Whether it’s the bouncer at a club, your next MMA opponent, or even a guy looking to work in a set on the bench, you’ve probably done the ‘ol double-take.
“That guy is huge.”
You sure as hell wouldn’t mess with him. And you know for certain that he earns immediate respect the second he walks into a room — from guys (seething with envy) and girls.
How do you break out of the stereotypical “strong guy” mold and enter peak “big guy” territory?
Let’s review what’s considered a big guy and how to get that way!
Table of Contents
What Is Considered a Big Guy?
That “big guy” classification isn’t as much about weight as it is about to build.
For example, a guy who’s 5’10”, 200 pounds, and has 7% body fat will look intimidatingly strong. A guy who’s 5’5”, 200 pounds, and has 30% body fat is still big … but not big.
Generally, a big guy will be:
- 5’10” or taller (aside from wearing lifts, that’s unchangeable)
- 10-12% body fat (or less if you’re eyeing a six-pack & vascularity)
- 220+ pounds (assuming you’re 5’10” or taller, of course)
- Jacked (thick forearms, bulging traps, tight sleeves)
- Able to bench 1.5x, squat 1.75x, and clean 1.5x your bodyweight (big guys lift big)
Every inch, pound, and % body fat matters when you have a particular physique in mind. Think about the stats in terms of your frame and keep your focus on the muscle over the weight!
Eat … a Lot!
If you’re looking to achieve “big guy” status, you’re probably 20-50 pounds away (at minimum).
This is where plenty of guys make a dire mistake — shoveling food into their mouths to gain weight at any cost. “I’ll just convert the fat into muscle later” is a myth we must eliminate.
Doughy biceps could look big, but they’ll steal from the overall physique.
The trick here is prioritizing macros over calories (in a sense, at least). For healthy weight gain that translates into almost pure muscle mass, your diet should be:
- 40-60% carbohydrates
- 25-35% protein (at least 0.8g/pound of bodyweight)
- 15-25% fat
Tack on an extra 500 daily calories to your current diet to gain about a pound a week. Remember: If you burn more than you consume, your body lacks the fuel to build muscle.
Make healthy food replacements (like fat-free milk instead of whole milk), cut out those stubborn fat-gainers (translation: limit your alcohol), and make protein a staple in every meal.
Big guy status might be 6-12 months down the road, at least in terms of the weight goal.
If you’re already a “big” guy but merely looking to shred fat, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Stick to your current training program, and add in three cardio sessions per week.
But you’re probably here because your physique is … lacking.
Once you overhaul your diet and start fueling for gains, your next task is reevaluating your weightlifting routine to reflect:
- 65-85% of your 1RM on all compound lifts
- Two workouts per week, per muscle group (i.e., a PPL routine cycled through twice)
- 6-12 reps per set
- 60 seconds of rest between sets
- 3-6 sets per exercise
Adding 10% to your bench press won’t necessarily add 10% more mass to your pecs. But the only way to trigger noticeable growth (and become a big guy) is via progressive overload.
Max out on a 3×8 for the squat twice? Load up an extra 10% on the bar next time!
One more thing: Don’t be afraid to knock out a couple of heavy sets of five or fewer reps. These short but sweet sets might not be ideal for growth, though they spur more testosterone.
Being an all-natural bodybuilder means not taking illegal shortcuts toward your “big guy” goal. Legal supplements — like creatine, beta-alanine, and BCAAs — are absolutely fair game.
Now that you have your diet in check and a workout program designed for true gains, it’s time to introduce supplements to help nurture even more growth, like:
- Creatine (5+ grams a day): Multiple studies show that creatine can potentially double your muscle growth and boost muscle fiber size.
- BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids can ignite protein synthesis post-workout by as much as 22%, aiding with muscle repair.
- Beta-Alanine (or Pre-Workout): Beta-alanine can limit lactic acid build-up as you lift, helping to catapult your training volume and trigger eventual gains.
To break through the stigma: Your supplements don’t have to be gains-related.
For example, multi-vitamins, fish oil, and vitamin D3 can all improve your overall health, which can eventually give you more energy mid-workout.
Rethink the Ego
No matter how apparent your outward confidence is, you’re looking to become a big guy to make you feel comfortable in your own skin. But don’t let your ego overrun your training.
What do we mean by that? Well:
Don’t crank out half-ass reps with an extraordinarily heavy weight when you can’t handle it. On top of looking silly, awful form can cause severe injury and put you out of commission UFN.
Quit sidelining squats, deadlifts, and calf raises because you want a beefy upper-body. A truly big guy is massive from head-to-toe, and scrawny legs take away from the rest of your mass.
Do more than the major compound lifts. Touting a 200+ pound bench press is impressive, but you’ll need to directly target your smaller muscles (like the tris) to build all-around mass.
Stop looking for shortcuts. There’s no routine, diet, or supplement that’ll magically turn you into a big guy in six weeks — a genuinely big guy works hard for his physique, and so should you!
How Do I Become a Big Guy?
There’s far more to becoming a big guy than a few scoops of whey, a tried-and-true bodybuilding program, or 5g of creatine a day. In reality, you’ll need to:
- Eat more calories (500+ a day) and — ideally — 1g of protein per pound
- Work a hypertrophy routine (8-12 reps/set, twice a week) and prioritize progression
- Fuel your body with supplements that fuel growth and volume (creatine, BCAAs, BA)
- Kick your ego to the curb and understand there are no shortcuts
You won’t pack on 50 pounds of muscle overnight or jump from an L to an XL next week. But with a little dedication and eyes on the prize, you’ll go from being “strong” to “big.”