Skinny to Strong: A Primal Success Story in Progress
I do not have a dramatic weight loss story to share. I have never been overweight. In fact, I have always had the opposite problem. I have always been too skinny. I am sharing my story to show you that primal is not just for overweight people trying to lose weight. It is also for skinny people who want to get stronger and bigger. It is for everyone. I am still very much a work in progress, but I feel like I am on the right track.
Three months ago, before I discovered the primal lifestyle, I weighed a whopping 135 pounds. Since I am 6'0 tall, I looked semi-anorexic. Here is a picture (sorry for cropping out my face, I still feel a little weird about showing shirtless pics of myself to people):
I wanted to get stronger and build some muscle, and I wanted to do it within the context of the primal blueprint. So I began lifting heavy things and eating A LOT of good primal food, with a heavy emphasis on protein. I have been eating lots of eggs, meat, fish, and cottage cheese. I never had any desire to do GOMAD, but I do, admittedly, drink a couple of glasses of milk a day. I also never went low carb. I eat pleny of primal carbs like white rice, sweet potatoes, and fruit. I tend to think that low carb is only a temporary solution for overweight people. Those of us who want to build muscle by lifting heavy things need plenty of carbs.
For the first couple of weeks, I screwed around a lot in the gym. I was the classic gym idiot. I spent a lot of time doing curls, lunges, sit ups, leg raises, lat pulldowns, etc. I clearly had a very skewed idea of what Mark meant by "lift heavy things." Finally, I read Mark's article about how to gain weight and build muscle:
How to Gain Weight and Build Muscle | Mark's Daily Apple
That is when I decided to start doing squats, bench presses, and chin ups. When I began about 10 weeks ago, I could bench about 95, squat 115, and do 3 bodyweight chin ups. As of my last workout, my stats are:
Bench: 140 for 3 sets of 5
Squat: 180 for 3 sets of 5
Chin up: BW+10 for 3 sets of 5
I now weigh 160, and this is what I look like:
I want to add deadlifts and overhead presses into my workouts. I ordered a copy of Starting Strength, and I am going to learn how to do those lifts. I am going to take next week off, and then begin doing Starting Strength style workouts the following week. I am not sure if I want to do power cleans. I think I might just substitute weighted chins for the cleans.
I am still a work in progress, but I am pretty happy with my results so far. I haven't been perfect, so that has probably slowed my progress. With your help, I hope that I will have even better results in the weeks and months ahead.
I posted this in the Fitness forum because I plan on keeping a workout log and tracking my progress. I think this will help keep me on track. I would greatly appreciate any advice that you have. I look forward to learning from my fellow primals.
I think you're going to enjoy Starting Strength. I did it for a while (before graduating; yay for a free gym membership!), and I got addicted to deadlifts and overhead presses. I substituted chinups for power cleans because I wasn't flexible enough to rack the bar. Best of luck!
Hi. Thought I'd chip in on this one, as your goals are similar to mine. I'm not as tall as you, and I'm a bit heavier, but I too am trying to turn a life-long skinny physique into a muscular one. I started on 1st Jan 2012, and 2 months in, I'm pretty happy with my progress. Only put on 5lbs so far, but seeing good strength gains and noticing an increase in size and better shape. I'm also interested in what eating Primal does internally, as well as from an aesthetic point of view. Optimal health is the goal.
Anyway, your pictures aren't able to be viewed yet, but I'll keep an eye out for your journal. Personally, I'm finding the workouts okay, but the eating part really hard. I feel so full with the Primal eating that it's hard to shove down enough calories each day, have to really force myself to eat. But it's going okay. Feel free to check out my journal, and best of luck with achieving your goals.
Thank you, mightstone2k. I am definitely looking forward to Starting Strength. I practiced the overhead press today. I still need to practice a little more to get my form down, but I think I am really going to enjoy this lift. I have attempted to learn the clean before, but I also had a lot of trouble with it. I love weighted chins, though.
Englishman in Oz, I definitely agree with you that eating enough food to put on weight can be difficult. I usually have to stuff myself until I feel like I am going to explode. I consume some questionably primal stuff (e.g., milk and almond butter) in order to stuff in some extra calories. I just checked out your journal, and it looks like you are making good progress. I can definitely tell a difference in your Feb. pictures when contrasted with your Dec. pictures. I will definitely keep an eye on your journal. Good luck to you, too!
That is very impressive and a huge amount of muscle gain in an unusually short period of time. Were you a malnourished vegan before?
I wouldnt expect to keep up that growth levels long term but keep going while your body is responding and you will get great results. Putting on muscle isn't easy usually and most people struggle with about ten pounds a year
I was not a vegan, but I was definitely malnourished. I have just never had much of an appetite. For me, eating until I'm full generally means undereating. I have to stuff myself in order to gain weight.
You are correct that I won't be able to sustain this level of growth for too long. I have gained some fat along with the muscle over the past 3 months, but I am ok with that. Some amount of fat gain is probably inevitable on a bulking diet. I am really looking forward to seeing what level of strength/muscle gain I can obtain with Starting Strength.
To the OP - Nice man! We are pretty much identical size. Or at least were..I hover around 145. Can you post up say a day's worth of meals? Just for example?
Sure thing. I tend to eat the same things over and over again, so this is a very typical day for me:
Breakfast (around 7:00 am): 4 egg omelet with ham, cheese, and onions. An apple. Two tablespoons of almond butter. A glass of milk.
Lunch (around 12:30 pm): Big Ass Salad with two cans of tuna/salmon, ham, and boiled eggs, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A piece of fruit, usually a banana, on the side.
Snack (around 5:30 pm): Cottage cheese (generally 8 to 10 ounces), two or three tablespoons of almond butter, and a glass of milk.
On workout days I will have a whey protein shake post-workout at around 8:00 pm.
Dinner (around 9:00 pm): Steak or a couple of chicken breasts. On workout days I will accompany this with a sweet potato and some white rice. On rest days I will accompany it with a copious amount of veggies.
There is some questionably primal stuff in my diet (milk, almond butter, whey protein shakes), but it really helps to pack in the extra calories. If you are like me, then you generally have to stuff yourself until you are kind of uncomfortable in order to gain weight.
You look great. Your hard work is paying off! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!
We get one shot at life, let's make it amazing