Lynn Swann’s Winning Game Plan


The NFL legend goes deep in Part 2 of our Primetime Muscle Makeover.

One beautiful California day, retired NFL wide receiver Lynn Swann put on his workout gear and stepped on the pavement to begin an eight-mile run. His destination was the beach area of Marina Del Rey, where he could soak up some vitamin D and keep his body engaged—the same motivation he’d had since retiring from pro athletics years prior. He put on some music and propelled himself forward.

At the two-mile point, Swann stopped. Why, he thought, am I doing this?

Swann had no game to prepare for, no season to prove his worth, no reason to keep his body in pristine condition. He was a broadcaster and businessman now, and some of them always had a spare chin on hand in case of emergency. Swann was never—would never—be a physical mess, but the idea of exercise as a routine habit began to dwindle.

“I stopped my run and walked back to my condo,” he recalls. “And for six months, I didn’t do anything.”

Despite the incredible on-field accomplishments that earned him Hall of Fame status, Swann was subjected to the same temptations as anyone else. At the end of his six-month sabbatical, Swann caught sight of himself in the mirror. The physique he remembered was sagging. “It didn’t look like my body,” he recalls.

Swann snapped back into it, put his running shoes on and course-corrected. But at 61, the fat creeping in, the travel continuing to take its toll, Swann decided to do something he had never done before: make himself accountable. Enter trainer Dave Hawk and the Primetime Muscle Makeover.

Taking the “Wide” out of Wide Receiver

Swann had gotten wind of previous transformation programs in the pages of Muscle & Body. His personal trainer, Kathy Evans-Palmisano, knew Hawk personally, and the three decided that chronicling Swann’s 90-day transformation using a tailored diet, exercise and supplementation program would offer him the motivation he wanted.

“If you don’t have a goal, you won’t get the results you’re after,” Swann says. “For me, the goal is to make over my body without going to a plastic surgeon.”

Under the guidance of Hawk and using the latest in cutting-edge supplements, no scalpels were needed. All that was required was a determined subject to make the most of his physical potential and dispel any doubts about making positive changes past 50.

When Swann offered himself up, Hawk saw the typical wear and tear of middle age. He was far from out of shape, but there were love handles and his upper body had slackened.

Swann informed Hawk of his goals: “I wanted a better physique, I wanted to be stronger in the upper body, and I wanted to simply be more fit.”

Hawk’s approach was three-tiered: an exercise regimen to improve cardiovascular endurance and build a foundation of muscle; a diet geared toward fat loss and muscle gain; and supplements to help Swann maximize his workouts, recovery and overall health.

The latter is new to Swann: In his pro days, protein powder was a curiosity, not a necessity. “When I was playing, we didn’t have the knowledge, science, routines or nutrition we do today,” he says. “The goal now was to employ all of these advanced training methods to see if I could transform my body.”

The Workout:

 Supersets and Sprints

According to Hawk, the first 30 days of any new workout resolution is paramount. Anyone undertaking it—after getting approval from a physician—needs to keep one thing in mind.

“The first 30 days, you might wonder, What am I doing here?” he says. “But during the second month, all of a sudden your body starts to engage on another level. Once you get past 30–45 days, you want to go to the gym.”

In order for Swann to lose fat and “cut down,” he needed something to cut down to. As a result, the first phase of the makeover placed an emphasis on building a foundation of muscle that could be preserved and seen once the latter stages focused on stripping him of excess weight.

To build muscle, Hawk prescribed a varying routine of heavy weights and fewer reps, generally in the 4–6-rep range, sometimes utilizing pyramid sets. “He needed to gain a bit of muscle first,” Hawk says. “When you’re cutting down to achieve a leaner physique, you still need strength training. The first month is about weights and conditioning to get the body adjusted to making changes. You don’t try to construct a building in a day.”

Large body parts might get hit with 12–14 sets; smaller isolation exercises could be 6–10. A three-day split was incorporated, supersizing sets to optimize Swann’s window of opportunity, as he usually works out for an hour five or six days a week. He might jump from chest to quad workouts without a break, which not only saves time, but also builds endurance for workouts to come.

Because Swann was never big into lifting, Hawk and Evans-Palmisano made sure warming up was a crucial part of his routine. Often, he’d do two or three warm-up sets with 25% of his working weight. By the time Month 2 rolled around, Swann was easing up on the pounds and going for a minimum 8–10 reps to help produce hypertrophy.

