Transformation: Brandon Leonard Bulks Up 65 Pounds!
Before starting to really lift weights, I lifted weights for football. I benched 165, squatted 225, and power cleaned 175. We didn't deadlift in our workouts. Now I'm benching 265, squatting 365, power cleaning 225, and deadlifting 385.
I'm also 6'3, so being 145 pounds was very underweight for me.
What Was Your Life Like Before Your Transformation?
Very active. My family is really into activity and being healthy. I played nearly every sport possible in high school, and I've played nearly every sport when growing up. I also loved to run, and I was good at it. I did 5ks, Warrior Dashes, and even a 12 mile obstacle course called the Tough Mudder run.
I have always been called skinny, scrawny, lanky, and awkward my whole life, I was used to it and I didn't have much self confidence. I had graduated high school and as I was looking at my graduation photos. I realized exactly how thin I was compared to others, especially when I would be several inches taller and weigh less.
I decided that after I did the Tough Mudder I was going to lift weights and really eat to gain some size.
What Were Your Major Struggles or Challenges?
My biggest major challenge was my own mind. I wasn't confident, I didn't see a ton of success with sports in high school beyond running, and I don't think I really believed I could do it. That being said, when I do something, it's going to be at 100%, I work hard at everything that I do, and if I set my mind to something I'm going to see it through.
Detail Your Workout and Cardio Plan During Your Transformation
I started off doing your basic bro split, chest, back, legs, arms, etc. I worked out 5 or 6 days a week, and ran maybe 2 or 3 times a week.
Eventually I adopted the push/pull/legs split, lifting six days and resting one. Though I'm never truly resting. I'm always either playing sports, or going for runs, or being active in some form.
Detail Your Diet/Eating Plan During Your Transformation
I never did eat that bad, I stayed away from sodas, candy, sweets, and foods I knew were bad, and it helped that my parents didn't buy much of it.
When I first starting lifting, I tracked my calories and protein. I made sure I got 4,000 calories and 200 grams of protein. After a few weeks I stopped keeping track and was just used to eating that amount of food.
I knew what to eat and how many calories which foods generally had. Lots of eggs, meats, milk, cheeses, and peanut butter in those days.
Detail Your Supplement Plan During Your Transformation
I started out with just your normal pre-workout form Wal-mart, C4 or whatever I could find. Then I added in creatine, though I eventually took that out because I never felt different or saw any sort of benefit from being on it, even when I got off of it I never saw any effect to my workouts or appearance.
Then I started taking BCAA's, fIsh oil, melatonin, and a multi-vitamin. The BCAA's have been the
biggest help, closely followed by the fish oil.
What Was Your Major Accomplishment, or Major Milestones?
My goal when I first started was to reach 185 pounds, that took me 4 months. Within 9 months I was 200 pounds.
After a year I was at my heaviest and fattest, 215 pounds at around 16% bodyfat, I was still rocking the 4 pack though, if just barely. I'm extremely proud of myself for putting on around 70 pounds of mass in a year.
Although I came across another milestone. In October of 2014 I joined the Illinois Air National Guard. I left for basic training in August of 2015 and graduated on October 12th, 2015.
When I left for basic training I was 208 pounds, when I returned home I was 178. In two
months I lost 30 pounds, I was extremely lean, but I had lost a LOT of overall mass and strength. I came home expecting to bulk and put on around 6 pounds a month until I got back to my previous weight.
I was up to 210 pounds in 13 days. In less than two weeks I managed to put on 30 pounds, and I was leaner at 210 pounds then I had EVER been at that weight. How that happened, I'm not exactly sure. But I lifted for 2 months straight after basic and it was some of the best workouts
I've ever done.
Detail Your 3 Biggest Mistakes
- Neglecting the deadlift. I've trained the deadlift the least out of all the big lifts by far. And with my long arms, that's the lift I should be killing, not neglecting.
- Too much pressing. I was getting shoulder pain after benching and overhead pressing with 2 or 3 variations almost every chest day at one point.
- Not doing enough for my rear delts. This also played into my shoulder pain, I had to stop overhead pressing completely for a short period of time.
- Consistency with hard work is #1.
- Never doubt your own capabilities.
- Experiment, try something new, it just might work.
Don't always focus on the scale, whether you are gaining weight or losing it, the scale can lie to you. The mirror never lies, especially as you get leaner. Use the scale only as a guideline to make sure you're going in your desired direction.
This transformation has been just as much mental as physical. I started as someone who hadn't really seen such success in physical endeavors, I was not confident in myself and it showed in a lot of things that I did. Now I feel larger than life, I'm glowing with confidence, I'm mentally tough, and this translates into every part of my life.
Lifting weights is more than just for a physical goal now, it's a part of my life, it's part of what defines who I am, and I want to see it through for as long as I can.