Illustration of a guy reverse bulking to lose fat while keeping his muscle gains.

Reverse Bulking: How to Maintain Your Gains After Bulking

Reverse bulking is for people who are sick of eating so much food but want to maintain the gains they made while bulking. I haven’t seen this discussed anywhere else, which is strange, given how well it works. I’ve been using this method on myself and clients for over a decade now, but we never named it, and I don’t think we’ve ever mentioned it our articles.

The idea is simple: most skinny guys hate eating enormous amounts of food. When they finish bulking, they want to go back to eating like regular human men again. But they’re worried that if they do, they’ll lose all their hard-won gains. That’s where reverse bulking comes in.

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Illustration of a skinny guy bulking up.

What is Bulking? The Complete Beginner Guide

Bulking is often derided as a foolish way of building muscle. That’s true on average. Most people are already overweight. The last thing they need is more weight.

On the other hand, if you’re underweight, weak, or skinny, bulking is the best way to bulk up. Even if you aren’t thin, if your goal weight is higher than your current weight, bulking is the best way to get there.

But what is bulking? How does it work? How should you do it?

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Men with different body shapes, levels of muscularity, and degrees of leanness. Illustrated by Shane Duquette.

How to Build an Attractive Physique

Most men want to have an attractive physique. Few know exactly what that means. When they guess the degree of muscularity women prefer, they’re off by thirty pounds (study). Many have a deeper misunderstanding, failing to connect their appearance to their fitness and strength. Some shun attractiveness, mistakenly thinking it’s superficial. Others are superficial on purpose, thinking it’s the best way to become attractive. That’s never as convincing as the real thing.

We’ll cover the attractiveness research. We’ve spoken to some of the study authors. We also went deeper, testing our hypotheses by conducting our own surveys. We collected thousands of responses for each: survey 1 and survey 2.

But be warned: this article is long. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s a simple trick to improve your appearance: have a drink. It will boost your attractiveness (to yourself) by 50%. This is called “The Reverse Beer Goggles Effect,” also known as Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder (study). It’s not a perfect solution, but it will save you twenty minutes of reading.

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Illustration of a skinny man building muscle.

The Newbie Gains Guide for Skinny Guys

If you’re new to lifting weights, you can build muscle incredibly fast. Lifters call this phenomenon “newbie gains.” Most men can gain over 20 pounds of muscle during their first year alone. Skinny guys can often do even better.

We specialize in helping skinny guys build muscle, and we’ve worked with over 10,000 clients over the past decade. We do this all day, every day, with clients ranging from everyday desk workers to professional and Olympic athletes. There are methods to get incredibly consistent newbie gains. But there’s a catch.

Although most new lifters build muscle quickly, some “hardgainers” fail to gain any muscle whatsoever. What’s going on here? Why are some guys able to build a lifetime of muscle in a single year, whereas others spend an entire lifetime unable to build a single year’s worth of muscle?

In this article, we’ll explain what newbie gains are, how they cause such rapid rates of muscle growth, how to take advantage of the phenomenon, and how to avoid becoming a “hardgainer.”

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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 Best Bulking Supplements for Skinny Guys

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 (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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