Illustration showing a skinny woman who can't gain weight.

The Skinny on Why You’re Skinny: Why It’s So Hard for Some Women to Gain Weight

In an era obsessed with getting smaller, we bananas, hardgainers, ectomorphs, string beans, or whatever you want to call our naturally skinny body type—we’re outliers. When it comes to fitness, at best we’ll find ourselves slotted into a footnote: “Oh yeah, and if you’re naturally skinny—must be nice—you’ve got a fast metabolism and stuff so, ya know, just eat more.”

Of all the issues skinny women run into, perhaps the most prevalent is find it hard to eat enough calories to gain weight. The common advice we get is, “Just eat more.” And that advice totally sucks. It might work fine for most people, but the fact that we aren’t most people is precisely why we’re being given that advice in the first place, and also why that advice is so naive. For most people, eating lots of food is second nature. If you tell the average woman to “just eat more,” she’d be able to. Hell, she’d probably even like it (until she got fat).

What most people don’t realize is that telling naturally skinny women to eat more is as silly as us telling an overweight person, “Just eat less—duh!” That won’t solve any problems. In fact, if you go around telling people to “Just eat less,” you may even get in a fight. (And if you plan on getting into fights, it might help to build some muscle first.)

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve realized there’s a lot more at play here than how much you eat. And you’re right. So what’s going on here? Why is it so hard for you to gain weight? And what can you do about it?

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Before and after photo showing a woman building bigger hips.

How to Get Bigger Hips Naturally to Improve Your Waist-To-Hip Ratio

If you’re a naturally skinny woman with naturally narrower hips, you might be wondering: is it even possible to get bigger hips? What’s all this talk about the waist-to-hip ratio? What’s the most attractive ratio? How can I improve my ratio naturally?

These are questions we get a lot. So inside this article, we’ll be talking about why so many women want to have wide hips with a small waist, what we can’t change, what we can change, and some action steps you can take today to quickly start adding inches to your hip measurement to immediately start improving your waist-to-hip ratio.

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How Much Muscle Can Women Build? And How Fast?

So you start lifting weights. How much muscle can you expect to gain in your first few months? How much weight should you be adding to the bar each week? And how big and strong can you become during your first year? What are good lifetime goals? Or maybe you’ve been lifting for a while and you’re wondering how strong you should be by this point.

Most women are trying to get toned, lose some fat, you know the deal. They don’t want to get too bulky. That might suit their goals just fine, but it’s going to make it almost impossible for them to gain much muscle and strength.

…But what if you’re willing to gain weight? What if you want “bulky” hips? What if you want to become strong? That changes things. We can do better. Much better. In fact, I have a feeling you’re going to be pretty amazed about what you can do even in just your first year of lifting.

So, to figure out how much muscle and strength you can expect to gain, let’s break the question down into two parts:

1. How much muscle can a naturally thin woman expect to gain?

2. How much strength can she expect to gain? 

Let’s dig into the science.

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Musclenog—The All-Natural Weight-Gainer Recipe

A few weeks from now, as you warm yourself by the hearth, you notice something growing tighter, firmer, bigger. Your living room is already packed full of merriment and there’s no room for anything more, least of all your growing stomach. But it is the holiday season—a time for feasting and family—and these things have been known to happen.

Will you need to undo a button?

If you’re worried that the answer may be “yes,” you may have stumbled upon the wrong blog.

No, it’s not your stomach. This is Bony to Bombshell. Something else is making your jeans feel tight. Something… good.

You flee from the room, knowing what’s about to happen. After all, you’d been warned. You see, I’m warning you right now, giving you plenty of time to prepare.

No, it’s not your stomach growing. It’s the rest of you. It’s everything but your stomach. And with every sip of your holiday musclenog, you can feel your clothing growing tighter. So you run, knowing that your jeans were never meant for a body this powerful. You also know that it will probably be the backside of your jeans that bursts first. That’s always the first place to burst.

You make it to your room just as your jeans are tearing open. You open your purse. You’ve got a new, larger, stretchier pair of pants ready for just this occasion. You slip them on, thanking Santa for getting you exactly what you wanted this year.

As you walk back down the stairs, a hush falls. You know what they’re thinking. You see the wonder and suspicion on their faces. How can a naturally thin woman grow so quickly? She can’t be real. Steroids? Implants?!

They flock to you, full of questions, desperate for their piece of this yuletide miracle.

“How did you do it?!”

“What’s your secret?!”

“Well,” you tell them, “It all started with this musclenog recipe I found on the Bony to Bombshell Blog.”

And yes, it’s true. In this article we’re going to give you an all-natural weight-gainer recipe that tastes like eggnog, rompope, pure power—whatever you want to call it. Not only will it allow you to build muscle at an alarming rate, it will also make it far easier to eat enough calories to gain weight. And it’s even seasonal!

