Read how this doctor focused his energies and built an awesome physique
Achieving an incredible physical transformation will always be a vehicle for change, it is a representation for something more. Whether it’s improving self-confidence and self-esteem, or creating more control and focus in your day, the journey of a transformation is all about self-improvement, and becoming better each day.
For Ciaran, while he wanted to get absolutely ripped, his ‘why’ was much deeper, encompassing all of the reasons above pertaining to triggering improvement daily. The problem was, as a busy doctor, his hours were long, erratic and unpredictable, and he’d never been able to lock down a routine or structure that worked for his lifestyle to facilitate the results he was after.
When he came to RNT, everything changed. In just 11 weeks, he achieved his fat loss goal, and after a period of Consolidation, is now deep into an Investment Phase to work towards his next goal of filling out his sleeves!
Remember, the journey of fat loss is highly individual. For some, it’ll be 10-12 weeks, for others it may be 20-24, and in some cases it could be over a year. It doesn’t matter. There’s a multitude of factors that determine the length of time to your first ‘checkpoint’, which you can read all about here.
In this case study today, in typical RNT style, give you a ‘week by week’ breakdown of the 3Ss (structure, system and strategy) Ciaran used to get into the shape of his life before effectively priming himself for building!
Prior to starting with RNT, Ciaran was doing the following:
Training – 2-4 days a week, jumping from program to program.
Cardio – None.
Diet – The basis was there but it needed fine tuning to level up. A typical day was as follows (he was vaguely tracking which helped!)
Breakfast: 300g Skyr Yoghurt, 50g Granola, handful of blueberries, Easy Peeler Orange, and a cup of tea.
Snack: Protein shake post training.
Lunch: 140g basmati rice, 300g chicken thighs, cooked in curry with onions and tomatoes. Cup of tea.
Dinner: Similar to lunch.
Starting bodyweight – 65kg
I have always wanted to get really ripped and lean and to have a six pack without flexing. I have never been able to build significant size and would love to build some – but I understand it will be a slow process. I want to get stronger and improve my athletic ability. Apart from improving my physique I’d like to improve my bench, squat and deadlift.
I want to use this journey to improve confidence and self-esteem. This will give me a goal to obsessively pursue through the day and outside of work. As a doctor, I’ve often found myself wasting so much time before and after work, with no discipline or proper schedule. I want to improve my focus, change my approach to life, make myself happier at work and at home. I want to make my body something I can be truly proud of!
Training – We kept it at 4 days a week on an upper/lower split. This also included legs twice a week with the goal of initially improving all lifts and then retaining them strength wise as Ciaran got leaner and leaner. The goal was to get progressively stronger with the emphasis on perfect form, and with how effective the set up worked, the programme didn’t change through the initial 12 week fat loss phase.
Diet – His macros to begin with were as follows:
Here’s the meal plan we started off with.
Breakfast: 3 Large Whole Eggs, 1 New York Bagel, 10g Coconut oil, Green Veggies
Lunch: 175g Salmon Fillet, 150g Sweet Potato, Green Veggie
Snack: 50g Whey Protein, 80g Blueberries.
Dinner: 225g Chicken Breast, 150g Sweet Potato, Green Veggies
Supplements – The protocol here was very simple, and we stuck to the tried and tested:
Vit D – 2,000 – 5,000iu
Omega 3 – 4g per day
Creatine – 5g everyday
Cardio – No real traditional cardio, except for 10,000 steps a day.
1 Week In: N/A
The first week wasn’t ideal as Ciaran had a few work things coming up so we had a slow start with him sorting out a weighing scale, and figuring out how to best navigate his schedule for the coming weeks.
Changes: Proactively setting up a plan for the following week around his lifestyle and ensuring that all the initial plans from week one would be executed before considering any further changes.
2 Weeks In: 61.39kg
A few more teething problems with weighing out certain cuts of meats, but Ciaran was dropping fast and already ahead of his 1% per week target.
Changes: Having discussed this Ciaran knew what changes would be required with respect to food and that once dialled in, he’d see it really show on his physique and data collection. While not the most perfect start, Ciaran was focused and ready to roll. .
3 Weeks In: 60.8kg
After 3 weeks of building momentum Ciaran was seeing fast progress so we continued in the same fashion with no further changes.
4 Weeks In: 59.9kg
We pushed a little this week and brought calories down by 200 to really start dialling in. Ciaran wanted to work towards a 12 week fat loss deadline before shifting gears, so this step change was needed.
We kept protein and fats static, but dropped carbs by 50g to make this push.
C: 75g (-50g)
5 Weeks In: 58.9kg
A tricky week as we had a ton of social events to navigate around, and so ended up creating buffers all week to ensure fat loss continued. We reduced carbohydrates to zero (not including the veg intake) to allow more calories at the social events. Whilst it was hard work it allowed a certain level of freedom within certain parameters.
Changes: None required as fat loss was still moving very well, we just needed to nail the buffers!
6 Weeks In: 59.1kg
Ciaran was freaking out this week as he’d been nailing his diet, but upon closer inspection of all the data we’d noted his digestion was playing up and that he was constipated, which reflected on the scale.
Changes: The simple inclusion of psyllium husk and an increase of green vegetables enabled him to get the bowels moving again – this is precisely why scale weight should never be the only metric for progress!
