I wanted to do an article on my client Aaron’s transformation, because there are some lessons to be learned here. Aaron has been a one-on-one coaching client of mine for many years. He hasn’t competed in a long, long time. My coaching clients know I am always 100% honest, and as his Coach I told him a long time ago that competing wasn’t really a good investment of his time, just because he doesn’t have the best structure competing, in terms of what judges are looking for. He also has trouble with posing to show his physique to its fullest advantage, and, to top it all off, he is also a natural trainee. I told him honestly that competing in non-tested contests was just not a good use of his time, in my opinion. However, just because someone can’t pose well, or doesn’t have a great physique structure for the stage doesn’t mean they can’t be training with heart, or that they can't develop a fantastic physique regardless. Well, Aaron has done EXACTLY THAT over the years.
When Aaron came to me a while back and said he wanted to compete again, at first I was a bit skeptical. But then he explained himself. He said he just wanted to compete to support his girlfriend. She wanted to compete in her first contest and he wanted to diet along with her and do the contest together as a way to support her. That was his priority he told me. He also told me he didn’t care if he won or if he placed – he just wanted to go through the challenge of contest-prep again. These were pretty good reasons as far as I was concerned and I helped Aaron achieve the Before and After pictures you see here in this article. But, yes he did win his class as well. But I’ll let Aaron tell his story below. You will see that for Aaron’s prep we used my Hardgainer Solution Program for training, and we got Aaron back on The Cycle Diet for his eating. (He had recently taken a break from dieting and was eager to get back on The Cycle Diet.) And this is one thing about The Cycle Diet. It creates “metabolic resiliency” which means once you get back on it the body responds to it quite quickly again. And it certainly did for Aaron. (Note, I'll be releasing a new book on this shortly!! Stay tuned. There will be a launch special.)
Below I let Aaron tell his transformation story in his own words. I interject my ‘Coaching Comments’ in red where I want to make a point. Here’s how Aaron explains it then – with my comments below in red as well:
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Please note I am a lifetime natural lifter. I have no plans on competing and only did this contest because it worked for my schedule and mostly because of my girlfriend Samantha doing her first show (BTW, she took a 1st place and a 2nd place in her categories and she also follows The Cycle Diet)
When I decided to begin prep for this competition, I started the diet 13.5 weeks out from the competition date and after a 5 year lay off from competing. At the time, I had been following the HGS Program on a 4 to 5 day a week schedule. I had taken a few weeks off from my regular diet program around the Christmas season, but had got back into regular eating habits, which was The Cycle Diet, in January. In this way, I got myself back into super compensation mode, and then had well-timed refeed/overfeed days or meals throughout the whole contest prep. My last full refeed/cheat day was 3 weeks out from the competition. So while others were starving and dreaming about food, I had regular overfeed days till the very end and again the night before competing.
Coach’s Note: This is what I mean by “metabolic resilience” that The Cycle Diet enhances in the body. Aaron went away from the diet regimen for a while but when he came back to it; his body responded pretty much immediately. And as you can see, the closer the contest got, the more essential it was to keep in his regular weekly calories spike overfeed days in place – practically right up to the contest
Back to Aaron.
I started out by doing 20 minutes of cardio for 6 weeks, and then all cardio was eliminated from the program. I used the HGS Program 6 days a week. At the beginning, I was losing between 3-4 lbs. a week, but then averaged out to approximately 2 lbs. a week. Even though my weight decreased, my strength stayed the same throughout the process. Workouts took about 45-50 minutes to complete.
Throughout the process, my energy stayed high. Towards the end of the prep, near the date of the show there was some fatigue, but nothing close to what I had experienced during other preps I had done without Scott as my Coach.
Coach’s Note: Since Aaron hadn’t been dieting, I wanted to get him to Supercomp mode as soon as possible. We began with a minor amount of cardio added after training sessions. But as soon as Aaron hit Supercomp mode, we got rid of the cardio. Most “wannabe” Coaches increase their clients cardio as a contest gets closer; as if it’s some kind unwritten rule: Such nonsense! Especially for natural competitors! This illustrates the importance of being able to read and gauge biofeedback. Cardio had a very minor and short-term purpose for us upfront in Aaron’s prep. Then we got rid of it. Doing any more would have cost Aaron muscle mass, and would have negatively impacted his metabolism as well. Back to Aaron.
