WE HAVE ALL WATCHED WITH A SENSE OF AWE AS OUR HEAD TRAINER RYAN DEVEREUX TRANSFORMED OVER THE PAST 14 MONTHS AS HE PREPARED FOR A BODYBUILDING COMPETITION HERE IN PERTH, SCHEDULED FOR FEBRUARY. TWO WEEKS AGO, THE SHOW WAS CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND IT WAS A MASSIVE BLOW TO RHINO AND ALSO, TO ALL OF US WHO WERE CHEERING HIM ON ALONG THE WAY. SO, RHINO OFFERED TO SHARE THE DETAILS OF WHAT IT TOOK TO COMMIT TO SUCH A LONG PREPARATION (MAKES OUR 8-WEEK SLOGS LOOK A LITTLE TEENY), HOW HE FELT IN EACH STAGE AND WHAT HE’LL DO NEXT WITH THE COMP OFF THE TABLE. WE’RE SPLITTING THE BLOGS INTO A FOUR-PART SERIES, INCLUDING A GUEST BLOG FROM RHINO’S COACH JACKSON PEOS WHO WILL SPILL THE BEANS ON WHAT IT’S LIKE TO COACH OUR COACH… (GET THE POPCORN READY). SO, HERE’S THE LOWDOWN ON PART ONE AS RHINO BEEFED UP TO EPIC PROPORTIONS AND KICKED A MASSIVE LIFELONG GOAL IN THE PROCESS…
1. Start from scratch… what exactly does a growth phase entail and why is it crucial in comp prep?
A growth phase simply means we’re committing to a calorie surplus for an extended amount of time to gain as much muscle as we can before we start getting lean for the show. From past experience with competitions, when you get lean, you realise how much muscle you don’t have. When you strip away the fat, drop some water, it’s a hard reality check of how much muscle you have compared to how big you think you are when you’re in a big surplus eating lots of carbs and getting in big workouts flexing in the mirror at home. It’s very humbling and gives you a big appreciation for the elite level bodybuilders and how much mass those guys have built up.
2. How long did it last for you and how much did you have to gain?
Our first phase went for 15 weeks and weigh-ins, based off the scales in the gym, read as follows;
Week 0 – 98.0kg 30th November 2019
Week 15 – 102.0kg 14th March 2020
After our 15th week, I bought some scales for home as every week I would have to stop in at my local gym at the time in Scarborough to hit the scales as that’s where I did my first weigh-in. As expected, there was a slight discrepancy because when I hit the scales in the gym I was fully clothed and had shoes on so we started a new phase to make it easy to identify where the change in weight came from. So, my starting weight was 98.0 but I think I was actually around the 96-97.0 mark. In total, our gaining phase lasted 40 weeks and during this time, I put on around 10kgs. Another cool box I ticked in this gaining phase was achieving 100kgs and 10% body fat in a DEXA scan – one of my long-time goals realised. Towards the end of the gaining phase, we were pushing lots of food and the fat vs muscle I was putting on was probably more fat than muscle but the goal was to add as much weight as possible towards the end.
Program 2 (beginning Week 16)
Week 1 – 99.2
Week 2 – 100.7
Week 3 – 101.0
Week 4 – 101.1
Week 5 – 101.3
Week 6 – 102.1
Week 7 – 102.3
Week 8 – 102.9
Week 9 – 102.4
Week 10 – 102.7
Week 11 – 102.0
Week 12 – 101.4
Week 13 – 102.5
Week 14 – 103.0
Week 15 – 102.0
Week 16 – 102.6
Week 17 – 103.9
Week 18 – 104.2
Week 19 – 103.7
Week 20 – 103.7
Week 21 – 105.0
Week 22 – 105.4
Week 23 – 104.7
Week 24 – 106.0 (1 week until prep)
Week 25 – 107.0 16th September
3. What did you think of the caloric requirement when you first saw it, was it more than you’d done before and were you concerned about squeezing all those cals in?
The initial plan wasn’t anything too hectic, we found my baseline and put my calories into a slight surplus. The scales would go up and then when the weight gain slowed we added more food in. The difference this time was working with Jackson – he really held me accountable to weekly check-ins and although I had eaten high-calorie food plans before I had never been so consistent and I was making sure I ate every meal and to the correct amount. When I thought back on my time of trying to build muscle and gain weight I realised that when I was full I would stop eating and I wouldn’t push for that last meal which I now realise makes all the difference. Working together each week and checking in made me really determined to make sure I was progressing every session, every meal, every week. There were up and down weeks along the way that’s for sure. No progress is ever linear but we were giving it a real crack that’s for sure and they way we worked together to make sure I could get the food in was the reason for my success in that phase.
