My LeanGains Experiment

Posted: 12.07.2010 in LeanGains, Random Thoughts

As some of you may know, I have been Crossfitting for over 2 years (on my own) and have been eating Paleo/Primal for about 1 year. Due to some nagging injuries and to changes in work schedule, though, I needed to change my workouts to body weight movements done at home and barefoot running. Lately, though, I have felt that things have really stagnated. Stagnated might be an understatement… I was definitely losing work capacity, I was feeling pretty sluggish and I had to really force myself to workout. To add insult to injury, despite eating fairly cleanly, I gained a few pounds (5-10 from where I had been). I needed a change because this was NOT working for me. (Note: A friend of mine reminded me that I complained about feeling similarly last year about this time of year, so perhaps the change in time and seasons affects me more than I care to admit…?)

Along came this article, by Richard Nikoley, over at Free the Animal, describing his workout strategy. Richard made huge gains in a relatively short amount of time using Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains (

  • Conventional Deadlift: 155 – 295 / 90% gain
  • Back Squats: 185 – 215 / 16% gain
  • Bench Press: 165 – 180 / 9% gain
  • Weighted Chin Ups: 0 – 20 / 11% gain, using average bodyweight over the period to calculate
  • 11 Assistance Exercises: 29% average gain
  • Total Overall Gain Over 20 Weeks: 27%


I read through Richard’s page and dug around Martin’s and I think I have found enough information to try my own version of LeanGains.

So, to summarize what I plan to do:

  • The night before workout days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), I stop eating between 8 and 8:30PM.
  • On workout days, I skip breakfast and perform the exercises in a semi-fasted state (I will have 30g of BCAA or Whey Protein Shake, .33 preworkout and .66 post).
  • I will focus on Deadlifts, Weighted Chinups, Bench Press and Squats, but fill in with related movements. (I have ripped off Richard’s rep scheme to start out with.)
  • I will break the fast after 15 or 16 hours and try to make it a pretty hefty meal with a good amount of protein. I’m not stressing too much on this and will settle for whatever lunch I happen to have.
  • On non-workout days, I will mix in some barefoot running, MobilityWOD, yoga, etc. Something active, but not straining.
  • All foods need to remain as “Paleo” as possible.

I am logging everything I do in my workouts and will plan a “check-in” after 8 weeks. At that time, I will determine how I will proceed with future plans.

Leave a comment if anyone is interested in my workout logs & I’ll be happy to post.

  1. Anon says:

    I’m doing exactly the same thing. I was doing a Body By Science-inspired slow HIT regimen and have stagnated the past couple of months. Based on Richard’s post and reading LeanGains, I’m creating my own version. One week in, and I’m definitely sore, so I take that as a good sign.

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