Body Transformation: Ryan Stafford Packs On 30 Pounds Of Mass
- Transformation Start: January 2011
- Milestone: Gained my first 10lbs by March 2011
- Milestone: Gained 1” on my arms and 2” on my chest by graduation (May)
- Milestone: Reached a peak weight of 183lbs winter of 2012-2013
- Milestone: Started prepping for the Tricky Jackson in June of 2013, at 170lbs
- Transformation End: Won 2nd place in the Tricky Jackson Lightweight Division October 19th,2013
Lifestyle Prior To Change
What was your lifestyle like prior to your change?
I was very active with sports and always on the move. I liked to party and would always spend my weekends with all my friends on our football team after our games. I enjoyed fast food regularly and wouldn’t hesitate to drink sodas, I never seemed to gain any weight from it, I stayed small but I was never concerned about my muscularity at this point.
What was your turning point?
After a bad breakup, I realized that I had lost touch with myself and I needed to make myself happy before I tried to please others. I was on a mission of trying to find myself I suppose, and one day when walking through the magazine aisle I saw a bodybuilding magazine. I don’t know what made me look at it but I became immediately fascinated by the size and strength of the bodybuilder on the cover, and I said to myself “that’s what I want to be.”
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
I didn’t have much support from family or friends when I decided to pick up this lifestyle. Most people thought I was just going through a phase and that I would soon be over it, so many just laughed at me when I said I was going to become a bodybuilder. Everyone was used to the Ryan that wanted to party and hangout all the time after school, not the one who turned down beers for barbells.
I didn’t have much support from family or friends when I decided to pick up this lifestyle. Most people thought I was just going through a phase.
Training and Cardio
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
When I stepped into the gym, I knew what had to be done; these meant no talking, get to your workout and then get home to eat. I had a no nonsense approach to my training and used this precious time as a way to relieve stress and focus on bettering myself. I didn’t mind saying hello to friends at the gym but I didn’t socialize, that was for outside of the gym. I liked to train during the weekdays and then take the weekend off. I felt that taking two days off in a row gave me the most recovery, allowing me to grow more.
Please add a workout that worked best for you:
- Monday: Chest and Abs
- Tuesday: Legs
- Wednesday: Arms
- Thursday – Shoulders
- Friday: Back and Abs
|Chest and Abs|
|Warm up – 20 reps barbell bench, go light, get the blood flowing|
|Barbell Incline Bench Press – Increase the weight by 10lbs or more with each set||4||12, 12, 10, 10|
|Bench Press – Increase the weight by 10lbs or more with each set||4||12, 12, 10, 10|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – Increasing the weight by 5-10lbs each set + Superset with pushups to failure. Go immediately from incline dumbbell press into a shoulder width pushup and rep them out until you can’t lift yourself up any more.||4||12|
|Cable Crossover – Really focus on the contraction here and squeeze your inner pecs together||3||20|
|Hanging Leg Raise, Decline Crunch, Weighted rope Crunch Circuit – 20 reps of each, one after the other, minimal rest between sets.||1||20|
|Warm up – One set of lightweight leg extensions and one set of leg curls to warm the muscles up|
|Stiff Leg Deadlift – Really focus on the squeeze in the hamstring, weight isn’t as important in this movement||4||12-15|
|Barbell Squat||4||20, 15, 12, 10|
|Close Stance Leg Press – Increase the weight by a 45lb plate on each side with each set if you can. Last set do a double drop set, after the 12 reps, drop a plate off each side, do another 12 reps, then drop another plate from each side and do another 12!||4||15, 12, 12, 12|
|Lying Leg Curl – Increasing the weight with each set, but focus more on the contraction rather than the weight||4||12|
|Leg Extension – As many reps as possible with a moderate weight||3||AMAP|
My life today is better than ever. I am a very positive person and many people in my community look to me as an inspiration.
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
I didn’t do much cardio during my first year and a half. I was very small and had such a fast metabolism that cardio would have been counter-productive towards my goal. I began to do cardio once I reached 183lbs and realized I was becoming winded from doing daily tasks, such as walking up stairs to school. Twenty minutes of elliptical training at a medium resistance three times a week (Monday Wednesday and Friday after my training was enough for me to maintain size but start leaning out a bit.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Don’t be impatient with results. Stay consistent and they will come.
