10 Steps That Helped Me Get In The Best Shape Of My Life

Disclaimer: I am not (yet) a fitness guru and do not own academic qualifications in that field. I still have things to learn. I am sharing with you the excellent advice that worked for me. The pictures are not of the highest quality but are not Photoshopped.

I would like to start with a short statement: I am in my early thirties and I am stronger now than I have ever been in my life. I have to say that it feels great to say it.

I am fairly happy with my general shape even if some areas need to be improved. So let me share with you the good decisions that improved my life.

1. Getting my goals in order

FAR LEFT: Martial arts only training, terrible diet. LEFT: Incorporated more calisthenics but diet still poor. RIGHT: Reasonable diet plus early stages of weight training. FAR RIGHT: Discovered ROK on the 18th of June, 2014. Good diet, gym, and swimming training immediately followed.

Ever since I read Douglas Heppner’s concise, thought-provoking article Could You Defeat A Past Version Of Yourself?, I now ask myself regularly that question, analyse which areas need improvement, and then get to work.

My 2010s self had more overall stamina and technique, but I am convinced that my present self would smash him being thirty pounds heavier and using the experience accumulated and the brute force of heavier striking.

My main issue: I hit puberty late but sprouted fast. My limbs stretched but the muscle mass did not follow. I grew up tall and slim (just under 6’2″/188cm) into adulthood even with hardcore training. With that ectomorph body type, I had problems putting on muscle. Even now with decent training and nutrition, growing muscle takes a long time.

What I want is a functional physique that allows me to strike hard and grapple effectively. Looking good is one thing but I do not aim at the “sick cow on steroids” bodybuilding type.

The body type I am aiming at.

Find out exactly what you want to do, organise, and execute. No more “kinda” or “sorta”. Regularity pays more than going balls out a few times then slacking off.

For instance, I have four goals now: gaining five to ten pounds of muscle in the next year, improving my cardio (not satisfied now), sleep better, and fix my recurrent “close to chicken legs” issue. It is going well lately but there is still some work ahead.

2. Finding inspiration

I like the expression of “standing on the shoulders of giants”. For me, Return Of Kings was a great source of inspiration and I must thank all the contributors and my peers who accompanied me in this journey.

You must train with the best to be among the best. You must look for failure, train with sportsmen stronger than you, hurt your ego with defeat, and use the fire of adversity to forge your mind and body. Persist despite setbacks, illness, or injury.

The motivation and hard truth of the “never enough” motto should always ring in your head. I met my martial arts coach after a year of absence and only gym training. I was in top shape but he dropped the truth bomb that woke me up…

This is cool for the girls and all, but you lost a year of technique.

Always look for excellence and be inspired by real life examples.  I had the privilege to train sambo with some Continental and World champions. The vibe and positive impact of those encounters were priceless.

If no live inspiration is available, excellent books, documentaries or even Youtube channels exist to get you inspired. I am in a cycle of scooby1971, Jeff Cavaliere’s Athlean X and Elliott Hulse’s Strength Camp at the moment.

3. Avoiding alcohol and cigarettes

I never smoked in my life but started a year ago in Eastern Europe as it is so cheap, very social, and a decent opener. But that garbage lowers testosterone and stamina. I was not a big smoker but could go through half a pack if I got smashed. Cigarettes also worsen the hangover. I’ve since almost entirely stopped.

I also had too many hangovers spent hiding in my hole like a spider, cursing the world when I could have been productive in various areas of my life or gone to the gym.

I used to drink plenty of beer before I read about its negative effect on testosterone. I now rarely drink it. I drink much less in general and choose spirits when I go out.

But I do not live like a monk and had good results lately as I found an old, rusty gym with no girls, and I currently drink around three alcoholic beverages a week tops. I also have a good sleeping rhythm at the moment.

I cannot speak for the effect of other drugs as I have never had any experience with it.

4. Focusing on nutrition as much as training

Left: August 2015, after a summer full of delicious carb-rich food and gallons of beer. Right: March 2016, after two months of 90% carbs cut down (same training).

I started cutting down on carbs (especially bread, potatoes and pasta) for a year now. I find it effective for fat loss but I miss it a lot (I still have oats in the morning or wild rice with my meat).

I started drinking more water (about half a gallon a day) and reduced my consumption of salt. It was difficult for me as my two favourite dishes are herring in oil with steamed potatoes and Polish pickled cucumbers. I also cut entirely on raffinated sugar (in my coffee too) and only eat fruit occasionally but compensate with vegetables.

Too much cardio does not help being lean without the proper diet. I made the mistake of thinking that I could be lean by running four times a week while stuffing my face with everything I could put my hands on.

I eliminated dairy too following the few articles I read about milk being full of estrogens, after drinking it in great amounts all my life. Another determining factor was Arnold’s quote from Pumping Iron.

A good tip that helps me not to eat all that delicious food is to do my groceries on a full stomach. Worst mistake is to buy the week’s supply while starving after a gym session. You just want to rob the store and eat off the shelves. You will probably give in and buy something you should not eat like processed meat, puff pastries, or truckloads of sauce.

5. Choosing quality over quantity

My personal experience of the impact of a poor diet comes from my student days. I had 2-3 hours long martial art sessions three times a week plus 45 minutes jogs here and there.

In the above picture, I reached national level in my discipline (bronze medal) in individual and silver medal in team contest. Technique and excellent teachers made up for my average condition.

I ate what I wanted but mainly entire saucepans of potatoes or pasta with cream, cheese or sauce, bread of the lowest quality and processed meat. I only ate real meat when I was visiting my family or coming back to uni with my bags full of ham and chicken.

My diet and my financial situation where both dirt poor. I now have a better physique even if I train less and can afford a better diet than when I was a student.

The quality of the meat you ingest makes a huge difference. I met back home a farmer that had enough of being fucked over by slaughter houses and the European directives. He eliminated the middle man by raising his top quality cows, slaughters them himself and has clients (including me) on a private email list. He notifies us when the meat is ready.

I turn up and buy two weeks to a month worth of meat. I rarely had something tastier and it had the triple effect of being cheaper and tastier while keeping my money away from the thieves that run modern supermarkets.

6. Becoming more time efficient

One of the great ideas that I need to re-institute in my life is the habit of cooking all my meals of the week on Sunday and defrost them. It is a game changer and saves so much time.  It goes lighting fast if you get a George Foreman grill and a steam cooker.

