Warning: Do This & You WILL Get Fat


steve_reeves_05You want to build muscle and gain weight fast.

You’re not happy with the way you look so you’re in a rush, always eating more and watching the scale each and every day.

The problem is the human body is only capable of building muscle so fast.

Unfortunately that’s at a much slower rate than many of us would hope for.

So when you keep adding more food the only thing that ends up happening is you turn into a fat ass.

Maybe I’m nuts but I think most people would prefer to be described as a bad ass rather than a fat ass.

Keep reading and you’ll discover exactly how not to become a fat ass.

Just How Big Can You Really Get?

It’s very, very rare to see an average, drug free guy with single digit bodyfat weigh more than 200 pounds.

Sure, there are genetic freaks and pro athletes who will easily be able to maintain single digits at a higher body weight. Especially and obviously, if they are taller than the average guy.

The rest of us, however, probably won’t be able to do so quite as easily, if at all.

The reason I bring this up is to help people avoid the sadness and frustration that I see so often. Bringing a sense of realism to the goals you can achieve can also help you not destroy your joints and your internal organs while you try to do what’s physically impossible.

During your first year of proper training, if you do everything right across the board from sleeping to eating to training, you can make magical gains. I’m talking mind blowing, enormous gains. I’ve seen guys gain twenty five pounds in their first year.

Beginners (and even guys who have been training for years incorrectly) who use my Renegade Strong program often report insane strength and mass gains in as little as twelve weeks.

Your second year can also produce some pretty impressive gains.

After that your muscle building progress will inevitably slow down considerably. There will be months when it will come at a snails pace. There’s very little you can do, short of taking steroids to change that.

During these frustrating times one of the natural inclinations is to start over eating and “bulking.” Regrettably, I’ve done this plenty of times over the years.

There’s an even an old bodybuilding cliche:

“Eat your way through the plateau.”

Unfortunately, it’s pretty damn hard to force the body to grow when it’s not ready. You can do this at the beginning but it won’t keep working forever.

Beyond your first few years size gains will come in short bursts and then level out for a while. It’s all peaks and valleys and largely unpredictable.

As long as you are consistently eating just a bit above maintenance and in accordance with the 50 Renegade Nutrition Rules, while training hard the gains will come with time.

When you start up with the old school bulking approach all that usually ends up happening is you get fat. Then once you diet back down to the bodyfat you started at you’re the exact same size.

So you put all that extra stress on your internal organs and joints for four months only to end up the exact same size.

Bulking and cutting is a very outdated process and needs to have the final nail hammered into it’s coffin.

Get Lean & Stay Lean

If you want to build muscle the first step is to get lean. The body is much more anabolic at around 10-12% bodyfat than it is when you allow yourself to get above 15%.

NEVER ever let your bodyfat get above 15% (meaning you should always be able to see at least some of your abs).

Anything over that is considered fat and unhealthy. The majority of 200 plus pound guys I know fall into that category.

Train for strength and performance, first and foremost. Strength and performance gains will always be more consistent than size gains.

If you get stronger, eventually you will get bigger. You won’t notice size gains on a daily or even weekly basis but in a few months time you will be bigger than you are now. And this adds up slowly over the years.

Although a gain of one pound of muscle per month doesn’t seem like a lot, go the butcher and look at 24 pounds of steak. Imagine having that much more muscle spread across your entire body two years from now.

How many people actually make those kinds of gains?

They could but because they bulk up and get fat they are then always forced to diet back down. This continual cycle goes on and on, the end result being that most people never make an ounce of progress beyond their first two years of training.

I was guilty of this for far too many years and want to save you from making the same mistakes.

Look at long time competitive powerlifters. Many of them, no matter how hard they may try to stay in a certain weight class, are eventually forced to move up simply because the massive strength gains they have made over the years of consistent training have added several pounds of muscle to their frames.

They out grow their weight classes without even trying or wanting to.

Consistent hard training with barbells, dumbbells and bodyweight exercises (really it doesn’t matter what you are using as long as you are getting stronger in the range of 3-8 reps) along with a focus on long term strength gains is the key.

Notice I said long term.

Even strength gains will not be linear from one session to the next but they will be a lot more predictable over the course of 16 weeks than size gains will for the more advanced trainee.

So What’s Realistic?

There are a lot of 220 plus pound guys running around out there who are fooling themselves.

If they were lean and in shape most of these guys wouldn’t weigh more than 180 at the very most. Look at some of the best physiques in the UFC. Now look at what these guys weigh. Do you look better than them with your shirt off?

NFL running backs and defensive backs have what 99% of most guys would kill for or call ideal. A good number of these guys are barely 200 pounds.

Walter Payton was jacked and ripped and only weighed 195.

Reggie Bush is six foot, 200 hundred pounds. Do you share the same stats? If so does your 200 pounds look like his?

