T Nation

Body Transformation Experiment

So this idea came after reading everything on here, “Science and practice of strength training” and much more.

Im in good shape, and not overweight but not cut either. Also I have a fair amount of muscle but im not huge. My goals have never been soley centered around appearance, but I have had people tell me that I dont look like I work out. This wouldn’t normally bother me, but Im going to be graduating with a degree in Kinesiology soon, and have to start thinking about my maketability. So Im going to make some changes to my training, and this is my “experiment”.

Starting stats:

5’11" 187lbs @ around 14% BF.

Arms 12.5"
Waist 34"
Thighs 21"

I took all my measurements, but im gonna focus on these three to monitor progress. Also, I used standard measurement techniques, in which circumferances were measured without muscle flexion.

A big part of my training will be focused around upper body. I have a large torso and legs, proportionally to my limbs, because i have focused a lot on deadlift, snatch, and pullups.

Basis for plan:

Through reading and experience, I have found that training frequently and training with high intensity, are highly important. Obviously if both of these are done, then volume must not be high as well. I feel EDT is a very good method of monitoring volume.

In the past a big pit fall of my cutting routines were losses in strength, because cardio was over-emphasized. This program will have little “cardio”. If any cardio is used it will be in the form of TABATA.

Another thing that led me to this program is my observation of athletes. Athletes do not obcess over body fat in general, but tend to have “athletic bodies”. Instead they train for maximal performance. I will thus be training for maximal performance which is easy to monitor with EDT. Also, by looking at many powerlifters its obvious that increases in performance do not = an “athletic body”. But looking at olympic weightlifters is a different story. The major difference is weight classes. Thus I will aim to keep my weight between 185-195.

Lastly, another thing Ive noticed about training with intensity, is you cant maintain progress if you get injured. In designing this program i took every precautionary measure to prevent injuries. This includes everything from exercise selection to supplements.

Im not going to go into all the exact details, because I like to keep things simple, and this program was designed for my individual needs and abilities, and others will be different. But heres the general overview.

EDT 5 times per week.

Sun / Tue / Fri

Pr zone 1: Upper body push/pull 15:00
Pr zone 2: elbow flexion/extension 15:00

Mon / Thur

Pr zone 1: Deadlift or squat 15:00

Assistance work 3-4 sets of 8-15

***Upper body is performed with 6rm weights starting with around 3 reps per set. Lower body is performed with 3-6rm weights starting with around 1-3 reps.

For all Pr zones, I stop at 10 sets. This is my method of monitoring volume. Instead I record how much faster than 15:00 i reached 10 sets. If its significantly less, or the workout was percieved to be easy, i increase the workload the next workout.


Snatch grip deadlift
High incline DB bench
Decline DB bench
Neutral grip hang pullups
Supported Rows
Reverse grip ez bar curls
Floor DB tricep extensions

Acessory exercises:

Face pulls
Serratus pushups
Various band exercises (ex. behind the back pulldowns)


ON 100% whey
ON Casein
Creatine (not taking now but may in the future)
Fish oil
Green tea

Thats the program. I will make changes and adapt as things go.

I plan on doing three weeks hard, with a reduced volume/intensity week for recovery.

Also, i’ll want to add some additional conditioning work in the future which will be in the form of TABATA, and DB snatches.

Just though I’d share this program with anyone thats looking to work hard and get in shape. Feel free to offer any advise or critiques, im always open to suggestions. And thanks for reading the long post.

Just realized I didn’t include what im doing for nutrition.

I understand the importance of nutrition, but will not be counting calories at all.

Instead, I will continue to eat enough to stay in my “weight class” of 185-195 and continue to improve performance. This weight range will allow me periods of building and cutting, much like an athlete might use. Currently im 187 so im eating a lot until i reach 190-195.

Since there will not be counting of calories, i will have to monitor calorie consumption by either eating very very much, or just very much. Its going to be as simple as that.

I may play around with carb cycling and something similar as i get further along in the program.


Take this for what it’s worth, but at 187lbs and 5’11" your measurements aren’t those of someone that “works out”.

12.5" arms are definitely small, 21" thighs are definitely small. and a 34" waist, while not bad, is going to look much bigger with those proportions.

A better approach for you would be to use the next year as an opportunity to bulk, big time.
A goal of around 215-220 at 15% bf would be a realistic one.
Take about 4 months to diet off 10-15 lbs and you’ll have a dramatically different appearance.

Thanks for your opinion jeffe, but I do not want to weight 220 lbs, nor do i want to eat the food required to weigh that much. I perfectly happy with staying in the 185-195 range, and will thus have to lose fat while staying in this range, even if its not the easiest way.


then you shouldnt be in bodybuilding should you?


[quote]Joe Brook wrote:

then you shouldnt be in bodybuilding should you?


maybe he wants the classic brad pit look? Nah but seriously, unless you have a structure like Frank Zane, you wont be looking that big or good at 185,

All I have to compare your stats with is what I started at (my arms were 14", and I looked like I didnt work out either!), and lemme tell you, you’re not in good shape my friend. a 34" waist with 12.5" arms and 21" legs? You sound skinng/fat to me (little to no muscle, but still soft in the middle)

Considering that you have already had people tell you that you look like you don’t work out, maybe you shouldn’t be so concerned with accidently getting too big -lol. I hate to break the news to you, but no one accidently gets too huge and shredded.


Well first off, Im not trying to get into bodybuilding at all. I posted in this section, because this doesnt really belong in the strength section.

Secondly, I am in very good shape. You cant tell how good of shape someone is in just by looking at them or their measurements. Although I am in great shape it does not look that way, because I have not trained the muscles that people see, (ex arms, forearms, calves.)

My waist is big, not because i have a lot of fat, but instead because I have large abs and obliques.

My goals are still related to performance over looking pretty, but that doesn’t mean I cant make some minor changes that will make me look much stronger.

[quote]dankid wrote:
My waist is big, not because i have a lot of fat, but instead because I have large abs and obliques.

You’re most likely going to get burned pretty bad for this one.

Not really, at <15% bf and my height, my waist is not big from a gut. Sure theres some fat there, but i do have large abs.

Also, when i took my measurements, i took them with the most accepted scientific methods. For legs and arms, they hung freely with no flexing. And for waist, it was takin after a normal expiration.

I know a lot of people beef up there measurements, by lying about their height, and doing whatever they can to make their measurements seem larger.

As ive said previously, i have absolutely no intention of going to 220. 195-200 may be likely, but im not going to bulk to get there.

If you look at some athletes with great bodies, my stats are similar. George st. pierre is 5’10" and weighs in at <170lbs. Thus he might walk around at 190 tops. Also, Josh Koscheck has the same stats.

The major difference between these guys physiques and mine is shoulder and arm development, and body fat. This is why a bulk would not help me in achieving my goals. If i were to gain 30-40 lbs, a small percentage of that would actually go to my arms and shoulders, and I would still have similar proportions, but be larger. Instead, Im doing a shoulder/arm specilization with increased calories, and allowing myself to gain up to 8-10 lbs, before i start cutting.

I understand this is the bodybuilding section, but this is the best area to post questions that do not relate to performance increases.

Thanks for your opinions though. When I reach 195, if im not happy with my development, then I will decide if I need to continue building.

Just throwing this out there, but I’m going to say that George St.Pierre and josh koscheck obviously have high performance levels AND they look like they work out. Looking like you have lifted a weight is not necessarily a bad thing. George St.Pierre’s legs are most likely 2-3" larger than yours while maintaining a BF level most likely at 5-7% at fight time. So calling your physiques “similar” would be a mistake.

I would agree with the post that said you would most likely look a lot better at 200-210 lbs than 190. And if your measurements are accurate, your probably not at 14% body fat or you have seriously neglected your thighs and arms, both of which are pretty vital to performance IMO. What exactly have you been training in the gym if you have small arms and small legs? Lots of Side Bends and Crunches?

Take everyones advice and add a little weight so when you go around telling people that your a regular on T-Nation they don’t laugh at you.

I wasn’t comparing myself to them, i was saying that their physiques are what i would like mine to be. Obviously they dont weigh 200-210 lbs, so i myself am not going for that.

As for what ive been working out.

DB snatch
1-leg squats
And to a lesser extent DB bench.

I absolutely suck at curls, and any calf based exercise. Its not really a matter of needing to bulk for me, its actually more likely I just need to adjust my proportions, or create the illusion that im much bigger.

Oh and im confident on my BF, ive had it tested with both hydrostatic weighing and the bod pod.

Even when I was into powerlifting, and had a much thicker waist than I do now, I didn’t look fat. But by all means keep telling yourself that you’re in shape, but just don’t look like your in shape, that’ll realy help win you some clients -lol. I have news for you, I don’t train forearms ever, and actualy gone over a year without any direct arm work, yet amazingly working my back has given me some pretty substantial growth in both areas. For you to say that you don’t train those areas so you don’t look good is a complete load of B.S.

As to your degree in kineseology, my brother is a DPT, and depsite physical therapy being a form of working out, he’d continually laugh at his peers (other doctors of physical therapy!) who were out of shape and always asking him to teach them about working out. Your degree obviously means nothing if you have the results you describe. I know a lot of things in theory, but I couldn’t put them to real world use if I had to. Get over it, swallow your pride, and listen to the people who actually tried offering you advice.

And for the record, my brother doesn’t ‘train to be a bodybuilder’ either, he does olympic lifting 3x a week, and despite not training his arms, forearms, or calves, NO ONE would ever think that he didn’t train. In fact, he’s damn diesel looking, and has pretty thick abs without a guy potruding out(30" waist I believe).


Actually stu, for you not to even see a picture of me, and tell me something about my training is a complete load of BS. Also, you have no idea how good of shape im in, and just because your look like your in shape, doesn’t mean your fit or healthy.

Also, I make the assumption that I need direct arm work based on my observations. I have strong and big lats, traps, chest, hips and abs. During pulling movements like chinups and rows, im always strongest at the bottom and weakest at the top.

My forearms are actually freaking strong, but thats just grip strength. Reverse curls are already making a noticeable difference.

I’ll take someone’s advice if its logical and has some basis of truth behind it. I wont take some guys advice because he’s bigger than me and therefore he much be in better shape.

Lastly, not everyone has the same goals. My goal is not to get huge. Why if am happy at my weight right now, would i take some idiots cookie cutter advice to gain 30lbs.

I put my plan up here to see if anyone had any intelligent and warranted feedback on it, but as usual people are very narrow-minded and have offered nothing.

how did you spend all that time in kines classes while managing to look unathletic. I hope you’re going into sports management or something b/c there’s nothing worse than a trainer who doesn’t practice what they preach.

Dankid, No one here has even made fun of you for having tiny pencil arms or little baby thighs. So for you to get so pissed off at us for offering our honest opinions is unwarranted. You assume we don’t know what we are talking about, but the majority of the people on here have been doing this for a really long time and if you have been working out for an extended period of time you have not been doing a good job.

If your doing a deadlift, a snatch, or a one legged squat with good form your legs would have grown. And if you had been doing pullups your arms would have grown as well. In the OP you mentioned wanting to look like you have been working out, and we told you how to do this. Eat, Lift Heavy, and Grow. At your size you could train your arms all day and do all the cardio in the world and you will not end up with big arms and a six pack, they should have taught you that in kines. If you don’t want to take our advice then fine, do your workouts and stay small and chubby.

I’m 5’9 - 150lbs on a heavy day…

And I’ve got 20" thighs and 12.5" arms…

I agree with people here, if you want to increase your “Marketability” you should start taking your diet seriously, and put on some mass. Improve that body composition.

Now, I understand you’re not looking to become “hyoooge” and what not, but you would agree that being larger than your average beach boy and sporting some quality mass would attract more clients as opposed to the Mr. Abercrombie and Fitch Model look?

My last comment was directed at STU, because he stated that with my stats im not fit, but as I pointed out, that just shows how little he knows, and how narrow-minded he is. I understand the advice many of you are offering, and I understand the basis for it, but I know myself and my goals better than all of you.

My natural weight before I ever bulked, was around 155, over the course of 3-4 years I was able to put on 30-35 pounds, without gaining much fat. I have my reasons for not wanting to gain another 30lbs, and understand that I might not look like the most yoked guy on the block, but can still achieve an impressive physique at my weight.

Also, measurements do not tell you much, even about looks. I have a really small frame, my wrists are only 6.5" around. With a smaller frame, smaller muscles will actually look larger. Also, losing BF will make muscles look larger.

My current goal is around 13.5-14" arms, and 15-16" calves. I would be happy with my waist staying at 34" as long as my BF drops. I’d actually prefer a 34" waist to a 30" waist.

Also, in my Kin classes, although im not the most “fit looking” person, Im most likely one of the most fit people. You can not state that a person with 10% BF is more fit than a person with 15% BF. But im not here to argue that, my goal has always been fitness over lookds, but im willing to make some slight changes, to achieve the latter.

Idiot, no one ever said you weren’t fit. Hell, I was ‘fit’ when I weighed 150 lbs and ran 10 miles 3x a week, but will readily admit to looking horrible. This is a bodybuilding forum, and if you don’t want to ask or receive advice on building your body, just leave, no one will miss your wonderful insights.

Again, no one said you weren’t fit because of your stats, they just all agreed that you look like crap. If you don’t like the advice, stop asking for it. I also doubt anyone on here would view me as narrow minded, I’d like to think I’ve been nothing if not helpful in the years I’ve been on this site (and with my own background as a trainer, and studying orthopedics/kineseology, pretty well educated as well as being a gym rat).

Saying that you’d prefer a 34" waist to a 30" waist is just a sad case of sour grapes. No one cares how fit you are when they look to hire a trainer, that’s the sad truth my friend. If you can’t walk the walk, no one will want to hear you talk your talk (“no really, I assure you, I’m actually very fit” -lol)