I Gained 20 Pounds Of Muscle In 12 Weeks And This Is What Happened


I’ve always felt betrayed by my body. I didn’t hit puberty
until the end of high school, so I was always the smallest
kid in class. I worked out longer than the other guys in the
gym and ate twice as much, but I was left half their size. I
didn’t look like everyone else, and as a teenager, that’s all
anyone ever wants.

My body image issues resulted in a severe lack of confidence
that made me question my self-worth. I did not think I
deserved to feel good.
I constantly compared myself to my
two older brothers and my identical twin, who somehow always
seemed to look a few years older than me. I was also
hypnotized by the media’s portrayal of how men were
“supposed” to look.

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3. Now, at
25 years old, I decided to try and find myself. I enlisted
the help of a nutritionist and trainer, giving myself 12
weeks to transform my body and gain as much muscle mass as
possible.

I wanted to finally gain confidence. Also, to be honest, I
wanted to look good naked.

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Note: Not everyone’s body composition goals and
confidence revolve around getting swole, so don’t think of
this as a one-size-fits-all
Get A Better Body plan.
Everyone has different goals and motivations, and these are
mine. If they work for you, too, awesome.

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First, 4 sets of 5–10 reps of:

Goblet squats with kettlebell

Walking lunges with dumbbells

Alternating push-ups and pull-ups

Next, 4 sets of this circuit, working up to a minute for each
one:

Forearm plank

Dead hang from pull-up bar

Squat hold (sit in the bottom of a squat)


Here’s a post on how to do all of these exercises.

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First, 4 sets of 5–10 reps of:

Deadlifts

Bulgarian split squats with kettlebells

Alternating push-ups and chin-ups

Next, 4 sets of this circuit, working up to a minute for each
one:

Tricep
dip hold

Dead hang from pull-up bar

Squat hold (sit in the bottom of a squat)


Here’s a post on how to do all of these exercises.

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First, 4 sets of 5–10 reps of:

Barbell back squat

Farmer’s carry (minimum 20-second hold each rep)

Alternating push-ups and pull-ups

Next, 4 sets of this circuit, working up to a minute for each
one:

Hand plank

Dead hang from pull-up bar

Squat hold (sit in the bottom of a squat)


Here’s a post on how to do all of these exercises.

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View this image ›

Matheny had me on a low-carb, high-fat diet. This, in
combination with my workouts, allowed me to gain a lot of
weight in the form of muscle instead of fat. My
minimum daily intake was 3,005 calories.

My daily food intake was supposed to be made up of roughly
25% protein, 55% fat, and 20% carbs. I didn’t know what any
of that meant, so I downloaded
MyFitnessPal, a free app that literally counts all the
food macros for you. It was a lifesaver.

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15. Here’s
what a typical day on my new 3,500 calorie meal-plan looked
like.

Here's what a typical day on my new 3,500 calorie meal-plan looked like.

View this image ›

Andrew Richard / Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

I drank four protein shakes a day when I worked out,
and three on days I didn’t. I worked out six days a week, so
that equals 27 shakes a week. Help.

I started each morning with a Promix protein
shake and a cup of ice cream. Matheny told me to always
eat ice cream before a workout ‘cause it’s a great energy
booster and helped me up my fat intake
. After the gym I’d
drink another shake and eat my second breakfast.

Matheny was strict about my high-fat diet, ‘cause that’s how
I was gonna gain a lot of mass, so I melted tablespoons of
butter into my meals
. My second breakfast was a half-cup
of oats, a tablespoon of peanut butter, two tablespoons of
butter, and a glass of whole milk.

For lunch I’d grab a wrap or a burrito — something quick that
had a lot of fat and calories — and eat two cups of full-fat
Greek yogurt. Then I’d drink my third protein shake.

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24. For me,
I realized that visual changes were hugely motivating.

For me, I realized that visual changes were hugely motivating.

View this image ›

I normally wouldn’t post pictures like this, but, dammit, I
worked hard and wanted people to know. I also started to see
subtle changes in my appearance and wanted to see if other
people noticed them too.

Side note: The biggest mistake people make is that
they expect to see huge results immediately, and if they
don’t see changes they’ll give up. Working out and watching
what you eat is tough. It’s literally a lifestyle change. But
getting that first unsolicited compliment about your progress
sort of makes up for that.

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29. Also, I
had to adjust the wristband on my watch because it was too
tight, so that meant I was actually getting bigger!

Also, I had to adjust the wristband on my watch because it was too tight, so that meant I was actually getting bigger!

View this image ›

I finally adjusted my wristband from the smallest notch! Even
if you couldn’t tell just by looking at me, this proved that
my wrists and arms got bigger.

With all of that said, I did have a setback this week. I wore
a long-sleeve shirt to work, and it was my size and
everything, but it made me look so skinny. A coworker even
asked if I lost weight, which made me feel even worse. I
threw the shirt away the second I got home because I was so
frustrated with myself and what I now worried was maybe a
lack of progress.

But that didn’t mean I wasn’t improving. I increased my
lifting weights again, and I felt more confident at the gym.

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32. I
learned how to make healthy food swaps, even when I wasn’t
the one cooking.

I learned how to make healthy food swaps, even when I wasn't the one cooking.

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It was obviously easier to follow my diet when I was making
my own meals, but sometimes there was no way around that. For
example, I went out to eat to celebrate with some coworkers,
and I subbed out a traditional burger and fries for a turkey
burger without the bun. The bun and fries would have exceeded
my carb limit for the day, so I replaced them with greens and
a fatty dressing.

Because I worked out in the mornings, my body was already
in healthy mode, so that helped me make better decisions and
food swaps during the rest of the day.

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36. I felt
great about my progress, but then, 10 weeks in, I was majorly
thrown off…

A random man on the subway came up to me and yelled at me to
get away from him. He screamed at me, got in my face, and
insulted me in a way that hit on everything I had been
self-conscious about my entire life. I was left shaken and
speechless and stopped riding that train altogether, in fear
of running into him again.

This confrontation made me want to skip the gym and just give
up. But then something clicked inside my head, and I
decided to use this man from the subway to fuel me.

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40. This
was a tough week because I got super sick, and the last thing
I wanted to do was go to the gym.

I was that annoying kid you grew up with who only missed one
day of school from first grade through college. I never broke
the rules, and I was never late for anything, so having to
skip two days at the gym made me feel insanely guilty. I
didn’t want people to read this post and not be impressed
with my results, because if they saw me fail then they might
not think they could succeed either. I didn’t want to
disappoint anyone.

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My perception of manliness used to revolve around chiseled
cheekbones and cheese grater abs. I thought my identity was
bound in my physical appearance and I would not exist until I
looked like a real man. I’ve finally realized that there’s
no such thing as a “real” man.

There’s no simple or sexy way to put it: If you want to
see progress, you have to put in the work.
That’s it. You
don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve to make your
resolutions and change your life. I plan on continuing my
journey, and my next goal is to put on another 20 pounds of
muscle.

I learned very early on that you shouldn’t compare yourself
to other people at the gym. The only person you need to focus
on is yourself. So, instead of revealing the exact number of
weights I lift now, I’ll tell you this: I’m squatting well
more than my body weight, and I’m deadlifting twice as much
as when I first started. But more importantly, I’m finally
starting to like myself.

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Training, nutrition plans, and Promix protein shakes were
provided to me free of charge.

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