Bony to Beastly: Muscle-Building for Ectomorphs, Hardgainers & Skinny-Fat Guys
Our specialty is helping the skinniest, most ectomorphic, hardgaineriest of guys gain 20–70 pounds, finishing at the same body fat percentage as they started at. Why? Because we know that it can change your life, just like it changed ours. You'll look way better, feel way better, and think way better. You'll be living a bigger, better life.
And, of course, you'll be as strong as an ox. Maybe you'll even be able to carry an ox.
So who are we? I'm Shane Duquette, BDes, a science communicator with a degree in design from York University. I'm the editor in chief of our small team.
Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning coach with an honours degree in health sciences from the University of Ottawa. Before co-founding Bony to Beastly, he worked as the trainer for college, professional and Olympic athletes, helping them bulk up and improve their athletic performance. Now he oversees our training and nutrition programs.
Jared Polowick, BDes, like me, has a degree in design from York University. He consults as our head of marketing, but now works primarily on Outlive, our site that focuses on general health and fitness.
Why are we specifically qualified to help you bulk up? All three of us grew up "dangerously underweight," according to our doctors, and our first few weight-gain attempts were disastrous failures—lifting weights caused us to lose weight.
Not the most inspiring of beginnings, but it inspired us to learn more about the science of bulking up from the perspective of people who are naturally underweight. Soon, we figured out how to eat and exercise for our body type, and Marco gained 63 pounds, Shane gained 55 pounds, and Jared gained 45 pounds.
That weight gain had such a profound impact on our lives that we wanted to help other ectomorphs, hardgainers, and skinny-fat guys bulk up. We've been in business since 2012, and since then, we've helped over 10,000 members gain muscle quickly, leanly, and healthfully.
(If you want to learn more about how Shane gained 55 pounds, how Jared gained 45 pounds, and how Marco gained 63 pounds, here are our ectomorph transformation stories.)
Why is gaining weight so damn hard!?
Well, only 3% of people are trying to gain weight. So if you're one of those people who are trying to gain weight, you're pretty weird. Statistically, at least. That means that most ads you see, most YouTube videos you watch and most websites you visit will be designed for somebody else—somebody normal.
Tell you what, we'll bet you 2 weeks of gainz that most fitness and diets sites aren't talking about skinny-guy problems. Problems like:
- The Ectomorph Problem. Feeling stuffed, bloated, or sick when we try to eat more food. Or being physically unable to fit enough food in our stomachs.
- The Hardgainer Problem. Not being able to gain weight no matter what we try. Sometimes we even lose weight when we try to bulk up.
- The Skinny-Fat Problem. Successfully gaining weight… only to realize that we're just getting fatter, not more muscular.
- The Newbie-Gain Problem. Quickly gaining 10 pounds, plateauing, and then getting stuck there for years, unable to gain more weight.
- Decision Paralysis. Wanting to bulk up… but being overwhelmed with information or being confused about where/how to start. So we get stuck in the "research" phase for years.
If you're struggling with any of those, you're among friends.
Why does normal-guy advice mess us up? Here's a common example. Have you heard of intermittent fasting? It's a scientifically-proven way of reducing your caloric intake while still feeling satisfied. If you combine a good intermittent fasting diet with a good lifting program and a hearty protein intake, you can lose fat while maintaining all of your muscle. So far, so good.
But is it any good for us skinny guys? Hell, no. It's total garbage. In fact, it will make your results worse. First of all, in order to build muscle quickly, you need to be in a calorie surplus. That's already damn hard for us naturally skinny guys, and intermittent fasting makes it way harder. But just for the sake of argument, let's say you're a super-ectomorph who's able to eat enough calories. Even then it would slow down your gains. When we skip breakfast, we're in a temporary calorie deficit. That's good for losing fat, which is why intermittent fasting is so popular, but it 100% shuts down muscle growth. That means if you're intermittent fasting, you're only intermittently building muscle.
It cuts the speed that you can build muscle in half.
Here's another piece of advice that backfires for ectomorphs: clean eating. Simply put, that's when you cut out junk food (or sugar, or meat, or grains, or gluten or whatever). Problem is, junk food is way higher in calories. When we cut out junk food, it makes it even harder to eat enough calories. Those "clean" foods you're supposed to eat? They're really hard too bulk up on! That's why they're "healthy" for the average person—because they make it almost impossible to gain weight.
The same is true with normal lifting advice. Most workout programs are designed for guys who build muscle naturally. They're general fitness programs with a bit of muscle-building thrown in. We get fit more easily than normal guys, but our muscles are more stubborn. We need the opposite approach—a program focused mercilessly on muscle.
