Skinny Transformations: A chat with Shane of Bony to Beastly

A while ago (ok, a lonnnnnnnnnng while ago – back in 2013, wow, time flies) I had a chance to sit down and e-chat with Shane, one of the main guys and creators of the Bony to Beastly program. I wanted to pick his brain and see what worked for him in his impressive real life skinny transformation from skinny to a muscular badass.

Shane’s real-world transformation was striking, because as I read his story — I felt that connection that us skinny guys have with each other. His struggles were the same kind of struggles that I was going through. When I first started working out back in high school, trying to gain weight on my skinny guy frame, I searched the internet high and low for success stories and to learn about how they did it. Real skinny guys, who had similar goals to me, and ultimately transformed their bodies into something more physically appealing and muscular. I’d use their transformation stories as personal inspiration for me to try to follow in their footsteps.

Well, here we go…

A real life skinny transformation.

Here’s part of Shane’s story.

Shirts do fill in a lot better these days
Shirts do fill in a lot better these days

Me: Thanks for taking time to chat, Shane. Looking back over the years, I’ve had intermittent periods of successfully gaining weight, but was never able to keep it on. I know that there are a few things I know now, that I wish I knew years ago.

What was your biggest mistake early on when you were skinny? If you could time travel back and give young-Shane one piece of advice, what would it be?

Shane: I would have also said stop trying to get more muscular “naturally”. By “naturally” I’m not talking about steroids or anything like that – I mean that I had this idea in my head that if I just swam more, played more sports, did martial arts, etc, that it would eventually bulk me up … naturally.

Me: I hear you on that one. I went through a phase that lasted like 4 months where I taught myself how to swim at gym at school, with hopes that if I swam an hour every day, I’d get an Olympic swimmer’s body with huge pecs and shoulders. I think I definitely ended up losing weight over those months, not surprisingly.

Shane: Yeah, lifting weights is way more efficient, way more effective, and has a pretty damn big payoff even when it comes to athletics (which I wasn’t even all that into in the first place) so oh man I would have been better off just lifting weights!

I felt like I was too skinny to lift weights though.

That sounds dumb … but that’s how I felt.

Pre muscular Shane. A skinny Shane + a muscle shirt = sadness
Pre muscular Shane. A skinny Shane + a muscle shirt = sadness

Me: I think that’s a pretty common way to feel especially for a skinny guy who’s just getting started in weight lifting. I remember getting my first gym membership in high school, not knowing the difference between a curl and a press down, but seeing really fit and muscular guys there pumping some serious iron. It was intimidating, yet inspiring at the same time. It provided all the motivation I needed at the beginning to hit the gym and try to transform my physique.

How do you stay motivated in the day-to-day grind in your goals for a skinny transformation?

Shane:  Hehe — I’ve got a whole community of guys who help me stay motivated! Most days I train with Jared and his wife, Michelle. We’ve got her lifting weights like a badass and loving it.

It’s also pretty easy to stay motivated when your energy levels are high. It took a while to feel the effects of being a healthier and more active dude … but I’m finally collecting all the energy rewards of putting all that energy in before, back when I was less fit and more lethargic. These days I’m always full of energy and kind of excited to run off to the gym and lift heavy things 🙂

I can genuinely say that these days I train because I enjoy it.

Me: You’re right. I always thought that I’d have less energy after working out, especially if it was a tough workout, and especially after a long day at work. But after I established a regular routine, I started to feel extra energy even if I had a grueling weight lifting session. I really felt the difference if I had to take a few days off from my regular routine due to work other other life stuff, because I’d feel like a slug and more lethargic.

A real world skinny transformation.
A real world skinny transformation.

There’s a lot of guys on the Bony to Beastly program that have had success, and smaller amount that haven’t.

What do you think were the keys to success for those skinny dudes that actually put on muscle?


Shoot first, ask questions later. Some guys buy the program, quickly skim through it and then head off to the gym. They come home, cook a beastly meal and read through it a bit more.

THEN they ask questions.

Those guys gain 3 pounds in their first week and then master the little details. Those guys figure out the details while they’re getting results, not as a cerebral procrastination method.