4. How did it make you feel when you had to push past the point of comfort with eating?
I really enjoyed the food plan so that made it easier, all the meals were easy to prep and I enjoyed eating them, whenever I started to find any foods hard to stomach we would make a small change to plan. There were some foods that were taking too long to eat and taking up too much of my time.
400g of white rice, 100g pineapple, 150g chicken breast and vegetables for my post-workout meal took me a while to get down so that had to go, otherwise I was spending all my working day eating rice haha. So, Jackson had a few tricks up his sleeve to make the process easier especially when work was busy and I had less time to eat. Again, open communication was the key to ensure that I could get the right amount of food in based around my training and work schedule.
5. How did you feel about your physique when you were forced to put on some fat, when you’re usually sporting a pretty cut physique?
I’m going to answer as Ryan first and then I’ll give you my coach/mindset answer as well, haha. I didn’t like the feeling of carrying extra fat or “fluff”. I do feel the pressure of always being in peak shape and the pressures of being a “gym owner” can creep into your thoughts sometimes, such as “what if we get new members in and I’m out of shape.” There are lots of thoughts that come and go when you go through different stages of changing your body. I love the feeling of being athletic, lean and strong. So, yes there were a few long staring competitions with myself in the mirror through this process. Lots of grabbing onto my love handles hoping they would disappear and I would just be adding 100% pure muscle. But that’s just not how it works, for most of us anyway. I want to be completely open and honest with these blogs so I can give our members a good insight to how my mind works through this process as well.
I’m fortunate I was well drilled when I was younger to committing to something and seeing it through to the best of your ability. Both my Mum and Dad are extremely hard workers and a lot of my training motivation comes from the hard work I was exposed to when I was younger. Late nights washing dishes with Mum in the pub we owned growing up. I was 12 years old washing dishes in the pub until 10 or 11pm some nights and then up at 5:30am to do my paper run. There was no such thing as a holiday when we visited Dad on our school holidays, as he lived four hours away from us in Ballarat in a town called Vinifera on the Murray River. Dad always had work lined up for us when we went for school holidays and one job we used to do was to pick onion seed in 45 degrees during summer and red dirt as far as the eye can see. Big, vast, empty paddocks – except for the onion seed we were picking. But once I had committed to this goal I lock myself into a mindset and don’t allow for anything to stop what I’ve set out to achieve.
Back to my current goal, I would tell myself It’s not so much about how you feel about putting on the fat, I just have to accept that I’m trying to maximise muscle gain/growth, and I’m going to put on some fat as well. It’s the same when you’re dieting down to get lean. Of course, we want to hold onto as much muscle as we can, but when we’re training and in a deficit, you’re going to lose some muscle along the way. You just have to accept it for what it is and know that it will come off when it’s time to get lean. Trusting the process, and having short and long term goals are really important in this situation. I see this happen all the time when people have a goal of putting on a lot of muscle or getting lean. They stick to the plan until it gets uncomfortable or they don’t like how they look and then they either consciously or unconsciously change what they are doing to find comfort and get back to what they feel is right and “normal” again. I believe a lot of people may never reach their potential because of this factor and to be honest, this was me for the last few years before I really committed to my goals. I would always slowly progress and add weight and muscle but if I ever felt I was getting too fat I would drop calories straight away and lean out. The only real accountability tool I consistently used was to get a DEXA almost every six months. That way I would always get the numbers and that would motivate me again to plan my next phase of training and nutrition.
6. Were there any days you physically could not force yourself to eat anymore?!
Yeah, there were lots of days I would miss meals during the day and would have to try and get the calories in. If I wasn’t organised or was running behind I’d have to eat meal 3 (which consisted of 6 x slices wholemeal bread, 150g chicken/turkey breast, 1 x cup salad greens and 1 x apple) after the 5pm class I would coach at BBR, soon followed by my dinner meal which was;
150g lean red meat
3 x Mission wholegrain wraps
1 x cup greens
1 x half avocado
Then, my last meal which was;
300g Peters No Sugar ice cream
25g whey protein
150g berries of choice.
