My 12 Week Physique Transformation

Before and after photo for 12 week transformation from Jan to April.
Before and after photo for 12 week transformation from Jan to April.

So whilst most people enter the new year with the claim that they are going to get in shape this year, crack out a few workouts in January and then tail off to nothing. I decided I was going to commit to the cause and actually get myself in the best shape I have ever been.

Sure, I have been working out consistently for several years now, but always with other goals in mind such as running 10k, lifting certain weights, lifting the dinnie stones and other assorted goals. But never have I really had transforming my physique as my main goal.

So in January I decided I was going to put all other goals aside and concentrate on getting in the best shape of my life, this would involve dropping some fat and packing on as much muscle as possible. I decided if I was going to do this I would enter in to the Adonis Index Transformation Contest that was being run from January to April for 12 weeks.

During the 12 weeks I cut my calories down and tracked them meticulously with MyFitnessPal, I started off averaging around 1450 calories per day and this tapered up to about 1750 calories a day towards the end, doing a reverse taper diet. For several years now I have been following the Eat Stop Eat principle of a once or twice weekly 24 hour fast which I have found a great way to stay cleansed and also allow me to bank some extra calories for another day as I only eat one meal during those days.

Exercise wise I followed the workout plans from Adonis Index, whilst adding in some additional movements that I have found useful as well as going on one 5kish run per week and a couple bouts on the cross trainer.

Overall my hard work paid off quite well and I managed to drop from 67.1kg to 60.2kg, waist from 72.5cm to 67cm and hips from 81cm to 75cm. My shoulder measurement of 113cm and most other measurements stayed roughly the same, so my losses due to fat were compensated by some additional mass gain.

The results are certainly excellent and it shows that sometimes you have to reassess your goals and concentrate on them enough and you can get some excellent results. Whilst I still have several strength and fitness goals I want to achieve this year I will be making a determined effort to continue transforming my physique for the better.

The overall results for the contest should be up in a few weeks, I am hoping I place well because I worked my damned ass off!

CD's, Movies, Music

Sound City

I recently watched the documentary Sound City by Dave Grohl, it was definitely the best music documentary I have seen so far and a great insight in to a place where most of my favourite albums / artists were produced.

I also purchased the soundtrack which has songs by a lot of fantastic artists including Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks and obviously Dave Grohl. I think my favourite track at the moment is “You Can’t Fix This” with Stevie Nicks because it really gets stuck in your head.



I have been using MyFitnessPal for a few days now, it’s a bit of a faff tracking everything that goes in my mouth but the Android app and the website make things about as easy as they could be. Hopefully using this will keep me accountable with my calorie intake and keep me on track to losing some podge.


New Goal

I have decided on my major goal for the beginning of this year, its not particularly strength related or endurance related. The plan is to get my ass in shape and finally get a damned good body. More details to follow in a few weeks.

Also, I’m going to try and actually keep this blog more up to date as the posts are so sporadic!



Tonight I saw Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis at the Sheffield Cineworld cinema. I really enjoyed the movie as it had a good story (I’m a sucker for time travel) that wasn’t totally predictable unlike a lot of recent Sci-Fi movies.

There was plenty of good action scenes in the movie, but nothing over the top for the sake of explosions and I think the two main actors did well in their roles, although it must suck for Bruce Willis to slowly be fading into the background now and playing secondary roles.

The ending was pretty good and was a bit of a twist on what I expected was coming, overall the movie was definitely worth watching and I would recommend it.

Fitness, Grip

Pinch Swing

There are many variations of pinch movements than can be done to increase the strength of the thumb and fingers. Many of these variations are quite common with grip athletes such as loose pinching plates, the euro pinch (or equivalent) and the pinching of odd objects whether wide or narrow.

One movement that doesn’t seem to be quite common is the pinch swing. The movement effectively combines the kettlebell / dumbbell swing movement with a hand pinch.

The pinch swing is good for building up hand and forearm endurance as well as hitting the muscles in many different ways as the velocity of the weight changes throughout the movement. This can help break through some plateaus in your grip training and is worth trying out as part of a new programme.

For advice on correct swing form it is best to check out a video or article on kettlebell swings, but the idea is to use the muscles of the posterior chain to thrust a weight forward from being hinged at the hips, until your body is straight and then allow the weight to drop back down. The swing generally ends with the arms roughly level with the chest, higher then this is considered a high pull.

For the pinch movement I clamp some plates onto the centre of a 2” thick bar with some locking collars, and then load up both ends to the desired weight and VERY securely locking the outer collars. It is best to stick to smaller plates for this as you need to be able to get them comfortably between your legs, also due to the way this movement taxes the hands you will probably end up starting off around 30% or even less of your max pinch.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Start light! When I first started doing this I had them slip out my hands a few times, thankfully without anything/anyone getting hurt! I have never used more than about 50% of my 1RM two hand pinch for this movement, see the variations below for ways to make it harder without adding more weight.
  • Always chalk up properly between sets, chalk is pretty much mandatory for this exercise to maintain a strong grip on the plates.
  • Keep a few reps in the tank, if you go to failure you will end up loosing your grip on the plates and that won’t end well!
  • You will definitely feel a burn in the forearms and hands from this, make sure to learn the difference between getting a nice burn from it and your grip failing!

There are many ways to adjust the difficulty of this exercise, I will list a few variations that you can try once you have got the hang of it:

  • Vary the width to very wide or very narrow, this will change the focus to either more finger strength or more thumb strength. Along with the velocity changes due to the swinging this can be very difficult.
  • Use one hand instead of two, this also allows you to vary the weight for each hand if they aren’t evenly balanced.
  • Try to swing with more force and make an effort to pull the weight back down as hard as possible, this increases the velocity in both directions which can make the same weight require much more hand pressure to stop it flying out.
  • Instead of a swing do a high pull or even a snatch… be careful though as these are more likely to end up in you letting go and damaging yourself or your gym! Personally I see little merit in doing either of these compared with doing faster/harder swings as above, but I have tried them and the snatch is certainly interesting!

Bigfoot vs Polar Bear

Lets assume for a second that bigfoot exists, which I am lead to believe he does because he was in a movie when I was a kid, and everything I saw as kid was definitely true. Also all the people that have reported seeing him have been shotgun toting hunters with epic beards, and we all know that people with beards do not lie.

First lets start with looking at bigfoot who is basically what you would get if you mixed a gorilla with a human being. He is assumed to be brutishly strong and fairly intelligent, please note that bigfoot should not be confused with Adam Glass who currently is starting to resemble a half man / half bear hybrid.  Being that bigfoot is reported to live predominantly in forests in Northern America it is assumed that he is pretty good at hunting, coupled with the fact that he has never been caught can also indicate that he either has the ability to turn invisible or that he has acrobatic skills on a par with a ninja.

Now polar bears are a particularly confusing species to me, I have to think that any species that lives in the Arctic circle is either fucking retarded or extremely hardcore. For this comparison I will assume that they are indeed the latter and thus coupled with their extreme bodyweight and strength they would be a formidable foe.

The main weakness of a polar obviously would be the temperature due to it living the vast majority of its life in negative temperatures. Thus for this fight to be fair you would have to choose somewhere that is a balance between the two species natural climates. My vote would be for Scotland as its always damned cold there and there are plenty of forests that suit bigfoot quite well.

So we have looked at the physical and mental attributes of these two species and the next important aspect to me is the music they listen to whilst they train for this mighty fight. I have it on good authority that bigfoots favourite song is “The Forest Whispers My Name” by Cradle of Filth and that in general he enjoys black metal and thrash because he is sick of all the shit that hippys play in his forest.

As for polar bears, they are so far from civilization that they generally lack electricity and so don’t get much chance to listen to music. For some strange reason the vast majority of polar bears listen to rap music and almost all of them love the song “Cold As Ice” by M.O.P. Whether that is cool or not is totally in your hands, but I think not.

So in this fight we have two brutishly strong combatants who given the chance to train for this fight would be even stronger than normal. Bigfoot has a slight edge in terms of intelligence, being that he is a master escape artist and polar bears are too thick to catch a lift on a boat to the Bahamas. On the other hand the polar bear probably has the edge in terms of ferocity, in close quarters fighting my money would definitely be with the polar bear.

My personal opinion would be that the winner would totally depend on the rules of the fight. Should they be forced into a cage fight then I think the polar bear would win due to his ferocity, whereas if they were air dropped into a forest I think bigfoot has the cunning and skills to outwit the polar bear and royally fuck him up.

Biofeedback, Fitness

Set your goals!

Back around December/January time I started on a quest to get myself in shape, sometime in January Josh Hanagarne made a post on his blog about his goals for 2010 and asking what other people’s goals were.  In this post I set out a few goals that I was interested in achieving over the course of the year, some being much more ambitious than others.  Also as the year has gone on I have set myself many other goals as my interests have changed and widened, such as plate curling a 10kg plate and swimming a mile.

Recently I was talking to Adam Glass about all that I have achieved this year and how I felt it was important to set realistic goals for yourself to give you milestones on the way to becoming the best you can possibly be.  So with about 3 months left of the year I am now concentrating on the goals I set myself that I have not achieved, the main one being pressing a 32kg kettlebell.  I have no doubt that I will achieve this goal by the end of the year because I am training very smart (using biofeedback) and I have a lot of ideas on how to greatly improve my pressing.

Looking back at the goals I have set myself back then I have greatly improved my bending strength, I started with pieces of 5mm hot rolled steel and worked my way through all sorts of grades of metal and I eventually bent some nails, now I can bend them without too much trouble, although I am nowhere close to bending them with the ease displayed by Adam Glass!  The goal I am most proud of is my improvement on my two hand pinch, I set out with a goal of getting 50kg, this was actually accomplished in my first grip competition in January, since then I have progressed up to lifting 67kg in competition and was more than my bodyweight which is an awesome feat that very few people have accomplished.

Adam is always stressing to people the importance of setting goals and ensuring that you keep a good log of your workouts and I fully support this.  When you set yourself realistic goals and strive to achieve them it paves the way for awesome improvements to your strength, physique and quality of movement.  Sometimes these goals will be long term projects, such as my goal of lifting the dinnie stones, but you can break down such goals into smaller intermediate goals to use as stepping stones.  If you want to lose 50lbs of fat then first you need to lose 10lbs, big goals can be daunting and so breaking them down can make them easier to achieve and you can surprise yourself in the end.

Anyway, after 10 months of training I am leaner (from 35″ to 31″ waist), stronger (deadlift up over 40kg), fitter and move better than I did before.  I have accomplished many goals I set myself and I keep setting more as I demolish the existing ones, I will continue to get better in as many ways as possible every single day!