If you are a regular reader of this site, you will probably know that I (foolishly) decided to take on the Maximuscle Blogger Challenge these past three months. For those who aren’t aware, I recommend you read the previous articles detailing my journey before you scroll down to see the end results:
An introduction to the challenge.
How I will achieve my goals through carbohydrate cycling.
My halfway progress report.
The Training routine I followed.
Caught up? OK. Let’s see whether I managed to hit my personal goal of achieving a ‘cover model’ body in less than twelve weeks…
The Past 6 Weeks
After I made some changes to my diet and training plan, I started feeling much more comfortable with the whole lifestyle during the second half of the project. The diet was easier to stick with, I had more energy and, best of all, I was seeing noticeable results each and every week.
My body was transforming before my very eyes; muscles, definition and veins I never even knew existed before started to develop, and friends and family even began to comment on how lean or ‘ripped’ I looked. (That sounds so vain, but it’s true.)
And that really is one of the true benefits of undertaking a program such as this – the boost in confidence is unreal. As I progressed through the project, I began to sub-consciously notice the same guys I had known all my life down the gym looking over more than usual, I was getting comments on the transformation I had made and from a personal viewpoint, I just looked and felt so much better. It really was all the motivation I needed in order to stick to the plan for such an extended period of time.
As this project began to wind down in the lead up to Christmas, I decided to cut it short by a week, and finished on the 14th December 2012. This was for many reasons, but mainly due to the fact that I had a lot of events and parties coming up in the following weeks and I wanted to be able to truly enjoy myself, without feeling guilty about compromising my diet.
Overall, the project lasted just under eleven weeks. Here are my final results and measurements…
Final Girth Measurements
If you want to see my starting measurements for all the below, check out my introduction to the challenge here.
* All measurements/photos below are correct as of Friday 14th December 2012.
Height, Weight & Girth Measurements
Height: 6″ 0
Weight: 79.5kg (Down 4.5 kg)
Girth Measurements (In Inches)
Neck: 14.5 (Same)
Chest – Across Sternum: 44.5 (Same)
Waist – Narrowest circumference: 31 (Down 1.5)
Hip – Around The Buttocks: 34 (Down 0.5)
Upper Arm – Mid point, Untensed: 13.5 (Down 0.5)
Thigh – Mid Point, Untensed: 22 (Same)
Calf – Largest Point: 15 (Same)
This particular measurement technique was detailed in my introduction to the challenge.
1) Biceps: 4mm
2) Triceps: 4mm
3) Subscapular: 6mm
4) Supra Iliac 4mm
Approx Body Fat: 7.1% (Down from 10.7%)
Again, this is very approximate and has been done personally by myself and a volunteer. However, although the accuracy is probably off, it at least shows that my body fat percentage has come down significantly, due to us using exactly the same sites, techniques and measuring tools.
Here are my initial photo sets from the beginning of the challenge and a follow up at week 6:
Final Photos: Week 11
And now here are my final photos at week 11:
From a personal view, I couldn’t be happier. Although the front facing images perhaps don’t show quite as dramatic change from week 6 to 12, my bottom abs were definitely tighter, and my waist had come down another three quarters of an inch (even more noticeable on the lone back photo I took).
From the side on view and me doing my best impression of a bodybuilder (bottom left), you can see the striations and definition through my chest, shoulders and arms. This only developed over the last 6 weeks.
What I learnt & Recommendations
When I look back on the project as a whole, would I encourage you to do it? Of course! I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is looking to take their training or body type to the next level. It has been one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life, and completing the project and seeing the results filled me with a real sense of pride.
Saying that, it is not for the fainthearted. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to stick to a plan such as this. In order to help you along your way, here are a few things I learnt along the way:
Diet is everything: You hear people in the fitness industry preach about diet all the time. And until I took on this project, I never understood just how much of a difference it makes. Literally NOTHING changed in my training throughout this project – I did my usual splits, the same exercises and the same reps I would normally do, along with ZERO cardio. Changes to my diet alone brought about the dramatic alteration in my physique, and now I realise just how important getting control over what you put in your body is to achieving your goals.
It’s not how much you eat: Speaking of diet, I have also come to the realisation that it’s not how much your eat but WHAT you eat. I have never eaten so much food in my life. At the start of the project I couldn’t get my head around how I could possibly eat so much yet still lose weight and get ripped. You can find yourself holding back sub-consciously at first because your traditional beliefs get in the way.
