WFBB World Champion Shaun Stafford says he used to be “painfully skinny.” Here’s how he packed on the muscle.
If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and wished for a more muscular physique, you’re not alone. The journey from skinny to muscular is a common aspiration for many, and it’s a goal that can be achieved with the right plan, the proper information, and some dedication. To get you started on taking the first steps toward packing on the muscle, we asked Professional Physique Athlete and WFBB World Champion Shaun Stafford what he’d recommend.
The founder and coach at City Athletic says that he used to be “painfully skinny as a teenager,” but has now spent decades crafting an award-winning physique that’s graced the cover of numerous health and fitness magazines. Suffice it to say, Stafford clearly knows what he’s talking about. Here’s what he recommends:
Stafford says that “it’s going to sound really, really obvious,” but he names “lifting enough” as one of the top three components in going from skinny to muscular.
Now “lifting enough” might sound easy, but Stafford notes that “enough” varies widely from person to person.
“When I was in my 20s, I was training twice a day, super heavy in the morning, super light in the evening – just repping out. [I was] training eight to ten times a week,” he says.
As he moved into his 30s, Stafford says his “priorities changed, and you kind of zone in on the little things that are actually going to get you better results.” The 2x Fitness World Champion says that he now lifts “a lot heavier than I did when I was in my 20s but with a much lower volume and a much lower frequency.”
All that to say lifting enough is subjective. Before you decide to spend every waking hour in the gym to pack on the muscle, make sure that you’re training smarter, not harder. You don’t need to hit the gym twice a day, 10 times a week to see results. You just need to be sure you’re training efficiently.
Another simple yet undoubtedly important piece of the puzzle is eating enough, says Stafford.
Similarly to lifting enough, though, eating enough is also subjective. If you’re serious about gaining muscle, it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough for yourself, not necessarily following a celebrity’s or athlete’s “what I eat in a day.”
To calculate what “enough” really means for you, it’s recommended that you calculate your body’s needs with something like this calorie calculator. Having a number that’s more than a best guess will help you fuel your body with the energy you need. After all, it is possible to gain muscle in a caloric deficit, but properly fuelling your body will make the process much easier and faster.
Stafford says that staying consistent is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to growing muscle. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to stick to one routine for years and years.
“As your training age increases and as you get more and more used to the gym environment, you’ll find out from a feedback point of view what’s working for you, and what’s not working for you,” he says.
From there, you’ll be able to “adjust your programming and your nutrition, and maybe even your schedule around kind of what’s going to get you the best results,” Stafford says.
While it can be hard to stay consistent if you’re not seeing the results you want, Stafford emphasizes that “it’s a lot of trial and error” when it comes to starting a fitness journey. “I think you probably learn more from trying the things that don’t work than you do necessarily stumbling upon the things that do work. There could be the best-written program in the world that’s got the most plaudits and five-star reviews on Google, but it might not work for you. There might be something about that plan that just doesn’t align with you, your goals, your physiology, your schedule – and therefore, it’s not going to be the one that’s going to basically get you to where you want to be.”