I first started lifting weights, I was absolutely crippled by muscle soreness. People cringed when they saw me try to sit in a chair. I loved it. I was sick and tired of being skinny, and I thought the muscle soreness was a sign that my muscles were growing. But was that crippling muscle soreness a good thing?

A couple months later, my soreness had faded away to almost nothing. Not only could I sit down in a chair without everyone in the room grimacing, I could even hold myself upright in it. I started to feel less like a burning puddle of oil, more like a human being. It was awful. My gains had started to slow down as well, and I was convinced that my waning muscle growth was connected to my fading muscle soreness. Was my fading muscle soreness causing my plateau?

Muscle soreness is intimately connected to muscle growth, but most of us have no idea how it works, making the whole process that much more confusing. So in this article let’s go over a few of the more common muscle soreness questions that we get:

  • Should you work out if you’re still feeling sore?
  • What’s the link between muscle soreness and muscle growth?
  • Can muscle soreness interfere with muscle growth?
  • What can you do to reduce muscle soreness?
  • Can you build muscle without becoming sore?
  • What if a specific muscle isn’t getting sore?
  • What if your joints or tendons are getting store?
  • What if your lower back is sore?

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The Role of inflammation in building muscle

Inflammation’s Role in Building Muscle

Inflammation is an odd beast. We’ve been getting some questions about it in the community, but most members are approaching it dead backwards. I don’t blame them—it’s totally counterintuitive.

I mean, inflammation is bad… right? Unhealthy foods cause inflammation, and if we eat too many of them, we can wind up chronically inflamed. Healthy foods, on the the other hand, are rich in antioxidants, and if we eat enough of them, it reduces our baseline inflammation.

Similarly, being obese can cause inflammation, and is linked with higher risks of morbidity. Being lean, however, reduces inflammation and is linked with improved long-term health.

We’re interested in building muscle, though, and lifting weights causes inflammation. In fact, lifting weights causes a lot of inflammation. So much so that lifting may become your main source of inflammation.

And inflammation is bad… right?

In this article we’ll discuss why inflammation exists and what role it plays in building muscle. Once we have the general principles down, we’ll cover common questions, such as:

  • Is inflammation good or bad?
  • Should we try to reduce inflammation?
  • Are antioxidants good for muscle growth?
  • Do Advil, Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs affect muscle growth?
  • Do post-workout saunas boost muscle growth?
  • Are ice baths good for building muscle?
  • How can you fix inflamed forearms (tendonitis)?
  • What about shoulder pain and inflammation (shoulder impingement)?

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