How To Get Big While Doing Crossfit

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Based on the amount of emails I get regarding it, the question of the century seems to be “How can I put on more quality weight while still doing Crossfit and not losing my speed?”How I read this question is “How can I put on more weight without altering anything I am doing and without losing my abs?” You don’t have to be like me and get big by any means necessary, you can still put on quality weight over a period of time while improving your lifts and keeping your speed. I am going to outline three of the main issues I see when consulting Crossfitters who want to get bigger.



Jannetti knows whats up


1. Altering Your Diet (Duh)

Let’s take a look at what CF says about diet: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” Right there in the definition it explains to eat enough to maintain your current body mass but not add extra. There is a reason why women can add some quality weight on paleo while men have difficulty putting on weight. Some women who previously ate less meat and fat are now eating more meat and fat and can see some gain, whereas men (who on average require more calories) are now eating less calories.

I am going to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear:


Eating bacon and eggs for breakfast is NOT eating big

There I said it. Let’s break down a bacon and egg breakfast in terms of calories. 6 pieces of bacon is about 200 calories, and 5 eggs would be about 310 calories. That is a whopping total of 510 calories. If you aren’t adding AT LEAST a whole avocado to that, how can you expect to put on weight?

Another thing to remember is that simply eating meat and a little fat won’t help you add very much weight. If you are eating low carb, the protein you eat is going to be used for energy, not for building muscle. Help protein do it’s job by adding more carbs back into your diet.


Streaky is down for carbs

Most of the LBEB crew is gluten-free, except for the occasional lasagna. If you want to put on some decent quality weight, try adding in 1/2 cup (measured before cooking) of rice to your meals 3-4 times a week. I recommend white rice as the shell of the whole grain kernel can cause GI problems just like gluten can. If you don’t want rice, add in 3-4 extra sweet potatoes a day. 

On top of these meals, adding in blended food shakes can help you add more weight. Twice a day, I will blend 3 cups of Rice Krispies with 100 grams of Cinnamon Bun grass-fed whey protein from TrueNutrition.com.
It is important to remember that shakes and post-workout drinks are SUPPLEMENTS, not REPLACEMENTS. Add them in to compliment your solid food intake, not replace it.


2. Decreasing The Training Days


The second most common question I get is people who want me to write a strength program followed by them saying they also hit 4-5 WOD’s a week, go to yoga 2-3x, run 5-10 miles a week, etc. It doesn’t take much brain exercise to figure out why hitting 8-11 workouts a week is keeping you from putting on mass, especially when combined with a diet that is supposed to help a sedentary person lose weight, not fuel high level athletes. If you are eating extra food to help you grow, working off those calories is the opposite of what you want to be doing.

When it comes to workouts, I believe in quality over quantity, and I believe in structure. Streaky learned this the hard way, she used to hit a random workout every day, some times twice a day, which led to some awesome injuries, right Streaky? She learned her lessons and now takes scheduled deloads, planned days off, and is always able to go to her next workout fresh and ready to roll. Her food is fueling her, as well as helping her grow. That is what we want when we are trying to cultivate mass.

You won’t get fat if you take a scheduled day off. In fact, that day off will allow your muscle fibers to repair and grow back stronger and bigger than before if you are eating correctly, and the fat will stay relatively low as long as you don’t overdo your carb intake. Not everyone wants to look like Marshall or myself (which confuses me!)

3. More Short & Heavy, Less Long & Light


As we have stated before, If you want to increase performance as well as increase quality body weight, decrease the amount light reps you are doing in favor of fewer, heavier sets. Doing a 150 air squats may give you an awesome lactic acid buildup, but as far as increasing mass beyond the average beginner gains, the progress just won’t be there. 

Along with this, if you want to improve your Grace or Isabel time, don’t just do 30 reps as fast as possible with the prescribed weight: do 10 sets of 3 reps with 1.75-2x the prescribed weight. Not only will this improve your strength and help you focus on your form, it will make the prescribed weight feel like peanuts after a few months.