By Day 60, trainers and subject were impressed. “His reps and strength have increased and there are really nice changes in body parts,” Evans-Palmisano says. “There’s more thickness and definition in the arms, with width in the back.”

Cardio was cycled between high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with an elliptical or stationary bike and longer-duration/moderate-intensity effort. Swann, in fact, did so much yard work and other cardio and calorie-burning activities that Hawk and Evans-Palmisano had to ask him to let up a little. In Month 2, the cardio was pulled back to make sure he didn’t break down any of the muscle he had built up in the first 30 days. On most days, however, he did cardio on an empty stomach. (For the full workout, visit

The Diet:

Calorie Control

For Swann, the primary difficulty hasn’t been the workouts—his work ethic is legendary—or even finding the time during or in between business trips. It’s been eating enough food to lose weight, as Hawk advised.

“In order to put on muscle, gain strength and transform the body, you need to eat the right amount of the right foods,” Swann says. “But I’d rather not eat that much.”

“Sometimes it’s nice to actually tell people that you have to eat to lose,” Hawk says. “It’s not always about starving yourself, but rather feeding the body so that it responds by adding muscle or burning body fat. Lynn stepped up and consumed a few more calories.”

Swann was instructed to eat every three to four hours in order to keep his metabolism active. Previously, his diet was heavy in carbohydrates; Hawk switched him to a more sensible 40/40/20 diet: 40% of his diet was carbs, 40% protein and 20% from fat.

In Month 2, carbs were reduced to 30% of his total intake, with fat picking up the slack.

A typical day’s diet—one Swann sometimes shaved a few calories off of—might consist of 2,400 calories, with complex carbs like oats earlier in the day, and plenty of chicken, fish and Amidren Performance Protein for postworkout nutrition. The convenience of Amidren protein was crucial for Swann when traveling. (For a sample menu, go to

The Supplements:

The Amidren System

Without proper diet and exercise, no amount of protein or vita-mins can result in a radical physical transformation. Together, they work in synchronicity to make the most of your efforts in the gym.

“Protein and fiber have been hugely important to me,” Swann says. “My energy levels are higher. I feel better.”

As men age, their testosterone naturally decreases. Since it’s crucial to muscle building, recovery and overall health, Hawk made sure Swann was taking Amidren, a supplement that raises testosterone levels naturally. Coupled with the natural growth hormones stimulated by physical activity, Swann’s hormonal profile is likely better than someone younger who isn’t taking the same steps.

“Your body doesn’t really want to make these hormones, so you have to engage it,” Hawk says. “You want a more anabolic environment.”

Many people think a testosterone booster is the end-all of supplementa-tion, but Hawk cautions that it’s simply part of the big picture. Amidren Builder helps block the muscle-eating cortisol that can build up after workouts, while Amidren Burner helps stoke the metabolic fires. And while most people disregard the importance of fiber, it acts as a sweeper for saturated fats and other undesirables, getting them out of the body. Fiber also reduces blood sugar, helping lower the insulin spikes that tell the body to hang on to fat.

BarnDad’s FiberDX is a tasteless, easily mixed powder you can take with virtually any noncarbonated beverage, and is specially formulated to avoid the bloat and discomfort often found in most fiber supplements. Its biggest advantage, though, might be its satiety effect.

“As people exercise, they tend to get hungrier and might even overeat,” Hawk says. “Fiber is filling, so it naturally manages your appetite with very few calories.”

To round out the supplement shelf, Swann is also benefiting from the probiotics in Amidren Performance Protein, which boosts immune response and regulates good bacteria in the digestive tract. The better that functions, the healthier you are and the more nutrients you can absorb—including GNC’s Triple Strength Fish Oil, which is a great supplement to help reduce cholesterol and thin blood that can thicken as men age.

“Fish oil has a profound effect on the arteries,” Hawk says. “They become more flexible, which means better vasodilatation and blood flow throughout the body.”

Swann has coupled that with GNC Mega Men 50 Plus vitamin formula, which contains ingredients that could potentially lower the risk of issues with the prostate.

“The supplements only work as well as the training and dieting,” Hawk says. “But each generation gets better answers and more advanced science. Lynn and others get to enjoy those benefits.”

The End Zone Is in Sight

Having finished 60 days of the Primetime Muscle Makeover, Swann is looking forward to the final 30. Workouts will tighten to increase fat loss, and carbs will be reduced. But so far, he’s very pleased with what he sees in the mirror.

