The Best Step-by-Step Muscle-Building Programs for 2018

(My Top Hand-Picked Mass Gain Programs for Beginners)

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2018

When starting a new muscle building program with the aim of packing on as much lean muscular weight onto your skinny-a** frame as possible, you basically have two choices:

  1. Design Your Own Weight Training and Nutrition Program
  2. Follow An Existing Pre-Made Program Created by a Pro

If you're new to the world of weight training and bodybuilding, and you want to get the absolute best and fastest results, the latter is ideal because it can take you a ton of time and effort to put together your own program from the ground up - one that is properly balanced and scientifically, effectively structured for mass building results, not to mention having a great nutrition plan that makes sure your training efforts aren't wasted (if you don't eat right, it doesn't matter how hard and smart you train).

There is a science to lifting and building new muscle mass, and many variables to take into account to compile an efficient program that takes into account your average muscle-building genetics ie hardgainer status..

Of course, you don't need to buy a program and if you do your homework you can create a suitable program for free, but if you're serious about getting the best, fastest results then it can be a wise move on your part that cuts your learning curve and removes a lot of guesswork, headscratching, and wondering whether your own program (or one given by a friend or personal trainer - which you should be skeptical of btw) is actually the best use of your time.

Over my 10+ years experimenting with various weight training methods and programs, and getting great results myself, the following are my top-rated recommended programs for newbies.

#1 Rated Muscle-Building Program for Beginners (2018)

The Body Transformation Blueprint

Recommended For: 

Skinny guys / hardgainers wanting to gain muscle as effectively as possible, 100% natural, and without getting fat in the process.

Author: Sean Nal

Format: In-Depth Workout, Meal & Supplement Plans

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

Program Summary:

Note: Read my full review of the Body Transformation Blueprint here which includes my own before and after pics with the program.

The Body Transformation Blueprint by Sean Nal is the full digital training + nutrition program I personally used myself shortly after first starting out in the gym.

Before randomly stumbling on this program online one fateful day I was trying a few different workouts in the gym and simply eating based on friends advice and advice in random forums online, but my results were super slow and average.

I was totally confused how the heck a super scrawny noob like me would ever pack on enough muscle mass to properly overhaul my physique and my life for the better.

After only a few weeks of saying "f*** it" and committing to giving 100% to this program, I started seeing way more noticeable results, and that initial success sparked more motivation to keep going.

After a few months, some peers were a little shocked at how drastically I had changed my physique in a relatively short period of time.

I had made some serious progress and credit goes to this super in-depth and invaluable science-backed program. As well as detailed workout and exercise guides and nutrition meal plans for different caloric intakes, it covers crucial details that make all the difference; details that the far majority of muscle gain programs I've seen are lacking.

I owe a lot of thanks to Sean Nal for kick-starting my career in health and fitness in a BIG way. Here are Sean's own results by implementing his perfected workout program:

You could say placing this program in the top spot is bias because it's the one I've used myself, but I've used, tested and studied many different programs over the years and this one genuinely stands out for the beginner looking to cut through all the noise and get to the real principles, routines and nutrition plans that have been proven to work time and time again for many guys around the world.

As for choosing between this program and Vince's program mentioned below - they're tough to split as both programs are similar and both based on effective, science-based principles and philosophies.

Both programs also include various specific workout and eating routines that have been proven to work for others time and time again over the years. Choosing between the two comes down to personal preference such as which teacher you relate to more or which program you feel you could stick to more easily.

Read my full review of this program here (and see my own before and after pics using this program), or check out the program at Sean's official site here.


  • The most comprehensive and detailed program for hardgainers of all the programs I've seen and used in my 10+ years in the fitness industry
  • On top of the main training guides and workouts you get super helpful supporting materials including good quality video instructions for all mass gain exercises, pre-made meal plans that you can tweak, full supplement guide, and more
  • Included email coaching with Sean if you need an expert opinion on your training or diet


  • Perhaps some will see it as a little pricey at $77, however personally I think it's more than worth it overall if you're actually going to apply it and change your life. Sure beats hiring an expensive trainer, too, and with this program you may not need a trainer ever again

About the Author

Sean Nal is a best-selling natural bodybuilding author and sought after coach who walks the walk having started as a scrawny hardgainer himself. He's helped countless of average, everyday guys from all over the world to transform their physiques forever through his articles, training program and YouTube channel.

#2 Muscle-Building Program

April 2018 Update:

Removed my 2nd recommended program as it no longer matches up to Sean's program above (IMHO) - Sean's program is the only one I can stand by and recommend wholeheartedly at this time. Yes there are other mass gain programs online  but I'd rather only list the absolute best of the best.