Bodybuilding & Strength

Strength By Sonny 2014 Physical Transformation Guide (Part I: Offseason Training)

Welcome to the Strength By Sonny Physical Transformation Guide for 2014.

It’s been a long time coming. This guide will be in a series format with multiple parts.

I will tell you the story of how I went from 249 to 207.4. I will tell you what I did to go from mass monster to shredded beast. I will tell you exactly how I got in the best shape of my life to date. I will leave it all out on the table.

Buckle up fellas we bout to get ignit up in this piece.

Here’s my before after picture:

My before and after pictures. First pic is April 4th. Second pic in June 26th.

My before and after pictures. First pic is April 4th. Second pic in June 26th.

Background and Training Context.

Every story needs a background. This is no exception. In order to fully understand this story, we must first look into my motivation for achieving my best physique to date.

Competitors must have a purpose. We must have some thing or some distant goal driving us. Otherwise what is the point of sacrifice?

My driving force was a vacation. It usually is a vacation. Since 2012, I have made it a ritual to get as shredded as possible and go on vacation.

In 2012, I went to Myrtle Beach with my classmates for post-exams. In 2013, I went to Vegas. This year I returned to Vegas to have some more fun and stunt on them pool parties.

I have found that if I have an actual goal, such as a planned date to be absolutely shredded, I’m going to remain far more disciplined and fully embrace prep mode than if I just told myself: “I want to get in shape.”

That’s the power of specific goal setting. I didn’t tell myself “I want to clean up my diet and look good.”

I told myself “I need to go high protein high fat on the diet with scheduled cheat days. I will be absolutely shredded and in the best shape of my life by June 26th.”

The actual prep lasted from April 4th to June 26th. 83 days.

I still maintained the diet while I was in Vegas through 4th of July weekend.

This was by far the “messiest” prep I’ve done so far.

In fact, check out the video where I compare this prep to my preps from 2012 and 2013:

What was my goal for this year’s prep?

My goal was to get in the best shape of my life. More specifically, I wanted a hybrid look of my 2012 and 2013 physique.

When I reached peak shape in 2012, I was about 201. I was super shredded but I overdid it with the diet the last 10 days by cutting out all the fat. As a result, my physique was a little flat. 2013 was much better because I avoided overdieting and maintained the fullness in my muscles. However, due to the lack of cardio (compared to 2012) I did not have as “dry” of a physique as I wanted. I was still shredded but I have high standards and know I could have taken it a step further. My weight at peak form was 214.

This year I was greedy. I wanted it all. I wanted by muscles to have maximum 3D pop. I wanted my waist to be tighter than ever. I wanted to be big and have my skin look paper thin. I wanted to look like I was carved out of stone.

*** More importantly, I wanted to do it without using clenbuterol (which I had used the previous 2 years).

I nailed it at a weight of 207.4.

The offseason can make or break you.

I am a big believer in the offseason (for all sports). Champions are made in the offseason. Bodybuilding (natural) is no different. Offseason training basically refers to the training that takes place when you are not dieting or in prep mode.

Most bodybuilders swear that you should never switch up your training for prep mode. I disagree.

I believe you should absolutely switch up your training once you get on that diet (for natural trainers). The reason is very simple. You have different goals for the offseason versus prep mode. In the offseason, your goal is to pack on size and hammer your particular weak points. For prep mode, you’re not “growing” anymore. You are “cutting weight” to get shredded.

A little bit of muscle loss is inevitable. In reality, you are getting smaller. You just look bigger because of the improved conditioning and detail.

In previous years, I tried to keep my offseason training as similar to my prep mode training as much as possible.

If you know me and have been reading my blog for a while now, you will know that I am a volume trainer. I wrote that in my very first article.

“The more volume the better” usually is the case. However, I actually decreased the volume this year.

I decreased it because for this year’s offseason I stuck with straight sets of heavy movements for my first few exercises for a given body part.

Training Examples:

Typical first exercise of 2013 offseason leg workout: Leg Press superset with walking lunges

Typical first exercise of 2014 offseason leg workout: Leg Press

Typical first exercise of 2014 offseason bicep workout: Dumbbell curls superset with cable curls

Typical first exercise of 2014 mode bicep workout: Barbell Curls

I found that this helped me preserve my energy levels and it just made the workout much more efficient. My goal was to pack on size without using as much volume. So I knew I had to use heavy weight with better form (than previous years).

It also felt a lot better to have more gas in the tank at the end of the workouts. I’m also going for more density so I made sure to maintain fairly high volume (more so toward the end of my workouts).

Quick note: The tail end of workouts are the most important part. It’s what separates the men from the boys (both physically and mentally).

Your body is breaking down. Your mind is breaking down. The punks are the ones who cut the workout short because of fatigue (not legitimate pain or injury). They give up before the muscle is taxed.

True competitors are the ones who try to beat the machine. They are the ones who actually get stronger towards the end of the workout.

