\"You Can\'t Gain 15 Pounds Of Muscle In 100 Days Without Drugs\"

Via Baseball Musings, an excerpt from the coming book Game Of Shadows scoffs at the notion that people can put on 15 pounds of lean muscle in 3 months without a little shot in the ass (as it were), as if this were proof that such-and-such ballplayer is doing steroids.


And to prove it's bullshit, starting tomorrow, I will put on 15 lbs (or more) of muscle over the next 100 days (without breaking any US laws). On June 18, if I am not 15 pounds heavier (all in lean mass), I'll eat Barry Bonds' syringe.

(I should say that I am not naive enough to think that baseball players in general, or Barry Bonds in particular, are not using performance-enhancing drugs. However, the things being said about the subject are so inane, I feel they need to be called out. The only thing statements like the above excerpt "prove" is the ignorance of the speaker.)

Update: Man, why didn't I think of this when people said there's no way Wilt Chamberlain could have slept with 20,000 women?

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A Contradiction I want to

A Contradiction
I want to point out this passage from Game of Shadows as a reason I'm not comfortable with what I've read so far (emphasis added): Bonds worked harder in the gym during the 1998 off-season than he had in years....

Where's the "now" photo? :)

Where's the "now" photo? :)

Jason, you'll just have to

Jason, you'll just have to take my word for it - I can't have all the ladies using up my bandwidth throwing their cyber-panties my way.

For the record, I'm 5'8" and weigh 117.

How will you prove that all

How will you prove that all of the weight you gain is lean muscle mass? That's extremely difficult to do (proving it, that is. Well, adding all that lean mass is pretty darn tough, too).

I can't - this is hardly

I can't - this is hardly scientific; but, A) neither can the journalists who write these things about bonds, and B) I have so little body fat, I think I'll be able to tell a difference.

Anyone have any suggestions? I can get a hold of some callipers, I guess.

Trent, Even if you can put


Even if you can put on 15 pounds of muscle in 100 days without "cheating" that hardly proves that someone who is already an elite athlete can do the same by natural means. Once you achieve some base level of fitness such a feat should become harder, not easier...


I understand what you are

I understand what you are saying, Dave, and agree to a point. However, that assume every athlete in different sports has bulked up to the max. Baseball players clearly have not.

Take a maxially big and strong football player - I don't know, Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens, or some better example. They couldn't do it, because they have already probably maxed out their bodies capabilities to do so. But baseball players are not as big and bulked. They have room to go (and, trust me, I do to). So they could do so (with or without steroids).

Sounds like fun. I think

Sounds like fun. I think I'll give it a try, too. I'm starting at a fairly lean 6'0"/192, which is a more reasonable analog to Bonds' starting point (6'1"/210). Trent's probably going to have a much easier time of it than I am, though, so I'm not eating any syringes.

Actually, BB, I have so much

Actually, BB, I have so much trouble putting on weight, it actually may be somewhat of a real challenge. Anyway, it'll be good to have a little competition pushing me along.

an excerpt from the coming

an excerpt from the coming book Game Of Shadows scoffs at the notion that people can put on 15 pounds of lean muscle in 3 months without a little shot in the ass...

Not to defend the book too much, but the excerpt actually says that a 34-year-old man can't do it; it doesn't say it can't be done. For the record, how old are you?

I'm 28, and I'm not sure

I'm 28, and I'm not sure there's a big difference.

I think you may have

I think you may have trouble. The problem is that those who have big muscles to begin with are the ones that have an easy time bulking up. Besides you are a pathologist. They are congenitally more adept at long distance running. You should start out with 5 K races and work up to marathons. I know many who have done well. Orthopedic surgeons are better at muscle building.--- And no EPO allowed.

There could be a difference.

There could be a difference. Ability to gain muscle mass is related to testosterone levels; as men age, their testosterone levels go down (this is why you don't see too many buff old guys), a process which can start in the mid-30's. Barry was right there on the cusp of that, and you're not, so it's hard to tell.

Good point, Earl, but my

Good point, Earl, but my (non)science has its constraints. I did have a testerosterone level drawn a few months back - maybe I can find out what it was to address the likelihood that Barry and I are working with the same tools here (not bloody likely).

