Trenton is a strength athlete from Scotland who wanted to improve his relative strength by losing weight and maintaining his lifts.
Although improving his aesthetics was not his primary concern, he did a pretty good job of it:
(Note about the photos, they were taken in different countries while Trenton was in Singapore, hence the tan and lighting difference!)
How have you benefitted?
I have benefited in almost all aspects of life. Firstly, I had very little idea about nutrition so I just ate “whatever”. This caused me to have lots of “adverse reactions” at times and I thought it was because I was simply “eating too much”. Within days of strictly dieting (IF protocol of course) I calculated that it was foods that were high in lactose that was the root of my problems. I immediately eliminated Yoghurt and Milk (which I had been eating vast quantities off since I had started training) and felt better straight away. I was able to enjoy my food again and my stomach wasn’t constantly in pain.
Strength-wise I was coming back from a pretty bad injury (detailed below) so I hadn’t tested any 1RM’s for about a year but I was pretty far off most of them / fatter and weaker than Feb 2010. Feb 2010 (bench 110kg paused, squat 160, deadlift 182 at 84kg). Training was fairly straight forward. 4 days.
Bench day (with dips/db bench/cgbp accessory). Shoulders (db press, shrugs, grip work throw in as accessory),
Squat (front + back), GHR / back extensions (these were for rehab purposes).
Back-Bi Day: (Sumo/Romanian dead, db row, pullup/chins, curlz, GHR/back extensions).
Some complexes thrown in throughout the early part of the cut when I had more time. Replaced by swimming/fasted walking after exams.
For the first 3 weeks I was even able to progress on lifts simply because my training became consistent again and I started squatting/benching/deadlifting again. Gym 3-4x a week was combined with Ju-Jitsu 2x per week for the first 40 days of the cut. I made excellent progress during this time and I think I cheated once throughout this whole time. Everyday was strict as anything.
Around 2700 cals on workout days, less than 2300 on non-workout days. Now that I think about it I could have upped the cals on workout days and thrown in regular binge “feeds” but due to the consistency of my diet/lifestyle I had no urge to splurge on junk. No alcohol during this period but had no desire to go out anyway due to exams. Intermittent fasting made my life very simple and structured.
I used to waste hours cooking/cleaning/eating whereas with intermittent fasting I made sure I ate/cooked/cleaned quickly and this made me use my time much more wisely. Large meal at the end of the day also became good motivation after revision. Some days were very difficult but I got through them concentrating on other things / drinking lots of diet lemonade + water. Stick to food that tastes good as well, don’t just down whatever has the least amount of calories in it.
Within weeks I wasn’t able to fit into any of my pants, had to buy new belts. Shirts were still of similar tightness but just so much looser around the gut.
Day 60 – 100:
Training became inconsistent, same with diet/cutting due to exams/traveling/birthdays/beach holidays. Progress much slower throughout this period but still beneficial. Lifts started going down fairly badly towards day 100.
Day 100 – 140:
Training became very consistent (up to 5x a week, started gaining some strength again on some lifts after a total cheat week off.). Diet became inconsistent due to living abroad and a severe lack of quality dieting foods. Still made some progress and I swam/did fasted walks regularly. In hindsight I probably should have upped the intensity/frequency with cardio as I certainly had the spare time. Day 140 coincided with me starting my internship and I wanted to make some proper strength gains this summer/coupled with not being as strict as day 1-40 made me want to call it quits and focus solely on trying to make some strength gains.
Still not even eating breakfast, not intermittent fasting but not worried about going hours on end without food even when trying to maintain a large calorie surplus. Eat most of my calories in two meals (lunch hours at work) and (dinner after gym). Strength progress has been good, getting PBs most sessions for last month and going to gym 5x a week consistently. I’ve easily gained back the strength I lost on the diet while still remaining sub 80kg, with a higher powerlifting total!
The brief stats:
Strength to bw increased easily. Bench 1.5xbw, squat 2xbw and deadlift 2.5xbw few weeks post cut around 75kg bw. Muscle ups went from nothing to 11. Pullups: 20 to 32. Much easier to get around / vastly stopped sweating as damn much in the tropics which was very surprising. Waist went from around 35-36” to around 29” at its best without even being that lean. DB seated press. 30kg x 5 to 32kg x 9. Don’t forget the favourite, 225kg TRAP BAR DEAD 3xbw lol.
