Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a boom in the popularity of fitness. This, combined with more interest in looking good on social media, means most people do wanna build some extra muscle!
Not only does it look great, but it’s also pretty healthy as well. But what if you’ve always been skinny?
Well, the good folk over at Bony to Beastly say they have you covered.
I’ll be the judge of that…
About the Creators: Shane Duquette, Marco Walker-Ng, & Jared Polwick
As a trio, these three naturally skinny men designed the Bony to Beastly program with one goal: helping skinny guys gain muscle. They accomplished this goal in their endeavor, seeing as they’ve helped plenty of men gain muscle mass over the years, including everyday folk to even the Canadian rugby team.
Their work has since been referenced by:
- Medical News Today
- WHYY (NPR)
- Psychology Today
- ZME Science
- Big Think
Shane Duquette is a designer on the team, but he found a passion for fitness after gaining 55 lbs over 24 months at a stable body fat level.
Marco Walker-Ng is where fitness science comes from. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences from the University of Ottawa, but he’s also a registered PT and can legally give nutritional advice. A lover of fitness through and through, he aims to help as many as he possibly can.
Jared Polwick is in charge of tech and design, but he’s also done a dry run following the program and has had great success doing so.
Other members of the team include Steve M (Bulking Coach), Sunny S (Customer Support), and Daniel K (Beastly Ambassador).
Bony to Beastly Bulking Program Overview
The first thing you need to know is that the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program is not like the typical programs we cover on this site. Gone are the days of building a program of an influencer or saying one person had success with this program.
No, this program was constructed by numerous experts and doesn’t make empty promises. They do make plenty of promises, though, and here’s how they plan to deliver:
- Fitness level: Beginner
- Duration: No specification
- Workouts per week: 3 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 60 – 75 minutes
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Build muscle
The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s no specified time for you to complete the training program. Unless I’m mistaken, you could do this program for as long as you need.
As you’ll come to learn, the program is split into phases that take as long as you need them to. Why? Well, they want you to feel ready before moving on to the next phase!
The program is split into 4 distinct phases:
Phase 0: The Newbie Phase
The newbie phase is specifically designed for those who have little to no experience when it comes to free weights. This is the phase where you’ll get to know your body and learn how muscles move and interact with one another. A great focus is placed on short rest periods and high-intensity supersets (problem #1).
Phase 1: The Brute Phase
The brute phase is supposedly made up of “brute” exercises, like push-ups, goblet squats, etc. The focus shifts from lighter weights and shorter rest periods to heavier loads, fewer reps, and longer rest in between.
Phase 2: The Iron Gut Phase
The iron gut phase (weird name, but okay) is more “normal” when compared to what regular folks do in the gym. There’s more emphasis on heavier compound lifts before moving on to more isolated movements. Apparently a phase most love!
Phase 3: The Mass Hound
The mass hound is another odd name but essentially is just the same as phase 2 — just you’re different. You’re more confident in your abilities, and you’re more capable than before.
Phase 4: The Powerbuilder
The PowerBuilder (powerlifter + bodybuilder) is an amalgamation of doing higher load training (powerlifting) with higher volume (bodybuilding) training to get the best of both worlds (problem #2).
As you can see, it’s pretty darn comprehensive! So, without further ado, let’s break the workout program down to its core and see if it’s actually worth it!
Bone to Beastly Details
First off, you’re met with various PDFs you have to download, and unlike other programs you might find, there are no videos with this one. I hope you’ve got your reading glasses!
“The Quick Start”
As you might know at this point, you have to do a lot more than just lifting to actually get results. You have to diet, you gotta rest, you gotta destress, and you have to do so much that the situation can get overwhelming!
Once you nail those things, you’re well on your way, according to the Quick Start PDF. The first things they require you to do are to take a few measures:
- Take some before pictures. The classic relaxed poses and then a few flexed ones as well. This is so that you can see how much progress you make, not only weekly but also as a whole.
- Take you before measurements. It’s really important to focus on gaining inches around the chest, arms, and thighs while avoiding inches around the abdomen.
- Starting weight should be recorded so that you can actually see how much weight you gain per week and over the course of the entire program.
Lastly, they’d like you to introduce yourself to The Community. The community is a place where everyone who bought the program has the ability to communicate and discuss their progress. It isn’t a must; they’re perfectly clear about that.
