Interview with Bodybuilder Doug Miller
Interview with Bodybuilder Doug Miller
Steve: Doug is that correct, you competed last year and won the Yorton Cup?
Doug: Yeah, the IFPA Yorton Cup in 2009. I won 1st in the middle weight class and went to the overall and won that as well.
Steve: Now Iíve been following your bodybuilding career a little bit via the web. You have some impressive YouTube videos and Iím pretty impressed with your physique, to say the least. Have you competed this year, Doug?
Doug: No I actually took this year off. Well, for a couple of reasons. One is I usually donít like to compete every year. I find that those competitors that are competing every year, every season both spring and fall, , you know, they always step on stage and look the same. And you know, although I love to compete and be on stage, you know, when I step on stage I wanna look significantly better than, you know, my previous outing. And to do that it just takes time. So I decided to take this year off. Also I had a lot of things going on in my personal life, a lot of good stuff. One is my wife and I, we opened up a personal training studio in Arlington, Virginia here and then we also opened a retail supplement store called Arlington Nutrition Corner here in Arlington as well. So that on top of my full time job and, you know, running Core Nutritionals and, you know, doing diets and programs for other people, needless to say, you know, I had a pretty full schedule and, you know, I just didnít want to have to diet through all of that.
Steve: Sure I can definitely appreciate that. Now Doug for those who arenít aware of you, I want to ask you about your background a little bit. On your website it says you graduated high school weighing only 135 lbs. at 5í9Ē and if my numbers are correct, 5 years later you were competing in your first bodybuilding contest. Can you tell us about that journey from that 135 lbs. to ending up being on stage?
Doug: Sure. I mean, that 135 lbs. was probably even a generous number (laughs). Kinda stretching the truth a little bit. You know I was probably more like 125, 130, and you know, I was always very athletic. You know, I played sports all throughout high school and, you know, when I went to college I decided to pursue, you know, more academics than athletics.
I just, you know, I was recruited at some smaller schools but I just didnít have the size. I was just a very, you knowÖyou know, I thought I was very ectomorphic but really I just didnít know anything about nutrition, and just, never was a really big eater and I was just always so active that, you know, and my metabolism was so fast that, you know, that I was just never very big. So when I went to college, you know, in my freshman year, and I was just so used to competing I just needed something.
And one of my, you know, kinda hall mates when I was staying in the dorm was big into working out. So I just started kinda going to the gym with him and you know, really I was just tired of being skinny. I was always just the skinny guy and, you know, I was always known as ďMiller LiteĒ (laughs) because of my size and, you know, so I just really, you know, started researching, you know, and I have an athletic background so I just started researching, you know, kinda nutrition, you know, and training.
You know, I kinda took an academic approach to it, really, and I just spent a lot of time learning. And, you know, so afterÖ I guess it was midway through my freshman year in college I started working out and really getting into it. And then by, you know, the beginning of my sophomore year in college I put on a good 40 lbs, you know. So it was like within 6 months, you know, I just grew like a weed because I just knew I needed to eat more. And from there I just kinda, you know, progressed.
And you know, over the years, you know, my diet has gotten a lot better. You know, when I first started I was living on, you know, cereal and just trying to get my calories in that way and now itís, you know, significantly different. So when I graduated college, you know, I had a pretty good frame, I was about 175 lbs., maybe a little bit more than that, maybe 180, and when I came down to the Washington, D.C. area I started working out at a local gym and there were a bunch of bodybuilders there and they just kind of, you know, talked me into competing so I dieted for 8 weeks for my first show and, you know, I won the novice overall and, you know, once you win that first show, you kinda become hooked. And it kinda just, you know, steamrolled from there.
Steve: Now I mentioned the 2009 Yorton Cup. For those who arenít familiar, thatís a pretty prestigious natural bodybuilding show. What did your victory at the 2009 Yorton mean to you and howíve you been training or bulking up since that time?
Doug: Well I mean, it was a really great experience. I mean, at that point, you know, the IFPA which is the pro division of the OCB, , you know, was a really growing, you know, organization and that show had, I wanna say, 39 pros from all over the world, really. And to step on the stage with those guys, and, you know, some of the big names, you know, some of the names Iíve always known and kinda looked up to, to come out victorious against them was a really great experience.
