Should I Bother with trying to gain lots of muscle as an Analyst?

So I'm a new first year analyst. I'm very skinny and have no issues with motivation to go to the gym regularly and am aware of the benefits of physical activity and all that. I actually sneak in some intense cardio everyday and it makes me feel great.

But it seems like gaining muscle mass as a very skinny person and someone new to the gym is a very involved process. I struggle to get in a ton of calories while working banking hours and have the opposite problem of most people where I don't really like to eat that much and try to stay very healthy. Mostly only eat vegetables and fruits.

My time at the gym has to also be longer to ensure I'm working all my muscles hard enough and it's not exactly easy to sneak that in every night especially when I'm trying to make a good impression as a new analyst of fast response times. I imagine this is only going to get far worse once we resume in-person and I am no longer WFH.

Sleep is obviously another factor that I don't think I need to get into much and everyone on here understands. 

Should I just say fuck it a grind out the two years or whatever and then focus on bulking or mass muscle gain afterwards? I still genuinely enjoy cardio and helps me get this kind of euphoria so I'll still be doing that intensely for 15 minutes or so a night.

But I've also heard cardio for someone very skinny like myself is a bad idea for trying to bulk? but I find it pretty unhealthy to live like that and just eat so much without getting my blood pumping from exercise.

Is it possible to just gain muscle without a caloric surplus being very skinny and just okay levels of sleep with workouts 1-2 times a week?

I kind of rambled at some points so hopefully my questions came across clearly.

It's tough to get this specific gym advice elsewhere on the internet because everyone just assumes you're lazy if you can't get in enough sleep or workout time and bothering to explain the hours or how I have to wait until a certain point at night for comments goes over their heads frankly. 

thank you all 

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Comments (63)

Oct 12, 2021 - 4:00pm

Through college I was always a skinny kid. Through my senior year I started to take my diet more seriously and was going to the gym almost everyday making use of the Push-Pull-Legs routine. I gained around 20+ pounds over the course of my senior year and felt pretty good about how I looked. Fast forward to now: I lost all the muscle I gained while gaining some lower belly fat, doing nothing but sitting at my desk all day everyday. I told myself I would go to the gym after work but by the time I get home at 10 or 11pm I'm way too tired to lift weights. Then I told myself I would workout when I wake up in the morning but going to sleep at 12am-1am and waking up at 6am I just didn't have the energy to lift then either. So now I'm just a lazy bum analyst accepting my fate of having a dad bod. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 12, 2021 - 4:04pm

Fuck man that sucks. Also a fear I had of trying to bulk super hard now and then getting being on the desk sitting. WFH seems to be the only solution to this

Oct 12, 2021 - 4:15pm

My advice to you would be to eat aa high protein diet and try your best to get to the gym 3-4 times a week. Friday/Saturday/Sunday should be somewhat easy and maybe once another time if you can. One way you can workout is called German Volume Training. So for those 3 days you need to go really hard and then you'll rest for the entire week. Just look up GVT and choose a program. You will definitely get bigger if you eat and train properly. But you can avoid getting fat but still gaining moderate amounts of muscle by eating in a slight deficit but extremely high protein diet. Make sure to take vitamins and BCAAs it will boost your energy. Creatine ofc. But drink lots of water with it otherwise you will mess up your liver. At the end of the you won't look like Arnold but you should have an athletic physique. You can even try doing 100 pushups on your off days or dips if you miss a session. Just have to be creative.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 12, 2021 - 4:38pm

Every source I've read says I need a significant caloric surplus. Is this wrong? For reference on just how skinny I am I'm exactly just about 6ft and 130 pounds 

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Gen
Oct 12, 2021 - 4:49pm

I would eat at a surplus then. I imagine you don't gain weight easily so definitely eat a lot but make sure it's healthy and a lot of protein. Snack on nuts, peanut butter, avocado, etc. It will make a big difference when increasing calories. 

Oct 12, 2021 - 5:04pm

Its not wrong its just that most of the sources online don't relate to IB analysts. Most people can work out 5/6 times a week + Cardio 2 times. We can't. So if you really are that skinny then I would not say a significant surplus since you won't be able to shed all that fat off. I'd say 200-400 calories over your maintenance for 10-12 weeks then see where you are at. A significant surplus will only be beneficial if you can get solid volume but in IB you'll just get fat. A controlled surplus may be slower but you won't be annoyed when you look in the mirror. After 10-12 weeks see where you are at, and start going under maintenance by 200-400 to shed fat. In both circumstance eat health foods. Don't bulk up on burgers etc. Eat well, lots of lean meat veggies, nuts, fruits, oats are great. Research shows if you eat 1.0-1.2g of protein per lb and a slight deficit you will get bigger. So for you I'd say target 160g of protein a day - the way you can do this is protein shake in the morning,afternoon and night. Or morning and night. Food should be the main source of protein but understandable if you can't get it all in naturally. Two scoops of Gold Standard Whey should give you 40g per shake. so 80g from Shake and the rest from food. Greek Yogurt cups are a blessing too 

Oct 15, 2021 - 1:39pm

Obviously if you want to build more muscle and put on weight, you gotta be intaking more calories than you are using up a day. It's just simple math. You could set a strict schedule and diet to stick to, or just do what this one kid I know from college did - ate two pounds of ground beef a day, and put on like 20lb in two months

Oct 13, 2021 - 8:27am

See my comment below. Gold Standard Whey is the best for lean muscle mass. If you just wanna pack meat on you MassGainer for 4 weeks. I would not use that for more than 8 weeks cause it also just gets you fat.

Oct 12, 2021 - 4:22pm

Besides BCAAs and Creatine there is ZMA. Which is basically is Zinc Magnesium. It helps your sleep and muscle recovery. So those three are what I take. They are well well researched - Creatine ofc being somewhat less than the others but still.  Protein powder is obvious. Don't skimp out on it. Buy the gold standard whey protein not some cheap stuff because a lot of the cheap brands just fill it with random shit and lie. After those four it gets a bit weird. And just trust the process, don't take SARMS or any of this random shit.

For general use and health, I make sure to get a blood test every 6 months since my family has issues lol. But would recommend taking Vitamin D and B12 or a form of multivitamin daily since IB analysts don't go outside nor do people eat enough fish in America.

Oct 12, 2021 - 11:31pm

If your that underdeveloped then it wont take much stimulus or time to get your body growing. I enlisted in the Marines after highschool and left bootcamp 135 Lbs at 5'8. I hadn't been that light in years. I looked like a skeleton. 3-4 months later I was back up to 155-160 and looked amazing. I wasn't too strong but I looked great.

Try to get into the gym four times a week for 1-1.5 hours running an upper lower split focused on the big four (Bench, DL, Squat, OHP) with accessories built in to bring up your week points and you'll gain muscle. Just make sure your getting 1-1.5grams of protein per LB of body weight per day.

Some programs I've ran in the past that I really like include RP Method, Canditos Linear program, 5/3/1 BBB, and my personal favorite, GZCL.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Oct 12, 2021 - 11:39pm

I have been told by several of my coaches to not do DLs. Unless you are going to be competing, I think the cost isn't worth the benefit. Max I would go for is trap deadlift. Also, 1.5 grams for every LB of your body weight is too much protein (it's supposed to be 1.5g for every kg). If you're going that high in protein, make sure to get the blood checked every week because you'll likely get very high urea, which will take time to taper off and you would have to start having more carbs to take it down (I have dealt with this high protein problem).

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Oct 14, 2021 - 9:58am

Deadlifting is the most holistically beneficial and productive exercise someone could do. Just don't be lazy and skip out on stretching/warming up and proper breathing technique and you will be good. I would suggest learning the 90/90 breathing technique drills to learn proper bracing for DL/squat, etc. Especially for those in IB, hitting the main compound lifts (Squat, Bench, DL), then add hang/power cleans and pull ups and push ups to supplement and really get your blood flowing. You can do all that plus a warmup in around an hour as long as you don't sit on your phone for 3 mins between each set.

Oct 13, 2021 - 1:46am

Good luck man, creatine helps a lot. I used to be pretty jacked in college but lost at least 10 pounds of muscle since starting the analyst stint 

Oct 13, 2021 - 11:38am

Just being honest, its going to be difficult to gain muscle only eating fruits and vegetables and working out 1-2 times a week. Not impossible, but very difficult. I'd try using small amounts of creatine to help kickstart your body.

Most Helpful
Oct 13, 2021 - 1:52pm

There is never a bad time to get stronger, fitter, and healthier. Sounds like you've got cardio controlled - time to bulk up!

1) Track your macros of what you eat over the course of the next 2 weeks

2) Determine a reasonable workout schedule that you can succeed at adhering to

3) Confirm your "maintenance" calories based on step 1. Add 2-500 calories to this and commit to your lift / calisthenics program. 

4)  Continue tracking your macros so you know what is happening to your weight if you need to adjust higher up or down due to increased calorie burn from workouts. Plan for 0.8-1.2g protein per lb/lean body mass. Someone else said it but youll probably want to be around 130-160g / day.  (carbs / fat are interchangeable. Eat what you want!)

-- 4a) I highly recommend Carbon Diet Coach, $10/month app. Will track all food and update your macros accordingly. Not the same as MyFitnessPal, it is significantly better.

5) Take progress pictures once a week -- chest, back, legs, and side profile. You will be happy you did.

6) Do this for 8-16 weeks and you will see results.

  • 7
Oct 14, 2021 - 10:14am

This is a good plan, but feel like eating at a surplus while an IB analyst is probably a mistake. Your schedule is so unpredictable and frequent periods where work takes over literally everything else. For me there would be weeks here and there where I just couldn't make it to the gym. Diet-wise, add in the excuse of "I'm bulking" and it's a slippery slope towards fat gain with no muscle. Not trying to claim its impossible to make gains in IB, but as a person w/out inhuman self control, I would probably eat at maintenance. 

Oct 14, 2021 - 11:19am

It's very simple, OP wants to build muscle. You cannot build muscle unless in a caloric surplus. (You can increase strength, but you will not build muscle).

Oct 13, 2021 - 2:03pm

Idk much but I'll give my two cents. I feel like the analyst lifestyle is not super beneficial for muscle gaining since proper sleeping schedule/hours, cortisol level (stress), and consistency play a huge role in building quality muscle. However, with that being said, if you are a beginning lifter, you can still build muscle while having a shitty lifestyle, but after lifting awhile, it will be difficult. Hope that helps!

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Oct 13, 2021 - 2:40pm

Lift Friday Saturday Sunday and you can make some pretty excellent gains if you have a good program. People make lifting more complicated than it needs to be when consistency is really all that matters. You won't be the most elite lifter ever, but especially if you have never lifted before you will make serious gains even getting in there 3 days a week with little sleep and paying no attention to nutrition. Also, people love you yank off to rep schemes and different training programs and I think it's a bunch of bs. I've become pretty freakishly strong doing the same thing for a long time and think all that really matters is consistency, pushing yourself, and eventually nutrition.

If your goal is to lose weight, different conversation (just eat less). Otherwise, here's what I would recommend to just get a solid foundation:

Supplements: Creatine, Protein, caffeine are the only real ones, full-stop. Beta alanine if you want to train distance, the others are a placebo or very marginally beneficial (zma, fishoil, multivitamins, bcaas etc.)

Also, source for all this: did athletics since birth to college, was an analyst, and currently bench double my weight, squat 2.75x my weight, and get in marathon shape every summer. Here is a good program:

Reps and sets don't need to be rocket science. The 10x10 programs and pyramid sets are noise for people who get bored or who have been lifting for years and years and have unlimited time. Just do 3 sets of everything, for 4-12 reps. As a beginner, I would advise going lighter to get the technique down, so 3 sets of each exercise for 8-12 repetitions. The biggest mistake lifters make is changing up their routine too frequently, just be consistent in the below and the gains will come.

Chest/ Shoulders/ Tris:

Bench Press

Weighted dips 

Overhead shoulder press

lateral raises/ front raises superset

skull crushers or reverse curls or rope pulls

Push ups to failure

Back/ Bis:

weighted pull-ups 

weighted chin-ups (hands face toward you versus pointing away)

seated rows


Bicep curls



Kettle bell swings

hanging leg raises

ab wheel roll outs

On your off days, try to do push-ups and pull-ups before you go to sleep. Also, note I left off deadlifts-they really aren't worth it. Its a great exercise that many people do incorrectly and even doing correctly leads to a substantial amount of injury and headaches. If you do kettle bell swings you can master the hip hinge and target the same muscles to a degree that really is all that matters for someone who isn't just deadlifting for the sake of deadlifting.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Oct 13, 2021 - 4:21pm

ZMA's and melatonin also help me sleep, but I stand by both are marginal/ the effect isn't even as close to as significant as creatine, protein, or caffeine. Not trying to knock any supplements more just saying especially if younger, those 3 are worth mentioning/ you should be able to tell the difference pretty immediately.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 13, 2021 - 2:51pm

This attitude won't get you anywhere, it's totally possible. 

