Illustration of a man doing a single-legged bodyweight pistol squat.

Bodyweight Bodybuilding: Home Workout Plan for Building Muscle

Most skinny guys build muscle with weights, and that works, but you can stimulate just much muscle growth with bodyweight workouts. If you put enough mechanical tension on your muscles, they will grow. That’s just as true with bodyweight training as it is with weights.

The catch is, if you want to maximize your rate of muscle growth, you need to train for it directly. You need to do hypertrophy training. That’s where things get tricky. Most bodyweight workouts are designed to help overweight people lose fat, get fitter, and improve their health. That will stimulate some muscle growth as a byproduct, but it’s hardly enough stimulation for a bonafide bulk.

So in this article, we’ll go over how to do bodyweight hypertrophy training. We’ll give you a workout routine designed specifically for skinny guys trying to bulk up and get bigger. And as a bonus, you’ll gain a tremendous amount of strength.

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Before and After Illustration of man building a thicker and more muscular neck.

How to Build a Thicker Neck (for Skinny Guys)

Given that we specialize in helping skinny guys bulk up, we often get asked how to build a thicker neck. And I can relate to that. I always hated how skinny my neck was. When I first started bulking, my neck circumference was 14 inches—a long way from the average man’s 16-inch neck. And even after gaining a full 60 pounds, my neck had only gone up to 14.5 inches. Clearly, building muscle overall wasn’t doing anything for my skinny neck.

That’s where neck training comes in. Doing muscle-building exercises to bulk up the muscles in our necks is a fairly new thing. It’s not common in either bodybuilding or strength training. But neck training has a long history in contact sports and martial arts, given that it reduces the risk of concussions, knockouts, and brain trauma. We can look at that research and then modify it for our own goal of building thicker, stronger, and better-looking necks. And, as a bonus, our necks will grow tougher, too.

Given the paucity of research, I was skeptical about how well a neck-bulking routine would work. But within a few months of doing neck training while resting between sets, I was able to add over an inch to my neck circumference. We were then able to reproduce those results with members of our community.

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Illustration of men with varying leg sizes.

How Big Should Men Build Their Legs?

What’s the ideal male leg size? How often should we be squatting and deadlifting? How much emphasis should we put on leg training if our goal is to improve our health, general strength, and appearance? What’s interesting is that there are popular views at opposite ends of the spectrum:

  • Some aesthetics-oriented approaches have us spending more of our time doing upper-body training: more incline bench pressing, chin-ups, overhead pressing, and biceps curls. If lower-body training is included at all, it’s often lighter stuff, such as one-legged squats and Romanian deadlifts.
  • Some strength training programs tell us that we should focus our energy on getting stronger at the Big Three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. In those circles, it’s common for every single workout to start with a few sets of strenuous back squats. Is that a good way to build a strong and attractive physique?

If we’re trying to build strong, healthy, and attractive physiques, how big should our legs be? How often should we train them? And what lower-body lifts should we choose?

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Illustration of a muscular man doing biceps curls with resistance bands.

Do Resistance Bands Build Muscle? Yes, But How Well?

Resistance bands are cheap, portable, and convenient. They challenge our muscles. What more do we need? There’s a whole grain of truth there. Resistance bands can stimulate muscle growth. Plenty of people get great results from training with them. You don’t need anything more.

But what if you’re trying to build muscle as quickly, efficiently, or painlessly as possible? Are resistance bands the best tool for that? That’s a different question. In that case, we need to compare resistance bands against the alternatives: bodyweight exercises, dumbbells, barbells, and exercise machines.

So, how do resistance bands compare to callisthenics and free weights? Let’s delve into it.

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Illustration of a sick man who's lifting weights

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Bulking

Most of us know that working out, eating a good diet, and getting plenty of good sleep will improve our health. So why, then, whenever we start working out, do we keep getting sick. Isn’t working out supposed to make us healthier? Is getting sick every time we try to bulk up just an unavoidable part of our skinny curse?

Nothing can ruin the momentum of a good bulk like getting a cold, the flu, or—every skinny guy’s worst nightmare—the stomach flu. I can’t tell you many dozens of pounds I’ve lost to the stomach flu over the years. Getting sick while leading a sedentary life is bad enough, but it feels all the worse when we’re in the middle of a bulking routine. We lie there in fear, breathing through our mouths, certain that our muscles are being eaten away, but unable to muster the willpower to shovel down enough food to maintain our body weight.

Our bulks eventually resume, those pounds come back, and regaining muscle is a total breeze compared to gaining it in the first place. But still, better to never get sick in the first place.

