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:
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.
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.
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
Thursday: Quads Hamstrings Calves
Friday: Shoulders Biceps Forearms
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.