The Social Workout: A Skinny Guy’s Guide to Confidence

A few weeks ago we got an email from a Beastly member, Nick, saying that he had referenced our Ectomorph Aesthetics article on his site. He thought that it perfectly described the physique that women find the most attractive. That got me curious about what his site was all about, so I checked it out.

It turns out that Nick has started up a business teaching guys how to improve their confidence so that they can meet women in an honest, authentic way. This confidence extends to success in business and with friends.

His approach hit home with me.

As a skinny guy, building muscle was so important to me because I thought my skinniness would prevent me from attracting the amazing woman who I wanted to raise a family with, or that it would prevent me from defending her. My confidence suffered as a result, and I approached muscle-building with a sense of desperation.

By the time I met the woman of my dreams, I had gained over fifty pounds of muscle. We spent our first date drinking beer, chatting, and doing handstands in the park.

A couple of days ago my friend asked her what she first noticed about me. I was surprised by her answer. It wasn’t my long hair or tattoos; it was how strong I looked. She even told her roommate about it after our date.

As someone who runs a fitness website for skinny dudes, I wish I could tell you that she fell in love with me because of that strength. It sure made a strong first impression, but I think she fell in love with me because of something else.

Being a strong guy has value. So does being a confident guy. But being someone who can turn a weakness into a strength is the real ticket.

I think it’s amazing how Nick now makes his living teaching other guys how to do the thing he was known for being awful at. He turned his greatest weakness into his greatest strength.

This article might help you do the same thing, and if you’re a single guy looking for love, this could even be the article that changes your life.

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How to Know If You’re an Ectomorph

Most of us ectomorphs describe ourselves as being naturally skinny and we tend to have a hard time gaining weight. More specifically, though, ectomorphs are usually defined by having narrower shoulders, lankier longer limbs, thinner bones, and a lower body-fat percentage. Being an ectomorph is also associated with having a higher metabolism and a smaller stomach.

If you’re curious about whether you’re an ectomorph or not, there are a few simple tests that you can do. All you need to do is measure the width of your frame, the thickness of your wrists, and the length of your muscle bellies. You can do it at home in just a couple of minutes.

We’ll also cover how the various ectomorph traits affect our ability to build muscle, what our genetic muscular potential is, and how we should approach bulking up.

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The Skinny Guy’s Guide to Building Bigger Abs

Why do some skinny guys with a low body-fat percentage not have visible abs? After all, for the average guy, getting abs simply requires getting lean. But what if you’re already lean and you still don’t have abs?

If you try to search for information about how to get abs, there are two types of advice that you’ll probably come across, neither of which apply to skinny guys:

  1. Abs are built in the kitchen, not the gym. Yes, most men get abs by dieting down to a lower body-fat percentage. That’s because most men are overweight, and most overweight men already have large ab muscles. After all, when someone gains weight, at least 33% of that weight is going to be muscle. Plus, the heavier someone is, the bigger their ab muscles will need to grow in order to support that extra weight. Overweight guys already have big abs. Skinny guys do not.
  2. Abs are built with high-rep ab routines—crunches, sit-ups, and so on. The most popular ab routines are high-rep circuits that are brutally painful but aren’t effective at stimulating muscle growth. Doing high rep crunches to build bigger abs is like running a marathon to build bigger legs. High-rep circuits are designed for improving endurance and blood flow, not for gaining muscle size. Yes, you’ll see guys with great abs doing these routines. However, that’s not how they built their abs, it’s just something they do because they like their abs.

Neither of these pieces of advice work for skinny guys. After all, our problem is that our abs are too small. We need to build bigger ab muscles.

We need a bulking routine for our abs.

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How to Build a More Attractive Physique: Infographic

Seven years ago, we published an article titled Ectomorph Aesthetics: The Science of Building an Attractive, Aesthetic Physique, covering everything you should know about why women find certain physiques more attractive than others.

However, although we covered what was attractive, we didn’t go into how to become attractive. To help remedy that, I made an infographic explaining the four steps you’ll want to follow in order to build a more attractive physique.

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The Skinny Struggle is Real

I spent almost 10 years of my life trying and failing to gain weight. In fact, when I tried to bulk up, I would often lose weight. And whenever I did gain a few pounds, I’d get a cold or take a break, and the weight would melt right off. I’d wind up right back where I started.

I didn’t understand why it was so damn hard for me to gain weight. Was it because I had an ectomorph body type? Could it really be that simple? But if that were the case, how come so many ectomorphs are able to bulk up? How was I different? Was I a hardgainer? Was I non-responder to weightlifting?

Other people would see me struggling to gain weight and they’d figure I just I wasn’t eating enough calories. They’d tell me to “just eat more.” Then they’d look at me like they’d just solved all of my problems, totally confident they’d given me the information I’d been missing all my life.

I had been skinny all of my life, though. “Just eat more” wasn’t new advice. I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t tried to eat more. Of course I had. I’d been trying to gain weight my entire life.

I get it. That advice would work fine for most people. After all, gaining weight is second nature for most people. If you tell the average dude to eat more, he’d be able to. Hell, he’d probably even like it.

