Walking the walk is always the very best way to inspire others! Many people aim to improve their physique following a strict diet and training regime, and some achieve better results than others!
For our 'September Transformation of the Month' we needed somebody who had really gone all out to achieve the best possible results in just 12 weeks. Tony Barnes did just this going 'Zero to Hero' in 3 months! Checkout Tony's inspiring transformation below and let it be the starting point for yourself!
Having been a very active trainer at school with a huge amount of Rowing hours under my belt, as I got older I gradually became more and more lax at staying in shape. Working for a healthfood importer, and sponsoring many bodybuilders, I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to do something about my lacklustre physique when a shape up competition was announced. I've never been one to do things the easy way, so I set myself some goals - firstly, get in good shape (this one was pretty important!); secondly, see if I could debunk some diet 'truths' that I simply don't believe to be the case; and thirdly, do things on a budget, because I was frankly skint at the time!
After a bit of reading about I decided to go down the route of sandbag training - not big fancy shop bought ones, no, a few sacks of B&Q sand, baggied up, and stuck in a duffel bag. Several hours and about £90 later, I had a fully adjustable weights system... of sorts. Initially limited to 80kg, I could change in increments of roughly 2kg at a time, and either use the main duffel bag, a small rucksack, or carrier bags (like I say, on a budget..) to move the sand about with.
Next up was planning my food - again, this was to be simple, I wanted to gain size, so calorie surplus was essential, though if I 'm honest I never really crunched the numbers until a few weeks in. I did know I wanted to stick to a high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate plan - this was to debunk the 'truths' about these macros - and was a bit of a gamble, but paid off. So, high fat - well, that was easy - Udos oil in a morning protein shake got me going, then at lunch, a nice big pork chop (~4-500g) with broccoli and cheese, then oil again in a PWO shake on training days, or a regular meal if not (my meals are nice and fatty at home - plenty of butter/ghee/olive oil used at every opportunity). A few weeks in I worked out the macros, and I was looking at about 60:30:10 of fat:pro:cho - a ratio that 'won't work' in most people's eyes. To cater for some glycogen recovery needs, I kept weekends as 'dirty' times - basically eating food that I enjoyed, and is typically not ideal: Friday McDonalds for lunch, pizza for tea, curries, Chinese’s, etc - basically most things were fair game.
A big change for me was adjusting alcohol intake, this is still something that I have difficulty with to this day. I like beer. It tastes good, and relaxes me. Plus, statistically speaking, 1-3 beers a day is the most healthy amount to have (we're talking death from all mortality here), so knocking it on the head is a dilemma for me! Non-the-less I did reduce my alcohol intake a great deal, I was by no means tee-total, but I gave my liver quite a holiday.
So, on to the training - this was going to be relatively simple, full body 3-5 times a week, with my sand. Movements to cover: squat, bench, flies, bent over row, lateral/front raises, chins, and calf raises - simple I thought... Well, for some it was - flies worked brilliantly with some sand in carrier bags, a chair up against my bed for my head/back to go on, and the rest of my body on the mattress - pretty free movement and it worked well. The same is true for the lateral/front raises, easy beef. Benching was a little trickier - for this I was wearing the duffel bag and doing wide palm out press-ups. Having the weight in your lower back makes this an odd one to perform, I think by the end I was topping out at 40kg on my back!! Still, it seemed to hit the muscles, so all good. Bent over rows were fine in the main, though as I started getting stronger through the shape up, I started having issues handling the duffel bag - at the end I was moving 80kg about, in a pretty ugly fashion... Chins were fine upstairs on a beam, and calf raises on a step were obviously simple. The big troubles were with the squats - firstly, the sand in a duffel bag is low, right down below your arse when stood upright; secondly the straps cut into you like buggery - tore a lot of Ts and got various cuts from the metal hoops; thirdly - well, thirdly is actually just a combination of the first 2 points - put them together and it's a royal pain in the arse! After lots of sessions, and thinking that I was going ok, I filmed my 'squats' - erm, yeah, not good - more akin to a bad Good Morning than anything else, and ultimately, this was the big failing for this training method - hitting quads was not easy at all. Oh, there was also some ham work - lay face down on bed, hook bag over ankle, and lift - very unstable, but seemed to work.
This was a 12 week program, so there was a limited time to grow, but I was monitoring my weight and things looked good - starting at 83.3kg, I peaked at 85.9kg by week 7 - so over 5lbs up naturally in 7 weeks, which I thought was pretty good; but then after week 7, my weight just started to drop, and drop, and drop - net result, I weighed the exact same at the end as I did at the start! In fairness, it was probably an accidentally genius plan of mine (!) - I didn't adjust calories at all, so as my weights increased, and my lean tissue increased, my calorific requirements went up, leaving me with a deficit that allowed me to shift more bodyfat to the end.
Measurements-wise I only really paid attention to my arms - they went up about 1.5inches during the period if memory serves, which was a good result. Coupled with my back improvements, they were my best result. My chest, despite getting worked as hard as I could, still lagged I feel, and my legs, though bigger, did not see the same results as my upper body.
All in all I felt I proved my points - you can grow through a number of different methods, the important thing is - be consistent!