Muscle-building nutrition can be overwhelming at first. How much should you eat? What foods are considered “clean”? Why are paleo and vegetarian women both healthier than average despite having seemingly contradictory dietary restrictions? What supplements should you be taking? When should you be taking them? Do you even need supplements at all?
Luckily, nutrition can also be pretty simple if you focus on the fundamentals. There are just two factors that make the difference between gaining nothing or gaining half a pound of muscle over the course of the next week. But there are hundreds of things that make the oh-so-small difference between gaining 0.50 or 0.55 pounds of muscle. If you focus on the hundreds of small details you risk struggling very hard for progress that your scale won’t even notice.
This article is designed to help you go from gaining nothing each week to gaining half a pound each week. Keep in mind that building muscle becomes harder and harder as you become more and more advanced, so we recommend learning everything eventually, but there’s plenty of time for that later—once you’re already building muscle!
So. What are those two important factors? And how can you use them to consistently gain weight on the scale, get stronger, and build lean muscle?
We’ve given you a fair bit of information about why building muscle is so great, and also about why it can be so hard for naturally skinny women. At this point you might be thinking, okay, yeah, this sounds great—I want more curves, more muscle, and more strength—but how do I actually get started?
In this post we’re going to explain exactly how you can get started lifting, either at home or at a gym, and then give you a routine to follow for your first few weeks. If your diet is on point, you should also be able to gain 2–3 pounds of muscle while doing it!
If you’re naturally thin, keep in mind you’re immediately at odds with the mainstream. Only 3% of people are trying to gain weight, and the majority of that 3% are probably men. You’re such a minority that basically everything you read about fitness will be wrong. Not necessarily wrong for your friends, but certainly wrong for you.
Most of fitness information or advice is either weight loss info in disguise, or exercise designed to improve the health of overweight people.
You might try the new trendy workout routine, try harder than everyone else, not get the results you want, and think that your genetics suck. Your genetics don’t suck, you’re just doing a fitness-ey program designed for people who want to lose weight and hoping that it will help you gain weight. Of course it won’t help you gain weight, but how on earth were you supposed to know that?
Someone who’s overweight probably should be on a treadmill, doing Insanity, or yoga. Overweight people have a really hard time with heart disease and diabetes and whatnot. Becoming more active and working to improve their fitness levels while burning some calories is exactly what they need.
As a result, a lot of thin women will turn to yoga, Zumba, running, Spin, etc. These seem like types of exercise that are designed to make you fit and toned. That’s not true.
These are types of exercise designed to make you fitter and smaller.
So how do you accomplish your goals in a way that suits your body type? That’s what this article is about.
You’ve got some serious goals. Some are fitness related, some aren’t. You know what you want to do, and you might even know how to do it… but you don’t quite feel like tackling it right now. Carpe Diem Cras—seize the day tomorrow. That’s what they say, right?
It’s not just you. It’s actually pretty normal to feel too tired to take on new challenges. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says women between the ages of 18 and 44 are nearly twice as likely as men to report feeling very tired or exhausted.
In another survey taken at a women’s health symposium, fatigue was rated as the number one and most common health concern. When asked why they thought they were tired, the five most common responses in order were: working both at home and at work, poor sleep, lack of time for themselves, lack of exercise, and financial worries (among a ton of other reasons).
Maybe you’ve got something in common with the women above, feeling overworked and like you haven’t had a decent sleep in weeks. Or perhaps you already feel amazing (right on!) and want to get even more out of your life.
Unfortunately, those “5 quick tips for an instant energy boost” articles likely won’t help with your energy woes. That’s just click-bait, not a solution that properly addresses the root of the issue.
We’re going to cover the three best research-backed ways to actually improve your own energy, wakefulness, alertness, and performance in the short and long-term. They might not be the sexiest or simplest solutions out there, but they’re very thorough, healthy, effective, and long lasting.
…but for fun, we’ll also share a few juicy sizzling-hot-but-still-evidence-based quick-action tips at the end of the article that actually work.
(Updated January 2018) In an era obsessed with getting smaller, we skinny folk, hardgainers, ectomorphs, string beans, babeshows, or whatever you want to call us naturally thin people—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.”
That “just eat more” advice would 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 rather naive. For most people, eating lots of food and gaining weight 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 us to eat more is as silly as us telling them, “Just eat less—duh.” That’s not going to solve any problems. In fact, if you go around telling people that, you’re probably going to get in a fight. (And if you’re going to go around getting in fights, it might help to build some muscle first. Luckily, that’s what this article is about.)
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, and what can you do about it?
(Updated March, 2015) I figure there’s no sense denying that when it comes to dating, love and relationships, well, physical attractiveness matters. We’re very visually perceptive and we infer a lot from how people look. Whether that’s right or wrong, that’s just how us humans work. The research clearly shows that whether or not people say they value physical attractiveness they still base their actions on it. Hell, even the people who truly believe that they don’t care about physical attractiveness still care about it just as much as everyone else when it comes down to who they actually date. (study, study)
These studies show that this is equally true for both men and women. Everyone places a great deal of importance on physical attractiveness. (Other very attractive traits include warmness and compassion, earning potential, etc, yet surprisingly these traits are seemingly far less important, at least at first.)
Is that the best way to pick a partner? Who knows. Probably not. However this isn’t an article about what we should find attractive, this is an article about what we do find attractive. Some of it might surprise you. Most people guess incorrectly about quite a bit of it. Just in case you disagree though, I’ll cite all my sources so that you can draw your own conclusions.
On that note, this article is long. I’ll understand if you don’t want to read the whole thing, so here’s a quick and simple trick to make yourself instantly sexier: have a drink. It will boost your attractiveness (to yourself) by 50%. This is called the reverse beer goggles effect, aka, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beer Holder. (study) Best of all, you don’t even need to have a real drink – the placebo effect is more than enough – you only have to think you’re having a real drink.
If you’re looking for a more wholesome and longer lasting aesthetic improvement, or perhaps an improvement that other people will notice too, don’t worry – that’s what the rest of this article is all about. This is an article about the biology and physiology of gut-level irresistible attraction and exactly what it looks like.
So let’s look into what’s actually optimally attractive so you can turn even more heads and drop even more jaws than you already do.