I often wonder why I never took my health and fitness seriously before. It’s probably not hard to figure out. My parents haven’t worked up a sweat in their lives  and are both rather bookish and non-physical people. The same goes for my extended family, and thus I had no physical role models as a child and no guidance in this area. Additionally, they eat badly and rely on being naturally slim. No-one ever taught me to eat well and it never occurred to me to figure it out for myself in a systematic way.
English culture doesn’t help any either. I started drinking in pubs from fifteen years old and it was absolutely normal to crank out eight pints of heavy beer on a Friday night then get a takeaway pizza before the last bus home. And then do it all again on Saturday . Somehow I went from a skinny 126lb 16-year old to a 175lb lard-ass at the end of my first year of university without putting on a pound of muscle in the interim.
I distinctly remember my New Year’s Resolution midway through my second year at Uni was to reduce my drinking to just four times a week. I cut it further the next year, added in some jogging and cardio and, being young, I was able to slim right down to 147lbs very quickly. After a couple of years working in London I was up to 160lbs – this time with a bit of muscle- and I stayed around that weight right up until 2014.
By then I was in decent shape from fight training and a haphazard attempt to eat more healthy. Then, when I moved out of London in April 2014 everything unravelled. I always ate out, didn’t train regularly, drank far too often, and eventually ballooned up to 190lbs at the beginning of 2017. I held constant at a fat 183lbs until July 2018 when I began this two year body transformation.
I’ve written here in detail about my first year. This is an update. So, without further ado, let’s look at the before/after pics.
The studio photo was taken a month ago when I weighed 165lbs (I’m 171 now, about the same body fat) and- dare I say it- I’m in a mighty fine fettle. If you look closely you can see visible abs. In the right lighting and right posture, I even have a visible six pack . There was no gym pump for that shoot, so I look slightly better during a workout. That’s all small potatoes, the point is the contrast with the rather awful before picture (the only reason I still have the before picture is that it actually flattered me alot so I never deleted it!).
I never expected to reach this level of aesthetic at my age without using testosterone injections. My expectations have been far exceeded and I’m thrilled at my progress. What was even more surprising was the impact of my body recomposition on my face.
Look at these before/after pics.
Again, it’s not quite comparing like-with-like because one is a selfie and the other a studio pic. However, the studio portrait is not photoshopped. I really do look like that. It’s shocking how old and battered I used to look. Now my skin is smoother and glows with health, most of my wrinkles are gone, and I have clearly-defined facial bone structure including the all-important jaw line. Again, expectations are exceeded.
So, what is my protocol, you ask?
After much experimentation with my personal trainer, we have settled on what we consider optimal for my body and goals. From Monday to Friday I eat 2,000-2,300 calories with a macro-nutrient target of 150g carbs and at least 180g protein. The carbs are below maintenance to reduce water retention and bloat. Then on the weekend I do a big carb refill, aiming for 400g on Saturday (rice, potatoes, bananas, bread) and 600g on Sunday (try to eat real foods but hard candy and low-fat ice cream is okay if I’m struggling to hit target). There’s no calorie limit on the weekend but I don’t eat more than I need to hit the carb target.
This is a carb super-compensation and the rationale is to deplete my glycogen through the week so that my body over-compensates in carb absorption on the weekend, while the weekly carb total isn’t too far above maintenance overall. I find my weight fluctuates predictably in a 2kg bandwidth doing this. Visually, I look a bit flat by Saturday morning and pumped my Monday morning. My endurance is notably improved on Monday too.
My goal is to keep doing this, inching my lean gains upwards.
I continue to train four times a week, under supervision of my PT every session. We do a weekly split of Back on Monday, Chest on Wednesday, Arms on Friday, then Legs and Shoulders on Saturday. Due to all the Corona lockdown bullshit, I’ve been forced to do nine weeks of home workouts year-to-date and missed two weeks entirely. That required remedial work upon returning to the gym, to get back up to my previous PBs on the usual split routine.
My sessions are usually two hours and consist of:
- Warm up and stretch
- Weight lifting (the meat of the session), 6-7 exercises, 3-5 sets each
- Abs, usually 2 exercises, 4 sets each
- 15 minute cardio on treadmill
- Cool down and stretch
Except for a week off at the beginning of Serbia’s March lockdown, and another week off upon returning to the UK in early June, I haven’t missed a single session all year. Those rest weeks were probably helpful too, as both times when my body realised I was taking a break it immediately shut down and went into recovery mode.
So, do I have any miscellaneous thoughts from what I’ve learned this past year? Of course. But first, a comedy fat bastard picture.
A. Personal Trainers Are Indispensable
I’ve now spent a full year with my coach and don’t regret a moment of it. It’s astonishing to me now to think I went my first year of training relying on the internet and a friend’s advice. That worked out okay, but the past year has been a quantum leap in taking my training towards optimal levels. I learned how to do each exercise properly, how to do the correct rep ranges and loading, how to sync it with diet, and then the additional fact that my coach pushes me harder than I can push myself. It’s been a revelation and I recommend everyone who can afford it to hire a coach.
It’s not unlike daygame in that respect. Loads of cheapskates figuring they can do it solo and then wondering why they have shitty technique. It’s the Dunning-Kruger effect in motion. They don’t know what they don’t know, just like I didn’t when I started lifting.
My advice on choosing a coach is the same as it is for choosing a mentor in any other area: find a guy who already has what you want, then ask him how he got it.
B. Testosterone is (mostly) a mug’s game
Synthetic testosterone is available over-the-counter in pharmacies in Serbia, and costs about £2 for a week’s supply. Yet I’ve never taken any despite training here for a year. Why? Well, I was very tempted in the beginning when I didn’t yet know what was possible naturally, and I was impatient as all hell. I’m very glad I chose against it.
Drug abuse is rampant in gyms and often the juiced guys don’t even look very good, so you have to learn to spot the androgen tells before you realise who is on it. I’ve noticed that very few of the juiced guys look good, for the following reasons:
- Most are idiots who use it as a short-cut and never bother learning how to train properly, or discipline their diets. So, they have over-developed arms and shoulders, fat guts, weak legs, and poor posture.
- Those who do train smart look great for a while but then….. keep going. They get way too big and push well past the aesthetic optimum. Presumably they are so thrilled with getting bigger and stronger that they just fall in love with “more” and keep pushing.
- You can’t stay on it. At some point all the toxins accumulate and you have to come off-cycle, at which point you rapidly lose over half of your gains. Your hormones plummet, your mood plummets, and your body visibly melts. To do a proper PCT to return to healthy levels, you need to be off-cycle for as long as you were on. By then, you look as if you’d never even taken testosterone. It was all a gigantic waste of time.
I can think of a narrow range of situations where injecting testosterone is a good decision. First, if you have abnormally-low levels naturally which is messing up your moods and prevents natty training from adding muscle. Second, if you’re suffering reduced levels through ageing (i.e. you’re mid-40s onward) and don’t mind staying on it for- quite literally- the rest of your life. That makes you awfully vulnerable, but I can see the rationale.
What isn’t smart is doing it for the reason nearly everyone actually does it: as a short-cut to looking superhuman for a few years, before the consequences catch up with you and you look shit for the rest of your life.
C. Most people don’t train hard
I’ve spent enough time in gyms now to spot who comes in to talk, and who comes in to train. If you’re running your mouth  or taking phone calls, or texting between sets, then you really aren’t trying. Proper training requires focus, and that means no distractions. I’m even suspicious of people who listen to music on the treadmill now.
If you’re training hard, you should really feel it. You should sound like a women’s tennis match on half of the machines, and should frequently stumble away at the end of your set with a lost look on your face. You should be red faced, huffing and puffing, and dripping with sweat. Otherwise, you’re half-assing it.
Don’t feel bad. Nearly everyone else is half-assing it. Including more than half the lads on steroids. I’ve watched the juiced guys carefully and it’s amazing how many do their entire routines while keeping up conversations, and never sweating. Ridiculous. If you are going to hurt your health with androgens, you might as well train 100% so you get the maximum gains on the minimum dosages.
D. Smart training is incredibly beneficial
My coach tells me what to lift, and I lift it. That’s the limit of my thinking in the gym. Every other atom of brain power is channeled into focus and willpower. It is commonly said that intensity plus consistency equals results. I agree. Don’t fall off the diet wagon, don’t skip gym sessions, and always give your all. If you do that, you can make massive progress.
I’ve really felt the loss from my lockdown-induced setbacks. It takes time to get back up to pre-lockdown strength and conditioning levels. If you’re half-assing it with inconsistent discipline, you are like that all year. No wonder most people make no progress.
Those are some of my thoughts. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I certainly know way more than I did two years ago and my own transformation is good enough to prove I’m doing it at least mostly correctly. It’s been absolutely worth it.
Girls say “nothing tastes as good as slim feels”. There’s the male equivalent. I only spend 2-2.5 hours in the gym, 4 times a week. That’s really not a big time investment. And yet the benefit is that I feel great 24/7 for 365 days a year . The years have dropped off me. I go through each and every day with vim and vigour.
What, you want another comedy fat bastard picture?
If you’d rather learn how to daygame, pick up Daygame Overkill here.
 Except, presumably, for the obvious
 To do otherwise would be to invite suspicions of homosexuality
 I call this my Special Situations Six Pack, visible only in the locker room mirror at my gym, and only then when I’m pulling up my trousers and thus optimally flexing all my abs. My SSSP hasn’t been documented outside of this very contrived situation but I’m hopeful of the future.
 Except on arms day, which doesn’t take much out of you aside the arm muscles themselves
 Except that time I had a can of spoiled tuna and shat myself
July 8, 2020 at 5:15 pm
You maintained a smile even after getting rejected by those two hot babes in bikinis. That’s when you knew it was time to lose weight. 🙂
How much are you lifting in free weights on major lifts? [My lifts are FSU style, not Western, so I’m probably lifting very differently to what you expect. K.]
July 8, 2020 at 7:13 pm
Ridiculous. At your worst you dont even have a belly.
July 9, 2020 at 6:02 pm
Agreed, he must be having a laugh.
July 9, 2020 at 7:31 am
YOU ARE FUCKING MASSIVE MATE
July 9, 2020 at 10:47 am
Great transformation man.
My family genetics (non physical, intellectual) is similar to yours.
Thank God I am starting to take this seriously at 31 years of age.
I am hoping to do it myself, as personal trainers have been hit and miss for me. I had one at 19 years old that really helped, one at 22 that did nothing for me.
I’m now 67.5 kg at 5’9 which is about 20-23% bodyfat (ie barely any muscle at all on me).
I was 30-40% bodyfat most of the last decade.
Aiming to get to 10-12% body fat and maintain it all year round, while gaining a lot of muscle.
And yes, being lean is the best thing you can do for your face, as said many times in the looksmax forums.
July 9, 2020 at 1:57 pm
I have been on a diet since the start of June – so i am on day 39 so far…. doing a carnivore diet
Weight at the beginning was 79kg, and now down to 71kg – (height 5’9) – all done with only minimal training (just some bodyweight exercises at home). I plan to continue diet until end of July, then do a 90/10 or 80/20 healthy diet… I’m actually pretty happy where i am now.
Last year i was at my heaviest at 82kg – paid for an online personal trainer for 6 months – i did lose some weight, but apart from his gym workouts, his whole approach was calories in calories out, and his recommended meal plans, etc included starchy carbs such as rice, couscous, bread, etc – which is bad for me – it just makes me crave even more food, so it was really difficult sticking to the diet.
However, with carnivore the weight pretty easily comes off with very little workouts, and some walking (1 hour a day) – yet i rarely feel hungry, so i’m pleased with how it’s going. I’m 45 too… i decided to sort my weight out otherwise it will be so much harder in a few years time.
Look forward to your next book.
How’s about some more book reviews? 😉
July 10, 2020 at 1:16 am
Hmmm online personal trainer. I was thinking about that recently. Didn’t know it existed.
Would be a good idea.
I would need someone to guess my bodyfat from my pictures (I’ve heard all the ways of measuring are inaccurate), and give me workouts based on my body type.
July 9, 2020 at 3:00 pm
hey Nick .. this is really useful. Especially the TRT stuff which I have also been very tempted by. One question. Do you track your sleep? If so how many hours a night do you think you get? I’ve noticed a marked deterioration in my sleeping times over last few years as I approach 50. Everything I read tells me if I want to optimize gains I should be sleeping 8 hours a night or even more. I’m nowhere near that. [I usually get 8 hours. I’m lucky in that if I don’t get enough sleep I can stay in bed, or have a nap a few hours later. K.]
July 9, 2020 at 3:01 pm
Nice write up Nick, You mentioned in a previous post that you did Intermittent Fasting and were restricting yourself to 1,000 calories per day. I’d like to know how you maintained Fat/weight loss when you increased calories to the current level? [So long as you’re in weekly calorie deficit, you won’t put on fat. K.]
July 9, 2020 at 7:28 pm
You were never really fat just a bit chubby.
I lost 13 kg of fat just by diet alone this year, corona really helped.
The last gains you can squeeze out by avoiding shit foods Nick. Gluten, sugar and most vegetable oils are literally death. So are trans fats and most food additives.
I’ve been studying this my whole adult life, you can look healthy but still have issues underneath.
I’d expect you gained more muscles in 2 years. You look like you’ve just lost weight for the most part with a bit of muscle gain and conditioning. [I cut down to 70kg then built up to 77kg-ish, but I’m lower bodyfat now than I was at 70kg. This was not a 83-to-77 transformation like some people seem to think. K.]
I’m in no way a fitness expert but I follow bodybuilding my whole life.
Still your transformation is great and it will benefit your health with greater insulin sensitivity, better metabolism and you will hold on muscle better when you age.
So keep up and if you need any help pushing the last drop out of your diet let me know.
July 11, 2020 at 2:56 am
You’ve been studying this you’re whole adult life. GAMMA TELL.
July 19, 2020 at 10:21 am
Nope. Tossing this gamma shit around just makes you look like a jackass.
I had no choice but to learn this otherwise I’d be popping pills for the rest of my life.
Normal coaches in the gym don’t have much knowledge when it comes to health and longevity. Most of them know only about fat loss and muscle gain. The physiology behind this is fairly simple.
A recent study in France has confirmed what I’ve been saying for 15 years, processed foods increase mortality from all causes. The difference was 14% in that study which is significant.
Lot’s of these fitness and bodybuilding guys look good but are not healthy at all.
Nick seems to be eating at least some of these foods still from what he wrote. He’s diet is probably a lot better than it was though but there’s still room for improvement.
I’ve been learning from the top guys like Chris Masterjohn. One of my best friends has been working in Mayo clinic on a longevity study that was nominated for the study of the year. He’s in Japan now continuing this research. If you can just hold a conversation with these guys you’re above 99.99% of the population.
But my friend actually learned a lot from me and he’s grateful for that.
Nick is probably more interested in health and longevity aspects right now not just astetics. He also wants to slow down the aging process (correct me if I’m wrong Nick). He’s on the right track but there’s always room for improvement.
That’s why I offered to coach him (for free actually). He’s given a lot to this community so I want to give something back.
So let me know Nick if you’re interested if not good luck on your journey you seem to be going in the right direction. [Indeed, I would like to hear this, thanks. I eat pretty clean and try to slow ageing, but I haven’t made a study of ageing specifically. What are the main points to focus on, or traps to avoid? K.]
July 16, 2020 at 10:47 pm
So you did a hard cut and then you lean- bulked. Tricky to get right, prob explains why it takes a bit longer to achieve – but is in the end more sustainable. How do you factor in alcohol on dates etc?
July 17, 2020 at 8:35 am
I’ve been calorie counting too. Whenever I have a date, or just drinking planned, that day I go smaller on the other meals and leave extra for the drinks. So with 2500 calories and five meals a day I’d swap one meal for the drinks and maybe take 0 -100 kcals off the other meals. Then just make sure the protein is higher in the other meals to compensate too. In fact when I do this I usually have excess calories to spend on the pre-bed meal because the drinks were less than I thought
July 21, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Counting calories use to be a hassle. I hated opening a spreadsheet and counting in all the bloody junk I had that day. Then I discovered MyFitnessPal, and it takes me less than a minute to input everything I ate that day.
