You’re at a dinner party and you’ve just finished telling your uncle how you started going to the gym, got all kinds of sick gains, and then how you lost them all when school intensified and you just couldn’t keep it up.
He retorts, “Max, you just need to get back on the horse.” Uncle, this is actually sound advice and we will listen, but there are some things you need to know. Not everyone gets back on the horse the same way. Heroin overdoses tend to happen more frequently in users who are newly clean because they forget that their body does not have the same tolerance anymore. If you haven’t lifted weights in a while and you attempt the same workouts you once bullied in the gym, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the bullying.
You may also be surprised at how little it takes to rebuild muscle, or how quickly you can do it.
Inside this article we’ll be discussing a quick and safe way to return to the gym and the skillset needed to make you a landmark in your own fitness world.
There’s a theory that guys can be sorted into 3 distinct body type categories: endomorphs, mesomorphs and ectomorphs.
Is that true?
Different people do have different heights and bone structures. That’s a fairly uncontroversial fact. What’s far more interesting is how these traits can combine together to form groups of guys who respond to exercise and diets in fairly different ways.
For example, people don’t grow proportionally. Our limbs grow longer faster than they grow thicker. So shorter guys tend to be thicker, taller guys tend to be thinner. Then consider that being a heavier person causes your body to develop thicker bones to support the extra weight, and that having thicker bones allows you to build more muscle mass. So you have shorter, stockier guys who can build more muscle more easily than taller, skinnier guys. Then factor in that these naturally skinny guys need to expend more energy to move their longer limbs, but because they aren’t as wide, they also have proportionally smaller stomachs.
We already have 2 archetypes that require totally different approaches to exercise and nutrition, and we haven’t even covered half of the reasons why.
It’s always pretty entertaining reading articles meant for skinny guys looking for information on how to gain weight that are written by well-meaning but naturally muscular or obese writers.
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 of the mainstream 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 we can use. And longer still to break it down into 5 simple concepts.
This information is hard to find, evidence-based, and if you put it into action, it will radically change your life. Just like it did for the thousands of members in our program.
Most guys have a subconscious instinct to squat a little less, bench a little more. Most lifting programs tell us that we should suppress that instinct. But what if those lifting programs are wrong?
What if this whole “don’t skip leg day” thing is making us think that we should be training our legs far more than we actually should be?
What if it’s just this new bodybuilder “X-physique” trend trickling down to the mainstream lifter, even though the average lifter is far more interested in building a strong, healthy, athletic, attractive, v-taper?
In this article we’ll cover:
- The advantages of training your legs enough.
- The advantages of prioritizing your upper body after that.
- The most attractive proportions.
- How most workout programs might have more leg work than you need.
- How to get the most benefits with the fewest downsides.
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.
Have you ever wondered whether you’re an ectomorph or not? What your muscle-building potential might be? How much of a hardgainer you are? How your physique might look after gaining 10, 20 or even 40 pounds of muscle?
These three quizzes should help you figure all of that out, and you can do it right now from the comfort of your very own home.
Having abs shows that you’re even leaner than you need to be, that your posture is confident and athletic, that your muscles are strong, and even that your hormones are very masculine (study). Abs look so good because having all of these things at once shows that you’re not just healthy, but obnoxiously healthy.
Fortunately, we just so happen to be the body type that can rock a washboard stomach year round without suffering the negative side effects that other guys risk (perpetual hunger, reduced libido, etc). This gives us a real physique edge over the other body types.
However, as naturally skinny dudes with naturally smaller muscles, our walk across Abbey Road is a little atypical. There are usually two types of ab advice you’ll come across, and neither works very well for us:
- Science says that abs are built in the kitchen. Usually yes, since most guys are overweight, and most overweight guys already have large ab muscles. In the Beastly community we see guys all the time who are more than lean enough to have great abs—but their posture is a little loose and their ab muscles are a little small.
- No pain, no gain. The most popular ab routines are high rep circuits that make your abs burn with hellish fire. Abs are muscles though, and doing high rep crunches to build bigger abs is like running a marathon to build bigger legs. Endurance work improves blood flow but it’s awful at making muscles bigger. You’ll see some guys with crazy abs doing these high rep routines, but this is like thinking that taking topless Instagram selfies gives you abs because guys with abs do it. It’s not why they have great abs, it’s just something they do because they like their abs.
So what’s the best way for us naturally thin dudes to build Abercrombie abs?
Four years ago we published an article called Ectomorph Aesthetics that covered everything you could possibly want to know about the most attractive male physique. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy for us naturally thin dudes to build up a perfectly attractive physique.
In that article we talked a lot about what was attractive, and not so much about how to become attractive. So in this short follow-up article we’re going to help you actually build up an optimally attractive physique.
Also, a few new really interesting bits of research have come out in the past few years. We’ll cover that too.
(Updated January 2018) Being skinny can be rough. We grow up around people who gain weight by accident, and then when we turn to the fitness industry, we find ourselves slotted into a footnote: “Oh yeah, and if you’re naturally skinny, you’ve got a fast metabolism and whatnot so, you know, just eat more.”
I know that advice would work fine for most guys, but the fact that we aren’t most guys is precisely why we’re being given that advice in the first place, and also why that advice fails. Hard. For most guys, eating lots of food and gaining weight is second nature. If you tell the average guy to “just eat more,” he’d be able to. No problem. Hell, he’d probably even like it (until he got fat).
What they don’t realize is that telling us to eat more is as useless as us telling them, “Just eat less—duh.” That’s not going to solve any problems. In fact, if you go around telling people that, you’re probably going to get in a fight. (And if you’re going to go around getting in fights, it might help to build some muscle first. Luckily, that’s what this article is about.)
It’s no surprise that during our first weight gain attempts, most of us lose weight. That clues us into the fact that we’re different, and we assume that we’re doomed to be skinny forever.
But that doesn’t make sense either. The best athletes, the most famous sex icons—most are ectomorphs. I mean, look at Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Cristiano Ronaldo, Connor McGregor and Michael Jordan. These guys are hardly suffering for being ectomorphs. They’ve found a way to get around their skinny genetics and live the biggest lives ever.
So what’s going on here? Why is it so damn difficult for us to gain weight? What’s going on with our small stomachs, meagre appetites, raging metabolisms, long limbs and stubborn muscles? Is building muscle even possible? And if so, how?
Well, for the skinny guys who are still worried that gaining weight is impossible for them, this one’s for you.
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 and your mind spiralling down into panic mode. Unfortunately, I’ve been there. I know what you’re thinking. Will all of your hard-earned muscle wither away if you don’t go to the gym for a week or two? Can you build muscle with bodyweight workouts? How many mojitos does it take to spike muscle protein synthesis? Why don’t they make luggage big enough to fit a barbell? Is there real coconut in a piña colada, or does it count as junk food? Will the customs agent mistake your whey protein for cocaine? (Can you really get jacked in prison?) How much of a tan will be enough to disguise your now skinny-fat physique?
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 about how to maintain/gain muscle while travelling.
So what do you do?