Being on the HGS Program, I was still able to enjoy my regular routines and do the things I love. It did not hinder or negatively affect my daily living. Because the HGS program is whole body training, then I never had to worry about missing a leg day, or an arms day or things like that. And I could still get out to my wilderness cabin to enjoy camping and fishing, but was also able to incorporate my workouts while out at the lake. I did this by using resistance tubing and suspension trainers attached to trees, lifting deep cycle batteries, logs, and portable generators body weight exercises like pistol squats etc. I was able to keep a balance, and not let the contest-prep take over my life. I was also able to follow the diet as long as I planned and packed meals ahead of time. Planned ahead meal prep was also required for two separate trips I had to take out of town, as opposed to eating out while in the city. We had to precook food, vacuum seal it, and then request rooms with fridges and microwaves in our hotel. But this actually freed up a lot of time to do other activities, and proved to be very cost efficient time-wise.
Coach’s Note: Check out the pictures of Aaron adapting the training program so he could do it out in the boonies enjoying his cabin which I know he loves. Very cool! Aaron was able to adapt the program because he has been with me so long as a client that he knows how to work around and make viable substitutions for exercises. No gym – no problem! Once again we see where there is a will, there is a way. You can’t believe how many people write me and make excuses that travel means not being able to work out. Well it doesn’t get more sparse than being in a hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere. But Aaron kept to diet and training just the same! Same thing with diet -> note how Aaron went out of his way to “pre” pare food for this trip and have “no excuses.” He also noted that this actually saved him time and energy. This is a point people often miss about the benefits of pre-planning and pre-paring! Back to Aaron.
The week of the show or peaking-week as some like to call it, the only change Scott made was that I worked out Monday to Friday, and all reps were between 15-20; instead of the varied reps range outlined in the HGS. This was the only training “tweak” Scott made. Also, there was none of this last minute water manipulation stuff at all. And oh yes, carbs were never cut throughout the whole process. I had carbs in my diet from start to finish! So as you can see, with Scott there is no “last-minute-magic.” We did very minor adjustments according to my biofeedback Scott was reading. And the evening before the show, I had a 24 oz. steak with 6 eggs and a baked potato. My meals the day of the show were just what my body was used to and kept meals the same as my regular diet. By following Coach Abel’s instructions and the HGS program I was contest-ready 2 weeks out from the show and I just cruised right into the show stress-free and in the best condition I have ever been in. There was no need for last minute measures: As Scott taught me, “ready is ready.” The whole process just felt Easy peazie!
To recap: Contest-prep week went well with no problems. I lost 2 lbs. from Monday to Friday. I did no cardio at all of course since we cut that out weeks ago and I continued the HGS workouts with rep range of 12-20. As I mentioned I ate a 24 oz. steak 6 eggs and plain baked potato at 6 pm night before the competition….I must say when I woke up at 3:30 am to use the washroom I looked amazing even to my own eyes. I had veins popping everywhere and I looked very tight and full. I wish I would have snapped a few pics to show at that time; but well, it was 3:30 in the morning.
Weigh-ins were at 9:30 am and I added 1 lb. from the day before and just continued to eat my normal diet and never manipulated my water at all week of or day of show. The show went very well and I looked great; the best I’ve ever looked. (insert a stage shot or two here) I placed 1st in light weight and 2nd in the master’s division. It was a neat experience being involved in the overall process. The biggest accomplishment for me that day was actually also placing 4th in the general physique category. The reason this was such a kick for me is because the competitor closest to my age was 27. So I was 20 + yrs. older than the next oldest guy lol!!! To come so close to placing top three against 20 year olds was awesome and they were all very impressed with this old guy! lol
My energy and focus were sky high through the whole process of contest prep! So, it was sad to watch so many other competitors dragging themselves through the whole thing, so tired and exhausted and starved. It all just made me wonder what passes for Coaching out there these days. Here I was, way older than most of these other competitors, but with more energy and vitality than most of them that day as well.
The very next day I was over the contest experience and back out catfishing on the boat back at the cabin. Insert picture with the fish
Coach’s Note: No one should have to sell their soul to the devil to compete! No one should have to give up your life for 3-4 months to compete. No one should have to engage in last-minute-magic shenanigans in order to peak. If you have to do any of that, you should be questioning 1) whether competing is right for you or not, and 2) whether your Coach truly knows what the hell they are doing!
Next, being able to stay on The Cycle Diet all through the contest-dieting phase meant that Aaron’s metabolism stayed co-operative and resilient. He wouldn’t have to worry about post-contest fat rebounding or metabolic damage or any of these others things that ill-advised contest-prep brings to fruition.
Aaron wanted to go through this contest-experience to support his girlfriend in her first contest – a very noble reason. But now Aaron’s transformation has also served to teach you all a few things about commitment and discipline beyond mere “convenience.” And his experience has also allowed me to teach you a few things about “SMART and EXPERT” one on one Coaching the benefits of The Cycle Diet and the real-world use and application of my Hardgainer Solution Program!
Great work Aaron! As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words!