T Nation

Official 2021 T-ransformation Announcement Thread

Mark your calendars, prep your meals, and grab your lifting belt. The 5th T-ransformation is on. Yeah okay, gyms have opened, closed, reopened, and reclosed, and plenty of people are tired of hearing the word “vote” nowadays, but we’re going for it anyway.

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 five 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.

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 2021-you should be in better shape than June 2020-you whether you’re doing the contest or not. Lifters who went after it hard in 2020 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. Keep an eye here in this official thread for 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 should be submitted as close as possible to January 1. If, somehow, you only stumbled onto this challenge in the middle of February, dive in anyway. You’ve got lost time to make up for, but go for it.

“After” pics can be submitted anytime you think you’re finished, but no later than June 1. If there’s a physique show on May 3rd and you crush it, we’re not gonna force you to stay in peak shape an extra month (even though the Pro-Tan probably won’t have come off yet).

Judging is based on how you look in your official Before pic compared to whenever you declare yourself done. That’s up to 21 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 possibly a little sumthin’ sumthin’ from Biotest.

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 leading up 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.)

Additional Details:

Progress Pics - The only mandatory pic is a “front relaxed” 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). That’s the only pose that will be voted on.

If you want to include additional pics to showcase your physique, no problem, but only the front relaxed will be considered official in terms of judging “before and after progress.”

Bodybuilding poses like double biceps, lat spreads, 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 in past years, it’s been consistent that 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 a recurring 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 2020 and 2021 T-ransformations will also be entered in the Most Improved category for the chance to be rewarded for their long-term progress.


A reminder of what we did with the 2020 T-ransformation:

Members eligible for the Most Improved category, based on their completion of the 2020 challenge:
@Aldebaran @alex44938 @Boilerman @Botslayer @Boyce79 @Brownbear1968 @Burien_top_team @Caesium32 @Chaoshander @Chickenlittle @Chieftain @Cyrrex @Dagill2 @Davidtower @Dchris @Donnerschweer @DoubleDuce @EmilyQ @Fabadab @Jdm135 @Frank_C @Johnson2133 @Kleinhound @LittleSleeper @Loganator @Lolman @Pinkylifting @PlanetCybertron @Raoh1990 @Samul @Simo74 @Skyzyks @Spock81 @Trimtabber79 @Voxel @Waittz @Yorkshireiron @Zeptrey


A tough year for year-on-year improvements for sure.

A good year for Jan - Summer though based on my current physique.


I’ve been looking forward to this after failing to make it through lockdown with any meaningful progress last spring/summer!


Been waiting for this thread to pop up. I am in again.


I’m definitely in, I’ve been planning this year since the last one ended.


I’m on the fence this year. Will probably just snap a pic and be done with it, but not sure.

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Marvellous. I should be able to do plenty of damage between now and January.

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I’ve never been in worse shape and have been trying to decide whether as a result I absolutely positively NEED to participate or whether I should just continue to weather the storm without stressing myself further.

I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks. This morning, in fact, when I looked in the mirror post-big-family-weekend and observed what looked for all the world like a four month pregnancy I thought “hmm, maybe I should take a ‘before’ now.”


Woot woot! Gonna win it this year. I can feel it


I wanna throw my hat in the ring, assuming I get cleared to gain for 2021.


Fuck it, I’m in again. If nothing else I dropped a bunch of fat, and just started lifting again for the first time in a month due to a super rushed and improvised moving situation. Let’s see what happens.


My rib is acting up. So I may rest until the new year.

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I was wondering when this would start going down, I’m in.


I think I’ll pass this one

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I plan to partake in the action this year. Skipped last year, and have some definite room for improvement this year. (Plus, it will help be rationalize all the pre-“before”-picture gingerbread, beer, and assorted chocolates I’ll be consuming over the next two weeks).

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I’ll be in again, as always.

Goals are strengths rather than aesthetics but let’s do it anyway team


I’m in.