“I Can’t Gain Weight”: A Strongman’s Tips For Skinny CrossFitters

Fact: I’m the skinniest guy you know.

Fact: Being the lightest guy in the gym is not good news in CrossFit.

Sure, I’ll smoke everyone if we ever do a 100 handstand pushups for time, but at 125lbs and five foot seven inches, the standard men’s kettlebell (53lbs) is over 40% of my body weight. That thing gets heavy fast.

So obviously, when I spotted strongman coach and competitor Brandon Morrison’s Lift Big Eat Big: How To Get Big While Doing Crossfit article I pounced on it.

There are three key points to their article:

  1. Alter your diet – You will not be able to put on weight eating low carb (regardless, of how much protein you’re eating). A paleo diet is low carb by default. You’re going to have to make a solid effort to get carbs.
  2. Decrease The Number Of Training Days – If you’re hitting hard met cons five or more times a week you’re not going to put on weight. You need quality not quantity and your rest days give are when your muscles will be repairing.
  3. More Short & Heavy, Less Long & Light – Look at all the bigger athletes you know in and out of CrossFit. Do you think they got that way by doing a forty-five minute grinder with an empty bar?

Fact: These three steps will work if you take it seriously. But you need to give it a dedicated shot. At least five to six weeks of diligently sticking to this plan.

This is not me (...yet)
“Maybe I’ll hit some air squats next…”

Miraculously, I have manged to add five pounds to my bony arse over a five week period using basically the same template. I know, five pounds: big deal. Some of you can probably gain five pounds by holding your breath. But for a guy whose weight has remained basically static over the course of four years of CrossFit this is amazing. Probably, even more amazing has been the weight has stuck during the last four weeks of eating a bit more typical diet (e.g. I’m no longer consuming tablespoons of coconut oil with every meal).

Check out Morisson’s full article for additional details.

You can also pair this post with Greg Everett’s tip On Midnight Shakes For Weight Gain.

Picture courtesy of Gregor Winter’s Flickr.


By Phil

Phil is the media wizard behind the brilliant FuncThat. He discovered CrossFit in 2009 and has been hooked ever since. He eagerly awaits the day CrossFit adds weight and age classes to the Games since he's confident he could dominate the 125 pound, 38 year old male division (as long as double unders aren't included). You can follow Phil and FuncThat on pretty much every social media platform ever. Here's a summarized list: Google+, Twitter, Facebook. If you're looking for help setting up your affiliate's site or need a hand with your social media you can contact Phil at psteffek@functhat.com


  1. try creatine. i gained 10 pounds in about a week or two when before, i couldnt put weight on to save my life. it was almost like my body needed a boost to create it naturally.

  2. 5 pounds is a lot in 5 weeks! More likely to be 4 pounds or more increased water rentition. Thats one of the problems of re introducing carbs. Its so hard to find clean carbs when we are out and about they like to add refined cane sugar and vegetable oil to everything. The big one i keep forgetting about when i order an indian… Is salt. I will gain about 3 kg in a weekend if i eat a couple of big meals with hidden salt. Its gone by Wednesday or thursday. When i cook my own meals this doesnt happen. I never add more than a pinch or 2 of salt… And i dont generally use refined cane sugar. If im being really naughty and cooking something bad i try and cut or replace a large chunk of the refined cane sugar with dextrose or stevia…

  3. Hi Phil,

    Great article! I especially like peanuts and it’s good that it belongs on the weight-gain diet. Give attention to your protein and calories intake and make sure you’re taking in the right amount based on your weight. Thanks for sharing!

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