Chris Spooner

22 Feb

Last year I published my first Scrawny to (moderately) Brawny post documenting the progress I’d made during my body transformation journey. The post received a great response so six months later I’m back again with another update and a new batch of nudey photos. I hit a bit of a plateau in late 2011 so I thought I’d share what kind of changes I’m making to hopefully push myself towards my goal.

Here’s my updated progress snapshots featuring my starting physique back in June 2010, the transformation I managed to achieve in a year up to August 2011 and the latest snaps six months after that in February 2012.

Stats & Figures

Height: 5′ 9″
Weight: 135lbs to 150lbs to 150lbs (Goal=160lbs)

So as you can see, in the last 6 months I’ve made zero progress numbers wise towards my 160lbs goal. I think the max I managed on the scales was 153lbs, but I soon dropped back to my usual 149-150lbs. The difference in lighting makes it difficult to see if there’s any aesthetic changes, but just comparing my proportions to the ‘before’ shot keeps my head high!

I don’t think I’ll be appearing on any Calvin Klein underwear boxes anytime soon haha.

Why the plateau?

I think the main issue affecting my progress in the last six months is simply down to not advancing myself as much as I should. I was doing pretty much the same weight and same reps for the majority of late 2011, with maybe a few little increases in weight here and there. I had already done my research and knew I should be increasing the weights to keep shocking my muscles, but it was my mental barrier that I actually needed to work on.

I was lifting what I thought was the max I could manage, seeing as I was hitting failure at the 8-10 rep mark. It wasn’t until I seriously stacked on a crazy amount of extra weight that I realised I could actually do more. My rep range dropped to 4-6 in most cases, but in some exercises I was still managing the 8 reps even with 20%+ more weight.

It has only been over the past couple of weeks that I’ve dramatically increased the weight on all my exercises and dropped the target reps to between 4-8, so hopefully along with some little routine and diet changes I’ll be back on track to that 160lbs goal.

Routine update

Here’s my amended weekly routine:

EDIT: A note about weights – A couple of people were interested in the amount of weight I was using for each exercise. I’m happy to share the info, but keep in mind that the weight I use might be waaayy less/more than someone else uses. It’s all about selecting your own weights that are challenging while allowing you to keep good form.
It’s also worth mentioning I do a few warm up sets of around 25% and 50% of these weights at the start of the session.

Monday: Chest
Bench press: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 70kg / 64kg
Dumbbell flys: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 24kg
Incline press: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 22kg (dumbbells)
Incline dumbbell flys: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 18kg

Tuesday: Back
Bent-over row: 3 sets, 6-10 reps. – 60kg
Wide grip pullups: 3 sets, 6-8 reps.
Dumbbell row: 3 sets, 6-8reps. – 40kg
Close grip pullups: 3 sets, 6-10 reps.

With the extra weight across the board and having slowed the pace right down on the wide grip pullups I was too knackered for the close grip pullups, so they’ve gone. Sometimes I’ll add in a set of slow negative rep wide grip pullups at the end instead.

Wednesday: Legs Arms
French press: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 34kg
Dumbbell triceps extension: 3 sets 6-10 reps.
Close grip dumbbell press: 3 reps, 6-8 reps. – 24kg (dumbbells)
Dumbbell kickbacks: 3 sets, 8-10 reps.
Barbell curls: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 34kg
Dumbbell hammer curls: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. 14kg

After doing the three major muscle groups in consecutive days I felt like I’d been hit by a bus by the time Thursday came, so legs are now on Friday.
I’ve switched my arms around so triceps are first, seeing as they’re more compound exercises. Tricep extensions was redundant seeing as I was already doing French press, and kickbacks seem more of an isolation/shaping exercise so these have been switched for another mass builder in the form of close grip press.

Thursday: Shoulders & Abs
Dumbbell press: 3 sets, 6-10 reps. – 22kg
Dumbbell lateral raise: 3 sets, 8-10 reps. – 14kg
Dumbbell front raise: 3 sets, 8-10 reps.
Weighted crunches: 3 sets, 20 reps. – 10kg weight plate
Decline Bench situps: 3 sets, 10 reps.

Front delts are already being hit with the heavy dumbbell press exercise so front raises weren’t really needed.
Added situps for more ab exercises to fill out this session.
I was thinking of adding some trap exercises on this day, but my traps actually look pretty decent on my back photo. Plus, I don’t really want to be resting the bar on sore traps during squats the next day.

Friday: Arms Legs
Sumo Squat: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 80kg
Sumo Deadlift: 3 sets, 6-8 reps. – 80kg
Single leg calf raise: 3 sets, 20 reps. – 32kg

I originally did sumo style squats to protect my lower back, but my back strength and form are good enough now to stick to normal squats, which helps target a different angle on the quads.
I still prefer the sumo stance for deadlifts though, I just can’t do it with arms outside of my knees!

Diet update

My diet is pretty much the same as before, except I’ve switched from semi-skimmed to skimmed milk. I have quite a low body fat percentage currently so I thought I’d try and avoid too much extra fat. It’s inevitable that fat will be gained while bulking but the change wasn’t a big calorie drop. (Update: I’ve now decided to switch back to semi-skimmed milk after learning that fat doesn’t make you fat – Too many excess calories makes you fat – My overall fat count ended up being pretty low at 55g, so semi skimmed milk helps bump that back up to 70g and pushes my overall calories to 3200 with the help of an extra afternoon snack.)

I now have Tuna most days for lunch, rather than just every so often. It’s packed with much more protein than ham and has those good oils/fats fish tend to provide. I can’t go without my packet of crisps but I’ve switched from fried to baked crisps as a slightly better choice.

I’ve also added a bowl of cereal to my evening snack. The carbs probably aren’t too good before bed but it fits into my overall macros to keep me around the 3000 cals mark.

Overall I’m still eating a normal three main meals a day, with the addition of eggs to my breakfast and those three banana and whey shake snacks in between. I keep thinking I need to eat more, but while the numbers are correct I’ll stick it out so I don’t end up too tubby! Average numbers are: 400g carbs, 200g protein, 70g fat.

Inspiration & Motivation Update

I still watch all the previously mentioned fitness YouTubers, but I also recently signed up to Greg Plitt’s member’s website. You sometimes don’t get a feel for the intensity you should be bringing to a workout when watching exercise demonstration videos, this is where Greg’s videos help show what you should be aiming for and give you that motivation to tear it up. His video blog section in the member’s section is also handy for everyday life inspiration. Just check out the intro on his site to see the kinds of accomplishments he’s made. I think I have a new man crush.
If you’re just starting out in this kind of thing and wanting to learn all about exercises and nutrition, much of the information is available for free from various articles around the web, but it’s well worth the membership to Greg’s site just to have it all available and explained in one place.


  1. Dawn says:

    That’s some good workout routine you’ve got going there Chris! The pics show how much progress you’ve done so far, keep up the good work. :)

  2. Pete says:

    Great work Chris. Fantastic results judging by the pictures. Are you doing any cardio work at all or is all weights?

  3. Brussells says:

    Dang! Must remember not to get on the wrong side of you! Nice work! Can’t believe the difference.
    Best not let my other half see this post, else she’ll get me working on a daily routine to get buff!

  4. @Dawn – Thanks very much!
    @Pete – No cardio, not while bulking anyway. Maybe once I’ve reached that 160lbs if there’s any extra bodyfat.
    @Brussells – Hahaha!

  5. Simon says:

    did you use any type of enhancement drugs during this workout routine?

  6. You had an advantage that indeed you were skinny. So how do you do with workout, interwebz and work, and the (in my opinion) terrible MW3? ;)

    I swim and run. I am not so skinny so I need the cardio. You don’t smoke or anything, right?

    Btw, I still note the absence of cheese ;)

  7. George Elias says:

    Looking good Chris. Wow what improvements. Keep it up.

  8. Julio says:

    Good stuff, Chris. You just motivated me to unfreeze my gym membership and murder those weights!

  9. @Simon – No, any type of (non-medicinal) drug is for losers.
    @Marco – Working out at home means it’s quite easy to take an hour out. I usually do my sessions at 5PM after my daily work and before dinner. Non smoker and still a non cheese eater :-)
    @George – Thanks very much! Hopefully there will be more to show in the next 6 month update post.
    @Julio – Glad to hear it! I get inspired by looking at other people’s progress, so it’s great to hear that I’m actually motivating others in return.

  10. Looking good Chris. Being a designer you have to stay in shape and look after your body. Sitting all day isn’t good for any part of your physical health.

    Two years ago I also started my build from Scrawny to Brawny. I started off on 153lbs at 6’1″ and now being in the gym everyday and after bulking I pull into the 200lbs range.

    Obviously there was supplementation involved, but its basically food replacement supplements with high carbs in the bulking season and then summer the cutting starts where I drop down to about 185lbs with carb cycling and a strict diet.

    Your transformation is great though, big ups for the commitment and for staying healthy as a designer! ;)


  11. @Jacques – That sounds awesome, do you have any before/after shots online anywhere?

