Luke’s Body Transformation – Part 3: Exercise

Step 3 – Exercise. Calorie balance has two sides, how many calories you eat and how many you burn. Focusing on only one side of the equation will lead to subpar results. Exercise is a very important step in a body transformation. Exercise creates a bigger calorie deficit (without sacrificing more food calories), increases muscle mass and helps burn more fat. It’s perfect if you want to look good and be healthy, both of which were Luke’s goal. There were two parts to his exercise routine: weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise.

Weightlifting. In Iraq, we had a descent gym. The equipment was all old but everything we needed was there. Since we were told that work was our most number one priority in Iraq, we designed our workout routine around our work schedule. We Luke - Apr 14 - 210lbsworked 3 days in a row followed by a 1 day “break”. We worked 12-14 hour shifts in 110-120 degree, sunny weather, so we decided that working out after work was a bad idea. Instead, we lifted weights in the morning before work and did cardio on some nights after work.

  • day 1 of work: back and biceps
  • day 2 of work: rest day
  • day 3 of work: chest and triceps (morning) & shoulders (night)
  • our break day: legs

We put our schedule together this way to give ourselves extra sleep every other day. Day 1 and day 3 of work were the only days that we got up very early which increased our adherence to our program by fitting it around our lives rather than trying to fit our lives around our workout routine. This is an important principle to remember when coming up with your own routine. Unless you’re Arnold Swarchenegger (the bodybuilder, not governor) and can devote a huge chunk of your day to working out and staying healthy, your life (kids, work, school, the unexpected) will always be your number one priority.


  • exercise 1: bent over barbell rows
  • exercise 2: machine row
  • exercise 3: pull downs
  • exercise 4: dumbbell rows supersetted with pull ups


  • exercise 1: standing cable curls
  • exercise 2: preacher machine curls
  • exercise 3: seated dumbbell curls


  • Luke - May 04 - 202lbsexercise 1: barbell bench press
  • exercise 2: dumbbell incline press
  • exercise 3: decline barbell press
  • exercise 4: cable flys


  • exercise 1: close grip bench press
  • exercise 2: cable pushdowns
  • exercise 3: dips


  • exercise 1: squats
  • exercise 2: straight leg deadlifts
  • exercise 3: leg press/calf extensions
  • exercise 4: dumbbell lunges


  • exercise 1: dumbbell press
  • exercise 2: dumbbell lateral raise
  • exercise 3: barbell front raise
  • exercise 4: rear delt raise
  • exercise 5: dumbbell shrugs

We did 4 sets per exercise with the first set being the lightest and the last set being the heaviest. The repetitions decreased as the weight increased. We did 8 reps the first set, 6 for the second, 4 for the third and 2-3 for the fourth set.

A workout journal for exercise is the same as counting calories for food. It keeps track of all the sets/repetitions you complete and the weights that you used. Luke used a workout journal to help him lift more weight each week which increased his strength.

Exercise causes tiny tears in the muscle tissue. The body treats these tears as injuries and repairs them. It’s this repair process that makes us stronger and bigger. A workout journal works by helping us continuously place a higher and higher stimulus on the muscle. If you were to do the same number of reps using the same weight every week, you would never get any Luke - Jun 01 - 196lbsstronger. The recovery process repairs muscle tissues and makes them stronger. You will only see improvements if you continuously increase the stress you place on your muscles.

Luke kept track of all of the exercises he did, the number of repetitions he completed and the weight he used. He referred to his workout journal during each lift to either increase the amount of weight he lifted or number of repetitions he completed.

Cardiovascular Exercise. Our cardio wasn’t as regimented as our weight lifting routine. We did as much as we could with the little time that we had. Sometimes we ran 1-2 miles on the outdoor track and sometimes we would swim laps at the indoor pool.

Luke also participated in other cardio activities on a regular basis including a punching bag, circuit workouts on the track (pushups, pull ups, jump ropes, running) and jiu jitsu classes/competitions. It was this wide variety of activities that helped him stick to his cardio routine and not get bored of one single workout. We did cardio 4-6 times per week, lasting about 30 minutes per session.

Next Section – Part 4: Monitor/Adjust

Table of Contents


Part 1: Calories

Part 2: Nutrition/Supplements

Part 3: Exercise

Part 4: Monitor/Adjust

Part 5: The End


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