7 Weeks In: 60kg
A little bit of a rocky week here triggered by a big off plan meal with more calories than guesstimated. This began to slow down the weekly average loss so at this stage Ciaran was faced with the choice between less food or more activity to get things moving again. Unsurprisingly he chose more activity.
Changes: Cardio done for 300 calories after each training session whilst maintaining heart rate at 130-150bpm.
8 Weeks In: 59kg
Back to the plan and Ciaran was once again in the driving seat and looking better for the changes we made. He decided on trying to create larger buffers in the week to facilitate more calories on the weekend with his family. This meant 850 calories during the week, largely from protein, fat and vegetables and the surplus allowing a lot more freedom on the weekend. This strategy can be useful in many circumstances, and is very much part of creating the lifestyle solution that works for you.
Changes: Increased steps from 10,000 to 12,500 daily.
9 Weeks In: 58.6kg
The scale wasn’t the best measure of Ciaran, as he was definitely getting a recomp effect through the process. The pictures in week 9 here were the best yet. Abs were out and he was looking very close to how we wanted him, with only 2-3kg to go now.
Changes: Increased steps from 12,500 to 15,000 daily.
10 Weeks In: 57.8kg
Close to the finish line and Ciaran was really beginning to feel the intensity of getting lean, but his pictures looked better again and these dramatic changes kept him going.
No changes to training, diet or cardio.
11 Weeks In (Final week): 57.5kg
Ciaran was at his leanest ever body composition and we were ready to feed Ciaran up for his final pictures. So here’s what we did in order to ‘peak’ for Saturday afternoon…
Wednesday & Thursday: All cardio dropped and steps reduced.
Friday: Extra 200g carbs on top of normal diet with minimal vegetables and fibre to avoid bloating.
Saturday: Extra 150g carbs spread throughout early parts of day with salt and water as normal to maximise vascularity and pump. To help during his pump up, we added EAA’s, vitargo and half a tablespoon of salt to maximise the effect.
Leanest Bodyweight: 56.2kg
Ciaran achieved his first checkpoint, and it was now time to navigate through the critical period and take a safe passage home, in order to set himself up for the best chance of muscle building success!
Weeks 1&2 Consolidation: 56.7kg & 57.2kg
After increasing his calories at the start of The Consolidation Phase, Ciaran noticed his weight went down. While this might sound bizarre, it’s simply a case of water retention reducing via stress reduction and taking on some more carbohydrates. Water balance and glycogen tend to level out after 10-14 days so we didn’t make any changes for 2 weeks, even though Ciaran was keen for more food.
It’s not uncommon to lose some more weight whilst initially reversing out of a diet. Ciaran was made aware this may happen, and that it wouldn’t keep dropping as we kept pushing food up.
Ultimately our goal was to consolidate fat loss and bring calories up as high as possible to allow for better training, recovery and of course to add more food to his plate!
Changes: Increased calories from 1350 daily to 1850 through carbohydrates.
Week 3 Consolidation: 56.8kg
With minimal change in scale weight and body composition in a good place, we added another 300 calories from carbs, which took Ciaran to 2150 calories. His body was ready for more food and this was another sizeable increase in calories.
Changes: Increased calories from 1850 to 2150 calories, all via more carbohydrates.
Week 4 Consolidation: 57.5kg
With a big increase in carbs there will inevitably be a lot more glycogen and water present so judging scale weight is tricky for the first 7 days as it will go up rapidly. At this stage, we decided to keep things as they are.
Investment Phase Begins: 57.7kg
No further changes to calories after a successful month of consolidating. We agreed that we wanted to keep Ciaran’s condition in check before pushing any further. With more room for calories we could drive more muscle growth, but Ciaran was enjoying the look of his physique so we chose to keep food the same until after the summer, and then push for more size and calories to maximise muscle growth.
The beauty of a successful dieting phase and consolidation is that it perfectly primes a lengthy muscle building phase. Once we get a solid 6-12 months of progress getting stronger and eating more his next time cutting will be even more impressive! Stay tuned for Ciaran 2.0!
Initial Investment Phase Changes: Tweak in training program. The bread and butter lifts stay in with a focus on staying strong, but we decided to mix up some of the assistance work in the higher rep ranges.
Prior to working with RNT I’d been a semi-regular gym-goer, oscillating between various powerlifting exercise-based strength training programs. At university I’d been quite active. I was known as ‘that guy’ who would always walk everywhere instead of getting the bus. I also played badminton for the medical school team.
I heard about RNT through my friend Saagar who had gone through an amazing transformation the year before. At the time I didn’t feel the need to do the same, probably because it’s a lot easier to maintain an active lifestyle as a student when you have so much more time to spare. After starting work however, this became a lot more difficult. I had to drive to work each day instead of walking, the hours were longer and more hectic, and I found myself dropping out of shape.
Working with RNT has been a great experience, he was always able to help with all kinds of questions, many of which I’d think were silly, and helped figure out all kinds of quandaries along the journey. There were times throughout the transformation where I had big family events, events which I dearly didn’t want to miss out on but was worried would derail my progress. Instead of being advised against them, the RNT team was very understanding and helped figure out ways to balance the goals and commitments. It was through things like this that I realised the value of being a part of RNT, the more you are able to open up to them, the more they are able to help, and the more your mind can be put at rest!
It has been a great educational experience, and one that I hope to continue to keep learning from as I try to blend the principles from the process with my lifestyle to make it sustainable into the future for years to come.