Leaning Down
by Herve Duchemin, Advanced Personal Trainer and Fitness Model

When I first started working out, I was out of shape and overweight. I was a victim of the "infomercials" seen on television, and I honestly didn't know what the hell to do to get rid of my rolls. My pecs were sagging down to my stomach, and I was constantly teased and made fun of in school for being overweight. The "infomercial-people" seemed like the most knowledgeable and promising individuals to follow in order to achieve the results I desired. Boy was I mistaken.

For months I battled with my weight, unfortunately with little to no results at all. During my junior year of high school, a student who I was a friend with, John Campoli, told me that he got a membership to a gym, and had been working out. I noticed a significant difference in his appearance, as he too used to be overweight. I brought the idea up to my best friend Anthony, and we decided to join the gym together, and commit to working out during the summer. So during the entire summer, we worked out Monday through Friday, using only the nautilus machines and cables. We didn't really know what else to do, and we basically trusted the advice of everyone in the gym, since we were coming from a point of not knowing anything at all. At this point, I didn't know anything about dieting, so I just kept my eating habits the same, and continued to workout on the nautilus machines. After the summer, I had made fantastic gains on my arms, and I noticed a little separation between my shoulder and bicep area. My strength went up a great deal, and my pecs were starting to firm up a lot. I was very happy with my results up to this point.

When I got back to school in the fall, everyone noticed the changes I had made. I was getting compliments a lot, and wasn't getting made fun of anymore. I even cut the sleeves off of my gym shirt to reveal my newly developed "guns". When I look back, I really wasn't in that good shape at all, but in high school, no one really knows what good shape is, so if you have a little definition in your arms, and a flat stomach, you're in a class above the rest, for the most part.

When I graduated high school, I was a lot bigger, having put on a bunch of muscle mass over the past year. So on I went to college, and continued to workout like a madman, and eat whatever I wanted. I had a really smooth appearance, but once again, my strength was through the roof, so everyone was always complimenting me.

About halfway through my freshman year, I saw an ad for the EAS transformation challenge, so I decided to try it out with a buddy of mine. For about 4 weeks I dieted, and added cardio to my regimen (up to this point, I had never done any cardio). I lost weight after the 4 weeks, but really made no significant improvement in my body composition. I think I actually "lost" muscle mass after getting my body fat tested, because I didn't understand how to diet at all. The whole thing was pretty new to me.

When I would go home for the summers, in between my college years, I would see the old people I used to workout with when in high school. A lot of them were older guys who were extraordinary bodybuilders. I would always pick their brains for advice. One of the guys I used to talk to a lot was named Vic. He was gigantic, and competed in the Nationals a lot. I remember he was going for his pro card, and was up against guys like Tevita Aholeli, and Bob Cicherillo. One day, I talked with another guy, named Raul. He wasn't big at all, but his strength was through the roof! He was very lean year-round, and convinced me that you could still put on muscle while staying very lean. He helped me out with my dieting a lot, and eventually I lost some more fat and learned what "water weight was". He told me that he used to work as a personal trainer. So once again, I brought up the idea of personal training to my friend Anthony, and we decided to get certified. After receiving my certification, I decided to apply for a job at a gym up by my school in the fall. I got the job, and learned a great deal. After working for the gym for about two years, I had achieved advanced training certification, and a sound knowledge on nutrition, cardiovascular exercise, stability and functional training, and postural analysis. My knowledge base was much greater than it had ever been before, and I was ready to transform my physique into one, which was very lean and defined. All it would take now was dedication to the diet, which, up to this point, I was never able to master.

After consistently dieting down for a while, I took some pictures. At this point, I noticed I had a long way to go before I looked like the guys in the magazines, but I knew I had the muscle mass. I kept dieting down more and more, and eventually started to get pretty lean. One of the guys I worked with at the gym mentioned that he was working with a modeling agency in NYC.