I also plan my workouts before arriving at the gym now and time my sets while turning off the Internet on my phone or leaving it in my bag not to be bothered.

7. Experimenting and retaining what works

I like my present routine of weight training, calisthenics and MMA

I remember which activities improved specific areas of my body and continue to extract what is effective. For instance, rugby was great for bulking up with frequent, fast runs combined while tackles improved resistance and core strength. My legs soon doubled in volume but I was around 20% body fat from constant hunger and after-game beers.

Boxing was excellent for cardio. I got very lean but for a long-limbed guy like me, boxing alone can’t give me the muscle mass I want.

Calisthenics, wrestling, and weight training should be done outdoors  whenever it is possible. There should also be half an hour of walking in your daily routine.

I recently observed the positive effect of hot climate and walking more than thirty minutes a day. I spent a month in South America last winter, training less but walking everyday often more than half an hour.

Left: Summer 2016. Right: Dec. 2016, post-South America. Flexing a bit in those images but definitely leaner. My diet was not  better as I had only two meals a day (late morning & late afternoon) and long hours of fasting in between.

I focus now much more on form than reps during workouts. Improving body posture at all times also did wonders with my overall state of fitness while strengthening my core and the muscles of my back.

8. Focusing on better sleep and recovery cycles

I started lifting weights four years ago after I moved overseas. I had crazy days: waking up at 4.45AM, 90 minutes of overpriced commuting, slaving all day until 6PM, hitting the gym everyday for almost 2 hours without a plan or writing anything down, 90 minutes of more overpriced commuting, cooking a meal that often involved cheap sausage or processed food then stuffing myself to the brim before collapsing in bed around 23.30.

Then I proceeded to destroy my gains with two consecutive days of drunkenness and being hungover on Sunday. While I trained like a madman, I could not see progress.

I get better results now with around three gym sessions (less than an hour) a week, plenty of recuperation and good cycles of sleep.

I also see recovery in a radically different perspective now. A large majority of injuries in sport are sustained after going too hard after a long period of inactivity. I pace myself a lot more now when I come back from a break.

Baby steps, lads, baby steps. No point going hardcore if you are unavailable the next three weeks because of an injury and have to restart from square one.

9. Going easy on supplements

The only supplements I use now are a scoop of whey protein isolate with water after each workout, a spoon of cider vinegar a day and vitamin D (double the dose in winter).

I have never used anything else that could involve pills or needles and do not intend to. It’s maybe because I grew up on a farm that I don’t like what is synthetic. I have only been using protein powder for 9 months now and it took me years of thought and long talks with doctors and fitness people before finally experimenting with it.

I am following a diet close to keto after I saw a few of our authors and other fitness articles praising it. I am quite generous in meat quantities but should measure it. I need to get my macros in order.

I also want to try intermittent fasting and observe the effects of flaxseed and fish oil.

10. Keeping track of everything

I log all of my workouts in a notebook. I used to improvise and randomly choose weights and reps, but workouts need to be organised just like life. I now work out faster and more efficiently using sets and weights that always follow the three laws of getting bigger and leaner.

I have followed this method for the last year and a half and can observe progress or decline during any given period. Now I can go back in time, compare pictures, workouts and see which training and diet combinations were the most efficient.

Devenir plus fort pour pouvoir vivre en paix

I consider that I would have no right to contribute on Return Of Kings if I did not look the part. This article is my way to show you that what you read here works and give back to those who distributed their precious knowledge.

I detailed here what worked for me. Perfection is not reached and the journey is still long. These tips are highly likely to have the same effect on anyone who is committed.

Read More: 7 Tips On How To Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life

192 thoughts on “10 Steps That Helped Me Get In The Best Shape Of My Life”

    1. I can’t take Kratom or I will be so yuge I’ll have to tear down two walls to get inside my house.

    2. Just think: he’d have the lightning power of Thor and an army of honey badgers and saber-toothed tigers that rose from the dead to serve him.

  1. “and I currently drink around three alcoholic beverages a week tops.”
    So do I.
    – A liter of whiskey (or gin, or run, or tequila..)
    – A half gallon of wine
    – A half case of beer
    But he’s right.
    Nothing good comes of it.
    Luckily (I can’t believe I am saying this, but…) I am an ectomorph too. And I do exercise regularly, so no pot belly or other alcohol related body features or ailments. Yet.

    1. Yet. Until it starts showing up. Watch it out because getting rid of belly is tougher than it seems.

      1. Yeah, I know. And the older I get the tougher it will be to fight it off. I am lucky so far. People still think I am in my thirties.
        Wonder how long that will last…

        1. You are doing really well then. I’m almost 30 and that intent-of-a-belly popped out in the matter of one damn year.

        2. I had that from 31 – 33 when I got depressed over a female and stopped exercising for a couple of years. I cut out carbs, started up again with more emphasis on body weight stuff than free weights, and went from a 36 waste to a 32. I hover from 33 – 34.5 now. Go back and forth depending on the time of year and laziness. I am starting a on a downward swing. Getting my mind right again. As best as I can, that is.

        3. I’m in my 40s and I still get carded for booze. I always ask the cashier how old they think I am, 25 they say… of course it’s always a college girl too so maybe they just like me… either way I’ll take it LOL.

        4. I was carded by a mexican cashier girl, about 16, when I was 47! Funny as hell!

        5. I was hanging with some 25-yr-old dudes recently, and when I told them my real age (41), their hair blew straight back. They didn’t believe me. One even demanded to see my ID.
          It’s a good feeling, winning the game of life … for now.

        6. It’s almost like our metabolic system has a mind of its own. I’ve been resisting that slow creep for the last twenty years, and I’m NOT going down without a fight.

        7. Indeed, it will catch up I’m sure, but definitely enjoying it for now.

        8. I went from a 32 to 34 in one year due to a back injury and being lazy. After busting my ass I’m back down to a 33 and could probably squeeze into a 32 if I wanted… but man was it a lot of work, and still is to maintain it. I do bodyweight stuff too, it did wonders for my back (and core).

      2. Fucking a right…. I’m turning 42 this year, and I do HIIT circuits every other day plus eat a relatively clean diet. These love handles from my heavy beer drinking years will NOT fucking go away.