The Science of the Program
Then, we start getting into some actual science. I did tell you to bring your reading glasses, right?…
Let’s look at some of the claims they make early on and give a verdict on these:
Training your muscles three days per week is the minimum amount required to maximize your rate of muscle growth.
This is not technically true, but it’s also somewhat correct. Training three times a week is incredibly good for beginners, sure, and it is probably the minimum that’s required (again, genetics matter), but it’s certainly not the best. You’d probably train 7 times across two weeks for the “most optimal” full-body results.
You can bulk just fine without tracking your calories.
This is said right after a long paragraph about hunger being poor and digestion having you feel full and lethargic. I disagree wildly with this statement, seeing as to maximize results, you need to consume a lot of calories consistently! For reference, hard gainers can end up losing 5 lbs in a weekend if they only eat when they’re hungry.
Women would walk a couple of miles to where they could gossip and gather berries.
That’s pretty sexist.
If you can’t add weight or repetitions to your lifts for two or more weeks in a row, you need to adjust something.
This is 100% accurate! Finally, an online community that focuses on the things that matter, the things that’ll actually make you better. If you fail to actually add load or increase the number of reps you do from one week to the next, you’re not eating or sleeping enough. Or your volume is too high (which is one of the major flaws we noticed with the Time-Volume Training Program).
So, they’re by no means perfect with their science, but they’re damn near close to it.
What’s In the First PDF?
Moving on to what the first PDF actually entails, it’s a whole lot of information to get you started. While it’s all spectacular information and exactly what you need to get started on your journey, it’s way too much to comfortably read in one sitting — even for me.
The lifting part of the introduction is good. It includes a lot of information that the average new lifter needs to hear — and even more! Again, it’s a bit much to take in, and there are certain things that maybe aren’t flawed, but they aren’t as concrete as they claim them to be. Otherwise, it appears to be good.
Now, the diet…
As you might expect, it starts off by explaining what a “hard gainer” is and references studies that show why certain individuals burn more calories than others. This is purely genetic, mostly going to be determined by your thyroid function.
The diet section is quite vast, covering a great deal of things, including:
- Introduction to macronutrients and the roles they play
- How to eat for muscle gain
- Which foods do better in a bulk and which do worse
- Bulletproofing your gut for optimal digestion
- How to avoid the regular struggles of bulking
Overall, the diet section is perfectly on point. One or two things aren’t mentioned, like how carbohydrates could result in better gains when compared to fats, but that could be seen as “too advanced,” so I’ll give them a pass.
One of the last sections, of course, is supplements!
Let’s see what they have to say about these powders.
Surprisingly, they’re on point once again! They recommend five supplements, namely creatine, protein, mass powder, nitric oxide boosters, and caffeine. These are all supplements that have been tested and stood the test of time.
We end the PDF with a quick and easy guide on how to cut. If you didn’t know, it’s almost compulsory for you to “cut” the fat off after a bulk to reveal the muscle underneath — or to prime yourself for another weight gain program.
But enough about the damn introduction PDF! Are the workouts themselves really hard enough for you to build muscle?
As mentioned, each of the four phases differs slightly from one another, and so do the lifting techniques. Thus, we’ll have to look at each section individually to decide what’s what:
Phase 0: The newbie phase is rather high-paced. You won’t be taking long rests, and there’s a bunch of work to do regardless. Your goal should be learning how to do the movements, hence, why you’d think you get longer rest periods.
But no. Even though the goal clearly indicates that you need to learn good form, they have you huffin’ and puffin’ for air. You’ll be doing supersets and giant sets exclusively.
This makes it hard for you to learn because, well, you’re tired all the time. Ideally, you’d do straight sets that give you plenty of rest between sets.
The idea is to learn a movement, not train your lungs! And yet, they also advocate for you to practice progressive overload.
This seems a bit too much for someone completely new. It’d be better if the focus of Bony to Beastly was only to build the motor patterns needed for heavier lifting phases.
How do you drive fast and economically at the same time? You can’t.
Phase 1: The brute deviates from phase 0 in the sense that both the exercises and rep goals change. Firstly, the exercises change from more “introductory” exercises to more advanced ones. The reps and sets are still the classic “3 x 10,” which is kinda disappointing, even at phase 1, really.
One thing to note is that the volume does increase as the weeks go on.
(I know I mentioned that you could spend as much time in a phase as you feel needed, but they do have some guidance on that subject.)
The volume increases slowly as the weeks go by, ramping up not only your ability to adapt to stress but also (potentially) increasing your muscle mass.
Phase 2: The iron gut, the reps get harder, the reps get fewer, but the sessions are tougher than ever. Apparently, this is one of the more popular phases in the program. You’ll be doing more “strength” movements, such as RDLs, chin-ups, bench presses, etc.
A great focus is also placed on building a strong core. According to them, thinner guys often have skinnier torsos, which can lead to some issues regarding core stability.
This is true, but there are various gymnasts with tiny waists who can do planches all day. They just have a stronger core, and if you’re skinnier, you have less “leverage” in the gym to move the weight.
The bulkier you are, the more cushioning there is, making everything easier. So, best get to eating. In fact, this is one of the reasons we lose so much pushing strength while cutting — less cushion for pushing.
Phase 3: The mass hound is literally just “more” of phase 2. The reps drop ever so slightly (barely, to be honest), and you’re encouraged to really go for weight. You’re also advised to make sure each and every rep is as good as you can get to ensure you stay injury-free.
Training this heavy and this close to failure does increase the risk of injury, sure. However, if you’re aware of how your muscles feel and perform, you should be good.
Phase 4: The PowerBuilder is, as the name suggests, where you combine the strength training of a powerlifter with the volume training of a bodybuilder. This has gained popularity in recent years, especially after lifters like Ben Pollack and Dorian Yates lifted in a manner similar to this.
This is a relatively good “plan” that runs into one problem: they claim they aren’t looking to be a bodybuilder or strength athlete. Yet, they’ve been training like these athletes the whole time.
And now they’re combining them?
The true goal here is muscle size through muscle strength. You don’t need to do the big three (squat, bench, and deadlift) to gain size. Except for the squat, these have extremely poor mechanics for building lean muscle size.
The bench press doesn’t draw the arm across the body as dumbbells would, and deadlifts are just all over the place. Do you put them on back day or leg day?
Overall, the training plan is actually really good — a solid 8 – 9/10. And the missing points are just because I’m anal about training, and if you market something as “the best way to gain muscle on the internet,” then you best deliver.
The other big problem is that it’s just too much. Too much information, too much overload, and way too much for someone to learn in a day of reading. Videos of people explaining all these factors would be so helpful.
Other than these small issues, it’s a perfectly good training plan.
As you might expect, the plan does come with a fair selection of extras that make it even more robust. These extras include:
- Gear advice. A great list of lifting gear they believe could help you as well as links to where to purchase these products.
- A gym guide on how to build your own gym at home. Specifically formatted with this plan in mind, no doubt, the guide teaches you which “parts” of the home gym are more essential than others.
- An Excel sheet for you to track your lifts on. Included on this sheet are videos and a link to the forum site. There, you can post and discuss content with others who are following the plan as well.
- A FAQ section (for obvious reasons).
Overall, the whole plan is really comprehensive, and while it’s a bit much to take in compared to an app like Freeletics, it’s still really good.
4 Bony to Beastly Program Pros
- It’s a really simple plan with good and clear instructions on what to do and when to do it. Very little is left to wonder, and all the answers are laid out for you — if you can find them, that is.
- It includes an introduction phase known as Phase 0. This is a brilliant idea, as it allows the person to get to know their own body and what training actually feels like. I’ll touch on this again in the cons section, but it’s a nice idea, it’s just executed wrongly.
- The nutritional plan is rather spot-on. And I do mean that. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an online fitness plan with such detailed information about how to eat and how not to.
- The focus is on improvement through adding reps, sets, and loads. While it’d be better to focus on just reps and load, adding volume is still a somewhat effective method for increasing muscle size.
3 Bony to Beastly Program Cons
- The newbie phase is done wrong. They have you do a bunch of supersets with little rest. This is counterintuitive to what the newbie phase is about! You should be well-rested before your next bout because when is it easier to learn something — when you’re well-rested or when you’re tired?
