Pip Brown: One Year Journey with a Powerlifter
68kg @40% to 65kg @20% and 242.5kg to a 372.5kg total
This is a classic example of what the recomp method can do for a powerlifter. I have been coaching Pip for a year now and she has put on an amazing 11.2kg of muscle with a fat loss of 14.1kg, while gaining 65kg on her squat, 17.5kg on her bench and 47.5kg on her deadlift. There have been a lot of hiccups along the way (such as a torn subscap, dislocations etc) but this is a fantastic result. She is now competing competitively as a powerlifter with ambitions to be one of the top 5 powerlifters in Australia.
This is a classic example of what the recomp method can do for a powerlifter
Stats: Weight 68.7kg, muscle 41.2kg, fat 27.4kg (40%), 242.5kg total, age 27, height 167cm
Stats: Weight 65.7kg, muscle 52kg, fat 13.3kg (20%), 372.5kg total, age 28, height 167cm
That’s an incredible 11.2kg of muscle gain with a fat loss of 14.1kg, while gaining 65kg on her squat, 17.5kg on her bench and 47.5kg on her deadlift. Below is a video taken a week out from the GPC National Championships, testing for openers and second with an easy 360kg training total. Pip ended up totalling 372.5kg at the Australian Championships, which earned her 3rd place.
Pip is a classic example of what the Recomp method can do for a powerlifter. Before Pip started with me she had been training to be a powerlifter for 6 months, and getting some decent progress with a 90kg squat, 52.5kg bench press and a 100kg deadlift. Her main down fall was (which goes for a lot of female powerlifters) that she wasn’t eating enough, about 1200-1500 calories. This is like pushing a car instead of driving it. I think something that sounds familar to a lot of female lifters is thinking that they’re the exception to the ‘eat more’ principle and that they will get “fat” if they increase calories. Surprisingly, to most, the more you eat the faster the fat comes off. Why? Well to put it simply without going into heavy biochem, when you eat more your body ISN’T starving, you allow your body to “let go” of fat, you’re no longer malnourished, you can train harder, and the correct hormones are produced… you are working with your body ability to adapt and change, rather than against it as so many people unknowingly do. Read more how we go about fat loss
With the extra food Pip very quickly was able to train with much higher volume and lost 6.4% body fat while gaining 4kg of muscle in her first 12 weeks. Pip was repping her maxes within the first month. This was, unfortunately, followed by a subscapularis tear from a football game taking her out of action for a few months. This rapid gain in strength is possible with the prediction models I use to calculate maximum potential every time she trains.
Pip lost 6.4% body fat and gained 4kg of muscle in her first 12 weeks, she was repping her maxes within the first month
Gaining a passion for strength and building muscle, Pip continued to build another 7kg of muscle (11kg up), lost a total 14kg of fat and added 130kg on her total, and is currently eating 3450 calories a day. She has now competed in a novice comp, QLD State Championships and GPC Nationals Championships. We have had a lot of major hiccups along the way with reoccurring football injuries resulting in months off training but the end results are still absolutely sensational.
she continued to build another 7kg of muscle, lost 14kg of fat and added 130kg on her competition total and is currently eating 3450 calories
Pip followed a customised strength training program, prescribed sport nutrition diet and has weekly coaching session to develop every physical and psychological aspect of becoming an elite athlete. As you can see on the graph below, all of the data I collect from her body composition tests is tracked and plotted, as well as food intake and performance. This graph summaries everything we have done on a macro scale. At the start she was measured at 68.7kg @40% with a 247.5kg total, now consistent measurements and tracking have made it possible to end up at 65.7kg @20.3% with a 372.5kg total, eating 3450 calories, in just over a year.
This is achieved with weekly measurements of her body composition and performances which are all logged and graphed. The diet and program are then adjusted to suit her goal based on how her body has responded to all the variables over the previous week. I calculate and recalculate how much muscle she needs to gain, fat she needs to lose and strength performance she needs to accomplish to reach her goal. The performance calculator is used to help predicted the strength she would need to gain for X amount of muscle. This becomes very useful in writing a strength based programs for continuous muscle gains with concurrent fat loss.
In the pictures above, you can also see her current diet plan where I have her eating 3450 calories with a 50% carb intake. For a lot of people it’s hard to believe you can lose fat with such a high intake, but this can happen over time and this intake has been necessary for tbe goal she wanted to achieve. I originally started her on about 1800 calories then worked her up to an average 2700 calories where she made a majority of her results with a higher carb intake. As her strength and muscle gains began to stall and her work load started to increase it became necessary for Pip to eat 3450 calorie, where she is still losing fat. How would a 67kg female know to eat 3450 calories if she is not tracking everything she does? Tracking so closely allows me to pick up on the small adaptions her body makes.
