Rebel Strength Guide 6-Week Success Stories

The time has finally come!

What seems like four years ago (although it was only three months ago), I launched the Rebel Strength Guide along with The Greatest Contest in the History of the World, a six-week competition to see who could get the best results in a six week period.  300+ people picked up the book in that first week, and at the end of the competition we had dozens and dozens of awesome submissions.

You can see the prizes here.

After reviewing all entries, I sent along the top contenders to my judges and asked them to pick their top three people and their reasons behind their decisions.  Honestly, I was worried we’d end up in a stalemate with each judge selecting different winners for different reasons.


All judges picked the exact same top three in the exact same order, for the same reasons, and all had the same “honorable mention” even though I didn’t ask them to pick one.  So, without further ado, here are your winners of the Greatest Contest in the History of the World.

All words written below were from the competitors themselves, and are before/after pictures and results from six weeks following the diet and exercise plans laid out in the Rebel Strength Guide.  I’m obliged to tell you that “these results aren’t typical,” though I think you’ll see that these are normal people, with families, full time jobs, and not a lot of time to train.

Honorable Mention: Dave

I’ve spent most of my life as the definition of “nerd”, concentrating on metal ability and ignoring the physical aspects of life. I got a degree in engineering and landed my dream job as an aerospace engineer.  Then my wife and I welcomed first a son and then a daughter into this world. I found myself exhausted constantly.  I’d sleep for 7-8 hours a night and then fall asleep in meetings at work or over at my in-laws house while they played with the kids. I felt miserable. To top it off, a check up with the doctor showed my cholesterol was out of whack, my triglycerides were too high, and I was gaining weight in an unhealthy way (which I already knew from my belt). Now, I’m no spring chicken, so I knew if I wanted to see my kids grow up AND be able to keep up with them once they got old enough to want to explore this world, something had to change.

I decided to go with the Dumbbell Division because I have dumbbells and it looked like something I could do. I also decided to go paleo/primal because it seemed to make sense.

I started at 185 lbs (first thing in the morning, before breakfast). I could pick my kids up, at the time 32 and 18 lbs (they’re 3 and 1 yrs old), and walk across a parking lot with them. That was about it. The leg exercises weren’t that bad. The upper body stuff was killer. One stinking pull-up! I think that first week was the most pain I had ever voluntarily experienced. But you know what, I slept like a rock at night and felt like a million bucks all day the next day (aside from the muscle soreness).

The next couple of weeks I noticed something amazing. The ache in my muscles wasn’t from the workout, it was FOR the workout. My body was wanting to do the exercises and get fitter. I could also tell things were working because each week I was planking a little longer, lifting a little more, and just generally feeling a little better all the time. By the end of week three I was down to 178 and I could muster five whole pull-ups a set.

Getting to the end of this six week period, other people started to really take notice of the change.  My wife told me somewhere around week five that I’d have to buy all new clothes because nothing fit me anymore. My energy was WAY UP. I was finding myself going strong from 5 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night, day after day.

  • I’ve leveled off at 172 lbs, for a total of 13 pounds lost!
  • I can do 10 pull-ups.
  • I can carry both of my kids, wiggles and squirms and all, for long hikes to the park and back.

All in all, I’d say finding your site and reading your book rank up there with some of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Oh, and one other thing. For anyone doubting they have time to get fit, here’s a short list of the other things I did during this six weeks:

  1. Raise a toddler and a pre-schooler
  2. Lead a team designing an inflatable space ship (yes, really)
  3. Polished off a graduate degree, Master of Engineering in Experimental Methods (that means I know how to break stuff real good)
  4. Dug up the back yard, by hand, and planted a garden

3rd Place: Louise

I’m so happy! I had so much fun and I feel so good! Thank you thank you!

Before and after pictures are attached. I think the recycling container in the after shots full of egg cartons and meat wrappers tells the store best. Paleo all the way, baby!


  • Starting Body Fat % – 23.4% – Ending Body Fat % – 19.4%
  • Starting Hip – 39″ – Ending Hip – 37″
  • Starting Waist – 30″ – Ending Waist – 27.5″
  • Starting upper right thigh – 23″ – Ending upper right thigh – 22 1/4″
  • Starting weight – 125 lbs – Ending weight – 122 lbs (<- crazy, right?)
  • Starting age – 49 – Ending age – 49 + 6 weeks

Here are some fitness bench marks:

Push Ups:
Starting – bent-knee 20 / 20 / 15 / 15 (pretty shallow ones)
Ending – real ones 9 / 9 / 9 / 9

Starting – regular 21 / 25 / 25 / 25 (shallow and wobbly ones)
Ending – prisoner 25 / 25 / 25 / 25

1-Arm Rows:
Starting – one-arm rows w/10 lbs – 15 / 15 / 15 / 15
Ending – one-arm rows w/17.5 lbls – 10 / 10 / 10 / 10

Starting – 6 / 5 / 2 / 1 (each leg) – (practically fell over every time)
Ending – 15 / 12 / 12 / 11 (each leg)

Regular Planks:
Starting – 36 / 36 / 36 secs
Ending – 80 / 66 / 61 secs

Here are my goals for the 6-weeks and how things went.