Most top sprinters are under 200 pounds yet have incredible physiques.

Former Mr. Olympia competitor Frank Zane used to step on stage at 185 pounds. Many considered him to have the greatest physique of all time.

Instead of comparing yourself to the pro bodybuilders of today look towards a guy like Steve Reeves as a physique you could one day aspire to.

If NFL players have the best genetics in the world and after fifteen years of training can only get up to 200 pounds or so(assuming they are 5’10″ to 6′) ripped what makes people think the rest of us can do that so easily?

For a natural, drug free, genetically average guy to be ten percent bodyfat and 175-185 pounds is damn good.

Getting up to 190 or 200 while remaining close to single digit bodyfat would be huge. But it might be unrealistic for some of us.

So don’t get down on yourself. The reality is, if you stay lean like you should, you may never get there. That shouldn’t disappoint or frustrate you, though.

185 and ripped is a very impressive physique. Start thinking more realistically and I promise your stress levels about this whole thing will slowly start to come down.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Just remain consistent, stay lean and healthy, train hard and enjoy the journey my friends.

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83 Responses to Warning: Do This & You WILL Get Fat

  1. Kevin April 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Great article, Jason! I’m 6’3″ and coming to the end of Starting Strength. I went from 195 to 242 as of today, though I can see getting to 250 by the end of the program. I estimate my bf at between 15 and 20%, probably closer to 20. I’m not typical-American-fat; I have a lean frame but my midsection and legs carry a lot of fat.

    I’ve been walking in the AM for 35-45 minutes/day 3-5 days a week and I’m going to be starting 5/3/1 soon with a good deal of conditioning; combined with restricted carbs and clean eating, is getting to 10-12% BF by the end of the year realistic? I’m not six-pack obsessed but definitely need to “lean out.”

    Thanks in advance.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 14, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      @Kevin: Thanks. You could definitely get there. Fat loss happens faster than muscle gain.

      @Mark- I hear ya. It’s tough mentally for me to drop below 200lbs but I’m working on getting over that ;)

      @Grant- You’re welcome.

      @Jeremy- Thanks

      @Britt- Thanks, man. Good outlook.

      @Blake- That’s a tough one because some guys are so painfully skinny that you really can’ t tell them to lose more weight. It’s still the right thing to do hormonally but you may have to pack 20lbs on a skinny bastard first then have him lean down a bit before gaining some more.

  2. Nate April 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Great article on keeping it real. Some people starting out don’t have the perspective and just go by what they see in magazines…not really knowing what goes on behind the scenes. Many delude themselves to just “growing” and then cutting later. As someone who bulked up then dieted down to compete, I was amazed at what I weighed in top shape vs where I started.

  3. Chukknob April 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    I’ve always felt this way. A lot of NFL and college football players are “supplementing” with one chemical or another. It’s unrealistic for someone not juicing to expect the same results. Its the same way with girls trying to look like runway models. They can’t get that rail thin without barfing. It’s just unrealistic.

  4. LT April 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Hey Jason,
    Great post. But what about David Pocock?
    http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2010/11/26/1225961/299768-david-pocock-wallabies.jpg
    Or James Haskell?
    http://bf-1.com/BF1EFit/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/vvv.jpg

    Both seem healthy for 230+ pound guys (given they both play professional rugby). Most probably a genetic freaks, sure, but I still aspire to look like that some day :).

  5. Chukknob April 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    By the way. The documentary referenced available on Netflix streaming. Watching it now. Pretty good.

  6. Mark April 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I’m 5’10 195 lbs and i have pretty good abs but i could lose 10-15 lbs to be completely ripped (i have good genetics) but i love being able to say i’m 195lbs or 200 lbs and being the big guy lol. i’m addicted to being big

  7. Grant April 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Hey Jay, thanks for that. When I look in the mirror I’m pretty happy with my size and body fat levels. On the other hand when I look at the scales I’m pissed off. So now I just worry about my strength numbers and what I look like in the mirror

  8. Jeremy Priestner | Art of Lifting April 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    That was some of the most sensible advice about mass gain that I have ever read. A lot of my friends could benefit from reading this post and taking what it says to heart. Your message of being consistent in your training is spot on: reminds me of the saying that things in life are best done slow cooked.

  9. Britt April 12, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    J,

    You motor boating son of a bitch! This article is awesome!! Thanks to MGS I only care about progressive overload, my measurements, and the mirror. To hell with trying to compare my results. I’m not trying to be someone else…I’m going to be me, just a lot fuckin stronger.

  10. Blake April 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    “Get lean first and stay lean before you start trying to gain muscle.”

    Is this what you would also suggest to a skinny fat client?

  11. chukknob April 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Not sure why my comments were deleted from the site. They were not inappropriate and thought they had value. I thought it was a good analogy.

