BBR Blog

Gain train – how to build strength this winter with Freddy and Serena

by | Jul 6, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments



What’s your past history with nutrition ie have you always been able to eat whatever, or any food intolerances, weight gain and loss experiences related to nutrition that you are happy to share?

I have always eaten very well after witnessing my father have his first heart attack before 50 and a triple bypass when I was still in high school. But in term of real nutrition I became way more interested in my late 20s where I was training with Donna Aston in Melbourne (acrobatics, so much fun). My diet was way more restricted than BBR – basically the only carbs I got was from fruit and veg – nothing processed and no way would I eat anything with sugar in it! I was never overweight but was never really amazing shape until I started seriously training in Melbourne.

Coming over to Perth I stagnated and in fact, put on quite a bit of weight as I found it hard to really get the results I was after. My age wasn’t helping, but also being held accountable to someone gave me the structure to stay strong and eat well and drink enough water.

What were your initial goals when you started with BBR and what results did you achieve?

My initial goal was to get into shape and lose about 10kgs of body fat (which was what I probably put on after our move). I started in November 2019 for a month, then travelled for a month, and then back in 2020.

Above: Serena (front row, first on the left) after crushing her initial challenge.

What was the motivation behind taking on a weight and strength gain program?

I do a lot of strength gym training and was finding that I was stagnating when my calories dropped in the last few weeks of the challenge, i.e. there was just nothing left in the tank when lifting. I like being strong and the desire to increase strength overtook my desire to lose weight. It helps that I understand the importance of muscle mass for improved metabolism, so Ryan and I came up with was gains focus for winter and will look to shred for summer.

How long have you been going for now?

I started the strength gaining process in February for the first challenge of the year and honestly, I felt so amazing by the end of the challenge. Work has been very busy lately, so dying to get back to the full commitment I was able to give during those months!

Above: Serena after last challenge, developing muscle and losing fat alongside surplus calories and plenty of big strength sessions.

What are the biggest challenges on the gains journey?

Eating that amount of food 100% was the hardest thing. I was consuming 1250 calories in the final weeks of my challenges when my goal was to get as lean as possible. When we sat down and set new goals my calories started at 1900 calories! I was basically full and needing to eat my next meal.

When we are typically conditioned to be smaller and lighter as females (although the big glutes trend is exciting!) – have you felt you’ve had to overcome any mental barriers watching the scale go up?

Strangest thing happened – I had one week were I increased marginally and had a bit of a ‘moment’ but Ryan was very quick to point how that this was a good thing and was what we were aiming to do. The following week had a bigger jump and I was feeling ok about it before Ryan told me it takes around two weeks to learn what’s happening with my energy out (training) and energy in (nutrition). Then post that my weight started to come off this was the most surprising outcome I was not expecting it to happen like that. Ryan also mentioned the benefits of eating more calories to fuel performance and increase my metabolism.

What have you enjoyed most about the gains process?

I feel like I am moving forward again just changing the focus to a different area.

What are the successes you’ve enjoyed so far in this process?

I feel like I have the consistency that was missing previously and I am probably the strongest I have ever been. Previously I was much leaner, but not as strong.

What’s the big goal you’re currently working towards?

You might not like my answer to this one! At the moment, I am just trying to get to the gym – work is out of control at the moment with super long hours – not much fun. But once I am over this little blip it will be to get really strong and then shred for summer.


What’s your past history with nutrition?

I never really thought about nutrition too much, I wasn’t worried about weight gain or loss and I had always been a bit of a bigger dude. For most of my 20s and early 30s, I was dealing with Crohn’s disease which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the bowel. Daily symptoms weren’t fun so I had some foods which I didn’t eat because they made symptoms worse, but I generally ate whatever I wanted.

I defs wasn’t fit or in shape, my Crohns was pretty debilitating and I actually didn’t have the energy or was rarely feeling well enough to exercise regularly.

After a pretty gnarly stomach surgery, which was supposed to make me feel better but actually made me feel worse, I had to take my health into my own hands and that’s when nutrition came in. Nutrition became all about lowering inflammation as much as possible. I started intermittent fasting (18:6 which means I had only a 6-hour eating window each day) and cut out alcohol, any carbonated drinks, most sugar, beef, lamb, pork, most carbs and dairy. Basically I went Keto with chicken as my protein source.

My body became a temple, a boring bland temple with all of the strobe lights and late nights removed but a hangover free temple nonetheless, but within two weeks I was feeling the best I had in 10 or so years and kind of felt like a teenager again.

This is when exercise became a part of my life again and I was hooked, joining gyms and getting back into it. My diet evolved again and I went vegan for about 2 years. I only recently added chicken back in mid last year for my gaining challenge.