I would have to say though that was pretty awesome, I mean, I was pretty much on top of the world. An ever cooler experience for me was about 5 weeks before that, there was a big IFPA show up in Cape Cod, itís the Cape Cod Pro Show which also a very big show, and my wife, you know, was also competing in that. Sheís also an IFPA pro figure competitor. And at that show we both actually took 1st place in the pro division. So for both of us to take first in the same show was a really awesome experience.
And you know, weíve competed together before and it was always, you know, I was getting first and she would get second, or she would get first or I would get second so we had never won a pro show together like that and, you know, that was a pretty cool experience. So, you know, my season in 2009 was pretty much unforgettable with having both that and winning the world championshipÖit was a pretty cool experience.
Steve: For those that havenít seen your pictures, I highly encourage them to take a peek on, to Google your name or head to your website. Doug, whatís your website name again? Is it just dougmiller.com?
Doug: No itís dougmillerpro.com
Steve: Dougmillerpro.com. For those who havenít seen your pictures I encourage them to take a look. Youíre one of the largest natural bodybuilders on the planet. Can you tell us how you train to maximize muscle?
Doug: Sure. I mean, try not to really complicate things. I mean, you know, Iíve always been a believer in all-out intensity and just you knowÖour kind of claim to fame is just always going into the gym and crushing it, you know? Going in there, working hard, you know, high volume, you know, heavy weights kindaÖif you think about it, some IFBB pros kinda like Ronnie Coleman style, you know, obviously not to the same level but, you know, a lot of people overthink training, and thereís always a new gimmick, a new training ďtechnique of the weekĒ but Iíve found with myself, and even with the hundreds of clients that Iíve worked with, Iím a big believer in high volume.
Iíve taken some people from a low volume approach to a higher volume approach, and itís amazing what the human body can do. Now everyone is slightly different but, you know, I really believe in a higher volume. Iím not saying, like, 3 hours of training crazy here but, you know, an hour and fifteen minutes, hour and a half workout, where you know bigger body parts youíre training, you know, maybe five exercises, 3-4 sets each, going pretty close to failure, you know, and just trying to lift heavy.
I stick to the compound movements. Iíll start off, you know, my workouts with deadlifts and squats, and you know, hack squats and barbell rows and the big power movements. I think thatís really key to building up the size and, you know, the key is you gotta listen to your body too, you know, you gotta know when youíre getting to the limits of, you know, crossing the limits of having, you know, ďslightly loose formĒ to ďmove some more weightĒ or you know, going to the point of doing something stupid and hurting yourself.
So I encourage, you know, people to learn their limits and, you know, you gotta push those limits but you also gotta be smart and you know, I think the key that Iíve learned over the years is, you know, you gotta train hard and crush it but you also gotta know, kinda, your boundaries. And the name of the game for this is, you know, kinda staying healthy. Bodybuildingís such a, you knowÖitís really a marathon, itís not a sprint. And I know that sounds clichť but it really is true so thereís bodybuilders that can stay healthy and train smart and that really is the key. So Iíve had some injuries here and there but overall Iím pretty thankful for, you know, staying healthy, especially because I like to train.
Steve: For the fellow 135 lb. guys out there that are listening, that wanna give the higher volume approach a go, do you recommend that they jump full steam into it or that they slowly evolve their training to add more volume over time? How would you recommend they best approach to jump into high volume?
Doug: Sure I mean, you definitely wanna ease into it because you ARE gonna be sore. I mean it is a completely, if youíre coming from like a Max-OT or some lower volume like that, I mean, youíre gonna feel pretty burnt out, I mean, quickly. But the human body is pretty amazing and youíll adjust so I would say ease into it. The other thing is youíre gonna be burning a lot more calories so, you know, a lot of people say they canít grow, they canít grow, but at the end of the day, those hardgainers, those 135 pounders, theyíre not eating enough.
So especially when youíre training high volume, you have to eat for all your calorie expenditure. And I think thatís really key. I mean if youíre used to a low volume training maybe three times a week and, you know, pretty low volume, and youíre switching off to a, you know, higher volume training, just make sure you get your calories up there because, you know, it does take a toll on the body.
Steve: When youíre talking about diets, youíre working with one of these guys that has a hard time gaining weightÖis there way, a certain way you structure their eating? I mean do you keep it 100 percent clean or how do you ensure that they are getting enough calories? What approach do you take?