  12. Brian April 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    I read somewhere that Dorian Yates first ever bench press was 315lbs and the first time Andy Bolton dead lifted he pulled 500. I don’t know how accurate these figures are or if they’ve been exaggerated but the fact remains that few of us will ever pull/squat 800 or look like Dorian/Ronnie/Arnold. Hard pill to swallow but it shouldn’t stop hard training and dedication. The lifelong pursuit of excellence is never a life wasted. great article as always

    • Jason Ferruggia April 14, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      @Brian: Yeah, these are facts most people don’t know.

      @Adam- I have it on good authority that John Cena is drug free. Which is just INSANE. He also has some of the best muscle building genetics on the planet and the biggest joints known to man.

      @Geo- word

      @Will- Not necessarily. He won’t keep 20 of 25 pounds. Trust me. If he diets it off slowly over the course of years he may keep 20. In the end, the amount of time it will take to bulk and cut while maintaining some of that size will be just as long as if you made slower lean gains the whole time. Probably a lot longer to be honest. Agree with just about everything else you wrote. Good post. THanks

      @Brandon- Thanks for sharing

      @Blashyrkh- Good to hear.

      @Steve- True, indeed.

  13. James Ferguson April 13, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    Hey LT

    James Haskell certainly looks ripped but you may be surprised to know that his body fat is 11.25% (taken from 10 sites). We recently carried out a fitness test on him for GQ magazine. He weighed in at 113kg, 248lbs. Please check out our Facebook page ‘Rugby Strength and Conditioning’ for more info and photos of the shoot.

    As Jason was saying you have to be realistic with your goals. James joined Wasps as a teenager and has been built into the beast he is today ever since. He has basically had eight years of train, sleep, eat, supplement, play, rest with the best coaches and facilities to hand. Good Luck with your training and any information you need specific to rugby training please don’t hesitate to ask on our FB page. Getrugbyfit Team

  14. Adam April 13, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Excellent post and something worth reading over and over again.

    We cant all be like John Cena walking around at 240-250 and be massively huge and ripped (Ive heard numerous people say he is drug free and considering hard he works thrown in with having superior genetics it wouldnt suprise me if he was 100% clean).

    Some of us normal folk just needs to dream big, start little and slowly get there.

    Great advice as usual

  15. Geo April 13, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    I was waiting for a post like that and I’m glad you made one, Jason.

    In my opinion, it’s essential for both the effectiveness of your training and your inner calmness not to be too stressed about the result. I mean sure, we all want to become bigger and leaner, but I think the best thing about training is seeing yourself becoming stronger.

    Personally, I don’t have the mass gains I could have in my first year of systematic training (made my share of mistakes in the beginning) but I’m satisfied with my strength. I can squat, deadlift, bench press more, do a decent number of pull-ups and generally be in better condition than before at the same weight with less body fat.

    I like to think you can reach your goal eventually, but no matter how that goes, enjoying the ride is far more important (one of the many lessons this sort of training teaches you). Why visit the weight room if you don’t like it?

  16. Will April 13, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    ‘…a guy who’s been training for ten years could still gain 25 pounds of muscle in the next year. But he’s also going to have to gain 25-50 (more likely 50) pounds of fat along with it. Then when he diets it off he’ll be the same exact size.’

    Only if he’s an idiot who loses all of the 25 pounds of new muscle when dieting; if he cuts correctly, he will lose all the fat and hold on to roughly 20lb of the new muscle. When he’s finished cutting, he’ll be roughly 20lb of LBM heavier than he was before.

    This is a good post, but loads of guys are going to use it to excuse their laziness when things get difficult. For everyone apart from dwarves and giants, a realistic muscular bodyweight goal is 180-220lb. As Jay says, focus on strength.

    Nearly all normal adult males will be able to achieve a 300lb bench, 400lb squat and 500lb deadlift if they train correctly for long enough. Hit those numbers first, then see what you weigh with visible abs. That’ll probably be at the lower end of the realistic muscular bodyweight range of 180-220lb, maybe 190lb if you’re 5’9″. As Jay says, it’s worth noting that not many athletes, even in explosive sports like boxing and football, are much above this; also, if you’ve got small bones, small joints and you are genuinely lean, you probably won’t want to look much bigger than this, and you will look more impressive with your shirt off than 99% of all lifters.

    If you want to hit 200lb+ muscular bodyweight, then you’ll need to increase your strength by about 25%. Far fewer people have the potential to do this, and even fewer have the knowledge, patience and persistence to achieve it, but many naturally athletic people can do it. For many people, supporting this level of muscular development will require 6000+ calories per day.

