What Was Your Life Like Before Your Transformation?
I was always active as a child. I loved to play football for my school and for a local club where I was a goalkeeper. I enjoyed playing with mates and being able to share successes and failures with them as a team.
However, by 2011, when I was 15 years old, I wanted to take up a sport where I was the only one responsible for my successes and failures. I'd seen Mo Farah (Great Britain long distance runner) compete in various competitions during 2010-2011 which inspired me to take up running. I believed I was going to be the next Mo Farah and compete at the Olympics one day.
However, I knew nothing about the importance of nutrition and performance. I started my own training and joined a local adult's running squad which didn't take running too seriously. It was more a social club.
I trained with them twice a week and did my own training on the other 5 days of the week. At one point, I'd looked up Mo Farah's average mileage in a week, which was 60 miles minimum. II decided to match that. Overtraining to the max for an inexperienced 16 year old!
So I was running, on average, 8-9 miles everyday during the week. Whilst maintaining between 50-60 miles a week, I quit the adult's running club and joined a teen's running club which trained twice a week also.
I used to run to each training session with them, which was roughly 3 miles away, because everyone used to drive to training. I thought if I did more than them, then I would be a better athlete in the future.
I started to get addicted to running and I loved seeing my weight drop on the scale. I thought if my weight kept dropping, I would get faster and faster over long distances. How wrong I was.
The purpose of my running training at this point in my life wasn't about achieving good times, but just to burn as many calories as I could. On some days, I tried to match the amount of calories I ate with the amount of running I did. So essentially, I was eating nothing on some days which seems stupid now!
There was a time during my running career where I developed shin splints which caused me pain when I ran. It meant that I couldn't run for a while. This was due to the excessive running routine.
I convinced my father to help me buy an exercise bike for the home which meant I could still burn calories without running. By May 2013, I was taken to the doctors by my mother as a skinny 135 pound 17 year old who was on the verge of anorexia.
When I was sat in the doctor's appointment because of being underweight, I realized i needed to be bigger. From May to October 2013 I had my transitioning period of running to just weight training. It's hard to switch your mindset instantly when you've been so driven to run for such a long time.
By October 2013, I started my weight training routine and performed no running whatsoever. I started my first bulk. Two years and three months later, I'm at where I am now and know a lot more about nutrition.
Please Detail Your Turning Point
The day before I was taken to the doctor by my mother, she couldn't stop commenting about how skinny I looked. The rest of my family was also commenting. This got me quite angry and I was always trying to change the subject if the topic of my skinny physique came up.
At the doctor's appointment, we discussed my training, what my nutrition was like, etc.Then the doctor got me to step on the scale without my shoes on. When I looked down at the scale, I was embarrassed that my mother had to see the number. That feeling of embarrassment was one of the key turning points for me.
What Were Your Major Struggles or Challenges?
The one major challenge to overcome was the mindset of thinking that food will make me fat and will slow me down. I remember I was very scared to put on weight, which is why I loved the running. It kept my weight down.
In the transition from running to purely bodybuilding/powerlifting, to start with I still did quite a lot of running/cycling. Although I knew very little about weight training at this point. As I watched more fitness videos and gained more knowledge, I slowly decreased my cardiovascular exercise and increased my bodybuilding training to 5 times a week.
In October of 2013 I finally made it a goal to put on weight. What didn't help was that I had a relatively fast metabolism for an active teenager. This meant I needed to eat a lot to put on any kind of decent weight. Only I didn't realize this at this point in my life.
Detail Your Workout and Cardio Plan During Your Transformation
When I started my proper bodybuilding training this is what my workout routine looked like during a typical week:
- Monday - Chest/Triceps
- Tuesday - Back/Biceps
- Wednesday - Legs
- Thursday - Shoulders
- Friday - Arms
- Saturday - OFF
- Sunday - OFF
I eventually became interested in the legs/push/pull split. However, I slightly adapted it so I only trained 5 days a week:
- Monday - Chest/triceps/shoulders
- Tuesday - Back/legs/biceps
- Wednesday - Chest/triceps/shoulders
- Thursday - Back/legs/biceps
- Friday - Chest/triceps/shoulders
Finally, I transitioned to a powerlifting/bodybuilding program which I have kept, tweaking right up until now, so I can build the most optimal split for my body, recovery, joint pain due to high frequency of certain movements, muscle-dominant focus, etc. This is the original structure of the program I was doing just before the end of my transformation.
