Doug was one of my first clients at the Training Room. He started taking classes in August, 2009 and after a round of classes he decided to try personal training as well. When I first met with Doug one on one my impression was that he was a skinny, shy guy who just wanted to gain some strength and put on a little muscle. Little did I know, Doug really wanted to conquer the whole world of fitness, and somewhere under that quiet exterior he had the drive and determination that could actually get him there. Now, almost a year later, when Doug walks into the doors of the Training Room it is like seeing a new person, both in physical stature and emotional confidence.
When I first put Doug through a fitness assessment, he was 6’3 1/2, weighed in at 170lb and was around 10% body fat. He was fairly inflexible especially through the hip flexors and hamstrings. His upper and lower body mobility was also limited. He could perform only a couple body weight pushups before his form began to suffer and his core strength was almost non-existent. He also had very little body awareness and had a difficult time getting his body into proper positioning for a lift and activating the correct muscles during a lift.
If you met Doug now, you would be shocked by these figures. Today, Doug still stands at 6’3 1/2, but he weighs in at just under 200lb and about 12% body fat. This means that Doug has put on about 30lb of pure muscle. He has also made incredible improvements in his upper and lower body mobility and flexibility. His strength has sky rocketed to heights I didn’t even expect when we first began to train. To gain that amount of weight, hardly add on any body fat, and improve mobility, flexibility and strength takes incredible dedication in both training and diet.
Since Doug wanted to gain muscle while keeping his body fat percentage low, he had to eat a high calorie, nutrient dense diet. This means the foods he ate had to be high in healthy nutrients and high in calories per gram of food so that he could eat more without feeling completely stuffed all the time. Here is a sample entry from Doug’s daily food log:
2-3 cups of Kashi Go Lean Crunch
1-2 pieces of whole wheat toast or 1 cup of whole wheat oatmeal
(optional, usually depends on time)
Throughout the day:
5-7 pieces of fruit (usually bananas or apples)
Water, Water, Water, Water, More water (I usually drink over a gallon a day)
Cold cut whole wheat sandwich (usually ham) w/ a little mustard or
whole wheat pasta w/ tomato sauce
Protein bar (optional, depends on daily routine)
Whole wheat pasta w/ tomato sauce or rice w/ salmon & broccoli or
chicken burrito bowl (depends on amount of time I have, if any, to
prepare a meal)
Protein shake or Gatorade (depends on nature of the workout)
1-2 cups of whole wheat oatmeal
Now, with this type of high calorie diet, Doug really had to hit the weights hard in order to keep the body fat off and the muscles growing. Here are a few videos of Doug during one of his recent training sessions. Keep in mind that less than a year ago, Doug could do 2 body weight pushups, no chin ups, about a 20 second plank with good form, and only unloaded, body weight squats.
Decline Bosu Ball Pushups with a 10lb plate on his back.
Chin ups with a 15lb dumbbell between his legs
Weighted bar ab roll-outs
TRX Inverted Rows with 10lb plate
230lb Front Squat
Doug is a serious example of someone who wants to do it all. When he first showed up at the training room he had a hard time expressing exactly how he wanted to do it all, and so his three primary goals were pretty broad and overarching. They were:
- To get back in the saddle of leading a healthy lifestyle
- To feel more comfortable and less intimidated by exercise
- To push himself
Over the course of his first year at the Training Room, Doug has accomplished these broad goals is some very specific and awe-inspiring ways. In October while on a trip to Thailand, he went on an impromptu 90km (about 57 mile) bike ride up a mountain outside Chiang Mai. In February he completed his first half-marathon. Currently he is within striking distance of running a 6 minute mile. He understands how to engage specific muscles while strength training which has led to incredible gains in the amount of weight he can lift (as seen in the videos above!) His diligence in his warm-up routine has led to increased mobility and flexibility which have in turn led to more gains in the amount of weight he can lift with perfect form. And these are just his physical accomplishments so far! Mentally, Doug has come a long way and only he can really explain the changes that he has experienced. In Doug’s own words:
“I’ve reached a point where my confidence is through the roof. To be perfectly frank, I’ve wrestled with nervousness and depression throughout my life. Fear of failure kept me going in school but it also made me afraid to deal with other people, to make claims where I had even the slightest doubt I could fulfill them, or to take chances. Combined with some other changes in my personal life, I feel the best that I may have ever felt in my life and hopefully it shines through when I interact with others!”
None of these changes happened over night. If there’s ever a complaint I have about Doug, it’s that he refuses to REST! Doug’s current workout regimen goes a little bit like this:
- Monday – 6am bootcamp
- Tuesday – 7am personal training session; 6:30pm kettlebell class
- Wednesday – 6am bootcamp
- Thursday – 6:15am cycling class; 7pm personal training session
- Friday – 6am bootcamp
- Saturday – day off (only because I make him!)
- Sunday – strength training workout on his own at the local Boston Sports Club
On top of all of this, he also goes on bike rides and runs in his spare time.
Today Doug’s goals have become much more concrete. I think this is a great testament to the confidence he has gained through this journey. His ability to set very specific goals now displays his new found belief in himself and in his ability to accomplish anything he puts his mind to. Doug’s current goals are:
- To complete a solo bike ride from Boston to Provincetown in June of this year. (completed: June 18)
- To run his first full marathon in October of this year.
- To improve his swimming abilities and complete an Olympic distance triathlon.
- To get involved in the local randonneuring (time-limited long distance bike rides) community.
- To continue weightlifting gains.
- World domination by Thursday.
Okay, so #6 might not be attainable, but all the others are goals that I have full confidence he will accomplish. Doug has worked so hard and his efforts have really shined through. He has grown into himself physically and emotionally and I really look forward to continuing his journey toward world (of fitness) domination!