From Fluffy to Ripped, Sans the Obsession: Chris Brown’s Transformation

By JC Deen



Back in February, I recall getting an email from a guy by the name of Chris Brown who was interested in some fitness consulting.  He found my work through my friend Google, and claimed to have devoured many of my articles since his discovery.

“Ever since I read your No-BS Approach to Looking Great Naked, I’ve been hooked”

is what he said in the opening email.

He went on to explain his experience in athletics growing up, which ultimately led to playing some professional baseball for a short time, before going back to graduate school to further his studies at Salve Regina University.

I knew from the beginning that I’d be able to work with Chris due to his experience in athletics, but his passionate desire to learn and grow he expressed in our email exchange.  I’ll never forget the last line of his first email that read “my work ethic is ridiculous and I love the gym, so I’m ready for the challenge.”

At first, I thought “okay, we’ll see how determined he is” and we continued our conversation which resulted in him starting the official JCDFItness training and diet protocol on Monday, March 7.

I was extremely pleased with his familiarity of the major compound lifts and willingness to let go of the reigns.

While I won’t go into his exact training protocol, I want to highlight a bit of what we did to get the results presented below.  To start off, Chris had been doing the popular Stronglifts 5×5 program.  I was already a fan of this guy – no bro-training to speak of.

Chris’ starting weight was 205lbs and ending weight was 186lbs.  He is right at 6 foot tall.  The time frame in between photos is about 16 weeks.  So on average, he dropped just over 1lb per week.  I think you’ll agree the difference in appearance is fairly drastic.  He transformed from a soft look into a very lean, athletic appearance. 

His starting strength numbers were as follows:
Squat: 5×275
Deadlift: 5×305
Bench: 5×250
Rows: 5×205

His current numbers 16 weeks later:
Squat: 5×315 (+40lbs)
Deadlift: 5×365 (+60lbs)
Bench: 5×260 (+10lbs)
: 6×245 (+40lbs)

What I wish to point out here is the fact he gained appreciable amounts of strength, especially on a diet.  The way I originally laid out his programming allowed for 4 full days off of weight training per week.  I had him hitting everything every 4th or 5th day depending on the rotation and strength work was the focus.

I’ve been using reverse pyramid training since about 2006 when I first hired a coach and began my journey of self-discovery through the maze of fitness.  I’m a big fan of placing an emphasis on strength first on any program regardless of the aeasthetic goals (fat loss or muscle gain).

Many of the programs you’ll find online or in the magazines praise using higher reps when going on a diet to increase calorie burn and to get the cuts but it couldn’t be further from the truth.  This is a recipe for disaster, as you will lose strength on these types of programs, and in just about all cases, losses in strength coupled with a calorie deficit results in lean body mass loss.

The goal of a diet is to give your muscles just enough stimuli to allow for maintenance and a full recovery.  Lots of high rep work is fairly pointless, burns a tiny bit more calories and usually leaves you hungry and weak.

I digress.  I hope you understand by now that maintaining your strength is essential to a successful fat loss diet.

Some Alterations

While I had Chris on an upper/lower split for a while, he eventually became stale and wanted something different for a change of pace.  While I’m rarely up for changing the training unless absolutely necessary, I understood his boredom and put him back on a full body-type set up, still focused on strength work over 3 days per week.

When fat loss had stalled, I made adjustments to his intake and eventually began incorporating some structured refeeds, the leaner he became.  Sprint work was limited to only one day per week and I had him walking for the majority of his cardio.  Cardio was only done 2-3x per week depending on the time frame and schedule.

I couldn’t be more pleased with his results and the dedication he displayed the entire time.  I will shut up now and let Chris give you his take on the matter.  You’ll soon learn that his willingness to accept that nothing is ever perfect, and how he became more successful as he learned to embrace moderation in its entirety.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Chris Brown.

— — — — — —

I had no idea that stumbling upon JCDFitness would have such an astounding effect on me. Reading the material JC puts out there revolutionized the way in which I perceived the challenge of recomposing my body and the fitness world in general.

Being bombarded by the strict rules and the long list of “you can’t” or “don’t” overwhelmed me to the point to where I determined that my body fat percentage wasn’t going to change. It appeared to be an impossible task to stick to all of these rules and achieve my goal.

However, after reading some articles written by JC and then following them up with others by Alan Aragon, Martin Berkhan and Roger Lawson, my personal view of the challenge that was changing my body became possible.

