Based on the number 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.
Originally written by Brandon Morrison
Table of Contents
Altering Your Diet (Duh)
Let’s take a look at what CrossFit 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 fewer 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 are 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 its job by adding more carbs back into your diet.
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 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 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.
It is important to remember that shakes and post-workout drinks are SUPPLEMENTS, not REPLACEMENTS. Add them in to complement your solid food intake, not replace it.
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. Sometimes 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 me (which confuses me!)
More Short & Heavy, Less Long & Light
As I have stated before if you want to increase performance as well as increase quality body weight, decrease the number of light reps you are doing in favor of fewer, heavier sets. Doing 150 air squats may give you an awesome pump, 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, but it will also 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!