Lifestyle Prior To Change
What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?
Drinking whenever I had a chance, you could say borderline alcoholic. Now one beer a week is the most I’ll drink. Also I never went to the gym. I only did my mandatory workouts I had to do when I was training in the marines. But when I came home to the reserves, I had to motivate myself since there wasn’t anybody else who could.
What was your low point or turning point?
My lowest point was definitely when I was undergoing a back injury and a wrist injury. I became so frustrated with what I was limited to work. And I felt like it was impossible to gain any strength during that time. However I worked around it, and what I could work, I worked damn hard!
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
Okay, obviously my injuries. But besides that, dieting is my hardest part. I know I need to eat more. 2000 calories a day isn’t enough for the results I want. But I’m determined to slowly fix my diet.
I’ve learned if you try to just jump from 2000 calories to 5000 overnight, your stomach will be aching. I’m slowly trying to increase my intake by 100 calories a week. I know I should do more each week, but my appetite is my major weakness.
Can you share with us your transformation timeline?
- Transformation Start: 11/1/11 Just got home from the School of Infantry, at a whopping 148lbs. And in dire need to get stronger, and a better physique.
- Milestone: December 2011, and bulked to 165lbs. I ended up sprained my back doing squats. Along with that injury I went to an orthopedic, and a chiropractor. I later found out I have LSD (lower spine disorder), and that my spine never fused correctly as a child. Moreover realizing that most of my lifts would have to be cut out of my routine. Being limited to machines and cardio for legs (which I hate machines). Also I knew my shrugs and rows would suffer. The worst of all it made my gains much slower, if anything diminish. However I always lacked in upper body lifts, so it finally gave my (at the time) 14” biceps a chance to be focused and to grow.
- Milestone: February 2012, I started to finally focus upper body. However I lost most of my major weight gains. I fluxgate between 150-155lbs for some time. And from constantly doing heavy barbell curls, and French-presses. However it took a great toll on my wrists. And I developed tendonitis. Once again, had to go to my orthopedic (whom is phenomenal), received a cortisone shot, and was told I need to use wrist wraps, and he taught me how to properly use pre-wrap, and sports wrap to protect my wrists. My tendonitis took about 5 months to heal, and has never comeback. Never to mind you my wrists still take a constant strain, but I’m more conscious of when they are tight, and how to properly stretch them.
- Milestone: April 2012, I finally listened to my ortho and bought a pair or wrist wraps. I was pretty upset about it because I always look at support equipment as a crutch, and a sign of weakness. But that was the best thing that ever happened to me. My wrist strain immediately went away on all my compound lifts. And my shrugs jumped up to 585 practically overnight. And I realized my grip was holding me back from some major gains in strength and size. Now I have no insolence toward supports, and toward the people who use them.
- Milestone: I’m not sure when, but somewhere along the lines I accepted the fact I am a hardgainer. Yes I can gain muscle weight, and if I eat around 5500 calories a day along with proper supplementation, I can in fact see significant gains. I had one issue, my appetite. Sometimes I feel like the only person alive who never has an appetite, and when I do, it’s for fruits and vegetables. Of course I had all my proteins and carbs. But not enough to grow. But then I realized I’m really freaking strong for my size. When was the last time you saw a 150lb kid bench 225lbs from chest to lockout for sets of 15? Then it finally hit me that I should take pride in my genetics, and instead of striving for hypertrophy, I started striving for hyperplasia (muscle density). And suddenly any plateaus I had, went through the roof, and instead of chugging a 1100 calorie weight gainer after my workouts, I would have a nice lean meal. And at this point I quit most supplementation (besides a pre-workout, protein synthesizer, and fish oil).
- Transformation End: At this point I finally realize what works for me. What routines target my body the best. And what foods my body performs the best on. The good thing is, with my body fat as low as it is, and my lifts as high as they are, a bulking cycle might become a lot easier. I don’t really suffer from any injuries, and I’m more motivated than ever to keep up with my strength gains.
Tyler's Training Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
First and for most, I put out 100% effort on my first set on every lift. You won’t lift heavier if you hold yourself back. I do 7-week workout cycles. And I did this type of routine the whole year.
- Week 1: 1 set of 15 reps
- Week 2: 2 sets of 12 reps
- Week 3: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 4: 4 sets of 8 reps - Last set drop set
- Week 5: 5 sets of 5 reps - Last set drop set
- Week 6: 6 sets of 4 reps - Last set drop set
- Week 7: Max-out week!
Please add a workout that worked best for you:
- Monday - Chest and Back. Bench press, barbell rows, dumbbell flyes, pull ups, dumbbell pullovers, yoga ball bench press.
