Mark your calendars, prep your meals, and grab your lifting belt. The T-ransformation is on again.
What: A physique challenge. Start in some kind of shape on January 1, end up in even better shape by June 1.
At the end, forum members will vote for the lifter who made the most visually significant progress in six months. There are no age divisions, weight classes, male/female categories, or other sub-groups. Just before and after comparisons with no context needed or asked.
It’s about best transformation, not best finished product, so it’s open to the judges’ interpretation. Is going from ‘beer belly’ to ‘slight ab definition’ a more drastic transformation than improving from ‘slight ab definition’ to ‘shredded’? Maybe, maybe not.
This year, there will also be a Most Improved category comparing the lifters who completed last year’s T-ransformation challenge to their shape at the end of this year’s. Because regardless of anything else, the only person we ever seriously compete with is ourselves. It’s super-cliche, but it’s super-true.
June 2018-you should be in better shape than June 2017-you whether you’re doing the contest or not. Lifters who went after it hard in 2017 have the potential to be rewarded for long-term progress if/when they surpass their previous condition.
Where: The T Nation forums. And in your gym. And in your kitchen.
Keep your own Training Log for tracking progress, discussing your plan, and (of course) some friendly trash-talking with other challengers. Check the Official T-ransformation 2018 Challenge thread (as of Jan 1) for general challenge updates, more info, and probably more trash-talking. Fine-tune your diet with advice in the Supplements & Nutrition forum.
When: Begins January 1, ends June 1.
“Before” pics must be submitted no later than 11:59pm EST January 1. “After” pics can be submitted anytime you think you’re finished, but no later than 11:59pm EST June 1.
Judging is based on how you look on January 1 compared to whenever you declare yourself done (no later than June 1). That’s 21-and-a-half weeks. Competitive bodybuilders often spend 16 weeks or less getting shredded for a contest, so it’s definitely enough time to make gigantic progress when you dial in your training and nutrition with a good plan, regardless of your current condition.
Why: Fortune and glory, kid.
Prizes up for grabs include bragging rights, a moderate level of T Nation fame, a large level of self-respect and well-earned pride, and a to-be-determined reward from Biotest. (Last year’s top finishers got credit to the store to put to good use. If we buckle down and let them know we’re serious about attacking the challenge, they may be open to bumping it up a bit.)
The winner will be decided on the forum by simple voting at the end, but understand that any awards and accolades really aren’t the point. Spending a good chunk of the year being laser-focused attacking one specific goal is the point, and it’s something most of us just don’t do on our own. If you won’t push yourself to get in serious shape unless you’re trying to win a quarter-million dollars, your priorities are out of whack and you’ll more than likely fall off the proverbial wagon.
How: Train hard, eat right, see results… just like you should’ve been doing long before this contest.
The training and nutrition details are entirely up to you. This challenge is a chance to step up your programming and be goal-focused for a few months to really push for your best ever condition.
You want to dirty bulk from November to Jan 1 for “better” before and then crackdown on the diet until June? Try it, just know that you’ll be paying for that extra fat with sweat equity later on. You want to hire a contest prep coach and treat this like a mock bodybuilding show? Your call, and you get to skip the tanning and posing at the end, so that’s a plus.
Remember that it’s a transformation challenge, not just a fat loss challenge. If you’re a 160-pound skinny-fat dude whose goal is to be 175 with abs, you’re in. Ladies, you’re definitely part of the gang too. If you’re 150 pounds with a “post-baby belly” and want to drop the fat, don’t think this challenge is only for guys who want biceps veins and quad striations. Join in.
The point is simply to make major improvements in our physiques. Sorry powerlifters, strength levels and gym performance aren’t factors here. (Maybe another time, we’ll see.)
Progress Pics - The only mandatory pics are “front relaxed” with arms at your sides and a side/profile pic with arms at your sides, wearing a beach outfit (shirtless in shorts for the guys, two piece outfit or shorts and sports bra for the ladies). Those are the only two poses that will be voted on.
Bodybuilding poses like double biceps or most muscular aren’t necessary and aren’t really the best way to monitor progress anyway. But, admittedly, they look pretty cool if you can pull them off.
You do not have to post your face in pics. You can crop it out or obscure using photo-editing software (hiding your identity is the only type of acceptable “Photoshopping” allowed in pics).
Training Logs - Keeping a regularly-updated training log on the forum is highly, highly suggested. You don’t necessarily need to post the full details of your training/diet and you’re not required to post update pics along the way, but it’s the best way to get useful feedback as you go along while also tracking your own progress.
It’s also worth noting that during the 2017 challenge, most people who didn’t keep a log didn’t end up finishing the challenge. So don’t underestimate the accountability and motivation found in keeping a log.
“Most Improved” - Being the second annual challenge gives us the opportunity to assess improvement through a full year’s training rather than just cracking down for a six-month challenge and slacking as soon as it ends. Lifters who completed both the 2017 and 2018 T-ransformations will also be entered in the Most Improved category for the chance to be rewarded for their long-term progress.