"Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It has allowed us to evolve from a single-celled organism to the dominant species on this planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands of years. But every few hundred millenia, evolution leaps forward." – Professor Xavier, X-Men

The Next Level

About a year ago I wrote a chronicle of my body transformation called The Beast Evolves. This article proved to be very popular and many think it's the most influential piece I've ever written.

However, there were some things I just didn't like about the article. For one, I was too vague in my nutrition and training guidelines. Also, I've made some pretty significant improvements since that article was published. I've learned a lot since then and I've applied that knowledge to my own physique goals.

So I've decided to write a new article series detailing the training, nutrition, and supplement strategy I employed to make drastic improvements to the quality of my physique. Hopefully it'll give you some motivation to better yourself, as well as a few tools to help you reach your goals.

First, let's take a look at my own "mutation":

mutation
mutation
mutation
mutation

Note: The first photos in each series were taken as part of a class in Biomechanics. I took them for a postural analysis lesson and, as you may have guessed, those pics really woke me up and inspired me to begin my own personal evolution!

In the Beginning...

I'm of the opinion that a strength coach must be able to do what he asks of his athletes, not necessarily to the level at which they perform, but a good coach should be able to go through the process. With my Olympic lifting background, I have the strength and power portions covered pretty well as far as credibility goes. And with my first body transformation, I think I've established myself as someone who can drastically change the physical appearance of a client.

Having played football, hockey, soccer, baseball, rugby and golf for several years, I believe when it comes to training athletes I know what I'm talking about! The only aspect of the strength game that was left unexplored for me was bodybuilding.

Considering that at least 50% of the people training with weights do so strictly for aesthetic reasons, I felt I was leaving out half of you! How could I become more rounded? Enter a bodybuilding competition, that's how!

Back 1 Back 2

I prepared for 12 weeks, bought a pair of posing trucks, and went up on stage. Many felt this was a bad move because if I did poorly it would hurt my reputation as a strength coach. However, I believe that the whole experience is more important than the actual results.

Now, let's get some stuff out of the way right up front: I prepared for the show naturally. I didn't use any anabolic steroids, growth hormone, insulin or any other bodybuilding drugs. Those who've competed naturally know how hard it is to lose virtually all their body fat without losing too much muscle in the process. I felt I accomplished that. I started out at 220 pounds and ended up at 204, which is approximately the same weight I carried after my first transformation but with a few less pounds of fat.

In the process I actually kept gaining strength up until the last two weeks. During those two weeks I wasn't doing much strength training, only enough to maintain my muscle mass. I can't say I gained a huge amount of strength, but I did improve on most exercises I used.

Abs
Chest

Obviously I'm no danger to Mr. Olympia, but I feel that the second transformation was pretty impressive for someone who was already in good shape and who didn't use any prohormones or illegal drugs.

In this article series, I'll detail everything from my training program to my nutritional regimen and supplement intake. You don't have to follow the exact same plan, but those who do will get amazing results!

Phase 1: Weeks 1-3

Objectives:

  1. To increase muscle mass while maintaining the same amount of body fat.
  2. To gradually change my dietary habits.

Frequency:

  • Strength Training: 4 times per week
  • Energy System Work ("Cardio"): once per week

Training Program for Phase 1

  • Monday: Upper Back (Horizontal), Rear Deltoids, Brachialis, Forearms
  • Tuesday: Pectorals (Pressing Motion), Triceps, Anterior and Lateral Delts
  • Wednesday: OFF
  • Thursday: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: Upper Back (Vertical), Traps, Pectorals (Flying Motion), Lower Back
  • Sunday: Energy System Session, Abs

Monday

  • A1. Bent over barbell row
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo (3 seconds lowering, no pause, 1 second lifting)
  • No rest. Move to the A2 exercise immediately.

  • A2. Decline cable pullover
  • Decline cable pullover
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 502 tempo
  • 120 seconds rest before going back to A2. Repeat for 3 sets before moving to the "B" exercises below.