I would highly recommend this, at least for a while. Counting calories is more about training your brain to notice the really negative stuff you do than actually count every single calorie you’ll consume. Eg. only after I realized that a bag of peanuts and a couple of pints equals all my energy needs for the day, my brain now sees that as “junk” and not “just a snack”.
July 10, 2020 at 12:52 pm
“I only spend 2-2.5 hours in the gym, 4 times a week. That’s really not a big time investment”
For guys with some career going on this is actually a huge investment. We only have so much energy during the day to spend, and I am not aware of any guy from my (professional) wider circle that trains so much.
I salute you, though, for committing to this and proving that you can have a great body in your forties. Everyone from the mainstream is saying how much muscle and testosterone we start to loose after 30, yet I call it bullshit. I train on regular only 2 times per week, about an hour or bit more, depending on the phase of my cycle. Important is also your regenerative potential; my arms and shoulders are usually fried for the next two days after a good session, so I am doing total upper body workouts, not a split routine. Third training per week is some activity, e.g. climbing or some endurance training. I still look skinny with clothes on, but without my shirt on the youngsters at our beachised are put into shame.
July 11, 2020 at 2:59 pm
Hello! Is same Day lays discussed in “Daygame infinite”??
July 11, 2020 at 3:07 pm
great progress man, keep at it. Heard that shits hitting the fan in Belgrade, stay safe.
July 12, 2020 at 9:26 am
Question about your diet: the part of your wrinkles dissapearing is very awesome and interesting, could you elaborate what foods you actually eat?
What is the ratio of meat to veggies to fats to carbs like rice/potatoes/…, and what kind of fats, veggies, meats etc.. you eat?
Thanks [Chicken omelette for breakfast with americano coffee; protein shake after gym; beef and basmati rice with tomato and iceberg salad for late lunch; chicken breast with 100g potato mash and gravy for dinner; sometimes cheddar cheese or tuna from a can at night if I need to balance macros. I have more variation than this, but it’s a common day’s scoff. Drink maybe 2 litres water. Occasional coke zero a few times a week. K.]
July 17, 2020 at 9:13 am
Thanks for the info.
July 15, 2020 at 8:08 am
You look fantastic. You’ve reached the threshold of what girls find attractive and consider ‘muscled’, which is much less than what a guy considers as ‘muscled’. Adding muscle from here is now in the marginal gains territory for girls, but barely touched the threshold for what guys find attractive (which from a ‘no-homo’ perspective is actually worth pursing given the universal deference and status received from other guys).
In terms of progress, I’d say this is actually very poor. It took two years to go from chubby-fat to lean with a little muscle. This is something that could have taken you 6 months. Your training routine and diet are very ‘bro-science’.
Two years however to learn dieting and get into a stable training routine is no joke, it’s an accomplishment. I would look into getting a personal trainer who knows exactly what they’re doing and can tell you the ‘why’ behind what they recommend if you want to speed up progress.
About ageing and muscle building: [article’s TL:DR….. every example given is a drug abuser; number of times drugs mentioned: zero. What a crock of shit. Please stop using fake natties and juicers as a standard of comparison for natural progression. K.]
July 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm
Funny how you ignored the 9 studies listed and focused on the two client-examples in order to dismiss the science/point of the article i.e. “age doesn’t matter if you’re on a science-backed program.”
What’s more dissapointing is the jadedness that’s seeping through your posts when it comes to progressoin, understandably because of all the fake natties’ miraculous progress. Yes, one can’t gain muscle at the rate of a fake natty but you’d be surprised just how fast you can if you follow a science-backed routine, which you currently aren’t.
July 16, 2020 at 7:17 pm
IMO the people in the photos from that article have taken Anavar.
July 15, 2020 at 5:56 pm
shoulder striation in the after pic makes me suspect you’re not quite honest about drug use….
