How I Went from “Chubby” to “Man Hunk” – A Slightly Ego-Driven Biography from Ryan McElhaney

By Corey 0

Written by: Ryan McElhaney

I was lifting and lifting big.

I spent years inside Globo-gyms, doing the traditional routine: chest and biceps on Monday, back and triceps on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, etc. Sure, I was benching 300-lbs and banging out 135-lb bicep curls for reps.

Taking my shirt off at the beach, though…that wasn’t a pleasant experience.

I kept telling myself that I needed more abdominal workouts, more cardio and heavier lifts. The muscle definition never came, though.

“You should have a little more to show for as much time as you spend in the gym.”

That’s what a co-worker “affectionately” told me. It hurt to hear, but he was right.

Immediately, I began researching high-intensity training (HIT) and jumped into P90X with both feet. P90X combined weight-lifting with aerobic exercise. It was tough. It was very tough. After a few months, though, the movements became easier and was able to complete all the required work.

I liked the change of pace. More importantly, the results were starting the show.

There was always the option of going heavier or moving faster to increase intensity and difficulty, but, eventually, the movements became redundant. “You can do anything for thirty seconds!” Tony Horton would say. That got annoying quick. He’s an amazing trainer, but there’s only so many times I can hear “Perfect, Pam!” I tried muting the TV and following along. That worked for a little while, then I tried doing the movements by myself. That too got old. Right around P360X (almost a year of P90X), I decided it was time for new exercises. It was time to move on to the next chapter of my fitness. That’s when a long-time friend convinced me to give CrossFit a try.

CrossFit.com provides free, daily programming and I could learn any movement from YouTube. It was a good combination. I started around the middle of February, which happened to be the start of The CrossFit Open and the most challenging workouts of the year.

One of the first workouts consisted of deadlifts and toes-to-bar. I concocting a warm-up, thinking about the muscle groups that would be targeted, how to warm them up and how to attack the workout. I thought I had it all planned out.

I was very, very wrong.

The workout kicked my ass. Nothing went according to plan.

The next day, CrossFit.com programmed ‘Grace’, a workout consisting of thirty 135-lb Clean-and-Jerks for time. After getting over the forearm pain from my lack of proper warm-up the day prior, I set out to do the Clean-and-Jerks. I thought 135 pounds wasn’t all that heavy. I mean, heck, I could bench double that quite a bit.

I was…humbled…to say the least.

It was incredibly hard, and my time was terrible. Shortly after that, I discovered ‘scaling’ – the ability to increase or decrease weight, reps or time to maximize the effectiveness of the workout. What a concept! I could scale the workout and get the best results possible for me. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of CrossFit. Each workout is designed to fit a specific goal and time frame, which then optimizes the time spent and the gym – to great results!

Eight months later, a friend finally convinced me to join an actual CrossFit ‘Box’ (gym). It took a lot of convincing. After all, why should I pay over $100 a month for something I’m getting for free.

As history showed me, I was – again – wrong.

The programming, the community and the motivation that came from joining a Box was second to none. I drank the proverbial Kool-Aid and I was addicted.

The workouts were constantly varied, there were better athletes to compete against and the coaching was FAR better than being self-taught on YouTube. There was no way I could go back to traditional gym workouts.

Eventually, CrossFit convinced me to focus on my nutrition. That’s when the real results started. That combination of full-body movements, weight-training, cardio, constantly varied programming, competitions, nutrition and inspiring members completed the puzzle pieces I had been missing.

I’m 35-years-young now and, unquestionably, in the best shape of my life. Each day, I’m inspired to share my success with other members of my gym.

Best of all? Taking my shirt off at the beach is no longer an unpleasant experience.

CrossFit ABF is home to many people looking to find their own inner “hunk.” To find out if CrossFit is right for you or to join our family, email us directly at ryan@crossfitabf.com. #AlwaysBeFlexing

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