Doug: Sure. Iím a huge believer in keeping it clean all the time. Even, you know, in the ďoff seasonĒ, which there really is no off season, but, you know, even when youíre trying to grow, you know, I really believe that most of your meals should come from totally clean food. And thatís what I do, I mean, Iím eating vegetables, meat, brown rice and sweet potatoes and oats and all those, you know, traditional bodybuilding foods pretty much 24/7.
Now I do go out to eat but when I go out to eat, I make healthy decisions. I just get a filet and a baked potato, you know, I donít add on extra butter or any of that stuff. Or we go eat sushi. So even for the hardgainers, you know, I suggest just a lot of good, clean food and then usually I give them, you know, one day where they can go off, and you know, essentially just come off their diet, still eat healthy but then, you know, just to keep them sane they can go out and have a burger or something like that.
But when theyíre dieting, when Iím training them and dieting down hardgainers and all of that, Iím a big believer in eating completely clean and fresh foods. Thatís a different approach than, you know, some other people take. You know, some people just put like macronutrient targets out there and just essentially a calorie to calorie. Iíve found with myself and working with hundreds of people that when theyíre eating clean foods, fresh vegetables, you know, lean meats made at home, non-processed stuff, your body gets a harder look to it, you know?
You get this cleaner, more dense look to it and, you know, thatís really my philosophy so when theyíre dieting down, theyíre eating completely clean, and even when theyíre bulking up theyíre also eating clean but I do let them, you know, throw a couple cheat days in there every now and again.
Steve: One of the common questions I come across and Iím sure you come across as well is that, you know, many guys will tell you, ďI donít necessarily want to be a bodybuilder or look like a bodybuilderĒ but they just want to have a nice-looking body at the beach. For guys like that, you know, sometimes itís assumed they donít have to work as hard or concentrate as much on the details. If a guy just wants to look good at the beach, how important is it for him to concentrate on a rock solid diet?
Doug: Well, I mean, thatís a hard question. I mean a lot of those peopleÖyou know, I get that a lot from women, actually. You know, like, ďI donít wanna get too big, I donít wanna get too bulky, I just wanna look good in a bikiniĒ and stuff like that. You know, what I tell these people is, you know, itís not easy. People are like, ďI donít wanna get that bigĒ, you know, and ďI donít need to get that shreddedĒ but, you know, most of the time Iím like, ďWell thatís good because most people canít really get to that level unless theyíre completely committed.Ē
And, you know, I understand, you know, when Iím working with even with non-competitors, you know, you have to structure a diet for them and structure a workout routine for them that is doable, you know, and is with their lifestyle. Because even just trying to get in shape for the beach, I mean, that really is, you know, it has to become a lifestyle for you. So you have to do things that are doable. The big thing for those people, I mean, consistency is key. They just gotta work it into their routine.
You know, I donít think they have to be as hardcore as the competitors, you know, having that diet down on a regular schedule and knowing what youíre gonna do on each day of the week and, you know, each meal of the day. I really think thatís important, you know, you can obviously have some of that leeway with people that are NOT trying to get to that, you know, totally peaked physique look, you know butÖfor the most part, you know, I find that getting people into a nice routine where theyíre doing the same things and, you know, the same healthy habits, you know, day in and day outÖthatís the best way for these people to achieve results and to maintain them so itís not just, you know, when they go to the beach they look good, itís so they look good ALL the time.
Steve: You have one of the more impressive YouTube videos Iíve seen by a natural bodybuilder. You have a video I believe where youíre deadlifting, like, 405 for 27 repsÖ
Doug: (laughs) Iíve gotten more comments on that videoÖ
Steve: Yeah Iíve done my share of spreading that around the Ďnet because like I said itís an amazing video. Is that something, do you generally work with higher rep deadlifts, or is that something you do more infrequently?
Doug: I am a big fan of high rep deadlifts but usually thatís something that I do, you know, maybe as my last set of deadlifts. So Iíll work up heavy and then on my last set Iíll do, you know, go down to 405 and then just try to rep it out. In this case I was about 14 weeks out from the Cape Cod show last year, and so, you know, so I didnít really wanna push, you know, go as heavy because then you risk, you know, getting hurt. But I still wanted to keep the intensity up.
So, you know, I just put 405 on there and said I was just gonna go until I couldnít do any. And so on that day I did, you know, I did probably 405 for 27 and then 495 for about 10 or so. But you know I was, after that one set, you know, your backís pretty gone. But Iím a huge believer in that. I think not only does it help develop a full back, you know, it really helps develop complete hamstrings and glutes, which, you know, right now to be a top-level bodybuilder those are two huge body parts that you really need to focus on. So Iím a big fan of those high rep deads.