What were your initial goals when you started with BBR and what results did you achieve?

I joined BBR about two years ago and my goal was to put on more muscle. I was pretty hyped on the initial results, not only did I find my new family but I also got stronger and learnt proper technique (still learning) and my cardio also got better, because BBR programming is so f*ckin awesome.

I had worked out how to manage diet and my Crohns, which meant a few more lollies and dessert than previously but it was when I started doing challenges I realised the importance of nutrition on getting actual results.

First challenge was a general lose fat add muscle challenge and I was excited with the results but also to be honest I wasn’t super strict. I liked being a part of it but was also pretty happy with how I was.

My challenge in July last year was my first gaining challenge and the first challenge I was super strict and worked really hard for. Eating 3700 cals a day and doing no HIIT for three months was tough. I swear some nights I would put food in my mouth and it would just fall straight back out onto my plate again. Keep in mind I still do intermittent fasting (16:8 which includes an 8-hour eating window) because it helps my daily Crohn’s symptoms so much. So it was super hard cramming all the food in over such a short time period.

But I put on a good amount of muscle and was really hyped on the results.

What is your typical process over the year with BBR in terms of gain phase and deficit?

My typical process. Hahahaha. This is probably what annoys Ryan the most (as well as doing too much HIIT and cardio) is that I don’t have specific goals. I like to change my goals and I get bored easily so I don’t have a typical process. Sorry Lis, can’t answer that!

How long have you been in this current gain phase?

After my big boys bulking phase/challenge last year (Ryan, Pauly and Gregor were bulking as well), I went on a cut phase which meant I was allowed to go back to HIIT and did that for three or so months, and then I have been on a slow gaining phase since January.

Above (L-R): Ryan, Freddy, Paul and Gregor in the gaining phase.

What are the challenges for you when gaining?

Biggest challenge for me is a combination of eating all of the food and not doing HIIT, which I did in my challenge last year.

I had an awesome meal plan and really enjoyed eating heaps of Weetbix Bites and toast with honey and peanut butter, but 3700 cals is a lot of cals to cram in and is actually pretty hard to do day in and day out. Sticking to the intermittent fasting didn’t help in terms of getting the food in but defs saved my stomach for sure.

Not doing HIIT was really hard too. I love the HIIT classes and the rush you get from it so I missed doing those and I also missed the social side of it too, which is a massive part of BBR for me. I was also worried I would lose my cardio capacity.

Another challenge was just feeling puffy and sluggish. The extra puffy weight didn’t feel good towards the end and apparently I snored way more as well, which was more of a challenge for my wife, Jenn.

What do you love about it?

I actually put on muscle. I have put on a lot of muscle since joining BBR but I had definitely plateaued and found my sweet spot. The gaining phase definitely stacked the muscle on and it was super fun seeing the numbers on the barbells and dumbbells go up and up. My shape changed a lot and it was pretty epic seeing muscles pop up where previously there was none.

Do you find gaining or dieting down harder, and why?

Definitely gaining and I’m sure Ryan would agree. Mainly because I’m annoying and want to do HIIT and stupid cardio/HIIT workout challenges on the weekend that I see on Instagram or MMS sends me. I love that side of training so to commit to a proper gaining phase of no cardio is super hard for me.

Dieting down for me is pretty easy, I love doing extra cardio and just by living my body burns a lot of calories so unless I’m tracking my food properly, I can pretty easily lose fat. This will annoy everyone and some of the BBR Fam said that this was the most offensive thing I could have ever said to them over Christmas last year – I accidentally lost weight. Yes… I am just showing off now!

Above: Freddy in 2020 after a shredding phase with another BBR weapon Chantal Negri.

What are the successes you’ve enjoyed so far in this process?

The biggest success is probably understanding the process and what it takes. I also now have a much better understanding of my own body and what it needs depending on what I’m trying to achieve. For example, currently I still weigh out all my food and do my prep but the reality is that with the new bubs – off plan food is going to sneak in a bit. As I know my macros and how much food I need etc, I’ve still been able to have some awesome gains in the last 2 months.

It goes without saying, I couldn’t have done it without Ryan and the systems and processes he has put in place, along with the epic trainers he has on board.

I do enjoy spending more time in the mirror flexing and admiring my muscles on this exquisite body of mine.

What’s the big goal you’re working towards?

No big goal, slowly adding muscle at the moment and focusing on enjoying the sessions.

The most important thing to me about BBR is the BBR Fam. It’s not an exaggeration to say that BBR has changed my life, the physical stuff is great but the people, community/tribe and friendships is what I am most thankful for. I do not take it for granted and it brings me so much joy and happiness. I also love seeing everyone’s successes, it gets me really hyped and helps me motivate myself.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *