I know many athletes will be able to identify with this story. I can remember it like it was yesterday.As a high school senior at Miramar high school—home of the Florida 2009 Football State Champions I was a 5’9” 145 lb cornerback. This isn’t exactly the body type that has D1 scouts knocking at the door. I know now if I had a better nutritional strategy and lifted differently I would have accelerated my size at a much quicker pace. Whether we like or not, It plays a factor when recruits make a decision to offer scholarships.
I was tired of being categorized with the group they referred to as the “pencil necks.” I attended Guilford College, a D3 school in NC, and vowed to myself that I would be dedicated in the weight room.Some of my teammates and I would research old strength training books from different universities to decide on what workout we would use during the in season or offseason. The process of designing our
own programs accelerated our learning curve as we practiced what we learned and made adjustments as necessary. For example, we quickly found out that squatting heavy on the day that we had a heavy conditioning day was not a good idea. The best teacher is experience with the methods that you use.
What we found was we had to decide what exercises we would use, our eating strategy, and what recovery methods we would adhere to. Our method was very simple we found what the most successful programs were doing and found what the similarities between them were. It is amazing how far that formula took us. Find someone that is doing well with what you want to do and study them. The commonalities between the winning programs were that they all taught compound movements, increasing your caloric intake, and proper recovery were included to gain mass. We will turn this into a
three article series on each part of the mass building story.
The first part is making sure you are in a caloric surplus. That means eat like eating is part of your job description. You will never gain mass if your body does not have the nutrients to build muscle. You cannot build a house without having bricks as your material. We designed a strategy on how we would get our nutrients in. It included eating multiple dishes at each of our main meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This worked for us because the college cafeteria was all you can eat. I can’t say it was healthy all the time, but we were in a caloric surplus. Protein shakes were also added in between meals to add more calories.
The amount of work performed during our football practices had to be accounted for as well. This simply meant we ate more on days we had three a day practices. You will not feel like it when your body is beat up, but you have to force yourself to eat. Those shakes will come in handy at those times. We played defensive
back so we ran the most out of any of the positions played, so we had to eat big to offset the demands of the extra running. How big is big? Let me detail a typical day of eating I had at the cafeteria. I do not advise my clients to eat like this as this was for my size and could include healthier options.
1 Large Belgian Waffle
1 Bowl of oatmeal
32 oz of water
32 oz. of orange juice
Stir Fry Chicken and Rice
2 Turkey Sandwiches
Order of large fries
64 oz. glasses of water
2 6 oz steaks
2 Cups of Rice
16 oz. Milk
32 oz. water
* Shakes in between each meal
Post Dinner Meal
2 Grilled Chicken Pitas
Large Curly Fries
12 oz. Sweet Tea
The meal journey has to be fun. We started having eating contest periodically as some of the other guys also had to gain weight. Let’s just say I am still the pancake eating champion. There was a strategy to my pancake night. All the guys would order milk and eggs. But I knew that would slow my progress. I
ordered only pancakes with a small amount of water. I ate 25 pancakes that night. This boosted ourdetermination to gain weight as it was competitive and added a reminder that we were all in it for a purpose.
That year this style of eating helped me weigh 175 and my body fat was 4.7%. Our athletic trainer could not believe that I was eating the type of food I was. It is not optimal, but it worked. I would not have done this type of eating knowing what I know now about health & performance. But the truth behind this story is if you do not eat enough you will not get any bigger. It is just as simple as that.