- It’s not about how much weight you’re lifting, it’s about the muscle that’s lifting the weight. Quality over quantity!
- Train for yourself. This is a moment for you to improve yourself, not to impress others.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
My training hasn’t changed too much, although I don’t always follow a set training schedule anymore. I’ve learned to respond better to how my body feels and I will take a rest day only if I feel like I need it. If a body part seems to be lagging I may train it twice that week.
Diet and Nutrition
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
I would eat every 2½ hours and drink at least a gallon of water a day. I stayed away from fast foods as much as possible and tried to get in about 1.5g of protein per pound a day.
Can you provide us with a sample daily eating plan:
- Meal 1: 3 whole eggs and 3 egg whites, 4 slices turkey bacon, 1 wheat bagel or 2 packs of instant plain oatmeal.
- Meal 2: 6oz chicken, 2 cups broccoli, 2 scoops peanut natural peanut butter.
- Meal 3 (pre workout): 1 wheat bagel or 1 cup of brown rice, 1 banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 6oz chicken.
- Meal 4 (post workout): 6oz tilapia, 2 cups white rice, 1 cup mixed vegetables OR Tuna sandwich and rice, 1 can tuna, 2 slices whole wheat, Lettuce, tomatoes, 1 cup of white rice.
- Meal 5: 5oz 93/7 turkey, 2 cups of broccoli.
- Meal 6: 6oz chicken,¼ cup almonds or 2 tbsp almond butter, ½ cup low fat cottage cheese.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I made plenty of dieting mistakes along the way, such as eating just as much fats as carbs a day which caused rapid weight gain in places I didn’t want, but I quickly figured out what I was doing wrong and lowered fat intake.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Keeping the majority of my carbs in my pre and post workout meals allowed me to stay lean while growing.
- Diet and nutrition is absolutely essential, without it your training is useless.
- Everyone reacts differently with diets! You don’t have to follow these plans online 100%, these are general guidelines and should be adjusted accordingly to your individual needs.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Absolutely! It helped me keep my sanity while seriously dieting (along with keeping the metabolism raised) and also gave me something to look forwards to for the weekends as a reward for my week of hard training. I called them “earned meals” because it wasn’t a cheat, I deserved it.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
- Morning: Animal Pak, 3,000mg Fish Oil
- Pre-workout: 1 serving Cellucor C4 Extreme, 5g Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate, 1 Animal M-Stak
- Post workout: 25g Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey, 5g Optimum Nutrition Creatine monohydrate
- Before Bed: 1 scoop Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
- All Day: 1 gallon of water or more with 2 scoops of USP Labs Modern BCAA
Advice for Others
What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Set several attainable short term goals, along with a couple long term goals.
- Envision yourself a year from today. Where will you be, what will you have achieved?
- Block out the negativity! People who are going to degrade you for choosing to improve yourself serve no purpose in your daily life. Stay humble and respect others, but do not allow yourself to be influenced by people who want to see you fail. Prove them wrong.
How do you stay motivated?
Taking progress pictures really helped keep me motivated. When I become discouraged about my progress I look back at pictures from a month ago or longer and compare them to now. This helps to show I have made progress and to stay patient. Watching motivational bodybuilding videos on YouTube really helped as well!
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
My life today is better than ever. I am a very positive person and many people in my community look to me as an inspiration. I’m here to help all those who need it and I appreciate those who admire my hard work. The hard work from bodybuilding has carried over to all aspects of my life and I am constantly on the search for new knowledge and self improvement.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
Each day is a blessing to me and knowing that I have the possibility to make myself better than I was yesterday is enough motivation for me to want to keep striving for progress and success.
Anything else you would like to share?
Maintaining a balanced lifestyle is essential, do not become so invested into self-improvement that you forget about everyone else. Friendships and family are all part of this incredible fitness journey, this is a lifestyle, its not to be treated as if it’s a mundane task: simply what I’m saying is to enjoy yourself, don’t be too serious! Here are my three H’s to live by: Be Happy, stay Humble, and stay Hungry.