Illustration of a skinny guy working out and gaining muscle mass.

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'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:

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

Get the Muscle-Building Newsletter

Animation of a skinny guy building muscle

If you like our content, you'll love the newsletter, with 16,001 readers and climbing. We'll keep you updated on the most important new muscle-building research, methods, and workout routines. Plus, it kicks off with a 5-part email series that covers:

  • Understand your skinny genetics and how to thrive with them, grow bigger, and become strong.
  • How should you lift, eat, and live if your goal is to improve your health, strength, and appearance.
  • How to min-max your workout routine for leaner muscle growth and faster strength gains.

 

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.

Outlift Illustration of two bodybuilders wrestling.

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 friends and enemies? We'll help you outlift them, too.

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 showing Starting Strength facing off versus Stronglifts 5x5

Starting Strength vs StrongLifts 5×5: What’s the Difference?

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | October 5, 2020

What’s the difference between Starting Strength and StrongLifts 5×5? Which workout program is better for beginners, which is better for building muscle, and which is better overall? There are a…

Read More
Illustration showing the different bodybuilding and hypertrophy lifts.

Exercise Selection: Which Lifts are Best for Building Muscle?

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | July 22, 2020

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…

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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 doing a barbell bench press

The Bench Press Hypertrophy Guide

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | August 30, 2019

The bench press is the best lift for building a powerful chest. It’s also great for bulking up your triceps and the fronts of your shoulders, making it a great…

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The Most Popular Lifts (According to Google)

By Shane Duquette | May 23, 2020

Which lifts are more popular? I’d always kind of assumed that with people who are into strength training, squats would be the most popular, but that with people who are…

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Illustration of a sweating man with flaming shoulders doing the overhead press.

How Long Should You Rest Between Sets to Build Muscle?

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

Recently, research has been coming out showing that long rest periods between sets are best for building muscle. With longer rest times, our muscles can better recover their strength between…

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Illustration of a man doing a barbell front squat

The Front Squat Hypertrophy Guide

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | August 30, 2019

The squat is the strength training lift. It’s the best lift for bulking up your quads, glutes, and calves, and it stimulates more overall muscle mass than any other lift,…

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Outlift illustration showing a man doing a barbell Romanian deadlift to build muscle in his hips.

The Romanian Deadlift Guide

By Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS | September 29, 2020

The Romanian deadlift, also known as the RDL or stiff-leg deadlift, is a deadlift variation that’s used in hypertrophy training to pack muscle onto the hips and hamstrings. So, what…

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Illustration of a man doing a double-dumbbell front squat.

Are Dumbbells or Barbells Better for Building Muscle?

By Shane Duquette | March 20, 2020

Both barbells and dumbbells are great for gaining size and strength. However, they aren’t quite the same thing. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the…

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