Name: John Bartlett
Original Beginning Weight: 240 lbs.
Beginning Body Fat: 42%
Waist Size: 42 inches
Why I Got Started
From as young as I can remember, I was involved in sports and
lead a very active life. But by the time I got into my mid-30s, I
got focused on my career and my social lifestyle of dining out and
drinking every night. I had no time for exercise and, quite
honestly, didnít think too much about it. I spent a lot of time
traveling and enjoying foods and cultures of other countries. I
moved to Europe for a while where my social life became my most
Prior to jet setting around the world, I met my future wife,
Lisa. We met in the late 1990s when I was still in pretty good shape
but we didnít start dating until I moved back to the USA in late
2001. In 2002, we built a house in the Phoenix area and moved in
together. I was about 240 lbs. at that time and I starting to feel
very self-conscience about my obesity. It was warm all year around
and we had a beautiful swimming pool. We entertained all the time
and I was constantly embarrassed in a bathing suit.
In 2003, we got married. In the summer of 2004, Lisa and I
decided to adopt a child. We were still living in Phoenix but we
felt it would be best to move to a smaller community to raise our
future child. We bought a house, on a quiet cul-de-sac, in the small
town of Sedona, Arizona where we now live. When we moved, I was
still 240 lbs. Sedona is 4500 feet above sea level and I immediately
felt the altitude. I, literally, became out of breath running from
one end of the house to the other to answer the phone.
Sedona is a community where most people enjoy outdoor activities.
There are over a hundred miles of mountain biking and hiking trails
in town. Sedona has the reputation of being one having some of the
best mountain biking trials in the country. Knowing this, I
immediately went to all three bike shops in town and got as much
information as possible about mountain biking and the differences in
bikes. Within a few days, I bought 2 new mountain bikes; one for my
wife, Lisa, and one for me.
We joined a local mountain biking group and participated in a few
rides. Each time I rode, I hit the wall hard. People twice my age
rode by me like I was standing still. I rode as often as I could
throughout the rest of 2004. I fell several times and had to give up
riding a few weeks at a time to let various injuries heal.
By the beginning of 2005, the adoption process was moving along
quite nicely. We expected to travel for our overseas adoption
sometime in the spring or summer of 2005. I wanted to be able to run
around and participate in all the activities our son will be
involved in. By this time, my blood pressure was very high and
medication was not controlling it.
I wanted to be around for my son and to see him grow up. I
certainly didnít want to die of heart disease and have my wife
stuck raising a child by herself. I also wanted to be able to do
active things with my son. Besides, what kind of a role model would
I be as an obese parent?
My father died of heart attack. His death was caused, in great
part, by not taking care of himself until he was in his 60s. He
abused his body until then. When he was 60, doctorís orders forced
him to begin eating right and working out regularly. But by then it
was too late. He passed away after having a heart attack 5 days
after his 65th birthday. I was following right along in his
footsteps. I had to make some changes and fast.
I had other problems, besides the high blood pressure, too. There
are too many to list but they include chronic back pain, sciatica
and severe insulin resistance. If I didnít do something soon, Iíd
become diabetic like my father.
The mountain biking wasnít working fast enough. I dropped about
10 lbs. biking in 2004 but I was still very obese. My diet hadnít
changed and I was still consuming way too much alcohol.
A sore throat forced me to see a doctor. He determined that I
needed to have my tonsils removed. In early January, 2005, I had the
surgery. They almost cancelled it when they checked my vital signs
prior to the surgery. My blood pressure was 180 over something and
my resting pulse was just under 100 beats per minute. I convinced
the doctor that I was fine and just felt a bit nervous due to the
upcoming surgery. He operated. I had complications and extensive
bleeding that they could not stop. This was supposed to be an
outpatient operation but I ended up spending some time in the
When I got out, I knew I really had to make some changes Ė and
fast. I joined the local gym and began working out. I mountain biked
alone, at my own pace Ė and did it more often. By May 2005, I had
dropped my weight down to 210 lbs. but I was still grotesquely
From the beginning of 2005 on, I became obsessed with health and
fitness. I read everything I could get my hands on; book after book,
article after article. I read hundreds of books and thousands of
articles. Bodybuilding.com was set to my home page. I read every
single new article that was publish on their site.
How I Got Committed to My Goals
I decided that I needed a deadline. I chose to do the
body-for-LIFE 12-week Challenge. I designed my training program,
cardio program, nutrition program and took my before photos. This
was it. This time I was going to do it. I had my motivation; a
picture of our baby we are adopting. Actually, I had many pictures.
