Illustration of a mass gainer supplement for skinny guys.

Should Skinny Guys Use Mass Gainers?

Mass gainers, also known as weight gainers, are popular with skinny guys trying to bulk up. They’re especially popular with “hardgainers” whose metabolisms make it difficult to gain weight. I’m a naturally skinny guy myself, and I’ve always found it nearly impossible to get into a sustainable calorie surplus.

I’ve experimented with my fair share of mass gainers. I’ve tried all the popular brands, I’ve made my own homemade shakes from whey protein and maltodextrin, and I’ve tried all sorts of thousand-calorie bulking shakes. That’s how I gained my first 50 pounds.

So, do mass gainers work? Are they healthy? Do they cause excess fat gain? And, if you’re a skinny guy struggling to gain weight, should you use them?

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Illustration of a skinny guy holding a tub of protein powder while bulking.

The Best Protein Powder for Bulking (2024)

I’ll tell you the best protein powder for bulking, but you might be asking the wrong question. Protein is an important part of a balanced bulking diet, and protein powder is an easy way to get that protein, but you might be thinking of a weight gainer.

Weight gainers are high-calorie bulking supplements that contain both protein and carbs. You mix it into water just like protein powder, but you can get around 10x as many calories per serving. That can make it easier to gain weight. That might be what you’re thinking of. We’ll cover the best weight gainers, too.

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Illustration of a skinny beginner working out to build muscle.

The Best Workout Routine for Skinny Beginners

Most skinny guys are eager to build muscle fast. I don’t blame them. I was the same way. When I weighed 130 pounds, with a BMI under 17, I was sick of being skinny. I wanted to get out of that situation as quickly as possible.

The best way to build muscle is to lift weights. Most of us know that. But I had just graduated from university with a degree in graphic design, I’d never been active, and I didn’t know a single person who lifted weights. Well, I knew one person who shoplifted, but I didn’t want any part of that. And when you’re that far outside of a subculture, it can be hard to know where to start or what to do.

Since then, I’ve gained 70 pounds, going from a 65-pound bench press to a 315-pound bench press. My business partner, Marco, has helped college, professional, and Olympic athletes bulk up. Together, we’ve spent over a decade helping millions of readers and over 10,000 skinny clients build muscle (naturally).

Fortunately, once skinny guys start following a good workout plan and eating a proper bulking diet, we can gain muscle faster than any other body type. Our frames are empty and eager for muscle growth. Most of us are able to gain 25 pounds within our first 6 months of working out. Some of our clients have gained 40.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the process of training for muscle growth. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to do.

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Before and After Illustration of man building a thicker and more muscular neck.

How to Build a Thicker Neck (Even if It’s Skinny)

I always hated how skinny my neck was. When I was at my skinniest, my neck circumference was 14 inches. After bulking up and gaining 60 pounds, it grew to 14.25 inches. Clearly, the compound lifts I was doing weren’t developing my neck muscles.

That’s where neck training comes in. Neck training isn’t common with bodybuilders, strongmen, or powerlifters, but it has a long history in contact sports and martial arts, given that it reduces the risk of concussions, knockouts, and brain trauma. That’s Marco’s area of expertise. Before founding Bony to Beastly, he was training college, professional, and Olympic football and rugby players.

Still, I was skeptical about how effective a neck workout routine could be. That skepticism didn’t last. With just a few months of doing 5-minute neck workouts, my neck grew from 14.25 to 16 inches. We’ve reproduced those results with several dozen clients. We’ll show you exactly how to do it.

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Illustration of a skinny fat guy working out and dieting to build muscle, lose fat, and achieve body recomposition.

The Skinny Fat Workout & Diet Guide

Skinny fat is when you’re overfat but undermuscled, giving you a normal BMI but an unhealthy body composition. It’s when you’re not quite fat but not quite skinny, either.

The good news is you aren’t overeating or undereating, so you won’t need to force yourself to eat more food (bulking) or less food (cutting). That’s the hardest part of any physique transformation. You don’t need to worry about that. Not yet, anyway.

Instead, the best way to get rid of skinny fatness is to improve your nutrient partitioning. You need body recomposition. There are a few methods that can help with that: following a good workout program, eating a good diet, living a good lifestyle, and getting enough good sleep. Each can work on its own, but combining them all together works much better.

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Illustration comparing a skinny, skinny fat, and overweight man.

What is the Skinny Fat Body Type? Not Skinny But Not Fat

“Skinny fat” is the casual term for someone with normal-weight obesity, also known as Metabolically Obese Normal Weight (MONW). It’s when you aren’t quite skinny but aren’t quite fat, either. More specifically, it’s an abundance of visceral fat combined with a paucity of muscle mass, both of which can cause problems (study).

Note that being skinny-fat isn’t a body type, per se. It’s more akin to being out of shape. There are a few methods you can use to get rid of it. They each work on their own. You can combine them together to get even better results.

There’s an easy way to tell if you’re skinny fat. All you need is a measuring tape.

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

How Age Affects Muscle Growth

We’ve helped 15,000 skinny people bulk up, ranging from 18 to 80 years old. Marco has coached college, professional, and Olympic athletes revelling in the peak of their athletic performance. He’s also coached sedentary desk workers in their 20s, 40s, 60s, and 80s.

What we’ve seen matches what we see in the research, and what the research shows is shocking. We have pictures. You’re going to love this.

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