They get stronger because raw animal drive pushes them. They know the end is near so they sprint for the finish line.

2014 Offseason Training Split

Monday: Abs Back Traps

Tuesday: Chest Triceps

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Quads Hamstrings Calves

Friday: Shoulders Biceps Forearms

Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off

As usual, I relied on split training to build the physique I wanted.

This year I did a 4 day split for my offseason: 2 days on 1 day off and took the weekends off. I felt it was sufficient for me this time around. It’s very rare that I knock it down to 4 days (typically stick with 5 days). At first, I kept thinking that I was “undertraining.” However, the workouts were so intense that 4 days was sufficient enough to tax my body.

17 was the magic number.

 You might be wondering what my rep range was. 17 was the magic number.

For some reason, I focused on the number 17 so the majority of the time, I got at least 17 reps. It was a good number because I could still train heavy and it was more than enough volume especially with supersetted movements.

*** The only exceptions were the first one or two heavy straight set basic movements that I mentioned earlier. With those, I kept the rep range around 10.

Offseason “Money” Movements

Anytime you get in a good rhythm with your workouts, you will find that there are certain movements you can’t get away from. In other words, they’re just perfect at that particular time. Over time, you realize that your “money” movements change. What worked for you a few months ago might not do it anymore… in that case you must adjust.

These were my “money” movements for this prep:

Chest- Barbell bench superset with dumbbell pullovers

Back- Hammer Strength Machine Row

Quads- Barbell squat

Hamstrings- Jefferson deadlift (slow and controlled reps)

Triceps- Sonny extensions

Biceps- Close grip barbell curls

Forearms- Barbell wrist curls superset with hammer curls

Shoulders- Reverse pec deck superset with bent over laterals

Calves- Standing Calf Raises

Abs- Ab Roller

Traps- Smith Machine Shrugs

That’s a good start for the Strength By Sonny 2014 Physical Transformation Guide.

Like I said, it will be multiple parts. So be on the lookout for some good stuff coming out.



Previous post

Sacrifice: The Price of a Good Trick

Next post

Strength By Sonny 2014 Physical Transformation Guide (Part II: Offseason Diet and Supplements)



  1. […] Strength By Sonny 2014 Physical Transformation Guide (Part I: Offseason Training) […]

  2. Billy
    September 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    You are a beast Sonny!

    Diet accounts for minimum 70% of the results. It took me a long time to figure this out.

    Really curious about one thing though? I notice you use a lot of pics on your site. You not worried about copyrights?

    • September 19, 2014 at 5:12 am — Reply

      Thanks man!

      yea I’ll take care of the pics eventually.

  3. cam..
    September 19, 2014 at 6:06 am — Reply

    “the off season can make or break you”.. that is the truth. I think it might break me if i don’t do something about my weight.

    Ive had some issue with bulking and i’d like to see HOW YOU DID IT. Last summer/fall i went ham and gained about 30 lbs in 4 months. Thing is.. i cant seem to get past 196lbs no matter how much i try to stuff myself.

    I ate something like this:

    Breakfast: 4 eggs, bread and apple juice
    brunch: Pro complex gainer (1 full scoop)
    Lunch: Brown Rice, Beef, Ice Tea
    Postworkout: GNC Creatine Mono & Pro Complex Gainer (1 full scoop)
    Dinner: Double Chicken Teriyaki Sub
    Before Bed: Pro Complex Gainer (1 Full scoop)

    Was Basically getting about 4000 cals per day just to stay at 195 .. 12%body fat

    I’m still stuck at one ninety five. Its like my body just eats this shit up. I’d hate to believe this is my genetic max. I know its not. I’ve tried eating more but damn.. God’s knows how much my digestive system can take in a day. I’m even finishing a bowl of oatmeal as a type this shit.

    * Like you said before.. I gotta get to atleast 215 before cutting or else my muscles could flatten out when i cut the carbs out.

    Funny thing is most people that lift swear im about 210ish..until i step on the scale and see the look on their faces.

    • September 20, 2014 at 1:33 am — Reply

      Keep in mind you haven’t been at it that long and have make ridiculous gains so far.

      You ever consider taking a few weeks off to essentially hit the reset button?

      • Cam..
        September 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm — Reply

        Not really. I’ve taken a week off here and there but never as long as a couple of weeks. whats the difference?

        • September 22, 2014 at 12:05 am — Reply

          taking some time off can do the body good

  4. Milun
    September 19, 2014 at 7:04 am — Reply

    This series is gonna fucking kick ass! Looking forward to part 2.

    PS Just wanna let you know that SBS is an awesome site and it’s coming along really well. It’s evident that you put a lot of time and effort into building it up and it seems like you have a plan for which posts you put out, not just spitting out posts at random. Been reading since day one. Keep up the great work!

    • September 20, 2014 at 1:31 am — Reply

      Thanks man you one of my day one niggas

  5. Sith
    September 21, 2014 at 6:27 pm — Reply

    Sonny, how tall are you?

