Alex Went From Overweight Teen To Ripped Adult!

When Alex Kladder realized that shedding unwanted childhood weight meant taking control of his life, he committed to his goals and made a lasting, positive change.

When Alex Kladder was growing up, you were more likely to find a plate of fresh-baked cookies on his kitchen counter than a healthy meal. "My mom was always big on rewarding [my brother and me] with candy bars," Alex recalls. "We'd come home from school, and she'd play a little game with us to find out where she hid the treats. Of course, there'd also be a plate of cookies sitting out on the counter. I never really stopped myself from eating those things."

Amid an abundance of fun treats, Alex had a hard time watching his diet. In addition, he was never athletic, even though his older brother was. "I didn't really play many sports," Alex says. "I ran around with friends, but I could never really keep up, so I just usually sat out. I'd get home from school and sit down with an entire bag of chips or package of cookies and watch TV."

Alex's weight climbed as a child, in part because of his own habits, but perhaps also because of his own genetics. "My brother was a year older and could just shovel down food and never gain an ounce," he says. "We'd eat the same things, but for me, that meant gaining weight."

All of these factors led Alex to struggle with weight control throughout his childhood, but as he graduated high school and set out on his own, he began to realize it was time to change his lifestyle. With a lot of persistence and a no-excuses attitude, he went from overweight teen to trim, healthy adult.

This is Alex's story.

Did you ever try to lose weight as a teen?

When I was around 12 or 13, I started dieting. I followed Weight Watchers with my mom, but I never stuck with it, so it wasn't effective. I didn't really get the whole point of nutrition and exercise at the time; I just knew I didn't want to be overweight. Since I was inconsistent and lacked proper knowledge, I didn't really see any results.

You chalk up part of your weight gain to genetics. How did your struggle with weight affect your relationship with your brother?

At the time, we weren't very close. A lot of that was because he was big into sports and pretty much played them all. I didn't. We just had totally different hobbies and interests. He also made fat jokes whenever he could, and that was a big strain on our relationship. He thought that because he was my brother it was OK, but it still hurt.

What was your turning point?

When I was in high school, I realized that, at 18, going up one flight of stairs left me out of breath. I was embarrassed that I was left panting at the top. I realized that I was sick of being the one overweight friend in the group. Graduation was coming up, and I didn't want to walk across the stage feeling uncomfortable. I made it a goal to drop some weight before putting on my gown.

Before 295 lbs.
After 190 lbs.
Age: 18
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 295 lbs.
Body Fat: 40%
Age: 23
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190 lbs.
Body Fat: 10%

How did you start to learn about nutrition and exercise?

Even when I started losing weight, I didn't fully understand everything. I went about it all wrong. I took drastic measures that weren't maintainable. I didn't follow any healthy nutrition guidelines—I just ate as little as possible and did cardio for hours. It only took me about six months to go from 300 pounds to 200 pounds, but the crash dieting, 800-calories-a-day method that led to my initial "success" wasn't something I could keep up.

What did your diet look like during that time?

I would have a couple of Vitamin Waters and maybe a bowl of cereal for breakfast. I didn't get any protein and would eat whatever sounded good as long as it didn't contain a lot of calories. Mainly I'd eat grilled cheese or something not overly nutritious.

How did crash dieting affect you?

I looked sick. I was thin, and my eyes started to look sunken in. I still wasn't happy with my physique. I didn't enjoy the gym and stopped going, which only led to weight gain. I put 70 pounds back on in about six months.

It was at that point that things really changed. One day I was looking through photos of me being "regular sized" and comparing them to my current state, with my double chin and my stomach hanging over my jeans. Even though I lost a hundred pounds the first time, I did it all wrong and wasn't happy with how I looked. That lack of physical gratification was a blow to my motivation.

But after I put the weight back on, seeing myself without all the weight was devastating. I didn't know if I wanted to scream, cry, or go into some kind of depression. It hurt to look at that, and it hurt to look at myself in the mirror and know I couldn't keep it off.

I started to study nutrition and exercise, and realized that I needed to change. This time, I was insistent on doing things right.

I started to study nutrition and exercise, and realized that I needed to change. This time, I was insistent on doing things right.

How did your methods change the second time around?

I started going back to the gym and focused on building muscle. There, I met a guy who saw me with some GNC protein product and he told me there was way better stuff out there. He told me I should go to Bodybuilding.com. It helped a lot! I discovered lifters I admired, like Matt Kroc and Kris Gethin, and followed their programs. I tried a lot of new supplements, and I finally had some guidance—the reviews and articles about what to take and why were a lot more helpful than listening to one guy at GNC!

I started reading about meals and nutrition tips for losing weight and building muscle. BodySpace also helped a lot with accountability, and I've made friends there who have been motivational, but I love the education more than anything. That was a big part of getting to where I am now.

How did your diet change?

Since I didn't have a personal trainer or follow any fads, I did a lot of my own research when it came to nutrition. I found some articles about counting macros and started by making tiny tweaks to my diet.

When I started plateauing—which happened multiple times during my weight loss—I always altered my diet first. I'd make one little change at a time, whether that was reading about the healthiest carbs, healthiest fats, or healthiest proteins. I started to switch things out one meal at a time until I was cooking and eating healthier. I slowly got stricter and banished all sugary drinks, too.

I haven't even had a cheat meal in four years—no candy bars or restaurant food.

I haven't even had a cheat meal in four years—no candy bars or restaurant food. I know that eventually it'll be OK to start incorporating cheat meals once in a while, but I had to build up the self-discipline until I knew I'd be able to handle it.

Four years without a cheat meal is a long time! How have you curbed cravings?

It was just a massive mental battle. I started to build up a no-excuses attitude. I just had to drill that into my head as much as I possibly could. If I felt like I was going to lose the battle, it was a big blow to my pride. I got so sick of being upset with myself, and that was a big motivator. I'd remember the times I let myself lose control and how mad I was after. I slipped up enough times to realize I was sick of that feeling.

Another big motivation was Kris Gethin, one of the first bodybuilders I started following. He just has that mentality. He's so tough. He doesn't make excuses, take days off, miss meals, or cheat. That's a huge motivation to me. Even now, I'll find myself thinking, "What would Kris Gethin do?"

What does your diet look like now?

Meal 1: Breakfast

Whole eggs: 4


Egg whites: 2


Oats: 1 cup


Coconut oil: 1 tbsp


Peanut butter: 1 tbsp


Apple: 1


Meal 2: Morning Snack

2% Greek yogurt: 1 cup


Honey: 2 tbsp


Walnuts: 1 oz.


Apple: 1


Meal 3: Lunch

Chicken breast: 6 oz.


Brown rice: 1 cup


Broccoli: 2 cups


Meal 4: Pre-workout

Protein shake: 20-30 g


Banana: 1


Meal 5: Post-workout

Protein shake: 50-60 g


Meal 6: Dinner

Steak: 6-8 oz.


Brown rice: 1 cup


Broccoli: 1 cup


Lentils: 1/2 cup


Meal 7: Before Bed

Protein shake: 20-30 g


Mixed nuts: 2 oz.



What kept you motivated at the gym?

A lot of my continued motivation came from my accomplishments. I felt so good every time I completed a goal, whether it was to lose weight or build muscle. My motivation also stemmed from how good I felt after the gym, even when I was less than excited about the exercise I was about to do. One of my friends taught me a trick for making even exercises you hate to do enjoyable. It sounds funny, but every time you do that exercise, just tell yourself that you love it and keep repeating that! It's all about positive mindset.

My motivation stemmed from how good I felt after the gym, even when I was less than excited about the exercise I was about to do.

When I first started, I used that trick often; I just kept telling myself over and over that I wanted to be there. Over time, working out got more and more enjoyable. Now, I can truly say that staying fit is a passion of mine.

What does your current workout plan look like?

Day 1: Chest, Triceps and Abs
1

Flat Bench Press

1 warm-up set of 30 reps, 1 set of 15 reps, 5 sets of 6-8 reps, double dropset on last set
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

Superset
2

Triceps Push-down

5 sets of 15 reps
Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

Incline Dumbbell Press

4 sets of 9-11 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

Superset
3
Parallel Bar Dip Parallel Bar Dip

Flat Dumbbell Fly

4 sets of 6-8 reps (double dropset last set)
Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes

4

Lying Triceps Extension

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

Chest Finisher
5

Cable Crossover

15 reps (low pulley)
Cable cross-over (medium pulley) to failure (same weight)
Cable cross-over (high pulley) to failure
(Drop weight by 10 pounds and immediately start over. Continue until nothing left.)
Cable Crossover Cable Crossover

Ab circuit: 15 minutes total
6

Jump rope

1 min.
Rope Jumping Rope Jumping

Plank

1 min.
Plank Plank

Jump rope

1 min.
Rope Jumping Rope Jumping
Side Bridge Side Bridge

Jump rope

1 min.
Rope Jumping Rope Jumping
Side Bridge Side Bridge


Day 2: Back and biceps
1

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

5 sets of 10 reps with 100 pounds
One-Arm Dumbbell Row One-Arm Dumbbell Row

2

Wide-Grip Barbell Row

4 sets of 6-8 reps followed by double dropset
Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

Superset
3

Preacher Curl

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

Wide-Grip Lat Pull-down

4 sets of 6-8 reps followed by double dropset
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Superset
4

