"My skill set of patience, discipline, and habit change have been sharpened and impact every area of my life."
How many months’ progress do your pictures represent? What were your stats for each picture?
There is a 4-month span between the two pictures. In the first picture, I weighed about 175 lbs, had a 34.5″ waist, and was about 18% body fat (the classic dadbod).
In the second two pictures (taken on the same day – 4 months after my “before” picture), I weighed 155 lbs, had a 31″ waist, and was about 12% body fat.
What has happened so far on the program?
I followed the 4-day Bigger Leaner Stronger lifting program and cut for 4 months and lost about 20 pounds and 3″ around my waist. I only added in some incline walking for 45 minutes the last 4 weeks of the cut.
After finishing the cut, I maintained my new weight and body fat percentage for a month so that my body could accept its new set-point. In the last month or two, I’ve been transitioning into a lean bulk and have used the principles and templates in Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger to craft my own training regimen.
As for my strength, my deadlift went up from 185 lbs for 5 reps to 245 lbs for 3 reps, my squat went up from 135 lbs for 5 reps to 205 lbs for 5 reps, my bench press went from 185 lbs for 5 reps to 225 lbs for 5 reps, and my shoulder press went up from 115 lbs for 5 reps to 145 lbs for 3 reps.
What workout split from the book did you use?
The 4-day split.
What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?
I’ve actually had the book for a few years, but right after I bought it, I went through a period of program hopping. When I decided to get serious about losing fat and getting strong, I chose the Bigger Leaner Stronger program because after years of experimenting with different programs, sets, and rep ranges.
I found that I felt and performed the best in the 4-6 rep range and with the double progression model advocated by Mike for the big compound lifts. For isolation exercises, I worked in the 8-10 rep range because it felt better on my joints.
What do you like most about the program?
One of my favorite aspects of the program is the double progression model. I tried Starting Strength, but I didn’t like how I was locked into a given weight each workout. What if I could push more weight that day but wasn’t allowed to due to the programming?
In other words, the double-progression model was a kind of built-in autoregulation model that allowed me to make jumps in weight on days where I felt strong and reduce the weight as needed on days where I was struggling with my strength.
Like Starting Strength, I really enjoyed how simple the program was: just a handful of exercises each day revolving around one or two big compound lifts with some isolation work at the end.
It was simple, effective, and science-based (as a man with a master’s degree and all-but-dissertation on my doctorate, I appreciated the empirical roots of the program).
How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?
This wasn’t my first time dieting and losing a bunch of fat. However, this time I used the high-carb, low-fat, high-protein approach advocated by Mike instead of a low-carb, low-fat, super high-protein diet that I had used in the past.
I absolutely loved the high-carb approach to dieting. My workouts (mostly) felt good (I was dieting, so my training sessions didn’t always feel amazing).
I was never hangry or irritable. I slept well, especially after having a high-carb meal before going to bed. As for the workouts, I enjoyed the balance between high intensity, a higher frequency for chest, and an hour-long duration of each workout session.
How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?
It has changed everything the way having your first baby changes everything. I’m a better listener to my wife; I’m a better and more patient father to my kids; I have more energy and focus for my work.
I’m more confident in my body and with my physical strength; I now know how to craft a vision, hammer out the details, and work my butt off for any venture in my life.
My skill set of patience, discipline, and habit change have been sharpened and impact every area of my life. My social anxiety has disappeared and been replaced with vigor and action. My passion for fitness has turned into a passion for life.
Who would you recommend this program to and why?
I recommend this program to any guy who wants to change his body. Are you a teenager who wants muscles to get the ladies? Follow this program.
Are you a college student who wants to improve his strength and athleticism? Follow this program. Are you a 30-something guy with a dadbod who wants to see his abs for the first time? Follow this program.
Are you a 50-60-year-old gentleman who wants to ache less, feel better, and have more energy? Follow this program. Every guy can benefit from the principles laid out in this book.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I think Mike discussed something like this in his book titled The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation, but I want to stress it even more – in the beginning, set a huge goal. Make it a goal that scares you, that challenges you.
Make a plan to accomplish that goal. Then put that goal out of sight and start putting in the work. Focus on the hard work, on successful habits. Track your results. Then in 4 months (or 6 months or 8 months), pull out your goals and see how far you’ve come.
Then set new goals. Sometimes people stay focused on the big goal of losing a ton of weight, of looking totally different, and when it doesn’t happen in two weeks or four weeks or eight weeks, they lose motivation.
They lose their drive. By putting the goal out of sight, you are forced to focus on the behaviors required for success. You are forced to do the work.