  • B1. Seated row to the neck
  • 3 sets of 8 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • B2. Rear delt raise (bent over lateral)
  • 3 sets of 12
  • 401 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • C1. Reverse grip preacher curl (with straight bar preferably)
  • Reverse grip preacher curl Reverse grip preacher curl
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • C2. Forearm roller
  • Forearm roller Forearm roller
  • 3 sets of 4 up and down
  • 60 seconds of rest

Tuesday

  • A1. Bench press
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • A2. Dips (no added weight)
  • 3 sets of max reps
  • 301 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • B1. Close-grip bench press
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • B2. Decline dumbbell triceps extension
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 501 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • C1. Seated dumbbell shoulder press
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • C2. Lean away lateral raise
  • Lean away lateral raise Lean away lateral raise
  • 3 sets of 12 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

Thursday

  • A1. Front squat
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • A2. Leg extension
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • B1. Romanian deadlift
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • B2. Lying leg curl
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • C. Back squat
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • D. Seated calf raise
  • 3 sets of 15 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • 90 seconds of rest

Saturday

  • A1. Weighted chin-up
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 301 tempo
  • No rest

  • A2. Close-grip lat pulldown
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • B1. Barbell power shrug
  • 3 sets of 5 reps
  • 201 tempo
  • No rest
  • Note: A power shrug is just like a regular shrug except you go super heavy and "kick start" the bar with your legs.

  • B2. Hise shrugs on standing calf machine
  • Hise shrugs
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 202 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • C1. Cable crossover
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • No rest

  • C2. Flat dumbbell flies
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • D. Back extension
  • Back extension Back extension
  • 3 sets of max reps
  • 501 tempo
  • 90 seconds of rest

Sunday

  • A. 15 minutes of slow pace energy system work.
  • Example: treadmill 3.4 mph, 8 degrees incline
  • B1. Cable crunches
  • Cable crunches Cable crunches
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • No rest

  • B2. Crunches on Swiss ball
  • 3 sets max reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest

  • C. 12 minutes HIIT energy system work.
  • 30 seconds of high intensity, 60 seconds of low intensity.
  • D1. Incline Russian twist
  • 3 sets of 10 reps
  • 402 tempo
  • No rest

  • D2. V crunch
  • 3 sets max reps
  • 402 tempo
  • 120 seconds of rest
  • Note: A V crunch is simply where you perform a crunch and a reverse crunch at the same time, forming a "V" with your body.

Nutrition Program for Phase 1

In this first phase, I started by reducing my caloric intake slightly as well as reducing the amount of carbs I consumed. I got rid of all "crappy" food. My caloric intake was set at 16 kcals per pound of bodyweight (220 x 16 = 3500 kcals) on average.

I say "on average" because on any given day the amount would fluctuate by 250 kcals up or down. However, the average was still at 3500 kcals per day. I made sure I consumed around 450 grams of protein per day, half of it from regular food and the other half from Metabolic Drive® Protein.

I consumed 150 grams of carbohydrates per day, all of them after my daily workout (100 grams in my post-workout meal, 50 grams two hours later). I also consumed around 100 grams of fat, half of it from good oils such as fish oils, flax seed oil and CLA, and the other half coming from my regular food.

I ate seven times per day:

  • 6:30 AM: Regular food: 60-65g of protein, 20g of fat, 0 carbs, 10g of BCAA
  • 10:30 AM: 3 scoops Metabolic Drive® Protein: 60g of protein, 9g of carbs, 6g of fat, plus 12g of fish oil
  • 12:30 PM: Regular food: 60-65g of protein, 20g of fat, 0 carbs
  • 2:30 PM: 4 scoops Metabolic Drive® Protein: 80g protein, 12g carbs, 6g fat, 12g of fish oil
  • 6:30 PM: Post-workout drink: 100g simple carbs, 4 scoops Metabolic Drive® Protein: 80g protein, 12g carbs, 8g fat, 10g BCAA, 10g of creatine
  • 8:30 PM: Regular food: 80-100g protein, 50g of carbs from veggies, 0g fat, 10g of creatine
  • Before bed: 3 scoops Metabolic Drive® Protein: 60g of protein, 9g of carbs, 6g of fat, 12g of CLA

Supplement Program for Phase 1

I used several supplements during this phase, mostly those that would help me gain muscle mass while reducing body fat. I obviously used a lot of Metabolic Drive® Protein, fish oils, and CLA. On top of that I also used daily:

  • Tribex: three capsules, three times per day
  • Creatine: 10g in each of the two meals following my training session
  • Vitamin A: 10,000 IU per day
  • BCAA: 10g three times per day (morning, during workout, post-workout)

Although I used Hot-Rox® in this 12-week transformation, I didn't start with it right away. I preferred to save it for when I really needed that extra boost to increase fat loss.

During this first phase I went from 220 down to 217 pounds but lost quite a bit of fat. My strength continued to increase during the whole phase and my mood was pretty decent (that would change later on!)

End of Phase I

This first phase of training really helped with my body composition since I was able to add muscle while shedding some fat. As I mentioned in the original "Beast Evolves" article, I have just about the worst genetics in the world when it comes to getting lean. So if I can do it, so can you!

Try the first phase of this program and let me know what you think. Summer is just around the corner; isn't it time you started getting in shape?