Some on the refrigerator; some in the bedroom; some in my office;
some in my car; some with me at all times in my wallet. Whenever I
felt weak Iíd glance at the pictures and visualize both scenarios;
fat me and in-shape me. Iíd use the pictures to motivate myself to
get off the couch and go to the gym even when I was exhausted. The
pictures helped turn me away from a piece of French bread and butter
for a handful of almonds or a low fat yogurt. They helped keep me
focused, no matter what, for twelve straight weeks! Ė well, it
ended up being 11 straight weeks. We received a call from the
adoption agency and had to travel to Kazakhstan before my 12 weeks
would be up.
So, I worked out every day. Most of the time I did two 1-hour
sessions of cardio a day and 1 hour in the weight room. If I took a
day off from the gym, Iíd usually do 3 or more hours of cardio.
Almost all my cardio was done on my either my mountain bike or road
bike. I have a very demanding job where I work with people in
countries around the world. In order to get all my workouts in I
started each day at 4:30 AM. Due to my work schedule my 2nd cardio
session was usually done around 3:00 PM in the summer heat which was
usually above 100 degrees and as much as 110 degrees. But the heat
didnít stop me. I was determined to get this done before we
adopted our son.
I kept a perfect diet. I didnít take a cheat day but I did have
scheduled re-feed days where I would boost my complex carbs and
calories to keep metabolism running at full throttle.
My wife and I spent a couple of months in Kazakhstan. While we
were there, I found a gym. The equipment looked like it was
pre-WWII. All machines that used to have cables, now had ropes in
their place. There was only one ancient treadmill and they had one
of those vibrating belts that people used in the 1960s.
Food was another problem. It was very difficult to get proteins.
Chicken breasts couldnít be found and red meat was not to be
trusted. Needless to say, I slid backwards a bit during the trip.
After returning to the USA, I decided to spend the winter adding
some muscle size, hoping to enter my first bodybuilding contest in
the spring. I gained some weight. By the end of January of 2006, I
was over 200 lbs.; this time I was carrying more muscle than fat.
Just Like ThatÖ Iím a Fitness Model
Soon thereafter, I was contacted by Bodybuilding.com. They asked
me for original copies of my before photos and each one of my weekly
photos including my after photos. I sent them some originals. A
month or so after that, they got in touch with me again and asked me
to appear in an advertisement they were planning to run in several
fitness magazines. I agreed and they ran the ad in Iron Man Magazine
(May 06), Muscle & Fitness (May 06), Men's Workout Best Of 2006,
Muscular Development (May 06), Flex Magazine (May 06) and Southern
Muscle Magazine (March or April 06). Can you believe it. A year ago
I was an obese couch potato and now I was in all these magazines.
How cool is that?
My First Bodybuilding Contest
The ad gave me the extra burst of motivation I needed and, by
this point, I was working with my mentor, Tom Venuto, author of Burn
The Fat, Feed The Muscle. Between Tomís influence and a contest
date, I had all the motivation I needed.
I began dropping weight in an effort to compete in the Best of
the West Championships in Phoenix, Arizona on April 29, 2006. It was
a WNBF Pro Qualifier. Through excessive biking, total commitment to
the weight room and a near-perfect diet, I was able to drop my body
fat to about 8% for the contest. I weighed in at 174 lbs. on the
nose. This was the high end of the middleweight class. I entered the
middleweight open class and the masters pro-qualifier.
Contest day was a pretty good day. Tom Platz was the head judge
and I met Jay Cutler between the pre-judging and the night show.
During the night show, the masters class was called out before
the middleweight open class. There were 11 of us in the Masters
Pro-Qualifier. They started calling names from last place on up.
When my name hadnít been called by the time they announce sixth
place, I knew I had won a trophy Ė but I never expected what
happened next. They called fifth, fourth, and third Ė and still I
hadnít heard my name. I turned to Ramone, the only other
competitor left and I shook his hand, wishing him luck. When Ramoneís
name was called next, I was in shock. I had won the masters
pro-qualifier. I won my WNBF Pro Card on my first time out. It was
an awesome feeling. I ended up taking second place in the open
middleweight division but, buy that point I didnít really care. I
was already in the celebration mind-set.
A couple weeks after my first show, Reg Bradford photographed me.
Regís portfolio includes covers for Natural Bodybuilding, Men's
Exercise, Flex, Women's Physique World and Oxygen.
Iím looking forward to visiting the Northeast and being
photographed by John Mitchell in the near future.
How I Did It
I used a carb/calorie cycling diet that I learned from Tom Venuto.
