A Second Chance at 70 Years Young: Interview w/ AT-13 Winner Daniel McCarthy [pseudonym44]

Here’s your latest essay interview with 7th place winner Daniel McCarthy from the 13th Adonis Golden Ratio Transformation Contest.

Daniel McCarthy - AT 13 7th Place - Front Before/After Photos

Daniel McCarthy – AT 13 7th Place – Front Before/After Photos

Daniel McCarthy - AT 13 7th Place - Back Before/After Photos

Daniel McCarthy – AT 13 7th Place – Back Before/After Photos

Daniel McCarthy - AT 13 7th Place - Side Before/After Photos

Daniel McCarthy – AT 13 7th Place – Side Before/After Photos


Daniel’s Transformation Interview:

 There I was the day after Christmas, 2011, at Gold’s gym doing my third set of front squats at a fast pace. It was part of a HITT protocol that used weight training and body-weight movements to get your heart rate up and keep it up. My cardiologist was all in favor since I had done a Bruce-protocol treadmill stress test for him the previous month and lasted fourteen minutes. The received wisdom is that if you can last longer than ten minutes, you are basically immune from heart attacks for the next five years. So it must have been my inner snowflake that got busy that day. When I came to and started talking to the nice young paramedic, he told me that I had blacked out and they had had to use paddles to get my heart restarted. The next week, after I got my very own implanted defibrillator, I started thinking about what I could do to avoid any repetition of training to near-death. I decided I would stop doing any routine that demanded HITT-type heart rates, and I thought that getting my BMI down from about 26 would help stave off future problems. When I was looking for a weight-loss program coupled with exercise, I ran across Eat Stop Eat and eventually the whole Adonis Golden Ratio program. I was attracted by the podcasts and the careful, explicit, science-based approach to weight loss and exercise that AGR uses. I was also impressed by the before and after photos that came with the podcasts.

I bought AGR 3.0 in June, 2012. I figured that since I was 68 years old at the time, a transformation would probably take more than twelve weeks; but to give myself a running start, I joined the transformation contest (AT 9) that started in August. I started the contest with a 34” waist and 46” shoulders at a height of 6’0” and an AI of 1.31. I ended it with golden waist, (32.1” but far from golden shoulders (~46” instead of the 52” I needed). My AI was at 1.43. I kept on working out and keeping track of things through AT 10 and 11. About one month into AT 11, I had my first-ever DEXA scan, and found out I carried 13.9% body fat. 14% fat!! 24 pounds of fat on my (I thought) skinny 174-pound frame!!  I had my second DEXA scan about six months later at the end of AT 12, confident in the fact that my AI was up somewhat (about 1.46), and I thought I looked better. Maybe I did, but my body fat was almost 1% higher, at 14.7%. I know that these are just numbers, but they clearly are not contest-winning numbers.

I consulted my inner snowflake and decided that if I couldn’t get an additional 5 inches of shoulder breadth, I would make my 47” shoulders golden with respect to a far slimmer waist – about 29” per my calculations. Although this was not my true golden waist with respect to my height, I thought I would see how I liked the look and made it my goal for AT 13.


AGR Origins:  On the Left Daniel McCarthy AT10 (2012) & On the Right AT3 (2014)

AGR Origins: On the Left Daniel McCarthy AT10 (2012) & On the Right AT3 (2014)

I had also read that a reputable journal reported that muscle growth in men ~70 years old was significantly greater when they followed a regimen of six sets of a given exercise instead of the three sets that are usually sufficient for younger men. I do not think there is anything magic about six sets vice five, or seven, or eight; it is, however, the number of sets used in the study, so I evolved the following plan.

  • In order to lose more fat, I would use the AGR Nutrition calculator, and fudge the entry by making my waist measurement larger by the amount that my actual waist exceeded 29”. All other entries would be accurate
  • I would use AGR 3.0 and add a basic shoulder or chest booster every workout.
  • One extra set would be added to the exercises in AGR 3.0 that specified five sets.
  • If the shoulder or chest booster appeared to work one body part for six or more sets (e.g. dumbbell flyes for three sets and cable crossovers for four sets), the booster would be performed as written.
  • If no exercise in the boosters met this criterion, one of the supersets would be increased to six sets of the two exercises, with the other exercise being performed as indicated.