Follow the Body Weight Brigade part of the Rebel Strength Guide, 3 x a week.
DONE. Never missed a workout. I now have little baby muscles! In fact, the guitar player in my band pointed at my shoulder at our last gig and said, “Hey! Is that muscle definition??” You bet your sweet ass it is, boys.

Write down what I eat as part of the Greatest Contest in the History of the World 6 week challenge.

DONE. Never missed a day. After the first week, very repetitive, as I tend to eat the same things over and over.

Hard-core, no-excuses Paleo diet.
DONE. Awe. Some. And eye-opening. I didn’t realize how often I was reaching for special treats – on the way to gigs as a treat, on the way home from gigs as a treat, when things were going great, when things weren’t going great, because I was bored, because I was about to do something fun, etc. Whew!  I have had a chronic cough for years. It now seems to be gone. Did you hear me? GONE. I don’t want to put the whammy on it and say gone-for-good, but it seems to be pretty gone.

I did it. But only with the help of the Nerd Fitness community. I felt like I was part of a big team, all working towards a common goal. Loved it!

  • I feel safer when Knightwatch is around.
  • I feel happier when CapN_Tommy_Sunshine is around.
  • I feel kinder when JohnnyConfidence is around.
  • I want to roller skate when Cynnister is around.
  • And I feel more awesome when Tasty is around.

I just fit into a pair of pants that I haven’t been able to wear in two years.

Like a lot of folks, I had a couple of pretty horrible life things happen in the last 6 weeks.  But my workouts were a lifeline, and I clung to them with both hands, oh yes I did. From now on, when I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story.

Final Thoughts:

I’m not a weightlifter and I’m not a runner. I didn’t have big goals like heavier and heavier weights or doing 45 pull-ups.

What I have felt creeping up on me over the last year or two is fear. The small fears that come with getting a little bit older, a little bit weaker. The fear that comes with not being able to carry the groceries up the stairs. The fear of needing help to do make the bed – I can’t even lift the comforter by myself. The fear of standing on a chair to get down a vase from a high shelf – my balance is bad, what if I fall? The fear of going out too far on an out-and-back walk. Will I make it back to the car before it gets too cold? The fear of being cold. The fear of being tired. The fear of fatigue.

I started this just wanting to feel a little bit better. And I ended up running up the stairs with my arms full of groceries, jumping up onto that chair to put the vase away, and reveling in the broken escalator at the movie theater because it meant I would get to run up the stairs! I ran up those stairs and jumped around at the top with my arms over my head, singing the Rocky theme! I rode a horse at a gallop and pulled her down to a sliding stop! And laughed while I did it!

2nd Place: Jackie

WOOT! Six weeks of Nerd Fitness awesomeness documented on the forums, through photos, new eating habits, the scale and OMG I NEED TO GO SHOPPING AGAIN FOR CLOTHES! moments as I wrap up all my totals for my submission for the Greatest Contest in the History of the World!

How did you do?: Overall I think I did fantastic. I’ve learned new recipes and continue reading to expand my new and improved way of eating and living. I didn’t let my hip stop me too much, granted it did need rest days and it’s important for me not to overstress it – but all the exercises with a few variations or assists are do-able.

And seriously… at the end of a workout – Man! I feel accomplished! I can also tell you I used to have a trainer at a gym.. and in 4 months – yes 4 – I never even came close to the results I’ve obtained in just 6 weeks here with everyone at Nerd Fitness. Already looking forward to the next challenge. Of course I’ll just continue this week as normal because it’s not over yet for me. Still have a lot of living to do and working out is now apart of my life forever!

How do you look?: … where’d my belly go? – I’m not complaining – it’s awesome! Friends and family have all noticed. My clothes don’t fit anymore – but hey! That’s ok with me <3

How do you feel?: Normally some people avoid me when I’m drinking soda and/or caffeine beverages…I apparently get a little hyper but then later comes the crash. Sugar sensitive like a 5-year old that’s been given Halloween candy. Nowadays – My energy stays with me from sun up to sun down. No crash. It’s freaking amazing. Well I’m sure some people will avoid me more now – but that’s ok =) My true friends are proud of me. It’s great to not see someone in the past 2 or so months and then they walk up to you and say: “DUDE (yes that loud) WTF you look great! What are you doing?!”

