Some men came into this world with a full, natural build conducive to putting on muscle almost effortlessly. Others were not so lucky. Guys looking to build mass and get stronger come in all different shapes and sizes, but some in particular–the naturally skinny guys–are all bound by the same cause. Looking to make large changes and silence their critics, these guys hit the iron and barreled through their own obstacles like a freigth train.
NO. 5: COLIN KAEPERNICK
You’d be hard pressed to find a guy as tall and lanky as Colin Kaepernick during his baseball years. Pictured left, the young Kaep could have been blown off of the mound by a strong enough wind. When Colin was drafted into the NFL, critics bashed his physique, calling him “skinny” and “light.” The criticism fired Colin up, and he decided to put on some poundage to up his game and silence the doubters. Over the offseason, Kaepernick would walk into the Proactive Performance facility in Los Angeles, where he would train alongside the likes of other big guys like Clay Matthews and CJ Spiller. Now, it’s typical for Colin to train six days a week for 4-5 hours each day during the offseason. The bulk of his regimen includes traditional weight training plus explosive resistance band movements. One of his favorite exercises is the single-leg dumbbell romanian deadlift. Add in a high protein diet, Colin is the shredded athlete you see today. Colin’s impressive gains even worried his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, who ironically told Kaep not to gain “too much muscle.” The primary focus of Colin’s training has been to build strength without the loss of speed and agility, and the mentality has served him well–we’ve all seen those gazelle-like dashes out of trouble that Colin has made his signature move on the field.
NO. 4: BRANDON LILLY
Brandon Lilly is one of the biggest, baddest pro powerlifters out there. Known for developing the Cube Method for strength training, Lilly owns a raw 3 lift total (squat, bench, deadlift) in excess of 2,000 pounds. The PR crushing beast has come a long way—the 20’s version of Brandon (pictured left) is almost too hard to comprehend. Along the way, Lilly began to train at the famed Westside Barbell Gym under the watch of legendary powerlifter Louie Simmons. During heavy training cycles, Lilly will eat in the neighborhood of 7,000-8,000 calories per day. Brandon Lilly’s numbers, diet, and transformation are just hard to wrap your head around.
NO. 3: TOM HARDY
From fighting against Batman as one of pop culture’s most fearsome supervillains, to an ex-Marine MMA warrior, Tom Hardy has always been able to pack on huge slabs of mass. To bulk up, Hardy prefers the traditional compound movements like the squat, bench and deadlift accompanied by a massive diet of nearly 4,000 calories every day. Although generally not recommended for building mass, Tom pounded down tons of liquid calories such as shakes with ice cream, milk, and peanutt butter, and he advocates that you should “eat pizza whenever you can.” Maybe not the greatest advice, but hey, he did what he had to do to get big for his roles, and the finished product on-screen is still very impressive.
NO. 2: DWIGHT HOWARD
“Intimidating.” “Towering.” “Unsettling.” Words that some have used to describe Dwight Howard’s presence on the court. Howard got a serious reality check when Charles Barkley told him to “bulk up.” Howard had always dedicated his free time to the weight room, and getting into top physical shape. Now he has a 365lb bench press to show for it, which Howard cites as his favorite lift. For Howard, weight training has become a non-dispensable method for staying on the court and injury-free. Standing tall at 6’9″ and moving with 265lbs of mass, Howard has become one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the NBA.
NO. 1: HAFTHOR BJORNSSON
Whether you know him as “The Mountain,” or as World’s Strongest Man runner-up, chances are that you’ve been either frieghtened or awe-inspired by the behemoth size of Hafthor Julius Bjornsson. Known simply as “Thor,” among Strongman circles, Bjornsson is the mother of all skinny to huge transformations. Thor started his journey as a lanky basketball player. After a jaw-dropping 200lb transformation in two years, Bjornsson now stands at 440lbs. His potein intake is through the roof–Thor routinely eats roughly 2 pounds of meat with every meal. Bjornsson’s transformation has afforded him the opportunity to compete both in the World’s Strongest Man and international Strongman competitions, as well as an acting career. To show for it, he holds the titles of strongest man in Iceland and 3rd strongest man in the world.