Time for another Leangains success story.

Success stories are emailed to me from people all across the globe and everyone has been using the simple but effective intermittent fasting guidelines I’ve outlined in “The Leangains Guide.” 

This success story is from Spencer. Just like Tanner’s success story, it is an excellent example of muscle gain without the chunk.

The Definition of Lean Gains Part Two: Spencer

“After spending two years in a relationship, I had let myself get rather chunky. As a fresh single man, I decided it was time to get back into shape. I started lifting again and focused on some cardio. After a couple months I had lost around 15-18lbs, and the result of that quick cut is this first ‘before’ picture.

Spencer's before picture
Spencer at 183 lbs and 8-9% body fat (my estimate).

I was happy with my results, but knew I had to pack on some muscle since I was looking kind of small. Right around the exact time that this “before” picture was taken, I had somehow stumbled upon LeanGains.com. What a coincidence this was because I was in need of finding a way to put muscle on while gaining the least amount of fat possible (I didn’t want to throw away the hard work I had just put in to lose that fat). All I can say is, damn, I am glad I had found this.

After briefly reading a post on the site, I knew that Martin was someone that’ll provide much value to the fitness community. Everything I had read was backed by science, and it was as straightforward as it could be. I’m an open-minded person so I love to try new things. I continued to read the blog for a couple more hours until I had enough knowledge and understanding to create a schedule for myself that would follow the Leangains method.

Spencer's after picture
Spencer seven months later at 195 lbs and 7-8% body fat.

I basically followed the guide, and kept it as simple as possible. In my opinion, simplicity is the key to this method. If you over think and over-analyze every little detail, you are just going to frustrate yourself. Follow the damn guide and keep it at that. Martin has outlined pretty much every detail you need to know in order for this to work.

Well, after following this new lifestyle I had adopted, it has proved itself over and over that it really is an effective way of dieting. My strength has risen higher than it has ever been, my body fat percentage is lower than it’s ever been, and I feel better than I’ve ever felt. This is something that just becomes a part of you; I could never see myself not doing this.

Spencer flexing his muscles

I still have a long ways to go, but with the knowledge and information Martin shares with us, I am pretty damn confident that I’ll achieve all my fitness goals. Thank you, Martin for the time and effort that you’ve dedicated to this community. It really is life changing if you believe in it.



Before stats, July ’10. First picture. 6’1″ 183lbs.

Estimated 1RM:

  • Bench: 214 lbs
  • Pull-Ups: body weight x 8
  • Deadlifts: 253 lbs
  • Squats: 229 lbs

After stats, Jan ’11. Second and third picture. 195 lbs.

Estimated 1RM:

  • Bench: 320 lbs (+106 lbs)
  • Pull-ups: body weight x 25 (+17 reps) (I do weighted pull/chin-ups now, though)
  • Deadlifts: 375 lbs (+122 lbs)
  • Squats: 379 lbs (+150 lbs)


From my perspective it looks like Spencer lowered his body fat in the process, but it’s also possible that it’s unchanged from the first picture. He seems to have more of a tan here and the lighting in the first picture smoothes him out a bit. In either case, a lean weight gain of 12 lbs in seven months is very impressive.

It should be noted that some part of his muscle can be attributed to muscle memory. Spencer says that he was training regularly between 2006 and 2008, but adds that…

Some of my gains are definitely from muscle memory, but I have exceeded my strength from 2008 by a substantial amount. I am feeling and looking better than I ever have, and it only took me about 8 months instead of 2 years. My knowledge with Leangains/IF, and some other stuff I have learned throughout this time has given me much more focus on the goals I want to achieve with bodybuilding.

Quote from Spencer’s thread at bodybuilding.com.

12 lbs of Lean Mass?

It’s important to note that the raw weight difference between before-and-after-pictures rarely reflect true lean muscle gain. It’s not uncommon to see non-functional weight gain of about ~1% when going from dieting to maintenance, and another 1% on top of that from maintenance to a slightly hypercaloric diet. I see this quite often with my clients.

The implication of this being that a 185 lbs guy might find himself gaining 4-5 lbs within the first weeks of a muscle gaining phase, most of which is solely the result of increased muscle glycogen stores, body hydration, and more stomach content. The gain can be more or less dramatic depending on the carb content of your diet during the fat loss phase versus the maintenance and muscle gain phase.

Just a little something to think about and to put things in perspective. And perhaps something to prevent you from freaking out when you find yourself gaining more weight faster than what is reasonable when you transition from fat loss to maintenance and/or bulking.

Qualitative Weight Gain

A key lesson people should take away from Spencer’s success story is the rate of his weight gain. It works out to less than 0.5 lbs per week, which is quite far from the often recommended 1 lb per week during bulking.

In my experience, aiming for about 2 lbs per month is much more reasonable for most people with some training experience (i.e. an intermediate trainer). For advanced trainers, i.e. those close to their theoretical maximum muscular potential, 1 lb per month is a good rate if maintaining low body fat is high on the priority list.

Stay on the look out for more success stories. I have a whole pile of them stacked up. And yes, I will switch it up a bit; instead of ripped young guys, I’ll feature a female and a Type 1 Diabetic up next.

If you’ve had success with the Leangains approach to intermittent fasting, and would like to share your results with my readers, feel free to send me your success story. Your results have the potential to inspire and motivate others.

P.S. There was an issue with subscriptions a while back. In short, subscribers did not get notified when I updated the site. It’s fixed now though, so feel free to subscribe if you would like new content sent to your email or RSS reader the second it’s out.