I recently had the pleasure of helping Adam with a transformation program. He worked hard and the results show proof of that. Adam and his wife Andrea have been friends of ours for a few years now and were members of our gym destination until they moved to Chicago. Adam has primarily trained as a powerlifter and strength athlete, but thought since we have similar body types, I would be a good choice to guide him through a more bodybuilding-esque transformation program. Here’s an outline of the plan we put in place for Adam and also some words from him about his success and hurdles throughout the process!
I used a four-day rotational diet with Adam. This is a structure I use with many clients and is my personal favorite as well. We do three “low” days, which are characterized by a low daily caloric intake and low carbohydrates, followed by one “high” day, which is a substantial calorie increase compared to the low day, primarily with the addition of carbohydrates. I also gave Adam a weekly cheat meal, which I required falling on a high day. I don’t like having cheat meals on a low day because it essentially turns a low day into a high day, meaning he would have three days at higher calories and only four days low in a given seven-day period which would make for very slow progress. Throughout the course of the diet, we continued to reduce calories from the low days, in the form of fats and carbohydrates, keeping protein consistently high.
Most of my clients are familiar with the saying “minimum effective dose” when it comes to cardio. I always aim to get the most result out of the least required cardio. This pays dividends as the transformation program goes on because small increases in cardio yield big returns, without the athlete getting too worn out mid-way through the program. If you start high, you usually just end higher. With Adam we used one HIIT session per week, to increase his metabolism and provide a fat burning stimulus. The intensity of the HIIT increased over time as he adapted to the workouts. We started with three relatively short steady state cardio sessions and increased those in duration and frequency throughout the course of the program.
I put Adam on a very Mountain Dog inspired split. Giving him four core workouts of the week: back, chest and shoulders, legs, and arms. In the first four weeks, we gave him an additional upper body workout to do, focusing on bringing up his back. Since Adam was coming from powerlifting, I knew the volume and intensity techniques would work well for him. Strength athletes have a ton of muscle gaining potential. They are strong but haven’t taken advantage of the strength for hypertrophy yet in most cases; so their response to this type of split is generally much better than someone coming from other hypertrophy programs or coming from sports, for instance.
Sample of Adam’s Split:
Four Core Days plus additional Upper Body Day
Tuesday: Chest and Shoulders
Friday: Secondary Back Day
Here’s a list of the supplements we used for Adam’s program. Some of the items are links to the specific products we chose.
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Low calorie pre workouts
- Intra workout carbs plus a special easily digestible protein
- Green Tea EGCg
- Liquid Carnitine
- Variety of supportive health supplements
What was new for me: Coming from power lifting, new for me was using more bodybuilding lifts along with the clean diet. I came from having a bad diet beforehand because I wanted to be “stronger.” So I hardly tracked any food intake and only focused on lifting heavier and eating more.
What was harder than I expected: Leg day was no joke by any means. Shoulders are something in power lifting that you never work; so returning back to weekly shoulders and seeing some definition in my traps has been great to see. Probably the most difficult was getting down the protein necessary daily at the beginning part of the diet. However, after a few weeks, you get used to the diet and you understand the need for the large intake of protein.
What was easier than expected: The cardio; I don’t know if it was exactly the “easiest” because the stair mill is the complete opposite of fun. However, I just always finished my workout and stepped on the stair mill without hesitation each time. I found it easier to get my cardio done after every workout rather than try to come to the gym with just cardio on my agenda. MAN Sports’ pre-workout BlockBuster and their L-Carnitine helped me finish my workouts by keeping my body warm and rather sweaty.
What made me successful: Greg McCoy. With his knowledge of diet and working out, I felt I had the right coach in my corner. I seriously believe his knowledge of the human body and dieting is amazing. The training program was simple to track in his application on my phone and his diet being in the same app helped to make sure I wasn’t ever confused or missing anything.