Scrawny To Brawny

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Instant Body Upgrade: 2 Simple Tricks for Looking Better Than 99% Of Guys

There’s no such thing as a quick fix — except for when there is. Here’s how to instantly look more confident, athletic, and put-together than your friends.

Think about all the time you put in the gym — the sweat and hard work. Then consider the effort it takes to follow a good diet and eat the right foods.

Wouldn’t it be sad if you trained and ate right – perfectly, in fact – yet still didn’t look awesome? Simply because you missed one other piece of the puzzle?

You see, looking muscular and more athletic isn’t just a matter of losing fat and building muscle. There’s a third part of the equation that 99 percent of guys overlook, but you can solve with just two simple fixes.

Man-In-Charge Posture

Watch most guys walk around and you’d think they were ashamed of who they are. Why? Crappy posture.

Bad posture makes skinny guys look fat. It makes muscular guys function poorly and look less manly. And it can screw up your body to the point that your training will never be as effective as you want until your posture is fixed.

The main culprit? Weakness in your upper back, which causes your shoulders to fall forward. This leads to the rounded shoulder look that most guys suffer from as a result of hours at the computer. Fixing this alignment by pulling your shoulders back tightens the fascia that connects to your pecs, which gives them a lift.

Translation: No man boobs.

Bad posture. Good posture.

The way you stand, sit, or walk makes a big impact on how other people perceive you. Remember: A skinny or out of shape guy with good posture looks way better than an athletic guy with shitty posture. (But an athletic guy with good posture? Game, set, match.)

Feel It For Yourself

Not only do the above postures look different, they feel different too.

Here, let’s try something real quick: Stand up and make yourself have shitty posture for a few seconds. Like, really make it bad. Slump your shoulders. Hunch over a little. Maybe frown for good measure.

Got it? Good.

Now how do you feel? Like absolute dog shit, huh?

Now fix your posture and stand confidently. Slightly tilt your chest up, squeeze your abs a little, pull your shoulders back. Stand there like you own the place. Feels good, right?

That’s where we want to be.

Simply being aware of your posture and fixing it throughout the day will make you look and feel instantly better.

How do I know if I have shitty posture?

Try the pencil test

This test will quickly let you know if you tend to slump your shoulders.

Grab two pencils (or pens), one in each hand. Make a fist and drop your arms to your sides. Now imagine you’re standing in the middle of a giant clock, facing the 12.

Where are the pencil tips pointing?

If you scored in the “caveman” or “typical guy” category, don’t worry. It’s a common imbalance and one you can instantly fix by lifting your chest and gently pulling your shoulder blades back.

(For lasting changes, it helps to do a small amount of corrective weight training. Check out Day 3 of the 5-day course for a free training program that will help with that.)

One important caveat: We’ve all seen the brazen try-hard guys who strut around the office or bar. That’s not what we’re talking about here. There’s a big difference between having confident posture and macho posturing. You want the former.

The Clothes Make the Man

Forget style or fashion. Most guys don’t even wear clothes that fit them.

Pants that are baggy and too big in the waist. Jeans that hang long over the backs of shoes and get chewed up. T-shirts that are boxy and square. Button-ups that hang way past the back pockets when worn untucked.

It looks sloppy.

No matter what your body type is right now — skinny, athletic, overweight, whatever — you can instantly look better than 99% of guys by simply wearing clothes that fit. We’re not style experts here at S2B, but we can give you a few visual pointers with typical outfits most guys wear.

T-Shirt and Jeans

Left: Baggy jeans, boxy shirt. Right: Straight-leg jeans, fitted t-shirt.

Khakis and Button-up

Left: Baggy khakis, too-big dress shirt. Right: Straight-leg khakis (wrinkled, unfortunately), tailored shirt.

How Do I Get Clothes That Fit?

Step 1: Do a closet overhaul.

Go through your closet and take out all the stuff you like to wear.

What to keep: T-shirts, pants, jeans, and button-ups you’ve worn in the past month. Anything else that’s seasonal (like jackets and swim trunks).

What to get rid of: Clothes you obviously never wear. Items you know are too big, small, or worn-out. T-shirts with lots of logos on them (unless you’re into that stuff, which is cool). Boxers and socks with holes in them.

Put all the stuff you never wear into a “Donate” or “Sell” pile. Then try out all the stuff you like to wear and see if it fits. (This may be a good time to grab a friend and have them give you an honest assessment.)

Clothes that fit well go into one pile. Clothes that look good but don’t fit well — jeans that are too long, shirts that are too boxy, etc. — go into your “take to the tailor” pile.

Now this is where most guys will stop. Getting stuff tailored seems like a pain in the ass. But when you consider that all it takes is a quick Google search to find a local tailor, an hour of your time, and $10 – 20 bucks per item to essentially have new-looking, better-fitting clothes, it’s a no-brainer.

Common alterations:

  • Shorten sleeves on a shirt or jacket.
  • Hem a pair of jeans or pants.
  • Take in the body of the shirt or jacket.

Step 2 : Save up some money and invest in new clothes.

You certainly don’t need to break the bank or go into credit card debt, but once you’ve gone through your closet, you may want to strategically buy essentials for a new wardrobe.

What’s “essential”? Well, that’ depends on your personality, lifestyle, and where you live.