    A lean 220lb at 5’9″-6’2″ would be outstanding, and you’d probably have to increase your strength by about 25% again, aiming at, for example, roughly a 700lb+ deadlift. Hardly anyone can do this. Even John Davis, probably the strongest natural lifter ever, was ‘only’ 233lb and definitely not single-digit bodyfat.

    I like the section in Brooks Kubik’s book ‘Dinosaur Training’ where he uses Davis, who trained well before steroids, as a benchmark for drug-free trainees, suggesting that we should aim at 90% of Davis’ best lifts. This is ‘Davis standard’ adjusted for bodyweight relative to a 200lb lifter, so just take 10% off each:

    Bench – 364
    Squat – 518
    Deadlift – 606
    Overhead Press – 322 (look how bad modern lifters are at the overhead press – putting 200lb overhead used to be a basic test to separate the men from the boys, but now hardly anyone can do it)
    Curl – 222lb

    As Jay said, the golden rule is to keep getting stronger while never going above 15% BF. You are unlikely ever truly to exhaust your genetic potential, so keep ploughing on even when the gains come at a snail’s pace, remembering that ‘all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare’ (Spinoza).

  17. Mateusz April 13, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    I’m not even 170 but my bodyfat is like 12%. Need to cut down to single digit (aiming for 8%). That article really made me cool down. Seems like I’m heading the right direction. Thanks Jay.

  18. Brandon Cook April 13, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    This was an awesome article Jason and a great subject to tackle. I especially love the Steve Reeves and Frank Zane references as these are two lifters I highly respect, as well as represent what can be done naturally.

    Although, as you mentioned there are several exceptions to the over 200 rule, I think a lot of people (especially younger guys) do have a warped perception of what’s possible these days. Largely in part because of the secrecy and rampant use of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and sports misleads people to believe that these guys achieved their success naturally. Either that or people are just too naive! ;)

    Here is an interesting calculator I found that gives a fairly accurate depiction of what you can achieve based on your height, wrist, ankle and bodyfat % and based on the study of natural champions in the past. Not sure if you’ve seen it before, yet may be of value to your readers:

    http://www.weightrainer.net/bodypred.html

  19. Will April 13, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    If Haskell is 248lb at 6’4″, that’s 3.26lb per inch of height. At 11.25% BF, his fat free mass is 220lb. If he could maintain all his lean mass while cutting down to 6%, he’d end up at 234lb. That’s 3.07lb per inch of height, which is equivalent to a 5’9″ inch guy weighing roughly 210lb. That’s a slightly higher weight-to-height ratio than the NFL players Jay mentioned, but obviously Haskell wouldn’t maintain ALL his lean mass, so he’s really no different from Reggie Bush etc. Even Lebron James, who is a true genetic freak, is 3lb per inch of height. If a 5’9″ guy were to hit 220lb with single-digit bodyfat, then, he’d be carrying more mass relative to his height than even elite athletes like these. We should remember that guys like Haskell, James and Bush usually have very large bones, too, so the average guy would have to carry more muscle to reach the same weight-to-height ratio. That’s why I said 220lb would be outstanding.

    Everyone reading this needs to write this down somewhere and memorise it:
    ‘If NFL players have the best genetics in the world and after fifteen years of training can only get up to 200 pounds (assuming they are 5’10″ to 6′) ripped what makes people think the rest of us can do that so easily?’

  20. Blashyrkh April 13, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Thank you so much for this article, Jay. This just alleviated 75% of where my stress has come from the last couple of years. I feel completely re-focused now.

  21. Steve April 13, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    Amen to that! As a strength coach, I get asked how to put on size on a daily basis. My response is always “learn how to get stronger and do it.” Get rid of the body-part split crap, move well, lift heavy, and progress are great guidelines. Sidestory, I was 135 (soaking wet) through highschool and had to bust my ass to get up to 195 @ 10%bf and it is even more difficult to maintain. The big change came when I stopped doing “vanity exercises” as in most split routines and focused on simply getting stronger. Putting on almost 10lbs in a year is more than solid if you have been training for almost 10 years.

  22. Dave April 13, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Jay – that is why I stay tuned into your blog …You bring the realness like Leon brings the ruckus! You definitely put the low body fat goal into perspective for 220+ pounders.

    I’ve recently decided that I only want to focus on strength goals that take a looong time to achieve. I’ve started looking at having seasonal goals that span several months. Right now it is fat loss — I’m at 6ft / 226 lb and doing Waterbury’s Body of Fire to torch the fat. It is alot of metabolic circuits, sprinting, jump rope and good diet. I expect the scale, measurements and photos to change very slowly and to just work patiently until I see single digits!

  23. Jd April 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Jay

    Great article, definitely one I will read over and over. This is a great article for people, my self included, who often get frustrated with the lack of size gains relative to the work they put in. I constantly have to remind myself to be “realistic”. I don’t want to say that it is impossible to be 200+ and shredded but for the majority of us it is unfortunately the truth. The human body simple doesn’t have the desire or capability to support endless amount of muscle, of course that is, without the use of an anabolic substance.

