I wanted to share an inspiring story about my former student Chad. I was Chad’s Geometry teacher two years prior to this story.
I ran into Chad one weekend in Rocky Point, Mexico and couldn’t help but notice that he had gained a lot of weight. He was 20 years old at the time and had ballooned up to 290 pounds at a height of 5’11" tall. He had always been a big guy, even as a little kid. He had been drinking a lot of beer with his buddies, eating a lot of fast food and had become completely sedentary since high school.
He informed me that he wanted to make some serious changes in his lifestyle and that he wanted to lose a lot of weight. I asked him if he would like to work out with me and my training partner Larry. He said yes. The following Monday, after discussing Chad’s goals and level of commitment, we came up with a plan.
I made a year-long exercise and nutritional plan for Chad, which he adhered to strictly. He alternated between following one month of a very low carbohydrate diet and a 4-day per week lower/upper body split with one month of a moderate carbohydrate, low fat diet and a 5-day per week bodypart split.
Months 1,3,5,7,9,11: very low carbohydrate diet, 4-day per week lower/upper body split
Months 2,4,6,8,10, 12: moderate carbohydrate, low fat diet, 5-day per week bodypart split
Alternating diets and exercise programs can be beneficial both physiologically and psychologically.
No matter which diet Chad was following, he always ate 6 small meals per day with 50 grams of protein per feeding (300 grams/day). The only thing that changed between the two diets was the fat and carbohydrate intake. With the very low carbohydrate diet, he would have 30 grams of fat per feeding (180 grams/day) and would only consume between 30-50 total grams of carbohydrates per day.
With the moderate carbohydrate, low fat diet, he would have 40 grams of carbohydrates per feeding (240/day) and would only consume between 50-80 total grams of fats per day. This translates to around 3,000 calories per day for both diets with about 40% of the total calories coming from protein. Most of the food involved in the diets revolved around lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits, plain lowfat yogurt, whey protein, flax oil and olive oil.
Chad was allowed two cheat-meals per week for psychological purposes. Chad consumed a decent amount of calories but was in a hypocaloric state throughout the year due to the impressive amount of exercise he was performing.
The 4-day per week lower/upper body split was as follows: lower body on Monday and Thursday, upper body on Tuesday and Friday. For lower body, Chad performed a type of squat, followed by a type of good morning or deadlift, followed by a unilateral leg exercise such as lunges, Bulgarian squats or step ups, followed by some auxiliary exercises for the core.
For upper body, Chad performed two types of presses and two types of pulls, alternating between sets of presses and pulls, followed by some isolation exercises.
The 5-day per week bodypart split was as follows: quads on Monday, chest on Tuesday, back on Wednesday, hamstrings on Thursday, and shoulders and arms on Friday. Monday started with a type of squat and unilateral leg exercise, Tuesday started with 2 types of bench press, Wednesday started with a type of row and chin up or pulldown, Thursday started with a type of deadlift or good morning, and Friday started with a type of overhead press.
The 4-day per week lower/upper body split utilized lower rep ranges for (3-5 reps for compound movements and 8-20 for isolation movements), more rest time in between sets (3-5 minutes between compound movements, 1-2 minutes between isolation movements), higher intensity (as defined by percentage of 1RM) and lower volume (less sets and reps).
This routine coincided well with the very low carbohydrate diet. Typical workouts with this split were an hour and a half long.
The 5-day per week bodypart split utilized higher rep ranges for compound movements (8-20), more isolation movements, less rest in between sets (1-2 minutes between compound movements, 1 minute between isolation movements), higher volume and lower intensity. This routine coincided well with the moderate carbohydrate, low fat diet, which helped give his muscles more carbohydrates to fuel his fast-paced workouts. Typical workouts with this split were 40 minutes to an hour long.
Every four weeks, Chad would back off a little and lighten the weight and do less volume. He would accomplish this by taking it easy on the first week of his new routine (which alternated every month).
For cardio, Chad spent two months working up to the point where he could perform four one-hour sessions per week. He would choose between the incline treadmill, the stepmill or track running.
