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.

Illustration of a skinny guy measuring his muscle growth while bulking. Illustrated by Shane Duquette.

How These Guys Bulked

These guys did their best to follow the Bony to Beastly Program. Here are some of the key variables:

  • A good workout program: these guys followed a professionally programmed hypertrophy training routine. They were doing 3 full-body workouts per week, each lasting about an hour. They were pushing themselves pretty hard. They were striving for progressive overload, always trying to lift more than last time. They all got much stronger.
  • A nutritious bulking diet: They ate an abundant bulking diet full of nutritious foods. They were trying to gain between 0.5–1.5 pounds per week, depending on how leanly or aggressively they were trying to bulk. We gave them plenty of convenient and healthy bulking recipes, but they were free to build their own bulking diets based on the principles we taught them.
  • A healthy bulking lifestyle: our program includes advice on how to get enough good sleep each night, manage stress, bring activity levels into the healthy range, and avoid unhealthy vices.

These are regular guys with varying degrees of compliance. Some were kept up at night by their kids, some trained at home with limited equipment, and some had digestive issues like Irritible Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Some guys struggled to eat in a consistent calorie surplus, failed to make good food choices, or skipped some of their workouts.

All of them tried their best, but nobody was perfect. These are bulking results you can realistically expect to get.

Selection Criteria

We planned to collect data on 20 guys, but Sunny’s ambition was hard to quell. He collected 23 before I could stop him. He went through member progress threads in order until he found 23 that met the selection criteria. These guys ranged in age from 20 all the way up to 60 years old. He collected their stats. That’s what we’ll share with you here.

Here are our selection criteria:

  • They had to have finished the entire workout program. Our workout program is 5–7 months long, depending on whether you do the optional beginner phase and the final bonus phase. Some of these guys skipped exercises, took vacations, or got sidetracked by sickness. Even so, they all finished the program. That means there’s a survivorship bias at play here.
  • They had to have been bulking. Not everyone doing our program is trying to bulk up. Some skinny-fat guys begin with a recomp or a cut. We even get the occasional overweight dude doing our program. We only counted the guys who bulked—who ate a sufficient calorie surplus.
  • They had to have posted full progress updates. After all, that’s how we’re getting their stats. These guys also tended to ask more questions and get more help.
Before and after photos showing Eddi's bulking results from doing the Bony to Beastly Program at almost 60 years old.

Average Bulking Results

How Fast Can You Expect to Gain Weight?

The average was +25 pounds in 6 months, ranging from +15 pounds all the way up to +44. You can control how quickly you gain weight by adjusting the size of your calorie surplus. You can gain 0.5–1.5 pounds every week by eating 250–750 extra calories every day.

  • If you want leaner gains, go slower. Eat 250–400 extra calories every day, gaining around 0.5 pounds per week.
  • If you want to bulk more aggressively, err on the faster side. Eat 500–750 extra calories every day, gaining around 1–1.5 pounds per week.
Before and after photo of a skinny guy bulking up fast.

If you’re gaining weight too slowly, add more calories to your diet. Admittedly, this can be quite hard. We teach our members how to eat more calories more comfortably, but even then, it can still be hard. It was definitely hard for me.

If you’re gaining weight too quickly, eat fewer calories. Very simple. Very easy. The people who gained more than 1.5 pounds per week did so purposefully. I can sympathize with that. When I was skinny and desperate, I did the same thing.

Average Measurement Increases

Here are the average measurement increases our members got while bulking. We’ve also included the full range to give you a better idea of the variance between individuals.

  • Weight Gain: +25 pounds (15–44 pounds)
  • Shoulder Circumference: +4.4 inches (2–10 inches)
  • Chest circumference: +3.8 inches (2–7 inches)
  • Waist circumference: +2.2 inches (0–5 inches)
  • Hip circumference: +2.4 inches (0–6 inches)
  • Thigh circumference: +3.6 inches (1–4 inches)
  • Flexed biceps: +1.7 inches (1–3 inches)
  • Flexed forearms: +0.9 inches (0–2 inches)
  • Neck circumference: +0.8 inches (0–2 inches)
  • Calf circumference: +0.7 inches (0–1 inches)
Diagram showing average measurement increases from bulking with the Bony to Beastly Program.

Note that waist circumference includes muscle, food, and fat. These guys were training their lower backs and abs, building sturdier and more muscular torsos. They were also eating more food, filling their stomachs with nourishing nutrients. Finally, there’s always the risk of gaining some fat while bulking. (Interesting, the guy whose waist measurement stayed the same seems to have lost fat while bulking. That’s relatively rare while gaining weight this fast.)