As someone who has lifted

As someone who has lifted weights for a while, I would have to say that you will not succeed. An average person who is lifting weights hard, eating right, and taking the right supplements (whey proteing, multi-vitamins, creatine, etc...not steroids) can expect to gain 5-8 lbs of lean muscle every 6 months.

However, a genetically gifted person can conceivably gain 15 lbs very quickly. But these people are rare. While it is not proof per se that these people are using steriods, gaining 15 lbs of lean muscle in 3 months should make everybody suspicious.

Finally, if someone wants to use steroids to get ahead in professional sports, more power to them. It's their body, and their life. Plus, using steriods is not all that unlike what models do to their bodies. They starve themselves to the brink of death, just to get the right look for the camera, and many of them hurt their bodies so bad, they stop having their periods. Why is it okay for a model to starve herself for the sake of her career, while a MLB player cannot take steriods under the care of a licensed physician, to advance his career?

Well, either way, it's great

Well, either way, it's great you're trying this -- best of luck. Will you be posting updates?

Yes, Earl, updates - do you

Yes, Earl, updates - do you think I would let me gentle readers down? Pins and needles, right? :)

Thanks for the input, Mox. I can say that last fall I gained 10 lbs in 6 weeks while lifting religiously. Now, I can't say how much of it was lean mass, for sure. I was planning on stopping by and getting a body-fat percentage tomorrow, to compare at the end. Then I would compare the weight gain to the change in body fat. Would that be valid?

I've gained 15lbs in 3

I've gained 15lbs in 3 months before. It's especially easy to do if you start at a low point, either because you're weak and skinny, or sick and dehydrated. In my case, I'm 5'9". I began at 145 lbs, which is not quite as reedy as you are. Since you are starting so low, it should be easier for you.

The main trick is, of course, to eat a whole lot more food than you eat now. The other trick is to focus on large compound weightlifting movements that rely on large muscles or large groups of muscles. This means squats and deadlifts are more important than eyebrow exercises and toe wiggling, in terms of putting on lots of muscle. More seriously, solation exercises such as bicep curls are much, much less important than deadlifts and squats. Curls may help a bit, but don't bother with them until AFTER you've done an upper back exercise such as pull-ups, lat pulldowns, or bent over rows. All of these use biceps, but they also stimulate your upper back muscles, which are far and away the biggest muscles of the upper body for most people.

What else might help? Sleeping a bit more, and avoiding cardiovascular exercise. That last one might not be nearly as unhealthy as it sounds. I think you'll find squats and deadlifts will get your heart pumping way more than you're used to.

5'8" and 117? Good lord,

5'8" and 117? Good lord, you must look like a skeleton.

The simplest way to do this, provided you have healthy kidneys and are lactose-tolerant, is to follow the programme of Super Squats, available at Ironmind. Basic premise: drink a lot of milk, eat like a bull, do very hard squats, do a few other exercises, and laze around.

- Josh

Wild Pegasus- BEfore the

Wild Pegasus-

BEfore the thickening of the 30s happened, I was 5'10" and 120#. In HS it was 117. Now, of course, I'm a lean mean 145#. :)

Thanks for the tips, snacky;

Thanks for the tips, snacky; I'll probably stick to my normal regimen, even if it is slightly detrimental to my goal. I'll run (1-3 miles per day) and lift like I usually do, eyebrows and all. I've done it before and put on the weight (only to see it go right back where it came from), so I should be able to do it again.

Josh, yeah I'm thin, but not emaciated. And contrary to what some say, it may be more difficult to put on the weight for someone like me. I'm thin for a reason, whatever it is. I eat like a normal person, and I already lift weights. In the past, I have had to consume 3 to for thousand calories per day to gain any significant weight. I'll be doing that now, as well.

3000kcal is a normal

3000kcal is a normal maintenance level for a moderately active male of your age. There's nothing odd about eating that amount of food. Studies have shown that the average college-aged male needs to consume a little more than that just for bodyweight maintenance. And if you run 7-20 miles per week, I'm not surprised that you can't gain weight without exceeding 3000kcal - nobody else could, either! If anything, you should be shooting for 4000 if you want to gain weight this fast. Even this is not an especially high amount by the standards of many athletes.