        1. 45 here same situation….
          Mind you I just started, but while definition is improving my life-long spare tire is hanging in there with a vengeance!

        2. bem, get ALL the simple carbs out of your diet. Like the SJWs say, if it’s white it’s evil, lol! White sugar, white flour, white potatoes, white rice, etc. But I have gone farther than that. No bread, cake, cookies, candy, sweet beverages, potatoes, rice, pasta or grains of any kind. I live primarily on healthy meats and salads based on kale and spinach with brocolli, peppers, onions, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and just a pinch of shredded carrot. I do a huge salad for the whole week and break it up into containers for each day. I use Brag’s Apple Cider vinegar, EV olive oil and herbs for dressing.
          I do eat a quite a bit of meat (a pound or more a day) and 4 to 6 of my own free range eggs. My two indulgences are dry red wine and one square of 90% cocoa chocolate a day (good for blood pressure). After about two weeks in, I didn’t even miss the carbs (your gut flora change for the better and quit sending chemical markers to your brain to “eat more carbs”).
          I have gone from 210 to just under 180 lbs. at 5’11” and my waist is down from 36″ to 32″ in less than three years. Everyone comments on how lean I am, but that last little bit of fat off my mid section for an honest to goodness six-pack has been a real bitch. I get the feeling I’m really going to have to double down on the diet, even as clean as I already eat.

        3. That’s some excellent progress!
          Yes, I know it about the carbs….I’ve been cutting down for years, but never full stop. No beer, no soda, no chips, no desert-type stuff. I still wind up eating the equivalent of a slice of bread or two throughout a normal day. Dinners tend to be carb-less, with big salads like you describe. And of course I stray a bit further once in a while.
          Need to bite the bullet and do that two week purge. Until then I cant bitch about it.

        4. It really comes down to what you want and how bad you want it. I have a fast bike, more guns than I need, a nice house, etc. But to me being a muscular and athletic sixty year old with six pack abs would be a real status symbol. YMMV

        5. No beer and no booze make slim go crazy.
          Ah who am I kidding, I go crazy even with that stuff…

  2. Salut à toi le Français! 🙂
    J’en suis rendu à un point où j’aimerais bien développer une allergie à l’alcool… Si ce n’était pas de cela, j’aurais bien une bonne dizaine de livres de lard en moins!
    Trouver la motivation pour couper le tout n’est vraiment pas évident, crois-moi!

    1. Salut mon gars! Tu prêches un convaincu. Même si je m’entraîne, hors de question d’abandonner une bonne bouteille d’Aberlour entre amis!

  3. Thanks, man. You are clearly a source of inspiration. I started lifting six months ago. I have improved a lot since I literally started from zero, even injuring myself, but now it is time to get more serious. Consistency is the key, and ROK and authors like you greatly help.
    Bonne continuation !

    1. Cheers brother. Injury is the thing that haunts me 24/7 when I go hard. Take it by the day and consistency like you said. Continue comme ça!

      1. Hey how many calories did you bulk on when transitioning from an ectomorph? I’m currently 146lbs 5ft 11 and been bulking on 3200 calories for the last 3 month but hardly put any weight or muscle on, i started at 139lbs. Also been doing push/pull/legs workout every other day.

        1. I have to be honest I really do not know. Even now I don’t keep my macros in order. I just ate when hungry and enough to be full. I can take you through my typical day and meals: Morning: cup of oats with agave syrup or a loittle bit of honey, sometimes fruit. Meat for lunch usually 250 grams (chiken, turkey breast/veal or pork slice/beef when I can, not too much.) plus cabbage salad with no salt, or brocoli or cucumbers. A bit of rice or pasta (late experiment, i have to see the result). Workout in the arvo, whey isolate shake after that. Evening, omelet with 5 eggs whole and veggies. Usually get peckish around midnight, used to eat herring or cold meat and a bit of salad.
          First year of weight training, trying to put on weight I ate everything, in great quantity, carbs, potatoes, fish, cream, pasta, meat, pierogis, khinkalis, brocolis, all sorts of bread and sandwiches, cheese, soups and truckloads of butter. But I felt usually bloated especially after beer. Then I had to cut down carbs and that was HARD. But the muscle created by al that previous food stayed there.
          So that was me, messy as hell. I would direct you to maximus decimus’ articles here on ROK and the one on nutrition was excellent.

        2. Do you know about ketogenics (using fat, like avacados, instead o carbs, fr energy)? Dr Eric Berg on YT has quality info on it.

        3. I can’t give you specific numbers, but just stick with it.
          I was an ecto up until my late twenties, when my metabolism started to slow down a bit.
          When I started training I was 165 pounds and weak as shit. Now 5-6 years later at 30 and I’m 205 and fit. But I couldn’t put on any weight over 185 until I reached my late 20s. Now I can hit the gym once a week and not lose my gains, whereas before I’d just shed weight if I wasn’t actively working on diet and lifting consistently.

  4. Mr Poqueliche, I am an ectomorph. I was born an ectomorph, have lived as an ectomorph, got my ass kicked in school as an ectomorph, and will die as an ectomorph.
    You sir, are no ectormorph!
    (Channeling Lloyd Benson)

    1. Ectomorph means skinny/tall build. I once knew an ectomorph who was diet conscious. They became very lean but were extremely light and could do climbing and agile types of sports like basketball.
      I knew of two chicks that were both what I could best describe as short ectomorphs, like mini-ectos. One was a stripper who was extremely nimble and agile. She was light as a feather and did a break dance move where she ended in a body spin on her back with her feet behind her head like a yogi. She looked like a beetle bug trapped on it’s back when you flick it into a backspin with your finger. She was around 5’1″. Her lightness combined with strength amazed me.
      Another mini-ecto girl was a cyclist. She also turned me on to the ‘Blood Type Diet’ book by D’Adamo. She ate according to her blood type religiously and was the super leanest yet strong body girl I’ve met to date. It was all muscle. Watching her ride a bike her legs and torseau almost looked insect like.
      The ecto type is incredibly light so they lack the inertia to be a linebacker or sumo wrestler, but do well in hot climates and where distance/endurance and where exploration teams are used. Dutch colonists and seafaring crews included ectos. Most Afrikaner South African men and some Pennsylvania Dutch I’ve met are taller and look to be descended from the ectotype.

  5. I use whey isolate quite a bit and I am not sure if I really am reaping much benefit. Does whey isolate have the same estrogen effect as milk?