And believe it or not, a dedicated muscle-building program will often be enough to get us optimally fit.
For example, a few years ago CrossFit surged in popularity, helping normal guys everywhere get amazing bodies. But the ectomorphs wound up just losing weight. Why? Because CrossFit is a type of exercise called high-intensity power training—it's a fitness-oriented program.
That's why advice for normal people just won't cut it.
You'll just fail over and over again, blaming your genetics. You'll think that you aren't able to have a strong, attractive physique because you're an ectomorph, a hardgainer, or skinny-fat. Our body type can seem so limiting. So hopeless.
But that's so wrong.
Look at any sex icon in any movie you've ever seen. Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Will Smith, James Dean, Joseph Gordon-Levitt—all ectomorphs. And who'd they pick to be the sexy lifeguard in the new Baywatch movie? Zac Efron—an ectomorph. (We know, we know—the Rock isn't an ectomorph, but he's also not the sex icon).
Same thing with sports. Cristiano Ronaldo is an ectomorph who initially struggled to bulk up, and he's known for having the best body in the entire world of sports. Lebron James is an ectomorph too, and that guy has a whole mansion full of trophies. So was his predecessor, Michael Jordan. Even when it comes to fighting, we've got Connor McGregor representing us ectomorphs.
We have the best body type. It's the rarest one, and yet we're vastly over-represented in Hollywood and sports. Our body can feel like the greatest limitation, but it's actually the greatest opportunity. This website is all about helping you unlock your limitless potential—Oh! And that guy too. Bradley Cooper. He's another ectomorph.
THE BEASTLY MISSION
We will help you build muscle no matter how skinny you are, and no matter how many times you've failed in the past.
If you're willing to do our workouts 3 times per week, adjust your diet, and make some modest changes to your lifestyle, we absolutely promise that you can gain at least 20 pounds within your first three months. You have our full guarantee on that.
How can we guarantee such rad results? Well, we use the Beastly trifecta: information that's been scientifically proven and published in research journals, then personally tested by us, and then beta-tested in our community. There is no bro-science, there are no filler ingredients, and there are no techniques that are not empirically proven.
That's how we've designed our workouts, it's how we've designed our Gain-Easy nutrition principles (and recipes), and it's how we've designed our now-famous homemade weight gainer shake.
This is how the system works day in and out for every skinny guy, hardgainer, ectomorph—whatever you want to call us.
Now, comes the big question: were all gains created equal? No. No they were not. Most workout programs seem to want you to look like a tyrannosaurus rex. TONS of leg work, not much upper body work, hardly any isolation exercises for your lanky arms, and even fewer isolation exercises for your lagging chest. (Because ectomorphs tend to have narrower shoulders, almost half of us have stubborn chests.)
We're determined to make sure that your gains look as good as they feel. Like we mentioned up above, most Hollywood sex icons are ectomorphs. They build their attractive physiques by focusing extra on their shoulders, traps, arms, chest and upper back. It's totally functional, but you won't need to wear "relaxed" jeans.
By the time you gain even your first 20 pounds with us, you’ll be standing taller with rock-solid posture, running faster, sleeping more soundly, and looking far more attractive. You’ll be smiling as broad as your shoulders in your after photo 🙂
The Beastly Team
Okay, so we've told you about us, but we're only half of the team. We're all naturally skinny, we've all successfully built muscle, and we can all help you do the same, but these guys each bring something new to the team as well.
If you send us an email, Sunny will get back to you promptly, or let us know about your situation so that we can help you.
If you've run into a problem that seems impossible to solve, SteveM will give you a concise and friendly answer explaining exactly how to solve it.
GregE is known for helping guys combine bulking with other goals (fitness, marathons, biking, Tough Mudder—you name it)… but several members have privately written to us to let us know that GregE has gone out of his way to support them through rough bouts of depression.
We're looking for more help! If you’re a web/app developer and you’re excited about the mission, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us using the contact form below.
First and foremost, we leave no bony behind. You are among brothers, and brothers don't let other brothers fall behind. If you have a week where you don’t gain weight, we’ll be here to help you get back on track. If you struggle with a particular exercise, we’ll get to the bottom of the problem, or teach you another exercise instead. If something is too hard for you right now, we’ll make it easier. If something is too easy, we’ll… make it harder? Actually, no, we won't do that because we aren't one of those "no pain, no gain" programs. We’re not here to beat you down—we’re here to build you up. If we can make this easier for you without sacrificing any of your gains, beautiful.
This is a zero bullshit program. If you ask us about any one of our practices, however trivial it may seem, we’ll gladly give you our reasoning and cite our sources. We believe that even the smallest of details, when there are enough of them, add up to something meaningful.