- Tuesday - Shoulders and Upper Back. Push press, barbell shrug, Arnold press, lateral raise, bent over reverse dumbbell flyes, core.
- Wednesday - Rest.
- Thursday - Biceps and Triceps. Power curls, skullcrushers, preacher curl, standing French press, hammer curls, dips.
- Friday - Legs and Core. Squat, stiff-leg deadlift, seated calf raise, seated tibia raise, abductors, adductors, core.
- Saturday - Cardio.
- Sunday - Rest.
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
Easy cardio to warm up, and on Saturdays I usually run around 3 miles, between 90-100%.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Listen to your body. Pain is not an excuse to slack, but it’s a reason to do a drop set, or to invest in some injury prevention equipment.
- Always try the next weight up. I remember when I couldn’t bench 275 for the life of me. I tried and tried numerous times. However once day I said screw it, and tried 300. And I got it! A lot of the time we’re held back mentally. And as I always say “What do you got to lose?!” As long as you’re doing it safely, try that extra 10lbs. Get that extra rep.
- Having a workout partner who can keep up with you, and when you slack, they WILL exceed you. Each and every day we have friendly competition on who can lift more. If I slack off, he will exceed me. And if he doesn’t raise the bar high enough, then I’m going to try extra hard to put him to shame.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
Besides increasing the weight, the biggest change is my rest period between sets. It used to take me 3-4 minutes to recover. But now I’m averaging 60-90 seconds of recovery. Also if I don’t feel exhausted after a workout, I will do negatives until failure. Usually that does the trick.
Tyler's Diet And Supplement Plan
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
If I think it’s unhealthy, I won’t eat it. If I think it’s healthy, I eat it. Pretty simple.
Can you give an example of what your daily meal plan looks like?
- Breakfast: Salad with 6oz of white chicken break (no dressing), 48oz cranberry juice.
- Lunch: Tuna sandwich. 1 can of tuna, 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, whole wheat bread.
- Dinner: ½lb Wheat spaghetti. Half a can of tomato sauce. Mixed vegetables (canned).
- Midnight Snack: French Onion Soup (canned).
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I used to over think it. I would try to count calories, and have perfect proportioned protein, to carb, to fat ratio. Now if I want to cut I eat more veggies, and overall eat less. If I want to bulk, eat more meat and overall eat more. Pretty easy right?
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Don’t over think your diet. We have all been raised knowing what foods are good or bad. If you don’t know, search it online or ask a friend. But unless you have a health condition, just eat healthy and stop over thinking it.
- Supplements are meant to “supplement” on to a solid diet. You will waste your money if you try all sorts of supplements and a poor diet. Trust me I made that mistake numerous times, and plenty of money wasted.
- Try to schedule a meal immediately after a workout. For a short amount of time after you’re done exercising, your body is in an anabolic state. In layman’s terms, whatever you eat immediately after your exercise, will be packed on as muscle, and the bad portions will be burnt off.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
If you consider my Wednesday night beer a cheat meal, then yes. Besides that no. I’m very lucky with the pallet I was born with. I don’t enjoy sweet foods or salty foods. And I love fruits, veggies, and the taste of whole wheat.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
Advice For Others
What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Be consistent. Don’t make excuses, go to the gym when you scheduled to go. Workout the entire time. Slacking will never help you achieve any goals in life, including your fitness goals.
- Have a routine. Know what you’re doing before you go to the gym, know when you’re going, and what your fitness goals are for that day. This also helps you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
- Have a buddy. Personally I would be no where close to where I am now if it wasn’t for my workout partner. Each and every day he pushes me, critiques me, and motivates me. He is my rival and my teammate when it comes to physique and the weight I put up.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
I associate fitness with sleep. You need it every day. You can go without it, but it is still a necessity of life. Train yourself to make it something you cannot live without. If I don’t go to the gym I feel completely out of whack.
Your Life Now
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
First of all it gave me tremendous confidence. I’m never shy to be seen without a shirt on, and I am stronger and faster than nearly all of my peers. Also I’m proud of myself to be able to continuously commit, no cheat days, no breaks, just giving 100% effort, 100% of the time.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
If this is what I can do in one year, what can I accomplish in 5 years? Professional bodybuilder, or powerlifter? These are both in the realm of possibility with the gains I have attained in only a year.
Anything else you would like to share?
It is absolutely empowering to know you can physically accomplish anything life throws at you. I can chase down that mugger, or I can shrug that car off a lady in peril. The fact that I can survive anything life throws at me is the greatest feeling in the world. And I hope more people can transform themselves into becoming that empowered.
Also I am living proof that you don’t need any crazy supplements, diets, or drugs to get ripped or to get strong. Just hard work and common sense in the gym will give you the results you want.
How Can People Contact You?
How can people contact you?