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Help me gain weight. But keep my 10k time.
June 24, 2010 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Workout filter: 6'2", 19-year-old, 175 lbs male triathlete. Don't want to lose my cardio ability, but want to keep gaining muscle mass. Cardio before or after weight lifting? I started Westside for Skinny Bastards 3 weeks ago, along with increasing my protein intake up to ~180g/day (already eat only whole foods, etc.). Is this a good program to continue? Lots more detail inside

I've gained 9 pounds since starting WS4SB but I know my cardio ability has taken a hit (due to me not focusing on it)

I want to get back into good cardio shape after suffering a bit from finals (I'm an college student). For me, good cardio shape is defined as getting back to my 42min 10k time of 2.5 months ago.

My main goal for the next 2 months is to get up to 190lbs while not losing the ever crucial cardio ability.

On that note, when should I do my cardio workout? Before weightlifting? After? On off days? This seems to be one of the great internet debates and I'm curious as to what other runners/triathletes have found effective for gaining muscle mass.

Also, is WS4SB a good program? I'm the first person to admit that I don't know much about weight-lifting - I DO own Starting Strength and Pratical Programming but I really need something like WS4SB that has the "do this on this day" approach.

If WS4SB isn't a vehement "NO" from the community, I'll probably stick with that. However, if you're adament about it being bad for me and have something better I'm more than willing to hear
posted by nokry56 to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't tried WS4SB but I did get good results with the program at Stronglifts.com (free). What I do is cardio three times a week, 2 times as 20-30 minutes elliptical and then 1 vigorous session of burpees and HIIT, always after a workout (that program is only 3 times a week). In my experience (I'm 6'2", 195), doing too much cardio makes it harder to gain muscle mass, so rein it in and make sure 1) you do weights and 2) eat enough protein and overall calories. Go to Fitday.com or something like that and really plan your diet. The compound exercises in Stronglifts are far better for skinny guys than all the isolation curls and crap like that.

Remember, you get great cardio from a strenuous weights workout. But if you really want to be a long-distance runner type, there are always trade-offs. Good luck.
posted by teedee2000 at 1:42 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's anything wrong with Westside for Skinny Bastards. Besides, it's clearly working for you, so you should feel free to continue with it. That said, why don't you consider Starting Strength to have the "do this on this day" approach? Any of the novice/beginner programs would seem to be pretty clear about what to do on what day.

While searching for that, I noticed that the Starting Strength wiki has a page on WS4SB, which you might find helpful...
posted by vorfeed at 1:47 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


What they said above is good. But I wanted to point out that even if you gain all muscle and no fat, you're going to have trouble maintaining your cardio ability (as defined by a 10K time). Triathlon ability and more muscle mass are at opposite ends of the spectrum and you need to re-evaluate your goals and choose one priority to focus on.
posted by Durin's Bane at 1:57 PM on June 24, 2010


Thanks vorfeed - its been a year since I read Starting Strength, I think I was confusing it with something else. That being said, I do want to lift 4x/week - I actually have the time to do that this summer and want to take advantage of it.

I really appreciate the link to WS4SB on Starting Strength, that's a wealth of information.

I should also mention I'm easily bored with weightlifting, so the appeal of something as simple as Stronglifts is not very high.
posted by nokry56 at 2:01 PM on June 24, 2010


DB - I guess I realize that, and for the summer my focus is weight gain. I'm just worried about suddenly not being able to run at all when I'm done with this. If I have to take a month after focusing on weightlifting to get back into top cardio shape that's okay, but I certainly don't want it to take 2+ months.
posted by nokry56 at 2:03 PM on June 24, 2010


Check out CrossFit Endurance . They do give guidance on how to combine your primary endurance sport with other workouts. I don't know if it will help you put on 15lbs, but maybe a mix of this and WS4SB would work.
posted by Crashback at 2:25 PM on June 24, 2010


but I certainly don't want it to take 2+ months

To achieve both goals? Good luck. Like Durin's Bane mentions, they are disparate goals to try to achieve at the same time. It's not just a weight gain/weight loss issue. Your talking about not only keeping your body acclimated to an increased workload, but increasing it's potential for handling that workload. It's kind of a tough proposition because it sounds like you're in good shape already.
I'd say just concentrate on getting a solid 15 pounds and just try to maintaining your cardio. You should also really try to keep an eye on your caloric intake and make sure you're not overdoing it.
WS4SB is a good program and it sounds like it's something you're set on doing; I don't see why you shouldn't use it. ...Well, aside from the fact it's not really conducive to building muscle useful for long distance running.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:27 PM on June 24, 2010


P.o.B. -- sorry I wasn't clear. Once I get to my weight/strength goal I don't want it to take me 2+ months to get back to top cardio shape.
posted by nokry56 at 2:30 PM on June 24, 2010


Also, what would overdoing my caloric intake consist of? I do eat very healthily, but I've never really watched the amount that I eat, until recently when I started counting grams of protein (but that's about it)
posted by nokry56 at 2:31 PM on June 24, 2010


You need to pick a goal and stick with it. If you're constantly moving the goalpost on what you want to accomplish you'll fail.

If you want to gain lean mass then focus on gaining lean mass. Worry about working back up to some 10k time once you're in more of a muscle maintaining mode instead of a growing phase.
If you want to be an ultra thin, no muscle, no fat, marathon guy then do that.