Steve: How about squats? Do you do any high rep squat work or do you keep thatÖ
Doug: Yeah, I DO do high rep squats. Especially, you know, as Iím getting closer to a competitionÖjust because, you know, I still go very heavy on most of those exercises but on some of those compound ones you do risk a little bit of injury when youíre going as heavy as youíre used to so, to stimulate my muscle fibers completely and still keep that intensity up I really like to do, you know, high rep squats. And you know, generally I like to do legs pretty high reps anyways, except for maybe, you know, squats in the offseason, maybe those first couple of sets of the day.
You know generally Iím training my legs in the 15 to 20 rep range on pretty much, you know, every movement I do. Leg press, you know, squats, hack squats, I just find my legs grow so much more when Iím doing, you know, higher reps.
Steve: Since youíve reached such a high level in the sport, I want you to maybe provide us some guidance about what some of the biggest training or diet mistakes that youíve made along the way and how the younger guys can avoid making the same mistakes.
Doug: Sure. In terms of dieting, I mean, I think the biggest thing is, thereís a lot of diets that can work, you know? There really are. And thereís a lot of so-called ďgurusĒ out there and they can all get you in shape. My biggest thing is, when somebodyís dieting, you know, they should listen to one person. Either do it themselves or listen to that one person that they trust and whoís gonna do their prep for them or do their diet for them.
You know I find that so many times, like, people will come to me and theyíre 6 weeks out and they say, ďIím working with such-and-such and heís having me do this and that, you know, what should I do?Ē and itís, Iím likeÖĒListen to them!Ē You know? I mean, it might be different than what I do but youíve already been doing it this long so donít change things.
And youíre gonna second guess the approaches. So I really feel that they should stick with that one person. I mean, cuz you can have, you know, youíre training partnerís gonna be telling you stuff, your girlfriendís gonna be telling you stuff, you know, somebodyís brother who lives next door to you is gonna be telling you stuff. Everyoneís gonna have an opinion and itís really gonna mess with your head and Iíve seen it happen over and over again so I really suggest that people, you know, pick one, you know, approach and try it, you know?
And if doesnít work, you know, thereís always a next time and then you can try something differently. Thatís really my big thing, you know. When Iím dieting people down I do, you know, a carb cycling approach and Iím a big fan of carbs, I think theyíre important and I try to lean on as many carbs as they can handle while still losing weight. So thatís really my approach, but generally I would just say, just, you know, stick with one approach, give it a shot and donít let everyone else try to get in your head and make you second guess what youíre doing.
Steve: One of the popular beliefs in muscle building is that you have to change routines like every 8 to 12 weeks or else, you know, itís believed that youíre going to hit some sort of a wall. Do you keep your routine basically the same all year long, or are you making small changes, do you stick with the same exercises or...? Just curious if you make any dramatic changes.
Doug: Sure. You know, I rotate myself probably throughÖI donít know, 3 or 5 or, you know, probably about 5 different body part splits that I really prefer and that I grow. I basically change those up just out of keeping it fresh and, you know, just so you donít get bored with anything.
Now, you know, every workoutís different. So if Iím just training, you know, a split for just 8 or 12 or 16 weeks or whatever it is, you know, every workout is different so that Iím alwaysÖIíll never do the same workout twice, you know, twice in a row. I mean, Iím always changing things, always changing the order, you know, sometimes Iíll do the exercises completely backward starting with kinda like the isolation exercises, then moving to the compound, you know, sometimes Iíll just do higher reps.
But generally, you know, I use about 5 different training splits for myself and then I just mix up the exercise selection, the intensity techniques, pretty much every workout. So a lot of times I know what body parts Iím gonna train when I get in the gym, and then I kind of train instinctively once I get in there. You know, for beginners and even a lot of my clients, you know, sometimes people think they need to change things up too much, though, you know, and in terms of like workout splits, I actually find that sticking with the same split for awhile leads to some nice progression.
I mean if youíre always changing things up SO much that you canít really track your progress, you know, itís difficult really to know youíre making gains. So sometimes, you know, I will come back and, you know, do the same workout twice, you know, but itís not gonna be, you know, right back-to-back, but this way I can look back in my log book and see before, you know, what were the numbers I was hitting then and, letís try to go up 2 Ĺ pounds, letís try to get one extra rep.