The first ten minutes of his one-hour session would involve a gradual increase in intensity, the next forty minutes were spent performing ten blocks of alternating one minute of high intensity with three minutes of moderate intensity, and the last ten minutes would involve a gradual decrease in intensity. I also instructed him to perform between ten and fifty burpees throughout the day as often as he felt the urge.
Within five months, Chad lost 70 pounds and was down to 220 pounds. Within one year, Chad lost 100 pounds and got down to 190 pounds. He went from 290 to 190 in one year! The people at his work called him “The Incredibly Shrinking Man.”
His bodyfat went from 40% to 12%. His lean body mass went down only 7 pounds, from 174 to 167 pounds. His bench press went up 90 pounds, from 155 to 245. His full squat went up 180 pounds, from 185 to 365. His conventional deadlift went up 270 pounds from 185 to 455 (amazing). It took him about 5 months to finally be able to perform chin ups and dips, but after the year was over, he was able to do 10 chins and 20 dips.
Underneath all that fat was actually a great looking guy. Nobody, not even Chad, knew that the blubber was hiding a great looking face. He started picking up chicks left and right, his confidence level went through the roof and he became more positive, fun and comical.
This was all done drug-free. Also, his genetics suck. His mom, dad, brother and sister are all overweight. Chad had been overweight all his life.
What did it take for Chad to succeed?
- commitment and consistency
- adhering to a long-term exercise and nutritional regimen
- coming to the gym ready to break some records
- preparing his meals at night for the following day
- a trainer who cared about him and knew how to set up an effective plan
- a trainer who had high expectations for him
- a trainer who didn’t allow excuses and pushed him to break records each week
The primary components to losing large amounts of bodyfat while simultaneously retaining or building muscle tissue is the coalescence of:
- losing weight by being in a hypocaloric state through decreased caloric consumption, increased caloric expenditure, or both
- retaining or building muscle by consuming adequate amounts protein and gaining substantial strength on the main compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench press and,
- performing an adequate amount of volume and intensity for each muscle group.
Chad was only 20 years old. His testosterone levels, metabolism, recovery ability and amount of time and energy to dedicate to training and nutrition were all most likely at an all-time high.
I didn’t have to reconfigure Chad’s nutritional plan over time because his lean body mass stayed pretty much the same throughout the year and his workouts became more intense as time went on because of his increased strength and conditioning. His caloric intake stayed consistent all year long.
Chad’s youth hadn’t allowed for his mobility and flexibility to whither away. He could perform every exercise I gave him, including Bulgarian squats, full squats and straight leg deadlifts right away. I didn’t have to give him special exercises or stretches to bring him up so he could perform certain exercises.
Chad was performing squats, deadlifts, good mornings and unilateral leg exercises every week throughout the year while also incorporating four high intensity interval training sessions per week, and he gained a substantial amount of strength on these exercises during the year. He did this by manipulating the volume and switching up the variations. For example, squats and front squats might be alternated, rack pulls and good mornings, etc.
Chad might have performed four to six work sets for squats, but would usually only perform two work sets for deadlifts or good mornings and only one work set to failure for unilateral leg exercises.
Hopefully this story helps out some beginners who find themselves in a similar disposition as Chad. I am not posting this story to imply that this is the best possible plan. This is a sound plan for psychological and physiological purposes. It was fun for Chad because each month he would seem to stall out then see rapid results when he switched routines and diets.
The diets allow for adequate nutrition. The strength-training workouts allow for proper manipulation of volume, intensity and frequency.
Before and After Pictures:
I only have black and white before and after photographs of Chad. I had to take pictures of these photographs with a digital camera then crop them. The quality is terrible but it will suffice. In the first picture, Chad is on the far-right at 290 pounds. In the second picture, Chad is on the far-left at 220 pounds.
There was a five month time-lapse between the first photograph and the second photograph. I don’t have a picture of Chad after the five month mark. He continued to lose 30 more pounds during the next seven months after this picture.