My advice for cardio is to find a big, steep, hill and run up it until you want to die. Then walk back down and do it again.

If you do this on work days do it AFTER you lift. If you do it on rest days (which I wouldn't recommend but you'll really need to see how YOU respond to it) then only do it on rest days that aren't before a leg day.

I'm just worried about suddenly not being able to run at all when I'm done with this.
Come on, that's silly. If you were in great cardio shape before it's not going to fall apart if you put it on the back burner for a few months. You probably won't run as well as you were before you started lifting but you'll get done whatever gaining you're going to do and in a few weeks you'll be back in whatever cardio shape you want to be in.

Datapoint:
3 months ago I set out to put on another 20lbs of lean mass.
During that time I haven't really done any cardio where I used to be doing hours and hours of cardio type stuff every week.
I'm at where I maybe do an hour a week plus 45mins of hockey. I just took a vacation, climbed a bunch of 14'ers, backpacked with a 30lb pack for hours, rock climbed, etc, and I did it in better condition than I would have before I started my bulk. Granted, I wasn't running races but I'm just saying I didn't fall apart either.

So basically, just keep EATING and lifting like you are. 6'2 175 is a pretty small frame even if you are really lean. The extra muscle will help you get even leaner when you're done bulking too.
posted by zephyr_words at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, what would overdoing my caloric intake consist of?

Gaining weight or muscle basically means you have to increase your caloric intake and you really don't have keep to close a check on it. Once you start adding in other goals or more well defined goals like gaining only quality muscle, or gaining muscle and losing fat, or gaining muscle and maintaining cardiovascular endurance, etc., than you need to be more stringent on your diet.
In light of the fact that you're not really necessarily trying to tackle these different goals at the same time than I wouldn't put to much worry into your diet beyond eating more calories through increased protein intake
posted by P.o.B. at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2010


Thanks vorfeed - its been a year since I read Starting Strength, I think I was confusing it with something else. That being said, I do want to lift 4x/week - I actually have the time to do that this summer and want to take advantage of it.

In that case, you're probably better off with WS4SB. The Starting Strength program is definitely meant to be done no more than 3x per week, as you squat heavy every workout. The wiki does have a 4 Day Split program you could check out, but like I said, there's nothing wrong with what you're already doing... besides, if you get bored with Stronglifts, you'll probably get bored with Starting Strength, as they're quite similar.
posted by vorfeed at 2:49 PM on June 24, 2010


Once I get to my weight/strength goal I don't want it to take me 2+ months to get back to top cardio shape.

In all fairness no one really knows how your body is going to react, including you, since you've never went through this before. I highly doubt it would take you over 2 months to get back in "cardio shape" but you sort of have to experiment on yourself and see what happens\how you react.

If running is that important to you though then keep it as part of your training. Implement a light running program around a M\W\F training schedule. It'll be very easy to tell if you are slipping on cardio while doing that.

You won't lift as heavy though and you won't gain as fast. You'll also need to really make sure you're eating enough.
posted by zephyr_words at 3:00 PM on June 24, 2010


Two things:

a) You gain weight by eating. Not by lifting. Lifting will determine whether or not that weight is fat or muscle.

b) Running a 10k is basically an endurance exercise. By very definition, the more weight you gain, the slower you're going to run. Even if you're in the SAME cardio shape as when you start, your body is going to be carrying more weight, and thus going to run slower.

I read a factoid from somewhere that every lb you drop shaves 2 seconds of your mile time. If we accept that as true, the 15 lbs would add 30 seconds to your 1 mile time - so imagine what that would do for your 10k time!

It is possible to do what you want to do - but if I were you, I would do starting strength, simply because it would free up more days for running. Run a lot, just as much as you were training before, to maintain that cardio shape. Since you want to gain weight, just make sure you EAT.

Seriously, eat anything and everything. Remember, weight is going to be a function of calories in. I can't stress that enough. So many skinny guys lift a lot, but don't adjust their eating. Eat eat eat eat eat.
posted by unexpected at 3:08 PM on June 24, 2010


Also, is WS4SB a good program? I'm the first person to admit that I don't know much about weight-lifting - I DO own Starting Strength and Pratical Programming but I really need something like WS4SB that has the "do this on this day" approach.

Is it a good program for what? It's a good program for some people, but it may not be the best one for you.

You might want to re-read Practical Programming. You don't say what your lifts are, but at 6'2", 175 lbs., and 19 years old, you are most likely still a strength novice and will progress the fastest if you train like one. Westside is great for a more advanced lifter who needs periodization in order to progress, but that (probably) isn't you. A novice doesn't need to do assistance exercises to make his squat go up, because he can accomplish that more efficiently by simply squatting. Unneeded complexity and volume will only make you progress slower. Lifting 4x/week is not going to make a novice strong faster than lifting 3x/week.

I would stick with linear progression and focus on the big lifts (e.g. Starting Strength) while increasing your bodyweight until you're no longer able to make progress that way. Then switch to something more complicated. You could get your bodyweight to 190 very quickly if you train right and eat right, although at 6'2" I don't think you should stop yourself there.
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 4:00 PM on June 24, 2010


If you're easily bored by weightlifting, you'd do better on Stronglifts than on other more elaborate programs. Only takes about 45 mins, three times a week.
posted by teedee2000 at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2010


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