Hail to the Dinosaurs!
A reader asked me if I consider myself
to be a hard gainer or an easy gainer.
He also asked me if I've been following
John Wood's recent articles on bone
strength and heavy support work to
build your bones, and wondered if
I had ever done anything similar.
That's two questions, of course, but
they are closely related. We'll cover
them in two emails -- one today, and
1. Am I a hard gainer or an easy gainer?
Well, to begin with, I was a sickly little
kid with terrible eyesight, great big
bottle-cap eye-glasses, severe allergies
(for which I got weekly allergy shots
from age 7 to age 21), and crippling
asthma. I was small, puny and skinny.
Not exactly championship material.
I began barbell training at age 11. I
weighed 83 pounds. I hit a growth spurt,
grew a couple of inches and put on some
weight and muscle. Moving from 83 pounds
to 103 pounds was a big deal.
At age 14, I weighed 135 pounds and cut
three pounds to wrestle in the 132 pound
weight class. I was 5' 9" then, and never
grew any taller.
The next three years I wrestled at 145
pounds. The most I ever weighed in high
school was 155 pounds, which I weighed
for one day -- the day before a summer
wrestling tournament where I had to cut
one pound to wrestle at 154 pounds.
My top bench press in high school was
225 pounds, and my top squat was 250
pounds. I think my top deadlift was
In college, I continued to train, and
gradually got my weight up to 165 or
170 pounds, and my top bench press to
320 pounds. I made the lift with an
old iron bar I found at a local YMCA,
loaded with 170 pounds of iron plates
and 150 pounds of homemade concrete
plates. This was in 1978 or so. I was
21 years old.
After college, I went to law school. I
was able to eat as much as I wanted in
the school cafeteria, and to train
three times per week in the school
weight room, and I pushed my weight
to 180 pounds and my bench press to
320 pounds. This was in Spring, 1980.
The next two years I was very busy
and couldn't train much. I also got
married and no longer had the luxury
of those big meals in the cafeteria.
My weight dropped to 160 pounds.
After graduating from law school in
1982, I took a job at a law firm in
Louisville, found a gym, and started
training again. I also was able to eat
more now that I had a regular paycheck!
My weight went up to 180 pounds, and my
bench press went up to 355 pounds --
and they stayed there.
It didn't matter what I did.
It didn't matter what I ate. Or how much
The different supplements I tried didn't
make any difference at all.
I was stuck at 180 pounds -- and my bench
was stuck at 355 pounds -- and they didn't
budge for year after year after year.
By 1988, at age 31, I was only 10 pounds
heavier and could bench press only 35 pounds
more than I could manage in 1978.
If my math is correct, that's a gain of
exactly one pound of bodyweight and 3.5
pounds on the bench press every year over
the entire 10-year period.
So YOU tell me -- am I a hard gainer or
an easy gainer?
Of course, before you answer the question,
you might want to see what happened in 1988.
We'll get to that part of the story tomorrow --
and we'll also talk about the interesting issue
of bone strength and how to build it -- and
what it can do for you. Tendon and ligament
strength, as well.
As always, thanks for reading, and have a
great day. If you train today, make it a
Yours in strength,
P.S. If you're interested in bone strength --
tendon strength - and ligament strength, here
are two great resources with plenty of ideas
on how to build it:
a. Dinosaur Training: Lost Secrets of Strength
b. Strength, Muscle and Power
P.S. 2. My other books and courses are right
here at Dino Headquarters:
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "It's not where
you start, it's where you finish that counts.
The problem is, most people give up before
they get there." -- Brooks Kubik