Cutting out some of the running would help too, but I'm guessing if you run every day, it's because you like it, so maybe that's out of the question. But it might help quite a bit to take a day off running after doing heavy lower body work. Also, if you like running so much, consider doing some sprinting. Unlike running, sprinting actually helps build up leg muscle. If nothing else, it might make your athletic abilities more well-rounded: distance runners are usually surprisingly bad at both sprinting and jumping.

My intake, during work-outs

My intake, during work-outs periods, is closer to 4000 cals. And I haven't been running since the fall, but I will start. And I do already do sprints.

Kudos to you, Trent, for

Kudos to you, Trent, for taking this on, even if in the end the only result is you getting into better shape. I do, however, have some general thoughts about both your training and the theory behind this.

First, I've been lifting weights for years and have been extremely dedicated to it for quite a while. With that said, I think what you're trying to do is completely unrelated to what Barry would have done circa '98. The reason is he was an established gym nut, already weighing in close to 220 before the offseason in question. Looking at pictures of him from that time I can also say he was a cut 220, meaning his b.f. was extremely low, with lean body mass unusually high. Now, the longer you train the more difficult it becomes for you to add mass to your frame. There're many reasons for this: your body becoming accustomed to the abuse and constant muscle rebuilding; your body fighting additional muscle (which is to say the human body wasn't built to hold 220 lbs. of muscle on a 6'2" frame, so it actually fights, in a sense, the building of more muscle), and the natural tapering off of increased volume training (basically, when you start you can go from a 145 lbs. bench to a 185 lbs. bench in a few months, but to get from 185 to 225 will take longer, 225-265 even longer, etc.).

So with that in mind I have to say a 28 year old who weighs almost half of Barry's pre-'99 weight and doesn't seem to have a ton of weight lifting experience would do nothing, absolutely nothing, in my eyes to prove or disprove the '15 lbs. in 100 days' theory.

Alright, I have that out of the way...get calipers (bodybuilding.com), you can find them cheap, but they're necessary for what you're doing. Take a 3-point count a bunch of times and average that out, that'll give you your body fat percentage. Multiply that by your body weight, and you have your overall body fat. Take your body weight and subtract your b.f. total and viola! there's your lean body mass.

While you're on that site I'd suggest picking up a multivitamin, some good protein (100% ON Whey is good and cheap), EFA's and BCAA's (I'm not going to go into them, you can research them on the site but know that they're 100% legal and safe). This might all hit your wallet a bit but, honestly, you'll find out soon how benefial they are, especially if you've lifted without these supplements before.

Finally, make sure to eat a ton, I'd suggest 4,000 calories a day (CLEAN calories, that is). Might not seem like alot when eating pizza and fast food all day but trust me, I struggle to get the calories all the time. Eat 6-7 meals a day, spaced out in 3 hour intervals, and make sure to get a good meal in both pre- and post-workout. Only eat from this list: chicken, eggs (mostly whites), oats, brown rice, sweet potato's, lettuce, mixed veggies, flank steak, salmon, tuna, wheat/whole grain bread, 1% milk. That about it, and to tell you the truth I eat nothing but the above other than a cheat day once every 2 weeks. Food is the MOST IMPORTANT part of building muscle, if you don't have the fuel to lift, or the supplies to rebuild, then you won't go anywhere. Good luck with the program, and as I said if nothing else you're doing your body a favor.

Catching my eye: morning A

Catching my eye: morning A through Z
Here’s what’s caught my eye this morning:

This post from Catallarchy (and its update) highlights the importance of choosing your battles.
The Dennis the Peasant Famous Bloggers School is now open for business.
Callimachus of Done With Mirr...

Squats, deadlifts, cleans,

Squats, deadlifts, cleans, and benches would be the core 4 exersizes I would use to add strength and mass. That said, adding strength does not necessarily mean adding mass. The key is to lift until that particular muscle group fails or comes very close to failing. If I were you, I would superset Squats and leg extensions, deadlifts and leg curls, cleans and shoulder presses. For the large compound movements you dont want to lift until failure because if you do you could very well hurt yourself badly. The point of the second exersize is to take that muscle group to failure. If you are doing a leg workout and dont have trouble walking away, you did not hit the weights hard enough.

I hit the arms/chest hard,

I hit the arms/chest hard, until I can't lift my pencil. But the legs, I have to ease into those, otherwise I injure myself easily. Groin and hip flexors are especially vulnerable.

Great challenge. I think it

Great challenge. I think it will be very tough for you but you might do it if you really commit. I would start with a 3-day workout which means in one week, you would hit each muscle group twice and you would have one day of rest. I would also stop running and any other cardio activities you might be doing. I agree completely with the types of lifts already mentioned - squats, deadlifts, etc. I would start with 4 sets of 10 per exercise if you don't do them already just to get your body ready for the onslaught of pyramid lifting. Pyramid programs are based on percent of your max where you do 6-7 sets starting at 15 reps working down to exhaustion. This will not only increase your max, but you will bulk up. Eat tons of pasta and tuna.

I have never done a weight gain contest, but the best weight loss contest I have done was where the losers paid $10/per percentage point difference from the winner. The winner was the one with the biggest percentage drop. I lost 20 pounds in 6 weeks and lost by a measly 1/4 pound.

"In '97, when the Giants

"In '97, when the Giants reported that he weighed 206, Bonds told USA Today that his body fat was an extraordinarily low 8%. In '02, when Bonds's weight was listed at 228, Greg Anderson told The New York Times Magazine that Bonds's body fat was even lower: 6.2%."

This is the type of statistics you have to report for this little experiment to mean anything. Assuming you're about 8% body fat now, by the end of this project, you'd have to be carrying 132 lbs with 6.2% body fat. But even if you manage to attain this goal--and let me say that I truly think you can--your results are meaningless. Let me explain:

I'm 34 years old, and have been lifting weights consistently and seriously for 20 years. I have been doing some pretty heavy cardio for for the past decade-and-a-half as well, and recently took up yoga. Having said that, let me tell you...there is a WORLD of difference between a 34 year-old man and a 28 year-old man. I can't explain it, but believe me...when you hear how people say that things start to fall apart around 30 years old...it's true. For me, it started happening right around the time I turned 31. I'm still in really good shape--especially for a 34 year-old--but I no longer feel as physically capable or strong as I did at 28. On top of that, when I was 28, I could pretty much lose or gain weight simply by willing it on or off. Now...well, I don't have much problem with the gaining weight part of things; losing weight, though, is another matter entirely.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that I don't think this experiment is gonna prove much...you are by no means a close match for Bonds in any respect. Knowing that, even if you do put on 15 pounds in 100 days--and at 117 pounds, I would hope you would like to shoot for 25-30 pounds--it doesn't dispel the notion that Barry is a big ol' Juice Monkey. So is McGwire, so is Sosa.

To add to my previous

To add to my previous post:

Using the 206/228 lb., 8%/6.2% before/after statistics for Bonds, that would mean Barry actually put on 24.3 pounds of muscle while shedding 2.3 pounds of fat. Now that is astounding, regardless of age or whatever spin anybody tries to put on it.

Trent, for you to accomplish the same thing (117, 8% before, 132, 6.2% after), you would actually have to put on 16.2 pounds of pure MUSCLE while shedding 1.2 pounds of fat. Now, assuming the 8% figure is roughly accurate, as you currently stand, you only have 9.4 lbs. of fat to play with. So essentially, you're going to have to dump 12.6% of your existing fat from your body.

The numbers don't lie. Having said that, I wish you the very best of luck, my friend...you're gonna need it.

