Note: this is a guest post written by Dr Robin Bhavsar. Dr Bhavsar is a physician with a specialization in urology (the field of medicine concerned with testosterone).

Hey, all. I’m going to be making a lot of gross simplifications to keep this easy to follow and useful for you guys. That said, I have a fair amount of knowledge in this area. I’m by no means the definitive resource, as I’m constantly learning about new things, but I have studied testosterone quite extensively as a urologist, and I have a lot of experience doing testosterone replacement therapy for my patients.

As a urologist, I got quite a bit of general medical training, and also more specifically about testosterone. The greatest thing that helped me build muscle was discipline, but I did find that it helped to know how to improve my testosterone naturally.

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In this article we’re going to do something a little bit different. The idea came from one of our members. He started off by saying something fairly controversial. Then, as other members prodded him, instead of backing away from it, he doubled down. And I think his arguments are pretty compelling.

First, let’s set the stage. In our articles about attractiveness, we make the argument that attractiveness is visible health. Being very attractive just takes that one step further. Instead of looking healthy, you’d have to look healthy in a way that truly stands out—you’d have to be conspicuously healthy.

For an overweight person, the best way to build a more attractive physique is to become visibly healthier by losing fat. For us skinny guys, the best way to become more attractive is usually to build muscle. There are lots of objective goals you could set: bringing your BMI to 23 with abs, becoming 50% heavier than your date/girlfriend/fiancée/wife, or building your biceps up to the size of your neck, to name a few.

At first, progress can be very quick. If you’ve read our newbie gains article, then you understand exactly how quick. The interesting thing is that the 80–20 principle applies here. What I mean is that with a small amount of time investment—just a couple months—a skinny guy can usually get to the point where he looks healthy and fit. He’ll look attractive.

Not alarmingly attractive, but attractive.

At that point, progress will slow, and it can take a lot more time and effort to get to that next, very attractive level. After all, looking healthy is one thing, but looking so healthy that people go, “Wow, that dude looks healthy!” is a whole other thing.

But physical attractiveness isn’t the only way you can boost your attractiveness. It’s not even the only physical way that you can boost your attractiveness.

That’s where Rick J comes in.

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In bodybuilding and fitness communities, people commonly use the terms endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph when talking about male body types. Endomorphs are purportedly stockier and chubbier, mesomorphs are said to be broader and more muscular, and ectomorphs are supposedly thinner and leaner.

Or that’s what people say, anyway. Men do have varying heights and bone structures, and have different propensities for being overweight or underweight, but do these traits really combine together to form three distinct body types? Is it correct to call a naturally skinny guy an ectomorph?

And even if we do use these slang terms to sort people into different body types, do the different body types benefit from different diets and workouts? For example, is there such a thing as an ectomorph workout or an ectomorph bulking diet? Or do all body types benefit from the same workouts, diets, and lifestyles?

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Sometimes you’ll find an article about how to gain weight that doesn’t quite make sense. It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just that it’s clearly written by someone who isn’t skinny and who’s never struggled to gain weight. They just don’t get how tough it is for us skinny guys to gain weight.

It’s like an obese person taking weight-loss advice from someone who’s naturally skinny. The skinny guy would confidently say, “Well, yeah, just stop eating. It’s easy. I do it all the time.”

It took me years to realize how much fitness information is really weight-loss information in disguise. It took me even longer to figure out how to convert all of it into information that skinny guys can use. And longer still to break it down into five simple concepts.

This article is written by a skinny guy who has spent the past eight years helping other skinny guys bulk up. If you put this information into action, it will help you gain weight, just like it did for the thousands of members in our bulking program.

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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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Illustration of a skinny hardgainer with an ectomorph body type.

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.

Dive In
Illustration of a naturally skinny guy 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.

Dive in

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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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

Imagine being in the midst of a bulking routine, and things are going super well—you’re gaining weight on the scale each week, steadily building muscle. But then, lo and behold, disaster strikes. And not just a run of the mill muscle disaster, like running out of trail mix, but the worst kind of disaster imaginable: a vacation.

And I’m not talking about one of those cushy vacations at a resort that includes a gym, I’m talking about one of those vacations where we’re forced to stop lifting weights entirely. 

For many of us, even just the thought of taking a break from our workout routines gets our hearts racing, our minds 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 when they stop working out.

So what do you do? Cancel your vacation? Do bodyweight workouts? Or take a break from lifting?

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