Sounds delicious, but all consumed within a few hours before bed was not ideal. So I just had to learn to eat earlier in the day. I would have an alarm and reminders set on my phone to tell me when to eat. So as long as I was prepared and organised it all went pretty well. There also ended up being a lot more volume in these meals towards the end of the bulking phase. The amounts above are from our first initial plan.
7. To grow the muscle, what was required from a training perspective? Were you pushing some outrageously heavy weights?
Haha, yes the goal is always to push outrageously heavyweights. However, for me it’s about form, execution, challenging the muscles and making sure I’m sticking to the plan. Each week we add a little more load, spend more time under tension or increase the working volume. Every week was scheduled and every program was periodised. I like training with structure and moving through different phases. I’ve documented almost every session over the past 14 months and will be releasing different phases in some e-books I’m currently working on. They’ll include growth phases, different training methods to build muscle and how I trained through the dieting phase as well.
8. What were the toughest things about this phase?
The toughest part I would say is just being 100% consistent and not missing meals. Feeling full all the time and trying to stay focused at work or training on a full stomach wasn’t always enjoyable but it’s what needed to be done to achieve what I wanted to achieve. Sometimes eating out was also tricky as I like to eat clean the majority of the time, so finding places with clean carbs and lots of them was a task. So that might explain why Jay and I would always end up at a Japanese restaurant with bulk rice and sushi. The continuous feeling of being bloated towards the end of the gaining phase started to get annoying and there were times I was just sick of eating. I would always try and put it into perspective and tell myself I choose to do this, it’s a goal that’s important to me, so get the job done.
The last 6-7 weeks of the gaining phase saw my calories rise to 4995 which is a lot when you eat all the food everyday;
25g protein powder
1 x banana
2 x Carmen’s granola bars
50g protein powder
150g Weet Bix Bites
1 x banana
6 x slices wholemeal bread
150g chicken or turkey breast
1 x apple
150g beef mince
3 x Mission wholegrain wraps
1 x cup salad greens
50g protein powder
450g Weis mango sorbet
2 x Carmen’s granola bars
There was a bit of food to get down each day by the end of the phase, so meal timing was really important so I could digest the food as best I could. The plan could also be pretty flexible in regards to food types. In the photos below you’ll see some foods aren’t the same as the initial plan above. I found an alternative cereal to Weet-bix that I really loved so I would add that in with a protein bar for my post-workout which was a daily highlight. Some weeks I found it easier to eat more wraps earlier in the day so I would have four wraps for meal 3 and less bread in my dinner meal. I would just build my food plan out each week to ensure I hit all the correct numbers that Jackson gave me, I would double-check with him and if he was happy he would give me the all-clear. My final meal always seemed like a treat BUT it was a lot. By the end of the gaining phase, I was consuming almost a full tub of the Mango Sorbet a night with 150g berries and 40g of honey.
9. What did you enjoy most about this phase?
I loved the continuous progress, never before have I been so accountable to putting on weight and muscle and I enjoyed watching the scales go up most weeks. It is just a good feeling knowing that you’re being looked after and your coach has your back. If there wasn’t any progress made, we would review the week and make changes to ensure the next week we’re improving. I’ve learnt a lot from this whole experience and I really believe the whole coaching experience we give at BBR is now on a whole new level from what I’ve learnt from Jackson and being accountable every single week.
10. And of course, did you achieve your goal within the time frame?
Yes, I would say putting on around 10kg in 40 weeks is a win. Even though I was a bit fluffy towards the end, it put me in a really good spot to start dieting down. The whole process was extremely enjoyable. Working with Jackson and checking in every week held me accountable, and his professionalism also was second-to-none. He replied on the day with updates to execute straight away, so there was no timewasting during the whole gaining phase. Whenever you’re pushing your body to extremes it’s going to be uncomfortable, but I truly believe that where the growth is (mentally and physically in this case!). There were enjoyable parts to this process but also challenging times. I did feel very fatigued at times, bloated and in reflection, became a little lazy around the house, and dropped the ball helping Jay with cooking and cleaning. She has been unbelievable during this process – helping with food prep and making sure we’ve always got the right food in the house has been a huge factor to the success of my transformation thus far.
That wraps up part one of Rhino’s journey with part two next week documenting the dieting phase leading up to the photoshoot… Hit us up on social media (@ryan_devereuxbbr or @bodies_by_ryan) if you want to know more about the growth phase, check out the e-book released TODAY!! If you’d like to know more about other Bodies by Ryan programs, contact us here