That's my boy! (points

That's my boy! (points finger)

Wow, that's remarkable,

Wow, that's remarkable, Greg. More fuel for the fire. As someone who know's a bit about the ability to grow muscle while keeping body fat down, it's almost impossible to add more than a few pounds, max, per month without gaining fat along with it (and this is, once again, for more advanced lifters, newbies tend to be able to add mass while cutting weight for a few months but then the honeymoon ends). This isn't anything resembling jealousy speaking here because I actually have no respect for the man, but with Barry's already developed physique and low b.f. % I see no chance, literally none, that he'd be able to add 24.3 lbs. of muscle in an offseason...it works out to 1.7 lbs. of muscle added EVERY WEEK. I'm sorry, but unless I missed something in my extensive research of bodybuilding you can't expect to put on more than .5-.8 lbs. of muscle a week without some...ehem..."help", and he's managed to double this? While losing fat? At 34 years of age? Sorry, I just don't see any plausible explanation for this.

Anyway, sorry to rant like this, I'm just at odds with Bonds' apologists at this point, every shred of evidence suggests he was--and may still be--a walking chemistry experiment gone horribly wrong. And yet there's still those who'll defend him.

Once again, good luck with the training.

Greg: The 206-228 gain you

The 206-228 gain you cited was over a period of five years. The specific claim to which Trent objected was that a gain of 15 pounds, "almost all" muscle, is not possible without steroid use. The point, as noted in the original post, is to debunk that claim, not to show that Bonds didn't use steroids.

I do agree that Trent's not a great model for this, since the first ten pounds generally come very easily, which is why I'll be playing along at home. I already have the ten-pound bounce, and my starting weight is similar to Bonds', after adjusting for height, so I think it's a fairly reasonable comparison.

Well, now you guys really

Well, now you guys really have my curiosity up. Quite frankly, I don't think anything is impossible; however, I also don't think that just anybody--clean or not--can add 15 lbs. of muscle in 100 days.

Not knowing either Trent or Brandon, I can't place any bet as to the likelihood of either of you acheiving this goal; what I can say for certain though is that it most certainly will be an interesting experiment. To the two of you, I sincerely hope you follow through with this and provide regular and consistent updates.

PS If you held I gun to my head and forced me to make a prediction, even though I don't know either one of you, I'd guess with supreme confidence that there's no way that either one of you will acheive this goal.

There. You can call me your motivator if you do in fact succeed.

Good luck, guys.

Hey, Greg, that's cool. You

Hey, Greg, that's cool. You obviously are making an educated prediction I won't begrudge you. Thanks for the many points of advice. You're shared expertise may very well be the downfall of your prediction :)

I should add, this is not a

I should add, this is not a naive endeavor. I've done exactly this before - the difference is I was a senior in college at the time. I want to do it again. I'm not sure how much harder it will be now, but part of motivation was to get my mouth (or fingers) to write checks my ass had to cash.

Trent, this is a cool

Trent, this is a cool experiment and all, but it definitely needs (a) documentation of your daily exercise and diet regimen and (b) PICTURES; at least an updated weekly photo so we can see how your body is changing. Also updating us on BMI, body fat percentage and weight would be helpful.

Squat heavy, and drink

Squat heavy, and drink milk:

Super Squats.

Trent, I can give you loads

I can give you loads of tips, but nothing you can't read or haven't already gotten. To help you scientifically document the whole endeavor, you should go over to the gym and have your body fat measured and periodically do that. You can calculate the lean body mass that way. If you want any advice on exercises or advice from the dietician at my house, then throw an email or phone call this way.

This is awesome. I think you should take pictures weekly, even if you don't put them on the web until later in the experiment. Rock on!

Ray: "A walking chemistry

"A walking chemistry experiment gone horribly wrong?" I can't argue with the first part, but what went horribly wrong? I can see how you might say this about some professional bodybuilders, but 225 pounds is hardly freakish for a 6'2" (6'1"?) man. The experiment seems to have gone reasonably well.

Brandon: I may have been a

I may have been a little dramatic with that remark, but I do have two points to make:

1) While it may not be ’horribly wrong’ territory I think the growth of his cranium might indicate some major issues within his body. And while it’s nothing more than an unsubstantiated rumor, the pictures tell the story and I’ve also read his hat size has gone up more than 2 sizes since the mid-90’s…that just doesn’t happen to grown men.