Trade off the 20-30 minute metcons in favor of shorter and much heavier workouts to improve your overall strength without decreasing your conditioning; that I promise you. The only conditioning I have done in the past year is my Strongman events on Friday, and I can still row a faster 500m than most of you who read this site (1:20) at 285lbs.

These three aspects of altering your Crossfit lifestyle will help you to put on the quality weight you want to, while still maintaining that speed that is all-important to Crossfit. You don’t have to be 300lbs, but if you are 5’11” and 170lbs, you might want to consider adding some mass to your body!

Pastor B out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04739255394627824669 Gene

    Great job Pastor B… very well done!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00431226768088820677 Art van der Heide

    You only just talk about mass, it’s only once that you mention quality mass, but I reckon you’re always talking about quality mass equals muscle and not body fat?

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04538466237022371602 Jason Kelley

      This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11314276648817188846 Colter

    Gold brotha, and so true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12890619548516399900 Dale Bower

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12890619548516399900 Dale Bower

    I’m 6’7″ 210lbs. Looking to be 235ish. I’m glad to see this post keeps me going to see I’m doing it right!!

  • Anonymous

    Nice article. I would like to weigh in (yes, pun very much intended) on the subject. I have gained 18 lbs (13 muscle, 5 fat) in last 6 months or so. Not a massive gain, but solid, and definitely quality weight. I already ate pretty clean but I made several key changes.
    1. Increase Overall Intake – Seems pretty obvious, but every time I ate I made a conscious effort to eat as much as I could.
    2. Increase Carbs – Not much of a rice guy but I started to add at least one (more when I could) sweet potato(es) a day, especially post-workout.
    3. Drink Milk – If you can handle it this is nature’s best weight-gainer. This will make you gain some body fat but if everything else remains clean sometimes a little fat gain is welcome.
    B is right, supplements are extra and not replacements and can be a great tool to add after a meal for between meals for extra calories.
    Just my two cents.

  • Anonymous

    This is some real “duh” shit that’s being said over and over. I’m not discrediting the author because obviously there’s an audience for it but come on people, low calories and metconing yourself to cortisol hell isn’t the way to get big.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03237645891858318362 Brad Jones

    Excellent! (Not all CF’ers are dummies).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07856170803985491910 Franco Crincoli

    Love it. And a big “duh” to all the xfitters. LBEB makes animals not sheeple.

  • http://woddate.com/ Kevin

    3-4 extra sweet potatoes a day huh?:)

  • Anonymous

    Brandon good article, it may be a no brainer but like you said you recieve e-mails on a regular basis so someones not getting it. I posted earlier not sur if it got taken down or what but wanted to hear your thoughts on Carb Backloading. Stay Strong My Friends.

  • http://www.workhardworkharder.com/ James

    Dietary enzymes helped me up the food intake. That’s also a post by LBEB ;)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17972480378892072041 Prof. Steven M. Platek

    Brandon, good article and timing for me, like others, I realize it’s being or have been said a lot, but as I always tell my students and what I know is good in the training room: repetition isn’t bad!

    This prescriptions sounds a lot like CFFB, especially with the adding extra sw. potatoes. (not rice). Just recently I’ve started adding in more carbs, mainly for energy, but in the short time I’ve done it, I’ve had no less than a dozen people ask me if I am getting bigger, or comment on that fact. I’m old, a family man, a professor, I’m not necessarily looking to be huge, but if it happens I won’t complain. I can’t believe you can row a 1:20 – that’s shit balls fast bro!

    A few suggestions I’ve been given or have come up with for adding more calories in a good way:
    - coconut milk (all fat, but tasty as hell)
    - kerry gold butter (just put that shit on everything, or just eat it, seriously, just eat it like a lolipop, as long as you aren’t trying to lean out combined with Coconut milk, the MCTs give good energy and aren’t stored as fat)
    - my new favorite carb: PB&J&nutella on rice cake. I know rice cakes are not manly, but fuck it, they taste good covered in all that spread-able wonderfulness!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04643259633451258276 Amy

    Oooooh Professor, your food blog!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15727280736601200228 Oscar Schneegans

    So, basically, follow CrossFit Football or Rob Orlando’s Strongman WOD.

