I first began lifting in the summer of 2005. About the enter 10th grade, I was given a weight set for my 15th birthday. I was ecstatic that my parents decided to buy me this gift, for I had grown up idolizing Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not for his theatrical skills or big screen presence, but rather, for his physique.
As a child, I wished eagerly to grow up and look like Arnold - to be muscular, to be lean, to be athletic.. and to scare the sh*t out of anyone who wanted to mess with me.
Sadly, I was never any of those things. Rather, I was extremely
overweight. So much so that in 9th grade I weighed in at 200
lb's at 5'10". My bodyfat easily exceeded 30%. I was the fat kid to be picked on in gym class, the one who got good grades but wished desperately to have even a single good friend, the one who never spoke up, and the one who snacked frequently on chocolate bars but couldn't figure out why
he was overweight.
By the time my parents got me the weight set, however, I had already begun my slow transformation. I had been eating better for a few months, and it showed. I had dropped down to 184lb's -- still fat, but starting to get better. I cut my shoulder-length hair, and joined the high school basketball team. I started speaking up in class, and even began talking to some of my classmates. However, I still had a ways to go.
When I got my weight set, I was determined to change. I was about to enter a new school, and I wanted to become everything that I never could before. Every day that summer I found myself in my basement, doing endless repetitions of some simple exercises my father has shown to me. By the time winter rolled around, I had hit a growth spurt, and together with a calorie-restricted diet, I managed to drop down to 145lb's. At 6 feet.
Enter bodybuilding.com. I had been cutting calories for what seemed like eons, and at 145lb's I was teetering on the brink of anorexia (I think
.. I was never diagnosed or actually had any health issues, but I have some pictures of me at that weight and they're awful). When I found the wonderful resource of articles that bb.com provided, I was compelled to absorb every bit of knowledge on that site. Remembering my childhood aspirations, I decided to undergo my first bulk. I made myself a diet, got a proper exercise routine, and started tracking my progress. This was my first venture into the bodybuilding world.. and I have been on that journey ever since.
I managed to bulk up to 180lb's by summer 2006. I was focusing on the big lifts -- the squat, deadlift, and benchpress, and it had paid off. I remember one late night I took a thick black sharpie and wrote on the wall of my basement in huge block letters:
Live Hardcore, Lift Hardcore. SQUAT. BENCH. DEADLIFT
I had become an exercise junkie. I loved the feel of the weights, the constant progress towards heavier lifts, and the chance to continuously improve myself. I was sitting on top of the world.. except, some problems began to creep up.
Since I was working out alone in my basement, I never had anybody to spot me or to check my form. I was deadlifting well, but I was unintentionally doing something I now call "good-morning squats." Squats where I'd go down about 1/3rd of the way with good form, and then do the remaining 2/3rds of the squat by bending forward and doing something like a good-morning. I didn't know that my form was bad, but it began to show in a few months. By December 2006 I had constant pain in my neck, mid-back, and lower-back. Almost any simple movement would cause discomfort in my spine, to the extent that I had to sleep with towels wrapped around my back to keep the natural curvature of my spine. Eventually, the pain got so bad that I went to see a chiropractor.. in early 2007.
Chiropractor gave me the bad news: I had aggravated my spine and had multiple subluxations; however, because I came in when I was young he was confident he could fix it.. at a cost. I wouldn't be allowed to squat or deadlift for the next 6 months.
Sure enough, after getting set up on a proper recovery program, my chiropractor was able to substantially mitigate my back problems. 6 months had passed, and I was able to walk and function without any discomfort.. however, I still slept with towels around my back to protect the curvature. After 6 months I began squats and deads again... only to re-aggravate all my problems. Even though I was doing much lighter weight, it appeared that my spine couldn't handle any sorts of the pressure associated with these movements.
So, I dropped deads and squats permanently. By the time school started up in September 2007, I was around 180lb's (14%-16%BF) -- a bout of mono earlier in the year caused me to lose some of the muscle I gained, and I didn't focus much on weights as college applications were coming up. By January 2008, however, I started proper weight training again -- minus squats and deads. In September 2008 I entered college on the other coast of North America after slowly bulking up to a good 190lb's over summer.
Unfortunately, the change in environment came with a cost. I wasn't able to eat properly, and ended up skipping many workouts my first 3 months here. I felt horrible. I wasn't dedicated in the gym, wasn't getting proper nutrition, and had to "adjust" to the new environment. I ballooned up to 210lb's, gaining some muscle, but putting on fat more than anything.
Fast forward to today. I'm sitting in my college dorm, stronger, bigger, and leaner than I have ever been before. What caused the change? Both a renewed passion for the gym and proper supplementation - changes that I made after coming home for winter break in December 2008 and reevaluating my priorities. Today, I can now squat
big numbers. Supplementation has helped in that I started using a joint supplement which has helped immensely (specifically, Animal Flex
. Fantastic product put out by Universal Nutrition). I also began a strict carb-cycling cut diet when I came home that has brought me from nearly 19%BF to 8% today.
I've been cutting now for most of December, all of January and February, and will continue to do so throughout March. I'm sitting at 8%BF right now, but want to get just a little bit
leaner for spring break. After that, my muscles will be absolutely SCREAMING for more nutrition, so I'll start a good, slow, lean bulk for the foreseeable future. This is specifically why I'm interested in this stack - I feel that I'm excellent candidate to evaluate its anabolic properties, as when I get it my main goal will be to put on muscle mass