High Cable Curl

4 sets of 6-8 reps followed by double dropset
High Cable Curls High Cable Curls

Straight-Arm Pull-down

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Straight-Arm Pulldown Straight-Arm Pulldown

Superset
5

Cable Hammer Curl

4 sets of 10 (slow) reps
Cable Hammer Curls - Rope Attachment Cable Hammer Curls - Rope Attachment

Standing lat Pull-down

4 sets of 10 (slow) reps
Rope Straight-Arm Pulldown Rope Straight-Arm Pulldown


Day 3: Shoulders and traps
1

Seated Barbell Press

2 sets of 20 reps, 4 sets of 6-8 reps followed by double dropset
Seated Barbell Military Press Seated Barbell Military Press

Superset
2

Standing Lateral Raise

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

Upright Barbell Row

4 sets of 9-11 reps
Upright Barbell Row Upright Barbell Row

Superset
3

Standing cable rear-delt fly

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Cable Rear Delt Fly Cable Rear Delt Fly

Front Cable Raise

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Front Cable Raise Front Cable Raise

4

Cable Face Pull

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Face Pull Face Pull

5

Machine Shoulder Press

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Machine Shoulder (Military) Press Machine Shoulder (Military) Press

6

Barbell Shrug

5 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug




Day 4: Active rest

Day 5: Legs and calves
1

Barbell Lunge

5 sets of 10 reps per leg
Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge

Superset
2

Bodyweight Walking Lunge

4 sets of 15 reps per leg
Bodyweight Walking Lunge Bodyweight Walking Lunge

Barbell Step-Up

4 sets of 10 reps per leg
Barbell Step Ups Barbell Step Ups

Superset
3

Bodyweight Step-up

4 sets of 15 reps per leg
Step-up with Knee Raise Step-up with Knee Raise

Squat

4 sets of 6-8 reps, last set is a dropset
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

4

Split Squat

3 sets of 10 reps per leg
Split Squats Split Squats

5

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

4 sets of 6-8 reps per leg
Single Leg Deadlift Single Leg Deadlift

6

Lying Hamstring Curl

4 sets of 12-15 reps followed by triple dropset
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

7

Leg Press

4 sets of 10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

8

Leg Extension

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Superset
9

Seated Leg Curl

4 sets of 12-15 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

Standing Barbell Calf Raise

4 sets of 15 reps followed by double dropset
Standing Barbell Calf Raise Standing Barbell Calf Raise

10

Seated Calf Raise

4 sets of 15 reps followed by double dropset
Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise


Day 6: Arms
1

Seated Barbell Curl (shown with dumbbells)

5 sets of 10 reps
Seated Dumbbell Curl Seated Dumbbell Curl

Superset
2

Close-Grip Bench Press

5 sets of 10 reps
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Curl

5 sets of 6-8 reps followed by double dropset
Incline Dumbbell Curl Incline Dumbbell Curl

Superset
3

Overhead Triceps Extension

5 sets of 6-8 reps followed by double dropset
Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Preacher Curl

4 sets of 10 reps (with resistance band added to weight)
Preacher Curl Preacher Curl

Superset
4

Lying Triceps Extension

4 sets of 10 reps
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

Hammer Curl

4 sets of 6 slow reps followed by double dropset
Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

Superset
5

Dumbbell Kick-back

5 sets of 6 reps
Tricep Dumbbell Kickback Tricep Dumbbell Kickback

Cable Curl

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Standing Biceps Cable Curl Standing Biceps Cable Curl

6

Triceps Push-down

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

7
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

8

Decline Crunch (weighted)

5 sets of 15 reps
Decline Crunch Decline Crunch

9

Side Bend

5 sets of 15 reps per side
Dumbbell Side Bend Dumbbell Side Bend


Day 7: Active rest

Are you taking any supplements?

Intra-workout
One hour before bed

Who motivates or inspires you to stay on track?

I've made so many friends at the gym. All my groomsmen in my wedding were people I met at the gym. I can pretty much walk in and train with whomever is there at the time, but there are three guys I really trust to be my training partners. We all know each other and how we work, and we're all on the same level.

We know how to spot each other and when to push comfort boundaries and bump the weight a little bit. We've become really close, and we know what to say to each other to squeeze out that last rep. They know my goals and they don't let me slack. If they know I have more energy in me, they'll push me harder.



Alex's Favorite Gym Tracks

Static-X
"Push it"
Rob Bailey
"Beast"
Mudvayne
"Determined"
Lamb of God
"Ashes of the Wake"
Static-X
"Push it"
Rob Bailey
"Beast"
Mudvayne
"Determined"
Lamb of God
"Ashes of the Wake"


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