Trust in the system: This is where you need to trust the system. My Maxi-nutritionist, Gareth, taught me to fully trust the carb cycling plan and stick to my targets religiously. There will be moments when you think you shouldn’t eat any more and days where you wake up feeling slightly bloated and question where your gains have gone. But you need to look at the long term picture, rather than judge yourself day to day.
Keep yourself motivated: Bearing in mind the long term picture, help keep yourself motivated by taking measurements, photos and body fat percentages at the end of each month. The dramatic difference you see in photos in particular helped me to stick to the diet plan. I can’t explain the feeling of satisfaction that comes with putting in hard work and seeing yourself change before your very eyes. At the same time, don’t be one of those guys who weighs themselves every day – it can bring about the opposite effect.
You need to be committed: If you are going to undertake a program like this, you need to realise that it is hard work. There is no getting away from it. Even if you think you already eat pretty well, it takes it to a whole other level. You can’t get halfway through a no carb day and suddenly decide you need that portion of rice or a piece of bread. The same goes for holding back on a high carb re-feed day. You need to be committed to the system in order for it to work.
The importance of planning and organisation: Planning my meals, making a spreadsheet of the macro-nutrients of each food I regularly eat and keeping a detailed food diary was one of the best things I did. It is time consuming at first, but you will reap the rewards and after a few weeks it becomes second nature. If you have a typical nine to five job, you need to plan your meals the night before and prepare them in advance. If you get caught short, it’s going to be hartd to find a low GI/no carb/high protein snack that hits the exact macro nutrients you need in your local supermarket or newsagent.
It’s a lifestyle choice: This is possibly one of the biggest considerations you need to make before embarking on this journey. This diet and training plan WILL impact on your current lifestyle. Realistically, you should not be drinking as it limits your gains and interferes with your metabolism, you have to be selfish with your food choices (which can impact your family/partner), it takes time to prepare, organise and buy the food you need to eat each day, etc. etc. However, for those willing to stick at it, the end result is worth the sacrifice.
Treat yourself: Treating yourself is important. After 6 weeks of sticking to the plan religiously, I introduced one ‘cheat meal’ a week. This is where I could eat anything I wanted for that single meal – takeaway, pizza, a meal out with my girlfriend. This helps reward you for sticking to the diet and has even been hypothesised to prevent your metabolism from becoming stale (for those down into the single digit body fat percentages). However, this does not mean a ‘cheat day’, it does not mean you can eat every single thing you have been craving all week in one meal and if you are the type that cannot control yourself, then you are probably best off not introducing this concept at all.
Supplements are a saviour: A good supplementation program will help make your life SO much easier. The amount of time, preparation and cost involved in cooking food for 6-7 meals a day cannot be underestimated. Being able to reach for a protein shake and take on 40 grams of protein whenever you need to is so convenient, whilst weight gain supplements like Progain also helped me achieve my high carb day targets when I thought I couldn’t possible eat any more.
Maximuscle & Supplementation
Finally, I have to say thank you to Maximuscle, and in particularly Gareth, for helping me achieve my goals. Without their help and encouragement, I would never of made the transformation I did, and I truly believe their supplements helped push me to the next level.
In an industry that is becoming more saturated by the minute, Maximuscle now stand head and shoulders above the rest for me. I had never tried their products before this project, but I am a convert. You may think I am just saying this because they kindly provided me with free products throughout – but I would argue that I have never been in better shape, and that must count for something.
In terms of quality/advantages you can relate to as a consumer, each product I received tasted superb, had a well balanced macro-nutrient composition and utilised the very best ingredients. Even if you still stick with your favourite brand’s form of protein, I cannot recommend Maximuscle’s Progain range highly enough. Although Progain is described as “a high protein weight-gain shake, providing additional calories to support gains in muscle mass”, it can be used on a cutting diet (as I just proved) or a bulking program.
It is honestly one supplement that I will never be able to substitute now I know the principles behind carb cycling and how many quality carbohydrates you should be taking on each day (whether you want to lean up or pack on size).
Below you will find the key supplements I utilised throughout the project, so why not give one or more of them a try today:
There you have it, my personal eleven week journey to a cover model body. If you have any questions at all about the process, my diet, training etc. then please just ask in the comments section below.
I will try to answer all questions to the best of my knowledge, or find someone that does know the answer!