How to Build Muscle & Get Strong
We help people build muscle. Thing is, most people build a bit of muscle, get fat, get stuck, and fail to continue making progress. We'll help you blast through those plateaus. And we'll do it with style, so that you don't just look bigger, you look awesome.
Over the past ten years, the transformations that we've gotten for ourselves and for our clients have earned us the reputation of being the very best at helping skinny people bulk up.
We've each gained over sixty pounds at under 11% body fat, completely naturally, and while lifting just three days per week:
That's me, Shane, on the left. I'm a husband, a dad, and a "casual." I only lift a couple times per week, I'm hopelessly unathletic, and I'm more of an art nerd than a jock. But I still enjoy being muscular, lean, and healthy. And if I'm spending 2–3 hours in the gym every week, may as well become damn strong, right?
Marco's on the right. He grew up skateboarding and playing a variety of sports, then spent years as a strength coach working with athletes, including college and professional athletes, as well as our Canadian Olympic rugby team.
Our specialty is helping everyday people—athletic or nerdy, whatever—gain muscle and strength. For instance, here are a couple transformations from people doing our Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell programs:
How We Help People Bulk Up
One of the things I found frustrating when I first started looking for muscle-building information was that none of it seemed to be written for me. I was a skinny dude, underweight and out of shape, and I wanted to become bigger, stronger, and more muscular. But almost nothing was written from the perspective of a skinny guy trying to gain weight, to become bigger and stronger than he was last workout.
Here and there, I'd come across bodybuilding sites for people trying to build muscle, but it never resonated with me. I'm not a bodybuilder, I don't live in the gym, and I don't ever plan on stepping on stage. Or I'd come across powerlifting sites for people trying to get stronger, but that didn't seem all that much better. Powerlifters want to get stronger, sure, but it's a very specific type of strength, where their training is oriented around improving their 1-rep max strength on the squat, bench press, and deadlift. I was more interested in building general strength, getting stronger in a wider variety of rep ranges, at a wider variety of lifts. I want a strong bench and deadlift, sure, but I also want a strong chin-up, overhead press, and barbell curl. Where's that program? It didn't exist.
Worse, there were powerbuilding programs, designed for people trying to become both bigger and stronger. Great, right? But if you aren't trying to become a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, then why would you want to train for both?
Once I started learning more about lifting, I could see the roots of bodybuilding and powerlifting in almost every program. Starting Strength? That's a program created by a powerlifter built on the foundation of the main powerlifting lift: the squat. Or what about StrongLifts 5x5? It's made by an everyday guy, and that's great, but it's built on that same powerlifting foundation, and even more focused on building a bigger squat. Where's the program designed to help people build muscle, get stronger, become better looking, and improve their general health? We couldn't find one. Not a great one, anyway. So we decided to make it.
So this isn't a powerlifting or bodybuilding website, nor any combination of the two. Not in a dismissive way, though. We can learn a lot about gaining strength from powerlifters, then use that knowledge and apply it to other lifts, other rep ranges, building bodies that are stronger overall. The same is true with bodybuilding. Bodybuilders are great at building muscle, and there's plenty to be learned from them. But again, we can apply that knowledge to our own goals.
This is all to say that we write for people who are less interested in the sport of lifting, more interested in the hobby of lifting, using it as a tool to improve their lives:
- Building more muscle. We've each gained over sixty pounds at under 12% body fat, and we've helped over ten thousand clients bulk up with our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program for skinny men, our Bony to Bombshell Weight Gain Program for skinny women, and our Outlift Program for intermediate lifers. Helping people build muscle is what we do best.
- Getting stronger. But not strong in a powerlifting sense, where all we care about is how much we squat, bench, and deadlift for a single repetition. We care more about getting strong at a wider variety of lifts (including chin-ups, overhead presses, and even biceps curls) and in a wider variety of rep ranges. When Marco was working as the strength coach for college, professional, and Olympic athletes, this was his specialty.
- Being healthy. Marco has a degree in health sciences (BHSc), and in addition to getting bigger, stronger, and fitter, we care about building healthy lifestyles that involve regular exercise, eating good diets, managing stress, and sleeping like deep winter bears.
- Looking great. If we're already going through the effort of building muscle, becoming stronger, and exercising regularly, we may as well look awesome. Aesthetics aren't everything, but it's certainly nice to look great.
We write about things like:
- How to build muscle—full guide
- Hypertrophy training: how to train for muscle size
- Progressive overload for muscle size & strength
- The 5 big compound lifts for building muscle
- The best exercises for building muscle
- How to use isolation lifts to boost muscle growth
- How many reps should we do per set?
- How long should we rest between sets?
- How many sets should we do per workout?
- How often should we work out?
- Should we always use a large range of motion?
- When should we train to failure?
- What's the best lifting tempo for gaining muscle mass?
- How to keep your workouts short and effective:
- How to sleep for muscle growth
We're in this for the long haul, and we're trying our best to create positive changes in our lives. Most health institutions recommend lifting weights at least twice per week, being reasonably lean and muscular, keeping ourselves in good cardiovascular shape, eating a good diet, minimizing chronic stress, and getting proper sleep.
But we also enjoy getting visible results from our efforts in the gym. If we're exercising anyway, we may as well become great at it, min-max our lifting routines, and get even better results, right?
Most of the content we make is free, and you can read our articles here. If you have any questions about anything, drop a comment in the most relevant article and I'll do my best to answer. We also have a few muscle-building workout programs you might like, and with those, we can help you track and improve your progress as you go along.
So, do you want to be stronger than you were yesterday? We'll help you outlift yourself. Want to be stronger than your friends and enemies? We'll help you outlift them, too.
Lifting tempo is one of the more minor muscle-growth factors, not because it doesn’t matter, but because most people have a good intuition for it. Most people lift in the…Read More
Chin-ups are done by hanging from a bar with an underhand grip and pulling yourself up. Pull-ups are quite similar. You hang from a bar with an overhand grip and…Read More
What are the best exercises for bodybuilding and hypertrophy training—for building muscle? How do we sort those exercises and pick between them? Which lifts complement one another, building a balanced…Read More