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“How can I go from skinny to buff?” I remember thinking, as my 14-year-old brain scoured the internet looking for any and all advice I could find. It seemed like everyone was contradicting themselves, and I had no idea what to do.
“Do intermittent fasting! It’s great for your hormone levels,” some would say. “Eat every single 2 hours, you’ve got to get big!” others would tell me. The power lifters told me to focus on strength training, the bodybuilders told me to focus on building mass…just about everyone had their own thoughts on getting from skinny to buff.
The problem is that I didn’t want thoughts…I wanted results. I was a scrawny little kid and was desperate for attention from women, and respect from other men. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to be big, and I wanted to be buff.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this feeling set me down a path that would take me on one of the wildest rides of my life. Like many of us, working out and putting on muscle is a journey, that teaches us about inner strength, courage, discipline, and of course, our own biology.
“I just can’t seem to put on any muscle,” I said. I’d been talking to some of my buff friends trying to figure out what the cause was, because it just seemed that no matter how hard I tried, couldn’t do a damn thing to put on any lean muscle.
“Well, what did you eat today?” they asked. “Uhh, I had a cup of oatmeal for breakfast, a granola bar for a snack, and then a sandwich for lunch,” I said. They burst out into laughing like a pack of hyenas. “You’re shitting us, right? That’s like not even as big as our breakfasts!” they told me. It turns out, they were dirty bulking.
The fact of the matter though, was that they were right. Most so called “hard gainers” who “just can’t seem to put on weight” are ridiculously underfed. They eat something like a puny 1,000 calories a day and then expect to somehow bulk up to the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
When I tell guys how much food I ate during my last photoshoot, they can hardly even believe it. I literally ended up eating more calories for my first breakfast than they did in their entire day—and yes, you heard that right. I had a first and second breakfast, like a god damn hobbit.
If you’re going to put on some muscle, you need to eat enough food. Your diet, and the specific ratio of carbohydrates to fats to proteins will change depending on a number of factors, but a good place to start is with Scooby’s Calculator. Simply enter in your height, weight, activity level, and goal—and voila! You’ve got an exact amount of calories to shoot for each day.
As much as I’ve beaten this dead horse already, I’m going to continue beating it until every single man in the world has a testosterone level of above 800 ng/dl. The fact of the matter is that the more testosterone you have, the easier it will be to build muscle and bulk up.
Most of us have low testosterone nowadays, thanks to all of the hidden testosterone destroyers in our society—so if you’re over the age of 30, I highly recommend looking into TRT. If you’re a young buck on the other hand, look to do everything you can to naturally improve your hormonal profile.
Do intermittent fasting on your off days. Yes, intermittent fasting does increase testosterone and lower estrogen, but if you’re a hardgainer and do it on your lifting days, you’ll have an even harder time putting on weight. Avoid foods that destroy your testosterone levels, and eat foods that are high in saturated fat.
Get enough sleep, drink enough water, supplement with a good multi-vitamin, and consider adding some more Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin D into your diet. I have an entire section in “Body of an Alpha” on how to recover properly so that you can improve your hormonal profile. It’s that important.
That being said, don’t become a fucking evangelist. Yes, alcohol lowers your testosterone, but it’s okay to have a drink with a girl every once in a while. Learn to balance your testosterone-infused alpha male lifestyle with having fun, kicking back, and relaxing like a high achiever.
The day that I discovered P.H.A.T. training, everything changed for me. Before then, I’d been doing what every other hardgainer does—following advice from bodybuilders, doing what personal trainers say, and spending a ridiculous amount of money on scammy, overpriced online programs loaded with bunk advice.
Yet, no matter how much “Starting Strength” I did, I couldn’t seem to get the physique I wanted. Yeah, sure—I got bigger, but I looked like a damn T-Rex. My legs were fricking huge and I had absolutely no biceps, triceps, or back muscles to show for it.
Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training, or P.H.A.T. for short, was a game changer for me, though. Suddenly I found myself blowing past plateaus, stacking on plate after plate after plate, with seemingly no end. Using PHAT training, I was able to put on 30 pounds of muscle in just a few months. That’s how powerful it is.
The whole premise behind PHAT training is that it combines strength training and mass training, into one whole, congruent routine—this is incredibly revolutionary. Most people follow a routine that’s either exclusively strength-based or exclusively mass-based, yet with PHAT training, you get the best of both worlds.
My entire Body of an Alpha routine is based off of this principle. It’s literally my holy grail of muscle building, and has been the cornerstone of my workout routine for longer than I can remember. Like it or not, if you’re a hardgainer, a routine based off of the PHAT principle is likely your best shot at getting the physique of Zeus.
One thing I learned early on in my “skinny to buff” journey was that muscle shakes are your absolute best friend. I know of no other way to pack so many calories, so much muscle, and so many nutrients in such a small amount of time, than by drinking mass-gaining shakes.
Now of course, these aren’t for everyone—if you’re an “easy gainer” or even a “sort of hard gainer” I don’t recommend you go this far. Yet for those of us who have to eat like a horse just to break even? Mass gaining shakes are a gift from the aesthetic Gods above (thank you Zyzz).
If you’re a hardgainer, and you’re serious about going from skinny to buff, I recommend you buy some sort of blender and drink one of my famous “protein packed mass shakes” every single day after you workout, or for breakfast if you’re short on time.
I use the NutriBullet, because it’s compact, super powerful, and really easy to clean—all in all, it probably takes me about 10 minutes to make my protein shake, drink it all, and clean up the blender so it’s ready to use again. There’s a few key components that you generally want to have in your shakes:
Generally speaking you want to stick with chocolate whey protein unless you have a specific recipe that you’re following, because chocolate is the easiest to match with other stuff. One simple shake that I frequently make is comprised of a frozen banana, 2 tbsp of almond butter, a cup of oats, 5 grams of creatine, and 2 scoops of whey protein—this adds up to around 700 calories.
You can also add some of Rich Piana’s Mutant Mass, which is my favorite mass gainer, if you want to REALLY pack on the pounds. Just one mutant mass shake has a whopping 1,100 calories, and if you mix it with the ingredients I mentioned above (replacing the whey protein, of course) it’ll add up to a hulking 1,600 calories.
As much as it sucks to hear this, building muscle will take a lot of time. “B-b-but Jon, didn’t you gain 30 pounds of muscle in just 3 months?” someone might ask. Yes, I did—but that’s because I knew exactly what to do, which I outline in my eBook.
Will you be able to put on 30 pounds of muscle in 3 months? Maybe, if you know exactly what to do—but even so, it took me YEARS to learn how to build muscle properly. Despite all of the meathead stereotypes out there, lifting is actually a science, and so you have to treat it like on.
I was able to put on that much muscle in such a short period of time, because I knew EXACTLY how to boost my testosterone levels, EXACTLY how much to eat, EXACTLY what workout routine to do, EXACTLY how to do it, EXACTLY how much to sleep, and all of the other 10 million things you need to do properly if you want to get jacked.
…it also didn’t hurt that I knew what unexpected benefits you get from being jacked, because I’d been jacked before. Every time I struggled with getting out of bed or pumping out that last set, I would think of all the girls who’ve complemented me on my body before, and all of the ridiculous benefits you’ll get when you go from skinny to buff.
Even so, it took time. Everything in life will take some effort, nothing worthwhile will come easy. It’s taken me years to get to my current level of fitness knowledge; hours of pouring over studies, reading through textbooks, scouring forums, and learning from the best of the best. But if you can do it? My God, more power to you.
In conclusion, there’s a ton of bullshit out there for guys who are trying to go from skinny to buff. Believe me, I know how frustrating it can be—I wasted hours and hours, literally YEARS of my life chasing stupid routines, following dumb advice, and going nowhere.
When you’re a hardgainer who’s trying to get jacked, you want to ignore most advice out there. Probably around 95% of advice in the fitness industry is just made up bullshit, or re-worked, re-packaged advice that we’ve known about for decades since the 1970’s.
I’ve made the journey from skinny to buff, and believe me, it’s not an easy one—it will take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Yet if you’re willing to put in that work, and pay your dues, you’ll get the physique of Adonis…and the respect and attention that comes with it.
If you guys have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to shoot me a message down below—and, as always, I’ll see you next time.
Jon Anthony is a world renowned dating coach and the founder of Masculine Development, a website specifically dedicated to helping men improve their personal, dating, and financial lives. After years of training men how to attract women, build muscle, and make more money, Jon created the "7 Strategies" program to help kickstart your journey to success. Jon firmly believes that every man should have control over his own life, and he created Masculine Development to share his passion with men who want success in all areas.