  12. Kev Gilmour says:

    Well done Chris, I’m on a health kick myself at the moment to lose a bit of the weight I’ve put on over the years. Lost nearly 2 stone since New Year, if I get my BMI down a bit more I may give your diet a try.

  13. Richy Thomas says:

    Hey Chris,

    Great article! Great progress!

    What equipment do you have in your home gym?

  14. cwebba1 says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your program. I like that you are keeping records and making yourself accountable. Last summer I swam 100 miles Between July 4 and September 1.
    After the pool closed I allowed myself to get fat again. I just started my path back today. Thanks for your inspiration.

  15. @Kev – Congratulations! That’s a great achievement so far!
    @Richy – I have a 90kg set of plates with DB handles and a 6ft bar, an EZ bar, door pullup bar, a York bench and a Bodymax squat rack. Oh, and a pair of gloves, a bar pad, some floor mats and a set of lifting straps.
    @cwebb – 100 miles is insane! I can just about manage 1 length of a pool, as long as I start at the deep end…

  16. Rob Wallace says:

    Props to you Chris!

    It does make it worth it when you can see progression like that. I’m aiming for similar results as I’m same height and weight.

    Nothing helps more than a bit of ‘eye of the tiger’ to get in the zone…

  17. Pradeep says:

    Please look into your Online Reputation Protection as some one might create a trouble to you.

  18. kilymom says:

    good men.

  19. zang says:

    Buy from – AliExpress . com — DhGate . com

  20. ayahe fia says:

    nice work, I wish I have body like your :)

  21. steve says:

    I wish you good luck

  22. zung says:


  23. Daniel says:

    Wow I’m so proud of you Chris. As a long fan of you blogs and design work, I’m not surprised that your drive has also helped you perfect your physique. You’re an inspiration, mate. You are my idol hehe :-D

  24. Janoo says:

    oh I c why Laura waiting 2013…

  25. Chris Green says:

    I just showed my wife these pics Chris and she told me to get off my ass and down the gym. You’ve ruined it for all of us designers mate ;) We were ok with being out of shape before …

  26. Tricia says:

    There is a massive difference between August 2011 and February 2012, to start your left shoulder is now back down and in line with the right one. I’m guessing when you work at your comp you lean on your left and use your right to use the mouse. In any case the left upper trap is no longer overdeveloped amongst underdeveloped muscles, now its being stabilised by a well formed lats and rhomboids on both sides. In the side view you can see how your posture has changed from an almost early onset of Dowager’s hump to balance front and back. Your inguinal ligament has kick ass definition in feb 2012 as well. Your spine must be feeling better, in the first pic the vertebrae around the t2 area (and t5) look rotated as if the muscle from your right side are pulling it to your front and the left is pulling it up, also your right hip is slightly hiked = tight QL, anyway all looking much more balanced in the final pic. Only thing is your deep neck flexors still need strengthening, to take that last bit of strain off your c7 (big vertebrae at base of neck) old boxing exercises can do this for you. You must feel great, hopefully your armpit smells just as good. well done.

  27. Thanks for all the recent comments on this post, I do keep checking back and reading your kind words!
    @Tricia – A special thanks for your awesome comment. I have to admit I only understood a few words but it sounds good!

  28. Paolo says:

    Man, really got some inspiration from this. Every time I work out a little while later I get bored and stop.. gotta get my mindset right. Though I lost a lot of body fat and gained muscle, still so far away from the body that I want. Thanks to this, I’m gonna start working out again. Thanks.

  29. Claudia says:

    So inspirational Chris! Keep it up :)

  30. JohnF says:

    Great work! I was usually into working out due to playing hockey or other sports but around 3-4 years ago I stopped working out. I then got the motivation to hit the gym and wanted to change my physic from scrawny to brawny. I have a high metabolism which made it a bit hard for me but I managed to find the right diet and went from 140 to 160. I to did 6-8 reps using heavy weights. Noticed an increase in weeks. It felt good and I was slowly noticing a bit of change but my friends and family noticed it more and complimented me on it. It feels great but I lost it after I got sick. I lost 10 pounds and went downhill after that. I am now back to 140 and look like I did when I first started. I’m currently in the process of getting myself back on track and starting again. This article will help me out a lot for inspiration. Thanks and love reading scrawny to brawny articles.

  31. Renee says:

    That is crazy!!! I love transformations. It takes a lot of determination, self-discipline, and patience to get to where you are. You should be super proud!!!

  32. dacel says:

    sexy aww :)

  33. Rachel says:

    It’s been 6 months… Time for a new transformation update?

    Also, we’d love to see your awesome progress pics on BodyLog :)

  34. Joesph says:

    This is Great think.

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