    Thanks jay

    • Jason Ferruggia April 14, 2011 at 11:04 am #

      @Jd: It’s not impossible to be over 200 and shredded if you have the genetics for it and work your ass off toward that goal for 10-15 years. Just eat right, train hard and be consistent.

      @Rick- good points

      @Chappo- True

  24. Raymond-ZenMyFitness April 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Glad you mentioned it now I’m sort of considering that now. I want to get a bit bigger and have been thinking to start ‘bulking’ to help out and increase workout volumes ;bodybuilding levels but after reading this I’ll put it off … It might come again but I’ll stick to strenght building a while longer.
    Raymond

  25. Rick April 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    I think this is a big reason for a lot of people getting frustrated, great post Jay. I also believe that a lot of actors, models, athletes, etc. exaggerate their bodyweights. This, along with people using steroids, gives a lot of guys unrealistic goals. In my opinion, guys should stop worrying about body weight and just look at the numbers they are putting up in the weight room, tape measurements, and the mirror. In my experience, getting as lean as you want will show a much lower scale weight than you are expecting. If you get too caught up on not weighing enough, you will likely not reach your goals.

    I lost about 40 pounds over the last year or so. Still putting up the same numbers in the gym. People were thinking I was anorexic until they saw me with my shirt off. I know that if I were hung up on my body weight being 200 pounds, I would probably also be pretty fat still.

  26. This is a great post. Bodybuilding magazines give guys the wrong idea. I am 5’10″ and hover around 200lbs. I am pretty lean but I will tell you that if I want to stay lean and pack on muscle i have to do everything right. If I slack off the training for an extended time the muscle drops quickly, the same is true if I don’t eat enough.

    When you have are past the beginner stage slow and steady is the way to go. Keep at it and over time you will grow. The great thing about your method is that while you don’t see yourself getting bigger from month to month you do see yourself getting stronger.

  27. chappo April 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    5’10, 170lbs, super small bones,and low body fat looks alot bigger than it sounds.

  28. Alex Zinchenko April 14, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Great article, Jason. I see people obsessed about it all the time. Who cares how much do you weigh if you’re not a weight class athlete? The only things that matters is how strong you are, how good you look and how healthy you are. You can be under 200 lbs and look jacked while there are a lot of over 200 lbs guys who just look fat.

    -Alex

  29. John Dsouza April 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    So for a 5′ 6″ what would be the ideal weight? Is there an easy height/weight calculator.

    Also how does Creatine supplementation affect the body weight?

    Great article BTW

  30. Eskow April 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Oh Fuck. ALL THAT PIZZA FOR NOTHING!!!!!!!!! I guess hitting 315 on the bench was worth it. I am definitely at one of those points where I feel like over-eating is my only option. Good call with keeping it real.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 22, 2011 at 9:43 am #

      @Eskow: Science and experience have actually proven that over eating doesn’t work and is largely a waste of time. So you damage your internal organs and damage your gut health for very little in return. In 2011 we need to take a smarter approach. The final nail has been hammered into the old school, outdated bulking and cutting model.

  31. Sam- Look Like An Athlete April 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Thanks for “keeping it real.” There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to putting on muscle mass. I have been told many times that I would “look great” at 200 pounds. The thing is would I? We all have different body types so a 200 pound ectomorph will look different than a meso or endomorph. I personally think that I have to climb up in weight and then choose to either keep on putting on weight or stopping at a target range.

    You are right about a professional athlete and how elite they are in their fitness and physique
    level. Few look as ripped and lean as a Reggie Bush, for example.

  32. Jocko April 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I feel that a beginners potential gains often are exaggerated. No program has ever given me amazing gains after only 12 weeks! I might be beacuase of job related stress, but who doesn’t work or go to school and sometimes have to make compromises when it comes to sleep ?

    I have managed to gained 22 pounds but it took me three years of proper training – after 10 years of crappy training and crappy eating. Do you think I destroyd my potential gains beacuse I already had strong chest and arm muscles after alot of bench pressing av curls?

    I’m a small guy (5`6) weighing at 160 punds (I can see some of my abs right now), but only people who also are weight lifters can tell that I lift weights. I still gain weight, but I always also get fater everytime I try. Should I just accept that I’m past beginners level, accept that I’ve lots my chans of big gains, and just appreciate that I’m still getting stronger? Anyone?

  33. Jamin Thompson April 17, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    I actually laughed out loud when you said: “When you start up with the old school bulking approach all that usually ends up happening is you get fat. Then once you diet back down to the bodyfat you started at you’re the exact same size. So you put all that extra stress on your internal organs and joints for four months only to end up the exact same size.” Awesome statement. Bulking & cutting makes absolutely no sense when you lay it out like that, and so many guys out there sadly fall into this trap (I’ve done it too).