I ate low carbs and low calories for 3 days and spent my 4th day
re-feeding on a high carb diet. I kept my protein at about 1.5 grams
per pound of lean body mass each day. On low days, I ate about 175
grams of carbs and kept my fat intake to about 20 to 25% of my daily
calories. Below is an example of a typical low carb day.
||Whey & oatmeal
||Post-Workout Drink & creatine
||4 oz. Chicken & asparagus & 1/2 Tbsp EFA
||3.5 oz Salmon & spinach salad w/ 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
||3 oz Steak, 1/2 slice whole grain bread
||4 oz. Chicken & an apple
||220 g (30%)
||61 g (27%)
On re-feed days, I ate 400 to 450 grams of carbs and kept my fat
intake as low as possible. Carbohydrate sources came from mostly
starches on re-feed days; rice, potatoes, yams, whole grain breads,
cereal, oatmeal, etc. I ate no fructose at all on re-feed days.
Re-feeds are designed to raise leptin levels and boost metabolism.
Fructose has very little effect on leptin, whereas, other carbs help
boost leptin levels back to normal. Below is an example of a typical
||3 oz. Chicken, 2 servings of oatmeal
||3 oz. Chicken, 2 servings of oatmeal
||3 oz. Chicken & 1 can black beans
||Post-Workout Drink & Creatine
||3 oz. Chicken & 2 servings brown rice
||3 oz. Chicken & 1 can black beans
||3 oz. Chicken
||412 g (55%)
||262 g (35%)
||27 g (8%)
In the gym, I did a 4-day split routine; 2 days on, 1 day off.
Below was a typical day of training right out of my training
Monday (Shoulders & Triceps)
Dumbbell lateral raises using a 3,0,2,1 tempo (triple drop sets):
35 x 12, 30 x 8, 25 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
30 x 12, 25 x 10, 20 x 8 (no rest between weight changes)
30 x 10, 25 x 8, 20 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
Bent-over reverse dumbbell flies using a 3,0,2,1 tempo (triple
40 x 12, 30 x 8, 20 x 8 (no rest between weight changes)
40 x 12, 30 x 8, 20 x 8 (no rest between weight changes)
40 x 10, 30 x 8, 20 x 8 (no rest between weight changes)
Front dumbbell raises using a 4,0,1,2 tempo (triple drop sets):
20 x 12, 15 x 8, 10 x 8 (no rest between weight changes)
20 x 10, 15 x 8, 10 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
20 x 18, 15 x 6, 10 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
Decline skull crushers using a 4,1,1,0 tempo (triple drop sets):
90 x 12, 70 x 6, 50 x 8 (no rest between weight changes)
90 x 8, 70 x 6, 50 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
Single-arm dumbbell extensions using a 4,0,2,0 tempo (triple drop
30 x 6, 25 x 6, 20 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
25 x 8, 20 x 6, 15 x 6 (no rest between weight changes)
25 x 6, 20 x 5, 15 x 5 (no rest between weight changes)
I usually finished triceps with a couple of sets of parallel dips
Tuesday (Back and calves)
Friday (Chest & Biceps)
Sunday (Start again with Shoulders and Triceps)
I used similar techniques for all gym days but I never did the
same exact workout twice. Iíd always changed something. Instead of
using drop sets, Iíd do super sets, pause sets, heavy straight
sets, pre-exhaustion sets or any combination. Sometimes Iíd just
change my tempo but I never repeated the same workout twice.
Once I got my nutrition plan and training program squared away, I
just did as much cardio as I had time for. All my cardio was done on
either my mountain bike or road bike. Iíd often spend more than 2
hours a day doing cardio. The more cardio I did, the more fat came
off, so cardio was king.
Below is an actual week of training from my training log. This
was a typical week during my initial transformation.
|Monday, July 04, 2005
|Tuesday, July 05, 2005
|Wednesday, July 06, 2005
|Thursday, July 07, 2005
|Friday, July 08, 2005
|Saturday, July 09, 2005
|Sunday, July 10, 2005
I used supplements but I didnít rely on them. I relied on
proper nutrition, cardio and weight training. However, I did (and
do) take some supplements. Here's what I take:
- Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)
- Casein Protein
- Dextrorotatory Glucose
- Whey Protein Isolate
Well that's it. I don't take any other supplements; not even fat
burners. Every fat burner I've tried has given me some sort of an
adverse reaction. I've had heartburn, nervousness and problems
sleeping. And now that ephedrine is illegal for natural bodybuilding
contests, fat burners which don't contain ephedrine are the only
option and they donít work as well. Besides, I feel strongly that
there is no need whatsoever to waste hard-earned money on something
that just isn't needed.
One more thing... they aren't really supplements but I also use
caffeine and diet soda. I consume both caffeine and diet soda
regularly but I have special uses for both when I'm trying to drop
I consume caffeine, in the form of coffee, first thing in the
morning, before cardio, to help with burning fat during cardio. I
drink diet soda in the evening to help me deal with cravings and to
keep me feeling full.
I now know that anyone can drastically change their physique. It
doesnít really matter how out-of-shape you are or how prone to
gaining fat you are. It all comes down to how much you want it Ė
and I really wanted it.