2) Bonds is only 43…a senior citizen in baseball terms but still just reaching his mid-life. Does he reach 60? 70? No one knows, but if he goes the way of Alzado and Caminiti then I’d consider the experiment a failure. And if the book is correct–Bonds pushing for extra HGH and steroids during his 1 week ’off’ period, with 3 weeks ’on’ sandwiching that–then he’s abused performance enhancing drugs as much as anyone I’ve read about and his body will punish him in the end.

Again, good luck, to both of you. I’m very interested to see the results.

Preliminary results: My legs

Preliminary results: My legs hurt.

“PICTURES; at least an

“PICTURES; at least an updated weekly photo so we can see how your body is changing”

Trent, Don’t fall for that "pictures" stuff, you will end up all over the web with your head photo-shopped on to Hayek’s body (Selma, not Fredrick’s).

You could just beat them to

You could just beat them to the punch and photoshop Hayek's head onto your body.

The Onion has a timely piece

The Onion has a timely piece on the Barry Bonds steroids issue: Barry Bonds Took Steroids, Reports Everyone Who Has Ever Watched Baseball.


Greg- Late to the thread,


Late to the thread, but just gotta "amen" to the 31 year mark being when the body decides to start quitting on ya. My knees, my poor knees... (even worse given that I'm a dancer)

The flip side though is that unlike back in the day, there are a number of upsides to the "slowdown":

(a) like Trent, I was also thin for a reason (high metabolism inherited doubly from both sides of the family) and had great difficulty gaining any sort of weight, even when I was working out regularly in grad school (I gained maybe a pound or two, the rest being a redistribution from what little fat I had to muscle and gaining tone). Now with the metabolism slowed down to "normal", I dont have this brick wall in front of me for training; before I was sick and then had to travel, since starting to work out again last fall I had initially lost weight and then was starting to gain it back (same diet) with noticeable form changes- already gained 2 lbs in about 1.5 months. Progress!

(b) With the slowdown, doing stupid things has more immediate consequences- eating poorly, doing bad form (dancing or otherwise), etc., all feel bad pretty much right after doing them. The immediacy of the feedback allows me to fine tune what I'm doing to get on a healthier track. Back when I could eat whatever I wanted, do any kind of crazy physical activity and go on fine, never getting fat or having too many problems, I had no idea on how or what I could do to improve things. So, the "slimmer margin of error and immediate bad consequences" is kind of a good thing, like Micha's post on the girl who couldn't feel pain. I know what does and doesn't work pretty much right away, and its more gratifying to have results quickly than wondering if I'm doing it right (or why nothing is changing). :)

I would like to assert a

I would like to assert a couple of points on the Barry Bonds debate.

First off, as a personal trainer, and collegiate football player, I have, without the use of steroids have put on 45 pounds in the last two years, with generally fairly regular weightlifting routines. I have also put on 7 pounds of muscle between February 6th (weighed 209) to March 13th (weigh 216), which is 5 weeks, so it quits possible to put on 15 pounds in 100 days. THat would be nearly 1 pound per week.

The second is closely tied to the first. With the right legal supplementation, that weight gain is very possible. Protein, L-Glutamine, Multivitamins, Nitric-Oxide, along with Glucosamine-Chondrotinin with MSM and Ibuprofen is all that I take. So someone who has the genetics such as Bonds, with his money, can afford a great personal trainer, and supplements, can attain such a goal.

Thirdly, people seem to forget that Barry has been a Homerun hitter since his rookie year. He has one of the purest swings in the game, which noone talks about. Im not a huge baseball fan, but I do have to defend him on this issue.

Hey, I just saw ESPN's Cold

Hey, I just saw ESPN's Cold Pizza discussing this article about half an hour ago. It was across the room at a restaurant, so I couldn't hear what they had to say. You might be able to get on the air in June to get a wider audience.

No shit? Could anyone find

No shit? Could anyone find the video? (Does anyone even watch that show?)

Ya, I watched it, it was in

Ya, I watched it, it was in reference to blogging, and the hot sports topics for blogging. It was what brought me across this blog. I watch Cold Pizza every morning. Trent, if you want advice on gaining the 15 pounds, I could help you with legal supplementation, and workouts.