    A lot of guys also don’t realize that you can look like a 200 pound guy even if you weigh 165, it all usually comes down to how shredded you are. Sylvester Stallone is about 5’9” or so and weighed around 155 pounds when he filmed Rocky & Rambo, he was sliced but looked HUGE. People also typically assume I weigh about 20-30 pounds more than I actually do as well. I mean, if you aren’t in a sport that requires you to be at a certain weight, who cares what you weigh anyway. Like you said, always train for strength & performance. Great article dude.

  34. Will April 22, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    @Jason: ‘Science and experience have actually proven that over eating doesn’t work and is largely a waste of time.’ I don’t doubt you, but can you link to a study? I cut my calories at the point where I start to gain a tiny bit of fat. That’s still lean gains. Substantial FAT-FREE muscle gains for guys who’ve already gained 20lbs of muscle tend not to happen.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 22, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      @Will: You need to consume slightly more calories than you burn. That goes without saying. But not the old school bulks where you crammed down 7000 calories per day and got fat. Muscle can only be built at a very slow rate so you only need a very minimal calorie excess. Lean gains at a very slow pace (with peaks and valleys) is what you are after (beyond your first year or two when the gains will come much faster). You are correct in saying that substantial lean gains don’t come as quickly but they do come. It just takes a long time. If you do an old school bulk and eat tons of pizza all day, yes, you will gain a lot more muscle but you will gain fat as well. Then you’ll have to diet it all off and will end up only slightly bigger or maybe even the same size.

      Skinny ripped teenagers do great on bulking and force feeding for everyone else, not so much.

  35. Will April 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Thanks for the response. I really appreciate the fact that you answer comments. It’s so refreshing to hear from someone who doesn’t just want to push supplements all the time. I’ll reinstate my inner circle subscription as soon as I can afford it.

    By the way, how many guys have you actually seen squat 400lb STARTING from just below parallel? I trained with a guy who outweighed me by about 50lb (I’m 195-200) and he couldn’t budge 350lb like that. If it’s pretty rare to be able to do it, I might start specialising on squats to see if I can exploit whatever natural advantage I might have.

  36. Rick April 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    This old school thinking is so ingrained in some of you guys. Doesn’t it make sense that if you gain a bunch of muscle and fat, and then diet down to lose the fat, that you didn’t actually lose muscle in the dieting (ask anyone who has actually done it). All the fat is just making you appear to be bigger. Think of when you buy meat at the butcher; if you were to buy a fatty roast, when you went home to trim all the fat off of it, I bet the roast was quite a bit smaller, but there wasn’t less muscle (meat), just less fat=less overall size. Stop holding on to these old ideals that have been misproven time and time again.

  37. Jeff April 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    great to read.I was a fat 230 at 6’3″ for years. Now I am 39 and at 185 after dieting down. Jason- would love to do a program (have MSG ) now to put some more size on but keeping my BF low (pic here – )- any tips

  38. Jeff April 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    guess that link didn’t work- http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff500/kooshdog/3db92613.jpg

  39. Stavros April 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Thanks much for this, i think i will get motivated by reading this for long long times =)

  40. Yonel May 1, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Thank you for the realistic article Jason. I was confused as to why I gained 3lbs on the 1st phase of 3XM but by the time I finished the 2nd phase I had lost every single lb I gained in the 1st. I was down for a while but when I read this article I figured my metabolism kicked in & what happened was I probably lost a good amount of lbs in fat & gained a few in muscle thus the reason I went back to weighing what I did when I started? I don’t really know what happened… but for now I guess I’ll just keep lifting hard & heavy & continue working on my strength gains.

  41. Till October 26, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    “For a natural, drug free, genetically average guy to be ten percent bodyfat and 175-185 pounds is pretty damn good”

    Um, Jason… You keep saying you’re a skinny-fat hardgainer with the worst genetics, yet you’re above 200 (lean 200, I assume) – see the contradiction?

    • Jason Ferruggia October 26, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      @Till: I don’t see the contradiction because there is none. Yes, I hover between 195 and 210 most of the year these days, down from my old weight of 225-230 but that took twenty plus years of hard work. I did a lot of stupid stuff during the last 23 years and injured myself a bunch of times so I could have gotten much better results in a lot less time but the fact remains that those numbers are, in fact, “pretty damn good” for most average, drug free guys. If I got myself to a level that’s slightly above “pretty damn good” where is the contradiction?