What caught my eye the most was the idea of intermittent fasting. I don’t know if it was because at the time it appeared to be so radical that I had to do more reading on it or what, but it simply intrigued me to the point where I had to learn more. Initially I thought that it was a bit crazy to go that long without food.

I had been blasted by all of the common themes of eating every 2-3 hours to “stoke the metabolic fire” so much that if I followed any other plan I should probably just glue the food I eat to my ass because that is where it would end up.

However, this quickly changed after reading JC’s article to where he goes over the basic history and a few variations of IF. After reading this, and further researching other variations, I decided that I would give this a try. I chose the Leangains approach which is based on a 16:8 ratio of fasting to feeding.

By this time, I went from feeling overwhelmed to feeling empowered that I could actually achieve success in lowering my body fat percentage. However, I felt that I needed some extra guidance to achieve my goal. That is when I decided to contact JC and schedule a consultation. It was the best decision of my life.

After a few emails back and forth to each other describing my background, my goals and all that jazz, JC hooked me up with my training program and my diet protocol. Opening that document gave me a great rush of energy. I was highly enthusiastic that it was time to make a dramatic change in my life.

Personally, I was not a huge fan of the idea of counting calories, but JC told me to focus on hitting my macronutrient goals only and the calories would fall into place. This was highly reassuring.

Following the diet protocol was a bit tricky at first. I had to educate myself on the nutrient breakdown of many foods that I have been putting into my body. I began by keeping a journal of the foods I ate and then looking up the nutritional values in a book that I had found.

But I quickly realized that I am in the year 2011 and there’s probably an app for that. So to the mobile marketplace I went and I downloaded the best free app I could find to do just this task. This was much easier and I would highly recommend this to anyone who has not yet done so!

The scale dropped quickly at first; 3 pounds here, 2 pounds there, and it was a great feeling. Every week I would shoot JC a picture of the progress being made. I was feeling great and noticing my pants getting too big and my shirts were real loose. I was holding myself to a very high standard of performance the first few weeks. My ability to say “no thanks” grew exponentially during this time.

“You want a beer?”…No Thanks.

“Who wants a brownie?”…No Thanks.

It helped, as it showed in both pictures and the scale. However, it did wear on me. I became so wrapped up on the end result that I was starting to show signs of obsession. I would get slight feelings of regret if I didn’t know exactly was being put into my body.

If I didn’t weigh it out, I would feel like I was failing. So I turned back to JC’s words of wisdom from his past articles and realized that I was getting caught up in the process way too much. I would send JC emails saying of how I had a bad day diet wise and he would reassure me with the statement “hey, shit happens.”

Its true, but the key is to keep on working hard towards your goal. Every little daily victory added together to make up for one bad day here and there.

It’s amazing to me, now that I think about it, that those few words had such a profound effect on me. It’s a good thing too, because over the last few months, on weekends especially, lots of “shit” began to “happen.” Bachelor parties, Grad School events and did I mention the entire playoff run for the STANLEY CUP CHAMPION BOSTON BRUINS?

So needless to say I found myself in many situations where I had no scale, and no idea what was in the food but I still had complete control. That’s the key to remember. Just because I didn’t control what was being put on my plate, I could still direct what went into my body.

So did I ever say “to hell with the diet protocol!!!” for a night? Absolutely. If I said no I’d be lying. Bachelor parties in Boston where there is great food, lots of cold beer and my friend Jack around, and not to mention the final celebration of my buddy’s solidarity, led me to the land of no return for a night.

But you know what? It’s okay; I didn’t die, nor did I regret it because I still made progress towards my goal overall that week.

On nights when I didn’t want to follow the when-in-Rome method, I did take steps to help me avoid over indulgence and surpassing my macro nutrient goals for that particular day.

For example, on days I knew I had a family dinner or a date with my girlfriend, I would simply eat less during the day in accordance with what I was feeling like eating that night. So if I knew I would be going to a steak house for dinner, I wouldn’t eat much protein or fat during the day.

When frequenting an Italian restaurant, I would take it easy on the carbs. To help me from turning into the hunger beast, I simply increased my water intake to help me feel full and I tried to stay as busy as I could with workouts, and graduate school studies.

Despite my early success I did experience a brief plateau, as it is known in the fat loss world. This is when I started to get a bit frustrated and wanted to jumpstart my fat loss once again. I even asked JC if adding more cardio or more hill sprints would be beneficial.

