Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wrapping up 2007...and everything that was before

What I am, the stuff I went through and what I've grown to become. Yup, this post got it all.

I apologize in advance for any incoherent ranting - I'll probably edit this post later on to improve on it.

This post will give a brief summary on my training history, for whoever gives a damn.

Some random points I'd like to make beforehand:

* I've never touched any drugs that may be considered performance enhancing, besides ephedrine/ephedra, back when that was legal and easily obtained in various supplements.

* The pics here aren't the best and poses certainly aren't ideal for comparisons. Some numbers might be a bit off as well. However, I pieced it together to the best of my ability and tried to make a brief, descriptive summary on what I was doing during each phase.

* New readers would be best served to read the this interview to get a grasp on what the hell I'm talking about with regards to intermittent fasting and all that hoopla.

Starting out: age 16-18

"You're so lean, you must have one of those ectomorph genes"

I hear that one too often these days. Well, this is me before I put my foot in the gym and started paying attention to what I ate - there's not a iota of skinny boy genes in my dna, trust me on that one. I was fat throughout most of my teens and when first stepped into a gym, I was close to 225 lbs of blubber. Ectomorph genes, my ass.

So I started pushing some weight, leaned down a bit and gained some muscle. It was clear from the start that I wasn't a prodigy when it came to lifting weights either, despite my size. I remember starting off with about 75 lbs bench presses, 135 lbs squats and about 175 lbs deads. One key thing here is that I started off with the basics, and didn't waste too much time on working chest, abs and arms like my friends did. I was also consistent, and sought to constantly improve myself and learn the nuts and bolts of the iron game. This would turn out to pay off in a few years.

I don't have any good pics from this phase, but I basically looked like a slightly leaner and more muscular version of the above picture on the beach. I looked big in clothes, fat with my shirt off, and I wasn't very pleased with my appearance either way. So I decided to go on a diet.

The modeling days: age 19-22

Fast forward a few years and this is me at about 165 lbs. At 19 I started dieting, lost weight, gathered attention from a model agency and then won a nationwide competition that sent me off to Milan. I think I was about 175 lbs when they first sent me down there, but few weeks later I dropped weight quick down to 165 lbs...and then 160 lbs at my lowest point throughout these 3 years, during which I worked full time as model in several different countries. It was a great experience, but these years were basically spent overexercising and overtraining. I was in various states of leanness, but I don't think I gained a iota of muscle during this time period of my life.

Starting over again: age 22-24

So I quit modeling and decided to come home and resume my studies. I started working out again, gained back some mass and ditched the semi-anorectic look. I'm about 182-184 lbs in the above picture.

Discovering Intermittent Fasting: age 24-now

I've outlined the reasons for embarking on the intermittent fasting regime in this interview. The short story of it all was that I was basically sick of the obsessiveness with nutrition, meal timing in particular, that seemed to follow me wherever I went. I was becoming a social pariah, and I didn't think that, for all the energy I put into it, the obsessiveness provided me with anything else than misery and anxiety whenever I missed a meal. Maybe some of you can relate to this or maybe you have a more relaxed attitude towards bodybuilding nutrition than I had back then; if so, I salute your ability to keep a relaxed attitude towards this crucial aspect of the iron game. I sure as hell couldn't. The above picture is pretty much representative of how I looked when I first started the IF regime on June 2006; about 182-184 lbs, 9-10% bf or so.

Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Summer Cut

The below picture is the result of the cut I did that summer, using an IF regime for the first time; 175-177 lbs and 5.5% bf.

For the first time in my life I was pretty damn satisfied with the results of a diet - I actually kept all my strength, while simultaneously keeping all my strength, something I had thought was just a pipe dream when cutting to the low single digits of body fat. This spurred me on to continue the IF experiment and go on a bulk in August 2006.

Discovering Intermittent Fasting: The Autumn Bulk

Before starting the IF bulk in August, I ate at maintenance calorie intake for about two weeks in order to stabilize my metabolism from the dieting stint; body weight settled at roughly 180 lbs. I then radically increased calorie intake, but stuck to the exact same meal frequency and meal timing as before; 3 big meals, eaten any time within 8 hours during the day, followed by a fasted phase with no food intake that lasted 16 hours in duration. I stayed flexible with regards to the 16/8 meal schedule - some days the feeding phase would be shorter, some days longer. I sure as hell wasn't going back to my old obsessive behaviour about timing meals perfectly.

The above picture is the result of the bulk, which lasted approximately 3 months and added 20 lbs to my frame; I went from 180 lbs @ 6% bf to 200 lbs @ 9% bf. Some fat gain followed, but overall I was very pleased with my results.

The refinement of Intermittent Fasting: The Recomposition Protocol and the birth of Leangains

This is me as of today, liberal Christmas feasting included, and after a year of meticulous tweaking and learning from past experiences with the IF regimen.

194-196 lbs @ 5.5% bf.

2007 I've gone through various cycles of IF, where I manipulated various variables in order to achieve the result that is displayed above; I've done 3-4 week stints that were either hypocaloric, eucaloric or hypercaloric in nature, varying macronutrients and calorie status for each day respectively, in order to see what has worked best for me, applied that to my clients and see how it worked for them, and drawn conclusions based on that data.

