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,


From “Skeptic” to “Sculpted”: Interview w/ AT-13 Winner Dave Johansen

Here’s your latest interview with one of the winners from the 13th Adonis Golden Ratio Transformation Contest.   Scroll down to read  how David applied the Adonis Golden Ratio System to go from “Skeptic” to “Sculpted.”

But first, check out his AT13 Pictures:

David Johansen - AT13 - 10th Place - Front Before/After Photos

David Johansen – AT13 – 10th Place – Front Before/After Photos


David Johansen - AT13 - 10th Place - Transformation Image

David Johansen – AT13 – 10th Place – Transformation Image


David Johansen - AT13 - 10th Place - Back Before/After Photos

David Johansen – AT13 – 10th Place – Back Before/After Photos


David Johansen - AT13 - 10th Place - Side Before/After Photos

David Johansen – AT13 – 10th Place – Side Before/After Photos

David’s Transformation Interview:

1. Have you ever attempted to lose weight/get in shape before? If so when? How long ago? What did you try? Were you successful? Did you lose weight? Did you put it back on?  

When I started the Adonis Golden Ratio [AGR]  program, I was already part way through a weight transformation that I had begun back in November 2012.  For the first six months, all I did was try to eat more of the healthy food choices and exercise.  The problem was that I didn’t also cut back on the unhealthy foods I was also consuming.  My blood pressure, cholesterol and other blood markers improved, but my weight was staying exactly the same even though I was doing cardio 3-4 times a week.  

 In April 2013 I decided to get more serious about diet and excluded bread, sugar and most processed foods from my diet without having any direction from a particular program, only a few suggestions from my wife who was following the Venus Factor program.  I was fairly strict about my eating then and lost about 60 pounds on my own over about a year’s time.  My wife purchased AGR  for me in July 2013, but I wasn’t ready and didn’t take it serious until the contest began in January 2014.  

2. What if any exercise programs have you followed in the past?  

Prior to doing the AGR program, I hadn’t lifted weights since high school.  I had been active in my earlier adult life with a number of recreational sports, but gained weights as I aged and could no longer participate.  The majority of my recent attempts at exercising involved solely cardio–mountain hiking, running bleachers and the stair mill in the gym.  I was doing morning and evening cardio for up to two hours a day!  

3. Any other diet/exercise philosophies you’ve attempted in the past?  

The only philosophy I had previously adopted was the idea of just solely eating healthy food without regard to amount.  

4. How did you find out about AGR?  

My wife purchased it for me.  When I wasn’t interested at first, my 21 year-old son used it successfully.  Watching my wife with the Venus program, I noticed that she stuck with it longer than any other diet program she had ever tried in the past.  Seeing her success in losing 100 pounds and keeping it off and winning the VT8 contest motivated me in seeing that I should look at the Adonis program because the Venus program was so successful.

5. What resonated with the Adonis message for you?  

The first thing that struck me was how practical the Adonis program was.  I liked the idea that I could eat anything, but just needed to control the amounts.  I had always thought exercise was my number one priority to get into shape, but now I realize how big a part of the equation is the calorie counting.  I suspected that if I stayed within the suggested calorie amounts, I would be successful and that is exactly what happened for me.  Though it wasn’t always easy, I stayed within my deficit and maintenance calorie numbers and was able to take a significant amount of fat off my body.  As I followed the weight loss/muscle building workouts to a “T”, I was pleased to see that I could actually build muscle at the age of 58!  Even my adult sons commented on how buff I was getting!  

6. What made you enter the contest?

 I had stalled out and plateaued in my progress and it motivated me to actually start using the Adonis program and get into lifting weights and counting my calories.  I wasn’t where I wanted to be at weight wise, but more importantly, even though I had already lost a lot of weight, I didn’t look like I wanted because I lacked muscle tone.  It was also motivating to me mentally to have the contest deadline.  

7. What was it like going through the contest? Explain challenges you faced that you didn’t expect.  

It was a challenge for me to learn to be consistent and keep picking myself up when I would blow it and to have to then get back on the horse.  I was very uncomfortable at first, being in the gym around people lifting weights.  I didn’t even know how to use some of the machines.  Over time, I watched the videos and learned the proper form and it became a lot easier and more comfortable.  The worst part for me was taking the photos because it was something I had never done before and it was not my style to shave my chest, get a spray tan and get photographed with my shirt off.  

8. What did you do for nutrition and how was our approach any different than anything else you’ve tried or heard of.  

I had never in my life counted my calories or even knew what a deficit or maintenance number of calories for my body size was.  It was eye opening to know that some of the things that I was eating that were healthy were also very calorically dense.  During my Adonis transformation, I learned to eat foods that were high in volume but low in calorie density, keeping me in a deficit, but satisfied.  Before I just guessed.  With Adonis, I knew that if I stayed within certain numbers I would lose fat. I have learned to enjoy what I eat and don’t feel deprived when I am eating healthy and in moderation.  In fact, I don’t feel well when I overindulge anymore.  Plus,  I have actually learned to enjoy many vegetables.  

9. What did you think of the Adonis exercise program and how did it work for you? 

My wife put my measurements in the calculator and it suggested I should start with Category 3:  Muscle Building and Fat Loss.  I thought it a very intelligently put together program and that it would be harder than it actually was.  But I learned through doing that I could increase my intensity over time.  I felt like the program I was on was just right for my starting capacity and, through the progression of the program, I had enough of a workout to get me where I needed to be to see my muscles progressing.   For example, I had a shoulder injury in high school that was still bothering me when I began the program.  I was able to work around that with lifting lighter weights in the beginning and progressing to heavier as my shoulders strengthened.  My shoulders have now dramatically improved.

10. What advice do you have for new Adonis members who are sitting on the fence about a contest or are simply not sure if they can get to their goal?  

Don’t be afraid to enter a contest regardless of your age.  You can get in great shape and build muscle even when you are a 58-year-old man like me!  Make focusing on the recommended calories and getting in the workouts a priority, but don’t freak out when life gives you setbacks.  You will not be 100% perfect at it, even though we really try to be.  Life is what it is.  Get back on track right away and stay as consistent as you can!  It really does become easier and a way of life.  I still enjoy what I eat, but I eat in moderation now.  


Editor’s Note:

Hey David,

Congrats on placing in this most recent contest.  I distinctly remember getting your contest entry as it was under your wife’s name.  Little did I know that you all would both later go on to earn Top 10 Placements in your respective Adonis/Venus transformation contests.  A job very well done by you both.

I enjoyed reading your interview and was also pleased to know that even your son was able to benefit from the AGR program.    Most importantly, I believe your transformation was just as much mental as it was physical.

You articulately explained the mental transformation you underwent as well as the challenges involved when it came to accepting the  adherence to the calorie goal combined with learning your way around the gym.  Overall, this was a family effort and I hope that you all continue on the journey towards your “Golden” ratios!

your brother in Iron,