Questions do come up, and they are important. Very important. I mean, everyone is different and it really sucks awkwardly half-following a program and worrying that you’re missing out on a key piece of the pie.

Lots of guys want to understand absolutely everything before they even start though. I’m that type of guy, so I know how that is. And that’s a whole hell of a lot trickier, because the truth is that you can’t understand everything until you’ve started trying things. And once you start trying things you may even realize you don’t need to understand everything.

Me: I’m one of those guys too. I probably wasted about 2-3 weeks trying to read the program and ebook, and get everything down pat before I even started to lift a single weight. That was a mistake, in hindsight. Should have just jumped in!

When I was skinny, I used to be shaped like an egg
‘When I was skinny, I used to be shaped like an egg’

Shane: Absolutely. We realized that these guys were getting such rad results so we tried to replicate that attitude in everyone. For starters, we made a cheat sheet. It’s just a single page, but if you follow it you’ll build muscle. Then we’ve got the finer details in the eBook, and you can master that stuff as you go along. That stuff is super super important, but it shouldn’t delay or overwhelm people.

So I’m hoping now it doesn’t.

What’s on your workout song playlist?

Shane: On the way to the gym I listen to music that I think sounds kind of gritty and manly. It gets me in the mood to lift. Maylene, Danzig, Led Zeppelin, the Dead Weather. I’m a surprisingly nerdy guy … but with that stuff on everything just feels so badass.

I leave all that stuff in the locker though. I find headphones get in the way, plus I don’t like bringing my iPhone into the gym.

I train at 99 Sudbury, this sweet badass boutique gym here in Toronto, so the playlist varies. If David, the manager, is training then it’s usually some sweet old loud rock music. Right up my alley. If it’s peak hours (6pm or so) it’s often some of the newer more electronic stuff.

The struggle was real. Here I am with an old girlfriend that weighed more than me.
‘The struggle was real. Here I am with an old girlfriend that weighed more than me.’

You’re alone on a deserted island, and you can choose to do one and only one exercise (bodyweight or with one piece of equipment) What would it be and why?

Shane: Deadlifts.

Nothing builds a badass physique like a deadlift, and hey if I’ve got access to only one lift I’d better damn well choose one that hits pretty much every major muscle group. It’d keep my posture more or less in check, too.

Although there’s planks …

If I’m stuck on a deserted island and there isn’t much to do, it might be fun to go around planking things.

Do people still plank things? I suppose nowadays people twerk and wop.

Shane at 145lbs
Starting to gain a little weight at this stage.

 You just lost your job and you’re struggling to support the kids and pay rent, you can afford only one supplement. What would it be and why?


Probably whey protein. I’m broke after all, so that’d probably save me money on meat and dairy. A scoop of whey packs the same amount of protein as a chicken breast and it’s a whole lot cheaper. (Plus, as a skinny dude, it’s easier on the appetite.)

I sound like an infomercial.

Anyway, if I got it in a chocolate flavour or something I bet I’d be able to convince the kidlets to have some, too 😉

Cutting down from 200lbs to 180lbs
Cutting down from 200lbs to 180lbs

And finally…if you could give one message / words of encouragement to us fellow skinny guys in the world, what would it be?


Being naturally skinny can feel like a curse sometimes … but it’s not. I couldn’t be happier being an ectomorph. Most information out there is geared towards chubbier minded people, so it’s a little harder to learn how to do well by ourselves, but once you do I really think it’s the raddest body type out there. I think most of our members soon realize the same.

'FInally..I weight more than my mesomorphic friend'
‘FInally..I weight more than my mesomorphic friend’

Thanks again for taking your time and sharing your experiences, Shane!

Take home points / Summary of this long conversation:

  1. Being a skinny guy (‘ectomorph’) can feel like it’s impossible to gain the weight and muscle you want, but it’s definitely doable.
  2. Take action! Pick a workout program, jump in, and stick with it! Time is a valuable commodity. You won’t ever be able to get lost time back.
  3. Find out what motivates you. Some people do better in a group setting, working out with friends or family. Some people gather motivation from internal, rather than external factors. Use that motivation to get you through the daily struggle of being a skinny guy.
  4. Deadlifts = badass lift and exercise. Do them.

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