My journey began on March 1, 2014 at 169.4lbs and 18.8% body fat. My cutting phase ended on September 30th on which I weighed in at 142.6lbs and 11.1% body fat. I was targeting approximately 1lb of weight loss a week and ended up losing 27.4lbs over 31 weeks. I attribute the 5lb difference to some muscle gain.
I followed the plan Mike had outlined for cutting and I went to work. I expected that I was going to lose a lot of strength and would feel tired most days. I was quite surprised to see my strength levels improve. I also took notice to the fact that I felt more energetic throughout the day and never hit that mid-day slump.
During my cutting phase, I was able to increase my 1 rep max on the bench press to 225 from 175. My bigger friends were all shocked to see a 145lb guy bench press to 225 with proper form. My military press has gone from being able to do six reps at 95 to six reps at 115. My squat has gone from six reps at 125 to six reps at 165. My deadlift has gone from six reps at 145 to six reps at 195.
Midway through the program, I started to take up cardio. Primarily to improve my endurance and cut some extra weight as I was preparing for a vacation in Jamaica. I have never been able to run 7 miles in a single session in my life. I typically thought running anything more than a mile was impressive. After a couple weeks of HIIT on the treadmill, I decided that I wanted to go outside for a light run. That day, I was able to run 6 miles within an hour and it felt like a breeze. I attribute this to the improved strength in my legs and the conditioning from HIIT.
In August, I was invited to participate in a Ragnar relay race with my colleagues at work. I gladly signed up. A team of 12 runners would be tasked with running 196 miles over the course of two days in relay fashion. The team assigned 21 miles to me which was distributed over three legs. Following Mike’s plan of strength training, HIIT and proper nutrition, I was able to run these legs with an average pace of 8:30. Our team completed the race within 28 hours and I was able to be part of this great experience all because Mike’s programmed worked for me.
This program is not just about becoming a “meat head”, it is about improving your health in every aspect so that you are able to enjoy the finer things in life.
What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?
I have been trying to reach my ideal physique since 2010. I have tried every diet program and weight training program out there. I even read the acclaimed 4-hour body by Timothy Ferriss. No matter how much time I spent in the gym or how hard I tried to “diet,” I just could not make any significant progress. I quoted the term diet here because for a long time, I thought I knew what a proper diet meant. After a while, I chalked it up to genetics. When I heard about this book, I thought it was just another diet and nutrition book from some guy with great genetics who was trying to make a quick buck.
I was introduced Mike Matthews via one of the forums on BodyBuilding.com. I was intrigued enough to look into his book and blog. Before purchasing his book, I read through the blog and I liked his approach to nutrition and weight lifting. I also liked the fact that Mike was not scared to talk about drug use. After reading through his blog posts, I decided that he was consistent enough to be someone who was actually trying to help people with his no non-sense approach. So, I bought the book and gave it a listen. (I am a big audio book person since it makes it easier for me to get through books during my daily commute.)
What do you like most about the program?
I like the simplicity of the program most. You do not need to spend more than 1 hour in the gym and you do not need to eat only rice and chicken. You follow Mike’s guiding principles and you will see results.
How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?
This program beats every other program out there because it focuses on the fundamentals. Michael Jordan did not become a great basketball player without becoming an expert in the fundamentals first.
The diet was straight forward and flexible. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from a diet perspective is that first and foremost, it is a numbers game. If you want to lose weight, you need to spend more energy than you take in. Yes, it is that simple and it’s a surprisingly hard concept for people to wrap their heads around. I saw results quickly and people would always ask me what my trick was. I told them that I simply did the math every day and trusted the process. Most of my friends insisted that they ate healthy and didn’t see the results I did but they failed to realize that no matter how healthy you eat, if you eat too much, your body will store it as fat.
I loved the focus on the big compound workouts. Honestly, who does not love a heavy bench press? I really enjoyed the fact that I could focus on the same big heavy lifts each week and focus on improving rather than focusing on mastering a new lift every couple of weeks. It is a huge stress relief and really allows you to focus your mind on the big lift you are about to execute. There is no better feeling than stepping up to the squat rack with your music blasting and losing yourself in the lift.
How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?
Success in the gym and kitchen easily translates to success in anything else you try in your life, including your career. It builds mental toughness and reinforces the fact that great things take time and dedication. Success does not come over night. You must focus on the now in order to achieve your dreams. This philosophy has grounded me and reminded me that I should focus on being 100% right now, instead of focusing on the past or worrying about the future.
It has also helped me deal with stress better which helps me maintain high energy levels and remain calm at work when challenges arise.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sleep should not be underestimated and do not be afraid of routine. Monday through Friday, my life is very routine. I wake up and go to bed at the same time and I reduce the amount of decisions I need to make so that I can focus on what is really important. Meals are prepared on Sundays, clothes are laid out the night before and I always get to the office at the same time every day. Routine allows you to maximize everything in your life so that you are not wasting time. We all have the same 24 hours.
Sleep will make or break you in my opinion. I focus on getting to bed by 9:30pm every night so that I can wake up at 4:30am and hit the gym to get my day started. Yes, going to bed that early may cause me to miss a show or two, but that is what DVR is for. I do not mind waiting a couple of days to catch up on my shows. The sacrifice is worth the additional productivity.
Also, everyone should spend 1-2 hours a day reading and learning. This will continue to open your mind to new things and will only enhance everything that you do in the gym.
Want to become a success story too? Here's how he did it
The program that made this transformation possible:
His simple and science-based approach to building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthy has sold over a million books and helped thousands of people build their best bodies ever, and his work has been featured in many popular outlets including Esquire, Men’s Health, Elle, Women’s Health, Muscle & Strength, and more, as well as on FOX and ABC.
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