Illustration of a skinny guy measuring his body parts to see how much muscle he's built. Illustrated by Shane Duquette.

Average Bulking Results: Weight Gain, Measurements & Photos

Before-and-after photos are great, but there’s a problem. The guys who post them tend to be the ones who got the most impressive bulking results. Other times, the most disastrous results spread the furthest. Either way, the results you see online rarely represent the average.

Muscle-building studies have their limitations, too. They’re measuring what happens with different workout variables, dietary supplements, or rates of weight gain. They seldom tell you what to expect if you do everything properly.

In this article, we’ve taken 23 bulking transformations from our online member community. These guys started posting their photos and measurements before they started bulking, before knowing what results they would get.

We didn’t select the best transformations, we selected a random sample. That way, we can show you the full range of results, including the average.

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how much weight you can gain, how much muscle you can build, how much bigger your arms can get, and how long it will take.

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Illustration of a skinny guy doing an aggressive bulk, building muscle as quickly as he can.

Aggressive Bulking: How to Build Muscle FAST

If you’re a skinny guy desperate to build muscle fast, I get it. I remember hungering not for food but for muscle. I was too eager to heed any of the many warnings. I gained weight as fast as I possibly could. And to my great surprise, it worked.

I gained 20 pounds in 3 months. Then I helped my skinny roommate bulk up even faster. He gained 30 pounds in 3 months. Since then, we’ve helped thousands of other skinny guys do the same. Under the right circumstances, aggressive bulking can work incredibly well.

Not everyone should bulk fast. The stars need to align just so. You need to be skinny and naturally lean. You also need to be ready to bulk properly—to follow a good workout program, eat a nutritious bulking diet, and live a lifestyle that supports muscle growth.

If that sounds like you, good. Let’s delve into the thick of it.

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Illustration of a tub of weight gainer powder.

The Skinny Guy’s Guide to Bulking Supplements

Over 5,000 shares and 500 comments later, here’s our revised supplement guide for skinny guys trying to build muscle in time for last summer. We’ll cover supplements that speed up muscle growth, such as creatine. We’ll review supplements that help skinny guys bulk up, like mass gainers. We’ll talk about pre-workout supplements, too.

When talking about supplements, we use research, personal experience, and over a decade of full-time coaching experience. We’ve each gained seventy pounds (naturally). We’ve also helped over 10,000 skinny guys bulk up with our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program. Marco has a degree in Health Sciences, and he’s trained hundreds of clients, ranging from everyday desk workers all the way up to college, professional, and Olympic athletes.

We don’t sell supplements. There are no affiliate links.

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The best bulking books, courses, and programs for skinny guys trying to build muscle.

The Best Bulking Programs for Skinny Guys in 2023 (Critically Reviewed)

In this article, we’re reviewing the five best bulking programs for skinny guys. To get this list, we started by surveying our readers, the vast majority of whom have successfully bulked up. They’re naturally skinny, they’ve tried different bulking programs, and they know firsthand what worked for them. From there, we critically reviewed the top five programs, taking their experiences and success rates into account.

We’re also bulking experts ourselves. Marco is naturally skinny, he has a degree in health sciences, he has over a decade of experience as a full-time strength coach, and he’s helped a wide variety of clients bulk up, ranging from everyday skinny guys all the way up to college, professional, and Olympic athletes. I’m naturally skinny, too, and I have over a decade of full-time experience helping over ten thousand skinny guys bulk up. We live and breathe this niche. Nobody knows more about this than us.

Note: we aren’t reviewing our own bulking program. We’re much too biased.

Note: there are no affiliate links.

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Illustration of a skinny old man bulking up and becoming muscular.

Are You Too Old to Bulk? How Does Age Affect Muscle Growth?

How old is too old to bulk? Can older guys build muscle as quickly as younger ones? We can start by looking at the research that initially shocked hypertrophy researchers, then gradually became conventional wisdom.

Next, we can look at what we’ve seen while helping over ten thousand skinny guys bulk up, ranging from eighteen years old to over seventy. Marco has coached college, professional, and Olympic athletes basking in the glory of their youth. He’s also coached sedentary desk workers in their fifties, sixties, and seventies. What we’ve seen matches what the research shows.

