Lean to Mean was a four month bodybuilding experiment—our ectomorph transformation, as we’ve learned it’s often called. We studied the bodybuilding masters, got help from personal trainers, studied research papers, books, e-books and we meticulously recorded EVERYTHING. We wanted to pit conventional wisdom against cutting edge controversial research and figure out what worked. Well. We still have a long way to go and several really exciting theories and programs to test, but phase one is done!
(update: we’ve come a long way since then. Read the updated story here)
And you might notice the new addition to our two-man bodybuilding crew crunched over off to the right. He started his journey last year when he and I planned out a fat loss program that led to 20lbs of fat loss in one month (more on that here). Willem’s an active and adventurous guy with a body bursting with fast-twitch muscle fibers. He runs, bikes, climbs rocks, plays sports and loves the outdoors. He also has the ability to pop on pounds of fat faster than he can eat a donut—and damn can he ever eat donuts fast! He’s coming at bodybuilding from the opposite side of things and we wanted to include him in the experiment.
Jared and I, scrawny nerdlings that we are, after researching our hearts out, decided to focus on short intense strength training workouts at the gym no more than 3 times a week. Willem spent the summer in British Columbia planting trees. Long brutal days tacked one next to another spent working his muscles harder than they’ve ever been worked. So we’ve got ectomorphs vs mesomorphs, manual labour vs HIIT, and strength training vs rock climbing.
So, what we’ve got here are before and after pictures and before and after measurements. We’ve all gotten bigger. We’ve all gotten leaner. And we’re pretty happy with our results. We’ve gone from bony to beastly (or at least we’d like to think we did) in just one summer.
Billy-Shane “The Beast” Duquette
I’ve been a stick my entire life. As bony as they come. The before picture to the left is actually my best effort of trying to be a beast (mane and all) after sporadically trying to gain weight for years. I don’t mean to say that I was on the most organized or intelligent plan out there. In fact, knowing what I know now, I know that I wasn’t. A couple of years ago I would have seen this BEFORE picture and thought “damn, I wish I could be even that muscular.” Now, after just one summer of training and dieting intelligently, I’m finally well on my way to looking the way I’ve wanted to since I was a kid. I’ve always been an artist rocker sort, but now I can finally go from Sid Vicious to Glenn Danzig. I errr . . tried the devilock in highschool . . . but it didn’t quite do it for me. Or um anyone else, for that matter.
The before and after pictures were taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. No tricks or gimmicks. We didn’t photoshop the pictures, either. The lighting set-up is as identical as we could get it in both photos as well, but there are some large windows to the right of us throwing out different lighting. And the room grew quite a bit along with us.
Neck: 14.25″ to 15″
Shoulders: 43.5″ to 47.5″
Bicep: 12.25″ to 13.25″
Chest: 37″ to 38.25″
Waist: 30″ to 29.25″
Hips: 36″ to 37.25″
Thigh: 18.75″ to 21″
Calf: 13.5″ to 14″
And these guys are the 8 mandatory bodybuilding poses that are done at shows. Similar to the other photos, our muscles and abs aren’t painted on or edited in any way, but we did try our very best for these ones and we used intense processing techniques and lighting. We figured that an empty stomach is the most accurate portrayal for the before and afters, but hell, trying our best is fun too. We’ll shoot another round of these after phase two and see how much we can improve upon them.
Jared “Powerhouse” Polowick
Jared started off with the body of a scruffy but naked Ollie Sykes. A hardcore singer too, it always seemed to suit him. He dressed and looked the part. In fact, Were it not for our matching levi’s black 30″ ultra-skinny jeans and matching In Flames shirts perhaps Jared and I never would have met. Sadly, little Jared wasn’t too healthy. Bigger Jared is. He’s got more energy, more colour, he’s discovered a new trick to boost his vocal performance, and he’s way way better at moving furniture. Our big move would have had to have been much smaller had we all not just put on all this weight. And now Jared’s going from Ollie Sykes to Henry Rollins, the bodybuilder that invented hardcore music. Let’s hope some tattoos join us for the ride.
Neck: 13.75″ to 14.125″
Shoulders: 38.75″ to 41″
Bicep: 11″ to 12.5″
Chest: 33.75″ to 35.25″
Waist: 27.5″ to 29.25″
Hips: 35.5″ to 37″
Thigh: 18.75″ to 21.875″
Calf: 13.75″ to 14.875″
Willem “The Machine” Shepherd
This before picture might look a little out of place. This handsome man on the left (with surprisingly poor posture for someone with such impressive core strength) is the already lean Willem. Willem lived with Jared and I for almost two years and has just now packed up for BC and Australia. He’s a mesomorph sort of guy with a couple of endomorph characteristics. I’ve been to the gym with him in the past, and it’s a little disheartening watching him do the exact same program as I am and having his muscles double in size while mine barely seem to change at all. It’s also pretty damn exciting. Seeing the abs come out from under the flabs blew my mind, and living with this not-so-little monster helped inspire me to grow once and for all. While his before picture is still quite a bit larger than our after ones, his after picture really takes the cake. After four months of gut-wrenching tree planting he’s certainly gotten leaner and meaner, so he fits right in. He’s also growing out his hair, which makes me happy to no end. I’m ecstatic about having someone to share my pain in hearing “____, you should really get a haircut. I liked it shorter. You were so handsome once!”
Neck: 14.25″ to 15″
Shoulders: 45″ to 46″
Bicep: 14.25″ to 14.5″
Chest: 38.5″ to 38.25″
Waist: 32.75″ to 32.75″
Hips: 39.75″ to 39.25″
Thigh: 22.5″ to 21.5″
Calf: 15.5″ to 15.25″
Alright so we’ve shown you the results. How we did it should follow, I know, but the research, methods, tips and tricks we’ve uncovered and put to the test could fill books. We’ll share as much as we can, as soon as we can. My next post will feature the rapid fat loss tips that allowed me to drop 10+ pounds in 3 weeks while improving my strength and having me feeling healthier than ever. They’ll work whether you’re buff or a chubster, an ectomorph or an endomorph. Similar techniques helped both Willem and Payam lose 20 pounds in 30 days although with less attention payed to muscle retention. Jared’s 5′ tall girlfriend lost 12+ pounds and shrunk out of her clothes faster than she could replace them. I’ll share both sets of techniques so you can decide which better suits your needs.
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