Lifestyle Prior To Change
I had a very sedentary lifestyle. I played video games all day and drank nearly 12 soft drinks a day. I could barely run a half mile without being winded. Rarely, when I played sports with my friends, I was always the slowest and worst player. I was always the fat kid who was picked last.
What was your low point or turning point?
My lowest point would have to be when my nickname became “Fat Matt”. I would go to the pool and be afraid to take my shirt off to swim. It didn’t faze me at first but after awhile it started to sink in and I realized “Wow, I’m one complete lazy slob. I need to do something about this.” Also…my grandma called me husky.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
One difficulty was that I was homeschooled in high school so it was really easy to slip into a “Be lazy and sit down all day” kind of mentality because I didn’t have to get up and move around like other teenagers had to when they went to school.
- Transformation Start: When I started hitting the gym near the end of summer in 2009, I went with my brother David (I love you) and he showed me the ropes and really got me into the gym. I did not have much knowledge about what I was doing at all and made mistakes like not working every muscle in my body with the same amount of care. I also discovered I could not bench the bar more than 12 times.
- Milestone: After a few months of lifting, I finally realized that working the lower half of your body is just as important as the upper half. I started treating every muscle in my body with the same amount of love.
- Milestone: In the beginning of January 2010, I started seeing my fat levels drop and really seeing some major improvement in my physique. I also started focusing more on my diet by educating myself on what I must eat to get enough protein and fats to keep the muscle while I’m dropping the fat
- Milestone: When spring came around in 2010. My physique has drastically changed. My abs started to show, I could finally bench 135lbs ten times, and I could deep squat 185 ten times.
- Milestone: Around April 2010, I finally achieved defined abs. Hello 6 pack! My abs were showing and super defined now. I continued to try and cut off the rest of the fat I had on me. I could finally run a 5K without having to stop and rest.
- Transformation End: In May 2010, I had finally achieved my transformation. I dropped from 178lbs of pure fat to a lean and mean 140lbs. I dropped my body fat percentage from 26% to 6%. I could run 4 miles straight without having to rest. I was finally cut.
My self confidence rose as much as my bodyfat dropped. There’s not much better in this world than being comfortable with yourself.
Matthew's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
After gaining some gym knowledge and some trial and error. I found a 4 day split that worked really well for me. I used a workout where I’d start with one big, heavy set that would really stimulate my inner muscle fibers and then I’d move into a fat burning technique called tri setting. Tri setting is where you perform 3 exercises for one muscle group back-to-back with no rest in between the exercises. Please note that with tri setting you must do lower weight do be able to perform all the reps in each set. I warmed up with 2 light sets of the first exercise before every muscle group.
- Monday - Biceps, Triceps and Abs.
- Tuesday - Legs and Calves.
- Wednesday - Rest.
- Thursday - Chest and Shoulders.
- Friday - Back.
- Saturday - Rest day: Low intensity cardio morning and night.
- Sunday - Rest.
|Monday - Biceps, Triceps and Abs|
|EZ Bar Curl||4||12/10/8/6|
|Alternate Dumbbell Curl (Tri-set)||3||12-15|
|Reverse Barbell Curl (Tri-set)||3||12-15|
|Cable Hammer Curl with Rope (Tri-set)||3||12-15|
|Close Grip Bench Press||4||12/10/8/6|
|Rope Tricep Extension (Tri-set)||3||12-15|
|Diamond Push Ups (Tri-set)||1||Failure|
|Decline Sit Up (Tri-set)||3||20|
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||Failure|
|Tuesday - Legs and Calves|
|Squat Lunge (Tri-set)||3||12 (6 per leg)|
|Dumbbell Step Up (Tri-set)||3||12 (6 per leg)|
|Leg Extension (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Stif Leg Deadlift||3||10/8/6/6|
|Standing Calf Raise||3||12-15|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||12-15|
|Thursday - Chest and Shoulders|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Pec Dec or Dumbbell Flye (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Decline Push Ups (Tri-set)||3||Failure|
|Dumbbell Front Raise (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Dumbbell Lateral Raise (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Dumbbell Reverse Flye (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Friday - Back|
|Wide Grip Pull Up||3||Failure|
|Bent Over Barbell Row (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Seated Cable Row (Tri-set)||3||12|
|Chin Ups (Tri-set)||3||Failure|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
I used a combination of 30 minute low-intensity cardio sessions when I wake up in the morning and again before bedtime. I would do roughly 10-15 50 yard sprints for HIIT (High intensity interval training) after every workout except legs (They were too sore to do sprints, haha). This cardio routine really hit hard for me.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- The first thing I learned is that…cardio sucks, haha. I learned to love it though.
- I learned that if you want to make a change in your body, it doesn’t happen quickly. You have to keep persisting and you have to be determined if you’re going to transform yourself.
