T Nation

Introduction and a Request for Advice on How to Be Big

Like I said, I’m new here, and fairly new to lifting. I’ve been running SL 5x5 off and on over the last year and a half. I’m in the Navy and have been stationed on a submarine for the past 4.5 years which makes it pretty difficult to stick with any kind of program. Finally made it to shore duty and now have the means to stay consistent. I’m 25 years old, 5’9", about 160 lbs. of skinny-fat. I’ve been a small dude my entire life. It’s kind of part of my identity and I hate it. I’m determined to change that. I am GOING to change that.
So, again, I’m running SL 5x5 now but pretty sure I’ll be reaching the end soon. My goals are to reach a lean 175 lb. body and eventually get into strongman. More than that, though, my goal is to no longer be known as the small, quiet guy. (I’ll settle for the big, strong, quiet guy.) I think I should switch to more of a bodybuilding program next just to increase size and mass, before returning to a more strength-focused program. What I really need help with, though, is my diet. I eat pretty clean now, just not nearly the amount of protein or calories as I should be getting.
I would love your advice on where I should go from here, programming-wise, and any recommendations on how to improve my intake of calories and protein while still eating clean.
I’m looking forward to being an active member of this community, and to any advice you guys have to give. Thanks in advance for taking the time to help yet another newbie like me.

I think this is a good transition from SL5x5


You mention wanting to possibly get into strongman but you mention training like a bodybuilder. They are sorta 2 different animals. When you mention bodybuilding I assume you are meaning a period of heavy hypertrophy focus phase?

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I’m also 5’9, and compete in strongman. @SOUL_FIGHTER provided a solid program and some nutritional guidance as well.

Don’t think that bodybuilding is the only way you can gain mass. Or, more specifically, don’t think that gaining mass means bodybuilding training. Bodybuilding training is about getting ready to compete in bodybuilding, but you can gain mass with a variety of different approaches to training. On top of 5/3/1 BBB, there’s old staples like Super Squats, Dan John’s Mass Made Simple or Westside Barbell for Skinny Bastards. I’m a big fan of Jon Andersen’s Deep Water program as well. Those all should also be beneficial with a goal of transitioning to strongman.

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He means 5’9" wide, obviously.


I really like the look of the BBB program, and I’ve heard good things about it before, so I think this is what I’ll transition to next. Any thoughts on the suggested diet, though? Would it be acceptable to swap the red meat out with more fish or chicken?
And yes, when I mentioned doing a bodybuilding routine before, I mostly just meant increasing volume as a whole, through isolation or otherwise.
Thanks again for all the good advice given so far!

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For what reason?

You haven’t listed enough of your stats (lifting and body composition) to provide real input, but as you describe yourself as “skinny fat”…

If you are going to do BBB, which I enormously recommend, just eat a lot. Eat enough to fuel it and get through it without missing lifts. The goal is to get stronger first, by the sounds of it. Eat a lot, eat smart, eat meat and protein, etc. Don’t overthink it at this stage. You aren’t good enough yet to worry about the tiny details, if you take my point.

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I personally like red meat, so I’d keep it. Red meat gets a bad rap, but if you prefer the taste of fish or chicken, or can’t eat beef due to religious reasons, I’m sure it’s not a big deal.

I think the suggested diet in the article is good. I personally ate whatever my parents made back when I did this.

I don’t know, I guess I’m just overthinking the whole diet thing. I tend to do that a lot. Just seems like a lot of cholesterol to me. But, I guess I can just go with the suggested diet, and then see what kind of results I get compared to how I feel and go from there.

Have you been advised by a medical professional to keep dietary cholesterol low? Any info like that can be very helpful.

I can’t sit through the whole recording here, so I take bits and pieces over time. I don’t adhere to vertical diet stuff, but the stuff I can, I do:

if red meat freaks you out, just slather avocado or olive oil on top of your chicken for calories. I dont care about taste, many times ill just load a spoon with shredded chicken and PB at work.

size is about progressive overload, with training volume, weight on the bar, and calories. And not getting injured. tearing a pec or hamstring doing something dumb isnt good for being big

Details please. What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

That can be achieved while using a “strongman” routine. It’s one purpose of assistance exercises.


I feel like it should be noted that there’s no one way to train for strongman, beyond working with the implements.


Oh my God, thank you.


Sorry, I know I’m not being very clear. I suck at writing and posting on forums and stuff. I’m not necessarily weird about red meat or anything. I haven’t been advised by a doctor to change or watch my diet. I’m just not used to eating that much meat in a day, and I’ve just always been told it wasn’t healthy, not to mention it doesn’t seem very easy on the wallet. My diet typically consists of an orange and 1-1.5 cups of oats with pea milk in the morning (dairy tends to mess with my stomach), quinoa with gemstone and sweet potatoes mixed with a bunch of different vegetables for lunch (don’t know how much, I just eat until I’m full), the same thing for dinner but with either a bison steak or chicken breast, and I snack on broccoli and different types of nuts throughout the day. I also drink about 2 scoops of protein powder at some point too. Like I said, I know I’m probably just overthinking the hell out of what to eat, and I should probably just focus on getting enough calories and macros, but being healthy and feeling healthy are pretty important too.

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You can eat whatever (weird? gem stones and pee milk?) vegetables and quinoa, oats, and sweet potatoes you want to. You just have to eat some meat/protein too. Skinny fat means you eat enough calories but don’t get enough protein to have muscles. Keep clean if you want too, just add meat to your meals.

Wendler’s diet is kind of extreme. You could probably just figure out how to eat 40 grams of protein with each meal (plus your protein shake, for 160 grams a day) and do that for 6-8 weeks before you have to get too crazy with food choices.

That would like, more than double your protein intake from miniscule to “1 gram per pound of body weight,” which is good for muscles. It would also add 300-400 mostly “clean” calories a day to your diet. That combined with a better lifting program should be enough to start gaining.


I think good call on your carb and vegetable choices. You should try adding some eggs into your diet if you already aren’t. And def maybe just increase the volume your meats. That alone would be a big difference.

Maybe consider some lactase so you can handle dairy better.



Thanks! I’m working on a meal plan now incorporating more eggs and meat into my diet. I’ll post back soon once I think I got it fleshed out.