- Powerbuilding doesn’t really work all that great when you have a singular goal. And sure, you could argue that strength is important, and it is — but to a skinny guy? The goal for this entire plan is packing on sheer size. There’s no reason to squat, bench, and deadlift because there are better exercises for pure size. So why even try to train like a powerlifter? Plenty of bodybuilders are dirty and strong (insert video of Kai Greene incline barbell pressing 4 plates per side… Yeah, “muscles are all for the show”).
- It’s too much info at once. I understand you purchased this program and that you have to learn a lot of information, but damn! This article itself took 3 days to type because they just give so much information that it’s overwhelming. Videos and more sections would be so much easier to digest.
The last point is a bit anal and doesn’t actually reflect anything “wrong” with the plan itself but rather with the method of delivery. With two massive e-books for you to read and digest, you realize just how much information there is.
It takes normal individuals years to learn all these tricks. A good example of this being done right is the videos done by Dr. Mike Israetel.
He breaks the “bulking” protocol into 10 smaller videos, each around 7 – 10 minutes long, and there are notes on the screen already summarized. This is the only real change I would be desperate to see in this plan.
That said, the plan is still pretty darn good, and it’s one of the few programs I’ve rated a 5 out of 5. (Check out my review of Jake Wilson’s Project Mass for another near-perfect plan!)
Bony to Beastly Bulking – Final Thoughts
I’ll be completely transparent here: the Bony to Beastly Bulking Program is so good that it kinda made me angry. Everything is covered and in great detail as well!
Nothing is left to question:
- You learn the basics of nutrition without them trying to sell you supplements that you don’t need.
- You’re taught how to lift with clear instructions on the form, tempo, rest periods, and volume.
- You’re informed that progression is the only way forward. To have what you’ve never had before, you should be willing to do something you’ve never done before.
- A bit of tough love is often needed for skinnier guys. Just like huskier men, you got handed the short end of the stick with poor genetics. Get over it, and figure it out.
That said, for all its glory and ability to teach you everything you need to know, the program is not without fault:
- The biggest issue to me was just sheer size (no, the irony is not lost on me). I’ve trained various guys wanting to gain weight, and this can easily be summarized as “eat more, use more weight, sleep more, and just do more.” It’s obviously a bit more complicated than this, but man, they really went for it.
- Following up on the first point, they went for it too hard. Too much information is spilled into the lap of the consumer. This is really overwhelming, and unless this person has weeks to spend reading (and studying), they simply won’t follow or retain all the info given.
- Some of the lifting patterns or techniques are a bit flawed, specifically the introduction phase, which has you doing superset after superset. But it’s also a learning phase. But it’s also a phase to get stronger. What? That’s too much. I’d much rather have a client do 1 – 2 weeks of 6 – 8 reps (not heavy) to learn the motor movements of basics and the heavier exercises. I’d even have them train 4 – 5 times a week because practice is needed.
- The power-building phase is also something that might not fit entirely. Again, it’s hard to do two things fully at once. Identify one, and focus on it wholly. To quote Ron Swanson, “Don’t half*ss two things, whole *ss one thing.” Either focus on getting strong or getting big. You’ll naturally achieve the other, but as a consequence — not a goal.
With all this said, I’m still massively impressed with this plan.
There are virtually zero other plans online that have the ability of this one. No one is as honest, no one is as transparent, and no one is as clear with instructions (add videos, guys, please!).
That said, this is definitely for beginners. This is not a plan someone with years of experience will benefit from. However, someone with years of experience is probably not so skinny anymore, and you really can’t fault a plan if it has a target audience.
If you’re new, you know nothing about lifting, and you want to gain a decent amount of size, I’d say go right ahead and buy this plan. At least for the first year, this plan will serve you well enough. It doesn’t need refining, as it’s perfectly in line with its promises. However, I wouldn’t follow this plan for more than 1 – 2 years.
And you have the ability to do that (within reason). They mention bulking and cutting phases, but they do leave out maintenance phases, unfortunately. A maintenance phase is simply a time period where you aren’t looking to gain or lose weight.
Not only does this stop you from yo-yo dieting, but it also gives you breathing room to live a bit. It’s highly advised you take these every now and then. Something to take into consideration if you plan on following their entire philosophy.
All in all, it’s still (probably) the best online plan I’ve ever come across.
No lies, no BS, no upselling. Just calories, weights, and progress — as it should be.
Rating: 5.0 out of 5