- I learned that proper form is always necessary for good results. You may be able to cheat your way up to some heavier weight, but you can’t cheat your muscles into getting bigger.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
After I reached my goal I fell in love with weight lifting and decided to enter a teen bodybuilding contest. I started bulking to gain muscle for about 8 months. Now I just started a cutting routine to drop the fat that I gained while bulking for my bodybuilding competition that is coming up on July 16th.
Matthew's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
My diet approach was very similar to the keto diet. I got most of my calories from protein and a little fat. I kept my protein intake at 1.5 grams per pound of body weight and tried not to take in too many carbs a day. I also made sure to drink lot of water a day. At least 1.5 gallons.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
- Meal #1: 2 servings of liquid egg whites.
- Meal #2: 1 piece of wheat bread toast. 2 eggs. 1 serving liquid egg whites.
- Meal #3: Whey protein shake.
- Meal #4: 2 grilled chicken breast on 2 wheat buns. A serving of some kind of green vegetable. I usually liked peas or broccoli.
- Meal #5: Post workout shake with two scoops of whey protein.
- Meal #6: *Biggest meal of the day* 2 grilled chicken breasts or some kind of fish. 2 wheat buns. A serving of Greek yogurt. Serving of green vegetable. 1 sweet potato.
- Meal #7: 1 serving of canned chunk chicken breast or tuna. 1 serving of almonds.
- Meal #8: 1 scoop of casein protein before bed.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I learned to make this pretty tasty shake that I sometimes made after my morning cardio session. I blended up egg whites, blackberries, 1 scoop whey protein, 1 serving Greek yogurt. It was my little treat.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Dieting is tough. Don’t think of it as a “Diet”. Think of it as a “Lifestyle.”
- Bad habits are hard to break…but eventually with enough willpower and dedication, you can break the soda addiction, you can break the cookie addiction, you can break the pizza addiction. Whatever your obstacle is, you can over come it.
- Chicken gets boring really quickly...
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
I didn’t allow myself any…but nobody is perfect and sometime you just have to give into a double cheeseburger.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
- Creatine monohydrate
- 100% Whey protein
- Casein protein
- A multivitamin
- A thermogenic
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Don’t worry about the struggle. Keep your eyes on the prize and the rewards will come faster than you know.
- Always stay focused and motivated. Look at other people’s transformations. Talk to them and try and get motivation for them. Never give up hope.
- Education yourself on the proper exercise and diet for the particular goal you want to achieve.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
Look at other people’s transformations. Look at the progress you’ve made. Get a lifting partner to encourage you (Thank you Tim. I love you bro). Always keep your head up and believe that you can pull through this obstacle in your life.
More From Matthew Braden
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
I know this is kind of cliché but now I feel confident in my body and I don’t have to hide when I’m at the beach or the pool. I also proved to myself that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. This transformed not only my body, but my heart and mind.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
What motivates me is seeing how far I’ve come and knowing that there is much more in store.
Anything else you would like to share?
I’d like to thank my dad for helping me to get into the gym and for always encouraging me…and for paying for supplements and gym memberships. I’d like to thank my best friend and lifting partner, Tim, for always pushing me forward. To my brother David - I will get bigger than you one day, I promise...
Lastly I’d like to say, that I do nothing on my own strength. I’m blessed by God with this life I have. I live my life with Grace in mind everyday.
My motto: Train hard, pray harder.
How can people contact you?
You can contact me on my facebook if you want to ask me anything about my transformation. www.facebook.com/thatismattisthat
Mathew your fitness routine looks great... I'm curious to follow your supplement intake. You look great! Keep it up!
Nice abs and biceps Matt! You transformed yourelf! If I knew you from before workouts and after I wouldn't recognize you unless you told me! I could still beat you down to a pulp!
congrats dude. looking good. tried one of ur workouts, and really felt it. prolly going to continue with them
Dude I'm pumped right now! If you can do it, I know I can power through this last couple months of hard core training and get down to 10% BF from 15%!
Thanks brother! Keep rocking, you're really inspirational.
Hello, I have just started Matthew's workout and i added some ABS workout... I will post my transformation pictures soon... sorry for my bad english...)))
A true inspiration, i can relate to you in so many ways dude, i currently way 184lbs and have struggled to lose (or lower) my body fate percentage, dont really have access to a gym where im living now, so im using a makeshift home gym, consisting of a incline/decline bench, barbell, 2xdumbell and free weights. saving up for a bench that includes a leg curl and leg extenssion part. now all i needed is motivation, and coming across this artical, hit home in so many ways, cos i too am very self concious bout the way i look, and knowing that you set yourself a goal and achieved it, makes my goal that much more brighter and visible to achieve, so thank you dude.
just one question, how often did you change your workout?
or did you just add extra reps/sets everytime.
peace out bro
Ash, from South Africa
Your an inspiration matt, seeing transformations such as this makes me realise that I can do it! Reading this has given me the kick up the "arse" I needed, thanks for sharing with us and all the best for the future, the UK is with you!!!
Matthew is all but unrecognizable from 2 years ago. GReat job!