Success Story: From Scrawny to Brawny
This skinny student made fitness a passion and carved out a serious physique.
Hometown: Snellville, Georgia
Weight Before: 140 Pounds
Weight After: 170 Pounds
Duration: 1.5 Years
A lot of people think of getting fit as a grueling journey paved with sweat, tears and celery sticks, but that wasn't the case for Georgia native Zach Lopez. "Honestly, I wasn't thinking about transforming my body," he admits. "I was just in the gym as a typical newbie trying to stay in good shape and, over the course of a couple of months, I started to pick up on the importance of diet/nutrition, supplementation and exercises with correct form. I immediately fell in love with the fitness lifestyle."
Just because fitness came naturally to Lopez doesn't mean he didn't need an extra push to power him to his goals. "Motivation for me is watching others' success with their fitness goals. [Fitness model] Greg Plitt was the start of my inspiration," he says. But for that extra push, he turned to the Internet. "A few minutes on YouTube watching others pursue and share their fitness regimens with others motivated me to achieve the best I could."
Live a little
“I am a firm believer that once you have transformed your body into a machine, it can turn unhealthy foods into fuel. I am also a firm believer in cheat meals 1-2 times per week to shock my system, just as you would in the gym. I'm not saying you can go to McDonald's everyday, I'm just saying how easy it is for your body to use McDonald's as fuel when your body is at a highly functioning state. ”
Like many, nutrition was a challenge for Lopez. "Everybody is different, and everyone needs different nutrition to fuel their body. It all comes down to genetics," he explains. To carve out definition in his body, he relied on a well-balanced meal plan. "I keep my diet very simple. I always have a carbohydrate and protein source in every meal. Carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes and brown rice, and protein sources such as chicken, ground turkey, ground beef and fish. Starting out I used to keep my carbohydrates very low, which has gotten to where I am now."
For his workout regimen, he trains on a five-day split. "I work out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, rest on Thursday, work out Friday and Saturday, and rest on Sunday. I train each body part once per week for no longer than 75 minutes, keeping my rep range between 6 and 12. When I feel like it, I will throw in lagging body parts twice a week to bring them up," he says. The enjoyment he gets from working out has grown so much that he says he hates his days off. "But it's important to understand the necessity of rest days to help refuel and rebuild the muscle you have broken down in order to see growth."
Despite turning to others for inspiration and motivation, he says, in the end, it was all about himself. "My advice to anyone looking to improve on their physique is to fall in love with the gym. You can't be waking up every morning thinking to yourself, 'Oh man, I have to go to the gym later.' You can't be going into the gym to check out the cute girl running on the treadmill or trying to impress other people that might be 'watching,'" he says. "You have to go 100% for yourself. Going to the gym for me is never a chore. Every day I leave the gym, I can't wait to get back in there to improve my physique."
Asked what was hardest for him, he says there wasn't one specific challenge. "It is just a matter of how bad you want it. It is a matter of willpower that someone has to just put down the Snickers bar."
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