How former marathoner Ryan Hall gained more than 50 pounds of muscle

Ryan Hall holds the record for the fastest marathon (2:04:58) and half-marathon (59:43) run by an American, one of the greatest endurance athletes in the country. He retired in the mid-30s in 2016, but at an age when most men are doubling down on cardio, Hall decided to add muscle.

“A lot of pro athletes lose purpose when they retire,” says Hall. “I loved the challenge of running, but I took it as best I could. It’s not happening in my body anymore. I wanted to challenge myself, so I thought, how much muscle can I put on? How can I get stronger? It’s a crazy science experiment. “

Over the past several years, Hall has dedicated himself to bulking up 190 pounds of muscle from a 130-pound fat, marathon-running machine. The transformation is remarkable, not only because Hall has added more than 50 pounds of muscle, but also because he has successfully transferred his fitness and physique to an age when most of us are trying to hang on to any gain in our youth. Hall has been around for almost 40 years, and he has transformed himself into a functional fitness powerhouse that knocks out energy-crazy feats that most of us would never dare to dream of.

The man in the black T-shirt is cutting wood in gloves
Courtesy Ten Thousand

In October, he split a wooden cord before running under the Grand Canyon, where he filled two huge jugs of water (62 pounds) and the farmers carried them to the rim – in the process reaching a height of 5,000 feet. Hall said it took longer than he thought to split the wood (a wooden cord fills two 8-foot-bed pickup trucks), but it was the Grand Canyon that farmers carried that proved to be the hardest.

“I remember looking down at the rim and wondering what I was getting into,” Hall said. “I could have walked the longest without setting them on for about 45 seconds. It was like taking a break, taking them as far as possible, breathing very hard and putting copper in my mouth. It was like five hours straight.”

People are carrying jugs of water in the Grand Canyon
Courtesy Ten Thousand

Carrying 124 pounds of water to the Grand Canyon is a dramatic feat of energy, but for most of the day, Hall continues to work alone in his garage and backyard. He did not work with any strong coaches during the process. Instead, he read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book Bodybuilding Bible And as much information as he has received about powerlifting. Work is underway at his home gym (he has just added a leg press machine) but mostly consists of a power rack and some barbells. Hall never misses a day at the gym, but only dedicates an hour each day to exercise, moving around in different muscle groups, because he doesn’t want his fitness obsession to interfere with his family time and advanced coaching business.

“When I started, my goal was benching, squatting and deadlifting 300 pounds,” Hall said. “At the time, lifting 300 pounds seemed crazy to me. But now I’m doing 330 benches, 480 squatting and 530 deadlifting.”

They are impressive weightlifting hallmarks, but more important for Hall is that he is feeling better now than at the end of his current career.

“I was in a bad place when I retired,” Hall said. “I was weak, small and had low testosterone levels. I was tired all the time. As a pro marathoner you need to train your body as hard as you can, but your body can only sustain this kind of effort for so long. I was a zombie all day. Lifting has been a way for me to regain my strength and life. It was good for me, mentally and physically. “

There is a lot of scientific research to support Hall’s claim. According to the Mayo Clinic, muscles deteriorate with age and are replaced with fat at a leaner rate. Most of us lose 10 percent of our muscle mass every decade, starting in our 30’s. As you age, strength training can help maintain muscle mass, strengthen bones, and manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, back pain, and heart disease. Studies also show that weight training can help improve your mood and increase testosterone levels in men, especially as they age.

People carry blue jugs of water to the Grand Canyon
Courtesy Ten Thousand

“We need to redefine what we think is old,” Hall said. “I have recently spoken to myself through that. I am 40 years old. How can I frame it in a more positive way? We are getting older, yes, but we are also developing. We’re not supposed to stay the same. We need to change our perspective on what is possible. ”

Hall is still experimenting with finding out what is possible with his own body, creating a stream of energy that numbs his mind like cutting wood in the Grand Canyon and carrying water. He aims to deadlift 500 pounds, then run sub-5-minute miles. And for her 40th birthday, she hopes to complete carrying a 500-pound yolk – where the weight is distributed in four different places at a time – for 5K. Hall statistics will take her five hours and her Grand Canyon will be more intense than the farmer’s carrying.

“I am currently training with 525 pounds in Kusum. It’s so intense, “says Hall. “I carry it 10 or 20 meters and I think my eyeballs will explode. I love that good stuff. I like to feel the pain of a marathon. The pain of carrying water to the Grand Canyon. That’s what makes me feel alive. “

Carrying a jug of water up a stone staircase
Courtesy Ten Thousand

Ryan Hall shares 5 rules for being strong

1. Nutrition is everything

The biggest component of strength training is nutrition. Keeping adequate food down is the hardest part of gaining muscle. I eat every three hours at the point. Lots of calories and lots of protein. This is madness. I can do the same proper training, but if I don’t eat enough, I lose energy. If I increase my calories, I see improvement and start to feel better.

2. Don’t be afraid to get soft

The bulking phase is an important part of muscle gain. You need to eat plenty of food and gain weight. Most boys are afraid to be soft. If they don’t see their abs, they get scared. You have to give up that. During my bulking stages, I look very round and swollen, but that’s just part of the process.

3. Set the bar low

Don’t aim for a 500-pound deadlift in two weeks. And don’t lift yourself up for hours at a time. Consistency, not punishing yourself, is the key to profit. What you can do in a short time is like crazy. I trained to carry Grand Canyon farmers in just 20 minutes a day. That’s it. Set the training bar low so you can stick to it.

4. Make it fun

Choose two or three exercises you want to do and do them for 20 minutes a day. For me, it’s heavy carrying and jumping rope. I can kill myself for 20 minutes, alternate between these two exercises, and have fun with it.

5. Build cardio in your weight training

You probably don’t have time to run or ride a bike and lift in the gym. So cut the rest time in the set to just 45 seconds. This will keep your heart rate right and keep your cardio in good shape. If I follow that plan, I can run 5-minute miles without training.


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