Illustration of the Outlift Logo: a skinny man building muscle.

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:

Before and after photo of Shane Duquette going from skinny to muscular.
Before and after progress photo showing Marco's muscle-building results.

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 prefer writing and drawing to sports, and I'm more of a 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.

We've been lucky enough to train college and professional athletes, includes our Canadian Olympic rugby team. But our specialty is helping everyday people—people like us—gain muscle and strength. For instance, here are a couple transformations from people doing our Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell programs:

Before and after photo of a skinny guy becoming muscular
Female muscle-building weight gain before and after photo

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.

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:

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 likeand 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 friend? We'll help you outlift them, too.

Join Our Newsletter

If you like our content, you'll love the newsletter, which kicks off with a 5-part bulking mini-course that covers:

  • Hardgainer genetics and how to make the most of them.
  • How to lift weights if your goal is to get bigger, stronger, and better looking.
  • How to take a smart, minimalist approach to bulking while still building muscle as quickly and leanly as possible.
  • How to bulk in the way that's also best for our aesthetics, health, and general strength.

 

Before and after photo of an intermediate lifter bulking
Before and after photo of a skinny guy becoming muscular
Skinny-Fat to Muscular Transformation
Before and after photo of a skinny-fat guy becoming lean and muscular
Women's weight gain transformation
Before and after photo of an intermediate lifter building muscle

Recent Articles

Illustration of a bunch of men deadlifting.

Hypertrophy Training Volume: How Many Sets to Build Muscle?

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | February 28, 2020

How many weekly sets should we be doing per muscle group per week when training for hypertrophy? That’s a good question but also a tricky question because of how many…

Read More
Illustration of a skinny and a muscular man doing dumbbell biceps curls

The 5 Big Compound Lifts for Building Muscle

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | August 28, 2019

Many popular bodybuilding and hypertrophy workout routines aren’t built on a foundation of big compound lifts. This gives powerlifting routines an edge over bodybuilding routines. See, a powerlifter’s strength is…

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Illustration of a man failing while doing a squat.

When Should You Lift to Failure?

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | September 16, 2020

Should we lift to failure when trying to gain muscle size? That’s a tricky question, and the answer depends on the situation. For example, experienced lifters are able to lift…

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Illustration of a man doing the GreySkull LP program for mass gain.

GreySkull LP: Is It A Good Muscle-Building Program for Beginners?

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | October 14, 2020

GreySkull LP (GSLP) is a powerbuilding program designed to help beginners get bigger and stronger. It’s one of the more popular programs in the strength training community, and it’s often…

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Illustration of a man doing a Zercher squat.

The Hypertrophy Rep Range: How Many Reps to Build Muscle?

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | June 1, 2020

How many reps should you do to build muscle? In strength training, doing five reps per set is a popular way to gain mass. In bodybuilding, though, where the goal…

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Illustration of the different types of barbells.

The Barbell Buyer’s Guide (for Bodybuilding & Hypertrophy Training)

By Shane Duquette | March 23, 2019

While writing our guide on how to build a barbell home gym, I dove way too deep into researching barbells. Which companies make the best barbells, which coatings do the…

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Illustration of a man sleeping.

How to Sleep for Muscle Growth

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | February 4, 2020

Sleep is the foundation of a good bodybuilding routine. It gives us the drive to challenge ourselves in the gym, the appetite to eat a big muscle-building diet, and the…

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Illustration of a man flexing his biceps

Chin-Ups Versus Curls for Biceps Growth

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | February 7, 2020

On the one hand, chin-ups are the bigger compound lift, they allow us to load our biceps far heavier, and they use a larger overall range of motion. On the…

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Illustration of a man doing a heavy partial back squat

How Range of Motion Affects Muscle Growth

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | March 1, 2020

There are three conflicting ideas about how the range of motion we use while lifting weights affects our muscle growth: The first idea is that lifting with a larger range…

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