Being skinny sucks.

Being skinny when you’re going to the gym lots but don’t know what you’re doing sucks even more.

I was once described as ‘gangly’ in a local newspaper football report and my Grandad (rest his soul) once referred to me as a ‘lanky streak of piss’.

I’m not built for muscle.

My body will do whatever it can to get rid of it.

If I run for a bus, I swear I get there 5kg lighter.

In all seriousness, I lost 9kg in 31 days when I cycled across Australia.

Whilst it was for a purpose, I nearly needed counselling after stepping off the scales.

Two months ago I stupidly posted to the Facebook world that I would hit 100kg in weight for New Years Eve or commit to a horrific forfeit involving 1000 Assault Bike calories and running up the 4k hill to Big Buddha here in Phuket.

With a weighted vest on…

..for every kilogram under 100kg.

At the time of writing I was 89.5kg. 

4 weeks later, I found out I have radial tears in two of my neck discs and a likely shoulder impingement.

Lesson #1. I don’t quit. Ever.

I started at 89.5kg at the time of posting and weighed in today at 96kg.

4kg to go with 4.5 weeks left.

I do not want to run to Big Buddha in a weighted vest in 35 degree heat having just done 1000 calories on the Assault Bike.

The obvious question is “Are you just stuffing your face and not caring about fat”.

No, although I have put on a little fat since starting.

Personally, I would rather do that than calorie count to the milligram and I know I can strip fat quickly when the time comes.


                             Week 1                                                                 Week 8 

A Thailand tan helps the photo’s but not the scales!

Here’s what I have and haven’t been doing, influenced by Christian Thibadeau’s programming and ideologies.

The training program is a combination of Westside barbell methodology and bodybuilding.

I want to get bigger but I also want to perform and see strength gains, hence why this is not a standard bodybuilding program.

I want to be able to sprint and jump and feel like an athlete rather than a lump of useless bulk.

That said, in a couple of weeks, I will switch things up with higher volume in the hypertrophy rep range (6-12 reps) for the final push through Christmas and to make better use of festive calories!

I have also added two conditioning sessions because I enjoy it and because my Neurological Profile is one of low base dopamine levels, I preferred to train lots rather than take too much complete rest.

I train 8 times per week.

2 x Max effort workouts involving 2-3RM sets followed by 4-6 and 8-10 rep supplementary work.

Through testing (and sports history) I know I have a pretty balanced mix of fast twitch and slow twitch fibres.

Training in the ‘max strength’ range will help elicit growth of the fast twitch fibres which are often ignored by guys in the gym just hitting 10-12 reps of everything.


A: Back squat: Build to 3RM for that day over 5-8 sets.

B: Zercher squat: 4 x 6 reps

C1: Clean pull from power position 4 x 4-6 reps

C2: Reverse hyper: 4 x 10-12 reps

2 x Double stimulation workouts involving higher reps, more tension and slower tempo’s such as 3030.

These sessions feature the same muscles as the max effort workout the day before plus I’ll throw in extra on my lagging areas (usually arms).

This extra volume has been great for adding more size quickly.


A: Bike sprint at max resistance: 3 x 30 seconds

B: Deficit reverse lunge: 3 x 12 each side

C: Leg extension: 3 x 12-15 reps (2020 tempo)

C1: Preacher curl: 3 x 8-10 reps (3030 tempo)

C2: Tricep press down with cable rope attachment: 3 x 8-10 reps (3030 tempo)

D: Abs exercises of choice (10 minute circuit)

2 x Dynamic effort workouts involving power work and strength speed work.

Strength speed is essentially generating maximum acceleration with about 60% of 1RM for that exercise.


A: Bench press: 6 x 3 reps (50-65% of 1RM, 60 sec rest)

B: Push press with slow eccentric: 4 x 6 reps

C1: DB shoulder matrix: 3 x 12 + 12 (front raise into side raise, 3030 tempo)

C2: Seated cable reverse flye: 3 x 12-15 (chest to seat pad, 3030 tempo)

D: Max push ups: 3 x Max (Pump style reps)

1-2 x AMPED Conditioning workouts with no more than 30 minutes work (excluding warm up). The actual work time at intensity is usually around 10 minutes.

Sometimes this is hill sprints, sometimes an AMRAP style workout, sometimes Tabata work, sometimes a group class here in Thailand for the social factor…it varies.

Had I left these out, I may have experienced even more growth in that time.

For me it’s about prioritising particular elements for that phase – in this case, hypertrophy – without ever dropping any element completely.

What About Food?

I’m not a fan of calorie counting beyond having a rough idea and adjusting according to progress.

I do however, make sure I get a minimum of 2g of protein per 1kg of lean bodyweight, per day.

I eat three meals per day of approximately 800 calories each with two smoothies of approximately 1000 calories per day.

Roughly speaking this will bring me to about 4500 calories per day.

I aim for around 40-50 calories per 1kg of lean body weight for gaining mass.

So 90kg x 40-50 = 3600-4500 calories per day

95kg x 40-50= 3800-4750 per day.

So, we’re in the right ball park for mass gain without too much fat.

I rest on Sundays so I tend to drop one smoothie from the agenda.

The smoothies contain whey protein, maltodextrin and 5g of creatine.

Pre-workout and intra-workout (all workouts) is a dose of BCAA’s.

If I’m training first thing and haven’t eaten, I’ll also smash a Gatorade pre-workout to blunt cortisol production.


Important Stuff

This works for me because I know my body type and what works and doesn’t.

You could do the 2 x max effort and 2 x dynamic sessions just like the typical Westside Barbell approach.

This may work better for you particularly if you are short on time and/or do better with more rest days.

If you are going to go for the whole thing, you need to EAT.

No more than that.

No…more than that as well!

Track a day of nutrition to find out what you’re eating right now.

Most guys trying to build muscle don’t train max strength, don’t use enough tension in EVERY rep (usually because it involves an ego hit and lowering the weight you usually use), don’t focus on mind-muscle connection and don’t eat enough.

Don’t be that guy.

Be bigger.