    1. Milk has estrogen effect?
      I’ll have to read up on that.
      I thought it was just soy, which I avoid religiously.
      update: I clicked the link to livestrong…

      1. Yeah I thought it was just soy and almond milk? I’ve never heard of actual dairy milk having an estrogen effect, unless it comes from cows pumped with hormones..
        The whey isolate is just protein, I wouldn’t worry about that.

        1. Yeah, news to me too.
          You wouldn’t think so because baby boys have to drink it too.
          The worst thing to give them is soy formula. Maybe its from all the soy feed the cows are fed?
          I have to do more research on this.

        2. All cows are pumped with hormones unfortunately (outside of third world).

        3. I have eight ounces of goat milk every morning as a base for a whey isolate protein shake (with 5 gr. of creatine monohydrate). I was adding a half a banana, but I’m trying to finish up about the last 10% of a six pack. Cutting that final bit of belly fat at 58 y.o. is difficult at best, especially when trying not to lose muscle mass. The goat milk is raw from a local Amish family. The only thing their goats get is forage, no hormones or meds.

      2. I have to assume it does because of all the hormones the cows are one. Similarly I would expect the same effect from low-grade beef (since it comes from used-up dairy cows).

    2. I’ve followed the Blood Type diet for awhile now. A cyclist girl turned me on to it. She followed the diet religiously and was so strict about what she ate, I called her a food nazi. But the recommended source protein powders are as follows:
      ‘A’ blood type: non gmo SOY powder
      ‘B’ blood type: WHEY from dairy
      ‘O’ blood type: BOVINE liver/bone meal based powder
      That’s it. I can’t remember exactly what ‘AB’ type calls for, something in between

        1. So am I. Ours is the most “primitive” blood type. This concept is covered in the book “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. I don’t follow it 100%. I eat a custom tailored diet based on some of the blood type advice, primal / paleo and keto, combined. But you should check out the info about blood types if for no other reason than it’s fascinating.

        2. Well, I just followed a strenuous workout with a salmon steak off the grill, asparagus, avocado, and 2 frosty microbrewed stouts.
          Is there science there? More like a wing and a prayer, hoping that the stuff I like is cool.

        3. Well I don’t know if it’s scientific or not, but (other than the beer) that sure sounds healthy. Beer’s loaded with carbs which is why I avoid it. But dry red wine works for me. I make my own and we will be racking some tomorrow that I started last fall. I will have to sample it for you… 😉

  6. Nice work!
    Hope you don’t think I’m picking but I have found, for myself anyway, that it matters not really what I eat, but rather just how much. Calories in, calories out and exercise, very simple formula. I pop a multivitamin to take up any nutrient slack but honestly I really cannot tell if that helps or not.
    I eat a pretty high protein diet, I make up for the carbs with a gin and tonic in the evenings… I refuse to give those up LOL. I look more like the strong man dudes in the 20s and 30s, eg I still have some body fat and not as chiseled like you are, but I could still easily throw a guy across the room.

    1. I’m not really sure that a gin and tonic has *any* carbs actually, but I haven’t verified that.

        1. I’ve switched to Scotch, neat. No carbs and each ounce is a clear 65 calories. Three shots and I’m happy and it doesn’t throw me down the calorie hole. Spirits are where it’s at, neat/rocks and not mixed.

        2. Daniel Craig, training for the most recent Bond, put his foot down at “no alcohol”. He negotiated–in his contract–to be allotted three alcoholic spirits per week. He chose gin on the rocks.

        3. I loathe gin. But Scotch, 3 a week, to make brazilians of dollars? Sign me up.

        4. I certainly can’t disagree with you on that. I sometimes have my gin neat, and I do enjoy a good scotch now and then. I just have a taste for tonic, the more bitter the better too, hate the sweeter stuff anymore.

  7. Respect dude…
    200 pounds and showing abs means you’ve packed on quite a bit of muscle.
    If you don’t mind sharing what are your barbel lifts like (i.e., bench, deadlift, squat, military press)?

    1. The weight training is impression to be sure.
      But I’d be interested to know what he does for a living, to support all this travel and MMA training.
      Not being a wise ass here, just genuinely curious how he can support himself living this way. Seems a great way to live.

    2. Thanks Clark, appreciated.
      Last section I see in my booklet is: I do a 4 series-pyramid from lighter to heavier (don’t know if that is the terminology) for bench press. Once a week on chest day, twice if the muscles feel well rested. Latest: warm up: empty bar or 40 lbs about 15 times very slowly. Then 176lbsX13reps, 200lbsx8, 220×6-7 and 240×3,4 on good days. One rep max: 275lbs, need to work on that.
      Deadlift and Squat: Ruptured 2 spinal discs 3 years ago and had a 6 months interuption of any sport for that. So I am going extremely easy and you can’t find more careful than me on those exercises that involve the back. SQUAT: 88lbsx20, 120lbsx15, 154lbsx10, 176x(4+4). DEADLIFT: 132lbsx(10+10), 176lbsx(8+8), 220lbsx(5+5). I might not go heavier in bot, I prefer to do more reps, the fear of injury is always, always present. I don’t do ass to the grass squats and keep my feet wide apart. When I am at the bottom of my move on heavy sets, I have cold sweats.
      Mili.press with bar: 40lbsx25, 66lbsx12, 88lbsx(4+4). Hope that answers your questions

      1. Yes it does.
        I was curious because I’m around the same weight as you but my upper body and arms aren’t as developed as yours. My strength is all in my back and legs.
        Wanted a sense of where I should work towards on my bench and this gives me some idea.

        1. I’ve got a problem with arm development, as well. My bench improves about 1/10 as fast as my squats and deadlifts, and about 1/4 as fast as my other upper-body workouts (military press, pulls and curls, etc).

        2. My bench and arms grow proportionally to my general mass.
          Like, the heavier I get the better my bench gets, but my deadlift, squats, and pulling movements improve the most.

        3. look up mike mentzer’s super slow workout routine- Im telling you guys- working for me(although its humbling to shave off 40% of whatever your previous top movements were)

      2. 3 prolapsed discs put paid to my ambitions of heavy lifting. Calisthenics is pretty much all I do now.