I believed a lot of “broscience” before my cut such as “if you train without any food you will be weaker and lose muscle” and “you MUST have a big breakfast and eat regularly or else the catabolism monster will come and take away all your possible gainz”. After test driving IF for a few days I immediately became accustomed to it and used it for the duration of my cut. For people who enjoy eating big, like myself, this simply is the BEST way to go about dieting whilst still enjoying food, not starving yourself and not pissing away all your strength progress.
However, if you take up a sport which requires long bursts of continuous energy (such as MMA, Rugby, etc) fasting may become more difficult to cope with than simply going to the gym and lifting weights. I also learned that I will ALWAYS have diet mixers with my alcohol from now on if possible. Remove all the excess crap you have in your house before dieting as well, makes less temptation to cheat on crap. Buy reduced sugar sauces, diet soda’s etc.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a transformation?
Main advice is consistency. As long as your training/diet is consistent around 90% of the time you will make gains. Don’t be afraid to work hard just because you are in a deficit, are afraid the catabolism monster will come and eat your muscles away just because you do a few more reps. Obviously don’t go stupid nuts (GVT 10×10 squats) but don’t simply go in lift 60% of your 1RM for 3×3 then do some machine shit then leave.
Advice I would give is don’t believe all the BS you hear on the street about training/fasting myths. Don’t be so dismissive and say you simply “Can’t last x amount of hours without food”, “can’t diet because I won’t be able to concentrate”. Try things out for yourself then you can be the judge. Another great thing after having dieted is now I can reject all the crap that I have heard from SO MANY people about how “dieting/binge eating / fasting” is bad for your health with confidence.
After showing them the pics of the propane athletes and after telling them my personal benefits most of them shut up. Out of most the Propane athletes I am one of the people least worried about aesthethics yet I think in the long run this cut will have benefited my lifting/strength gains a lot. Keep trying out different things (such as AD fasting, fasted training, IF, non-IF) and see what is good/works for you. For example: fasted training loaded on caffeine gave me a great buzz/lifts didn’t go down like I expected, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as others because I had trouble sleeping.
Diet definitely had its hard parts. Mostly when I was on holiday and I was constantly being forced to eat out / drink and I wasn’t always open to the idea. Also living in another country with random snacks throughout the house/cheap food within very close proximity didn’t help. Luckily when I was alone with nothing but exams to keep me company dieting was fairly straight forward. Would cook my food for that day (or two or three) and a shake and that’s it. Diet also coincided with trying out various things with the back and seeing how it held up. Within a few weeks of trying out sumo deadlifts got a PB of 190kg at below 75kg and rows/pullups improved. Squat did go down a fair bit (start of diet first time squatting in a year around 130kg x 3 to around 120kg x 4 even after 3 months of consistent back squatting). Bench went down around 5-10kg halfway through the cut then stayed around there. When you lose 5-6” off your waist squats are going to be mighty tough. No belly = No power.
Basically in October 2010 symptons of what was subsequently diagnosed as a herniation of l5-s1 in my spine started occurring. Sciatic pain became atrocious down my right leg to the point of even dreading getting out of bed. Walking even 5 minutes would have to be followed up with 20 minutes lying down motionless to even slightly ease the pain. I still trained throughout the early stages thinking it was just “glute/hamstring tightness”. I was incredibly flexible and mobile but after a while I couldn’t even touch my shins standing up. After many many months of rehab/consultations/visits to doctors/consultant surgeons/chiros/physios the pain did get better and I started adding in training, one step at a time. Certain exercises brought about the pain worse than others (benching with arch for example is much worse than squatting/deadlifting even with shoddy form) but this is supposed to be a article on cutting not back rehab so can save the most of it for later.
I guess from the pictures you can make your own judgement. I would say some strength/size in back/shoulders? Measurements not that important tbh, only one worth writing down is waist cos its impressive. Can say others fell down but not as much. Starting weight not sure think around 83-84 end around 72.5kg. I was 88kg last September and significantly weaker than I am now.
Now: Trent Transformation Gained strength back that I lost on the diet still remaining below 80kg and total (PL) higher than it previously was..
Articles to come on the intermittent fasting approach.