  42. Till October 26, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    @Jason: Admittedly I may have sounded a bit more confrontional than I meant to. My point was that 210 IS really impressive – few people will EVER be this heavy at low body fat percentages. So the question is: could it be that your genetics aren’t all that crappy after all? (Again, not trying to downplay anything)

    • Jason Ferruggia October 26, 2011 at 9:45 am #

      @Till: Ha. Unfortunately, no, they are indeed that crappy. Trust me on that one. I have no reason to lie about that. And this post was also meant to be a wake up call to myself, not just the readers. When I’m being honest with myself I’m under 200 pounds when I’m lean. I just like the way I look with an extra 10-15lbs better. To have a visible six pack I’m closer to 190 than 210. But again, that’s after 23 years of work. So I’m not 210 with “very low bodyfat.” That’s freakish right there, and what Mark Bell was talking about. Very hard to do with exceptional genetics and drugs.

      Anyone with shitty genetics can get to a lean 190 in twenty years, assuming an average height of maybe 5’10″ ish. I mean, that’s not that much of a stretch or that hard to imagine. It is two solid decades of dedication. If I could go back twenty years and do it all over knowing what I know now I’m sure I could have gone from a lean 147 to a ripped 210. Now, will I ever be a ripped 210 being that I’m 37 right now? Who knows? Maybe sometime down the road. I personally feel better weighing slightly less but we’ll see. All I know is it would take a ton of hard work and dedication.

  43. Till October 26, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    As whimpy as it sounds, thanks for such an honest answer.

  44. Jeremy April 10, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Male and female alike should focus on performance and eat to perform well and then everything falls into place. I am personally about 180-190 and consistently getting stronger. I have to be very careful or I drop down to 170 easily. I am always amazed at both male and females with the best bodies are usually relatively light in weight.

  45. Tyler English April 10, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    That’s how I pride myself.

    185 off season, 172-174 on stage brotha! Lean, mean, and athletic! People need to stop looking at the jacked up PED bodybuilders of today and remember that guys like Zane helped paved the way for the aesthetic look and appeal.

    Great article bro!

  46. Niel Rishoi April 10, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Jason, Steve Reeves has been my model from just about day one. He broke the mold and set the standards for all time. As far as the workout-eating plan goes, thanks to you, I finally got it right – the “recipe,” the scientific formula, as it were. The last 2 months has been the best training period ever in my life. I took a “rest” from heavy training starting with the new year, taking a full 2 weeks off, and dialing it down for the following 6 weeks. It gave me a chance to review, summarize, read, refresh. Best time ever. The best implementation has been the eating plan. I don’t eat unless I feel hungry, and that means not eating for a full 4-6 hours after I’ve gotten up. Best life change EVER. I have energy and drive during the day whereas before I felt sluggish and f***kin’ stuffed. Results; I am actually losing fat AND gaining new muscle. My pant size has gone from size 38 from 2 years ago to 34, and they are starting to loosen up; mind you, they’re the “relaxed fit” jeans to accommodate my big legs (straight fit and boot cut are gone forever). I will never be fat again. Less, skinny-fat. I am not dieting, I eat voraciously and well – and good food tastes so effing fantastic. But it’s content, portion and timing. At 49 I’m in better shape and health than when I was 39, 29, 19! Thanks, Jason. Having your guidance is the best.

    • Alf Martinsen November 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Niel!

      Is it the Renegade diet you are following?

      regards

      /Alf a “young minded 47 ish, from Norway.”

  47. Suneet - SebastianFitnessSolutions.com April 10, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Great article Jason

    This needs to be shown to all the young fitness enthusiasts out there who are being forced into OCD in terms of muscle gain

    Will definitely share

    Great job

  48. Bodybybriscoe April 10, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    I preach and live this I am 6’0 and hover between 184 and 188 at 6%.

  49. wfmeets April 10, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    NEVER ever let your bodyfat get above 15% (meaning you should always be able to see at least some of your abs).

    What about women???

  50. EJC April 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Amen to this line of thinking,strong and lean is the best way to be longterm

  51. chad April 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. 175 lbs. 5’10 ripped looks alot bigger than sounds. Im happy!
    I have had to get on scale to prove that i’m not 200ish.

    • yep April 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

      definitely agreed

    • Jason Ferruggia April 15, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      @Chad- Yes it does. Being obsessed with the scale is silly

  52. Chase Mayeux April 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    “For a natural, drug free, genetically average guy to be ten percent bodyfat and 175-185 pounds is pretty damn good”

    Boom. That is great to hear and this means I have been going strongly on the right track.

    Great article!

  53. Jay April 13, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    This could not have come at a better time! I am a skinny-ish guy looking with a goal to compete in bodybuilding within 2-3 years. This gave me a good perspective on things. Appreciate you sharing this!

  54. Joe April 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Im only 5’4″ ( berry small I know) I was just wondering if you even have a ballpark at what weight I should aim at? Right now I’m 125ish and around 10-12% bf.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      @Joe- Don’t worry about it. Forget the scale. Just use the mirror and your performance in the gym

  55. Joe April 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Also I will add that when I graduated highschool at the same height I was only 109 pounds.