Basically this amounted to adding a maximum of one set to one exercise in the main workout and three sets to two exercises in the boosters per day. I found over the weeks that this was sustainable, and that I could do it without injury or excessive fatigue.

My DEXA scan on 4/13/2014 proved that my plan is working. My total body mass is down by 2.5 kilos since my last scan at the end of AT12. My total body fat is down to 12.5% from 14.7%. I have lost 2.4 kilos of fat and gained 1.6 kilos of muscle mass in my trunk alone, while adding ½” to my shoulders. (One downside: My legs have less muscle mass and a little more fat mass than before because I lowered the resistance on all of my lower body exercises to avoid joint pain.) My AI ratio has increased from 1.46 to 1.58 currently. I missed my 29” waist goal by about ½”, but that’s OK. The changes I see clearly are not happening at the same rate that younger men experience them, and more work remains to be done; but I have learned some patience over the years.

Daniel McCarthy AT13 7th Place Transformation Image

Daniel McCarthy AT13 7th Place Transformation Image

I’ve also learned the difference good photographs make. I have been working with a professional photographer friend of mine for the past three contests. He had never done physique photos before, but he paid attention and improved his technique with each contest. It helped, too, that as I leaned out, he could better see what I was looking for in the results. (PM me if you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to contact him.) I would also like to mention that the cost of becoming an immersion client was some of the best money I have ever spent.

Daniel McCarthy AT13 7th Place Transformation Image

Daniel McCarthy AT13 7th Place Transformation Image

In the coming weeks I plan to gradually increase my calories from slightly below maintenance to the point where my waist stays approximately golden while my shoulders and chest fill out. I will use the Muscle Building Foundation and increase the five-set elements to six sets. I’ll have another DEXA scan in about three months to see if I’m on track.

In the meantime, I have been getting some positive feedback from family and friends, and I like how I look at a 1.5+ AGR. Some of the guys at the gym (same gym for 5 years, same guys) have also commented on my new look and seem to be friendlier than before. My doctor says my blood work is remarkable for a man of my age; and I aced a recent treadmill test – not that that’s a huge comfort given my past experience. It’s been two and a half years since my episode, I’m fifteen pounds lighter, my BMI is at 23.6, and my defibrillator (which reports every night to my electrocardiologist – don’t ask, she’s a nice lady) has not had to kick in even once. I’m looking forward to having more time above ground to get to a true golden AI. In the meantime, I put every workout I finish in the win column; after all, I could have been done with any and all workouts on December 26, 2011.

Editor’s Note:

Hey Daniel,

Wow! Your story is most humbling.  It goes without saying that at 70 years young you have really raised the bar for us younger guys by achieving a Adonis Index Scores of 1.58!  I can think of a few  people including myself who want to be like you when we grow up! LOL

Patience is definitely a virtue and you have clearly demonstrated the AGR principles are timeless and you can strive for “Golden” even in your Golden years.  We look forward to hearing more updates from you in the future!

your brother in Iron,


TGIF: The Goal Is Frequency

Whether it be the closing of a busy week or your local restaurant hang out, TGIF is an acronym that many are familiar with.  However, for today’s post TGIF  stands for “The Goal Is Frequency.”   In the fitness context, frequency means how often a person exercises.  As AT11 comes to a close we will have the chance to interview some of the top contestants and inquire about their frequency of workouts during the contest.


TGIF: The Goal Is Frequency


Successful transformations are often achieved by those individuals who determined the frequency of their workouts to be a significant key to their success.   Frequency also influences other characteristics and behaviors such as habit and momentum.  Habit is in direct correlation to frequency because the more times you step into the gym to workout that habit is strengthened and cultivated.  Someone who is in the habit of going to the gym regularly has a greater chance of developing momentum towards a worthwhile goal or deadline such as our transformation contests.