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Warm Up With Purpose

Building muscle requires spending quite a bit of time under heavy weights. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, push-ups (or bench presses), hip thrusts, rows and chin ups all allow you to lift quite heavy, and they all work quite a lot of muscles at once, making them good foundational exercises in a good muscle-building program.

But the reality is that everyone who starts this program is setting sail from a different port. You will have your own unique strengths and weaknesses. You might be great at one of those lifts, but totally unable to do another. If you “train your weaknesses and compete with your strengths,” you can build substantial muscle while also shoring up your weaknesses.

That’s where warming up comes in. Warming up is good for helping you decrease your risk of injury and enhancing your performance through various mechanisms. It usually involves some sort of general aerobic component followed by some static stretching. While this warm-up can still be effective, this article will discuss how to make your warm-up way, way better.

While warming up is useful for getting your juices flowing, increasing body temperature, and getting your body ready for more intense work, the main purpose of warming up is to address your weaknesses and improve your lifting technique. That way you’ll soon be doing all your lifts with excellent technique. Once you can do that, whichever port you started at, the world will be your oyster.

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How to Do Push-Ups

In this push-up guide, I hope to outline a few reasons why push-ups are so hard, how to start doing push-ups as a beginner, how to correct any mistakes you might be making, and how to progress to more difficult variations.

The idea for this article came up one day when I was heading to the bathroom during a break in my university class. I heard music coming from one of the dance studios down the hall. It sounded like intense workout music, so there was a one hundred percent chance I was going to explore. Looking through the door, I was exposed to a group of people doing push-ups.

Since it was a musical theatre class, it was mostly made up of women. Everyone in this class was doing their best to execute the push up properly. However, they were struggling.

It makes sense that they were struggling. Hardly anyone is capable of doing a classic push-up properly on their first try, so if you’ve never been shown proper progressions, it is almost guaranteed that you will ingrain bad habits, and then even with plenty of practice, be doing them improperly for a long time to come.

I believe the push-up is essential because if you can do it correctly off the ground, it shows you have a great connectedness in your body. The push-up requires solid upper body strength, but more importantly, it’ll only look good if you can hold your entire body in a strong position.

That is not easy, but I will show you how to do it.

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The Best Muscle-Building Exercises For Women

One of the most common questions we get asked by women is something like, “What’s the best exercise to grow my small butt, hips, calves, thighs, arms, etc.?”

While there are tons of studies looking into what exercises activate the muscles the most, that’s just one factor that goes into deciding what exercises are the best for building muscle.

There are many things to consider. Some are more straightforward, like choosing an exercise that’s appropriate for your experience level.

Some are pretty complex though so there’s a good chance that you haven’t considered all of them. Stuff like including lifts with active insufficiency or passive tension is something hardly anyone knows to do but it can have a real impact on your results.

Below we share our illustrative infographic that highlights some of the best muscle-building exercises for women.

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Vegan Bulking: What Are the Best Plant-Based Sources of Protein?

If you eat a proper vegan diet, you can build muscle at full speed. You won’t be at any disadvantage at all. Vegan diets tend to be high in nutritious starchy carbs, and starchy carbs are amazing for muscle growth. Thing is, you also need to make sure that you’re eating enough protein. And getting enough protein can be hard. So let’s go over the best plant-based protein sources and strategies.

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Should Women Lift Weights?

Yes. You were designed to lift. So if you’ve been wondering if women—especially naturally thin women—should be lifting weights, then the answer is an emphatic yes.

There are exceptions, of course. Pregnant women need to take special precautions, for example. Always to talk to your doctor first before beginning any workout or nutrition program.

So you should be lifting weights. But why?

If you’ve ever been curious about the benefits of lifting weights, and if it’ll help you reach your goals, then this is the article for you. We cover 3 main areas: attractiveness, health, and lifestyle, and we’ll break things down a bit further.

And if the little lawyer in your head is already coming up with objections, don’t worry—we’ll respond to those extremely common fears too. You know, the ones about being scared of becoming too bulky or not knowing what to do in the gym. Or how to deal with being too tired/busy/lazy.

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There's Nothing Wrong With Being Thin, So Stop Editing Us

There’s this movement going on where people are trying to make it more socially acceptable to have a higher body fat percentage, proportionally thicker bones, shorter limbs and a larger waist. The photo above is a good example, where bulimia.com has taken 10 female video-game characters and transformed their physiques into what they feel better represents the average woman. These “realistic” makeovers have been shared to millions of people via BuzzFeed and HuffPo, among others.

Some people argue that these aren’t supposed to be average women, they’re supposed to be legendary action heroes. Due to their world class genetics and lifestyle focused on training, you could argue that them having a lower body fat percentage is more realistic.

That makes sense, but that’s not my issue with these makeovers. I don’t think the person doing the makeover was really concerned about what made sense for the fictional character, but rather what would have the best impact on the self esteem of her fans. That intention seems good, and if this can help people with bulimia feel better about their bodies, then this is great.

My issue is that this backlash against the thin ideal is making it seem like it’s wrong to be thin.

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