        1. Don’t know if you agree Bob, but i have not in my entire life felt as much pain as when it happened. I am no softie and i thought that this kind of pain was what a KGB interogation would feel like. Bits of discs were rubbing freely on the nerve. Nasty stuff.

        2. Likewise. The pain was the worst of my life and never-ending for years. I’m more of less ok now.

        3. Glad to hear man. The day after the surgery amd anesthetics, i slept for 30 hours or so. I had not slept correctly in 3 months. The relief, lad…

        4. I rejected the surgery in the end and went internal, healing the body that way. The Russians helped with that too.

      3. JBP – thanks for not bs’ing your numbers which people do a lot on the internet. I would suggest 2 things for you to try which helped me immensely:
        -Box squats. 2-3 reps per set like westside recommends. No need to go super heavy if you don’t want, they build confidence/stability in the hole like you wouldn’t believe.
        -Atlas stones. They carry over to deadlift by a factor of 2 in weight, and you can avoid the connective tissue strain associated with the heavy deadlift. For instance, working with a 200lb atlas stone will easily translate into a 400lb deadlift. Also, stones are a great forearm and CNS simulator. I can guarantee your bench will improve after using even a light stone for a few months.
        Thanks for the inspiration brother!

        1. Thanks for the adive man. Just back from the gym where box squats were done. I will include it in the routine. I really feel the fibers working.

  8. TBH OP already had a pretty solid build in the “before” pics. He just added some mass and toned up a little…

  9. I am going to start calling you J-Bane, because your physique looks similar to Tom Hardy’s in “The Dark Knight Rises”. So J-Bane it is. Great job…and keep up the stellar work, my man.

    1. Thanks for your words, Uncle Bob. Keep dropping some golden odds so we can bet and win more moneys for gym membership.

  10. Good work. I need to get myself sorted as I have about 220lbs+ but don’t have the definition I would like by any stretch. I would want to build functional muscle and have a lean kind of build with mass in the right places. That and I have been dealing with depression and the like (not that whiney first world millennial type I hasten to add) and it has dented my routine/schedule and so on.
    I jokingly say if one needed a frame of reference for what I would like to achieve to look at the late wrestler Rick Rude who had a phenomenal body-albeit his legs weren’t his strongest suit (to which his colleagues would jovially point to and he would retort that it was an upper body game).

    1. I am in the same boat (mass and depression) as you and began an interval training routine about 8 weeks ago. There is already some minor improvement in terms of definition and stamina.
      And its a fact that exercise mitigates depression.
      Get to it!

  11. Chicken leg cure: lots of squats, deads , lunges.
    Jump squats and other jumping moves.

    1. The key to legs is cycling simple. These are olympic cyclists
      Sonofabitch those are some quads. Lying sideways they’d look lopsided like a tennis arm body type only with chicken arms proportionally. Strict cyclists have 3x legs but 1x arms. Deadlift needed for arms. Even light cycling builds the quads/calves.

    2. Injured my spine a few years back so I have to find an alternartive. Cycling sounds solid. What about box jumps with a heavy vest?

      1. read convict conditioning, the first book. all you need to be incredibly jacked naturally.

  12. Do you even lift No legs, no calves. You looks like shit.
    Also, are you less scared now with the big muscles on?

    1. He had one pic that even vaguely was around his legs. Nothing skinny and no calves even visible.
      Let me guess. Neckbeard sperg.

        1. Yeah, that’s so you.
          Meanwhile, there are no clear pictures of his legs to make a valued assessment, your main critique.
          Now run along.
          EDIT: Upvoting your own comments doesn’t make you popular. FYI.

        2. You gotta wonder where these three post wonders come from and further, why they bother. Heh.
          Yeah, ol’ “Bill” is Russian. Ok. Sure.

        3. I just don’t get it. The disparaging remarks about the author when he has clearly made vast improvements in his life. I’m glad I’m not that miserable.

        4. Every. Single. Time.
          There’s always some goof saying “do you even lift”. Bodybuilding isn’t even the authors main sport.
          It is just the weirdest thing to flex over. I’m sure Conor Mcgregor doesn’t have crazy deadlift numbers and I’m equally sure that doesn’t mean shit for what he’s trying to do.

        5. I’d also bet McGregor could knock the fuck out any shredded bodybuilder in about 15 seconds flat.

        6. Dude, even if this was him, belittleing a guy who has obviously made great progress on his personal goals and who is trying to share knowledge on how he did it is a total weak little bitch move. Completely feminine. Muscles of an ox (perhaps, if you believed him), brains of a jealous little girl.

        7. Dude you just mad bro because I’m Jacked. Period. I mean his body is “ok” for an amateur. not Greek statue like.

        8. Tu commences à nous pomper l’air, toi. Dès qu’il y’a un article, tu viens déblatérer et t’as rien à dire de constructif. Donc soit tu t’alignes et tu restes courtois, soit on va faire comme en 5ème et te mettre au coin. Donc à bon entendeur…

  13. People, please, avoid the anti milk campaign, ok? I drink a lot of milk and I have never had any trouble getting ripped (even more than the author, depending on the time I had available for exercise).
    Also, it’s a misconception that estrogen is bad for you. It’ll actually stimulate muscle growth, provided you have enough testosterone. What usually IS bad is when testosterone is converted into estrogen by AROMATASE (this happens in fat people, and they enter in a “deadly” spiral of more and more estrogen, and less and less testosterone, as fat cells contain aromatase; and then, they get big breasts, and no muscle at all).
    It’s completely absurd to avoid dietary estrogen and then getting your testosterone converted into it. The only thing you need to care about is to maintain a proper diet to generate enough testosterone and a body composition that minimizes aromatase’s effect.
    Just for your knowledge and benefit.

    1. Interesting, I was not aware of the tidbit about AROMATASE, and I’ve been on a diet for a year now.

    2. Estimated 65% of world adult population is lactose intolerant. That means something.

      1. That has nothing to do with estrogen or milk hormones. Lactase deficiency (lactose intolerance) is in fact induced by early removal of dietary milk and milk derivatives.
        “use it or lose it” could be the most likely reason. Once you lose expression of the protein (lactase), your RNA is changed, and you’ll never express it again.
        Not a serious problem at all. You can either supplement your meals with lactase or buy lactose-free milk.

