Body Transformation: Zach Stubbs Body Transformation

In only 2 years, Zach Stubbs was able to add a substantial amount of muscle mass while remaining lean and dropping his bodyfat to 7%.
Editor's Note: Everyone is different and these results may not be typical for the average person. To achieve these results you need to be willing to put in the work both in the gym and in the kitchen. Use this transformation for motivation for you to make the changes you want!

Before Stats

  • 14
  • 5'9"

After Stats

  • 23
  • 5'9"
  • 165 lbs
  • 7%

Lifestyle Prior To Change

If I had one word to describe myself during those days it would be careless. I ate everything that could add inches to my waist without the first thought that it was truly destroying my gym efforts. I was overconfident in that imagining I could do things my own way and get results.

What was your low point or turning point?

The turning point in my life was the day I grew to respect nature and the circle of life. I realized we have one life to live and I would not take another day for granted. All energy is only borrowed, one day you have to give it back.

Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?

Yes, dealing with the stress of loss can do terrible things to body as a whole. Stress in my opinion is literally killing you slowly.

Transformation timeline:

  • Transformation Start: I started working out with weights during my 2002 freshman year of high school track. I began with no gifted genetics, no knowledge, nothing. Of course several years later I was still lifting weights with no comprehension of the proper way to lift and eat so naturally I had no results.
  • Milestone: In July of 2008, I decided to devote myself to an idea. The idea was to no longer ignore the nutritional aspect of bodybuilding with no turning back. I would begin to “train” and never again call hitting the weights as working out.
  • Milestone: Towards the end of 2008 I had made considerable changes in my overall body composition. However, I knew that my understanding of clean eating could be taking to new levels as could my abs.
  • Milestone: By late summer of 2009 I had learned much from fitness websites, magazines, etc. But I was compelled by my initial results to train harder and more frequently. The end result was my body had entered into a state of overtraining which is not easy to recover from if your an avid gym goer.
  • Milestone: The passing of my father in early summer of 2010 gave me new direction. I would live my life chasing after unimaginable dreams and continue using my lifestyle to make him proud.  
  • Transformation End: I obtained my personal training certification through the American Council on Exercise, and I am in the best shape of my life following my current tailored training plan.

Zach's Training And Cardio Approach

What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?

In a word - intensity. Intense on/off upper body, lower body split into short 30-45 minute sessions. Every training day consisted of varying intensity techniques i.e. drop sets, forced reps, rest pause, negatives.

Zach Stubbs performing curls.

Lower Body A - Biceps, Forearms, Legs and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
One Arm Preacher Curl * 1 8-20
Reverse Grip Cable Curl ** 1 10-20
Seated Calf Raise *** 1 10-20
Leg Curl **** 1 8-12
Squat **** 1 8-12
Hanging Leg Raise **** 1 Failure
Weighted Medicine Ball Crunch **** 1 12-20
Notes:

* True failure with FR/negatives.

** Steady tempo.

*** Slow focusing on full stretch.

**** Rest pause.

Upper Body A - Back, Triceps, Shoulders, Chest and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
Behind Neck Lat Pull Down * 1 8-15
Decline Skullcrusher * 1 8-15
Barbell Upright Row ** 1 8-15
Incline Smith Machine Bench Press * 1 8-15
Deadlift ** 1 4-8
Cable Crunch * 1 10-20
Decline Reverse Crunch * 1 Failure
Notes:

* Rest pause.

** Drop set.

Lower Body B - Biceps, Forearms, Legs and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Curl * 1 8-15
Seated Wrist Curl ** 1 8-15
Leg Press Calf Raise *** 1 10-20
Seated Leg Curl * 1 8-15
Leg Press ** 1 4-8
Cable Chop (Failure each side) **** 1 Failure
Notes:

* Drop set.

** Rest pause.

*** 5 second negative.

**** Explosive movement.

Upper Body B - Back, Triceps, Shoulders, Chest and Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
Decline Barbell Bench Press * 1 8-15
Smith Machine Press Behind Neck * 1 8-15
Bench Dip * 1 8-15
Close Grip Push Down * 1 8-15
Leg Tucks on Flat Bench ** 1 Failure
Side Bridge (Failure each side) 1 Failure
Notes:

* Rest pause.

** Full contraction at top.

Zach StubbsPlease detail your cardio approach during your transformation?

High-intensity interval training or HIIT is the only way to go. I use a before breakfast cardio approach 2 times a week. Key thing about this approach is to have around 10 grams of a fast digesting protein right before your session to help stave off muscle breakdown.

Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. Do not abuse stretching! Stretching helps to length your ROM on each exercise which in turn stimulates more muscle fibers. The more fibers you can active the more you can grow. I will admit that I scarcely even warmed up in my initial days.
  2. I learned from trial and error that my body does not response well to a 5-6 day split. This was entirely to much for my nervous system to handle. Once I began a on/off training regime, my body rebounded and I have never felt better.
  3. From week to week continuously strive to progress through more weight or repetitions on every given exercise. The human body is an extremely adaptable organism that adapts surprisingly faster than we think. In addition, the human body will only adapt (build new muscle/shed fat) from a stress that it is not accustomed to. Pay respect to that fact and the results will come. 

How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?

Currently, I am following a Dorian Yates inspired style of training using one set for each muscle group taken to true failure. At first I used a six day training split much like the present day routine of most pro bodybuilders. Again this was to much for my body to handle. Soon after I began to notice over training symptoms so I had to listen to my body and not bull head my way through it.

Zach's Diet And Nutrition Approach

What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?

Six to seven meals daily spread every 2 hours centering around a lean protein source and a slow digesting carbohydrate at most meals except 4 to 5 hours approaching bed time. Also, I like to throw in a small amount of healthy fats and a very slow digesting green vegetable at most meals excluding pre and post-workout.

Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):

  • Breakfast 1 (7am): Whey protein shake with one banana.
  • Breakfast 2 (7:30am): 3 whole eggs, 2 egg whites, 2 cups oatmeal, sliced strawberry, pineapple, and blueberry as topping.
  • Meal 3 (10am): Mix protein shake, 1 apple, 1 cup quinoa, with green peas, 1 tbs peanut butter.
  • Meal 4 (1pm): 6 oz venison with 2 slices 100% whole wheat bread, 1 cup black beans with green beans, 1 tbs peanut butter.
  • Pre-workout (3pm): 2 scoops Jack3d, 3 grams glutamine; (3:15)-one scoop whey protein, 5 grams BCAAs, 1 cup wheat germ.
  • Post-workout: 1 scoop whey protein, ½ scoop casein protein, 1 scoop CellMass, 2 scoops Vitargo, 5 grams BCAAs, 3 grams glutamine.
  • Meal 5 (6pm): 4oz salmon, ½ cup quinoa, 2 organic figs, 1 cup broccoli.
  • Meal 6 (8pm): 6 oz venison, 2 cups spinach, 1 tbs olive oil vinegar dressing, 1 oz almonds.
  • Meal 7 (10:30pm): 1 scoop casein protein, 2 tsp flax seed oil.

Zach Stubbs

Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?

Yes, I did not respect the fact that insulin sensitivity falls in the latter parts of the day. This was beneficial to me in two ways: first, in my initial days I gave no thought that the carbohydrates I ingested in my late nightly meals would be more readily stored as body fat. As a result, my midsection suffered. Secondly, when you go to bed in a more carb depleted state you maximize your natural growth hormone release which was important for me to both build muscle and lean out.

Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:

  1. Nutrition is more important than I originally thought. I was getting in eggs and meat at most 2 times per week. This was a sad mistake. Once I made 3 whole eggs and a lean red meat a daily part of my diet I made improvement.
  2. I learned green vegetables help slow down the digesting process of the foods at a particular meal. This is turn can help keep insulin levels extremely low which aided me in the leaning out process.
  3. Keeping carbohydrate intake low to none in the hours before sleep helped increase my natural growth hormone levels. Studies have shown improvements in muscle mass and fat loss with increased GH secretion. At first, I would unknowingly gobble up all kinds of carbohydrate sources leading up to bedtime which hindered my gains. Now I have learned that if you want to master something you must first learn how. 

Did you allow yourself cheat meals?

Very, very seldom would I allow myself to enjoy a fine tasting pizza.

What supplements did you use during your transformation?

Advice For Others

Zach StubbsWhat are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?

  1. Keep a workout log. A training log is vital for steady progress and keeping you goal oriented.  
  2. Be patient. The mistake I made in my initial days was pushing to hard to fast. Give yourself ample days off and your body will reward you for it.
  3. Do not neglect nutrition. The well known saying that bodybuilding is 90% nutrition is absolutely true. Your body cannot grow without being given the proper tools to support it.

How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?

I stay motivated because I know I have only one life to live. Everyday that is given is a chance to doing something good. My advice on having trouble staying on track is to open your eyes and mind. There is a much larger world out there than you could possibly imagine. But the seed of greatness begins in your mind as an idea.

