The Social Workout: A Skinny Guy’s Guide to Confidence

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.

And now, let me introduce Nick Durham! Everything that follows is written by him.

Most ectomorphs have their stories of brutal girlfriend insults.

“Hey honey, I’m going to go to the gym to lift weights because, you know, someone has to protect us…

“You should eat more. Here, let’s add some protein to your plate.” *dumps entire plate of meatballs onto your spaghetti*

“You are so tiny. I love you for that.”

All of them are completely demoralizing. Even the last one, which is passive-aggressive and sweet all at once, stings like a 50-pound dumbbell dropped on your littlest toe.

I consider myself lucky. I was never insulted by a girlfriend like that. This is most likely because I never had a girlfriend back when I was skinny and shy. I just heard the same insults from my friends, basketball teammates, and family instead. (Although my grandma knew I was tiny and really did love me for that.)

How to Become More Confident And Attractive As a Skinny Guy

My high-school basketball team loved to make skinny jokes. I’m the small guy whose head is barely visible 🙂

When I started lifting weights late in high school, it changed things for me. I felt better about myself and my role as a man, and I finally met an awesome girl who had the same (poor) sense of humor I had. She soon became my first girlfriend.

But even with my increased strength and emotional well-being, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was a confident person. That relationship didn’t last forever either.

I’m an introvert, a quiet guy, and have always had anxiety and self-consciousness stalk me wherever I go.

When William Sheldon invented the ectomorph/mesomorph/endomorph body type system, he suspected a connection between being an ectomorph and having anxiety. Who’s to say if it’s true, but nonetheless, anxiety and a lack of confidence were traits that significantly affected me.

There was one moment where this affliction punched me square in the face.

I went on a routine coffee run one morning before work and while standing in line, in walked my version of a dream girl.

This girl was gorgeous—like, unbelievably gorgeous—and she had this energy that drew me right in. She caught me staring (pretty sure my mouth was agape too) and offered up a smile before shyly looking away. Is it corny to say I felt my heart flutter? Whatever, man—it did. I would’ve done anything to meet her.

But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I froze. I was a statue. There was no chance I was moving. I was way too nervous, completely stuck in my head, too afraid of being rejected in front of total strangers.

This wasn’t even an uncommon occurrence for me. Around important people and during important moments, I choked. I labored to do new things outside my comfort zone, like talking to strangers or, say, taking up yoga or an acting class.

Public speaking and job interviews made me want to die.

And yeah, my dating life could have been going better.

Weightlifting for me was a gateway drug into self-improvement. It showed me that if you want to make a change in your life, you can, and you alone are personally responsible for that change.

Well, I lacked confidence, and I wanted to make that change.

It wasn’t until a few nights later—at the gym, of all places—that I figured out how to solve it.

Weak Muscles

Consider these hypothetical situations:

A skinny guy who hasn’t lifted weights in over a year walks into a gym. He confidently picks up two 45 pound plates and puts them on a barbell. He tries to bench press the weight, but the bar doesn’t budge.

An introverted/shy guy who has never approached a woman in his life finally musters up enough courage to start a conversation with an attractive girl at a coffee shop. He says “hi” but is too anxious to listen; the conversation becomes unnatural, and then it dies out.

Here I was at the gym on a Friday night, still reeling from the trauma of my inaction from earlier in the week, when it finally clicked for me: that shy guy in the coffee shop has the same problem as the skinny guy at the gym.

Both have weak muscles.

That’s right. Just like our physical muscles, we have our “confidence muscles.”

And we strengthen our confidence muscles the same way as we strengthen our physical ones—by starting small, lifting a manageable weight, being consistent, and putting in focused effort towards exercising them. If we never take the time to do these things, we stay weak and scrawny.

The analogy made perfect sense to me.

As an introvert, I was avoiding threatening social situations nearly as much as Shane, Jared and Marco avoid marathons.

I was too scared to present in front of company directors at work. I rationalized my way out of meeting a VIP who could have been my dream mentor. I had so many opportunities to meet amazing women, and I wimped out of all of them.

But of course that happened. My confidence muscles were tiny. I had never devoted time or energy to developing them, and here I was expecting to jump right into the deep end.

I was expecting to be able to bench a ton of weight without having ever gone to the gym.

I needed to get stronger, and the only way I knew how to build muscle was to create and follow a workout.

Introducing the Confidence Workout

I created my first confidence workout right there in the gym.

How to Become More Confident And Attractive As a Skinny Guy

As I designed it, I realized the most important thing was that it had to be doable.

