Illustration of a bodybuilder pouring a high-calorie bulking smoothie into a glass.

How to Make High-Calorie Bulking Smoothies (to Gain Weight)

A good bulking smoothie makes it easier to get into a calorie surplus, allowing you to gain weight and thus build muscle. We’ve used these smoothies to gain nearly 70 pounds each. We’ve also used them with thousands of clients, ranging from everyday people all the way up to Olympic athletes.

When you blend whole foods into smoothies, they keep their nutritional value, but they lose much of their bulk and hassle. That’s why they’re so popular in the fitness industry. Smoothies are the easiest way to consume several servings of protein, fruits, veggies, omega-3s, phytonutrients, and fibre.

Smoothies are even better for naturally thin people trying to build muscle. When you blend whole foods into liquid calories, you don’t need to cook them or chew them, and they won’t take up as much space in your stomach. You also break them into smaller pieces, helping them digest faster and leaving you hungry again sooner.

High-calorie bulking smoothies are nature’s weight-gainer. You just need to learn how to harness their power.

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Illustration of a skinny guy worried that he's having too much whey protein powder.

How Much Protein Powder Can You Have Per Day?

One of the most common questions we get is how much protein powder is too much protein powder? One scoop of whey per day is probably fine, right? But what about 2 scoops? 3 scoops? 4?

I’ve seen dozens of muscle-building studies where the researchers give participants upwards of 60 or even 90 grams of protein per day for several months in a row, measuring what effects it has on muscle growth.

There are other studies looking directly at how much protein powder you can safely have per day.

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Illustration of a skinny guy drinking a protein shake to build muscle and bulk up.

The Best Time to Have a Protein Shake

You can have a protein shake at any time. The most important thing is to consume enough protein overall. Still, some times are better than others.

Maybe you’ve heard of a bodybuilder who wakes up in the middle of the night to chug the shake they’ve left on their bedside table. You can do better than that.

And what about the anabolic window? Should you be having protein shakes before and after working out? Maybe, yes.

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Illustration of a skinny guy with bony shoulders building bigger deltoid muscles and broader shoulders.

How to Build Broader Shoulders (for Skinny Guys)

Broad shoulders are touted as one of the most attractive features a man can possess. That’s not wrong. You can build broader shoulders, and when you do, it will improve your appearance. But that’s not quite how aesthetics works. In fact, it’s almost entirely backwards. More on that in a moment.

Then there’s the issue of bone structure. The length of your collarbones is largely genetic, and that’s a big part of determining how wide your shoulders can get. If you have a thinner build, it’s easy to assume you’re fated to have narrow shoulders. But that isn’t quite right, either. I’ve added over a dozen inches to my shoulder circumference.

Finally, we’ve helped over 15,000 people bulk up, tracking their progress along the way. If you spend the next 6 months bulking up your shoulder muscles, how much broader can you get them? To answer that question, we tracked our client results. We’ll show you before/after photos and measurements.

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Illustration of a skinny guy deciding how long to bulk for, wondering how long it will take to build muscle.

How Long Should You Bulk For?

In theory, you could bulk slowly over several years. That’s what some natural bodybuilders do. They eat in a small calorie surplus as part of their regular lifestyle, only stopping when they need to lean down for a bodybuilding competition. However, they have fierce appetites and large stomachs, making it relatively easy to gain weight.

For most skinny guys, eating in a sustained calorie surplus is incredibly difficult, not least because our metabolisms adapt to larger calorie intakes. You might start a bulk by eating 3,000 calories per day. A few months later you might struggle to gain weight on 4,000 calories. You could add even more calories to your diet, but that’s easier said than eaten.

As a naturally skinny guy with a meagre appetite, the thought of bulking forever fills me with a deep sense of dread, leaving little room for extra food. My first and second bulks were 3 months each, which was enough time for me to gain a lean 45 pounds. My third bulk was 5 months long. The longest I’ve made it was 8.

Over the past 10 years of helping over 10,000 guys bulk up, we’ve developed a system for figuring out how long to bulk and when to stop.

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Before and after illustration of a skinny guy using creatine to build muscle and gain weight.

Before & After Creatine: How Much Extra Muscle Will You Gain?

Creatine has earned a reputation for being the most powerful muscle-building supplement, and with good reason. It has thousands of studies proving its effectiveness. Still, most people don’t know how much extra muscle it will actually help them build. 5% more? 50% more?

One way to get an idea of how well it works is to look at before-and-after photos of guys combining weight training, a good bulking diet, and creatine supplementation. But that won’t tell you exactly how effective creatine is. That’s why we need to look at the research.

There are two big meta-analyses looking at how creatine affects muscle growth. The first tells us how much extra lean mass we can expect to gain. The second tells us how much extra muscle mass we can expect.

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

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Illustration of a skinny guy taking creatine to gain weight and build muscle.

Should Skinny Guys Take Creatine to Build Muscle?

Once upon a time, I was 23 years old and 130 pounds at 6 feet tall. I was skinny and underweight, with a BMI of just under 18. I was hunchbacked from all my time spent hunched over my desk studying graphic design.

My roommate, Shane, was similarly thin, so we made a pact to bulk up together. We called it Muscle May and spent much of April preparing for it. But even before I started lifting weights or eating more food, my body was already transforming.

In preparation for the start of Muscle May, I started taking creatine monohydrate a week early. I wanted to load up on creatine beforehand so that my levels were optimized for my first workout. I mixed 5 grams of creatine into a glass of blueberry juice. The creatine was grainy but tasteless. It was the first muscle-building supplement I ever took.

By the end of the week, before I started lifting weights or eating a bulking diet, I had gained 8 pounds from creatine alone. I couldn’t believe it.

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Illustration of a skinny guy building bigger arms by doing weight lifting exercises.

How to Build Bigger Arms (For Skinny Guys)

I’ve managed to bring my arms from 10 inches up to 16 inches. But I got off to a rough start. During my first two years of successful bulking, I gained 40 pounds at 11% body fat, bringing my bench from 65 to 225 pounds and doing chin-ups with 50 pounds around my waist. Yet, despite my progress, I had only added 2 inches to my arms. My arms were still 1.3 inches smaller than average, and the average man doesn’t even exercise!

That’s when I realized my mistake. I was relying on compound lifts to bulk up my arms. When I finally added proper arm exercises to my workout program, my arms quickly shot up to 14 inches, then gradually climbed to 16 inches. Surprisingly, my bench press started going up again. I was finally able to bench 315.

We’ve used these same methods with over 10,000 skinny clients and millions of readers. If you add these methods to your workout routine, you can expect to add around 2 inches to your arms within the next 6 months. That’s what our clients gain, on average.

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Illustration of a natural skinny guy building muscle as fast as he can.

How Fast Can You Build Muscle Naturally?

You may have heard that natural lifters can gain 20 pounds of muscle in their first year, 10 in their second, 5 in their third, and then a few pounds per year until they reach their natural potential. That doesn’t seem to be true for the average man, and you may not be average anyway.

How fast can you build muscle naturally? That depends. Let’s take a deeper look.

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