Using science to hack your fitness goals.

Close this search box.

Using science to hack your fitness goals.

Close this search box.

How I Gained 5 Pounds of Muscle in 9 Weeks
[Real-World Case Study]

Squatting with BFR straps

I’m a 32-year-old advanced lifter. I’ve been lifting weights for years. As anyone who has studied exercise physiology knows, it is difficult for an advanced lifter to perpetually gain new muscle mass. 

It’s part of the law of diminishing returns. The more advanced you get, the more impressive every single additional pound of gains becomes.

That’s why I was blown away at the results of my first 9-week training program that used the principles taught here at the BFR Training Institute.

I was able to add 5 lbs of muscle in 9 weeks with one simple tactic:

BFR training.

I built a 9-week training program utilizing BFR straps. During that program, I gained 7.25 lbs (5 lbs of muscle) in 9 weeks. 

During this period, I trained at my normal tempo, intensity, and volume but I used the BFR straps. 

My nutritional habits and supplement routine stayed consistent with what they have been for the past year. I would intermittently fast until 12:30 pm and the last meal of the day was typically around 8:30 pm. 

I ate 3,000-4,000 calories per day. My diet consisted of vitamin D milk, eggs, bacon, beef, chicken, bone broth, cheese, pork rinds, potatoes (of all kinds), basmati rice, pasta, sourdough bread, beans, peanut butter, and walnuts.

Vitamin D3 (5,000iu), Fish Oil (1,000mg), Magnesium (400mg), Creatine (5g), & Whey Protein (60g) were taken every day during the 9 week process (and have been taken for the last year consistently).

Here is the FREE detailed 9 week training plan I used (hyperlink PDF here).

As you can see there was not a ton of volume overall (4-5 exercises per day, 3-5 sets per exercise), but the tempo schemes are brutal and the frequency is fairly high (4-5 days per week). 

I contribute a lot of my training plan to Christian Thibaudeau. I have read his work for a decade and he is always great about sharing wisdom and training information. This article in particular really shaped the way I VIEW myself and the way I HAVE to train! 

How I Tracked the Results

Rather than just guestimate the amount of actual gains, I used an advanced scanning technology that allowed me to see exactly how much muscle mass I really gained.

The scanning technology is called “DEXA” – Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry.

I’ve attached the two DEXA scan results below.

DEXA Scan Pre-BFR Training

DEXA Scan Post-BFR Training

DEXA Scan Results

Below is the before and after DEXA scan data. 

Some of the information gathered included: Bone Mineral Density, Body Fat %, and Lean Muscle Mass. 

  • Body Weight – 183 lbs. (83kg) to 190.25 lbs. (86.3kg) = Increased by 7.25 lbs.
  • Body Fat Percentage – 8.2% (6,528g) to 9.2% (7,588g) = Increased by 1%
  • Bone Mineral Density – 1.442g/cm2 (lbs.) to 1.420g/cm2 (lbs.) = Decreased by 1.5%
  • Total Lean Body Mass – 160 lbs. (72,706g) to 165 lbs. (74,963) = Increased by 5 lbs. 

*Areas of Lean Mass Distribution

  • Left Arm – 4,576g to 4,726g = Increased by 0.4 lbs.
  • Right Arm – 4,524g to 5,271g = Increased by 1.65 lbs.
  • Left Leg – 11,862g to 12,572g = Increased by 1.6 lbs.
  • Right Leg – 12,777g to 13,237g = Increased by 1 lb.
  • Left Trunk – 17,975g to 18,438g = Increased by 1 lb.
  • Right Trunk – 16,485g to 16,187g = Decreased by 0.65 lbs.

Some takeaways from the results:

  • It is difficult for experienced lifters to increase performance regardless of the component of fitness wanted because of the law of diminishing returns. I have been training for a dozen years now. By NO means am I stating that I am elite by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a serious lifter and these results were eye-opening to me.
  • My body weight, body fat, and muscle mass all increased. Page 1 of 3 on the report portion (last 5 pages) of the scan shows our body weight. They asked me for my body weight at the scan, and I thought I weighed 180 lbs. Notice under the “LEAN” section that it gives a total weight. The DEXA machine actually weighed me 83 kgs. (183 lbs.).
  • As weight goes up, muscle and fat will be gained. The goal should be maximal muscle growth and minimal fat gain.
  • This first trial indicates that I gained 5 lbs. of muscle and a little more than 2.5 lbs. of fat. Therefore, hopefully, I can continue this increase for another 9 weeks (10 lbs. muscle and 5 lbs. fat over 18 weeks). 
  • The law of diminishing returns is REAL. Therefore, the next 9-week protocol will have to be more demanding physically. Also, I will have to increase calorie input and rest.
  • My Bone Mineral Density (BMD) decreased over the 9-week time span. Let me explain briefly. In ALL of 2019, I drank 30 beers total! During this 9 week protocol, I drank more alcohol than I did in all of 2019! It is not something I am proud of. It is just stating the facts. I believe this is what contributed to my decrease in BMD. 
  • I have to do a better job next training cycle bringing my left arm, left leg, and right trunk up to par with their counterpart. Especially my poor left arm!
  • I am still in awe of how my right trunk decreased in muscle mass. Back to the drawing board for round two!