Research shows that the reason most people struggle to build confidence is that they get stuck in their bedroom analyzing different theories because the idea of taking action seems too overwhelming. So I made the exercises small and manageable enough for me to actually want to do them.

I started by targeting three essential confidence muscle groups:

Stage 1: Self-Esteem Training (to work on my core confidence)

Stage 2: Social Lifting (to develop my social skills)

Stage 3: Big Moment Bodybuilding (for coolness in big moments like the job interview or work presentation)

I followed the workout to a T. Some days I loved it, some days I gave up. But each time I did an exercise, I was building momentum.

To give you a glimpse into some of the things I did, I went tango dancing for the first time in my life and made a complete fool of myself. I approached dozens of strangers in the mall and made new friends. I danced to Frank Sinatra in a department store with a shoe saleswoman. I gave an impassioned monologue in Starbucks. I got a lot of discounts on hotel rooms just because I asked.

How to Become More Confident And Attractive As a Skinny Guy

Sounds interesting, right? But did these unconventional exercises help me build real, tangible confidence?

About two months after completing the workout, I met a family friend for coffee. For the first five minutes, she looked me up and down like only a psychologist would. (She’s a psychologist.) I sensed she had something to tell me, and I was right.

“You know Nick,” she said while studying me. “You are… qualitatively different than the last time I saw you. You have this sense of calm about you. What’s changed?!”

What’s changed? Everything!

Professionally, I took a chance and started my own business. I started taking more risks in my dating life (and they were already paying off).

But most importantly, for the first time in my life, I felt confident.

My limiting social fears—that I wasn’t any good around people, that I had to be perfect, that I had to be liked by everyone—were destroyed.

Taking Other People Out Into The Social Gym

During the following months, I found other people asking me the same question as the psychologist. Except now, people were interested in learning about “The Confidence Workout.”

So I taught them.

I guess you could say I was their personal trainer.

I took out friends, colleagues, and complete strangers who found me on the internet into the social gymnasium (places like the mall, sporting events, and festivals) and taught them the exercises I had used to kill my own anxiety. Most of them were quiet and shy, just like I had been.

Some of their results were more profound than mine.

One social gym rat got his dream job because he met a complete stranger at a coffee shop. A female friend I worked with was able to get a promotion at work based entirely on a speech that she had been too terrified even to consider a few months prior. A shy client who worked in sales became the top performer just a few months later.

And there was even one guy who had never had a girlfriend. Less than three months after starting The Confidence Workout, he had to cross that off his resume.

I believe The Confidence Workout made them strong.

So what now?

Nick Durham—The Skinny Guy's Guide To Becoming More Confident

As I mentioned earlier, the most important thing you can do to build confidence is something. Something to start building up successful experiences that you can draw confidence from. Here are some very doable actions that you can take today to get your feet wet.

  1. Nod at strangers walking down the street. (5 reps.)
  2. Say hello to people in a British (or Canadian) accent. (5 reps.)
  3. Ask a stranger for a recommendation: food, drink, book, movie, TV show, etc. (1 rep.)
  4. Say “how are you?” to service people: cashiers, servers, bartenders, etc. (3 reps.)
  5. Ask a stranger if they have any big plans for the weekend. (1 rep.)
  6. Eat at a restaurant alone. (1 rep.)
  7. Hi-five a stranger. (1 rep.)

That’s right. My exercises from the very first workout I made.

My challenge to you: do three of them today.

If you complete them, 1) reward yourself with something great (you are creating a habit by doing this), and 2) email me and tell me how they went (I bet they will be more fun than you think).

The Call to Action

Offer for B2B community: do you want the full version (complete with every exercise) of The Confidence Workout? I’m turning The Workout into a book and giving it away to the B2B community and early readers for free. It’s coming out soon, so this free offer will soon end.

Head over and get it here:

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.

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  1. Dan on July 20, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Really cool article guys. Fascinating actually.

    Question for Nick if he’s around, for some of us that maybe aren’t ready to do the difficult confidence exercises (i.e.tango dancing or talking to strangers) yet, what should we focus on?

    • Nick on July 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Hey Dan, thanks for saying that man.

      Okay so if those exercises (the tango and talking to strangers) are too intimidating, then start somewhere more doable for you. Reduce the difficulty. For instance, no chance you want to talk to strangers? Try starting one conversation with a co-worker. Or with the guy at the gym who you always see. You can go as small as you possibly can – the important thing is action! Don’t want to do tango bc you suck at dancing? Ok, try to make it another kind of group class you do feel comfortable with, maybe once a week (or even a month).

