Justin and I have been working together for close to two years and his transformation is one of the greatest I have ever seen firsthand. My first article featuring Justin showed him going from a skinny fat 180lbs. to a lean, muscular 178lbs. over the course of one year. Please check it out if you haven't already read it! http://www.primefitnesstraining.com/2014/05/congrats-to-justin-flowers-may-2014.html
Since the writing of my first article 10 months ago, Justin and I have directed our efforts at adding more mass to his frame through some dietary changes as well as exercise programming modifications and the results have been astonishing as you'll see in his most recent progress pics. Read on to see how Justin added 20lbs. of solid mass to his frame in less than a year, naturally!
Q: It’s been a little under a year since our last interview and you have managed to add 20 lbs. to your frame. What has been the secret to adding so much bulk in such a short amount of time?
A: I’ve been eating. I started out fat and my focus was becoming lean, so I was always cutting calories until I achieved my desired body fat. This round has been the opposite; I’ve been eating at a caloric surplus for growth – mostly lots of protein and some carbs. The difference is noticeable, both in the amount of energy I have for lifts and the resulting growth afterwards. The other change I’ve made is my workouts are typically about 1.5hrs instead of an hour, giving me a greater chance to push to muscular failure. Other than that, I’ve been consistent: I still lift 5-6 days a week (hasn’t changed), with a greater focus on muscle hypertrophy and less cardio.
Q: Naturally, every pound that you’ve gained hasn’t been pure lean muscle. What percentage would you say is lean muscle and how much came from body fat?
A: I honestly don’t know, I haven’t taken an electrical impedance reading in a while, because I haven’t cared as much about fat – the emphasis has been on muscle growth. To gain muscle you have to eat at a caloric surplus, and so every pound is naturally gained with some fat. If I had to take a guess, maybe my BF is 14-15%. Even at this body fat percentage I think I look better than I did at my leanest point last year, but this is subjective.
Q: What is your approach to cardio these days?
A: Never heard of it. (Kidding.) Since I have been aiming for a caloric surplus every day, I don’t have a need to be doing massive amounts of cardio and creating a calorie deficit. I mainly do cardio as a warm-up to get my blood pumping throughout my extremities before lifting, and that’s about it.
Q: How much protein do you consume per day?
A: I legitimately consume as much protein as possible every meal. I eat minimum 250g of protein a day (~1.2x my bodyweight), with protein as my centerpiece of every meal. It helps with satiation so I stay full for a long time, and the calories are not empty – they are fuel my body is churning through every moment of the day, and especially important the 48 hours after lifting.
Q: Some males prefer to stay lighter and leaner (kind of a surfer or swimmer look) as opposed to a smoother, bulkier look (like a football player). Which look is more aesthetically pleasing to you?
A: Are we talking wide receiver or linebacker? I definitely prefer somewhere in the middle, with visible abs (not too smooth) but still a lot of mass. When people look at my body I want them to see a reflection of how hard I work to sculpt it. To me, some people are genetically born with the surfer/swimmer aesthetic, but nobody ever pops out with huge muscles. Even with genetics in your favor, huge muscles always take a lot of hard work and dedication.
Q: Which bodypart do you feel you’ve made the most improvement in this past year?
A: Never thought I’d say this, but my arms! I’ve always struggled putting on any arm mass, with weak triceps and puny biceps. My anterior/lateral deltoids didn’t even exist. I’ve been motivated to push these suckers as hard as I could, and combined with the gift of food for growth, they are finally starting to match the rest of my body.
Q: Which bodyparts do you feel you still need to bring up to get the perfect proportions?
A: I have an obsession with back growth right now. I want it to pop. I had heard the expression that “[bodybuilding] competitions are won from the back” but I never really placed emphasis on it until the other parts of my body started to outpace it. It’s so awkward when you can visibly tell a person works hard on most of their muscle groups and then obviously skips one. People bashing others for skipping leg day should equally value a well-built back. A wide, strong back with big long lats is everything and next on my checklist.
Q: As you look ahead to this next year of training, specifically, what physique goals do you have your sights set on?
A: As mentioned above, I want to continue with back growth from every angle possible. I want my deadlifts to go up. I want to even out my upper and inner chest. I want my arms (especially triceps and lats) to continue to gain size. The beauty of having a training split is that you get to work on many different goals simultaneously. But – first things first – summer. I want to hit summer 2015 bigger and leaner than ever, and then get back to bulking.
Q: Building muscle and dropping body fat are two separate goals. Which is easier for you and why?
A: Dropping body fat is 3,000% harder, in my opinion. You can bust your butt in the gym 6 days a week, but to lose body fat you need to be constantly focused on the other 23 hours in a day, and that’s a lot of time/dedication required that most people just don’t have to give. Bulking is easy – no painful hunger sensations, you just eat and train hard. Few hours of focus/day. On the other hand, I’m really glad both come in cycles because it’s difficult to do either for too long. After bulking for a while, I’ve been getting nauseated slamming protein shakes and steaks and mass amounts of chicken. While I’ve been surprised at my newfound muscle’s ability to metabolically offset more calories (I can eat so much more without getting fat!), I think my body is telling me it’s time to shed.
Q: What is your advice to someone who is on the leaner, lighter side and is looking to add some serious muscle to their frame?
A: Eat [properly]! This is my first official bulk and I’m amazed at how much mass I was able to put on just by eating properly. And by properly I don’t mean McDonald’s all the time. I mean protein. Eat mass amounts of protein until you can’t anymore, and then eat a little more. Mix in carbohydrates (contrary to popular diets) to ensure your muscle cells are filled with glycogen (think of it as gasoline for your engine) and you have the recipe for fuel for strong lifts and the macronutrients to repair, which leads to muscle growth.
Living healthfully is a journey, not a destination. However, seeing results along the way are the road signs that keep us motivated and on track. On this page I share the successes that my clients have enjoyed. I hope that their stories inspire and motivate you on your own fitness journey.