  • Ashley P

    Great article. On a side note, Streaky has a photo with another beautiful athlete to the left of this artcile, who is she? Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      chyna cho

  • Anonymous

    bacon and eggs are zero calories. Bacon is a condiment and so no calories and eggs are a snack and so also don’t count.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00974491532702914079 Kyle

    Good article B.

    I think another seemingly simple solution is to find Crossfitters that are bigger guys and see what they are doing to stay big. For anyone checking out this article Rob Orlando and Jason Khalipa are 2 guys that I would suggest reading up on.

  • Anonymous

    Im a big guy at 5’8″ 250lb, I have very average WOD times and would love to have my 15+lb of extra fat convert into some good lean weight!! Glad to hear theres hope for us heavy boys…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03143703141659600131 Mark Wood

    It’s also important to remember that it’s crucial to have a main goal. Don’t want to get big then also aim for regionals. If you are already regionals level then thats great, take some time to add some mass. However if you decide to train Outlaw then guess what, your volume has gone up and you need to eat a disgusting amount of food.

  • Anonymous

    That was wicked awesome. thank you! Captain America

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03676263775372391689 Aaron Malin

    Great read. You always keep my motivation up Bran!

  • Anonymous

    Great article

  • Anonymous

    Nice details on a lot of this, but a lot of it is contrary to proper health. White rice is just about the worst health decision you can make. It leeches calcium and other minerals and vitamins from your body (which weakens your bones and does not make you “big”). Also, most rice has levels of various chemicals used to bleach it, etc.

    You are MUCH better off eating brown rice, as it actually has nutritional value.

    Most GI problems related to gluten have to do with a deficiency in Salvestrols. The solution is not to eat bad food because of it. The solution is to solve the underlying problem so you can live healthy.

  • Billy

    Great article. Hit home when I read the 5’11” 170#, that’s where bacon and eggs have gotten me from 195#. Shedded,but hard to make strength gains lately.

  • Anonymous

    This is better than the other page i was just reading and had to neg.comment. Here, some of the info IS true. There’s alot of gams and dependencies though– buyer beware ;)

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  • Anonymous

    What do you recommend for calories per pound to get big?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09747800005927226111 Your wrong

    Problem is I would believe you to be an expert if I were not scientifically literate. You guys are still on the gluten free bs when research shows cutting it out would do you know good if you do not have celiac disease, otherwise having no health benefit whatsoever. Even the paleo diet is bullshit.
    http://nothinginbiology.org/2012/08/28/paleo-diet/
    http://www.salon.com/2013/06/09/paleo_diet_is_founded_more_on_privilege_than_logic_partner/
    http://jezebel.com/sorry-neo-cavemen-but-your-paleo-diet-is-pretty-much-512277993

    Gluten free bullshit:
    http://www.medpagetoday.com/gastroenterology/generalgastroenterology/31273

    Above article suggests the fact gluten sensitivity might not exist and only explained by the nocebo effect.

    more on gluten free nonsense:

    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/10/04/debunking-gluten-free-myths
    http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/nutrition/diet-myths-debunked/

    Honestly stop giving advice. People can be fooled to believe you know what your talking about. Sometimes these people will take your advice over actual qualified health professionals. What you are doing is irresponsible. No matter how benign your post may seem, you are fueling part of a subculture of people whom would otherwise be intelligent individuals. Instead, you advise people into believing unverified, unscientific bullshit nonsense than evidence based solutions.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13391503139421765990 coolhand_luke

      “Science” doesn’t have an answer for everything right now. Just like the subatomic particles were thought to be the smallest particle for so many years, now we know better with the confirmation in 2012 of the Higgs boson through experiments in the Large Hadron Collider. Science aside though.

      The fact is that many people feel better when they reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. I for one go through phases of reduced gluten or even take it out altogether.

      I agree paleo is not ideal for anyone with a moderate to heavy training regime and similarly agree, yes, it is better to eat whole grains/foods over the white processed foods.

      This study may provide some insight into Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085%2813%2900702-6/abstract

      So whilst science doesn’t provide an answer right now, only people themselves know how they feel. Maybe there is an unknown condition relating to gluten absorption? Gluten content in Wheat is 2-3 times more than what it was post WW2.

      Our bodies are absolute machines and just because science doesn’t explain something doesn’t mean it’s not true.

      There is so much still, to this day, not known about the human body.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07100117454727001459 Randy Devost

    I eat mostly paleo and do crossfit, I have to say that I like rice but usually eat wild rice. Now I’m almost considering adding some white rice maybe twice a week to my dinners… thanks

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17242657429159662803 James

    “Your Wrong” — scientifically literate (though not grammatically), and you are posting crap from Fitness Magazine, Jezebel, and USNews?? The “Paleo Diet” (or “stop eating shit processed foods) and gluten sensitivity may be controversial, but has just as much (or more) scientific evidence to back it up as your links. And what “qualified health professionals,” the ones bought and paid by Pharma and the AMA, spouting the same tired nonsense from 50+ years ago?

    You want to debate, fine — but you are being disingenuous making broad-based claims to the contrary.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04538466237022371602 Jason Kelley

    “If you are eating low carb, the protein you eat is going to be used for energy, not for building muscle”

    This is a bit silly. Assuming you are comparing the same kcal intakes. The protein used for “muscle building” will be the same in both scenarios.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18195794184118795620 logan greenwood

    So what you are saying is eat 5 eggs, 15 pieces of bacon and add grits for breakfast. You had me at bacon…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15201990232826090253 Ian

    Time to up my carb intake! Thanks for the heads up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03699132180688698087 Denis Brown

    to stay big and fit while doing crossfit I carb backload. The paleo diet did make me lose fat but I also lost a tremendous amount of strength. Close to 10-15% depending on the lift. Carb backloading has me back on track

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14329288511904509421 Korzak G.

    What if you’re doing crossfit and overweight? I’m 5’10” and 230, and at least 30-35lbs of that is just fat. Will eating this way and doing 3-4x week crossfit let me get stronger and lose excess fat? I don’t care about seeing my abs, I just don’t want to have an extra 30lbs of useless mass to drag around. Thanks!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13391503139421765990 coolhand_luke

      I would suggest getting a pinch test (callipers) done so you know what you’re dealing with.

      I too am a Crossfitter, 5’10” and about 215#. About a year ago I was measured as 28.9% body fat with callipers. About 6 months ago I was down to 23.6%. I’d be guessing now that I’m between 20-23% (hard to tell as haven’t had pinch test done).

      In that 12 months I’ve only lost a few pounds – a year ago I was ~220-225#, but I’m definitely leaner now and lost my “gut” @ 215#.

      I’ve done so without a significant diet change, however just this year since Easter I’ve tried as much as possible to avoid sugar. So in two weeks I dropped 2 pounds and will measure up next week for the 5 week mark, which I suspect will be another 1-2 pounds.

      I know it’s not much but I think it’s important to focus on small healthy gains rather than large unhealthy gains.

      I now train 2-3 crossfits/week and 2-3 lifting sessions (1.5-2 hours per sesh) and I find that a good balance between the two + I hate met cons lol.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05914574652919993104 Titan Atlas

    All this sounds a lot like bodybuilding.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11593547165466287514 Pedro Gignon

    Serious question: should I get prepared to lose my shorts for a bigger size? Or do waist measurements retain a better consistency during these extreme bulking periods? (Just bought a neat little Rogue Fitness swag. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it for a while.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09427997602268953325 Paul Edwood

    CrossFit fitness training center is one of the biggest exercising place I’ve ever seen. I always recommend people to check out that training center for fitness maintaining purpose. Thanks for the tips though.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13391503139421765990 coolhand_luke

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13165977519362250706 Minaal Mote

    I am doing exercises as you have suggested in the blog. I have tried a lot of stuff to increase my muscles therefore I buyed a Crossfit supplement PurePharma D3. Together with the exercises I am seeing best results.