Name: Benjamin Pierce
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Weight Before: 125lbs
Weight After: 150lbs cut, 170lbs bulked.
Why I Got Started
Throughout my life I've always been a skinny, non-athletic guy. In high school I was always considered a 'geek.' I was constantly picked on by the older students, and never taken seriously by girls; consequently, I suffered from low self esteem.
During college, and into the first few working years of my life, not a lot changed. I experimented with weights, but never had a lot of luck. Still weighing in at 125 pounds, my self esteem dropped to an all new low.
It wasn't until I woke up one day - shortly after my 23rd birthday, that I took a long, hard look in the mirror and realized that if things were ever going to be different for me, I really needed to commit everything I had inside of me to make the changes that were necessary.
How I Did It
I had always enjoyed training with weights, but I knew next to nothing about a proper diet or nutrition. It also wasn't uncommon for me to miss a few weeks of workouts in a row because I was discouraged or because I "didn't have the time." Once I committed myself to changing my life, I adopted a few strict rules regarding my lifestyle. I promised myself that I had to make good on these for at least 6 months - absolutely no excuses.
These promises were:
I would jog 3, 30 minute, sessions each week on mornings before work to improve my cardiovascular fitness.
I would weight train 5 days per week, focusing hardest on my then weakest body part, my legs and make this weakness a strength.
I would eat 6 times per day, with four of those meals coming from whole food such as chicken breasts, tuna, salmon, brown rice, or yams.
I would be in bed by 10:30 p.m. each night, and get at least 8 hours of rest, no exceptions.
I would refrain from drinking alcohol.
I would never, ever, miss a single workout and no excuse was an acceptable one.
I followed through with these promises, and at the end of the 6 months I had gained about 15 pounds of muscle, weighing in at 140 pounds, and looking pretty good.
Rather than stopping there, I continued to read as much as I possibly could on Bodybuilding.com. I asked the resident forum experts as many questions as I could, and bought as many training/diet related books as my bookshelf could hold. Over the course of the next two and a half years, I gradually learned about the art of preparing and packing food in advance.
I started doing some intense new exercises I had never done before such as deadlifts and barbell shrugs. Over the course of 3 years I have managed to pack 45 pounds onto this 5-foot-6 frame, with little added body fat.
What Supplements I Took
Whey protein after workouts, and casein before bed. Creatine, glutamine, and a multi-vitamin. My philosophy is to keep it simple when it comes to the supplements, and put my money toward quality foods instead.
Sample Week Of My Diet
I tend to have a mix of foods I commonly eat and I just mix-and-match. So, for instance, I might have Cajun chicken breasts, a yam, and veggies one night, and the next night have left-over Cajun chicken breasts, brown rice and some spinach. This allows me to spend only a few nights a week cooking large quantities of food and then putting the rest into Tupperware containers.
Keep in mind that I have a fairly fast metabolism, so putting on weight is difficult for me unless I eat a lot of food. If you're more prone to carrying excess weight, you may want to start out with fewer calories and go from there.
My weight gain diet is different from my leaning out diet.
Here's a sample day when I'm trying to gain weight:
- 7:00am - 8 egg omelet (with 2 or 3 yolks), 1 cup of oatmeal, glass of OJ.
- 10:00am - 1 whole wheat bagel, with natural peanut butter. A couple of whole hard boiled eggs.
- 12:00pm - 1 chicken breast, brown rice, veggies.
- 2:00pm - A couple of whole hard boiled eggs.
- 4:00pm (pre-workout) - 1 chicken breast, brown rice, veggies.
- 6:30pm (post-workout) - 500 calorie shake consisting of whey protein, Gatorade, oats and natural peanut butter.
- 8:00pm - Salmon fillet, 1 small yam, veggies.
- 10:00pm (before bed) - 1 casein protein shake with zero fat milk.
Here's a sample day when I'm trying to lean out: (note that I worked down to this gradually).
- 7:00am - 6-7 egg omelet (with one yolk), 1/2 cup of oatmeal, tall glass of water.
- 10:00am - 6 hard boiled egg whites, one yolk. Granny Smith Apple.
- 12:00pm - 1/2 chicken breast, small portion of brown rice, veggies.
- 2:00pm (if really hungry) - 1 whole hard boiled egg.
- 4:00 (pre-workout) - 1/2 chicken breast, medium portion of brown rice, veggies.
- 6:30pm (post-workout) - 400 calorie shake consisting of whey protein, Gatorade and oats.
- 8:00pm - 1/2 chicken breast, small portion of brown rice, veggies.
My Training Week
- Monday: Legs
- Tuesday: Shoulders
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Back
- Friday: Arms
- Saturday: Chest
- Sunday: Off
* Cardio when I'm leaning out is boxing, and is performed 2-or-3 nights per week.
** Abs are done 2-to-3 times a week, depending on time constraints.
I do 4-5 sets of each exercise, with the first set being a light warm-up set.
- Leg extensions - 4 X 10
- Hack Squats - 4 X 8
- Squats (or leg press) - 5 X 8
- Hamstring Curls - 4 X 12
- Standing Hamstring Curls - 3 X 12
- Calf Raises - 5 X 12-20
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press - 4 X 8
- Upright Row - 4 X 8
- Machine Shoulder Press - 4 X 8
- Lat Raises - 3 X 10-12
- Barbell Shrugs - 5 X 10-15
- Chin-ups - 6 X failure
- Bent over barbell rows - 4 X 8
- Dumbbell Row - 4 X 8
- Lat Pulldown - 4 X 8
- Deadlifts - 4 X 6-8
- EZ Bar Curls - 4 X 8-10
- Concentration Curls - 3 X 10-12
- Preacher Curls - 4 X 8
- Hammer Curls - 3 X 8
- Tricep Pulldown - 5 X 8
- Tricep French Press - 4 X 8
- Incline Dumbbell Press - 4 X 8-10
- Flat Barbell Bench Press - 4 X 8
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes - 3 X 8
- Cable Crossovers - 3 X 8
Suggestions For Others
The great thing about bodybuilding is that you get out of it what you put into it. Above all, consistency is the key to success -- NEVER miss a workout, keep your nutrition in check, and keep a positive attitude and you'll be well on your way to reaching your goals!