Nothing will guarantee that we won’t get sick, but there are a few things we can do to reduce our risk.

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Illustration of a skinny guy lifting weights to build muscle.

How Should Skinny Guys Train to Build Muscle?

Most skinny guys are eager to gain muscle size. I don’t blame them. I was the same way. When I weighed 130 pounds, with a BMI of 17, I wasn’t interested in powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, or chiselling out my abs for a bodybuilding show. Instead, I was interested in not being skinny anymore.

The good news is, once we start lifting weights and eating enough food, we can often gain muscle faster than any other body type. We have plenty of room on our frames for growth. We’re primed for. Some of our clients have gained forty pounds in their first 6 months of working out.

We’ll teach you the exact training methods we use to help our members stimulate muscle growth.

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Illustration of a man doing a conventional barbell deadlift

How to Deadlift for Muscle Growth

Deadlifts are one of the only true full-body lifts, challenging our muscles from our fingers down to our toes, stressing our bodies from the skin on our palms all the way down to our bones. They’re hard, tiring, and absolutely amazing for building muscle, gaining strength, improving our fitness, and becoming much better looking.

When it comes to bulking up, the only lift that can rival the deadlift in terms of sheer muscle growth is the squat (and especially the front squat). Even then, the deadlift has a few unique advantages:

  • Deadlifts bulk up our traps, spinal erectors, and glutes, as well a number of other muscles in our upper backs, all of which is great for improving our aesthetics.
  • Deadlifts are one of the best ways to increase the density of our bones and the health of our spines, making them great for our health and longevity.
  • The strength we develop with deadlifts transfers near-perfectly to our daily lives, making us look strong because we are strong.
  • Squats and deadlifts train different muscles, with the front squat emphasizing the quads and upper back, and the deadlift emphasizing the hamstrings, glutes, and entire back.

As with all the big lifts, though, there are several different ways of deadlifting, each with different pros and cons. And given how many different sorts of adaptations deadlifts provoke, it’s not surprising that some ways of deadlifting are much better for building muscle than others.

Most guys who are interested in strength favour the conventional deadlift, which is wise—and we’ll explain why—but they deadlift for low reps and drop the bar to the ground after every repetition, making it worse for building muscle mass.

The most heinous sin, though, belongs to the bodybuilders who forego the deadlift altogether, thinking that it’s not a good lift for gaining muscle, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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Illustration of a man doing a barbell front squat

Benefits of Front Squats: Why They’re Best for Building Muscle

Squats are the biggest lift, engaging the most muscle mass and stimulating the most muscle growth. And of all the squat variations, front squats are the best for building muscle.

Powerlifters have low-bar squats, allowing them to lift more weight. Athletes have high-bar squats, allowing them to focus on their quads. We have front squats, allowing us to stimulate more overall muscle growth.

There are many benefits to front squats: they let us squat deeper, thicken our back muscles, straighten our posture, and bulk up our serratus muscles. They’re also the safest squat variation, rivalled only by safety-bar squats.

Here’s why.

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Illustration of the tortoise and the hare

How Fast Should You Gain Weight While Bulking?

I remember being skinny and wanting to gain weight FAST. I didn’t just want to be muscular yesterday, I wanted to be muscular in every single one of my previous lives.

We aren’t just trying to gain weight, though; we’re trying to gain muscle. And if we bulk up too fast, won’t we become skinny fat? That can happen. Not to everyone, but it can happen to some of us. Sometimes. It’s important to understand the risk factors.

Over the past eight years, we’ve helped nearly 10,000 skinny guys bulk up quickly, leanly, and everything in between. Even when dealing with naturally skinny guys, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of gaining muscle quickly versus gaining it leanly. That way, you’ll know exactly how much weight you should be trying to gain on the scale each week.

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Illustration of a margarita

How Much Alcohol is Okay While Bulking?

Maybe you’ve heard that beer builds beer bellies, that alcohol can tank our testosterone production, or that drinking too much can impair muscle growth.

All of this is true. In fact, it gets worse. Alcohol can also disrupt our sleep, which can further reduce muscle growth, cause extra fat gain, and harm our workout performance.

Worse still, alcohol can slow digestion, making it harder for us to digest big bulking diets. It can also negatively impact our appetites, making it harder to gain weight.

However, these aren’t the effects of drinking, these are the drinking too much. As with most good things in life, it’s the dose that makes the poison.

Maybe you’ve even heard that having a drink or two per day is better than having none. Is that true?

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