To give an example, how exciting would it be to go to a basketball game where there were no goals and the  only thing the players did was dribble and pass to one another?  Hardly worth watching and even possibly a waste of time.  The problem is there was nothing to shoot for… no GOAL!

In conclusion, to all  my brothers in Iron, I’d like to encourage both the beginners and the senior members to  remember TGIF: “The Goal is Frequency.”    Each time you step into the gym with an AGR workout you are armed with a game plan to achieve your “Golden” Physique, the ball is now in your court and it’s up to you to shoot  for the goal… Train Hard and Good Luck!

yours in fitness,

Allen Elliott| Adonis Golden Ratio Ambassador

How Much Weight Should You Use During Workouts?

In the upcoming weeks John and I will seek to provide our feedback and insight on “trending” topics and questions from within the  AGR Community.

Today’s topic is a frequently asked question among our newest brothers in iron.  The question many people ask once they begin the AGR workouts is, “How Much Weight Should I Use?”


Adonis Golden Ratio: Solid Goals & Simple Metrics

Adonis Golden Ratio: Solid Goals & Simple Metrics

Unique to the the AGR program,  the repetition ranges are specifically designed for positive progression toward your “Golden” Adonis Index Score, which is based on the  Fibonacci Sequence and cyclical, periodized weight training.

It’s important to note  that a “repetition” or “REP” is directly related to a suggested level of effort.  The level of effort on a scale of  1 to 10, will determine the amount of weight that you train with.

Below is break-out of REP ranges and the level of effort that should be applied when lifting a specific amount of weight.




  • Give yourself permission to lift lighter weights, to maintain your form.
  • Always use a spotter if you are training with heavy weights.
  • It’s ok to train while “sore” but NOT while “hurt.”
  • Try, Fail, Adjust– Record the amount of weight you use and look for opportunities to SAFELY increase upon the weight used in previous workouts.

“The Golden Birthday Gift” Interview with AT10 Winner Mike Cerantola

Here’s your new interview with one of the winners from the 10th Adonis Golden Ratio Transformation Contest.

Today we get to hear from Mike Cerantola who placed 10th in our last 12-Week Transformation contest.

Mike’s Transformation Journey begans when he received a severe “wake-up call” from his doctor.  He was 18 at the time and had just weighed in 315 pounds.  Prompted to take action he began to look for weight loss solutions.  Bound and determined, he found results in playing a popular video game called “Dance Dance Revolution.”  His results were uncanny, he lost more than 85 pounds in about 3 months!

However it wasn’t until one year ago,  when Mike would receive his “Golden Birthday Gift.”  He was first introduced to the Adonis Golden Ratio by a fellow “Sister in Iron”  Jessie T, VT6 contest winner from  the Venus Index.

Mike picked up the Muscle Building Foundation and Eat Stop Eat Plans and catapulted his transformation even further than he could imagine.  Scroll down to listen to how Mike was able to make more progress in one year compared to the previous seven!

Check-Out Mike’s AT10 Pictures:

Mike Cerantola - AT10 10th Place - Before Photos

Mike Cerantola – AT10 10th Place – Before Photos


Michael Cerantola - AT10 10th Place - Transformation Image

Michael Cerantola – AT10 10th Place – Transformation Image


Michael Cerantola - AT10 10th Place - After Photos

Michael Cerantola – AT10 10th Place – After Photos

Mike’s Transformation Essay:

AT10 was a completely different shift of mentality from AT9.  I spent most of my time  focusing on making my training and gym times a fun habit instead of viewing going to the gym as an ‘errand’, or ‘chore’.  I had no problem adapting to that,unfortunately I did not place.

I realized that even though I was pushing it really hard in the gym, I had gotten cocky and stopped using myfitnesspal to count calories and just assumed “yeah yeah, I’m always between 1500-1800”. I became the victim instead of the victor. AT10 was all about keeping my diet in check, adapting ESE to fit with my lifestyle and schedule.

