Lean to Mean Finale! A Summer’s Worth of Packing on Muscle and Tearing Off Fat. From Bony to Beastly.

Posted by W. Shane Duquette

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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Saturday, September 4th, 2010
70 Responses to “Lean to Mean Finale! A Summer’s Worth of Packing on Muscle and Tearing Off Fat. From Bony to Beastly.”
  1. shingi
    January 3rd, 2012
    6:40 pm

    guys i just wanna know what was typical day diet ? and your weeekly workout routine ? i just started gym and i wanna pump hard for summer time . just need your help
    thank you

  2. Love Hissom
    January 5th, 2012
    2:02 am

    It’s good to see someone else who thinks like I do. With so much ignorance in the world these days it’s nice to know there’s someone out there who isn’t an idiot.

  3. will
    March 30th, 2012
    11:51 pm

    found you guys off bodybuilding.com and i wanted to see if willem had any tips for me before i go planting in bc. i wanna maintain my mass…planning on taking BCAAs before i head out each day along with glutamine and whey and probably some extra snacks…i have a high metabolism and im an ectomorph so i dont want to loose all my hard earned muscle!

    thanks hope to hear from ya

  4. Willem
    April 1st, 2012
    9:43 am

    Hey Will.

    I guess one of the first things is that you compensate the amount of physical labour you are doing with the amount you eat. This means eating a LOT. From my experience, I was eating between 6-8k calories a day!.

    There should be a lot of food at camp, and take advantage of that. Definitely extra snacks are great, because you’ll find as much as you can eat, your body will be loving to burn off anything it can. I took whey for about 2 weeks but found it easier to just get seconds of camp food (we had a great cook).

    I know this doesn’t really fully answer your core question, how to MAINTAIN mass. Honestly, you will be doing a lot of sustained high level physical labour, so eat like a bear, drink water like you were born a fish, and worry the most about staying healthy and balanced.

    A big opportunity that tree planting can give you is to take that hard earned muscle and also convert any and all fat you have to make you a lean, mean, muscle machine.

    On a tangent, when I was planting I ended up making a list of gear to bring, its pretty extensive, even to to the point of a little overkill, but its a great reference:


    Happy Planting!

  5. […] gains through solid and natural workout and nutrition plans . We blogged about the process on our design studio blog as we progressed and got a lot of attention. Fast forward nearly two years and we’ve […]

  6. Abebe
    August 10th, 2012
    10:31 pm

    You guys are awesome. I’m an ectomorph too and an Ethiopian one at that (we aren’t known for being muscular). I’ve been dead set on splitting different muscle groups throughout three days. It took me four years working out with the football team in highschool to get from 145 to 155 lbs. Now over the summer I’ve gotten to 162 by eating a lot more without changing my workouts. Now I hit a plateau so I’m gonna try the full body workouts you suggest. I’m eighteen and six feet one inches. Do you think I’ve hit a weight at which I won’t see much more gains with your program?

  7. W. Shane Duquette
    August 11th, 2012
    11:32 am

    Not at all! Coming off a plateau is actually a great time to start a new program. You might not see 30 pounds, like some of our relative beginners do, but you’ll still see fantastic size and strength gains and a sweet athletic performance boost.

    You’ve probably got another 20 pounds in you until your gains really start to level out 🙂

  8. Abebe
    August 11th, 2012
    12:53 pm

    Thanks. Also I forgot to ask if leg press would be okay instead of squats. I tried squats for a while but once I got to heavier weights my lower back hurt and I couldn’t stimulate my legs enough. would the anabolic hormone production be impaired?

  9. W. Shane Duquette
    August 12th, 2012
    1:44 pm

    Oo squats are much better—but we’ll teach ya how to squat without your lower back hurting 🙂

    Our squat videos are pretty in-depth, and once you get the form nailed you’ll do great. If for some reason you still have issues we can figure out difference exercises.

  10. truth teller
    March 26th, 2013
    8:48 am

    if anyone believs this to be genuine needs their eyes tested. All they have done if anything is lost 1% of fat considering they are already skinny and the rest is lighting and tensing. clearly the photos on the left are darker and the people and standing losely and pretending to be sad. where as the after photos are brighter they are standing more up right and are tensing.

    please tell me what the difference is in teh Jareds photos? i mean really people are so gullible maybe they deserved to be fooled by this.!

  11. truth teller
    March 26th, 2013
    8:53 am

    tell me why are the after photos taken with proper lighting etc and the before photos are in a dull room with little lighting?

    they all seem pale in the before photo and some how have colour in the after one.

    also look at willem he is standing with a slight bend in the before and tensing in the after

    seriously these gimmicks anger me the way you can fool people and lie just amazes me!!

    theses have got to be the most obvious fraud photos out there

  12. truth teller
    March 26th, 2013
    8:56 am

    also hwy weren the ‘mandatory’ poses done in the before photos as well, so we really could see

  13. W. Shane Duquette
    April 23rd, 2013
    3:24 pm

    Hey man you should check out the YouTube videos! I agree – with photos it’s very hard to judge. We tried to keep it as consistent as possible, but you’re right – they aren’t identical (although the lighting, time of day, and effort spent flexing are). In the videos though you can see us moving around and taking measurements – big different between the before and after!

    Hope that helps 🙂

  14. W. Shane Duquette
    April 23rd, 2013
    3:32 pm

    Try looking at the legs! Hard to fake adding a few inches there.

    As far as posture goes, I think improving posture is a big part of any physical transformation! It’s not all about muscle and fat – posture plays a huge role 🙂

  15. W. Shane Duquette
    April 23rd, 2013
    3:33 pm

    We didn’t think to do all that posing at the beginning. Would have been cool, for sure!

  16. Jason
    September 8th, 2014
    11:05 pm

    Were these measurements relaxed or flexed?

  17. weighty
    December 14th, 2014
    12:16 am

    what lighting & camera equipment was used to take the photos? I see a diffuser umbrella on the top left

  18. dijet
    January 19th, 2015
    6:08 pm

    I can see that Ectomorph body doesn’t gain really big size then other. Only have lean muscle and great small shape only.

    However I find that this website is truth picture, not like other, from skinny to giant muscle.

  19. Alexus
    August 29th, 2016
    7:42 pm

    Good work guys! I appreciate the documentation & the effort. I’m a female & my preference is NOT FAIR. Why do I say this? Because my oveall preferred body type of the 6 is the “Before” of Shane, and the other 2 guys can’t do a thing to achieve this- it’s due to bone structure & natural metabolism. Shane “after” is too contrived for me. But I prefer the “after” for the other 2 guys to their “before” of Jared & Willem, because I prefer leaner men with light muscle definiton. Like most women I like the inverted V of broad shoulders (mostly from bone structure not muscle), deltoids, and a small waist & hips. Bird legs ok by me… broad hips & thick thighs look feminine to me. I like a “fast light & strong” look not a bulky block look. But a guy’s personality changes my perception of their body!

  20. […] underweight (like Jared and I were) and it takes some work to get into that healthy and fit range (our transformation). Once there though, it’s a blast, and pretty easy to maintain without getting all obsessive […]

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