  2. Jupiter on July 20, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Yo Nick, Jup here. Long time reader first time commenter. Hey I think you’re doing God’s work. Keep it up homie. Looking N forward to buying the book for everyone I know when it comes out.

    • Nick on July 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Jupiter in the house. You rock. Thanks for reading.

  3. Derek on July 21, 2016 at 9:59 am

    This is a great article. Thanks for including this B2B. I know I needed to read it.

    • Nick on July 21, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks man. Glad you liked it!

    • Shane Duquette on July 21, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Woot! We can include more of this stuff in the future too 🙂

  4. Mr J on July 26, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Shane please don’t tell me you’re partnering up with sleazy pickup artist/MRA types. Those people put the definition of “children” in manchildren.

    I don’t know if this guy is one of them (probably not), but I can imagine the slippery slope happening with future sites posted here.

    • Shane Duquette on July 27, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      Hey, J. Yours is a particularly intriguing question and this is the perfect spot to have asked it, so I’m going to over-answer.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with helping guys find love, just like there’s nothing wrong with helping guys build muscle. In both cases, we’re dealing with guys who think it’s possible to become better, and I think those are the best kind of guys.

      I remember trying to sell the idea of self-improvement to a friend who was insisting that people should just “be themselves.” I didn’t understand that line of thinking.

      It’s like she was saying that if you’re shy, that’s just the way you are. If you’re skinny, those are just your genetics. And if you never just happen to wind up dating your soulmate, you were meant to die alone. As a shy, single, skinny guy who dreamt of becoming a strong, confident husband and father, that line of thinking wouldn’t have allowed me to have anything close to the life I wanted.

      So helping guys become better? Hell yeah.

      The pick-up thing is different, though, it seems. I don’t think we have any b2Bers who are pick-up artists, but we do have a member who used to be. He made his living teaching guys how to pick up women, and he wrote a popular op-ed in the community about how jaded the pick-up industry was, and about how unhappy so many of the people in it are. I don’t have any experience in that industry, and my own personal bias may be coming in, but I’m inclined to agree with him—I don’t think that trying to sleep with as many women as possible is either ethical or fulfilling. (Anyone reading this who is a member, I highly recommend searching out the forum post titled “girls.”)

      From what little I know of Nick, it seems like his experience with this stuff also left him feeling like he could make a difference by standing up for honesty and integrity, focusing on genuinely helping guys instead of just helping them live a more hedonistic lifestyle.

      (I googled MRA and I don’t see how that relates to guys becoming more confident. In fact, that seems like the opposite of self-improvement, which is all about taking responsibility for our situations and trying to make the most of them. Totally admit to not knowing much about this, though.)

      (I also want to point out that we aren’t partnered/affiliated with Nick. We featured his post because we like his social workout concept and thought that it might help our readers, not because we’re making money off of it.)

    • Jared Polowick on July 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Hey Mr J,

      First—thanks for caring enough to write in and give feedback. It’s obvious that you’ve connected a lot with what we’re writing, and we never want to take that for granted!

      Like Shane mentioned, Nick is a b2B member and after getting to know him a bit we thought his lifting metaphor for confidence could really help some of the guys who follow b2B. We don’t have many guest writers, and so we do appreciate the feedback.

      But this definitely isn’t a slippery slope or anything of the sort into any sort of manipulative or dishonest avenues. That’s just not who we are, or what the core values of Bony to Beastly are. Nick’s post seems pretty upfront and honest to me, and the goal here was just to provide value and action steps in an article about confidence. Hopefully there’s nothing sleazy about that! There’s no partnership or affiliation—but for those who connected with him and liked it, he’s got more stuff on his own site.

      • Thomas on August 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

        Interesting process! To compare muscle workout and social workout. I will try this approach!

  5. Alex on September 3, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Sry, but bullshit. Women love ripped guys. I have more confidence than my best friend, but he is a ripped ectomorph and gets all the attention, although he is shy. Women want to touch his biceps and abs all the time…

    I know the difference between being 127 lbs and 160 lbs. It’s like day and night (and the reason why I started to work out again). I thought confidence was the important thing, and it is, but: no muscle = no confidence.

    To all skinny guys: gaining raw 30 lbs on your skinny frame will get you more attention than any confidence on this planet.

    • Shane Duquette on September 3, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Bullshit about what? Did we say somewhere that muscularity has no impact?
      Pretty sure we said the exact opposite 😉

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