How Shawn Used Bigger Leaner Stronger To Gain 15 Pounds of Muscle

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"It made me feel stronger and feel better about my looks. I just generally feel better about myself."

Shawn's Progress

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How many months’ progress do your pictures represent? What were your stats for each picture?

6 months transformation. Starting around 130-135 lbs, ending at 145-150 lbs.

What has happened so far on the program?

I bulked about 15 pounds of lean(er) muscle, I significantly increased my strength.
Bench (4-6reps) 185 to 235 (255 1 rep max)
Squat (4-8 reps) 205 to 275 (I stopped due to sciatic injury)
Deadlift (4-6 reps) 250 to 315 (stopped deadlifting due to sciatic injury)
Military press (4-6 reps) 95 to 135

What workout split from the book did you use?

5 day split.

What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?

I’ve tried P90x and Body Beast by Beach Body. I’ve also tried random programs from, but what made me read Bigger Leaner Stronger was the lack of knowledge as to why I was doing what I was doing in those programs. I don’t really enjoy spending too much time in the gym, and was looking for an in and out solution.

I had a very little general (bro science) information on nutrition and lifting, but Bigger Leaner Stronger made me feel secure due to the comparison in studies and now my training partner as well has seen some major improvements in size and strength.

What do you like most about the program?

Following the program but more importantly, having the knowledge provided in Bigger Leaner Stronger allows me to just get in and out of the gym and not feel like crap about it. It makes me feel confident in my ability to do what I do.

I also read Mark Rippetoe’s starting strength and Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 which I also followed for 3 months. I like that you reference Rippetoe’s work which allowed me to do my compound lifts correctly to the best of my knowledge.

How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?

I know I had muscle memory, I’ve always been “active” whether it be from MMA or the other programs I mentioned above, so I think that gave me a head start or advantage from other people who are newbie lifters. Training or being dedicated to something was never really an issue for me, but only for a short period of time (3-6 months).

Seeing the results I got from Bigger Leaner Stronger differed from other programs because I never got as big because other programs I did always focused on rep ranges of 8-12, therefore I wasn’t overloading the way I was every week in the Bigger Leaner Stronger methods.

The diet was the other elephant in the room. I said enough was enough, I was tired of being skinny so I had to buckle up and simply just start eating more. I’ve always been a problem solver and for me, time and efficiency are always what I prefer, which is why I read books like the 4-hour work week or 4-hour chef by Tim Ferris not that his methods are the best specifically geared towards working out out nutrition.

I didn’t really stick the diet plan, I just ate what I like ensuring I got the protein, that my macronutrient ratios were emphasized, and that I got my calories. I needed an efficient diet, baking foods keeping it simple and clean. I’d even resort to buying fast food when my meals from my prep would run out (lol the benefits of bulking as a skinny guy). Having shakes, sandwiches, and protein bars made it easy to supplement for meals too.

How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?

It’s given me confidence, it made me feel stronger and feel better about my looks. I just generally feel better about myself, and I know more about basic nutrition and lifting and no one can take that away from me.

Who would you recommend this program to and why?

Everyone, because most talk nonsense and bro-science. You provide real science and real studies. I believe you over some shmuck who has no results to back up his or her “facts”. You even have the most quality testimonials. I have a big network, and I know a lot of personal trainers who are very fit themselves, but cant seem to get their clients as fit as them, whereas you do!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

When people ask me what my secret is I just tell them to go read Bigger Leaner Stronger, but I also simply tell people that you just need to want it, and that “it” isn’t even that hard. Lift heavy, lift safe, eat lots or less, stick to food you like, and be consistent. It sounds redundant and oversimplified but that’s really what it comes down to.

Oh and priorities protein over other macros, and get your rest (dont over train, how else to you expect to hit PR’s) and drink water.

Did you use any Legion supplements?

I didn’t use any Legion supplements, I stuck to creatine and protein.

Readers' Ratings

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Want to become a success story too? Here's how he did it

The program that made this transformation possible:

The meal plan that makes building muscle and losing fat easy and enjoyable:

Mike Matthews is a bestselling fitness author of Bigger Leaner Stronger, Thinner Leaner Stronger, and The Shredded Chef, as well the founder of Legion Athletics.

His simple and science-based approach to building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthy has sold over a million books and helped thousands of people build their best bodies ever, and his work has been featured in many popular outlets including Esquire, Men’s Health, Elle, Women’s Health, Muscle & Strength, and more, as well as on FOX and ABC.

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