So the assumption is that no matter how fast our metabolisms are, and no matter how small our stomachs are, we’re just supposed to tough it. We’re supposed to force-feed ourselves. But after grinding out a brutal bulking diet for a few weeks, feeling bloated and tired the whole way through, we’ll inevitably give up. It’s just not a sustainable diet.

So at that point, most of us blame our ectomorph genetics, thinking that we’re doomed to stay skinny forever. But some ectomorphs do it. Some skinny guys are able to bulk up. What’s their secret?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Why is it so hard for ectomorphs to gain weight?
  • What’s the best ectomorph bulking diet?
  • What type of exercise should ectomorphs do to bulk up?
  • How quickly can skinny guys build muscle?

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Illustration of a man on vacation with a woman in a bikini

The Art of Not Disappearing on Vacation: Will You Lose Muscle? How Quickly? How Much?

You’re eager to build up a more muscular physique, and things are going super well. But lo and behold, disaster strikes. And not just a run of the mill muscle disaster, like running out of milk, but the worst kind of disaster imaginable: a vacation.

I bet just the mention of a vacation has your heart racing, your mind spiralling down into the depths of pure terror. Unfortunately, I’ve been there too. I know what you’re thinking:

In desperation, you might start googling around to learn more, but since only 3% of the population is trying to gain weight, good luck trying to find an article for people who are worried about losing weight while travelling.

So what do you do? Cancel your vacation?

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The Best Lifts for Building Muscle

One of the most common questions we get asked is, “What exercise is best to grow my small chest (or arms, shoulders, abs, etc)?” It’s a surprisingly large question. Yes, some exercises tend to be better for activating certain muscle groups, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg:

  • Effectiveness: how well they build the target muscle groups
  • Efficiency: how many different muscles they bulk up at once
  • Learning curve: How easy they are to learn and master
  • Risk-to-reward ratio: How likely they are to strengthen versus injure you

So we’ve put together a guide showing you the best exercises for each muscle group. These exercises represent your best chance of safely building muscle as rapidly as possible for your experience level.

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The Bulking Guide for Skinny-Fat Guys

Skinny-fat is when you’ve got a body-fat percentage of over 20% but still look skinny in a t-shirt. It’s a confusing situation to be in because it’s not clear whether you should bulk or cut. As a result, some experts recommend body recomposition, where you gain muscle and lose fat while maintaining the same bodyweight.

  • If you were just skinny, you could focus on bulking: getting into a calorie surplus, lifting weights, and building muscle. But as a skinny-fat guy, this risks making you fatter.
  • If you were just fat, you could focus on cutting: getting into a calorie deficit, being more active, and losing fat. But as a skinny-fat guy, this risks making you skinnier.
  • And body recomposition tends to produce slow and unreliable results.

What’s a skinny-fat guy to do?

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Why Skinny Guys Fail To Build Muscle

Maybe you know that skinny guy who gets totally amped up to gain some weight and build muscle. He’s tried and given up in the past but blames his failure on not trying hard enough—on not having enough motivation. He starts off strong: hitting the gym 5 times a week, eating 100% clean (whatever that means to them), and spending hundreds of dollars on bizarro supplements that he read about on the Internet that even the supplement salesman is confused by.

A few weeks go by and after sacrificing so much in his life: time, energy, money… the scale hasn’t budged. Or maybe his weight even dropped because he cut out the easy calories he was getting from junk food.

Feeling disappointed and burnt out, he slowly stops going to the gym and throws in the towel.

Why does this keep happening? Some people might say that he didn’t have the grit or willpower to tough it out. But honestly, this guy has incredible willpower and motivation—that’s a brutal routine that many professional fitness models couldn’t even keep up. His willpower isn’t the problem. Anyone with that routine will either reach capacity and burn out, or switch their energy to something else—something new and exciting (new job, holidays, new relationship)… and then there’s no room left for the crazy muscle-building routine.

I’ve been that guy too many times to count. (And not just with building muscle, either.)

Us skinny guys aren’t even having a hard time building muscle because we’ve got bad genes, although that was an excuse I once used. No, us skinny guys are actually pretty great at building muscle!

In the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program, partially thanks to a phenomenon called newbie gains, the average member will gain ten pounds in the first five weeks and twenty within the first three months. You can see some examples of their muscle-building transformations here.

While this may sound crazy, especially if, like us, you’ve tried and failed to bulk up in the past… these results line up well with what’s found in research. The largest and most thorough muscle-building genetics study found that skinny guys build muscle faster than anyone else (study). Some guys in the study added two inches to their arms and doubled their strength in just the first three months.

Because we’re so far away from our genetic muscular potential, we’re able to build muscle at an accelerated pace.

So why do so many of us skinny guys fail at building muscle over and over again?

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Why Is It So Hard for Skinny Guys to Gain Weight?

Struggling to bulk up as a naturally skinny guy can be confusing. We’re living right in the middle of an obesity epidemic, surrounded by people who gain weight by accident, and yet no matter what we do, we can’t budge the scale. Why is it so hard for us to bulk up?

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Do hardgainers really have faster metabolisms?
  • Do hardgainers have smaller stomachs?
  • Why do we resist gaining weight even while overfeeding?
  • Do skinny guys have better insulin sensitivity and carb tolerance?
  • What’s the best bulking diet for naturally skinny guys?
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