July 15, 2020 at 6:11 pm
at least admit to using SARMS or something bro, c;mon you’re clearly misleading readers who value you for honesty, integrity, and massive truths/proofs
July 18, 2020 at 7:09 pm
That June 2020 pic looks pretty good tbh (no homo).
Good discipline with the gym too
July 18, 2020 at 9:04 pm
Tusk says you should go on at least 8 Younger Hotter dates per month and convert half of them. I dare say a male 8 isn’t going on 96 dates per year with nothing but 9’s. Being a good looking male is an absolute joke.
There was me being ecstatic with 2 – 4 dates per month through hard graft. I’m so shit.
There is always someone doing better than you with way less effort!
July 18, 2020 at 9:47 pm
He is so out of touch with the wee man Nick and has the brass neck to make money out of this stuff.
July 19, 2020 at 2:34 pm
If you want to spend time in the gym, that’s fine. But what happened to your aspirations to settle down and have children? In twenty years, it won’t really matter whether you were in slightly better or worse shape for a while.
July 26, 2020 at 11:53 am
True, I think this gym stuff is a weasel.
July 20, 2020 at 9:05 pm
Heard on twitter K caught Covid. How are things?
July 21, 2020 at 6:38 pm
last i heard COVID caused his weiner to fall off
July 22, 2020 at 10:36 pm
July 21, 2020 at 9:11 pm
Hi Nick. It’s not possible to explain health and longevity topics using comments if you want we can have a call one day and I can explain the topics in more detail. You need to understand “the why and how” behind concepts otherwise you’re not just going to change your behaviour and incorporate these things into your life because some guy told you this on the Internet. You can send me an email and we can discuss this further or if you have another means of communication that you prefer then we can do that.
July 22, 2020 at 12:42 am
Gamma to Sigma journey:
A big theme for me right now is completely unhooking myself from the system.
I realize that to be a Sigma, I can have no attachment to any system, to any social group, any tribe.
I must truly disconnect from the need to care about what others think of me. I need to see myself only through my own lens- nobody else’s.
This requires a complete dropping of the ego. Not trying to win petty battles, not trying to ‘make people suffer’ who got the better of me in the past. Sigma males do not play ‘Alpha Male battles’.
My ideal future is that of a totally free wanderer; only thinking about my relationship with my creator, and what he wants from me.
Every day, I seek to sever the mental connections to the physical world around me.
Then, intense focus on my higher vision of myself is possible.
July 22, 2020 at 10:36 am
And people keep believing genes don’t matter lol. I can’t fathom drinking 4+ litres of beer 2 days in a row and keep functioning. In my alcohol dependence days, I may have drank that much a number of times, and half of those times I’d have holes in my memory the next day and would feel utterly destroyed to the point of just wanting to die, taking up to 2-3 days to fully recover.
September 14, 2020 at 5:35 pm
Hey Nick, well done on your progress mate 🙂 Defo looking much trimmer in the 2nd pic.
Am on a cut now too….been on it for around 7 months now. As I’m a short guy (in a wheelchair) I’m on 1400-1500 cals for my cut , starting to wear me out now lol.
You said you were on 2000-2300 calories now (you still on that now?), but, if you weigh 77kg, isn’t that still in a defecit? Or is it not? Or do you eat 2000-2300 cals in the weekdays and then scoff a lot down in the weekend (how many cals do you eat in the weekend btw) and hence bring the overall calories up for the week and more towards maintenance?
It’s impressive that you maintain eating 2000-2300 calories a day on the weekdays though, and only 150g of carbs too, and you’ve been doing it for 2 whole years too! I’ve been on my cut for 8 months now and already gagging for a diet break where I can bring my cals up to 2200 or 2400 for a while, but worried about putting all the weight back on.
Thanks! [My app, Cronometer, calculated 2000k based on my stats so I started with that. Through tinkering with deficit and surplus it turns out that really is my maintenance. My weight remains stable at that and I go +300 to try to bulk, or -300 to cut. I don’t feel hunger at bedtime after a 2k day, so it’s easy to keep to. The habits are formed now, so I don’t have any issues. I might do a 4k day on the weekend when doing super-compensation and harder training. K.]