Finally, we can look at men who take up the sports of bodybuilding and powerlifting at various ages. Their stats are well-documented. How does their age affect their rate of muscle growth and strength gains? Once again, the evidence all lines up. Even so, it may surprise you. It certainly surprised me.

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Illustration of a skinny guy bulking up and becoming muscular. Illustrated by Shane Duquette from Bony to Beastly.

The Skinny Beginner’s Guide to Bulking

In this guide, we’ll teach you how to bulk up, even if you’re a skinny beginner. This is the method we’ve used to help over 10,000 skinny guys build muscle, with clients ranging from deskworkers to Olympic athletes. It’s also the method Marco and I used to gain over 60 pounds each.

We kept this guide as simple and practical as possible. But bulking is what we do. We’ve written articles about every aspect of building muscle. You can follow the links as deep as you want. There’s no bottom.

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Illustration of a skinny beginner doing a 3-day full-body workout routine to build muscle and bulk up.

The Full-Body Workout Guide for Beginners

If you’re a beginner, 3-day full-body workout routines are perfect for gaining muscle mass and strength. They’re also incredibly good for your health. Once you reach an intermediate level, they remain great, but a few more good options open up. Until then, full-body workouts are the best. There’s nothing better.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about full-body workouts. Why they work, how to do them, and how to make them. We’ll also give you a sample workout routine you can follow or build from. It’s designed to get you bigger, stronger, healthier, and better looking. Feel free to customize it as much as you want. We’ll show you how.

Let’s delve deeper.

Delve Deeper
Illustration showing a skinny bodybuilder flexing his back, doing a back double biceps pose.

How to Build a Bigger, Wider, Thicker Back

Building a bigger back isn’t as simple as it first seems. Our backs are made up of layers of overlapping muscles, all of which can work together, but many of which have different functions. Even within the same back muscle, different regions respond better to different exercise variations. For example, your upper lats have a slightly different function from your lower lats.

You’ll often year that you can train your entire back by combining vertical pulls (like chin-ups) with horizontal pulls (like rows). There’s some truth to that, but it’s not the full story. You also need to consider whether you’re tucking or flaring your elbows, and whether you’re stretching and contracting your shoulder blades.

And then there are your spinal erectors, which are often trained along with your other back muscles, but not always, and they aren’t always brought close enough to failure to grow. If you want a thick back, you need bigger spinal erectors.

Here’s how to build a bigger back.

Delve Deeper
Illustration showing an overweight man cutting fat and revealing his muscle underneath.

The Cutting Guide: How to Burn Fat While Building A Bit of Muscle

Cutting is when you burn fat while keeping your muscle. You may even be able to gain a bit of muscle while cutting, especially if you’re overweight, out of shape, or new to lifting weights.

  • Bulking: eating excess energy to gain weight and facilitate muscle growth.
  • Cutting: eating in an energy deficit to lose weight and facilitate fat loss.

Whether you’re bulking or cutting, the goal is to be strong, muscular, lean, and healthy. That means you need to focus on hypertrophy training, eating a good diet, getting enough sleep, being active, and living a healthy lifestyle. That will mitigate muscle loss, keep your bones and tendons strong, mobilize “stubborn” fat, and keep you healthy.

What sets cutting apart from bulking is that your primary goal is to lose fat. The best way to lose fat is to eat less energy than you’re burning, forcing your body to burn body fat to supply the missing energy. This is called a calorie deficit. Eating fewer calories is the easiest way to get into a calorie deficit, but you can also create a deficit by being active.

Let’s dive into the details.

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Illustration showing a skinny guy who bulked up like a Hollywood actor.

Hollywood Bulking Transformations ARE Realistic for Skinny Guys

There are a ton of articles talking about how Hollywood body transformations are unrealistic. There’s some truth in that. Most guys are overweight. For them, even just dieting down to a healthy body-fat percentage can be surprisingly difficult.

Most Hollywood transformations are coming at it from the other side, though. From the naturally skinny side. From our side. These actors aren’t losing a dramatic amount of fat, they’re building an impressive amount of muscle, and they’re doing it suspiciously fast.

Many of us can do that, too.

Let’s dive into it.

Dive In