I decided to send an e-mail to the agency along with some photos, and see if I got a response. Within a few days I heard back from the agency, and they wanted to make an appointment to see me. So in a few days, I went down to NY, and met up with the agency. They had me take my shirt off so I could show off my physique, and was told that I would have to firm up a little bit more if I was going to be a part of the agency. But I was told that they loved my look, and they gave me their business card to contact them when I made the required changes.

With that goal in mind, I found it easy to stick to my diet, and my training for leanness was greater than it had ever been before. Within about 5 weeks, I had made a dramatic change on my physique, and was almost in contest shape! When I went back to the agency, they were psyched, and they hooked me up with some of their clients and I started to get some paid work.

I entered my first contest pretty soon after that, and saw that I had potential. But through all this, I realized that if I hadn't "educated" myself, I would never have gotten to the position that I am today. I still have a lot of improvement to make on my physique, but the whole leaning down process is nothing for me now. I know what I did in the past to get there, so now, every time I want to get there again, I just follow the same formula. And that is what I will list for you:

The first thing that I learned, is that cardio first thing in the morning on a empty stomach, is your first step toward achieving that lean physique. You have to get up very early, and just head over to the gym and do that cardio. I prefer non-impact cardio, 20-30 minutes of walking at 4.0mph on a 7-degree incline. Once you get home, have your breakfast.

As for the diet foods, I choose from a specific list, and don't eat anything else on the list, except for one time a week on a cheat day:

Chicken, turkey, steak, fish (all grilled, not fried)
Brown rice, yams, oats
Natural Peanut butter, almonds

Late night if I'm craving something, I'll have meat, green leafy veggies with balsamic vinegar, or sugar free popsicles, sugar free jello, plain air popped popcorn, or a protein shake with no carbs.

Eat every 2-3 hours, choosing 1 serving of protein, 1 serving of complex carbs, and some veggies. Keep your fats unsaturated, and eat them earlier in the day. If you're going to eat fruits, keep them minimal (first meal of the day, and/or right after your workout).

As for supplementation, I take Ripped Fuel before my morning cardio, and then in the afternoon, before 5pm. I take L-carnitine about 3-4 times a day to speed up fat loss.

Then comes the skin tightening, or the loss of "water weight". If you have too much water retention, you will never get that truly striated look. I use ripping gel on my stomach 2 times a day, once in the morning, and once at a certain point later. I also sit in the sauna a few times a week (as a contest approaches, I go everyday). And then you have to remember to get some sun (or a tanning bed if you live in a cold climate). The tanning is what will really tighten up your skin (I suggest putting preparation H on your stomach before you go tanning). Take Dandelion Root a few times a day as a natural diuretic. Also a pure unflavored non-gmo soy protein is good for drying you out (I use it for my first meal of the day and that's it, right after my morning cardio session).

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, POSE POSE POSE. You have to pose in front of the mirror in order to squeeze those muscles and get that hard look. Learn bodybuilding poses by watching videos, or just ask people in the gym who compete to show you some poses. It will also give you better control of your muscles while you train. I tend to pose in between sets at the gym, and flex the muscles as hard as possible. It helps to get blood flowing to the area, and giving you a greater pump.

So here's a sample meal plan I would follow:

Meal 1: 8-12 egg whites or a protein shake, cup oats

Meal 2: Chicken, turkey, steak or fish with cup oats, or 1 yam, and mixed greens

(I follow meal 2 over and over, except after my workout:

Post workout: Immediately after working out, I have a Gatorade, and a serving of protein.

1 to 1 and half hours later, I have a double serving of protein from a meat source, with 1-2 yams.

Late night snacks: air popped popcorn, sugar free popsicles, sugar free jello, a little bit of natural peanut butter.

Any questions, feel free to e-mail me at HerveDuchemin@hotmail.com, and I would like to thank John Mitchell personally for showing me that there are good people out there in the fitness industry who are willing to help others!

Stay healthy and hungry!


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