Muscle Up - The Primal Diet Mass Building Experiment: Week 2, "Finding the 'Perfect' Physique"

Eugene Sandow, the original bodybuilder.

After months of consciously trying to lose weight (specifically shedding bodyfat), switching gears and putting the focus on weight gain has been a bit unnerving.  While I am aware that temporary increase in bodyweight is necessary in order to add muscle mass, it is still a strange experience.  I have found myself hesitant to eat more than I am accustomed to and to watch the numbers on the scale creep upwards.  Not to mention the fact that my abdominal muscles, which had enjoyed a few precious moments in the sun, are now going into hibernation.

Observing my feelings of discomfort and the accompanying thought that I am going "backwards", I can't help but laugh at my own indoctrination.  Whether I admit it on a regular basis or not, I have to acknowledge that I have been deeply influenced by the society within which I live.  For example, everybody loves it when Hollywood hunks get into great shape for roles (Team Jacob anyone?) but the tide can just as quickly turn.  Many former heart-throbs have been the subject of tabloid ridicule when even the slightest hint of softness replaces their formerly defined lines.

Fear of fat is not going to stand in my way however, and I am determined to continue focusing on building up functional mass rather than delineating some showy six-pack abs.  To that end, I have already found a measure of success as my strength has begun to climb and I can once again curl 45lb dumbbells for reps.  My chest, shoulders, arms, and legs are also showing the signs of getting "swole".  My weight is currently up to 186 and I anticipate that I will continue to gradually add pound or two per week as I continue to push the scale upwards.

To refresh my perspective on physical goals and to break down my social conditioning, I decided to do a little research into the early days of bodybuilding.  For generation upon generation, a strong, lithe, and athletic physique like that of Eugene Sandow was considered the epitome of the male form.  These guys were strong, fit, and trained via techniques that are just now finding resurgent popularity through CrossFit and Kettlebell gyms.  I also realized that Sandow is my brother from another mother when I saw this ad on

The kind of physique possessed by Eugene Sandow is muscular, defined, and, to a certain extent, attainable.  However, he wasn't anywhere near the absurd level of freakdom that is commonplace in modern competitive bodybuilding.  Case in point, this photo from of Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler facing off in the 2006 Mr. Olympia...

In high-school I idolized these guys ,thanks to a saint of a mother who was willing to drive me around South Florida so that I could attend bodybuilding shows, I had the chance to meet both of them in person.  After seeing these guys with my own eyes, its hard to imagine how any "normal" human being could develop such extreme muscularity.  Ignorant to certain aspects of competitive bodybuilding, I imagined that I could achieve similar results by religiously following the routines in FLEX magazine and by "investing" an ungodly sum of money in supplements "guaranteed" to get results.

With my current mass-building project, the bottom line is that I'm now a firm believer in the merits of function balanced with aesthetics.  To me, the development of muscle isn't an end unto itself.  To be healthy, move well, and look good while doing it is my goal.  Bottom line, I'm looking to kick it Sandow style because an old-school physique informed by modern training principles, just like an old-school diet backed up by cutting edge science, is where it's at.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Good food and a standard usage of your muscles...your body will develop is Paleo shape...the rest is "glory"...If you don't set a standard that you can keep up with aint happening... >>>

  2. strength? are you a docker or competitive weightlifter?
    who cares if one can lift a 45lb dumbbell or not - in a world where you don't need to hunt mammoths only form and look matters

  3. Strength is actually a good predictor of overall longevity. Studies have shown that stronger individuals (usually those with more lean tissue/muscle mass) are better able to recover from accidents and injuries and their injuries are typically less severe.

  4. Awesome!! What an excellent review! I am very happy to see the strong muscle. It is good news for us that we are seeing the Primal Diet Mass Building Experiment. It is most important for us. Please provide more important info for this. I am grateful for your brilliant relocation.
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