You can always find time to go to the gym for 60-90 minutes during a work day. I just bring my laptop and respond to emails / small comments if they come up.

if you can hit weekends and 3 times during the week that's a full gym schedule and it's totally possible. 

The harder part is diet and sleep. You sound like a hard gainer, so you'll need to be in a clean surplus which is going to be hard with work. I'm hybrid (3 days/week) so I meal prep two meals per day, seamless dinner, and cook all my own meals Friday-Monday (excluding weekend meals out). 

working out is the easy part, keeping the diet and sleep right and juggling all three is where it gets hard with banking. Can't underestimate diet - if you're not in a consistent surplus you're NOT going to gain muscle. ROI of working out is much lower without proper diet. 

If you want to see results you're going to need to make fitness a priority (above social, right below work) or else you're just going to spin your wheels 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Oct 13, 2021 - 4:29pm

Maybe you were in a less sweaty shop than I was, but for the first year as an analyst I think it's pretty unrealistic to get more than 3 lifts a week consistently. There were staffing lulls where it was possible, but generally no. In the office or out of the office, there's just too much to learn and you are too sleep deprived to make it make any sense. I get that many people think they are "built different" but lifting is going to actually make you worse at your job if you try to get weekday lifts in as a first year regularly. It's not a reasonable expectation to think you can regularly hit like a 5pm lift until you have build your rep/ brand which takes at least 6/7 months Imo.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 13, 2021 - 9:36pm

This is fair, all depends on schedule, culture. 

I think remote/hybrid makes things a lot easier and has relaxed Face time culture a bit. My group isn't too fixated on face time so if I have nothing urgent to do (e.g. waiting on comments) I don't feel bad leaving for 60 mins or so to get a workout in especially if I bring my laptop. 

that's just me tho, maybe some people in the office can and do get negative impressions from that, but as long as I'm still producing good work some negative opinions from hardos is the price I'll pay to stay in shape 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Oct 13, 2021 - 5:49pm

Go for 3 days a week full body. Try to find one weekday M-Th to get a lift in and also go twice from Fri-Sun. Weigh yourself every day and try to make sure your average weight doesn't go up by more than 0.5-0.75 lbs/week, aka a lean bulk. Track your calories and your workouts (including reps of every set). Get enough protein. If you're bulking, 0.8 g/lb of bw should be a good starting place. Use YouTube to teach yourself the techniques for exercises. You don't need a trainer to learn the form. It will take some practice of doing the exercises, but if my dumbass was able to figure it out, you can too. Don't ego lift. Look to get stronger on the main compound lifts (bench, squat, deadlift etc.). Train to/close to failure, max 1-2 reps in the tank. Center most of your workouts around compounds and then throw in a couple isolation exercises like skullcrushers or curls or abs. Also, if something is important to you, you will find a way to get it done. Watch this video: 

Shit gets me amped asf when I'm feeling lazy and being weak. He went through way tougher circumstances than you are and still found time to workout. If there's a will, there's a way. It just depends on how bad you want it. 
Oct 13, 2021 - 9:59pm

Stop trying to "eat clean" if you're a hard gainer and trying to gain weight. Focus on getting your protein in but also utilise very calorie dense food.

Think about how many overweight people there are in the corporate world. Gaining weight should be easy son.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Oct 14, 2021 - 3:55pm

used to be skinny cunt, now im a jacked cunt

here's what i did when i was 15/16 (cant remember) that transitioned me over the period of a summer so substantially people legiterally thought i was on the juice

workout: madcows 5x5 (most efficient shit, throw in a couple of bicep curls dips pullups whatever suits your fancy for a nice arm pump after the meat of your workout)


breakfast: 1 cup steel rolled oats, cooked in a pot of milk, throw in some chocolate chips whatever for taste, 5 eggs however you like (eat em all)

lunch: 2 whole chicken breasts cooked however you fancy, 5 eggs however you like (eat em all), some greens if you will

dinner: whatever mummy is cooking

boom done

  • Analyst 1 in PE - LBOs
Oct 15, 2021 - 1:09am

There's no reason that anyone needs to be eating 10 eggs a day, and probably several reasons not to.

Just eat at a surplus, get a lot of protein, and lift.

Oct 15, 2021 - 1:52am

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Oct 15, 2021 - 2:58pm

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