    3. Although I have drastically cut back on it myself, I refuse to give up an occasional glass of organic whole milk. Love the stuff.
      The war of the body is fought and won at the battle of the fork. That said, I am not into pyrrhic victories, and refuse to entirely deprive myself of a source of great pleasure just so that I can get my abs a tiny bit more shredded. To me, it’s a question of balance, and I’m happy to trade off marginal improvements in physique for the joys that good food brings to my life. But, to each his own.

      1. Love the taste too. The thing I miss the most is fresh yogurt. I have one once in a while.

      2. I feel zero guilt eating any whole, natural foods (this includes ice cream made with heavy cream, red meat, full fat yogurt, you know the stuff they say is bad for you!).
        I do avoid processed foods. I don’t eat chips or french fries or any of those “snack foods” people wolf down. The local grocery has a fresh cafeteria style lunch for $5.50 and if I’m not cooking myself, I’ll swing by and buy a meal of 3 fresh veggies they have (over)cooked. I don’t even crave bad food, but dairy is the one area that may be a grey zone. I’m not convinced it’s good for you, but it tastes good and it’s so damn SATIATING.
        I’m part Irish so I’ll often make a shepherds pie–it’s incredibly easy and you get meat full of protein, veggies full of vitamins, potatoes full of nutrients and minerals. And it’s cheap. For $10 in ingredients I can eat 3 large healthy meals.
        I agree that if you’re a healthy person living a healthy, well balanced life, you don’t have to prohibit yourself from doing or eating anything, and I don’t.

        1. Dairy is difficult for me as I live in the dairy state, which is also the beer capital of the world lol. So I tend to indulge a bit on the lite beer and occasionally craft brews too from time to time. But its not an every day thing like a lot of people who will have 4-5 beers every day which puts about an additional 500-600 calories into one’s diet. I’m also looking to cut soda as much as possible, as I used to go years without having a regular soda and recently have been bad and slipped up.
          I dont have the best diet, but I maintain a decent body at 6 ft 205-210. Im nowhere near where I want to be muscle wise, but I’m getting there. Trying to track down a good schedule, but its been difficult because my work schedule is up and down and as a result, so is my sleep schedule. But I decided recently that was an excuse and I’m going to change it. Been cycling a lot and my legs have always been naturally strong. Put on about 150 miles on 10 rides or so and I’ve noticed my legs are significantly more toned and I never feel fatigue in my legs. Just have to work on my upper body now. My shoulders are strong but I need to cut my core and develop bigger biceps.

        2. I’ve been slacking a bit lately too, but as a good friend pointed out, the days you don’t “have time” for exercise, are PRECISELY the days you need it most (for mental stimulation more than physical).

        3. Yeah today is my 3rd day in a row. lifted Saturday and Sunday while also biking 15 miles sunday. I wasn’t going to bike after work today but I got on and did a quick 10 miles. I felt like crap after work but I needed to get out there. Keep up the good work!

    4. I think that goes for lots of foods. Wheat, milk, soy….all of that is fine if you eat it as simple ingredients. What does kill you are the processed foods, bleached flour, saturated fats like shortening, and misc additives or preservatives.
      What you need is a woman in the kitchen who has the time and ambition to make proper meals, not nuke a frozen pizza and call it cooking.

        1. Agreed. It isn’t that hard. When I left for college, I bought a Betty Crocker standard cookbook, and went through it, cooking each dish in the book (substituting expensive ingredients). Took me about 8 months. One of my first dates with my wife was making a good dinner with shepherds pie, cauliflower with mustard sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, and apple pie. (kind of beta, I know. It was almost 20 years ago). Today, she does 80-90% of the cooking, but the kids prefer it when I make dinner.

        2. Not beta at all.
          Mastering something, then performing it on demand is as alpha as it gets.

        3. I was talking about making a fancy dinner for her. Not learning a skill.

        4. Still not beta! Impressing a woman with your skills is good stuff. Not to be confused with doting, orbiting, etc…

      1. Soy suppresses thyroid function and is the reason Japan has the highest rates of thyroid cancer in the world. Likewise wheat is terrible for health, and is the main culprit in ill health in Europe and the middle-east for as long as it has been used, especially bone disease. Check out that heart surgeon who runs the Wheat Belly Blog website.

    5. The study does not mention if it was commercial milk or grass fed local. Grass fed milk is the same as grass fed meat vs factory meat. Its a world of difference. Grass fed milk has much larger amounts of omega 3 and CLA which is leaked to weight loss.

    6. It’s all about the metabolism and insulin levels and how your body deals with nutrients!
      Your activity levels dictate the metabolism.

    7. Milk strips calcium from your bones, as the phophorus to calcium ratio cows require is different to that which humans require, and the excess phosphorus in cows milk has to be neutralised by calcium from within the body, which is pulled out of the bones and into the bloodstream. Strange that anyone would think drinking another creatures milk would be beneficial, especially as adults. Green vegetables have much more calcium than milk…so why drink it?

  14. Totally awesome work you’ve done there indeed! A source of inspiration and it shows your true strength in the way you’ve totally transformed your body over the years.

  15. Good work. This is how I look as a natural bodybuilder. I am now 32 and have trained since I was 20. Focus on parties sometimes but have regularity pretty much all year around. 5.6 and 165 lbs with less than 10% body fat. About 175 lbs with 13-14%.

    1. Props dude. I need to get to that low amount of fat. Do you only do gym training? Focusing on legs lately, let’s see how it goes.

      1. Gym and HIIT, often sprint intervals or 3 KM running at a fast pace. I have done some soccer and thai boxing earlier.

        1. If you mean to programs so no, although I have read some online in the past. I basically do running (80% of capacity) for one minute, then resting for one minute. Repeat. Make progress, keep record.

  16. I think #10 should probably be #1, because if there’s one thing must people are shit at, it’s sticking to a program.
    Keeping track of what you’ve done is both and excellent motivator, and a great way to find out what works for you and what doesn’t

  17. Article with plenty of good stuff, though I think some of your points (notably No. 2) could be elaborated on in their own article.
    I’m also struggling with getting proper nutrition on track with regards to strength training, Good to see that you’re finally getting there.
    “I also had too many hangovers spent hiding in my hole like a spider, cursing the world when I could have been productive in various areas of my life or gone to the gym.”
    With the exception of a few fortnightly craft beers, or whiskey, with a good French associate of mine, this is why I decided to quit alcohol. Ultimately I found it a mastubatory endeavour, hurting my gains, and a crutch preventing me from becoming more social naturally.

