Can I Build Muscle?

Categories: Blog, blog Feb 24, 2020

I often get the question, “Can I build muscle with Original Strength?”

The answer is “Yes,” but it’s not that simple.

Oh, and just so you know what I’m hearing when I get this question, I’m hearing, “Can I look good if I use OS as my training?” I’m not hearing, “Can I build slabs of muscle and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger if I do OS?” 


Anyway, those that ask this question are usually asking because they are at a season in their lives where they’ve grown weary of traditional strength training. They are either tired of it, or they begin to see strength training through a different point of view. As I said, yes, you can build muscle and look “good” or strong or fit by using OS as your training modality, but it’s really a layered approach with many variables. 


Original Strength itself will establish a foundation of movement that will make any physical goal easier and more attainable. OS makes traditional strength training, even training for mass, more fruitful. Original Strength will also allow the body to naturally reveal or release the untapped strength you naturally carry inside of you. You can be amazingly strong and not look all that strong. Which can be cool. 


But to look strong using OS as the sole source of strength training, to acquire muscle using OS, requires the principles of strength training to be applied. 


  • You’ve got to challenge the body. You have to apply enough stress to create an adaptation. You can do this through increasing tension through load and time, or creating time under tension. This may mean leopard crawling for ten minutes or leopard crawling while dragging a 200 pound sled, or both. There isn’t necessarily one way to do this, but the point is you must create a challenge for the body to respond to. 

  • You’ve got to have a relentless work ethic. This is the variable that is tricky. I believe a lot of things can be done, like building muscle with OS. So the answer is “Yes,” but I don’t know a person’s work ethic. I have no idea about how much they want something and how much they are willing to work towards it. I don’t know if they are willing to show up every day.

  • You may need to eat a certain way. There is a chance, if you have a physical goal, that you may need to eat a certain way to achieve it. It may be that you need to eat less of some things or more of other things. A desired physical goal is going to take an accumulation of many things to fall into place. Everything matters. It’s bigger than a certain routine of movements. 

  • You’ve got to believe you can do it. This kind of runs with work ethic in my head, but if you want to achieve something, you need to believe you can - you need to know you can. When your knowledge and effort are inline with one another, you absolutely can build muscle with OS. But then you absolutely can do anything else you set your mind to as well. 

    • I believe the body follows the mind. If the mind is not there, there is not target for the body to follow. However, if the mind is on target, the body may just follow without nearly as much wasted energy. Really, your work ethic and the challenge you need to create may take less energy if your mind is set on the desired outcome. You may also find more leeway in your eating habits if your mind is aimed at a desired outcome. Use your vision. 


I’m only scratching the surface here, but I think you get the point. You can certainly build the body you want to have through using Original Strength as your muscular development training system. But, there is more to it than just doing OS. You are the variable that determines the “Yes” or the “No.” 


The truth is, and it took me over thirty years to realize this, you have the body you want to have. Your body is perfect. All you have to do is realize you already have it and allow it to reveal itself to you. 


This might get deep or just plain weird, but I chased after an idea of the perfect body most of my entire life. I abused my body in the process and I neglected it through blind pursuit of the idea of perfection. By wanting something I thought I didn’t have I was essentially telling my body that I did not like it. Your body knows if you are happy with it or not, believe me. Anyway, I am learning to see the wonder in my body, I’m learning to love it and enjoy it.  In the process, I’ve realized that I do indeed have the body I’ve always wanted to have. 


My point is, love your body. You already have what you want, you just maybe don’t realize it yet. If you see the wonder in yourself and approach your physical goals in love and not self contempt, your outcome will be so much more rewarding and enjoyable. If you see yourself through eyes of disgust or through lack, you’re essentially telling your body, “I’m not happy with you,” and this will ultimately cause a lot of suffering. But again, to repeat myself, you can build muscle through using OS as a way to train, but the approach may be more important than the method. 

Comments (4)

  1. Boris:
    Feb 24, 2020 at 02:39 PM

    I have been using OS almost exclusively (plus pull-ups and chin-ups) for the past few years, and I have gotten stronger and i have built muscle. Keep in mind that I am in my late 40s.
    My body (shoulders, elbows, knees) was pretty beaten up by kettlebells. (This does not mean that kettlebells are bad. They were just not really right for my body.) Then I switched to OS, because I heard Dan John talk about OS. And I follow Dan John's advice.
    Not only has OS fixed all of my issues, but I move better and feel better. But, like the article says you have to progress. Crawl a lot, do a lot of rocking push-ups, increase TUT, and so on. You will improve slowly (but without injuries.)


  2. Tim Anderson:
    Feb 24, 2020 at 03:12 PM

    YES!!! Boris, thank you so much for sharing this!


  3. Luther:
    Feb 27, 2020 at 07:41 AM

    I'd like to second what Boris shared. Similar to him I moved completely to OS after a serious injury about 12 months ago. I am 56 now, did KB plus bodyweight gymnastic style in the past. Felt halfway fit given an busy lifetime w lots of travel.

    After injuryI could barely do any push-up nor move w/o pain. I started w what I could do at that time (baby-crawl, head nods, rolling).

    After a good 12 months now and still in recovery phase I am on Leopard crawls, battling ropes & some hanging. I regained lost muscle, got significantly stronger allover and do feel extremely well after a training session. Session is not much more than 10-15 minutes under tension accumulated. Yet.

    I am pretty convinced once I can go for 10 minutes on the crawls non-stop, tweaking it further with various load parameters I will gain way more muscle. The body will add where it is needed most for the given movement. And that’s exactly what I am after.

    OS is a perfect base for that.


    1. Jill Greene:
      Feb 27, 2020 at 03:38 PM

      Luther, that sound amazing! Can you contact us at


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