Bodybuilding isn’t the complex process that many people seem to think it is. It’s the implementation that isn’t easy. Delivering relentlessly hard training and maintaining perfect exercise technique are extremely demanding. Even so, with my supervision of their training and their exemplary dedication and commitment, the Brothers Grimm, Stelios and Yiannis, transformed themselves. Every workout yielded a small step of progress. It was wonderful to watch and testimony to the effectiveness of simple, short and progressive training.
The brothers are meticulous with their nutrition. They eat every three hours, meeting their calorie and nutrient requirements every day. And they always sleep enough. No more watching TV late into the night when they should be asleep. Their terrific progress is due to excellent training and their excellent attention to the components of recuperation. All bodybuilders can apply that formula.
After two years under my tutelage, they decided to emigrate to Australia. Shortly before they left, I measured them. Stelios had gained 35 pounds of muscle, and Yiannis had gained 32.
Stelios, at 5’10”, was now 194 pounds. His waist was an inch bigger than it had been when I took him under my charge, but his bodyfat was only 12 percent. The extra inch around his midsection was due to thickened obliques and lower erectors, not bodyfat. His arms had gone from 14 inches to just over 17, his chest from 40 to 46, his thighs from 21 to 25 and his calves from 15 to more than 17.
His strength had increased greatly, too. When I first met him, he struggled to get a couple of reps with 200 pounds on the bench press; now he could do sets of six with 285 pounds. He was hopeless on squats when I first saw him, largely because his technique was a mess. Now he could squat sets of eight with 365 pounds. He also had potential for a lot more strength. Yiannis’ progress was similar. Both brothers were transformed because they’d learned how to train properly and without drugs. Their bodybuilding genetics were average, so their great progress wasn’t due to freaky family history.
Two days before their flight to Australia, the brothers and I went for a meal together. They were excited and anxious about the move. Stelios let me know his immediate bodybuilding goal: “I want to get ripped.” I cautioned him against seeking the extreme ripped condition of a bodybuilding competitor because that would probably lead to loss of muscle and make it impossible for him to build further muscle. I explained a better way to proceed.
Yiannis was comfortable with where his bodyfat was now—he could see his abs just fine—and in Australia he’d continue to train and eat as he had under my charge. He’d also keep building muscle and strength to try to catch up to his brother and then get ahead.
Stelios wanted to reduce his bodyfat to just under 10 percent, which is well defined by all standards other than those of “ripped” bodybuilding competition. His physique would stun everyone except those who are impressed only by the pros. The brothers were going to work as lifeguards in Australia, which was the primary reason that Stelios wanted to lose some bodyfat.
At 194 pounds and 12 percent bodyfat, he had 23 pounds of bodyfat. To get down to 9 percent—17 pounds—meant losing just six pounds. To do that without any loss of muscle, without any loss of training energy and without any loss of strength, he planned to trim about 250 calories from his daily food intake—50 calories off each of his five meals. To keep the bulk of his food intake up, he’d need to add a little extra nonstarchy, very-low-calorie vegetables to most of his meals—for instance, carrots, celery and lettuce. Over the course of a week he’d drop a total of about 1,500 calories. If he added a two-mile walk to his daily activity, he’d use up 100 calories for each mile, burning almost 1,500 extra calories over the week. Walking, jogging or running a mile uses up pretty much the same number of calories, so easy walking will do the job perfectly—and can be done daily without any real effort. It’s just a case of finding the half hour or so each day to do it.
That will give him 3,000 fewer calories each week, and his body will have to draw on its reserves—bodyfat—to compensate. About eight weeks of that would yield the six pounds of bodyfat loss he’s after. Thereafter he’d return his food intake and activity to normal to maintain his bodyfat at the required 9 percent and, of course, continue to train in order to maintain his physique.
At 9 percent bodyfat and 188 pounds, Stelios would have a terrific physique by all standards other than modern high-level bodybuilding competition. Back when bodybuilding was all natural—before the late 1950s, generally speaking—188 pounds at 9 percent bodyfat for a man of average height would have won elite contests.
Once his summer of lifeguard work was over, Stelios planned to return to bodybuilding. He’d have to eat more and allow his bodyfat to creep back up to 12 percent or so and focus on getting stronger to build another 10 pounds of muscle over the winter. Then he’d be ready to trim back in the spring for his second spell as a lifeguard, this time at nearly 200 pounds bodyweight and 9 percent bodyfat.
So ends the final chapter of the tale of the Brothers Grimm. If you follow the lessons they learned, you, too, can become a terrific bodybuilding success story. IM
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or www.Home-Gym.com.