Coming from a 315 lb background where I used to eat well over 3-4k cals a day, cutting from 1500 to 1300 and finally to 1000 for the last 3-4 weeks was probably one of the most difficult ongoing mental battles of my overall transformation. It’s easy to “auto-pilot” to the gym and then you’re there so you do your workout, but it is very difficult to “auto-pilot” not eating when you’re at home, not keeping too occupied, and having a mind that always thinks and reverts to food.

After placing in AT10 I am reflecting on this experience with the knowledge, willpower, and dedication to not fall off the bandwagon. I reached my golden waist, I have gotten used to eating ~1300/day, and now my next journey is maintaining my waist while slowly developing an extra 3 inches in my shoulders, which should take a couple of years.

I placed a quick before and after side-by-side from 1 year ago to my 1st day of AI 3.0, compared to now, and I am proud to say that I have achieved a level of physique that does not make me anywhere remotely near as self conscious as I used to be. The Adonis Lifestyle has changed my life.

I feel I’ve began to develop good habits that I will use as a takeaway and apply to the remainder of my lifestyle…Leanness is awesomeness!


Mike’s Transformation Interview:

See below to listen to Mike’s transformation podcast interview:

The “Muscle Hustle” Experience! Interview with AT10 Winner Tim Heaton

Here’s your new interview with one of the winners from the 10th Adonis Golden Ratio Transformation Contest.

Today we get to examine the “Lessons Learned” from Tim Heaton who placed 9th in our last 12-Week Transformation contest.

As Tim states in his essay, he is no stranger to hard work. In just 12 short weeks Tim was able to add a significant amount of  “muscle” with the help of his “hustle” mentality.

Coming from a diverse background in both SCUBA diving and marathon training, Tim launched his AT10 journey with a clear goal in mind.  That goal simply was to progress from start to finish.

For a visual journey of Tim’s 12 contest weeks which consisted of: developing focus, overcoming obstacles, and achieving desirable results, simply check-out Tim’s AT10 Pictures:

Tim Heaton - AT10 9th Place - Before Photos

Tim Heaton – AT10 9th Place – Before Photos


Tim Heaton - AT10 9th Place -Transformation Image

Tim Heaton – AT10 9th Place -Transformation Image


Tim Heaton - AT10 9th Place - After Photos

Tim Heaton – AT10 9th Place – After Photos

Tim’s Transformation Essay:

When entering the contest, I had no intentions of winning anything, or placing in the Top 10. This was only meant as a way to progress from start to finish, with a clear goal in sight. Having been an active person throughout my life, I was no stranger to hard work and intensity in training, although I found many obstacles to overcome. From 24-hour fasts and tracking of all food intake, to 6-day-per week weight-training sessions that lasted up to 2 ½ hours, I found the twelve week process more intense than training for a marathon.

In contrast to marathon training, I look better, I feel much better, and most important…I am injury free! After trying a multitude of strength-training protocols and sport-specific systems, many years went by in frustration at not being able to achieve a lean muscular body. I have had more change in the last twelve weeks than ever before. After three years away from ANY kind of training, working on SCUBA-dive boats in the Caribbean, I started the AI program on 13 Dec 2013. I went from Muscle Building Foundation (MBF) to Final Phase. These, along with the other protocols within the system, all seem to be sustainable, incorporating things that work to gain an incredible physique AND strength, yet changes often enough to keep one from getting bored.

But, the biggest surprise and change came from nutrition and fasting. I have learned more about these two things than I ever thought possible. This aspect, especially, has changed my life forever. Sure, I will still eat chocolate, drink red wine, eat a burger & fries or pizza, and indulge in ice cream, but over the days, weeks and months, it will not happen as often (except for the chocolate and red wine – ok ice cream, too). I am truly impressed with the knowledge and support of the AGR/AI community.

I utilized the Forum to gain insight into training philosophy and nutrition from real people who have gone through the process before. The podcasts and information available from the Adonis Index system provided information AND inspiration to keep me dedicated to giving myself a healthy, strong and lean body, along with a well-rounded mindset to train smarter. THANK YOU!!


Tim’s Top Five Lessons Learned:

  1. Muscle Building Foundation is a great place establish a baseline for you AI goals.
  2. The 12-Week Transformation process was more intense than Marathon training.  The only difference is I LOOK and FEEL much better!
  3. 24-Hour Food Fasts and Tracking of my caloric intake, helped keep me accountable to my nutrition goals
  4. Utilize the AGR forum gain additional insight and training philosophy from real people who have already gone through the transformation process.
  5. Listen to the podcast and read the blog posts to remain informed and inspired.

How Low Can You Go? Interview with AT10 Winner Saul Celis

Here’s your new interview with one of the winners from the 10th Adonis Golden Ratio Transformation Contest.

Today John talks to Saul Celis  who placed 8th in our last 12-Week Transformation contest. Saul explains to John his motivation for joining the contest. After realizing that at 193 lbs and 33% body-fat, change was in order; he diligently began to search for answers.  A testament to Saul’s transformation described in his own words is, “I’ve achieved in 12 weeks what I couldn’t do in 4-years!”

Saul found a fellow member in the community who resembled his body shape and began to set goals during his transformation.  His turning point came when he gave himself permission to be light, and began to lose weight in order to reach his Golden Ratio.

Scroll down to tune into the podcast and find out how Saul was able to attain his “Enter the Dragon” look.

But first, check-out  Saul’s AT10 Pictures:

Saul Celis - AT10 8th Place- Before Photos

Saul Celis – AT10 8th Place- Before Photos


Saul Celis - AT10 1st Place - Transformation Image

Saul Celis – AT10 1st Place – Transformation Image

Saul Celis - AT10 8th Place - After Photos

Saul Celis – 8th Place – After Photos

Saul’s Transformation Essay:

I was 193 pounds at 5’5” because of my “addiction” to video games. I played on average 5hrs on weekdays and 16+ hrs on the weekend. A co-worker of mine suggested we start working out. I use to work out in my twenties after I finished my time in the Army. I thought no problem I need to take care of my health. I’m 36 years old and obese. We checked out LA Fitness and signed up. A personal trainer gave me my measurements and I discovered I was at 33% body fat.

That literally meant one third of me was fat. I began my fitness journey  by following basic exercises for upper and lower body, along with a standard cardio routine. I worked out for six months and only lost three pounds. I knew what I was doing wasn’t working. I ended up watching some videos on youtube and that is where I found John Barban, Vince DelMonte, and Patrick McGuire talking about an Empowered nutrition meal plans. I purchased it and saw results pretty quick.

I was losing a pound a week and was really happy about the way things were going. I got down to 155lb and that’s when everything started going wrong. I started listening to people telling me I was getting to skinny. The co-worker I started going to the gym introduce me to a workout called permanent muscle by Ruben Bajada where I “learned” the bulk method. I started that and ballooned back up to 165. I keep telling myself once I’m bigger I know how to slim down again. In the back of my mind I remember looking at the Adonis Index. So I looked into in and it didn’t make sense to me because the principle was the direct opposite of bulking.

Nevertheless, I concluded that you can’t build a house without materials. So I purchased Vince’s stuff, then Kyle’s, then Joel’s, Dave Ruel’s recipe’s which I actually still use. I finally purchased Adonis Golden Ratio but then MI40 came out and I put it on the back burner. I gave myself the permission to be fat again and used bulking as an excuse. I listened to a lot of scientific podcasts and thought let me see if there are any good fitness podcast. I found the Adonis podcast and started listening. Everything finally made sense! I realized that the body stores fat for future needs. I was always scared if I didn’t eat I would lose the hard earned muscle (fat) that I gain. I started MBF and was losing a pound a week using the free advice you guys gave away on the podcast (fasting) lol. When I began the program my weight was 170 in September 2012. When the contest started I was down to 142. I joined contest AT10 for motivation, I never really thought I would get down to 123lb and about 8 to 9% body fat. It was the hardest easiest thing I have ever done but well worth it.


Saul’s Transformation Interview:

See below to listen to Saul’s transformation podcast interview: