12-weeks ago a group of readers started my private distance weight gain program. After an initial evaluation, movement screen, and goal setting we proceeded with both a training and nutritional plan for each athlete.
The groups average results were:
-20lbs of bodyweight gained
-100+ lbs added to their front squat
-125+ lbs added to their deadlift
-10+ reps added to their chin-ups
I couldn’t be more proud of these athletes (and families!) for making the short term sacrifice of eating a large amount of food and truly dedicating themselves to hard training.
Although we do have one problem
I promised the person with the most dramatic transformation to receive a full refund for their hard work. After much deliberation with my colleagues, we have not been able to determine a winner, so I am enlisting you, my readers to help choose a winner.
Please Vote Below– Voting Ends Friday February 5th at Midnight!
Today I weight 221, a total weight gain of 23lbs. I have been consistent with weight training throughout the entire 12 weeks. I was able to do a dead lift of 255 as of the end of my weight training. Before I started this training, the most I was attempting was 135. When I started I was doing about 4 or 5 chin ups, now I can do 12. Since baseball practice started I have gone out and am only throwing about 70% effort and my coach noticed I’m throwing harder than last year. When I was pitching I was able to get 8 batters out in 25 pitches at practice. The most important thing is that a college coach I’m talking to noticed the big change in my size since I went to their training camp in the summer and they asked me to throw a “tryout” bullpen at the college next week. Each week I followed your advice and I never had a hard time reaching the weight goals; I was usually ahead of schedule. My goal was to get to 220 and I reached that with 2 weeks to go to the end of the weight program.
First off, thanks for making my money well spent whether or not Garrett wins the contest. I can tell a difference as well as many friends and family.
Though he didn’t meet the full expectations; we offer the following results:
Total weight gain – 139lb to 159lb
Squats – 135lb to 200lb
Chin-ups – 6 to 25
Pushups – 30 to 70
Dumbbell incline press – 30 lb to 60lb
these are all his working weights, not max outs. – Garrett’s Father
My current weight is 171.8 after starting off on an even 148. Being up almost 24 lbs seems huge for 12-weeks worth of work. Strength wise I’ve been noticing major increases in each and every workout, but I haven’t been keeping track of how much exactly except in certain workouts like my rows being up 30 lbs and my deadlift going up 150+ lbs with a max that’s just shy of 200 lbs more than when I first started the program.
This whole experience has been very critical to me in not only playing baseball going forward, but in life because I always wanted to become a bigger person and weighing 150 on a good day wasn’t going to get me anywhere I wanted to go. I wish I could be gained more in this 3 month span, but I’ve learned a lot about how much I need to eat, on top of taking protein and creatine consistently. This definitely won’t be the end of my quest to gain muscle mass and I will without a doubt take what I have learned and incorporate it into my everyday life to become a stronger and better baseball player. Thank you for this opportunity, Josh.
Having coached hundreds both in person and as distance clients that routinely put on 20-30lbs in their first 12 weeks of training. I can vouch that many are dedicated to reaching their goals but often have 1-2 major faults that inhibit them from putting on the weight they desire.
Here are my top 5 reasons why people are unsuccessful in gaining weight
5- You are not training with intensity
It’s beyond the scope of this article to dictate if you are on the correct training program or not to gain weight, but regardless of the program, you need to be training with intensity.
Intense training will create the physiological effects that will signal your body to increase muscle mass. Just as important, a solid training program executed with intensity will help increase appetite and allow you to consume more calories over time.
Don’t go through the motions, Train your butt off.
4- You don’t prioritize sleep
Sleep is the time to recover and grow.
Many athletes stay up watching TV and playing video games until 2-4am. Leaving them only 4-6 hours to sleep. When you are able to get deep sleep, your body produces a hormone profile that is optimal for increasing muscle mass and dropping body fat.
For more tips on sleep check out my T-nation article 4 Sleep Strategies for Athletes’
3- You don’t meal prep
This one drives me absolutely nuts.
Without preparing your food in advance you are going to find it near impossible to get enough food in throughout the day. Unless you are a professional athlete, you have to contend with class and/or work on top of everyday life. Having a bunch of meals prepared and snacks always by your side is the easiest way to reach your goals.
I’ve had high school athletes hide PB&J in their backpacks and sneak them in during class or in between class.
I’ve had professional athletes prepare 10-20 meals prior to a long road trip where they know the only options will be McDonald’s for for dinner just about every night.
It doesn’t matter how you get it done, you need to consume enough nutrients for your body to grow. Make it easy on yourself and pack your meals.
2- You have the wrong mindset
Being a skinny kid gaining weight is uncomfortable. It requires preparation, extra time cooking, extra time cleaning, extra time eating, and food will get boring.
GET OVER IT
If it was easy EVERYONE would be their ideal bodyweight, throw 95MPH, and drop 500 foot bombs.
Having a task oriented mindset and understanding that being uncomfortable is a part of the process.
1- You do not have big enough consequences and a support team
I’m a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Every weight gain athlete I’ve ever had in person or distance coached has implemented S.M.A.R.T. goals with weekly check-ins. These small weekly goals along with surrounding yourself with a team who has the experience and knowledge of how to add some serious weight in a short amount of time makes a world of difference. In our Southport facility, some of the best coaches we have are athletes who have previously gained 30-40 lbs in previous years talking to other athletes.
