A Former Skinny Guy Shared How He Gained 30 Pounds and Got Strong

Philip Ellis
·3-min read

From Men's Health

Eric Bandholz, founder of the men's grooming channel Beardbrand, looks a little different these days. He has been busy building strength over the last couple of years, gaining around 30 pounds in a bid to add power and muscle to his historically lean 175-pound physique.

Despite frequent comments about his skinny appearance, Eric had always felt fine about the way his body looked, but a moment came when he realised he wanted to work on his strength.

"It really came down to the fact that I got back into rowing," he says. "I remember this vividly; we had a regatta, and I was doing 1K sprints, and towards the end of my third race, I just didn't have any energy or power left. I felt like I was running on fumes. I wasn't eating enough, I was so lean I think there were no fat reserves and my body was just eating the muscles away. So that was the catalyst for me to make a change."

In addition to upping his calorie intake, Eric got into weightlifting. He became particularly committed to his training over the last year, giving up his gym membership and building a home workout space during the pandemic. He focused on four compound movements –squat, bench press, deadlift and overheard press – to train his whole body and develop more functional strength for rowing.

"I'm not doing this to be a bodybuilder," he says. "I'm not doing this to take my shirt off and pose for magazines. I'm doing this because I want to be strong, be healthy, and perform better in the boat." He adds that it's been satisfying to watch his lifting measurably improve, and his current goal is to get strong enough in the bench press that he can lift his own weight.

Eric weighs in at 205 pounds now, and he has been able to track visible growth in his biceps and triceps, quads, and glutes, simply from the way his clothes fit. "Skinny jeans used to be baggy on me," he says. "I can no longer fit in them."

And while COVID restrictions mean that he has been unable to keep up with his rowing training, and his VO2 max has dropped over the last year, Eric is pleased that he has been able to develop his strength at the same time, as it stands him in good stead as he works towards his future goals. "I don't want to get too heavy, I want to be light on the boat," he says. Rowing is a strength sport, but it's also a cardio sport. So the goal is not to add another 30 pounds, I'd like to stay around the 205 to 215 range, and get some of my fat down."

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