Skinny Vs Muscular: Which Is Better?

Skinny vs muscular

When it comes to physical appearance, many people prefer a strong muscular frame vs a thin and skinny appearance. In this post, I share my personal experience on whether it’s better to be skinny or muscular.

Generally speaking, it is better to be muscular. Muscle mass often correlates with better health, physical performance, and attraction. However, there are also downsides to being too muscular or having an overly shredded body.

Keep reading to find out why i think it’s better to be muscular (speaking as an ex-skinny guy), why to keep your gains in moderation, and the ideal body composition for skinny guys to aim for.

Find out which i found to be better, based on personal experience being skinny vs bulky muscular vs lean and ripped.
My credentials- this post is based on my experience as someone who has been thin skinny, bulky muscular, and lean muscular.

Key Points

  • Being muscular has many health, functional, and aesthetic benefits compared to being skinny.
  • But gaining too much bulk can also be a physical and performance hindrance.
  • Likewise, being too shredded is unsustainable and often affects your mood and energy levels
  • As a beginner, a good place to start is by building your first 10 lbs of muscle and then deciding to continue or stop your muscle gain journey.

Why It’s Better To Be Muscular Vs Skinny

I've been skinny and also muscular.
Generally speaking, it’s better to be muscular vs being skinny.

Before my muscle transformation, I was your typical thin and skinny guy on the block.

In my experience, here are some of the benefits of being muscular and why it’s good to have some lean muscle mass vs being skinny:

1) Aesthetically attractive to the opposite sex

Generally speaking, the opposite sex prefers a body that is muscular vs one that is skinny. The former is considered to be more aesthetic. This applies to both males and females. Why? It comes down to societal norms which have historically valued strong physical attributes, particularly in men! I conducted a literature poll to prove this (you can find the details later in this post).

2) Greater power and strength

Studies and scientific reviews have shown consistently shown a correlation between muscle size and strength.

Heavy weight training causes micro-tears to form in your muscles. The subsequent repair response causes your muscles to become bigger and stronger.

As a result, muscular people often have better power generation, strength, and endurance compared to skinny people. I say “often” because you can also be skinny and strong at the same time.

Increased strength translates into better sporting performance and also benefits daily movements such as lifting, pulling, and carrying.

Other than aesthetic benefits, increased power and strength are one of the most common reasons why people work out, and why skinny guys should start gymming.

3) Muscle protects joints

Being muscular comes with a wealth of health benefits. A 2018 study found an association between weak quadriceps muscles in the legs and an increased risk of knee pain. This makes sense when you consider that muscles insert directly onto, surround, and/or support your joints.

4) Increased bone density

A scientific review has found numerous associations between resistance training (i.e. weight lifting) and improved bone health. Resistance training induces stress on your bone cells which forces them to adapt by getting stronger. Improved bone health provides benefits for skinny people in sports as well as in general health.

5) Higher metabolism

Most of us could do with burning more fat, especially overweight or skinny-fat people. And that’s exactly what muscle does. It’s metabolically active tissue which means it burns calories even at rest. This can help reduce the risk of storing excessive unhealthy body fat when you go on the occasional binge (as most of us are all too familiar with!).

6) Improved athletic performance

It’s rare to find any sportsperson who doesn’t dedicate some time to the weight room. Weight lifting builds muscle. And bigger and stronger muscles can help you get a competitive edge over your opponents in many sporting games.

7) Increased insulin sensitivity

This 2011 study suggests muscle mass can help your body control blood glucose levels by improving insulin sensitivity. In layman’s terms, muscle helps you to burn glucose fast. This can reduce your risk of glucose staying in your blood and glucose-related disorders such as diabetes.

8) Increased longevity

This 2014 study found a correlation between higher amounts of muscle mass and increased longevity. Yup, muscular people seem to live longer than skinny people!

Takehome Message:

There are many aesthetic and functional benefits associated with being muscular vs being skinny. Put simply, having muscle mass matters when it comes to appearance, athletic performance, AND general health.

If you’re interested in starting your transformation today, you can check out my complete guide on how to go from skinny to buff.

Muscular Vs Skinny Physique: Which Is More Attractive?

Women are generally more attracted to muscular men compared to skinny men. Likewise, men are generally more attracted to toned women compared to thin women. Moderation is key, however, and neither gender like too much muscle mass in the opposite sex.

Asking Girls If They Prefer Muscles or No Muscles
You can check out Joe Fazer’s public poll to find out what body type girls prefer on men! Skip to 6:02 for the results.

In support of Joe’s poll, I turned to two public forums to create my own study:

  • Girlsaskguys– do girls prefer skinny or muscular guys?
  • Quora– are men more physically attracted to skinny or muscular women?

Here are the compiled opinions from women on whether they prefer skinny vs muscular men:

Reddit and quora poll shows women find muscular men more attractive than skinny men.