In regards to consequences, rarely does anyone ever fails to reach their goal when the stakes are high enough. In house, athletes often pick the punishment of eating a can of dog food if they miss a weekly goal. No wonder why no one misses goals.
Today we have a special guest interview with one of my best friends Sergio Merino. Sergio is a strength coach, personal trainer, amateur bodybuilder and all around nutritional guru.
1.) For those who don’t know you Sergio, explain how you got lead into the field of fitness and nutrition.
I was your typical fat kid who happened to be strolling down the grocery isles looking for his favorite breakfast cereal when i happened upon my first FLEX magazine with my favorite actor, Arnold. Once I opened up the pages I was blown away by the physiques. I couldn’t get enough of it. I must have tried damn near every routine they put in there. I never tried any of their diets though; guess I was smart enough from the start to figure that out on my own. I lost nearly 30 pounds and all the girls took notice (which was the whole goal, i mean who does this for health and to feel better?) From there I turned my passion for bodybuilding into a passion for athletics. I always wanted to play football but I was slightly delusional, I actually tried out for the football team. I ran a pretty decent 5 flat 40 @ 147, pressed and squatted a decent amount of weight, only problem was I decided to try out for tight end. I thought I was the next tony gonzalez but i was more like elian.
My failure in football led me to lacrosse where I found good use for my size and speed as a midfielder. I got cut my senior year after training my butt off on the elliptical all season (specificity of training makes a lot of sense now). Luckily though, I loved the sport so much, i asked to be a volunteer coach for the team. These guys were like brothers to me and I wanted to help the young guys grow. I was never the selfish bitter type. If I could find a way to help in any capacity I did it. You can kind of start to see how my life has led me to where I am currently at.
Fast forward to freshman year and I fell victim to the dreaded freshman 15…. twice. I gained 30 lbs over my freshman year and I was pretty pissed with myself.
By the spring semester I decided I needed to change, once again, but what would be my purpose this time around. This is where natural bodybuilding came into the mix. I contacted Layne Norton to assist me with my prep and I designed possibly the worst training program ever and dieted all the way down to 130 lbs, i was as lean as I have ever been and didn’t look 130, but I definitely need to add some mass. I placed 2nd in my teen class (yay for muscular fat people who think they’re swole and got cuts), 4th in my novice class (out of 5), and 6th in my open class (out of 6). Regardless of how I placed, the feeling was awesome and cheesecake never tasted better than it did that afternoon.
During this time I knew I wanted to be in the fitness industry as a personal trainer. My junior year of college is when I learned that there was such a thing as a strength coach. I did an internship at Quinnipiac University with Brijesh Patel, the most intimidating 5’1 strength coach you will ever meet and went from thinking upright rows were good for your medial deltoids to integrating joint mobes, activation, bad mouthing back squats, and getting collegiate athletes fired up.
Now I’m personal training at a private facility, Results Plus, in my hometown of Hamden and helping people move better, get stronger, and reach their goals.
2.) Now I know your preparing for 3 bodybuilding shows in the near future in hopes of earning your Pro Card, Have you changed anything this time around as far as diet or training from your previous shows?
Training is pretty similar, traditional 4 day body part split, pretty moderate volume. I like to apply my own percentages to the rep range I am aiming for based of my 1rm for a given exercises. I see too many bodybuilders end up with bum shoulders, bad knees, bad low backs. You just can’t go 100% all the time and not expect something to wrong. Diet has been very different this time around, still doing a carb cycle of high-low days, with protein and fats being consistent throughout, but I’m not restricting food choices. If it fits my macros, I eat it.
3.) Awesome, I love the simplicity of your nutrition and not killing yourself with all kinds of crazy diet programming. After spending so much time up at QU with Brijesh and really enjoying the functional aspect of training how do you incorporate that with your everyday clients who are looking for purely aesthetic changes?
I try to teach them that looking good without being functional is like having a brand new 2011 Mercedes with a bad engine. Yeah it looks amazing, but when asked to do something, it doesn’t perform very well. You got to have balance. You have to have mobility and stability at the proper joints in order to maximize your gains whether they are for strength or hypertrophy. You have to get them to understand that exercises are not a one size fits all and just because it was in FLEX magazine doesn’t mean its the key to 24 inch biceps in 24 days.
4.) I like the analogy, it is often tough to get people thinking outside of what they have herd all their lives about training and not taking care of there bodies. What do you feel is the most overrated aspect in training, something that you see almost every client miss daily?
I freaking hate how every client judges a work out based on whether they did crunches or not. With all the research and findings that Dr. Stuart McGill has done I don’t understand how trainers and people still believe they are good for you. (ATT: If your a trainer and still believe that flexion is good for you, punch yourself in the face and stop reading this interview now) Core training correctly seriously has to be the most misconceived aspect of training.
5.) Thanks for your time Serg, I wish you the best with your diet and training, were all expecting big things from you in the near future! How can people follow your progress to the top of bodybuilding ranks and reach you?
You can follow at me at quite a few places. On Twitter @ CTStrengthCoach, through my training log @ http://www.usplabsdirect.com/forum/stacks-logs/4992-usplabs-athlete-contest-prep-2010-2011-a.html, and be sure to check out my articles section on bodybuilding.com @ http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/sergio_merino.htm which will be updated much more frequently in the next few weeks