I’ve wanted tattoos for 8 years now. First I had to turn 18, then I had to find the right tattoo artist. Finding the right tattoo artist is tough. There are so many out there and I’m pretty picky with my artists. I spent years hunting and after almost giving up several times I found one. Then I had to decide what to get—but that actually wasn’t too hard, once I had found the right artist. Then I had to wait 5 months to get the tattoo because the good artists, it seems, are in high demand. But I’ve finally finally got it!
It’s a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) inspired skull. The holiday seems a bit morbid at first glance but it’s about celebrating life, not death, and the artwork I just find so damn beautiful—and it runs in the family. My grandmother is a Cuban bundle of energy with one of the most interesting life stories I’ve ever heard. Her outlook on life is inspirational and she’s one of the people I most respect most in the world. And the latin influence and passion for life runs through my family. When my cousin Alexei married Dan Boeckner a few years back they had a Day of the Dead themed wedding. That’s where I first wore the skull. Yep. A few years ago, this was me.
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.
We’ll let the pictures and the numbers do the talking this month. As you can see, some photo-shoots went better than others. Bed-head and caveman-hunch aside though we’re pretty happy with how things are going. I’ll post our measurements and the video below so you can get an idea of how monstrous we’re becoming.
We just started our August fat burning phase today. Fifteen minutes of HIIT training in the stairwell. Eight 30 second sprints with 90 second jogs in between. Up and down 22 floors over and over. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired. My legs feel like jelly and I’m quivering as I write this . . . that isn’t saying much though. My cardiovascular training has been pretty absent my entire life. It doesn’t take many stairs to have me gasping for breath. Jared could hear me from several flights ahead.
Jared and I just finished taking our 60-day progress pictures and we were blown away. We know what we look like now. We spend an embarrassing amount of time flexing our ‘guns’ in the mirror on a daily basis. Jared’s girlfriend teases us about it. And narcissism at its fullest – Payam developed a way of jumping so that he can see his abs. Since we’re seeing the change happen so gradually though it’s hard to remember what we looked like two months ago. These pictures reminded us that the program is working.
Our strength is increasing dramatically too. Over the course of the past four weeks alone my deadlift has gone from 261 pounds to 367 pounds. After the jump are the rest of the pictures and 5 of the most useful things we’ve learned about hitting the gym.
Muscle May is the first part of a four month bodybuilding experiment: Lean to Mean. What we’re doing is trying to pack on lean muscle mass in the most efficient way that we can, and learn as much as possible during the process.
We’re experimenting with many different workout and diet approaches to see what works best. We’ve looked into Arthur Jones, Anthony Ellis, Timothy Ferris, Sean Nalewanyj, Mike Mentzer, Vince Delmonte and JP Clifford. Many of their approaches conflict with one another though, making the research process quite challenging.
We’re really pleased with our results but we know we still have a long way to go and a lot more research and experimentation to do. We’ve already made several changes for our next video segment, Jacked Julune, which takes place in June and July.
If you have any suggestions or questions please leave a comment. This is an ongoing process and we’d love to get feedback. You may have noticed that there are (quite) a few cuts in the dialogue. Um. We’re working on it.
Check out the final results here.