Building muscle isn't just building muscle. Lifting well and eating well creates a domino effect, boosting social confidence, developing the mental strength to overcome our vices, and even giving us the courage to stand behind our convictions. The stress of lifting even causes our brain to grow stronger (really).
Of course, our values mean little if we don't act by them. So here's what a few members have to say about the Bony to Beastly community:
We have a great, supportive community, so no bones are left behind! I'm really glad that I stumbled across this program two years ago. If I hadn't, I would probably still feel like a twig and wonder why I never gain weight. If you're thinking of buying the program, I say you should go for it. You WILL gain weight. You will also stumble on the way, but the community will always be there to get you back on track. Always.
—Magnus, Music Student, gained 29 pounds
Even after finishing the Bony To Beastly program, with all of the continued updates and new workouts, I have continued to renew my subscriptions. Being a member of the community now for several years, I have to tell everyone that it is worth it. It's worth it, because you're basically investing in yourself.
—Albert, MD, gained 25 pounds
I can’t begin to tell you how much Bony to Beastly has changed my life and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. For me, it was about enjoying life and what I was missing out. I wear shorts and t-shirts now, I can shop for clothes that fit me, I’ve been to the pool, I feel confident for the first time ever. Recently I did something I never thought I could do, a Spartan Race. I no longer question where I can go or what I can do and that’s testament to this program and the awesome guys who created it.
—Jude, Library Archivist, gained +28 pounds
Today I am healthier, faster, stronger than I've ever been in my life. I hope to live a long and healthy life, not just for me, but for my wife and daughter too. We have a responsibility to be healthy, not just for ourselves, but also for our loved ones. Thank you, I couldn't have done this without the support of my friends and family, the patience of my wife, and the group that started me on the path to fitness, the Bony to Beastly team.
So what now?
So, first of all, let me introduce you to the Bony to Beastly Program. That's where we turn the skinniest of men into the burliest of Beasts. If you want to gain 20+ pounds, double your strength and triple your attractiveness, then this is the program for you. You'll love it 🙂
(You'll love it because we will teach you not only how many calories to eat, but also how to fit those calories into your stomach, how to overcome your raging metabolism, how to make an entire week's worth of food on Sunday, how to make the most stubborn muscles grow, and everything else an ectomorph has ever dreamed of—because we're ectomorphs too, and we have those very same dreams.)
Not ready for that yet? That's cool.
Perhaps you'd rather start with some light reading. May I recommend:
- The Ectomorph Bulking Diet: If you're having trouble gaining weight, this article covers how to eat more calories, and gain weight more quickly, easily, and healthfully.
- The Skinny Struggle is Real: This is a good primer on why ectomorphs and hardgainers struggle to eat enough, why we struggle to gain weight, and why we need to approach muscle-building a little differently from most other guys.
- The Skinny on "Just Eat More": Most skinny guys have been told that we "just need to eat more." It's technically true that we need to eat more, but it's not that simple.
- The Skinny on "Just Lift Heavy": When we struggle to build muscle in the gym, we get the inevitable, "just lift heavy, bro—it's simple. Haven't you ever heard of StrongLifts (or Starting Strength, GreySkull LP, nSuns, or whatever else is trendy at the time)." Again, bulking up as a skinny guy isn't as simple as following a generic strength training or general fitness program, and here's why.
- Ectomorph Aesthetics: Did you know that most sex icons are naturally skinny ectomorphs? This article explains the science of building an attractive, aesthetic physique.
- How Big and Strong Can a Hardgainer Expect to be After a Year of Lifting Weights? There are a lot of articles about how much muscle and strength the average guy can gain. But how much can a hardgainer realistically expect to gain? How do our genetics factor in?
- The Skinny on Newbie Gains: This article explains the science of "newbie gains", and why someone who's underweight is in a unique position to gain 20 pounds within just a few months.
- The Best Muscle-Building Supplements for Ectomorphs: This is our article covering the best supplements for guys who are trying to bulk up but who are struggling to gain weight (or struggling to gain weight leanly).
- What to do When You're Tired of Being Skinny-Fat: If you're a skinny-fat guy, you need to approach bulking a little bit differently. This article will teach you the ins and outs of being skinny-fat. Actually, we'll just teach you the outs—we'll teach you how to get out of being skinny-fat.
And keep in mind that these articles are just pieces of the puzzle. Very interesting pieces, but still just pieces nonetheless. The Bony to Beastly Program is everything—The whole puzzle.
If you have any questions whatsoever, or even if you just want to tell Sunny that's he's looking especially Beastly today, shoot us an email using this form: