The below transformation is from 2009. A more up-to-date progress article here

In 2009, the Propane Editors agreed a program for Yusef to hold onto muscle whilst losing fat.  Yusef’s initial approach to diet was quite extreme so we took a much more moderate approach, especially with his carb intake. We placed the focus on food choices initially and avoided counting calories, making changes accordingly as Yusef’s body responded. This was crucial to keep the fat loss continuous. We have learned a lot since then, and have settled on a more focused and efficient approach. 

The way we planned training was a simple 2 way split focussing on accumulating volume with heavy weights in big lifts and then performing a circuit in order to burn calories and boost EPOC. Low intensity cardio was added as fat loss slowed, but that it, he never spent hours on the treadmill.

The most important factor in Yusef’s progress was his determination and consistency, he could have used the most complicated training plan and diet but he would have seen no results if he’d stopped after 3 days. Yusef had a goal (“hot abalabs”) and he kept going until he got there.

Initial stats: 1st Feb 2009:



Around 18% bodyfat

Deadlift: 170kg

Squat 135kg

Bench 102.5kg

Press 65kg

Powerclean: 90kg

Dip: BW + 42kg

Chest: 43”

Arms: 16”

Waist: 34”

Thighs: 25”

I am naturally skinny (59kg before I started training). Below – photo at 17 years old, after 1 year of training:

6 months of training. Damn skinny.

So why did I let myself get to that level of bodyfat? Honestly, I thought it was muscle! You need to carefully monitor yourself, or the fat can creep on. I was always getting comments that I was looking ‘bigger’, which I equated with ‘more muscular’. Not the case. My belly was hard, but I looked pregnant – visceral/intra-abdominal fat.

My diet up to this point had high calories and protein, but a lot of processed food.

My lifts initially took a plunge as I lost the first 4kg. Particularly my squat, dropping 10kg.

There was a lot of experimentation involved in the diet, cardio and HIIT in the first few months. The metabolic circuits were revoltingly hard, and I found that lowering my carbohydrates too much caused me to lose strength from worsened training quality.

Once I increased my carb intake, and took out the high intensity/metabolic circuits is when the fat loss started to speed up. The lesson was to experiment with your own body and observe your own results.

The real spark was once I started walking more. Not depriving myself of carbohydrates or sprinting up hills ad nauseum

Then my strength started to climb back up after the initial hit. My arms even caught up in size.

Training in the 85% 1RM range for triples helped maintain strength without burnout.

The leaner you get, the more you need to take a calculated approach. The first few pounds will come off easily, but you cannot afford to be haphazard with the strategy to get the final few.

I tried 2 fat-loss supplements, Acetyl Carnitine and green tea extract. I found the Carnitine to have no noticeable effect at 3000mg per day, but the green tea both improved the intensity of my workouts and is supported in the data for fat loss.

By June, the lower bodyweight was helping tremendously with gymnastics. Without training it over the period, I could now hold a flag:

My vertical jump improved significantly, and I was able to perform gymnastic skills that seemed impossible at 90kg.

End 1st June 2009:



The most dramatic visual difference for me was in my abdomen, neck and face, whereas for Jonny it was mostly in the lower body. I feel this is because of our hormonal profiles. I was storing a lot of visceral fat. Bulging, bloated belly, but not much to pinch, so I assumed it was muscle. I was very wrong.

Now I don’t look pregnant!

Stats 1st June:

Bodyweight: 75kg

Bench: 115kg

Squat: 140kg

Press: 70kg

Powerclean: 110kg

Deadlift: 190kg

Dip: BW+ 65kg

Fat loss of 13.1kg, and an increase in absolute strength in all of my lifts. I definitely owe this to the careful monitoring and tailored programming that Jonny and Daniel offered combined with my own knowledge.


The lessons I have learned from this:

– Fat loss is NOT something you can ‘wing’. Attempting to ‘recomp’ is a waste of time.

– You may be fatter than you think you are, depending on where you store most of your bodyfat.

– Improving your relative strength will supercharge your athletic performance

– It IS possible to gain a degree of of strength/size while losing fat.

– Being lighter put less strain on my joints and tendons, particularly ankles.

Emily Cromarty Photography

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18 responses to “Transformation Of Yusef

  1. It’s automated, when someone posts a comment it creates a new thread. My current goal is simply to maintain as much LBM as possible during Ramadan

  2. PropaneFitness said:
    It’s automated, when someone posts a comment it creates a new thread. My current goal is simply to maintain as much LBM as possible during Ramadan


  3. I have a similar scenario with visceral-fat (or so i believe), because when i flex my abs they look decent (upper four coming through). However, when i don’t flex my abs at all i may as well be pregnant (slight exaggeration but you get the idea), but like you there’s very little to pinch. Although this may just be extra bulk in my gut since I’m trying to make some lean gains (and i ate a lot of veggies/fiber yesterday)

    Anyway, did the visceral-fat eventually just go away with the rest of it? or did you use some other method?

    I know this is an old article, but great jon none the less!

  4. Cheers, Sean. In retrospect, what I thought was visceral fat is more likely to have been a combination of:
    a) Bloat (I get it quite severely, fluctuated between 29 and 34 inch waist in 24 hours!)
    b) Anterior Pelvic tilt/hyperlordosis.

    If you’re able to see abs and your diet is relatively healthy then it’s more likely one of the above factors – in which case I would advise you to work on your posture by stretching hip flexors, strengthening abs and glutes.

  5. Hey this is Sean T from before,

    1. A few questions, what are particular foods that would make you bloated?

    2. Is there any way to measure for Anterior Pelvic Tilt (this is actually something I thought i had before you mentioned it)

    3. What was your stretching routine to take care of the APT?

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Hi Sean, good to see you’ve joined – Joining the propanefitness forum instantly adds 30kg to your squat I’ve heard.
    1) For me, it’s less about the type of food and more the volume. Experiment with temporarily dropping dairy and grain though, different folk different strokes.
    2) Wear a belt, and the angle to which it points downwards is the extent of your lordosis.
    3) I’d recommend you get assessed individually, because it might be different for you – but it tends to be tight hip flexors, lazy glutes, weak abs and hamstrings. So stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the others.

    “Not feeling too good today, not sure why. On another note, I had a jar of honey last night.’ – Nick

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