Lifestyle Prior To Change
What was your lifestyle prior to your transformation?
I was still a very active individual. I played a lot of tennis at a good level and was always into sport and being fit.
What was your low point or turning point?
It’s got to be when I had put on a lot of body fat through not watching my nutrition. It was a shock when I looked at some photos and realized I was carrying pounds of fat that had no reason to be there. From then on I realized nutrition was more important than training and that is what makes you or breaks you.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
Not from what I can remember. The only barrier was my mind early on. It was the mental barrier to whether I could continue to be consistent with this lifestyle. But once the results began to show there was no doubt in my mind.
Please detail your transformation timeline:
Transformation Start: In May 2008 after I had finished school I wasn’t happy with my physique in terms of size and overall aesthetics. I didn’t want to go into college being really skinny so I knew I had to do something. I began to workout out in my room with basic bodyweight exercises such as pushups and bench dips. I didn’t know what I was doing in regards to training let alone nutrition. However, I kept going at it and began to feel good as if I was actually doing something with myself and not just sitting on the couch.
Milestone: July 2008 was when my dad decided to join a local gym. This was great news to me as I wanted to actually get into a gym environment and use some gym equipment as I had none at home. As well as this, it gave me some experience in the gym setting. Me and my dad trained at this gym about 3 times a week. Again, I had no idea what I was doing and stuck to the resistance machines has these were easy to use and in all honesty I was scared to use the free weights as I had no idea what to do in terms of technique, weight, exercises, reps, sets, rest period, etc. It was kind of a jungle to me at first and took a while for me to find my feet. I still stuck at it just using the resistance machines and began to notice small improvements in my physique.
Milestone: September 2008 was when I started college. I had gained about 10 pounds of lean mass during my summer break from school and college which I felt was a decent effort. During my first year at college I joined their gym and trained with a friend who taught me basic free weight exercises. It worked so well and I gained some good size just by switching to mainly free weight exercises. Along with the change in training it was also much more intense due to having a training partner help push me through those last few reps when it would be all too easy to give in and drop the weight.
Milestone: March 2009 was when I was coming near the end of my first year at college. I had made some good progress physically in terms of size. I had learned a lot from when I had started. I was trying out different splits, sets, reps and just trying new aspects of training. It gave me an indication of what worked and what didn’t work so well. However, one aspect that I had not gone into was nutrition. I was lifting hard but wasn’t eating right and not putting the time in the kitchen in order to fuel my body with the correct macro and micronutrients. I was just eating lots of carbs (simple carbs) throughout the day and before going to bed. I ate a fair amount of junk food when it was presented to me. As a result of this I had a considerably amount of body fat. I put the time in to learn about proper nutrition and it paid off. Over the next 6 months I had stayed consistent with my diet and training and the body fat I wanted to get rid just melted away.
Milestone: September 2010 was when I started university at Southampton Solent studying fitness and personal training. I had decided a while ago that this was the path that I wanted to take my career as I had grown a passion for it. I joined a local “bodybuilding” gym where it was always intense with people pushing you to reach your limit every time you trained there. The gym owner thought I was in decent shape and said I should enter a bodybuilding show. I wasn’t sure at first but after some time I was talked into it. My training was taken to another level. I liked what I saw in the mirror as I began to realize that my consistency, hard work and dedication had begun to really pay off.
Transformation End: April 2011, 5 weeks out from my first show. I can’t wait to get on stage and experience competing in a show for the first time. I don’t consider this to be the “transformation end “ but more like the beginning as I still have so much to learn and most of all I love it.
Jon's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
I kept things basic and simple. I trained 5 days a week training one body part each training day. This way I felt I could really focus on one muscle group and then get out of the gym and recover. I incorporate different training methods such as drop sets, rest pause, negatives and supersets in my workout from time to time to add variety and shock the muscle. I keep the reps in the range of 6-12 but I tend to keep them to the lower end of that scale as I feel that having heavier weight and fewer reps stimulates more muscle fibers. I do go for more reps, again to keep variety and shock the muscle.
Please add a workout that worked best for you:
This is just a sample of my training. Each week is different is terms of exercises, training methods (drop sets, negatives etc).
- Monday: Chest.
- Tuesday: Rest.
- Wednesday: Back and Hamstrings.
- Thursday: Rest.
- Friday: Shoulders, Traps and Calves.
- Saturday: Biceps and Triceps.