He said to add another walk once a week if there was a day in which I was basically only sitting on the couch all day. So with this in mind, I kept plugging along analyzing my every move trying to figure out why my body wasn’t responding as quickly as it was before.

It was actually about 2 or 3 weeks after this plateau started that I, through my grad school internship, was introduced to HIIT training. I emailed JC about it, because I had a friend that wanted to do it a couple times a week. I figured the extra cardio would help me lean out and get back on track.

Nevertheless, JC advised me against it, noting that the extra work would only be asking for burn out or injuries. So I simply didn’t do it. I took his advice, and yet again, he led me in the right direction. It was important for me to realize that I was already doing enough physically to make changes in my body (JC’s note: he was already training full body 3x per week with hill sprints 1x per week).

Through more investigation, I realized my water intake had dropped off significantly. I upped the water, and boom! Off came a few more pounds.

This entire experience has been an amazing journey for me. Not to sound to cliché but it resembled the path of a rollercoaster, some quick drops, sharp turns, and those endless uphill climbs.

I was standing in line debating whether it was good choice to even ride this ride, but after it’s all said and done I am exhilarated and want more. I am going to continue to work towards a lower body fat percentage for a bit longer at which point I’ll try to maintain all this hard work I have put in.

This experience has truly changed my life and I am grateful to JC for all his patience and guidance he has shown and given me over the last few months. I hope I can spread the word of his work to others and that is popularity grows rapidly, because people do not know what they have been missing.

— — — — — —

At first, I wasn’t planning on publishing the whole story like this but I changed my mind at the last minute.  I don’t do this to toot my own horn, because frankly, it’s all on Chris.  He put in the work; he did what it took to realize his goals.  I was merely the guide and today I’m just a messenger.

Our goals are within our grasp if we believe enough in our efforts and ourselves, and if we take the time to do things the right way.  There are no shortcuts and no magic potions.

Sure, the Internet marketers and lies in the magazines will suggest otherwise, but you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

What are you going to do to reach your fitness and aesthetic goals?

18 thoughts on “From Fluffy to Ripped, Sans the Obsession: Chris Brown’s Transformation”

  1. Chris didn’t really look bad before IMO. I know plenty of guys who would want his ‘before’ but the ‘after’ speaks for itself. Four months out of someone’s life is not really a long time to get back into shape. It boils down to one question: how bad do you want it? Do you have any female client transformations? Would be interesting to see one of those.

  2. Awesome Job!

    Not only do you look great, but you learned the best lesson of all. Using fitness to improve your life, not take over it. Congrats!

  3. Good job! I love to see people succeed. With all the people I talk to and try to steer in the right direction and seeing them give up so quickly, it’s nice to see the success stories of the ones that listen and follow through.

  4. Excellent transformation! I’m really impressed.

    So you are saying cardio is overated in terms of fat loss? Do you think 1 or 2 weight workouts a week with no cardio can get me to my fat loss goals?


    • obscene amounts of cardio is overrated and often counterproductive. I think 1 weight workout is insufficient, 2 is better and 3 is the sweet spot.

      thanks for commenting.

  5. Hi JC,

    Congratulations on your latest success story!

    I want to ask you, though, what you mean by “I had him hitting everything every 4th or 5th day depending on the rotation and strength work was the focus”? Could you elaborate more on this statement?

    Thank you for your time.

      • for 3x full body workout did you just do something like push/pull in a ABA BAB style?

        just curious since I figure Chris wasn’t really a newbie (lookin at the weights he was lifting), and I’m wondering how you prevented burnout on a diet since full-body splits tend to have a lot of overlap throughout the week.

  6. “I would send JC emails saying of how I had a bad day diet wise and he would reassure me with the statement ‘hey, shit happens.'”

    The best thing I read about Chris’ whole transformation is how you got Chris to loosen up a bit, and if he blew his diet a little bit one meal, he wouldn’t feel like a failure and pig out for the rest of the day because of it.

    To Chris: Awesome job man! That’s a great transformation, and I hope you keep it up!

  7. Awesome work my Bro. I think all the hoopla about working out and calorie burn when fat loss is the goal is B.S. IMO without the diet being right on as far as calories you can workout all you want in the gym and not lose a damn lb.

    I like your approach.


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JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer from Nashville, TN. Currently living in the blistering Northeast. Follow me on X/Twitter