  18. Ok for a start, the normal human male produces 50mg of testosterone per week max 75mg, which mean’s there is a limit to how big and how strong you will get without adding more via inter-muscular injections, you cannot build a sky scrapper on the foundations of a small villa. You hit a max limit that natural test production will achieve after that the only way is to supplement with inter-muscular injections of sustanon 250, you bulk and cut and bulk and cut for years but your natural testosterone production will limit your max gains. Its really that simple, and as for the milk thing, depends what type of milk, you will be surprised that certain low fat high mineral milks are just as good as protein isolates.

    1. Yeah. I am pushing the limits for natural bodybuilding: 170 centimeters, 70 kg, when I am contest-ready at about 5% of body fat. I can add some mass and details in the off-season but shredded it is hard to be much but only slightly heavier.

        1. Sounds goods. Lift, eat and be patient. Evaluate and modify calorie intake depending on the progress.

  19. “9. Going easy on supplements”
    Nothing wrong with vitamin supplements but indeed, they are not a substitute for eating correctly.
    If you are based Stateside, I highly recommrnd New Chapter vitamins – they cost more but imho they are worth it.

  20. you look over 6’0 mate. welcome to the master race.
    Should of put in a disclaimer for manlets. smh.
    when will they learn.

  21. Milk is known to be anabolic. What milk were you drinking?
    I would toss out the Foreman grill and get a proper grill pan. You’ll only need to buy it once. I was constantly replacing my Foreman.
    Also, I think that whey protein is an expensive waste of money.

    1. Yea I drink Similuc for mum, for pregnant woman, cause I like milk in my cup of tea in the morning but standard milk powder are too high in fat and low in protein, so I stick that shit in my tea haha. And Similuc is laced with so many vitamins it pretty much covers everything.

    2. Standard raw cow milk. I observed excellent results with whey isolate, hance why i keep using it.
      Strange for the foreman grill. Got mine 5 years ago from Argos, still works like a charm.

      1. I would use my Foreman every day but while they never actually burnt out the non-stick surface would quickly wear out leading to frustrating cleaning sessions. Teflon is known to be estrogenic. Besides that, I found that it didn’t really do a good job of cooking the food. Of course, I didn’t realise this until I bought a grill pan. I used Foreman grills for a good five years.
        Raw milk is the best. Is this the kind of milk you learned was estrogenic?
        I could never stomach the commercial whey proteins as many of them are loaded with chemicals and also are spiked with high levels of sugar. How did you determine that your progress was improved by the whey? I noticed no benefit at all.

        1. Hum i think it was the supermarket milk. I easily got raw milk from home when i was there (number one dairy producing region in the country). But overseas and in big cities it got pricey quickly.
          I never tried standard whey protein. I always used isolate. I got the tip from Cavaliere’s video. I buy it with no added sugar and natural flavour (taste like shit but i add a but of cocoa powder) . WSP i think the brand is. Made in Russia apparently.
          Noticed that from 84 kilograms, with eating normally this little plus added muscle mass in a few months (to 90 kilos now while staying lean.) when before i hit a plateau and stayed at that weight for almost a year. My morphology also changed. The muscles looked like they had thicker roots (if that makes sens) and their outline seemed to bulge more in clothes too.

        2. Well I’m pleased it worked for you. We’re all different. Figures it would be Russian. My whole training method is Russian now. But of course the Russian method is descended from the Spartans. I also train in Russian martial arts. It makes Muay Thai seem so crude now.

  22. Awesome inspirational story. I need to get more serious in the gym. I’m casually hitting it 2-3 days a week. You went full in with diet, exercise, lifestyle change, everything.
    Check out the backgrounds.
    Anyone else notice the blue pill guy is hanging out wasting time drinking beers, purple pill seems to be traveling the world, and red pill is always in the gym?

  23. Calisthenics, wrestling,
    and weight training should be done outdoors whenever it is possible.
    There should also be half an hour of walking in your daily routine.

    Love this. I doubt many of us are doing this. I work out in a gym, but usually walk around outside about half an hour afterwards (my gym is by a college campus so this is easy motivation)

    1. This guy is. 5 a.m. very morning for at least 45 minutes with the dog. It is a pretty awesome way to start the day.

  24. JBP, awesome improvements brother. If you don’t mind me asking….how tall are you? How old also?

  25. I started working out and would stop probably 4 times in my life. Now, its been over 2 years of going steadily. Every week, apart from when Im on a vacation (I always tell myself I’d work out in a hotel, but never do).
    It does take some will-power. I see people come and go in my gym, and maybe only 10 regulars.

  26. “I consider that I would have no right to contribute on Return Of Kings if I did not look the part.” Then why has Matt Forney ever been a contributor? XD

  27. “I consider that I would have no right to contribute on Return Of Kings if I did not look the part.”
    Then why is Matt Forney a contributor? XD

  28. It’s nice that you’ve seen improvement, although I’m not sure if you’re taking a subtle pot shot at bodybuilding or not with that photo of Rich Piana (?) who is a steroid and possibly synthol user. You look like a natural bodybuilder yourself now although I’m sure that an expert could easily pick apart the weaknesses in your physique from a bodybuilding perspective IF you’re relying on compound or so called ‘bang for your buck’ lifting, which is far from bad but leaves some important muscle groups underdeveloped. After disc herniations I’m done with deadlifts and regular squats and my body is more defined and stronger than ever as it forced me to concentrate on individual muscles, sensible isolation and perfect form. Throwing big weights around will grow muscle here and there but it will not lead to the proportionate greek god body we all secretly want to have but it can help you to fuck your back and knees up for life and that’s what some experts will call “functional”; functional for living someone else’s false narrative of athletism. What could be more functional than actually making the muscles perform the movements they were made to do? We like to think that a bench press is maybe functional and throwing a punch may be functional for the pectoralis muscle and it does engage that muscle but the fact of the matter is the main function of the pectoralis major muscle is to draw the arm closer to the center line of the body as happens when performing the chest fly exercise and yet we think of that as a merely aesthetic exercise. This same arm movement is simulated in the discus throw, tennis, volley ball, pro-wrestling clothesline, unorthodox boxing strikes and what not. I hope I don’t come across as angry or resentful here nor am I targeting anyone in particular; I’m simply excited to have learnt what I’ve learnt over the past few years like you.

