Illustration of a skinny guy eating carbs to build muscle. A giant muscular barbarian is taking his fruits. Illustrated by Shane Duquette.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat to Build Muscle?

Most people associate protein with muscle growth. That makes sense. Our muscle fibres are made from protein. However, a classic bodybuilding diet is 50–60% carbohydrates. Interestingly, that’s the same proportion of carbs that the healthiest cultures around the world eat. What’s the benefit of eating so many carbs?

To make things more interesting, strength athletes often avoid carbs. You’ll find quite a few powerlifters eating lower-carb diets. Plus, carbs are often demonized in mainstream diet culture. Why is that?

Delve Deeper
Cartoon illustration of a skinny-fat man with no abs wondering if he's lean enough to bulk.

Are You Lean Enough to Bulk?

Let’s say you’re a skinny guy eager to build muscle. But you aren’t lean. You don’t have much muscle definition. No abs. Maybe you’re even “skinny-fat.” Are you lean enough to bulk? After all, even if you do a lean bulk, you may still gain some fat. That can be stressful if you’re already feeling too soft.

Plus, many bodybuilders believe that when your body-fat percentage gets too high, it interferes with bulking. Testosterone converts into estrogen, insulin sensitivity crashes, it gets harder to build muscle, and you gain proportionally more fat. Is any of that true?

How can you know if you’re lean enough to bulk?

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Illustration showing varying degrees of muscularity that women rated for attractiveness.

The Ideal Male Body Type According to Women (Survey Results)

We surveyed 423 women, asking them to rate varying degrees of muscularity and leanness in men, as well their favourite muscle groups and ideal proportions. In this article, we’ll go over the results:

  • What’s the most attractive amount of muscle for a man to build?
  • Do women prefer more muscular upper bodies or lower bodies?
  • What proportions do women find most attractive?
  • What’s the most attractive body-fat percentage?
  • Which muscles do women find most attractive?
  • Does neck size affect our appearance?
  • What’s the most attractive overall body type?

Here are the survey results.

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What body type do gay men find most attractive?

Survey Results: What Does the Most Attractive Gay Male Body Look Like?

We surveyed 102 men attracted to men, asking them to rate varying degrees of muscularity and leanness. We also asked them which muscle proportions they found most attractive. Topics include:

  • What’s the most attractive degree of muscle?
  • What’s the most attractive body-fat percentage?
  • Do gay men prefer more muscular upper bodies?
  • Which muscles do other men find most attractive?
  • What muscle proportions do gay men prefer?

Here are the results.

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Illustration of a bodybuilder using turkesterone to build muscle.

Does Turkesterone Work? (A Critical Review)

Is turkesterone a good supplement for building muscle? It’s been promoted everywhere lately—Joe Rogan, More Plates More Dates, Greg Doucette, and Vitruvian Physique have all discussed its benefits. The idea is that it can boost testosterone production, allowing us to build muscle faster and more leanly. But is there any good evidence to back those claims up? And if so, what kinds of results can you expect?

Our specialty is helping skinny guys bulk up. Cutting-edge supplements are a bit outside of our wheelhouse. That’s why we spoke with Eric Trexler, Ph.D. He’s got a doctorate degree in sports science, has published over 30 strength and hypertrophy studies, and professionally reviews research for Monthly Applications in Strength Sport (MASS). This is exactly his area of expertise. We also have a few studies to review. And then there’s the official position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN).

So, does turkesterone live up to the hype? Can it help you build muscle?

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Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for Building Muscle?

We’ve seen some heated discussions about ingredients and dosages founds in pre-workout supplements. Does this particular brand have at least six grams of citrulline malate? Is it the correct ratio of citrulline to malate? Is there theanine alongside the caffeine to blunt the jitters? Are they using proprietary blends to hide subpar dosing? Unless you’re super into supplement research, it can be hard to parse.

But the more important question is, will taking a pre-workout supplement actually help you build muscle? Instead of diving right into min-maxing the ingredients and dosages, maybe we should take a step back and see if pre-workout supplements even work.

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Illustration of a skinny guy failing to build muscle even though he's working out, getting him classified as a non-responder.

Are You a Non-Responder to Weight Training?

There’s no doubt that genetics play a role in building muscle. In fact, especially when looking at outliers, genetics can have an enormous impact. If two people do the same workout routine and eat the same bulking diet, one of those people might gain twice as much muscle.

What’s more contentious is the claim that some people can’t build muscle at all. And there’s some truth to that idea. When most people start lifting weights, they build muscle. But not everyone. And these people who don’t gain muscle have been referred to as “non-responders” or “low-responders” in the research.

So what’s going on here? Weight training is supposed to cause us to adapt by gaining muscle size and strength. Why do some people fail to adapt?

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Illustration showing a skinny guy bulking up and gaining muscle.

Do You Need to Bulk to Build Muscle?

“Bulking” is a term that carries some hefty baggage. For some, bulking is only way to build muscle. For others, it’s little more than a surefire way of getting fat. Not everyone needs to bulk to build muscle. Some people do, though.

That leaves us with a few questions:

  • Will a calorie surplus allow you to build muscle faster?
  • Can you lose fat and build muscle at the same time?
  • Does bulking cause needless fat gain?
  • Should skinny-fat guys bulk?
  • Should skinny guys bulk?
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Illustration of a bodybuilder using a barbell and dumbbells to build muscle.

Should You Build A Dumbbell or Barbell Home Gym?

Let’s say you want to build muscle at home. You’ve got a few different options. You could use your body weight, but bodyweight workouts are painful and difficult. So maybe you decide to get some resistance bands, but they aren’t very good for building muscle. Exercise machines are good for building muscle, but you’d need a different machine for each lift, which is highly impractical. That’s why most people turn to weights: barbells and dumbbells.

Both barbells and dumbbells are great at stimulating muscle growth, both are reasonably affordable, and both can be used to do hundreds of different exercises, allowing you to follow a full hypertrophy training program. Still, barbells and dumbbells aren’t quite the same as one another.

Strength training is known for favouring barbells, bodybuilding is known for favouring dumbbells (and exercise machines). For building muscle, we want to use both strength training and bodybuilding lifts. We want to use aspects of both styles of training. So which should you choose? Barbells or dumbbells?

Let’s go over the pros and cons.

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