One other bit. So even though I’m in Florida – my best friend for the past 9 or so years lives in California. She is a stay at home Mom and cooks 99% of the meals. She was eating healthier than I was for the most part (I ate out a ton…) but now it’s me cooking healhier menu items than her. I talked to her in February after my bloodwork and let her know I was going to start making changes (soda was kicked first!) and she totally supported me in it. I just sent her the before/after photo I’ve attached for you – and let’s just say it sounds like now she is also going to get back on track too. It’s awesome to know you can inspire someone you care so much about to keep healthy. So thank you Steve for inspiring me and allowing me to inspire her. Healthy people FTW!

So all in all this has been a very positive and beneficial 6 weeks. I’ve attached before and after photos. My pant waistline is such a huge difference in 6 weeks I think I’m still shaking my head. In a good way of course!

Starting Weight on 4/11/11: 212.5
Ending Weight on 05/23/11: 199
Total weight loss: 13.5 lbs

Measurements on 4/11/11 (in inches):
Bust: Under 41 1/4 Over 47 1/4
Waist: 43 1/2
Hips: 51
R Thigh: 23 3/4
L Thigh: 25
R Bicep: 14 3/4
L Bicep: 15 3/4
R Calf: 16 3/4
L Calf: 17 1/2

Measurements on 5/23/11 (in inches):
Bust: Under 38 1/2 Over 44 1/4
Waist: 41 1/2
Hips: 48
R Thigh: 23 1/2
L Thigh: 25
R Bicep: 14 1/4
L Bicep: 14 1/2
R Calf: 16 1/4
L Calf: 16 1/2

Total inches lost: 11.5 INCHES!!

Overview of 6 week goals set on 4/11/11:

  1. 1BW portion of the Rebel Strength Guide, 3x a week: A-, Completed all but 2 BW workouts in 6th week – I really dislike colds!
  2. Do Yoga, Walking or Biking, 2x a week: A-, I think I did pretty good but wish I had gotten in some more bike riding
  3. Continue to track daily food & water intake, exercise and BP: A
  4. Under 200lbs. – A, 199 as of 5/23!
  5. Life Goal: Working a new job: A, Three weeks in and doing great – lots to learn!
  6. Life Goal: Read Yoga for Divers – A, completed reading

1st Place: Chris

Hello Steve and Vic! This month and a half has been an interesting one in my life.   I started this challenge after a very busy season at my job.  You see, I am an accountant, and the months of February, March, and April are very demanding for me.  During this time I let myself completely backslide on my nutrition, fitness, and general health/happiness.

In short: I was a mess both physically and mentally.

I was eating fast food for all my dinners, store bought muffins for breakfast, smoking multiple times a day, and having zero physical activity, aside from standing up and sitting down at my desk.  Near the end of it I was so unhappy with myself that I knew I needed to do something.

::end depressing rant::

At this point I had been reading Steve’s blog for while and when I saw the “Greatest Contest in the History of the World” I decided to give it a try.  Why not?  Sitting on my butt wasn’t doing me any favors, and if I was going to participate in something the greatest contest ever seemed like the thing to do!

So I bought the RSG, and when I saw “Operation Bulk Up” I could have kissed the screen. Someone else was a hard gainer too!  So many routines I had looked at, and most of the “hip” and “trendy” (I can’t help but feel old when I use quotes around those 2 words…or when I use them in general for that matter) workouts I’ve seen all talk about losing weight, shredding fat, and trimming down.  Well, while that’s all well and good, I didn’t exactly have that problem.  I was a scrawny 135lbs guy for crying out loud!  What was left to lose, shred, or trim??

After I read Operation Bulk Up I started to do my own research on proper nutrition, caloric intake, protein consumption, and lifting (all hail Rippetoe!). I signed up for DailyBurn, and was immediately blown away at how off the mark I was with how much I thought I was eating.  I felt like such a noob; complaining that I “just couldn’t gain” when it was so painfully obvious why after just 1 day of recording!  That food journal has been far and away the most influential thing from this program.  I am hooked on it!  I have just about convinced myself that I will waste away if I eat less than 2,300 calories a day (my average is now well above that).

I would have to say the thing that had the next most impact was the lifting. I had never done a single squat or deadlift prior to this routine, and now I cannot imagine how someone works out without them. I have never seen 1 routine improve as fast as my deadlift (my squats are a little limited because I do not have a rack to safely solo squat with my barbell.  While dumbbells are ok, they just don’t feel quite right).