I'm hoping to summarize all these points in my forthcoming book, which will tell you the ins and outs of how to use an intermittent fasting regime for either fat loss, lean muscle gains or both. When this book will be out is still a bit up in the air, but I've started the writing process. Lyle McDonald has expressed interest in co-writing it with me, but to be completely honest, I'm not sure where we stand on the collabo anymore - basically, we pissed each other off, which temporarily has put a halt to the project, at least in the form of the discussions between the two of us. We'll see what happens though; the book will be released regardless. I'll make sure of that.

So, that concludes my wrap up for 2007 and everything that was before. I'll probably add some more stuff too this post later on, or at least try to make it more coherent.

Anyway, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Keep checking in on my blog in the future if you're interested in some of my ideas; I've been slacking on updates lately, but I'm hoping to update on weekly, or at least bi-weekly, basis in 2008.


Anonymous said...

wow...just WOW...VERY great proggress man! im was heavy as teen myself, u are very inspiring!!! NICOLA

David said...

Intressant läsning Martin! (och så var det verkligen på tiden med en uppdatering här...).

Anonymous said...


Speechless said...

Inspiring to say the very least. Well done, sir. You're a paragon of progress.

Chris said...

That is a very helpful and inspiring post Martin that puts a lot of your writing and theories in a useful context. Thanks.

I'm looking forward to the book.


Chad said...

Holy Christ, thats a transformation if i ever saw one. Nice job.

kyle said...

Hi Martin

Just found my way to you via Lyle's forum. Really impressed with your progress.

I'm coming off a bit of a layoff (and 10kg fat gain) and will give IF a go.

You mentioned opening a forum in one of your posts, did that ever come about?


Martin Berkhan said...

Thanks for all the compliments.

Kyle: first off, I want to get a proper site running, complete with an articles section and everything else needed to put my writings into a coherent context. As you've probably gleaned on this blog, the information is fairly haphazard and unstructured. After that is done, a forum might be possible - if I can gather enough time to post regularily. Until that time arrives, most of the IF related discussions, such as it pertains to the Leangains protocol, takes place on (IMO the best, most objective place for all things nutrition and training).

kyle said...

Thanks Martin, I've been around Lyle's forum since '03 and agree it's brilliant.

Have read every post I could and have a pretty good idea of how everything is structured. On day 2 and everything good so far.

Looking forward to your book.

Crona said...

Keep up the good work!

Abandoned By Wolves said...

Very inspiring set of photos. You've obviously found something that works very well for you. I am looking forward to a book and or a forum from you in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Excellent physique.

MuscleBits said...

I'm also eagerly anticipating the book! I'm following your IF regimen right now and eventually I'd like to test this on my clients.

Andy said...

IF sounds interesting. I'd like to try but I know I've got to get ready for the cost. I used to be obese and leaned out for almost a year now. I decided to body build. Hope thisn helps

Jon said...

Wow, loved reading your story! And I majorly FUCKING agree on the modeling part!! I was down to a 31.5 waist and am having major self-esteem issues being at a're so right, it's a fun journey. But, at least for me, to work out twice a day and work a full time job while trying to actually get out to NY had been soooo mentally exhausting.

Would love to dialogue with you more on the whole fashion modeling workout demands. Look forward to the book.

GiGi said...

Omg, who are you. I just came across your blog and I think I fell in love. ha ha ha.

Jim said...

Any spontaneous tips for trying IF with bulking. I'´m eating 16/8 IF right now but the bodyweight won't gain. I really like IF and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Why no leg pictures, like, ever?

Coach Terp said...

Absolutely impressive!

You know have me questioning quite a number of "axioms" that I have been taught, namely my almonds, eating every 2-3 hours, and 'breaking the fast' as soon as possible with a larger-than-normal breakfast. ;)

Back to the drawing boards...

Kim, Does P90X Work said...

Very impressive lean gains. Thanks for posting your transformation. I have to admit that I don't really know a lot about this intermittent fasting. In your post, you describe it is simply not eating outside of the 8 hour period when you "do" allow yourself to eat. I always thought that eating lots a small meals throughout the day was better for you. One reason for this being, the body can only really absorb 24 grams of protein in one meal, with the rest of it (perhaps a rather large steak) going to waste.

margot brown said...

ok, what to do for a 49 year old woman? dieting for years off and on, mostly on, hence the excess weight. Not a consistent exerciser, understand that too much cardio is bad, not enough weight baring exercise is bad but I understand I need to get to doing the weights. What should I consider at my age and being a woman in regard to IF? help me.( about 80 lbs overweight)

iMaxed5770 said...

This was a really interesting post! I've read through many of your other articles, but this one in particular makes me feel really excited about all the information I'm taking in on your blog. It's really cool to see the progression of your Leangains method, and seeing how you started out like a pretty everyday person (not like someone already skinny and genetically gifted) makes the Leangains approach feel a lot more accessible. Thank you for sharing all of this!

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

Welcome to the Internet's leading resource on intermittent fasting and all things related.

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