You can influence your measurements by adjusting your workout program. We help guys do this in our community. If they want more emphasis on their chests, their arms, their necks, or their calves, we help them adjust the program. For example, few guys directly trained their necks. Even fewer directly trained their calves.

Some guys skimped on some exercises. Sometimes guys go a bit easier on their squats because of issues like cranky knees. Sometimes those issues are even real.

Before & After Photos

Here are three before and after photos from the sample of 23 guys. I’ll include their measurements, too. For more, I’ve got my second bulk documented here.

We got permission to share these progress photos, meaning there’s an additional layer of survivorship bias here. Some guys didn’t want their photos shared. For example, the guy who gained 44 pounds posted regular updates, asked plenty of questions, did an amazing job, collected his congratulations, and then marked his thread as private.

Taylor’s Bulking Results

Before and after photos showing Taylor's bulking results.

Taylor gained 26 pounds in 5 months. He kept going after we asked permission to share this photo, gaining 33 pounds by the end of the program. Here are his before-and-after measurements:

  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight Gain: 141–174 pounds (+33 pounds)
  • Shoulder Circumference: 42–47 inches (+5 inches)
  • Chest circumference: 36–40 inches (+4 inches)
  • Waist circumference: 29–32 inches (+3 inches)
  • Hip circumference: 31–34 inches (+3 inches)
  • Thigh circumference: 20–23 inches (+3 inches)
  • Flexed biceps: 11–13 inches (+2 inches)
  • Flexed forearms: unmeasured
  • Neck circumference: 14–16 inches (+2 inches)
  • Calf circumference: 14–15 inches (+1 inch)

Walter’s Bulking Results

Walter's before and after photos from bulking on a plant-based diet

Walter had gained 26 pounds when we asked to share his photo. He had gained 28 by the time he finished the program. Walter’s results were interesting because he followed a plant-based diet. Here are his before-and-after measurements:

  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight Gain: 141–169 pounds (+28 pounds)
  • Shoulder Circumference: 43–54 inches (+11 inches)
  • Chest circumference: 37–43 inches (+6 inches)
  • Waist circumference: 30–32 inches (+2 inches)
  • Hip circumference: 35–38 inches (+3 inches)
  • Thigh circumference: 19–22 inches (+3 inches)
  • Flexed biceps: 12–14 inches (+2 inches)
  • Flexed forearms: unmeasured
  • Neck circumference: unmeasured
  • Calf circumference: 14–15 inches (+1 inch)

Johnny’s Bulking Results

A skinny guy building muscle with our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program.

Johnny’s bulking results are interesting because he was already in great shape, already in the habit of lifting weights. His progress shows that sometimes even experienced lifters can benefit from bulking aggressively.

  • Height: 6’4
  • Weight Gain: 171–194 pounds (+23 pounds)
  • Shoulder Circumference: 45–49 inches (+4 inches)
  • Chest circumference: 38–42 inches (+4 inches)
  • Waist circumference: 30–33 inches (+3 inches)
  • Hip circumference: 35–38 inches (+3 inches)
  • Thigh circumference: 21–24 inches (+3 inches)
  • Flexed biceps: 13–15 inches (+2 inches)
  • Flexed forearms: 11–12 inches (+1 inch)
  • Neck circumference: 14–15 (+1 inch)
  • Calf circumference: 13–14 inches (+1 inch)

Last Word

We’ve helped over 10,000 skinny guys bulk up. Hundreds of these guys shared their measurements and progress photos along the way. Marco has also coached hundreds of clients in person, ranging from deskworkers to Olympic athletes. We’ve also bulked up ourselves, gaining over 60 pounds each.

We know what the average skinny guy can expect when he delves into a good bulk. These measurements seem realistic to me. But remember that all of these guys were bulking properly, following a workout, diet, and lifestyle routine. And they didn’t just have good information; they also put it to good use.

Photo showing the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program for Skinny and Skinny-Fat Guys

Alright, that’s it for now. If you want more muscle-building information, we have a free bulking newsletter for skinny guysIf you want our foundational bulking program, including a 5-month full-body workout routine, diet guide, recipe book, and online coaching, check out our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program. Or, if you want a customizable intermediate bulking program, check out our Outlift Program.

Shane Duquette is the founder of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, each with millions of readers. He's a Certified Conditioning Coach (CCC), has gained seventy pounds, and has over a decade of experience helping more than ten thousand naturally thin people build muscle. He also has a degree in fine arts, but those are inversely correlated with muscle growth.