Illustration showing an artificial giant with too many fingers. He is holding a skinny man who is bulking up to become muscular.

Bamba’s Bulking Guide for Skinny Guys

As he makes his way through the jungle of muscle growth, a skinny man may feel like a small, fragile bird in a world of much larger beasts. The obvious solution is to become a man again, rediscovering the wonder of human movement and growth, using that wonder to kindle the spark of strength within. The less obvious solution is to become an eagle.

In this article, you will learn how to harness the power of your skinny body type, to mitigate your natural weaknesses while taking advantage of your inherent strengths. From nutrition to workout routines, from bulking recipes to supplement recommendations, we will cover it all.

So, if you are ready to unlock the secrets of successful bulking, read on, my friend! Let us begin this journey together.

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What Happens If You Spread Your Workout Throughout the Day?

What if, instead of doing your workout all at once, you spread your sets or exercises over the day? Maybe that means doing your squats before work, your push-ups before lunch, and your chin-ups before dinner. Or maybe you spread your five sets of chin-ups throughout the day, resting a few hours between each set.

There are many different ways you could split up your workout. How will that affect muscle growth, muscle recovery, fat loss, and your health?

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Cartoon illustration of a bodybuilder going for a jog to improve his cardiovascular health.

How Does Calorie Intake Affect Cardiovascular Adaptations?

We need an abundance of calories to build muscle. We use it to convert protein into muscle mass. Without it, we won’t build muscle. To get those extra calories, we can burn excess body fat or eat more food.

It’s less clear whether we need extra calories to make cardiovascular adaptations. Will eating in a calorie surplus help us build more blood vessels? Will a calorie deficit interfere with our ability to build a stronger heart?

Let’s dive into it.

Dive In
Illustration of a bodybuilder jogging to improve his cardiovascular fitness.

The Weight Lifter’s Guide to Cardio

In this article, we’ll teach you how to improve your cardiovascular fitness as someone who already lifts weights. That’s an important distinction. Lifting weights changes how you should approach cardio in a few ways:

  • Lifting weights improves cardiovascular fitness. Lifting isn’t the ideal way to improve cardiovascular fitness, but it’s not too bad. If you lift weights, you’re probably in significantly better shape than the average person.
  • You probably care about muscle mass and strength. That means you’ll need to schedule your cardio somewhat carefully. Otherwise, the so-called “interference effect” can interfere with the muscle-building adaptations you get from lifting weights. Some people downplay this effect, but the latest research shows it can cut your rate of muscle growth in half (study).
  • People who lift weights have different questions about cardio. Does weight training count as cardio? What type of cardio pairs best with lifting? How can you maximize cardiovascular and musculoskeletal adaptations at the same time?
Delve Deeper
Cartoon of protein powder and mass gainer supplements.

Will Mass Gainers Make You Fat?

Mass gainers are near and dear to my heart. They’re the only supplement on the entire supplement market that’s designed specifically for skinny people who are trying to gain weight. For a naturally skinny dude like me, sick of drowning in an ocean of fat-loss supplements I couldn’t care less about, that was a big deal.

I find the marketing for mass gainers appealing, too. Instead of needing to force down an extra meal, all we have to do is drink this high-calorie, high-carb, high-protein shake that’s specifically designed to help us pack on muscle quickly and leanly. No cooking, no cleaning, no chewing, and no eating. That’s pretty tempting!

On the other hand, mass gainers are packed full of cheap, highly processed carbs. It’s like cake mix with a scoop of protein powder tossed in. It’s processed food. Won’t that make us fat?

Let’s dive into it.

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How to Build Muscle—Full Guide

To build muscle, you have to challenge your muscles enough to stimulate muscle growth. Then you need to fuel that growth by eating enough calories and protein. And then you need to rest and recover. That gives you just three things to focus on: lift enough, then eat enough, and then rest enough.

But there’s nuance here. Some types of resistance training are better for stimulating muscle growth than others. Some types of calories can help you make faster, leaner gains. And you don’t want to eat so much that you get fat.

So, how should you train, eat, and rest to build muscle? Let’s dive in.

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Illustration of a bodybuilder building muscle after working out.

How Long Do You Build Muscle After Lifting Weights?

When you lift weights, you stimulate muscle growth. How long does that stimulus last? And how long does it take for your muscles and tendons to recover between workouts? If you can figure that out, then you’ll have a better idea of how often to train each muscle.

If you’re bulking—gaining weight to build muscle—you also want to make sure that your body is primed for muscle growth before you shovel down all of those extra calories. So again, it helps to know how long you build muscle after working out.

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Illustration of a bodybuilder doing giant sets.

How to Do Giant Sets

Giant sets are one of the best methods for gaining both muscle size and strength. They aren’t better than straight sets or supersets, but they are more efficient, allowing you to stimulate more muscle growth in a given amount of time.

Giant sets are also great for your overall health and conditioning. Because you aren’t resting very long between each set, your cardiovascular system is getting a hearty workout, too. And because each individual muscle is still getting plenty of rest before being worked again, giant sets are still great for gaining muscle size and strength.

So, what are giant sets? And what’s the best way to program them?

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Illustration of a "hardgainer" with a fast metabolism who can't gain weight.

How to Gain Weight With A Fast Metabolism

Skinny people often have a few traits dragging their weight down: thin bones, narrow frames, small stomachs, meagre appetites, and fast metabolisms. In this article, we’ll focus on that very last piece of the puzzle: how to gain weight with a raging metabolism. This is something we know all too well. I’ve lived it. So have Marco and Cassandra. And so have the 10,000 clients we’ve coached through it.

It’s not quite as simple as people often assume, though. Your trouble gaining weight probably has less to do with having a “fast” metabolism and more to do with having an “adaptive” metabolism. As in, the more food you eat, the more your metabolism revs up, and the more calories you burn. This is what the term “hardgainer” refers to. I think it’s also why some skinny people are dubbed “non-responders” when they first start lifting weights.

So, how can you gain muscle, strength, and weight with a fast metabolism? Let’s dive in.

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Illustration of a man lifting a calf to progressively overload his growing muscles.

The Progressive Overload Guide

Progressive overload is one of the foundational principles of both strength training and hypertrophy training. It’s the idea that as we get stronger, we need to gradually lift more weight to continue challenging our muscles. And then, as we continue challenging our muscles, we keep growing gradually stronger.

  • To keep getting stronger, keep lifting more weight.
  • To continue lifting more weight, keep getting stronger.

Kind of chicken-and-egg riddle, yes, but it’s also the most crucial principle of gaining muscle size and strength. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to do it.

We’ll also teach you about the least-talked-about aspect of all—how to progressively overload your calories to continue gaining weight and building muscle. Not understanding this part is why most skinny people struggle to become big and strong. It held me back for many years.

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