- Sunday: Quads.
|Monday - Chest|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (Last set - Drop sets)||3||8, 8, 6|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||3||8, 8, 6|
|Slight Incline Dumbbell Flye (Last set - Drop sets)||4||12, 10, 8|
|Wednesday - Back and Hamstrings|
|Deadlift||4||10, 8, 8, 6|
|Barbell Row||3||10, 8, 6|
|Seated Cable Row||3||10. 8. 6|
|Straight Arm Lat Pull Down||3||15, 12, 10|
|Friday - Shoulders, Traps and Calves|
|Standing Military Press||4||10, 8, 8, 6|
|Dumbbell Side Lateral||4||12. 10. 8, 8|
|Front Plate Raise||3||12, 10, 8|
|Cable Reverse Flye||3||12, 10, 8|
|Barbell Shrug||4||10, 8, 8, 6|
|Machine Calf Raise||3||12, 10, 8|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||12, 10, 8|
|Saturday - Biceps and Triceps|
|Close Grip Bench Press||4||10, 8, 8, 6|
|Skullcrusher||3||8, 8, 6|
|Cable Tricep Extension||3||15, 12, 10|
|Barbell Curl||3||10, 8, 6|
|Incline Dumbbell Curl||3||10, 8, 6|
|Reverse Grip Barbell Curl||4||12, 10, 8, 6|
|Sunday - Quads|
|Squat||4||12, 10, 8, 6|
|Leg Press||4||10, 8, 8, 6|
|Smith Machine Front Squat||3||10, 10, 8|
|Leg Extension||4||15, 12, 10, 8|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
I’m always doing some kind of cardio whether its steady state cardio on an incline treadmill or stationary bike or just doing a lot of walking, activity etc outside of the gym. My course at university is quite practical so that’s helped a bit to get cardio in.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Be consistent with your training.
- Focus on feeling the muscle working rather than trying to lift more weight and not feeling the muscle. Lifting lots of weight doesn’t necessarily mean big muscles.
- Keep workouts fairly simple with the emphasis largely based around free weight compound movements. Get in, hit it hard, get out and recover.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
My training is still pretty much the same. I’m not worried about lifting lots of weight (probably would result in bad form) and feeding my ego. This is pointless if I can’t feel the muscle working. My main focus in improving on the big lifts such as deadlifts and squats as these have given me the best gains. After my show I plan to try a power/hypertrophy split as I feel this will keep the body guessing even more and produce better results. Again it’s a learning process, if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work but I know that I tried something new.
Jon's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
I just kept my eating simple with the emphasis on eating clean all the time 6 times a day. Each meal was balanced including each food group. Again being consistent was really crucial.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
This intake was the same every day.
- 7:00 am - 1 scoop whey protein, 5g glutamine.
- 8:00 am - 100g oats (in water), 1 whole egg, 10 egg whites, 1 tbsp flaxseed.
- 10:00 am (post workout) - Banana, 1 scoop whey protein, 5 g glutamine.
- 11:00 am - 12oz sweet potato, 140g grilled chicken.
- 2:30 pm - 50g brown rice, I tin tuna, 1 tin mackerel, broccoli.
- 5:30 pm - 50g oats, 140g grilled chicken, 15 almonds, green beans.
- 8:30 pm - 140g grilled chicken, green beans, broccoli, 1 tbsp olive oil.
- 11:30 pm - 300g cottage cheese, 1 tbsp organic peanut butter, 1 tbsp flaxseed, ½ cucumber, 5g glutamine.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
There were so many that I can’t remember, but I gradually learnt to adjust my nutrition by listening to others, reading up on the area and just trial an error. The biggest mistake was not weighing my food. In my opinion I feel that weighing your food is crucial. If you don’t know what you’re taking in then it’s hard to adjust your intake to make changes.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Eat clean foods as much as you can.
- Weigh your food.
- Be consistent.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Not really, I guess I could have allowed myself a few. But I got into such a habit of eating the way I did I didn’t feel the need to have a cheat meal. I actually enjoyed the food I was eating so it didn’t really cross my mind.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
Strength! At the beginning I didn’t use any supplements. But now the only ones I use are a basic whey protein and glutamine powder.
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
Be proud that you cannot achieve something, if you know you can do it, nothing’s holding you back except yourself.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
- I’ve always been a very driven individual and want to make something of myself so I just keep on going. Having goals has helped me a lot. Prepping for my first show has given me even more drive to give it my all in the gym and in the kitchen. I would say that having a training partner who is similar to you in terms of mindset and goals is very important. This way you push each over to your limit and keep the intensity in your workouts. On the days where you feel a bit off, a training partner can really help you get back in the zone.
More From Jon Fildes
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
I am a much more confident person in every area of my life. Things that seemed tough before don’t seem as difficult anymore as I have that mental strength that I know I can do anything if I put your mind to it.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
There’s always the vanity of the mirror but beyond that it’s more about just trying to live a healthy lifestyle and feeling good about yourself. As well as this I’m going into personal training after university so I need to be a role model to clients.
Anything else you would like to share?
If you have a dream or a goal just go after it.
How can people contact you?