- Monday - Bench press/push workout (chest/triceps)
- Tuesday - Squats/pull workout
- Wednesday - Bench press/push workout (shoulders)
- Thursday - Deadlifts/pull workout
- Friday - Bench press/push workout (chest/triceps)
- Saturday - Squats/pull workout
I have used MyFitnessPal all throughout my transformation. But to start with, I got the idea into my head that eating any kind of chocolate, sweets, crisps or junk food, this would not help me with my training whatsoever and I should stay away from any kind of dirty foods.
I eventually learned by eating bad foods in moderation, and started incorporating some dirty foods into my diet. I finally realized it was fine to incorporate some bad foods, so I went through periods of losing weight and gaining weight whilst utilizing flexible dieting and it has worked well for me so far.
Detail Your Supplement Plan During Your Transformation
Here are the supplements I used and why I used them:
Whey Protein - I started off using whey protein straight after my workouts for recovery, but I eventually realized this was a myth. So I kept it on hand if I was low on protein towards the end of the day.
Creatine - I took 5 grams everyday at the same time, just before bed so my body could process it for 24 hours. I found this really helped with increasing strength and therefore increasing muscle mass, and decreasing recovery time between workouts.
Multivitamin & Fish Oils - I found these helped my joints recover between training sessions. It kept them healthy, and my body was in the most optimal state to recover by having all the essential vitamins it needed each day, from food and the multivitamin.
These are the main three that were key in my transformation. I shouldnote that at one point, I did try iSatori's BioGro as I saw Chris Jones of Physiques of Greatness (now Pump Chasers) use it. I wanted to give it a go. I tried one pre-workout supplement, and did use vitamin D for a while.
These period only lasted 4-6 weeks max, but I found they didn't really have an effect on my body and/or training.
What Was Your Major Accomplishment, or Major Milestones?
I felt like I'd accomplished something when I finally had people commenting that I looked a lot healthier and a lot bigger. This was around March of 2014.
This made me feel like I had succeeded, as I had managed to change from a skinny, little teenager to a healthier, bigger looking man.
Detail Your 3 Biggest Mistakes
- Doing too much cardio. I didn't realize how many calories my body needed at my age without doing any exercise, just to aid development and growth. So doing lots of cardio didn't help at all as I was expending calories as well as putting a lot of strain on my joints.
- Workouts being too long. I sometimes spent 2 hours in the gym thinking that it was benefiting me, however, doing more is not always best. There's a saying, less is more, which can definitely apply to bodybuilding. I then kept workouts intense for about 75 minutes and this is when I found I saw the most benefits.
- Taking advice from everyone. In the early stages I found people were giving me lots of advice as they could see how motivated I was to change. However, not everyone is an expert in training so I was weary about which advice I took and which advice I disregarded.
- Focus on progression. This is arguably the most important principle in bodybuilding and powerlifting to get bigger and stronger. Whether that be increasing the weight, time under tension, more control, etc.
- Mind muscle connection is key. Feeling the muscle you're trying to target work means that you will notice the benefits quicker than if you didn't think about it.
- Eat big to get big. I learned to realize that each person's caloric intake will be different from another person's when trying to get big. For example, some teenagers might only need 3,000 calories a day to gain weight. I found I needed 4,500 calories a day to gain weight towards the end of my transformation.
Speak to others in your gym, especially with the same body type so you can learn off each other and gain more knowledge. Also be careful about some of the advice you're given by personal trainers.
Follow as many fitness YouTubers as you can, including Tiger Fitness. You can learn so much good, legit information online about fitness, nutrition, working out, exercise technique. etc. Whatever your question, there will be a video answering it on youtube.
Feel free to check out my Youtube channel for inspiration: AAFitness.