    1. The “golden age of bodybuilding” was for sure inspirational. But the looks have completely shifted to something that really looks unhealthy when they take it to the max.
      My shot was indeed directed at the likes of Piana, men that completely forgot the notion of self-improvement to replace it by vanity and self-destruction to please others and get likes, just like women would do.

  29. You are truly a legend. Hurts a bit to say this, as an Englishman complimenting a Frenchman 😉
    Ultimately, we are all of the same tribes.
    I always appreciate your articles, and this has to be the best recent article on ROK. Always inspiring, and you’ve given me a kick up the backside to train tonight. Although I’ve had a decent week of training, I was gonna laze off tonight.
    I’m at a similar place now to where you started your journey, been on and off martial arts for years, mostly to shitty shifts, and only now focusing on training properly again. I’ve been doing Stronglifts 5×5, but only twice a week. You’ve inspired me to up it to 3 times a week, and not worry so much about my running at this time. 3 weight sessions and 2 martial arts lessons a week mon to fri should see me right.
    I’ve recently made changes to my diet, definitely eating more protein at the minute, but still got a high amount of carbs; and I have a real weak spot for sugar, but I’m better at saying no, than I was 6 months ago.
    England and France – Best of enemies; though deep down we’re sister nations 😉
    Would love to hear feedback/advice/inspiration from yourself, or the other guys on ROK, with my outlined training and diet.

    1. Thanks, neighbour. “No more brother wars” is how we must think. We have much more pressing issues in our globalist hell now than petty regional rivalry. We know who the common ennemy is.
      Shitty shifts messing the training schedule? I hear you. That stupid rythm I write about in the article occurred when I lived in the UK.
      Yeah my weak spot is salt. That’s the only difference. Never stop training but don’t force things.

  30. Bone broth fasts are very good at maintaining a healthy weight, rebuilding tired muscles and creating an overall healthy body.
    The key is to use bones from organically/pasture raised chickens or beef. Ideally you buy them directly from a farmer you know and trust. If that is not possible probably the only chicken broth manufacturer that is trustworthy ( i.e they really use pasture raised chickens) is Pacific Organic.
    The fast should run for 24 hours.

  31. Sleep is extremely underrated. As far as I’ve experienced, this is the sort of priority that needs to be assigned to the various activities that are often vital to achieving fitness goals
    1. the correct mindset
    2. sufficient sleep
    3. consistent and personalised nutrition
    4. effective and consistent training
    5. good lifestyle (this comes as a result of adhering closely to the 4 activities above)

  32. Thank you for mentioning the negative effects cigarettes cause to the Testosterone levels of a man, I was unaware of that one.
    I am quitting smoking, as of now.
    So, thanks.

  33. As a matter of fact, for modern women aka. sluts it’s not worth it to build muscles and get rich.
    For a 20 yo virgin bride it would be worth it to become jacked and full of dollars, but for these cunts?
    Let the bitch suffer, as the saying goes.

  34. In regards to your macro selection. Everybody is different. For me, I do well with a high carb/low fat diet. How do I know this? I did a test at an outfit called DexaFit. They do a series of tests. One is the RMR(resting metabolic rate). This shows you(amongst other things) what your optimal carb to fat ratio is. Additionally, DexaFit has one of the most accurate body fat measurement tests available today. I highly recommend anybody who is interested in optimizing their body check it out. I got my first test done January 2017 and have lost ~10lbs of fat since June based off of the information obtained from the RMR and DexaScan (bf% measurement test)

  35. So how do you balance a life of such intense training, travel, socializing and recreation? I’m 23 and just started lifting last November and have seen drastic improvements but I’m not where I want to be. I’m 5’11” and 200lbs. I know the iron temple is the key to success and maintaining high T levels but how are you able to travel around so much? Do you work? As an American I would love to travel to Eastern Europe. I want to be able to lift intensely and then have time for game and travel but I work 4 10’s that absolutely exhaust me. I think my schedule is pushing me to lift on work days (as tired as I am) and then leave on Thursdays for adventure and night game. Thoughts anyone?

  36. I went keto/primal back in mid February (this year) and was about 245lbs. Cut all sugars, refined carbs, processed foods, and unhealthy fat. Increased veggies and healthy fats. Kept protein normal. Spent about 2 to 4 full months in deep keto lost about 45-50 lbs of mostly fat from mid Feb to now. Started doing basic bodyweight calisthenics and sprints AFTER I dropped the fat lbs. No exercise at all while I was dropping weight.
    I use an ínstant pot to make bone broth and meat braises weekly. Combined with roasted veggies and daily intermittent fasting I went from a 38″ waist to a 32″ waist in that 5 months span.
    Edit: The picture attached is from last summer to this summer.
    It can happen faster than you think. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f3a8831bdee8e7dd56b3c014804ce97bdb9003ca5c8e3c5f0084e3c57cf99231.jpg

  37. Not eating out is another good thing, even if you order healthy things and avoid carbs restaurants usually use cheap oils like soybean and canola oils to cook their food, so you wind up with bad fats. Better to cook your own meals, you control the ingredients and portions, so you know what you are eating.
    Be cautious of things marketed as “healthy” like Acai bowls, they look “healthy”, but look at the calorie count, some of them got 700 calories in what looks like a frozen fruit salad.

  38. Running or Sprinting is the best cardio activity you can do, but if you cannot do that due to not having a place to run or injury, get a stationary spin cycle or an airdyne bike, or a rowing machine, they are not very expensive and very good cardio. Swimming is also good if you have access to a pool.
    Another good option are climbers, they engage the entire body including the back.
    Ellipticals are meh. I guess they are ok if you cannot run or walk but if that is the case an Airdyne or Stationary Spin Bike will be much better. Also swimming will get better results than an Elliptical machine. Arc trainers are better but very expensive to buy for home use.

  39. How did you build mass by eliminating 90% of your carbs? And how did you perform in m.a. Training or any intense training without carbs? Besides eating more fruits (which is considered a complex carb), what did you do to accelerate your muscle mass growth?

  40. Well written bro, thanks for sharing your awesome journey! You have some SOLID tips and its great to see your life getting better. Intermittent fasting and a pull up bar were the best thing I ever did. Im 40 and do 6 mile runs, lots of compound lifting and dating women in their 20s. Keeps me young.

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