The majority 67% of women prefer men who have a visible and noticeable amount of muscle on their bodies, without being overly bulky. Brad Pitt in Fight Club is a good example of this type of lean and muscular physique. It’s the classic athletic look.

Here are the compiled opinions from men on whether they prefer skinny vs muscular women:

Reddit and quora poll shows men find toned women more attractive than skinny women.

Men seem to have a more varied preference towards the ideal body shape in women. The majority 62% of men preferred women who are toned and fit OR curvy without being excessively muscular. Tennis icon Maria Sharapova is a good example of the former and actress Scarlett Johansson is a prime example of the latter.

Despite the slight differences in the ideal male and female body shape, one thing is clear:

Being too skinny is generally NOT considered to be attractive.

Both men AND women seem to be attracted to a bit of muscle and curves in the opposite sex!

If you’re skinny, you may be interested in my other post to see how long it takes to go from skinny to muscular.

Disadvantages Of Being Too Muscular And Bulky

What a bulky muscular physique looks like.
There are disadvantages to being muscular and bulky.

So far, I’ve explained the positives of being muscular compared to being thin and skinny.

However, whilst having a muscular physique has many benefits, there are also potential drawbacks to consider.

Having gained a significant amount of muscle mass myself, here are a few disadvantages of being too bulky that I have experienced:

1) Unhealthy bodybuilding routines

Building muscle and strength can be psychologically addictive. It’s not uncommon for people to chase continued gains and strive for bigger numbers on their lifts.

This can lead to the abuse of supplements and other substances. Even substances normally considered harmless (e.g caffeine) can be abused and lead to negative health effects (hint: consume your pre-workout caffeine in moderation!).

Additionally- extreme bulking and cutting cycles, which are common for bodybuilders, can also be very unhealthy.

2) Increased weight

Muscle is dense tissue, so being muscular can cause you to gain a lot of body weight. I gained 40lbs by the end of my muscle transformation. This made me more sluggish and less agile.

Being lean and muscular is great for sporting activities. But being overly bulky can definitely be a drawback.

My long-distance endurance has also taken took a hit since I’m now carrying a lot of “dead weight” in my upper body.

3) Increased heat production

Muscle is metabolically active tissue. This means it generates heat even whilst resting. And the issue becomes worse during physical activity.

Since becoming muscly, I’ve found it harder to regulate my body temperature in hot weather. I sweat a lot and this means i also have to drink more water to prevent dehydration.

4) Difficulty finding clothing

It can be hard to find clothes when you’re skinny or muscular. The severity of this problem will vary largely from person to person. But it’s something to consider.

I’m a naturally small guy. So I’ve not found any major issues finding clothes that fit since becoming muscular.

But I know larger friends who need to order customer-sized clothing to get a good fit. This can be a major inconvenience, especially with formalwear (suit shopping is a nightmare!).

Disadvantages Of Being Too Lean And Shredded

What a muscular shredded physique looks like.
There are also disadvantages of being too lean and shredded.

On one end of the muscular spectrum is being bulky. on the opposite end is being lean and shredded.

While this is a coveted goal for many people, there are also downsides to being too lean.

Having achieved a ripped physique myself, here are the main disadvantages to consider.

1) Mood control can be difficult

Low-calorie diets can make you more irritable, lack focus and attention, and generally feel down. I absolutely hate the cutting phase that follows the bulking phase.

2) Increased fatigue and lethargy

A low-calorie diet is required to cut weight and reach <12% body fat (the threshold for being truly lean). This is commonly associated with low energy levels since your body is often in a calorie deficit state.

3) Negative impact on physical performance

You’re usually at your weakest when going on a cut. It can be a challenge to perform the daily activities that you usually have no issue with performing.

This comes as a result of low energy and decreased strength.

4) Low-calorie diets can induce insomnia

This is what I hate most about going on a cut. I struggle to go to sleep and stay asleep. This is not uncommon in people who go on a sudden calorie deficit.

5) Often unsustainable

It may be a good look, but the lean shredded physique is often unsustainable (especially for those on a program to get shredded fast).

It’s not uncommon for people to go on a binge and lose their gains shortly after a cut.

How Muscular Should A Skinny Person Get?

Now here’s the million-dollar question: how much muscle should you aim to gain as a skinny person?

Speaking from personal experience- moderation is key.

It’s good to be muscular. But being too bulky or too lean and shredded can both have their unique disadvantages.

As a skinny person, I recommend you start building your first 10lbs of muscle and go from there. Your first 10lbs will be noticeable but it shouldn’t tip you into the “bulky” end of the spectrum.

By this point, you can make a more informed decision based on your personal preferences.

You can check out my home workout for skinny guys for a complete program. If you have gym membership, you can check out my skinny to muscular barbell program instead for faster results.

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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