A guy who works in construction and lives in a small town or suburb will probably have different clothing needs than a guy who works as an accountant in a large city. (Then again, maybe not.)

But if we had to call the shots, here’s where we’d start:

  • 1 pair of dark jeans
  • 1 pair of chinos (khakis)
  • 1 pair of shorts (for the summer)
  • 2-3 t-shirts
  • 1-2 oxford button-down shirts
  • 1 dress shirt
  • 1 cardigan or pull-over sweater
  • 1 casual jacket
  • 1 pair of casual sneakers
  • 1 pair of brown “dressier” shoes

(If you work in a more traditional office setting — or if you just like wearing suits and “dressier” clothes — you may want to invest in a couple of classic suits in navy and charcoal gray and a pair of dressy black shoes and belt.)

What To Do Next

There’s a reason fresh-roasted coffee tastes better than instant powder. There’s a reason slow-cooked oatmeal is healthier than those instant packets. Quick solutions aren’t usually a good thing.

But if you’re lifting weights, running intervals, eating good food, and getting your 7 hours of sleep — the baseline habits of building a good body — these tips can make you look and feel better instantly:

Fix your posture.
Get clothes that fit.

Don’t forget, going from Scrawny to Brawny is not just about building muscle, strength, and an athletic body. It’s also about living a bigger life. And that means taking care of business both inside and outside the gym.

About the Author: Nate Green is the Program Director for Scrawny To Brawny. You can find him on Facebook or Google+.

  • http://starfactoryfitness.com/ Conor

    Cool post Nate and definitely good advice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.cruz.716 Paul Cruz

    Great advice because it doesn’t matter how ripped you are if you’re wearing clothes that are 2 sizes too big.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marktdeaton Mark Deaton

    Excellent post man!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marktdeaton Mark Deaton

    Be careful the line between athletic fit, and way to small is a fine one lol

    • http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Very, very true.

  • Shane

    Do you tailor your t’s? Is that something people do? Yours looks pretty sweetly tapered.

    • http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Hey Shane – I tailored three of my t-shirts, the ones I wear most often. They’re all heavy-duty cotton. But I don’t tailor most of my t’s.

      http://www.jcrew.com/mens_category/WallaceBarnes/PRDOVR~85748/85748.jsp

      • Shane

        Right on. Thanks for the link Nate. Heavy-duty cotton sounds nice—I’ll give ‘er a try.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marktdeaton Mark Deaton

    I look for those 1/4 sleeves and I shop at like the BUCKLE, or GAP, or even Nordstroms rack, heck Ive found some great fitting shirts at Ross and Kohls – when it comes to shirts you can hide all the work you’ve done for years with a TENT or take the time to find shirts that fit nicely!

  • Swens

    Can people list some T-shirt recommendations. Most t-shirts brands I try on bunch up on my shoulders, and i’m built like most men who workout 6’2 220

  • Rob

    I have a problem with semi-tight clothing….my arms fill out most large t- shirts and that makes my arms look good but the fat around my stomach is visible…any tips nate?

  • darkcanuck

    I find the the tight fitting shirts at Mexx (in Canada) are awesome. They last a long time too.

  • movetofit

    Fantastic article Nate. I got way more than I bargained for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.liebermann Andy Liebermann

    Good article. The bit about clothes comes at a good time for me. My shirts fit well but I’m having some troubles with pants. It seems my body likes to put on muscle mass around my thighs and ass. The 31″ waist fits just fine, but my khakis in particular are nearly too tight in the thighs for work. This doesn’t seem to be a problem in straight fit jeans. However, I try not to wear jeans often at work. I like to wear khakis and casual dress pants, not too formal. Any suggestions for stores or styles would be appreciated (available in Canada too please)

    • http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      I’m not sure if Bonobos.com ships to Canada, but I imagine they do. Check them out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/salihinjumat Sal Jumat

    Awesome tips Nate!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/heyward.boyce Heyward Boyce

    guys- I live in Lakeview, and am starting the “ground zero program,” and am looking for cheapest gym in chicago. One that has a cable machine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heyward.boyce Heyward Boyce

    Anne Cuddy: “your body language becomes who you are” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc&feature=player_embedded two minutes of adopting a power pose (michael jordan arm pump, usain bolt celebration, wonder woman pose) increases beneficial hormones and decreases cortisol. “fake it until you BECOME it.”

    • http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com/about#nate-green Nate Green

      Awesome find. I love TED talks.

  • Louis

    Awesome! I love your writing style.

  • James Braithwaite

    This is an excellent post, I wholeheartedly agree with both recommendations. I’m a physiotherapist and so coach posture an awful lot. I always include a soapbox speech surrounding the value of good posture not just for health but (and perhaps more importantly) for how you present yourself to the world! Most people (men and women) feel a bit goofy holding good postures initially, but rest assured, the goofiness begins and ends in the headspace of the individual.

  • Aby

    Nate any tips on how to appear taller for individuals who are on the shorter side?

  • http://twitter.com/shapeupathome Joe Sharp

    I agree: clothes make a big difference! I find it really hard to find good fitting t-shirts even though I’m not big at all. I just have broad shoulders and a slightly smaller waist. Everything seems to be made for people the other way round.