    • September 22, 2014 at 12:05 am — Reply


  6. Cam..
    September 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm — Reply

    So Kai Greene lost again! Or should I say Phil won.

    What do you think of the results???

    Everyone says Kai’s physique was better.. They say he works harder e.t.c. But Phil is a better representative for the sport bcz he’s kinda multi dimensional and a lot of people can relate to him.

    In my opinion, Kai had a better back but that’s it. Phil seems more likable and Kai seems like the Lone wolf type. You can say I’d give it to Phil just bcz I like him more.. Don’t really care if Kai’s back was an inch or two bigger

    • September 29, 2014 at 6:58 pm — Reply

      If it was based on physique, Shawn Rhoden should have won.

      Bodybuilding is a business now. Phil has the better brand. Bodybuilding would be considered a joke if Kai won the O given his past.

      Thing is Kai looks great by himself but gets beat when standing next to Phil.

      • Cam..
        October 1, 2014 at 3:51 am — Reply

        Shawn Roden? I though he looked smaller than Phil and Kai.

        And true, I don’t know anything about Kai Greens past but he’s very unstable just from the way he tries to fight on stage..

        • October 3, 2014 at 5:56 am — Reply

          Total package… Shawn Rhoden still has aesthetics whereas as Phil and Kai have the slin guts.

  7. October 1, 2014 at 1:51 am — Reply

    What are your thoughts on traditional “bulking” or are you going to be covering that soon? Getting up to 249 at 6ft is impressive as hell, and I’m wondering how you did that.

    • October 1, 2014 at 2:10 am — Reply

      Yea. I’ll cover all that. Just a little behind now because I’ve been busy with some other projects associated with this site.

  8. October 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm — Reply

    […] from Strength by Sonny recently covered this exact topic in his physical transformation guide for 2014.  In his article he talks about how he gets ready for his vacation every year by training hard. […]

  9. Conor
    October 6, 2014 at 12:06 am — Reply

    Why did you decide agains Clen this time? Pros and cons?

    • October 6, 2014 at 3:39 am — Reply

      1) I didn’t have a trustworthy source. Back in NC I had a very trustworthy source and could get it made in a lab for me.
      2) I didn’t want to subject my heart to another prep with clen.

      I got in the best shape of my life this past prep and didn’t have to use clen.

  10. Ryan
    November 18, 2014 at 2:32 am — Reply

    Hey Sonny, what is the proper gaining of muscle rate for a 15 year old, 5’7″ 140-145lbs, 9-10% body fat? Aka how much weight should I be gaining each week? Do you think this is about right: first year 16llbs lean muscle, second year 8 lbs, third year 4lbs, fourth year 2lbs, etc.?
    What are your thoughts?

    • November 18, 2014 at 4:20 am — Reply

      Everyone is different.

      Don’t try to project what your gains might be… that’s just not the way to look at things.

      Gotta stay open minded and really view this thing as a journey through life.

      I never ever tried to project where I would be a certain number of years down the road.

      I pretty much lived day by day, workout by workout, and eventually some time goes by and I notice I’m a lot bigger or fuller.

      • John
        November 18, 2014 at 11:24 pm — Reply

        Okay, thanks for the quick reply, Sonny.

        So, my next question is how much weight should I look to gain each week? For example, I don’t want to gain 5 lbs this week, and only 1lb is actual muscle, so what would your suggestion be? I know many bodybuilding websites suggest gaining between .5 to 2 lbs per week for lean muscle gain, but this is probably bullshit coming from them. What is the most appropriate amount I should be gaining each week?

        • November 24, 2014 at 12:20 am — Reply

          Again, don’t think about it in terms of how much weight you can gain per week. You will drive yourself crazy constantly monitoring every little change.

          That’s like when I was short in elementary/middle school. I was always measuring myself to see how much I had grown. I would get upset when I hardly grew.

          When I grew most was when I never checked and didn’t give a shit any more (high school).

          The way you measure progress is by periodically looking in the mirror and seeing the changes… that’s it.

  11. Morgan
    November 27, 2014 at 3:32 am — Reply

    What’s up Sonny, how would you structure a beginner leg workout?how many exercise/muscle?

    • December 1, 2014 at 6:26 am — Reply

      I would say keep it to 3 exercises per bodypart.

      3 exercises for quads, 3 for hamstrings, 3 for calves

      Don’t start with supersets right away. Most beginner trainers can barely handle straight sets for legs when they first start off.

      Also start with quads, then hamstrings, then end with calves.

  12. […] things in life you can get excited for. Becoming rich or at least financially independent. Being athletic and/or ripped. A better dating and social […]

  13. March 23, 2015 at 6:54 pm — Reply

    […] Bodybuilding. Men’s Physique. Stuff like that… I also do one prep a year. So in 2014, I bulked up to 249 and then I shred down to like […]

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