Spencer Range had always spent plenty of time in the gym knocking out big lifts and PRs. At 31, however, he realized that, despite being able to move a lot of weight, he'd also gained a lot of weight, and just didn't feel well physically. But Spencer had heart and pushed through the tough times to transform his body.
Name: Spencer Range
Location: Waverly, IL
Tell us what motivated you to get started.
In 2009, I switched my career track to become a teacher. Two years after, I began teaching full- time, and by 2012, I was married to my incredible wife. Things were going smoothly. My family life, my career, my fitness, and everything in life just seem to fall harmoniously into place. I thought I'd figured out life's hierarchy of importance: Heart, mind, and then the physical body. For me, putting the first two at the forefront enables the third to reach its potential.
I have always taken a tremendous amount of pride in being the "gym guy" in my social circles. Despite my love of the gym, I fell into the typical pitfalls of life: stress and complacency.
Slowly and surely, my diet degraded to the point where it became just a shadow of the formerly nutritious diet to which I'd subscribed. By December of 2013, I looked in the mirror and saw someone who definitely did not look like a "gym guy" staring back at me.
I was still doing all of my lifts and had actually reached some personal bests— I squatted over 600 pounds, deadlifted over 650 pounds, and bench pressed over 550 pounds—but I didn't feel physically well at all in my day-to-day life. It dawned on me that 2014 would be relatively light compared to recent years, so I made a plan and committed to get back into my prime.
Weight: 296 lbs.
Body Fat: 27%
Weight: 192 lbs.
Body Fat: 7%
Once I had my plan in place, I felt a spark to just go, one that I've felt only a few other times my life. I was ready. And so my "rebirth" began on December 29th, 2013.
What did you do differently to ensure success?
I've had many successes and failures throughout the years as I learned and experimented with lifting programs, diets, and supplementation. This time around, I wasn't going to tolerate a plan that might work. I wanted to guarantee it. I wanted to have rules that would cover my ass should I fall short of expectations at times.
That being said, some aspects of my plan were extreme. I even took a chance on intermittent fasting, which flew directly in the face of what I had previously believed to be the "best" way. However, I knew it would be better for my lifestyle.
I also got myself the most accurate wearable activity tracker I could find. The goal was to have a 1000-calorie deficit per day through diet and activity. This was a struggle at first, as expected, but eventually became very easy. In fact, my average deficit by the end of my transformation ended up being about 2200 calories per day. This was accomplished through two hours of cardio every day, with 20 minutes being HIIT cardio and 100 minutes being low to medium intensity. Two hours a day sounds extreme, but this worked with my body and my habits.
When combined with intermittent fasting and a no-alcohol rule, my efforts paid off big time. I was able to control my hunger, and I got the results I wanted.
You wanted a guarantee, but were there any bumps along the way?
You can't predict everything, but the first five days were the hardest by far. My body had to get used to intermittent fasting. It was the greatest mental test I experienced all year long.
For about five days, I was tense and on edge, and felt like I was constantly walking a tightrope. Somewhere around the fifth or sixth day, though, I remember waking up and feeling an overwhelming sense of calm. My body had adjusted, and I no longer felt hungry during the day, except whenever I needed to eat. That was perhaps the most important moment of all for me, because from that moment forward I knew I had this thing.
The other mental challenge came from dealing with my strength loss on the big lifts, which wasn't too big of a deal—I'm much happier now that I'm slimmer, and I can still put up some big numbers.
What are your plans from here?
I want to help make fitness equipment accessible to rural communities. Having spent the vast majority of my life in rural communities, I know that most people in rural areas do not have access to the fitness equipment they need to work toward their goals. Most people have to go to neighboring communities to be able to work out, or have to pay thousands of dollars to buy their own equipment.
As any gym veteran knows, a gym with a truly positive atmosphere is something that is both rare and almost magical. It takes a deft hand to run such a gym and make it a positive place for everyone to work toward fitness goals. When the pieces come together just right, there is simply nothing else like it. I want to be a part of bringing such a place to my community.
Any advice for people who want to get started on their own journey?
Get your head and your heart right first. Having either of those out of whack can derail even the best of fitness programs. Physical fitness is a great and important thing, but it is still a distant second to your mental health and overall happiness.
You will fall again and again and again, but you will rise higher and higher each time you get back up. Achieving a significant physical fitness goal can be full of mind games. It feels selfish, which can feel wrong. It feels very, very lonely at times, even with a strong support system. This is less about vanity and more about becoming something better for yourself and for those you care about. It's not wrong to want this for yourself.
When it comes to getting motivated to work out, there's great workout music everywhere and in every genre. You're cheating yourself if you don't open yourself to it all. Music can be one of your most powerful tools.
Finally, you are not alone. There are support networks everywhere, including Bodybuilding.com. There were a handful of times throughout the year when I felt really, really low about achieving my goals. Often it was just a matter of me feeling like I hadn't made the progress I should have recently.
At those times, I hopped on the site and read about other people's transformations. By the end of the year, I'd read almost all of them, and each one helped me in some small way to keep moving forward with mine.
If anything is proof of the fact that there is no single secret to fitness, it's the Bodybuilding.com transformations section.
Supplements Spencer Believes In
Nutrition that helped Spencer
I used an intermittent-fasting approach, which means that I consumed all of my meals within a 6-8-hour window. I usually had three "meals" per day.
Chicken breast with barbecue sauce or tartar sauce: 16 oz.
Hardboiled eggs: 1-2
Vegetables: 2 large servings
English muffin: 1
Butter: 1/2 tbsp
Rolled oats: 1 cup
Ranch dressing: 1 tbsp
Reese's Big Cup: 1 serving (to keep sane!)
Training regimen that helped Spencer
I designed my workouts myself and overhauled them every four weeks. I lifted three times per week for this transformation, although I didn't care what days the workouts actually occurred on. I trained each body part intensely once per week and focused on the basic compound movements.
Typical rest periods are two minutes, but if I'm doing opposing body parts (like chest and biceps or back and triceps), I alternate with one-minute rest periods.