It’s time for another success story.

Success stories are body transformations that are sent to me by people that have used the Leangains system with exceptional results. This remarkable success story was sent to me by Neto Bertalia.

Here’s Neto, 16 years old and 375 lbs, on April 16th 2008.

At 375 lbs Neto was in dire need of substantial fat loss. This was not about getting ripped for the beach, but a real health issue. So he decided to get things done and lost 190 lbs in about 18 months with a low carb diet, cardio, strength training and intermittent fasting. Yes, you heard that right: 190 lbs. A net loss of more than 10 lbs per month consistently for 18 months. That’s a mind-boggling effort.

After his tremendous accomplishment he switched gears to strength training in order to improve his body composition further.


The left picture is Neto at 190-200 lbs and 28% body fat shortly after finishing his diet six months ago. The right picture is a recent picture of Neto at 210 lbs and 18-19% body fat after having used the principles I advocate and have summarized in the Leangains guide.

If 18-19% seems low, keep in mind that excess skin, which Neto has, often gives an appearance of higher body fat when judging solely from upper body pictures.

Net change fat mass (left vs right picture): – 16 lbs

Net change lean body mass: +26 lbs

For the calculations I have assumed: 200 lbs at 28% body fat and 210 lbs at 19% body fat.

Reaping the rewards from getting it right

This is definitely one of the most impressive examples of bodyrecomposition I’ve seen. There’s a margin of error here, of course, but you can clearly see the difference in the pictures. His upper body has gained an appreciable amount of muscle mass. Chest and shoulders has filled out nicely.

It should be noted that even while Neto was no strength training newbie in the left picture, he trained in an inefficient manner. Think “pump and tone”. Think curling in the squat rack and rinky-dink movements like triceps kickbacks and pinky ring curls.

In combination with his substantial daily caloric deficit during the fat loss diet, it’s no wonder that his results were lacking. Real results came once he researched strength training, focused on big movements and progressive overloading, and increased his calorie intake. Along with his muscle mass, his strength skyrocketed; for example, his bench went from 135 lbs x 12 to 250 lbs x 8.

Some of Neto’s increase in lean body mass and strength could be attributed to newbie gains. Not newbie gains in the true sense of the word, but gains that comes once you go from training like an idiot to training with a purpose and a goal. I had a similar experience when I first discovered HIT over a decade ago. Even though I wasn’t a beginner in the true sense of the word, once I started focusing on the things that mattered I gained tons of strength and plenty of muscle mass.

For some of my ideas about strength training you may find the following articles useful.

10 Random Thoughts on Weight Training

Reverse Pyramid Training Revisited

I hope you found this amazing success story inspiring. I will be in touch with Neto and update you on his progress in the future.