I went from doing 4 sets of 5 reps with about 100lbs-120lbs to my 4 sets of 5 reps starting at 185lbs and ending with 200lbs in a month and a half!  I have yet to do a Max Effort, but still, an improvement of about 85lbs on my rep weight in a month and a half amazed me.

Finally, the third most important thing I have gained from this has been the NF community. Win or lose this competition, I don’t mind, I just can’t wait for the next challenge.  The community on the NF forums is simply awesome.  It is so great how eager people are to assist someone starting out, and how much an entire community seems to strive for improvement.  The pvp challenges, games (OMFG character sheets…win), and contests that the users put together are fantastic. I am still trying to plot out the various “levels” in my life!

Attached I have included my excel spreadsheet for my routine during the contest time, and some “before/after” pictures.  I apologize for the poor quality.  All pictures were taken prior to my workout session.

Also the attached ankle pictures are the result of first attempts to learn how to jump rope…I wasn’t very good (I got better!)

Here’s an overview with how everything went down:

This program has been great.  I went from 135lbs at the start to 147.5lbs at the end with 12.3% body fat.

I have so much more energy, and I am happier in general with my life.

I am trying to push my lazy habits aside and explore new things as well.  I have taken up camping again and I signed up for a rock climbing gym (the day before your post about that same topic Steve!).

There are still things I need to work on, but now I feel like I can take them head on rather than be weighed down by them into stagnation.

Thank you and congratulations

This might sound weird, but I truly feel like a proud parent looking at these results, and I know my co-author Vic Magary feels the same way.

I want to offer a HUGE thanks and congratulations to Dave, Louise, Jackie, Chris and all of the other rebels who picked up the Rebel Strength Guide and participated in this contest. It was awesome to see so many people get great results in just six weeks, and very inspiring to see men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes making lasting, positive changes in their lives.  Although it was tough to pick winners, I really enjoyed seeing everybody kick ass, track workouts, take measurements, and stay actively engaged for the entirety of the contest.

Thanks again to all that participated, you have inspired me.

So, it is now July 5th…What can YOU accomplish in the next six weeks?

Get it done.




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  • ken

     There is a grea TED talk up now about doing things for 30 days. It motivated me.

  • also, current 6 week challenge on the boards = coming to a close, which means new one starts july 25th… y’all should get in on that 🙂

  • also, current 6 week challenge on the boards = coming to a close, which means new one starts july 25th… y’all should get in on that 🙂

  • Congrats to the winners!  to be honest, i feel like everyone who participated won a lot, but these are some impressive transformations. 

  • Jesse

    Haha, just as I was thinking about picking up the Rebel Strength guide I see this post. I’m sold, now to see what sort of results I can get in 6 weeks.

  • Jax_BabyJeep

    RSG = the BEST investment ever! Just do it! No excuses – and we’ll all be here to support you on the forums <3

  • Pattie Halle’

    I’m Jackie’s Mom and so proud of her.  She has stuck to this and yes is looking wonderful.  Now trying to get with her to help her old mom and dad out on this too.  Congrats to you Jackie – You stuck with it and getting back to be the normal Jackie – Cute and fiesty too. – Love Mom

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  • Paurullan

    Congratulations to all of you!

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  • Da5e

    Which talk was that?

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  • Paul
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  • Karen

    Wow!  I am so inspired that these incredible results were achieved in only 6 weeks time.  I’m 39 years old, obese at 190 lb. with a ridiculously high body fat %, and mom of 2 kids, ages 8 & 4, and I hadn’t set foot inside a gym or intentionally “exercised” in approx. 10 yrs. before I joined a gym last month.  After a few weeks of cardio, a friend recommended Alwyn Cosgrove’s workouts in New Rules of Lifting for Women, and in a forum about that, I found this blog, and I love it!  I’m 1 week into learning to lift weights, and I think I’m hooked.  I’m also taking my first trip to Europe this summer, and these 6 week results really give me a load of optimism that I can make a big difference in how I look between now and then.  For that, and just the overall awesomeness of this blog, thank you!!!

  • Panczo

    ok, can anyone give us a link to chris thread on the forum? Please, If he got so great results doing 6-week challenge I would love to see the details!!! Also I would love to know how is he going these days with his bulking up ….

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  • Alec s

    Holy hell! Louise is in her forties! I coulda sworn she was a teen

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  • Bnewbs

    Omg I’m totally curious how things turned out for you! Are you like super fit and healthy now? I’m flubAlicious and just looking for motivation

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