T Nation

Confused 19 YO Former College Wrestler Trying to Get Big


For some context, I have been lifting for some time, but all for the performance of my sport, wrestling. I have wrestled all my life, and was even recruited to wrestle at Rutgers this past year, but unfortunately had to decline due to the development of an eating disorder through the sport. This is where my problem lies. I finally have the opportunity to train for size.

All my training up to this point has been done in a caloric deficit as I have always had to keep my weight down for wrestling. 106 my junior year, 113 my senior year, and recruited as a 125 for college. The problem is that when i try to put on weight I always end up looking, or at least feel like i look puffy and just chubby.

I am currently 5’6", 19 years old, and 150 pounds, at an estimated 14.4% bf. My current lifts are a 315 squat, 195 bench and 365 deadlift. As soon as i feel this puffiness, I just end up cutting, and never obtain my quest to put on size. So my question would be how to go about putting on size so that I actually look like I lift? I no longer have to worry about my weight as I am done with wrestling. Which template should I use, and how should my diet look? I am overwhelmed with this process as I’ve never gone on a true journey to actually become more muscular. Yes I want to get stronger, but my real pursuit is looking like I lift, I have been small all my life, and want to change that. I’m sorry if this is looked down upon in this forum, but just giving all the information i can.

Thank you all for help!


First, as a fellow former wrestler, I commend you for your hard work in that sport, and I am sorry that it led you down a bad path with an eating disorder. I have some friends (both males and females) who have dealt with ED’s and they are no fun. Hopefully your mind is right and you are in a good place now, and best of luck to you moving forwards.

The good news is that you’re likely in an excellent position to put on good muscle - at a good age, with a good history of hard work from wrestling. There are many, many roads to success and the truth is that hard work is the common denominator; posts that you see on the forums which haggle over the minutiae are often missing the key point, which is that the original poster is typically not really committing to the process of getting stronger.

Eat a lot of high-quality food. Meat, fruit, vegetables, and whole milk are all good things. Eat them, and eat lots of them. You can do this in a very intuitive way. With a history of eating disorder, I am reluctant to recommend regular weigh-ins because that can become a mindfuck for people with history of ED, so don’t feel that you have to constantly weigh yourself. I would start with eating about 2,800 calories per day, all from the aforementioned 4 sources, and adjust up or down depending on how your body is feeling.

The 5/3/1 framework is a great way to get big and strong, but it’s not the only way. I would still read up on it and probably run a good strong cycle of the 5/3/1 BBB template, but feel free to read and learn. The truth is that many, many different programs will work, as long as you are committed to the process, consistently get to the gym and put in work, and fill your body with the right fuel to grow. Good luck!


I appreciate this so much! I am going to start BBB tomorrow and begin eating the 2800 cals/day from those 4 food sources. I am willing to bust my ass and just need direction, thank you very much man!


Until you address this, it won’t matter one bit what template/program you do.


Best not start off with the challenges. -Activitiesguy probably meant BBB ‘original’ from the books, which is basically going for rep PRs on the 531 main lift and sticking to around 50% for the 5 x10


Whys is that, not trying to sound rude, just wondering?


Yes I completely understand this. I’ve started the bbb 3 month challenge and implemented your eat protein, the fruit/veggie, then clean carbs eating protocol. I got rid of my scale and am mentally ready to accept the increase in size. I understand that that part is mental and I’m ready to embrace the proper mindset.


Bunch of reasons but for a start Jim advises against it! Triumvirate and bbb original are the tried and true best starting points

In your case BBB challenge not great as the third month is very rough and you pretty much need to be on at least a moderate calorie surplus to recover.
As far as tough templates go I would say the Hardgainer is more well rounded and is getting fantastic feedback here on the forums…


Ok, I will take a look at it. I have significantly upped my eating though, actually following the diet laid out with the bbb challenge if that changes things at all. But thank you!


Wanted to throw my 2c in here. From being both a member here and over at Jim’s personal site, I’ve noticed that about 99% of the time when people are lost, they report that doing the original 5/3/1 PR set, 5x5 FSL, and 50 reps and push/pull/core is what drags them out of whatever rut they are in.

Just do the basics, it isn’t complicated. Hell, I’ve had to remind myself of that recently.

Edit: diet isn’t hard either. Your goal is to eat 1-2 pounds of beef a day. Fill in around that.




Give no quarter and no choices.


Thank you, man, you are absolutely correct in the principle of sticking to the basics, I guess I was just overthinking things. Like I said I have never had the opportunity to freely put on size, and just felt overwhelmed by all the options. Back to basics! Thanks! For the diet part, I can’t do the ground beef part as in college our dining halls don’t regularly serve ground beef, but they do endlessly serve chicken breast so ill be loading up on that!


I appreciate the response Mr. Wendler, i have my head right and will report back my results on the forum in 3 months!