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How Paul Used Bigger Leaner Stronger to Lose 49 Pounds and 18% Body Fat


"I will say that when my body fat was single digits I felt as energetic as a teenager!"

Paul's Progress

Progress Image Before
Progress Image 16 Months
Progress Image 16 Months
Progress Image 16 Months
Progress Image After

How many months’ progress do your pictures represent? What were your stats for each picture?

When I entered treatment for cancer I was 210lbs, 24% body fat, with a 40″ waist.

In the “After” pictures, I was 161 lbs, 6% body fat, with a 30″ waist.

What has happened so far on the program?

My goal was to lose body fat, so this was a long, long process of cutting. (Now I am finally bulking!) I tracked my weight, waist, and body fat using calipers, every week. It shows over those 16 months I lost zero muscle (OK, a slight gain of a pound or two) while losing 75% of my fat (24% to 6%).

It was very much a zig-zag process – losing one week, gaining the next. But in the end, the formula in Bigger Leaner Stronger worked perfectly. I was careful to have a TDEE day or above once a week.

As far as strength, I was always intimidated by squats and deadlifts, and due to rotator cuff damage even avoided heavy bench. I have a crushed disc (L5), so I thought I could not do squats and deadlifts. But I trusted Mike’s program, and am now deadlifting 325 for reps.

I still do not push squats, going more for reps than weight – I only do about 185-200, and often use the Smith machine. My benching is pathetic by my standards – shoulders seem to have healed (I love Fortify!), but I only bench about 210 (never really tried a 1 rep max).

What workout split from the book did you use?

I really do a 3-day split, each day focusing on one key compound movement: deadlift, or squat, or bench. I do not have a day for shoulders because my rotator cuffs can’t handle it.

The HIIT I consider absolutely essential to losing those last few stubborn pounds of fat. I like AMRAPS – say with medicine ball throw down, rope slams, and pulling sled, for 20-25 minutes.

What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?

I have been enjoying weight lifting since I was 35, but always had trouble controlling my eating. I have used other programs (started with Bill Phillips) and had success (I have before and after photos).

Mike’s program revolutionized my understanding of the diet aspect, as well as focusing on heavy, compound weights. I loved the book the minute I started it, as I knew enough about fitness to know he knew his stuff.

What do you like most about the program?

If you go by strict TDEE and 20-25% reduction, I should have been able to lose 50 lbs in about 8 months, not the 16 I took. But I did not discover Mike’s program until halfway through, plus I still struggle with eating too much.

But for the first time I know exactly what I am doing, why, and what results to expect. What I like most is the freedom to eat when and how much I want, as long as I hit my TDEE goal and keep macronutrients on target. Such freedom!

Mike’s commitment to clean supplements with transparent labeling is pure genius. I hope he keeps to it!

How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?

In my early days, I followed Bill Phillips (Muscle Media). Great stuff, but most other programs require a bit too much structure to follow as a permanent lifestyle. Mike’s program is simple, elegant, and completely effective.

I have to admit I love working out, so if anything I have to force myself to spend LESS time at the gym. But tackling the big compounds of deadlift and squat, starting at age 59 is the highlight of my whole day. I deeply regret not discovering this 30 years ago.

How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?

Being 6% body fat is really not ideal, but I will say that when my body fat was single digits I felt as energetic as a teenager. In fact, I would outrun my teenage kids when throwing a frisbee or football.

Achieving something significant in the gym each day is the foundation of my day – I tackle the rest of the day with a sense of confidence and accomplishment.

I even started a website to help get the word out about the transformation of the body, while also encouraging people to consider their spiritual health –

There are wonderful parallels between the discipline of achieving physical fitness and the discipline of taking one’s spiritual life seriously.

Who would you recommend this program to and why?

Everyone can benefit enormously from a program like this. The key difficulty for most is counting calories when they don’t prepare their own meals. I am now retired so I can create every meal I eat.

But I encourage anyone starting weights to work towards the compound movements that Bigger Leaner Stronger recommends.

The key to transformation is really not the weights (3#), or even the diet (#2), it is the mind. And Mike’s chapter on motivation is superb. I have read all his books.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t let challenges become excuses. I had Stage IV cancer, and supposedly lousy testosterone at 60, and supposedly low metabolism, and I have a crushed disc (permanent numbness in part of my left leg and foot), and Hashimoto’s Disease (no Thyroid), and Barretts Esophagus, and often Cervical Radiculopathy (pinched nerve), and pretty bad rotator cuff damage.

Every challenge can be dealt with. Have faith in the program, be patient with yourself, and learn to adapt the theory of the program to your particular set of circumstances.

Did you use any Legion supplements?

They are fantastic! I use Whey+, Pulse, Recharge, Triton, and Fortify every day. Before the photos, I tried Phoenix and Forge. Mike’s commitment to “cleaning up” the supplement industry is one of the things that most attracted me to his program.

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Want to become a success story too? Here's how he did it

The program that made this transformation possible:

The meal plan that makes building muscle and losing fat easy and enjoyable:

Mike Matthews is the founder and CEO of Legion as well as a bestselling fitness author of several books, including Bigger Leaner Stronger, Thinner Leaner Stronger, and The Shredded Chef.

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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