More From Zach Stubbs

What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?

I have energy all day everyday. Eating clean and healthy can do dramatic effects to your life.

What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?

A goal. A goal to make myself more than just a man. I devoted myself to an ideal and there is no turning back.

Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to share a poem in remembrance of my father.

The camp fire is dying

The leaves have all fallen

The scrapes have gone cold on the hill

That old buck that I hunted

That I rattled and grunted

Lord he's out there chasing does still

I was sure I had him figured

I even thought I had him triggered

But in the end he gave me the slip

Lord that’s the reason

I need one more season

Just one more fall on the Flint

Lord, come next fall with my plans and all

I will for sure hang his head on my wall

But Lord just in case

He again wins the race

I will see you here same time and same place

Lord don’t forget my name

My prayer will be the same

I’ll  need one more fall on the Flint

How can people contact you?

I can be contacted through my Facebook page.

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13 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 03/23/2014 - 14:59
Denis

Hey there! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

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Posted Sat, 05/11/2013 - 10:16
Joel

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Posted Sun, 02/10/2013 - 06:23
Bent

I thinking of starting my own transformation, looking at all these transformations are a huge boost! But everybody is talking about measuring carbs, protein and all that! How do you do that? How would you know?? And how early did you star using protein shakes ?

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Posted Wed, 09/05/2012 - 11:31
Zach Stubbs

Trevor, yes brown rice is an excellent alternative for quinoa. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, quiona and steel cut oats can all form cornerstones as complex carbohydrate sources loaded with nutrients in your overall nutrition.

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Posted Tue, 05/29/2012 - 19:03
Trevor Turpin

When it comes to the diet would you say that brown rice would be an alright alternative for quinoa? I know quinoa offers a lot more than rice but what are your thoughts?

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Posted Sat, 11/26/2011 - 18:59
Zach Stubbs

Thank you Seth, very kind words. They are appreciated and will not be forgotten.

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Posted Thu, 12/01/2011 - 19:34
Seth Armstrong

Your Welcome Zach, and God Bless

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Posted Fri, 11/18/2011 - 18:55
Seth Armstrong

Zach, first of all I have to say great inspirational story you gave that hit home in my heart, ever since my cousin passed away I dedicated my life to lift and get into shape. I got to say your a great motivator not only to me to continue to purse but others also. Thank you

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Posted Wed, 07/20/2011 - 09:37
zach stubbs

Thank you Kenny, first of all to make a long story short your goal should be to eat "clean", i.e. get rid of all sugars/simple carbs from your diet 24/7. Next make sure you are sound in your macronutrient split, getting in as a general rule 1g for every pound of bodyweight as your first priority, then making sure you are getting in a varying amount of slow digesting carbs especially earlier in the day, last but not least have around 30% of your total calories from healthy fats(nuts,olive oil, etc)-in a nutshell try to have say a tablespoon of a clean peanut butter with most meals.

Eat clean, eat smart, and be dedicated and your body will transform. Godbless

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Posted Mon, 07/18/2011 - 01:27
Kenny

Very Nice Transformation and Poem!

I had a Question about Nutrition?

I am new to training and I have read quite a bit and learned a pretty good basic lifting routine that I have been using and slowly adding more specific lifts as I progress. I am seeing some considerable gains since I am just starting out and would like to get a better nutrition plan. What do you suggest for a guideline or how would you map out say a weeks diet?

-Thanks

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Posted Fri, 03/18/2011 - 23:35
Rollo

Great transformation mate, and that's a really touching tribute to your dad at the end there. Good stuff.

Regarding your training, did you find you had to specifically 'cut' to lower your BF% or did you just stick to a routine and diet consistently? This has always been for me the key area of confusion. Any specific tips to offer on that front?

I want to incorporate some good cardio in to my workout (4 day split) but I absolutely could not perform HIIT before breafast - even with a quick dash of whey. It would seem that doing HIIT on my 'rest' days would make sense but I don't want to over do it.

Cheers!

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Posted Wed, 03/30/2011 - 22:16
zach stubbs

Dear, Rollo
I would say that no I did not have to specifically cut to lower my BF%. Being consistent with my routines and taking my diet to the next level were the keys to my success. There were times when I thought I had my diet right then later on make adjustments and improving even more. However, for making drastic improvements in bodyfat I found carb cycling to be epically wonderful. Cheers to you mate hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 03/06/2011 - 18:24
david11

thanks a lot. i really needed this and learned a lot about eating healthy: no matter how hard you train, you still won't see results if you're not strict on your diet. thanks a lot.