“One of the difficulties on this program is when you look at yourself every day, you don’t necessarily see change,” he says. “But when you look at pictures from Day 1, OK, there’s change here. Or your pants are falling down around you, and the shirt that was tight before seems loose.” The man staring back at him looks very much like the man he remembers.

“One of the most important parts of making change is engaging mind and body and saying, ‘I can do this. I will take a new approach and step things up,’” Hawk says. “And that’s what Lynn did.”

Swann says that his transformation should put people over age 50 on alert. “The science of training has changed so much. I think the aging population should take advantage. On days when you don’t feel like getting it done and you still do it, those are the best days.”

Stay tuned for Lynn Swann’s final transformation in the next issue of Muscle & Body.

Lynn’s Stats

Age: 61
Height: 5’11”

Day 1 Day 55
Weight 210 lb 192 lb
Chest/Back 40” 42”
Biceps 14.5” 16”
Waist 39” 34.75”
Quad 22” 24”

In just under 60 days, Swann lost 18 lb and 4.25 inches off his waist, and he gained lean muscle:
– 2 inches on his chest
– 1.5 inches on his biceps
– 2 inches on his quads.

Dave Hawk: Getting a Taste of his Own Medicine

A former competitive bodybuilder and fitness consultant, Dave Hawk has supervised some astounding physical transformations, but his next might be his most personal.

At 51, used to seeing a massive musculature staring back at him, Hawk noticed the mirror growing less kind over the years. “I got so busy behind the scenes that I forgot to take care of myself,” he says. Elbow surgery that limited exercise was another demoralizer.

“My dad used to look at my bodybuilding routine and say, ‘You won’t be able to keep this up,’” Hawk remembers. “I laughed, but he was right. You need the right diet and training for the age you’re at. I can’t throw around 100-lb dumbbells anymore—so I do 50 lb.”

Inspired by the bodies he’s helped sculpt—including current project and NFL great Lynn Swann—Hawk has decided to take the makeover plunge himself. Using the Amidren Performance Nutrition Series, fish oil, vitamins/minerals and fiber, along with a tailored workout plan, he’s already dropped a few inches from his waistline and plans on pushing forward. “You work with these guys, you get with the photographer, and you realize you need to take care of yourself, too.”

Building Blocks: Lynn Swann’s Supplement Program

No pill or powder will ever be a substitute for hard work, but as Dave Hawk says, “Good supplementation puts you in a gear to excel and go beyond your normal potential.” Here are some crucial additions to Lynn Swann’s pantry for the coming months and beyond.

Test Drive

Never be scared of andropause and its offspring—muscle wasting and obesity—again. This blend of magnesium, zinc, copper, saw palmetto and tribulus helps jump-start natural testosterone production while blocking estrogen and producing a proper ratio that maximizes muscle building, energy and libido.

Fat Chance

Amidren Burner 
The body likes to hold on to fat. (Blame cavemen, who skipped a lot of meals.) You can help hit the toggle switch from blubber to burning with Burner, which uses all-natural ingredients to stimulate your metabolism, making sure your gains are lean and existing fat stores are used as energy.

Bulk Strategy

BarnDad’s FiberDX 
Forget (for a minute) protein, carbs and fat; fiber might be the most underappreciated macronutrient around. Like a sweeper for your intestine, a good fiber supplement helps catch and release saturated fats and contributes to a feeling of satiety. It can also be a crucial component in lowering cholesterol, a nagging problem for men over 40. BarnDad’s FiberDX mixes into virtually any noncarbonated beverage and delivers 11 g of a fiber matrix and 7 g of protein.

Recovery Mode

Amidren Builder
Too much exercise can be catabolic, breaking down muscle tissue instead of building it up. Amidren Builder blocks cortisol (a wasting hormone) and primes the body for optimal recovery and a greater anabolic response.

Protein Power

Amidren Performance Protein
With so many protein jugs on shelves, why Amidren? Using highly bioactive whey and pea protein isolates produces an easily digested addition to your diet without the bloating. In fact, it’s just the opposite: Added probiotics boost your immune system and also help the stomach better utilize the nutrients you’re taking in.


GNC Mega Men 50 Plus & Triple Strength Fish Oil
GNC’s multivitamin for men of a certain age can help lower the chances of prostate cancer in addition to providing an energy boost. And since you’re more likely to be sore the morning after a workout, consider adding the most celebrated of solutions: fish oil. It’s proven to reduce joint pain and help get you ready for the next session.

Image courtesy of Alan King.


  • treehuggr

    So where’s the actual diet and workout? this article is useless.