I'm Stuart B. and this is my story
How many months’ progress do your pictures represent? What were your stats for each picture?
They represent 24 months.
In my before picture, I was 171.5 pounds and approximately 16-17% body fat.
In the second picture, I was 186.5 pounds and 18% body fat and ended up at 163.6 pounds and roughly 10-11% body fat in my after picture.
What has happened so far on the program?
When I first started lifting, I tried to bulk up but didn’t know about macros, calorie counting, myfitnesspal, progressive overload, etc. I ended up gaining 10 pounds and my posture improved tremendously, but I was still very weak. This phase happened from July 2015 to the beginning of 2017.
In 2016 I was at my heaviest (around 190 pounds), but I was still fat and weak and was not counting macros properly. I would occasionally be able to increase my lifts, but I usually ended up doing the same exact thing in the gym from week to week.
I also wasn’t going to an actual gym; I worked out in my apartment for a while and then graduated to the apartment gym before getting an actual gym membership. I almost quit a few times because of how frustrated I was. I didn’t have a scientific understanding around training, which I desperately needed.
That’s when I came across Mike Matthews and his work. He stressed focusing on progressive overload and working primarily in the 4-6 rep range. I learned that your body will not respond and build muscle unless you grow stronger. The premise is so basic, yet a lot of guys miss it. I see some of craziest stuff in the gym and it makes me cringe. I just want to hand them Bigger Leaner Stronger!
Mike also stressed that you cannot effectively bulk at 16% body fat. That was my main issue. I was shoveling down food, but my body didn’t respond because I wasn’t actually primed for a bulk. I was just skinny fat.
So, I decided to start over. I cut down from 180 pounds and 16% body fat to 159 pounds and about 10% body fat. I just recently got done cutting (it took me around 16 weeks).
My body now looks 100 times better at my lowest weight! Imagine that! As a tall, lanky guy, I thought I would look emaciated–but nothing could be further from the truth.
I started my cut eating around 3,200 calories and finished it eating about 1,600 calories. At that point, I couldn’t cut any longer. My strength went down (especially all my chest-related lifts) and I felt tired from the lack of carbs.
I then utilized reverse dieting and intermittent fasting, and as a result my strength has skyrocketed. From January 2017 until now, my deadlift increased from 90 to 250, my squat increased from 95 to 165, and my bench press increased from 95 to 150. I expect these numbers to go up even more as I move back into a bulk.
I stopped doing the military press since it was bothering the teres muscle in my shoulder at the top of the lift. When I stopped I was able to do 100 pounds for 5 reps. I now do landmine presses and they feel better on my shoulders.
What workout split from the book did you use?
The 3-day split: Chest/Shoulders, Back/Biceps, and Legs with HIIT thrown in 2 times per week.
What, if anything, almost kept you from buying the book or starting the program?
Nothing. I knew Bigger Leaner Stronger was legit. I had done a lot of research prior to buying the program by listening to Mike’s podcast and other guys including Greg O’ Gallagher, Christopher Walker, Radu Antoniu, and Aesthetic Professional.
What do you like most about the program?
The program is based around science-backed research. That’s what really resonated with me. I’m the type of person that needs to get to the bottom of things.
Results wise, I’m pretty happy with my progress so far. I can actually see my serratus muscles, my chest is starting to round out more, and my back and lats are finally starting to develop.
How does this program compare with others you’ve tried?
There is no comparison. You go into the gym, lift heavy, and get out. I love the workouts because they truly elicit a response from your body. I now enjoy going the gym because I’m able to constantly push myself by getting that extra rep or increasing the weight.
A lot of people think you have to eat certain foods to lose weight or get abs. A lot of people also think you can’t get stronger in a cut. These are two of the biggest myths in the fitness industry!
It’s all about calories in, calories out, and some cardio. Also, 80-90% of your diet should be wholesome foods! I eat a lot of steak, potatoes, chicken, fish, bison, turkey, etc. and always try to get some veggies in as well. Cheating is okay, too! Just do it in moderation.
How has what you’ve achieved with your body changed other areas of your life?
My confidence, energy, and attitude have all improved.
I swear, I could never understand why guys in the gym grunted and let out all kinds of weird noises. After lifting heavy and not screwing around, I now get it. I’m that guy now, just not as obnoxious. 😀
Who would you recommend this program to and why?
Anybody who is skinny fat, weak, confused, down in the dumps, or wants to do things the right way.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Building your body takes time, but it also takes knowledge, commitment, and some grit. Lifting in the 4-6 rep range is not for the faint of heart, let me assure you. Heavy weight lifting isn’t always flowers and rainbows, either.
Not everyone has the courage to step into a squat rack and give it their all, but everyone has the ability to learn how. If you’re reading this, don’t give up. Embrace the days where you feel like Thanos, because it isn’t always like that. Some days you’re going to feel weaker than others!
Remember this: it’s a marathon and not a sprint, just like most things in life that are worthwhile. Most importantly, have fun! Be loose, smile, and don’t ever take it too seriously.