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 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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Illustration of a skinny beginner doing a 3-day full-body workout routine to build muscle and bulk up.

The Full-Body Workout Guide for Beginners

If you’re a beginner, 3-day full-body workout routines are perfect for gaining muscle mass and strength. They’re also incredibly good for your health. Once you reach an intermediate level, they remain great, but a few more good options open up. Until then, full-body workouts are the best. There’s nothing better.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about full-body workouts. Why they work, how to do them, and how to make them. We’ll also give you a sample workout routine you can follow or build from. It’s designed to get you bigger, stronger, healthier, and better looking. Feel free to customize it as much as you want. We’ll show you how.

Let’s delve deeper.

Delve Deeper
Illustration showing a skinny bodybuilder flexing his back, doing a back double biceps pose.

How to Train All Your Back Muscles

Building a bigger back isn’t as simple as it first seems. Our backs are made up of layers of overlapping muscles, all of which can work together, but many of which have different functions. Even within the same back muscle, different regions respond better to different exercise variations. For example, your upper lats have a slightly different function from your lower lats.

You’ll often year that you can train your entire back by combining vertical pulls (like chin-ups) with horizontal pulls (like rows). There’s some truth to that, but it’s not the full story. You also need to consider whether you’re tucking or flaring your elbows, and whether you’re stretching and contracting your shoulder blades.

And then there are your spinal erectors, which are often trained along with your other back muscles, but not always, and they aren’t always brought close enough to failure to grow. If you want a thick back, you need bigger spinal erectors.

Here’s how to build a bigger back.

Delve Deeper
Illustration showing an overweight man cutting fat and revealing his muscle underneath.

The Cutting Guide: How to Burn Fat While Building A Bit of Muscle

Cutting is when you burn fat while keeping your muscle. You may even be able to gain a bit of muscle while cutting, especially if you’re overweight, out of shape, or new to lifting weights.

  • Bulking: eating excess energy to gain weight and facilitate muscle growth.
  • Cutting: eating in an energy deficit to lose weight and facilitate fat loss.

Whether you’re bulking or cutting, the goal is to be strong, muscular, lean, and healthy. That means you need to focus on hypertrophy training, eating a good diet, getting enough sleep, being active, and living a healthy lifestyle. That will mitigate muscle loss, keep your bones and tendons strong, mobilize “stubborn” fat, and keep you healthy.

What sets cutting apart from bulking is that your primary goal is to lose fat. The best way to lose fat is to eat less energy than you’re burning, forcing your body to burn body fat to supply the missing energy. This is called a calorie deficit. Eating fewer calories is the easiest way to get into a calorie deficit, but you can also create a deficit by being active.

Let’s dive into the details.

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Illustration showing a skinny guy who bulked up like a Hollywood actor.

Hollywood Bulking Transformations ARE Realistic for Skinny Guys

There are a ton of articles talking about how Hollywood body transformations are unrealistic. There’s some truth in that. Most guys are overweight. For them, even just dieting down to a healthy body-fat percentage can be surprisingly difficult.

Most Hollywood transformations are coming at it from the other side, though. From the naturally skinny side. From our side. These actors aren’t losing a dramatic amount of fat, they’re building an impressive amount of muscle, and they’re doing it suspiciously fast.

Many of us can do that, too.

Let’s dive into it.

Dive In
Illustration showing two skinny guys with different bone structures and muscle-building genetics.

The Grey Truth About Skinny Muscle-Building Genetics

There’s a war raging in the natural muscle-building community. The white warriors are fed up with nihilistic blackpill hardgainers who give up on building muscle before they even start. They argue we should set lofty goals and fight to accomplish them, genetics be damned. After all, they started off skinny, too. They worked hard, gritted their teeth through the struggle, and succeeded to such a tremendous extent that they became famous for their physiques.

The dark doomers argue that those with the best muscle-building genetics are the most likely to rise to the top of the fitness industry. These hypertrophy gurus stand there on their genetic pulpits and preach the value of willpower, determination, and discipline, ignoring the fact that their genetics are what allowed their hard work to bear such impressive fruits. Only a very small fraction of their audiences will see that same degree of success, leaving the rest feeling dysmorphic and disillusioned.

There’s truth on both sides. No matter how thin we start, no matter how slender our bone structures are, and no matter if our hardgainer metabolisms incinerate nine-tenths of our calorie surpluses, we can still build muscle. If we progressively overload our lifts, eat enough food, and cleverly adjust based on the progress we’re making, we’ll get results.

But our genetics do indeed influence those results. Even among naturally skinny dudes, we all have different bone structures, different muscles that lag behind, and different muscles that pull ahead, causing us to build bodies that look rather different from one another.

I think it’s important to talk honestly about genetics. Not in an overly pessimistic “blackpill” way. It’s true that everyone can bulk up. But not in an overly optimistic “whitepill” way, either. We all have genetic weaknesses that we need to account for and genetic strong points we can leverage.

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