Today’s post comes from one of our incredibly successful members of Fat Loss Mastery. Adam Sawyers has faultlessly implemented Propane Principles to transform his physique while increasing his WILKS and qualifying for GBPF Nationals 2017, all while being a strength coach AND a final year medical student! Take it away Adam…


April 2016; I find myself looking back on 1 year of training in a calorie surplus following my most recent shoulder surgery (February 2015).

The first time I tested my shoulder and myself post-recovery was in August 2015. Weighing in at 78kg I hit a 160kg squat and a 75kg bench, my shoulder was still not ready for deadlifting.

Fast forward to April 2016 and weighing 85kg, I had since squatted 242.5kg, Benched 140kg and Deadlifted 285kg. I would consider that a huge success! The next logical step in my mind was to get ride of the excess fat I had accumulated over the year, move into a lower weight class and compete in another powerlifting competition.

The Goal

Using the age old SMART Principle helped break this down for me. My goal became –

Decrease body fat whilst maintaining as much strength as possible and compete in the U74kg class in the Yorkshire North East Open, 06/11/16. This gave me just over 6 months.

The process

The first 2 months were smooth sailing, starting to cut fat was straightforward and something I have achieved successfully in the past and with my own clients. To get started I initially embraced three principles:

1)    Create an energy deficit

I was already tracking my macros, so I knew what my maintenance was. I reduced my total calories by 200/day meaning a 1400kcal deficit/week.

2)    Lift weights

I continued my training as normal, progressively lifting heavier through each training cycle.

3)    Monitor bodyweight

I was already tracking my bodyweight every day at this point so I simply continued to do this.

This was all straight forwards and got me off to a good start, I lost 3kg in just under 2months and my strength was actually improving.

Then things became more challenging…

The Challenge

When I initially started to drop weight, I was working around 20 hours/week whilst working on my Masters dissertation for an additional 20 hours/week; leaving plenty of time and energy to devote to my own training. A few months into the diet I had resumed the final year of my medical degree and somehow also found myself working more hours. I went from having plenty of time to train and recover to rushing to even finish training sessions and only eating when it was convenient, at times justifying straying from my macros because I was ‘busy’. This was not going to work longer term and there was no way I could drop either work or my degree. Something needed to change if I was to get to where I wanted to be.

Enter Propane Fitness


I regularly listened to the Propane Podcast and had had some communication with the guys previously. Whilst at a local powerlifting competition following a ‘pancake off’ I approached Yusef about managing my nutrition. We had a conversation around time management, meditation and my goals, following this we decided it was a worthwhile partnership and we would get started right away.

In less than an hour I found him running across a crowded gym to take a slice of pizza directly out of my hand; this was when I knew he was serious… How about that for accountability?

Working with Propane

The following few weeks, my nutrition was tweaked around until my weight began to drop at a rate of around 0.5-1%/week. At this point I now had around 8kg to lose and around 4 months to do it so this rate of weight loss was perfect. Initially there were very small adjustments to keep me eating as much as possible whilst still dropping body fat at a fast-enough rate to get to competition weight on time.

Each week I would check in with measurements such as my average macros, habit scores, bodyweight changes and any challenges or particular wins I had. This was perfect for the level of accountability that I needed. Always responding to any queries in a timely fashion.

The results

First some numbers that were achieved prior to competing.


Weight: 85kg – 73.3kg

Squat: 242.5kg – 225kg

Bench: 140kg – 125kg

Deadlift: 285kg – 265kg

Gym Wilks: 439 – 446

So, in the gym, although my training numbers have gone down, my WILKS improved pretty significantly!

I also look significantly leaner than I did initially, which was a nice side effect.. I guess!



However, since we all know that lifts don’t count unless they’re numbers achieved on the platform, here’s what happened at the meet:



Around 2 weeks before the competition my training weights were flying, weight was comfortable and I hit a 225kg squat, 125kg bench and 265kg deadlift. I then unfortunately became quite unwell (probably man flu!), meaning my training then really took a hit leading into the meet, at one point I questioned if it was still worth competing if I couldn’t hit all the numbers I knew I was capable off. After thinking it through, I decided I would still compete and to aim to hit the qualifying total for next year’s English and British Championships in the u74kg category.

I weighed in the day of the competition at 73.3kg, promptly rehydrated & ate my own bodyweight in carbs and began to socialise with my girlfriend and the other lifters. When the time came, I warmed up and headed out onto the platform.

Squat 1: 187.5kg, three white lights, no drama!

Squat 2: 197.5kg, again, three white lights, but I did feel quite unsteady with the weight so decided to be conservative and get all three lifts in.

Squat 3: 202.5kg, three white lights, good lift, I think this moved better than the second attempt did.


Following squats, a brief rest and onto bench.

Bench 1: 95kg, three white lights, good.

Bench 2: 105kg, three white lights.

Bench 3: 110kg, three white lights and nice and comfortable.

Going into deadlifts I now needed 190kg to qualify for next year’s British Championships.

Deadlift 1: 190kg, three white lights, good lift.

Deadlift 2: 210kg, three white lights, moved nice and smooth.

Deadlift 3: 230kg, just couldn’t hold onto it, a callous on my thumb tore, which made hook gripping impossible.


Total: 522.5kg at 73.3kg bodyweight. Goal achieved.

 Lessons learned

Over the course of dropping an entire weight class there are 5 key lessons that I learned.

1)    Make food as automatic as possible.

When on any kind of routine, most of us find it easier to stick to things. Although counting macros gives you the flexibility to eat virtually anything, on a daily basis the amount of effort required to fit in weird and wonderful ‘treats’ can be draining. Find a day or few days’ worth of food that you enjoy but can easily prep and have them as your automatic days. For me, mine was:

Meal 1: Whey + Strawberries

Meal 2: Chicken stir fry

Meal 3: Oats, Berries, Chocolate Chips and Whey

Meal 4: Cauliflower pizza with whatever toppings competed my macros.

2)    Mitigate any unplanned meals.

Try to plan for any meals with family, friends or just those that are likely to be high calorie and may throw off your nutrition. Normally I would save ~60% of my carbohydrates and fats from the day for these events, then any spare macros just eat afterwards.

3)    Suck it up Buttercup

Sometimes losing weight just sucks. Accepting that losing weight was your own choice and that it won’t always be easy is important before even beginning this process. Although there are a lot of things you can do to offset the ‘suckiness’ of losing weight, .

4)    Ignore the diet.

When the word diet is mentioned, almost instantly most people crave all of the ‘naughty’ foods that they shouldn’t have. If you can ignore the fact you’re on a deficit and try to get on with life without thinking about it, that can go a long way in helping stay on track. Unless anybody asks directly, nobody needs to know you’re on a deficit, you can still be social, eat with family or friends. When those situations do arise, just go back to lesson number 3.

5)    Hire a coach.

Even though I work with athletes myself, having somebody else whom you trust helping out with training and nutrition can be an incredibly useful tool. Propane have helped keep me accountable and honest with myself and my progress. Alongside them, Aaron Hull (An incredibly strong IPF lifter) has also been helping me with my training and it would be a disservice to both to not mention them.

What’s next for me?

At the moment, I’m in the final year of a medical degree at the Hull York Medical School and will sit my finals in March 2017, hopefully commencing work as a doctor in August 2017. I also work as an online coach, personal trainer and strength coach in York, UK.

As far as my powerlifting goes, I am still working with Propane and Aaron and will be continuing for the foreseeable future as I aim to improve my total and hit my previous best lifts in competition in this lighter




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