  56. Joe April 15, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Thanks for the quick reply that’s pretty much what I do now.

  57. Brandon May 11, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    I’m a skinny guy and will admit to being obsessed with gaining weight. The first time I tried I just ate everything, and just like Jay said I got fat. I lost the fat and ended up right where I started. This time I’m being smarter. Off days mean lower calories and carbs than training days. The gains aren’t as fast but they are coming and more importantly, I’m not getting fat. The strength gains are there too.

  58. don May 18, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    Hi,

    I just started working out again after many years off. Its been two months, and although i am getting stronger, my weight and bodyfat% is the same as when i started. Although i am very skinny or lean as some would say, my body is not really firm. Guess im skinny fat.
    Im 192 cm’s and weigh 70,5 kg’s. thats about 10 kilos less than what is recommended. Ive always been skinny and tall but this is the natural way i look. Now i would like to gain 4-6 kilos over time, but i dont want more fat, infact i want to get to 8% fat if possible, but im not sure how to go about it. I am eating very healthy, but maybe im getting to much fats from oils and nuts? Should i raise my daily calorie intake or do the low carb high carb thing?
    Its weird that im suddenly affraid to gain weight because of the fat that follows, when all my life until a few years ago, all i wanted was to gain weight, which i did following jasons skinny guy program. But i noticed in the last years that i put too much fat on in my face and it didnt look good on me. So guess the fats are going on my face and belly more than anything else. So i went from 73-74 kilos to 70,5. Would love to hear any thoughts.
    thanks.

    • Till May 19, 2012 at 1:55 am #

      Don, if you’re really committed, then buy muscle gaining secrets and follow the carb cycling protocol. And follow both your diet and your training to the letter, no second guessing. 155 lbs at 6’4 is painfully thin (the exact same look I had before training), so start doing something right now – and stick to it for at least three months before you consider something else. No program hopping.

  59. Cherry June 5, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Am 20 yr old girl, skinny and weigh 46. I want to get fat. What should i do.

  60. Phibion kamere` August 16, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    i bulked up from 84kg to 96kg and when i cut down i went down to 84kg. never bulking up

  61. john October 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    I’ve been training for a bit over a year, I’m now 6″4″ 230 lb(morning weight) at about 15% and I can still see a 4 pack. I’m aiming to get to roughly the same weight, but at 5% body fat. I think it’s doable, considering my height and that I have pretty good genetics.

  62. Sibghatallah Imdad November 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    thanks man, being 5 foot seven inches, 153 pounds, and 14 percent bodyfat, i really needed this.

  63. ebuka December 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    i need musle

  64. Joey r January 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Hi guys.

    Im 207 pounds and about 13% bf. Im in a dilema as to what my next step is. Im training hard and putting on size but its just bulk not lean muscle. Should my next step be big diet change or training change? Any help please

    • Jason Ferruggia January 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      @Joey- I’d tried to lean down for the next 4-8 weeks then focus on gaining size again.

  65. George May 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    In fact, one weight gain fan said eating before bed is a sure fire winner in the war on gaining weight because your body can’t burn fat while you are asleep.

  66. Nesta June 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    I’m a sprinter at 5’8 175 with body fat under 10 I’m not that big if your 5’10-6’0 190 isn’t put of range at all

  67. Mike June 13, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Hi J,

    Great Article! I’m 6’0″ and 200lbs and at 15.6% body fat. I know I should lean down but it seems that Im just stuck at this body fat %… What would you recommend to get my Boday Fat down?

    Thanks!

  68. skylar July 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    OK so I’m 15 years old and am naturally skinny and my brother is small but yet he has muscle and i have tried eating more but it doesn’t work for me so am i at a loss? i need help…

  69. Mark October 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    I have been training in the gym for half a year…I’m Mark, 24, a very skinny guy, and I mean it…I started training in the gym lifting only 20 pounds and breathes like a horse and tired like a dog with that… Now, its been almost half a year, I don’t actually got my weight when I started training, but now I’m 110 pounds… And compared to 20 pounds of weights I’m now lifting about 100 pounds mostly on bench presses and something like that, and most of the people I know said that I grew big (compared to the VERY skinny, malnourished looking guy they knew before)… I just wanna ask, I’ve gain right? And now I’ve been introduced by Mr. Jason’s program, I’ll try it…when my gym mate saw the programs, he laughed, and said I’ts just a waste of time doing only a little sets and reps of those exercises, but I’m still serious and determined to do those programs. And I hope I can achieve the great body that I want to get… I’m not in a hurry and I don’t compete with anyone, I’m just hoping that it would work for me, a guy with a very lame genetic…