Finally, her training program is a custom program designed on our recomposer software. It helps calculate every performance with every exercise and set she does. This ensures that maximum potential is achieved in every aspect of her training. Her program has also been specially designed for her powerlifting goals, as we designed an optimal body composition goal based on the performances she wanted to reach. Bringing Recomp to powerlifting, I believe, has dramatically advanced the sport in ways that far surpass standard approaches in powerlifting.
[Pip] “Training with Gus has been a life changing experience and I love his methods. I recommend everyone to see him if you’re serious about making change especially if you are competitive. All you need to do is talk to him and you’ll be convinced. He is a wealth of knowledge.”
Q & A with Pip Brown
What led you to Muscle Nerd?
I saw Gus training one of his clients Kristal and was impressed with her physique and strength. I thought to myself, this is what I want, so I approached Gus about training and started straight away.
What makes you want to do powerlifting?
Well I had a friend that was training for powerlifting at PTC and I wanted to be stronger so I joined the gym, started lifting and I haven’t looked back.
What do you like about competing?
The build up, the rush, how everyone is involved as a team- even though it’s an individual sport, it still functions as a team sport. I also like the self accomplishment of reaching your goal. It’s very satisfying.
How has your perspective changed about training since you’ve been with Muscle Nerd?
I’ve learnt a lot with Gus. There are so many misconceptions out there. I learnt how much you actually need to eat and how hard you actually have to train. The more I ate the better I trained and the leaner I got, plus I added so much. I love it!!
How has this change your perceptive on body image?
I quickly realised that weight doesn’t matter. My weight hasn’t changed but I look completely different. Gus had me eating so much food and I just keep getting leaner and kept building muscle. Something I noticed as well, I have been getting stronger so much faster than a lot of people around me.
How difficult did you find it?
With all of Gus’ guidance, the whole process is not difficult at all. The training is hard but satisfying. Diet is easy to follow, but like anything it all comes down to how much you want it.
Did you have to do cardio?
Were there many set backs?
I had a lot of set backs like a dislocated shoulder, torn subscap, relationship/family issues, and a job change. Although none of these were related to the training, Gus always found away to work around them and we still made such incredible progress together.
What was your favorite thing about the method?
I love the high volume training the most because of how well I respond to it. Within a week of doing 10-20 rep squat and deadlifts my strength went through the roof and bodyfat just fell off. Another favorite was eating so much food and still getting results in fat loss with huge muscle gains.
How would you compare this method you follow with Muscle Nerd to anything you’ve done in the past?
Its completely different, but it works so well. Gus is all about making the numbers line up, and as I’ve learnt- numbers don’t lie!
Was the nutrition plan easy to follow, and what was it like in comparison to your previous way of eating?
At first the sheer volume of food was difficult to get down, but it’s easier now with an increased appetite and very easy to follow. Gus is pretty flexible as long as it fit his requirements, so I could still eat the things I enjoy.
Did you ever eat foods that were not on your nutrition plan, if so did it set you back?
Of course I ate off the plan! But the only set backs were when I actually didn’t eat enough and my performance dropped and reflected with poor results. If I ate extra it didn’t really affect my results, as the majority of the time was spent following the plan. Gus always reminds me that if I want to eat off my meal plan, to make this the exception rather than the rule and to make smart eating choices. This diet has really become a lifestyle for me.
What other aspects of your life do you feel have changed, during the process of your new regime in the past year?
I have become so much more driven and competitive… and I love it!
What was the most difficult thing about the process?
It was difficult for me to stay in a positive mindset while overcoming all my setbacks and injuries. I could see where I was and where I wanted to be, but it became very frustrating that at times I couldn’t put 100% into meeting my goals. It did make it a lot easier having a coach with such a broad knowledge base, simply because he knew so many different options so we could always work around injuries.
How did you find balancing the diet and training with your full time job?
It’s all about routine and balance. If you commit to something, it will always work best if you have a plan to follow and just stick to that. The whole Muscle Nerd method is based on planning and preparing!
Where do you want to go from here, what are your goals/ambitions?
I want to be bigger, leaner, stronger and would love to place top 5 in Australia for my weight class in powerlifting.
What do you have say about your experiences with Muscle Nerd?
Training with Gus has been a life changing experience and love his methods. I recommend everyone to see him if you are serious about making change and especially if you’re competitive. All you need to do is talk to him and you’ll be convinced. He is a wealth of knowledge.