My 1 Year Fitness Transformation (Calisthenics + Reddit PPL + nSuns)

This post was originally published in the Reddit r/Fitness community on March 17th, 2020.





Hey all, like many others I’ve lurked on this sub for a while and found these progress posts very motivating, so here I finally am with mine. Up until 2019 I had never trained properly or learned about nutrition - I had goofed around in the gym a little bit but without any notable progress.

I started in January 2019, weighing 187 lbs, by doing calisthenics / bodyweight training along with keto and 16/8 intermittent fasting (as well as logging calories). I gained a bit of strength and achieved some calisthenics skills, but I ended up completely neglecting lower body strength during this time, which has still been a weak-point since. In terms of physique, I really just wanted to see a six-pack on myself for the first time – I achieved this, weighing 170 lbs at the end, but retrospectively ended up looking very skinny.

Then in May 2019 I started my bulk and finally started lifting properly. I ran the Reddit PPL, which I’ve seen great results on. During the summer, for a month or so, I was also biking 10 miles home from work every day.

I continued my bulk through the end of 2019 and ate big the whole time (that hasn’t ever been an issue for me). I switched my routine to nSuns LP 5-day in October 2019 because I was bored and stalling on the PPL. At the end of the year I was weighing 205+ lbs and feeling a bit too fluffy.

Finally, I started my current cut in January 2020 and have gotten down to 193 lbs so far, with a general goal of getting to 180 lbs by May (not sure if that’s still happening). This time I’ve simply been counting calories and loosely intermittent fasting (just skipping breakfast), with a little more of an IIFYM approach. I was still running nSuns and enjoying it, but my progress slowed down (starting with OHP) during the cut and recently I had been having some trouble recovering (definitely wasn’t sleeping well enough either).

Currently it looks like I’ll be taking a break from lifting because I, like many of you, no longer have access to a gym (due to coronavirus) – so I’ll try to maintain by doing some calisthenics in the meantime. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get some conditioning in by starting to jog regularly for the first time!


Calisthenics Upper-Lower Split (January-May 2019):

Upper (Monday/Wednesday/Friday):

Lower (Tuesday/Thursday):

Looking back this wasn’t the greatest routine, it was just something I got off Youtube but at least it got me started. During this period of my training I will admit I often skipped the leg days.

Reddit PPL (May-October 2019):

At this point I ran Metallicdpa’s PPL, which many of you are familiar with. Now that I actually started using weights, here were my stats (5 RM weights, in lbs):

Bench Press: 135 -> 200

Deadlift: 135 -> 315

Squat: 115 -> 155

OHP: 75 -> 120

Row: 115 -> 195

At this point I know what you’re thinking about, that squat. I want to clarify that I was no longer skipping leg days at this point, but for some reason I kept stalling and failing on my squats (later came to realize I’ve had horrid form).

nSuns LP 5-day (October 2019-March 2020):

Finally I switched to nSuns, which has been my absolute favorite. I love the volume and heavy sets, although it has definitely been harder to keep up on the cut than during the bulk. Here are the stats (1 RM weights, in lbs):

Bench Press: 235 -> 260

Deadlift: 365 -> 395

Squat: 205 -> 225

OHP: 145 -> 165

I am happy with the progress I’ve made on bench, deadlift and OHP but obviously not with the squat. Throughout my training I’ve been discovering mistakes I’m making in my squat form, but it still doesn’t feel dialed in yet – at this point I might just go ahead and get help from a trainer, because this is seriously impeding my progress and frankly kind of embarrassing.

As for my nSuns accessory exercises, I’ve made some changes over time but most recently I was doing these:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:


During the first cut phase, I was doing keto which I found to be effective for quickly losing weight, but it felt overly restrictive and I don’t think I could train while doing keto anymore. I was also doing 16/8 intermittent fasting which made it easier to eat less. Finally, I was also counting calories and macros with Lose It! My protein goal was to get about 1 g/lbs, while cutting at a rate of about 2 lbs / week (don’t remember the calorie count).

When I started the bulk I was initially still counting calories but soon stopped and just focused on eating big and frankly indulging myself. During this period I wasn’t weighing myself either, it was all free rein, but because of all this my bulk may have gotten a little dirty.

Now in my current cutting phase I’m counting calories again and aiming for about 2100 calories, for a weight loss rate of about 1.5 lbs / week. This time around I haven’t really been tracking macros or protein, for better or worse, but haven’t had any issues yet. The reason for this is because during my first cut phase I was cooking for myself which made it easier to track, whereas I’ve been eating dining hall food since then.


I’ve been supplementing with protein (whey and/or casein) throughout this period, although not as consistently in the past few months. I started supplementing creatine at the beginning of the summer although I honestly can’t tell if it makes a difference. Since the start of my cut this Spring I’ve been drinking Amino Energy (contains EAAs and caffeine) before my fasted workouts. And no, I do not use any steroids.