The Ultimate Test
It's simple, but it's not easy. That's what people say when it comes to the subject of losing fat and keeping it off. For most, it's the ultimate test of self-discipline. A solid training program plays a role and a good nutrition plan is a big piece of the puzzle. The right supplements can give you an edge as well. But nothing, and we mean nothing, can take the place of discipline and that internal drive to be the best you can be. Without that fire you either stagnate or regress. Back in March, we decided to help T-mag readers light that fire. The Inferno Challenge was born.
It started out simple enough. A few T-mag readers got together on our forum and decided to have a little fat loss contest. They figured this would keep them motivated in their quest for summertime "beach bodies." It was a great idea, so great in fact that T-mag and Biotest joined in and upped the ante by offering custom made T-Nation leather jackets to the top three winners, plus cash prizes: $1000 for first place, $500 for second, and $250 for third.
Those who accepted the challenge in mid-March had until June 1st to shape up. They could use any T-mag training program and nutrition plan they wanted, or they could make up their own plans. They also had to write an essay giving us all the details about how they achieved their results. The only stipulation was they had to use Biotest's new fat burner Hot-Rox® and report back to us what they thought of it.
We decided to keep the Challenge low key, just a friendly contest among loyal T-mag readers and forum users, so we made one low-key announcement on the site and that's about it. About 120 people accepted the challenge and 30 finished.
How'd they do? Here's a quick overview of our 30 finalists' results:
- 336 pounds of fat lost!
- 52 pounds of muscle gained!
- 11.2 pounds of fat lost per person!
- 1.7 pounds of muscle gained per person!
The Coolest Part of a Hot Contest
The coolest part is that most of the entrants weren't newbies! Why is that significant? Well, someone new to weight training and dieting can gain muscle and lose fat quite easily compared to a more experienced person who's long past his or her "newbie gains." Most of our challengers had been lifting at least a few years, meaning their results were even more outstanding!
Also, since we kept this challenge small and intimate, the finalists don't represent those people with one-in-a-million genetics chosen from thousands of contestants, which is what happens in most so-called "transformation contests." No, these were average people with jobs, school, families, and other responsibilities. These were folks just like you who were "too busy" to diet and train, yet did it anyway. Their results are typical of what anyone can achieve with hard work, discipline and smart planning!
One of the goals of the Inferno Challenge was to test out Hot-Rox®, the new ephedra-free fat burner by Biotest. The feedback was unanimous: Hot-Rox® rocks! That's no hype either. Challengers reported faster fat loss, less cravings and hunger, and most impressive, the retention and even addition of new muscle!
We knew Hot-Rox® had powerful anti-catabolic properties and we knew it could lead to some muscle gain (even if users were on strict diets), but we had no freaking idea how great those gains would be! Even Hot-Rox® formulators were blown away!
Folks, gaining LBM (lean body mass) just isn't supposed to happen with experienced weight trainers who are cutting up. Previously, the best you could hope for was retaining most of your hard-earned muscle while dropping fat as quickly as possible. With Hot-Rox®, you can lose fat at a rapid rate and add some lean muscle! Of course, your diet and training have to be on target too. There are still no magic pills, but there are some that come close, as Hot-Rox® has proven!
Let's take a look at the top four finalists chosen by our readers, forum users, and T-mag staff. Here they are, in no particular order:
Kareem Guirguis, a.k.a The Ghost
Looking at Kareem's photos, the first thing most of us thought was "Holy cow!" (The less genteel among us substituted another word entirely for "cow.") When Kareem accepted the challenge, he weighed a pudgy 180 pounds with 16% body fat. That means he carried 29 pounds of fat on him and 150 pounds of lean body mass. A little over two months later his body-fat percentage had dropped to 7%. He lost 15 pounds of shapeless flab and gained 3 pounds of muscle!
This intelligent kid from London, England, meant business, too. After entering the contest, he posted a note on our forum, stating confidently, "Watch out! I'm coming for you! The fire of determination has started burning and no one's gonna put it out!"
And no one did.
Scott Porter, a.k.a. Machine
We found out exactly why Scott is known as "The Machine." He planned his training and diet meticulously and followed it as closely as the Terminator tracked Sarah Conner. In doing so, he broke all the "rules" about gaining muscle while dieting.
Scott began the Challenge at 215 pounds, 12% body fat. He ended it at around 8% body fat, but get this, his final body weight was 216, a full pound heavier than when he started!
What does that mean? That means Scott, an experienced weight trainer, was able to add around 11 pounds of muscle while dropping his body fat dramatically! In fact, 6' 1" Scott gained size in all his body part measurements, even adding two inches of muscle on his chest and back! Combine that with trimming two inches of blubber off his waist and it's easy to see why Scott got so many votes!
Nineteen year old Ryan Godleski had been training all through school, but he just never dialed everything in and made any drastic changes. When he finally did, the results were staggering and Ryan went from boy to T-man seemingly in just a few weeks!
Ryan competes in mixed martial arts, so his main goal isn't to be "hyoooge" but to be fast and powerful, with a high strength to weight ratio. Despite this, this college freshman still managed to drop his body fat into the single digits and pack on several pounds of muscle.
John Romaniello a.k.a. Roman
The first thing many people thought when seeing John's before pics was, "Man, he looks pretty good already!" That's true, but this presented a huge challenge for John: get in even better shape.
For those that don't know, it's horrendously difficult for a person in already decent shape to take his physique to the next level. In fact, it's in many ways more difficult for a guy with 12% body fat to drop to 6% than it is for a 20% person to drop to 12%. But that's just what John did.
John started the Challenge at 198 pounds with 12% body fat. By the end of the Challenge, John weighed 189 pounds and was shredded! He gained four pounds of muscle while stripping his body fat down to an unreal 5.7%!
And the Winner is...
The race was close from the very start. Regular T-mag readers voted like this:
1st Place: Scott Porter
2nd Place: Kareem Guirguis
3rd Place: Ryan Godleski
The Dog Pound Forum (our semi-private forum made up of our veteran board users) voted a little differently. Here's their score card:
1st Place: Scott Porter
2nd Place: John Romaniello
3rd Place: Kareem Guirguis
Most T-mag staff liked Kareem for first place, but after that we got stuck and couldn't decide. First, second and third place were so close that it was almost a statistical tie. And fourth place was only a little behind third. We'd reached a stalemate. Finally, the big boss, Tim Patterson, ended the whole thing with one sentence:
"Heck, let's give all four of these guys a jacket and a thousand bucks!"
So that's exactly what we're going to do! Congratulations John, Scott, Ryan and Kareem! You're each getting a custom T-Nation leather jacket worth $1200 and a cool grand in cash!
More to Come!
Look for in-depth interviews with these guys in future issues of T-mag. In these articles they'll be sharing all the secrets of their transformation programs, including info on training, nutrition and supplementation.
When we first challenged our readers, we quoted hockey player Reggie Leach, who once said that "success is not the result of spontaneous combustion, rather, you have to set yourself on fire." If you haven't been able to ignite your desire to get in the best shape of your life, or if you've just been smoldering along not making any real progress, the results achieved by these folks just have to light you up! To see the rest of the results and more photos of the winners, log on to the T-mag Forum and set that fat on fire!
Note: T-mag wishes to thank all those who finished the Challenge (your free T-shirts are on the way!) and all those who voted. Special thanks to T-mag reader Jason Norcross who helped with the organization and vote tabulation.