Meet Kyle, one of my (past) clients.
If you saw this guy in the summer of 2012, you would think that he never worked out a day in his life. The sad truth was that he actually did — a lot.
Putting in countless hours of work in the gym, Kyle — like a lot of other gym enthusiast out there — was on a quest to transform his body. At the time of reaching out to me in search for an online coach, he weighed a mere 129lbs and looked liked he was on the same diet plan as his little sister’s. Because he was (and currently still) in the military, being in shape was imperative.
As stated in his initial email to me, Kyle had already been working out for about a year and a half. Unlike some people that I’ve worked with, he was actually already quite knowledgeable about a few things here and there when it comes to training and nutrition. I was quite surprised that he was looking for a trainer. It turns out, though, the main problem was that he was always spinning his wheels. He needed someone to guide him throughout the whole process and take the guess-work out of his hands.
His goal was to put on some weight, and that’s exactly what he did.
About 9 months later, Kyle finally started looking like he went to the gym.
Enter Kyle’s Transformation
When it comes to transformation stories, the first thing that comes to mind is the physical change. So take a look below at the before and after comparison of him (click image to enlarge).
By looking at these pictures there is no doubt that Kyle has put on some muscle since day 1.
Starting at 129lbs around July of 2012, his “end” weight by March 2013 was a lean 145lbs. From the looks of those numbers it might not seem like a huge jump in weight, but the images don’t lie; Kyle put on the weight while keeping the fat gain to a bare minimum (< 10% body-fat).
As for his strength gains, here are the improvements based on the 3 big lifts that we had closely tracked throughout his program with me.
Barbell Bench Press: 160 lbs x 5 reps — 190 lbs x 5 reps (+30lb)
Conventional Barbell Deadlift: 300 lbs x 3 reps — 380 lbs x 2 reps (+80lb)
Barbell Squat: 195 lbs x 5 reps — 275 lbs x 5 reps (+85lb)
Pretty impressive if you ask me, considering that the the starting weights that you see above don’t factor in proper form.
For instance, it’s listed that he was performing 160 lbs for 5 reps in the beginning, but that was prior to fixing his form. Throughout his program, I asked Kyle to record his main lifts on a consistent basis so I can analyze his form from across the country. On paper he improved his bench press by only 30 lbs, but more importantly his form and technique had drastically improved. The same thing can be said on the other two exercises. In my eyes this was very important because if his form was subpar, the “improvements” in weights did not matter to me.
Carbs, Pull-Ups, and Lots of Squats
Since Kyle’s goal was to put on some muscle, it was clear that he needed to be in a mass gain program of some sort. Lucky for him, he chose a coach that doesn’t like to waste any time.
Right from the very start I told Kyle that the program might get a little boring because we would mainly focus on doing things that worked.
That meant he would do the same things over and over again; same routine (upper/lower or full body split) with the same exercises for 6-8 weeks at a time, with barely any changes except for the improvements in reps and weight. He said he was up for it, which was good because all that meant was that results were right around the corner.
So what exactly did his training program look like?
Well, let’s just say that it consisted of a lot of deadlifts, squats, lunges, rows, pull-ups, chin-ups, and bench presses. Oh, and did I mention squats?
In other words, most of the exercises he performed throughout the 9 months that I coached him were compound movements. His workouts generally lasted under an hour because he would only need to do about 7 exercises for his upper body workouts and about 5 exercises for the lower body workouts.
The reasoning behind this is simple: big compound exercises inhibit a greater stimulus on muscles than any other isolation exercise could. Yes I had him do some bicep curls and tricep pushdowns, but those only took up maybe 10% of his workouts.
Now you might be wondering what his nutrition plan was like.
Again, we kept it simple. First of all, we calculated his caloric needs and had him eat in a calorie surplus. Second, we made sure that we made his nutrition plan fit his life and not the other way around. Since Kyle was a pretty busy guy, he only had time to eat 3-4 meals a day. He still got his calories and macronutrient numbers in of course, but there was no need for him to eat every 2-3 hours for 6 meals a day. There was also no need for him to eat chicken and broccoli 24/7 because we focused on flexible dieting for long-term sustainability.
Lastly, I had Kyle cycle his carbs so that he would consume more carbs on the days that he worked out than on the days that he didn’t. This way, his body was primed to “soak up” the carbs he consumed post-workout while minimizing fat gain on non-workout days.
Want Results? Keep Things Simple
Do as little as needed, not as much as possible. – Henk Kraaijenhof
In order to get Kyle to where he is now, we had to make sure to keep things as simple as possible. He trained hard, not long. He focused on form, not weight. His diet was flexible, not strict. These are the things that I try to teach all my clients because it’s essential to keep fitness simple so that it’s easier to make it into a lifestyle.
The moment things become complicated and complex, that’s when we start to fall apart. We’re all just humans after all.
Nice job on the progress, Kyle. Now you just have to keep putting up those deadlift numbers. 🙂
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