TL;DR – Click for photos then!
I’m not interested in advertising; I just can’t make my own thread because of the requirements!
I started training when I was about 15; my Dad took me to the gym with him as a way for us to spend time together. I was a small kid both height and build wise (second smallest in my year in high school) but I was pretty strong as I recall.
My Dad and so I stopped training after a while, but then when I was around 18 I started again on my own, initially to join the military. That never came to fruition but as a side-effect of my training I also noticed I was getting some mini-guns, and being newly exposed to the nightclub atmosphere decided I liked the attention I started getting so I kept it up and began lunging some weights around for a bit doing all-over body training as well as doing cardio a few times a week.
From this point on I dropped the cardio but kept weight training for a couple of years pretty religiously but overall uninformed especially when it came to diet, and rather than focus on form etc. I just chased the numbers, setting myself goal weights to be lifting and a higher goal weight for myself. I’d say I was going to the gym on average 4 times per week for about an hour and a half at a time. I made progress to the point of people asking me for advice, being surprised at what they saw me lifting and being accused of doing steroids (I never touched them, more on that later) pretty frequently like when I was out getting stupidly drunk which just spurred me on.
Fast forward another couple of years and over that time I gradually became a little more knowledgeable, mostly through my own experience but also researching online and becoming a qualified gym instructor and getting a job as a Personal Trainer (be careful who you choose, pretty much anyone can do it in the UK!), and so I started doing muscle group workouts and my workout time was creeping up and up and ended up at around 3 hours four to five times a week. I was chasing the numbers still, constantly accused of steroids because of the sheer size of me and the weight I was lifting. At this time I was at a new gym with quite a few steroid users, and from seeing how quickly they progressed and from speaking to them I became very tempted and almost caved a good few times, but looking back I am so glad and proud that I didn’t.
I’m sure you can tell which photo’s these are, they were taken on the 19th October 2013 and at that point I decided I’d gotten quite big enough and didn’t want or like the constant temptation of steroids to get more size, and so I changed my game. I went from heavy lifting and packing in as many of whatever calories I wanted as I could to a ridiculously strict diet and slow, controlled reps with shorter rest periods, and I learnt first-hand the difference between power lifting style training and bodybuilding training.
When I do something, I go all in, so I still never touched cardio but in terms of my diet as well as training rather than a slow transition I am talking a sudden change to absolutely no carbs whatsoever (not even seasoning etc.), extremely high protein and getting all my energy from fats. It was my version of keto I suppose, but eating butter and other ‘unhealthy’ fats didn’t sit right with me so I almost exclusively lived off chickens and eggs (15 a day sometimes). Despite consuming around 3500 calories a day lost 4 stone in 6 months, which took us to May 2013. I felt fine at first but in the end I think the combination of diet and my training frequency/duration led me to feel constantly tired and drained and it got to the point people said I looked ill or on drugs.
At this point I planned on re-introducing carbs and doing a clean bulk, but in the end I was too worried about regaining fat and so ate extremely clean but with a limited source of carbs back in my diet and keeping the same training philosophy of training to feel the strain rather than to lift a higher number, which takes us to the after photos which were taken on 11th September 2014.
When I was chasing the numbers I was frequently taking my chest and arm measurements (47” and about 17.5”at 5’6”) but stopped doing that when I changed my diet and went from what the mirror told me instead. The only body-fat tests I ever took were on the electronic scales when I was bulking (I deliberately stayed away from scales etc. whilst cutting) which at its highest said I was at 19% which I somehow doubt. What I obviously did still keep track of was my lifts, so to give an idea of how drastically my training changed I slowly dropped from lunging 200kg on the chest press machine to a 35kg bench press and from 38kg concentration curls to 8kg. The workouts felt just as tough if not tougher, just a different type of difficult.
It’s always hard to look back and judge myself, because to be perfectly honest at the time I always had self-confidence and was training well, then a few months later would look back and think I looked like crap and my training was junk and then the cycle would repeat. The last photos I have included were taken on the 31st October 2014 (taken at work hahaha) and were after I stopped going to the gym and started doing callisthenic home workouts instead for nowhere near as long durations.
Right now I still do the home workouts but eat what I fancy, and I can’t remember the last time I was as happy. Food is a massive part of life, and at my most extreme every second of every day felt like work. I was frequently tired and whilst I still had a love for the gym, I knew it was as much an obligation. I’ve realised that the gym doesn’t make me who I am, and that the most important thing to do is enjoy life so I believe it is pointless to change yourself to how you feel you should look because of what somebody else may do or think.
Any questions or advice anyone has then I’m happy to try to help.