T Nation

Is Scrawny to Brawny Right For Me?

Hello! I’m brand new here, and I’m wondering if the program I’m considering is really right for me.

Currently, I’m 43 years old, 170 pounds and 5’11" tall.

As a kid and young adult I considered myself too skinny, even when I was working at Round Table and could consume all pizza & Coke I wanted. In my mid-20s I joined a gym, worked with free weights and several months later progressed from what I thought was too skinny to too skinny with slightly improved tone & definition in my arms & shoulders. The single women where I lived also failed to take notice.

Frustrated, I quit the gym and focused on mountian biking, which does while does nothing for the upper body is fun and a good anerobic exercise.

Fast forward about 10 years. Now I’m married, eating whatever my wife cooks, and biking infrequently. In 2003 I reached my lifetime maximum weight of about 200 pounds, most of it in my gut. I hate pictures of myself at that time, because they all show my potbelly bulging out my shirt.

In 2004, my wife did the Atkins diet, which meant that I did Adkins too, at least for dinner & weekends. My weight dropped to the 180s. That lasted until the holiday eating season, and my wieght went back to the low 190s.

About a year ago I decided I didn’t need to eat as much as I had been, and I switched from two to one bowl of cereal in the morning, and from two to one Hot Pocket for lunch. I also disciplined myself to ride my bike 2-3 times a week. (Also, I’ve been walking about a mile a day during the week as part of my commute since 2001).

My late summer I was down to 163-165 pounds. My stomach was flat again, and I had to buy new size 32 pants.

But then I felt too skinny again. I wanted more weight, but in the form of muscle, not gut fat. I printed an excercise program from of the mens magazine websites and started doing that workout three times a week.

Earlier this year, I saw a thing on TV about underweight guys that included one of the authors of “Scrawny to Brawny.” I obtained the book, and it seems to speak to me, at least to me in my 20s. I’ve started following it’s recommnedtations, but I’m not sure if it still applies to me.

When I was in my 20s I was the classic ectomorph who could eat a lot an gain no weight, but I know in my 40s my gut can grow with fat if I’m not careful. I’ve been eating more fruits & nuts as snacks, but I want to make sure that the weight goes on in the right form and not in the gut.

Any advice on how I should modify the Scawny to Brawny program?

I think it will. (Disclamer: I haven’t read the book but I’ve read about it, and its a good book.)

There might be some things that you would want to pay more attention to than younger people might:

Strictness of diet
Properly learning different compound lifts (If you don’t already know them)
Intensity in the gym (if you don’t like lifting to start, it gets fun)

Other than those, I think the book is still applicable to you.

After you finish S2B there are many different lifting programs and diet articles on this site.

Good luck!

dancar -

The quick and dirty answer: YES. No I don’t use the S2B program but there are plenty of people and posts on this site that can bring you up to speed. Do a search and some reading… there’s some good stuff for you. I come from a very similar background to what you describe: former 20 something lifter - bike racer/rider - got fat - eats wife’s cooking - etc.

I started with Westside for Skinny Bastards (also posted here) and just kept on eating and lifting. I went from 5’11" at 165lbs to 195 with minimal fat gain. Don’t get caught up in the analysis paralysis BS that seems to happen. Do yourself a favor: Collect your current stats as best as you can, get some corny shots for your ‘before pictures’, start the program, train hard, eat well, and rest even harder.

After 10 weeks on the program re-check your stats. The beauty of being a beginner is that any basic program coupled with good nutrition will work wonders! Enjoy the gains and keep us posted.


PS: For a little S2B inspiration check out Dan Pope’s story in one of the recent JB articles. He’s a youngster but he rocked on that program!

I have over 50 books on diet and bodybuilding in my library…

my top 2 current favorite are:

get buffed

definitely buy it!

I orginally bought S2B for the nutrition information from Berardi, but starting next week I’ll be undergoing the S2B Challenge. I say go for it!


What is the S2B Challenge? Where can I lean more about it?

[quote]dancar wrote:
What is the S2B Challenge? Where can I lean more about it?[/quote]

Sorry, I’m not sure if there is specifically a S2B Challenge, I just meant that I’m going to be starting the workout/nutrition routine this Monday. I’ve finished ABBH/ABBH II and its time to move onto full body workouts, and I think S2B will do nicely.


Dancar: good luck with S2B. It will work! You just have to be consisent and get your nutrition dialed in.

This is an amazing website, but for many it can be confusing because of the choice and variety of programs. If you haven’t been training consistently but get consistent and eat properly, you will be very happy with the results. I am not a big Nike fan, but as the adds used to say, ‘Just do it!’

Most of us older guys who are not super strong and have not been lifting for years on end regularly will get good results from Westside Training, Waterbury’s programs, Thibaudeau’s training, Ian King, - in other words from any program.

Going from doing nothing to something consistently things will cause things to happen. Many of us overanalyse and just don’t get into the fuckin’ gym enough!

Just go for it, later as you get experience you can start getting fancy.

all the best!

I don’t know that I’d worry too much about S2B’s diet program if I were you. Doc Berardi’s big on eating clean, and from what you’ve described of your diet, you’re not.

Cereal in the morning. Hot pockets for lunch. Anybody would get fat eating that junk. If you’re exercising dilligently, and eating a clean diet with few to no processed foods, you’ll probably end up noticing a benficial body composition change.

What you can’t do is the very thing you described as your pattern: worked out for a few months, didn’t get the big transformation you wanted, and so dumped it. This is a game of patience and dilligence. If you didn’t get results, something was off in your program.

Best of luck with your current attempt. If you stick with it and show some willpower, you should make some solid strides.

I think what I did wrong in my previous attempt was that I wasn’t eating enough. I was a single guy then, and there were few dishes I knew how to make.

We’re constantly bombarded by the media telling us “Americans eat too much!!” Unlike many of our overweight friends, ectomorphs as a rule don’t use food for emotional comfort, and we tend to pride our selves that we don’t overeat. We tend to feel that as long as we don’t hungry that we’ve had enough.

I’m starting to feel that the hunger sensation, or lack thereof, is NOT a reliable indicator of whether or not you’ve had enough food, for both overweight overeaters, and for ectomorphs trying to put the weight on.

I bought s2b back in november. I was about 80% compliant to the program. At the time that I started the program I was 41yo 6’ @ 165lbs. By the end of the program I had gained 15lbs, keeping my 32" waist. Positive results for sure. Thanks John Berardi.

I’ve been lifting for years, never really obtaining the results I wanted. I’m not where I want to be, but s2b has given me hope that I can eventually reach my goals. As a fellow ecto you’ve got to give s2b a try - and research this site whenever you get the chance.

"As a fellow ecto you’ve got to give s2b a try - and research this site whenever you get the chance. "

Absolutely. I bought s2b at the start of june last year, shortly after joining T-Nation. By september I had put on 25 pounds of muscle. I lifted as heavy as I could, and I ate til I hurt. And then I ate some more. And then I ate 3 hours later. I-dub 1 is right about resting hard. Take the bus, take the lift, take naps. If you have to rearrange everything to center your life around the kitchen the gym and the couch, do it. It’s worth it. I thought I would spend the rest of my life as one of those ‘skinny guys with great abs’ and now I have to buy my jeans 4" too big at the waist or I can’t get them over my thighs.
The joy!