So, you know, I find that some people can make, you know, really good gains on the same program, you know, throughout, I donít know 4 or 5 months but, you know, that program needs to have a lot of variety within it. So generally, you know, I know thatís a long-winded answer and itís not really a clear answer but, you know, I like mixing it up a lot, but sometimes you can even overdo it, you know, kinda out-think the program, and youíre so worried about mixing everything up that youíre not really making progress. So for some of the basics I like to, you know, keep Ďem consistent but for other things I like to try to mix it up.
Steve: Do you generally prescribe straight splits for beginners that youíre working with? Or do you ever have them focus on a greater frequency like twice a week or maybe even like a full body approach?
Doug: Yeah, I mean, I utilize all those really, depending on the person kinda their background and what theyíre used to doing. You know, I find, generally, even for people that are not looking to be a bodybuilder, the way to get people in shape the quickest is to do more of a bodybuilding traditional split approach.
That being said, the bodybuilding traditional split approach, you know, Iíve used things where Iím training one body part a day, you know, for 6 days and then take a day off. Or, you know, sometimes I like to train things twice a week so, you know, I kinda utilize all of those and really it kinda depends on the person.
You know, most people can make gains if theyíre eating right and supplementing right on, you know, pretty much any of these splits if their intensityís high and theyíre resting and all these things are together. But yeah I mean, I think, you know, for beginners and people just trying to get in shape, I think a traditional bodybuilding split, you know, probably training with weights 5 days a week is ideal.
Steve: One more training question for you, Doug, and then I wanna ask you about Core Nutritionals. One of the most popular terms running around on the internet when it comes to building muscle is the word ďhardgainerĒ. Do you believe there are as many hardgainers out there as there seems to be or do you believe the term hardgainer is overused?
Doug: Itís definitely overused. Not to say there arenít some true, you know, ectomorphic hardgainers out there but for the most part, you know, you can grow if you eat. I mean, people who tell me, ďI canít grow, I canít growĒ itís because theyíre not eating. I mean, bottom line if youíre eating enough calories and youíre training hard, youíre gonna grow. Iíve seen it so many times and so, yeah, I think that term IS overused.
I think there are some forms of, you know, hardgainer that, you know, you have a faster metabolism, you know, youíre gonna need more calories than your average person. But, you know, everyone has the potential to grow, soÖI really donít like how people limit themselves with that term.
Steve: Tell us a little bit about Core Nutritionals. When did you found the company and what type of supplements do you offer?
Doug: Sure. So the company was founded back in the beginning of 2005 and essentially there was really, you know, I had a business partner at the time, I no longer have that business partner but we just saw a, you know, kind of a hole in the industry.
You know, there was a lot of products that were surrounded by just complete hype and really were not that good. And so we designed products that, you know, we wanted to use, you know, as bodybuilders who consume a lot of supplements, we wanted to make sure we were getting what we want. So we started designing products that were based around our philosophies.
So like our first product, our meal replacement, you know, there were a lot of replacements out there that were, you know, based on carbohydrates or just like maltodextrin or things which were just gonna give you that insulin spike that you might not want throughout the day, we came up with, you know, a nice protein blend thatís well absorbing with a whole grain carbohydrate like, you know, oats and barley fiber, things that, you know, bodybuilders already eat and, you know, it IS like a true meal replacement.
And then we moved on from that to a post-workout. You know, I was always mixing, you know, 5 powders to get my post-workout shake, and I was just tired of doing that. So, you know, Core PWO we designed for a post-workout supplement, we donít even have to think about it. Itís got, you know, your fast-acting carbs, your fast-acting whey isolate, your added branched chains, your anti-oxidants, has everything you need in the right ratios.
Throw it in a shaker cup and youíre good to go. And we kinda just progressed from there. Then we came out with Core ABC, our branched chain amino acids, and beta-alanine drink which I drink, you know, pretty much all day long, but, you know, itís focused around my workouts. Then we came out with, you know, a stimulant product called Zap which is like a pre-workout focus and intensity.
And then, you know, because joint health is so important, there is just, you know, a lot of poor formulas out there for joint health products so we developed Core FLEX which is a joint health product that has, you know, high dosage, properly dosed ingredients and thereís 11 ingredients in here so itís got your glucosamine, your MSM, natural anti-inflammatories like boswellia and turmeric and it has cissus in there, but theyíre all at the proper dosages. One thing, you know, at Core Nutritionals, we donít want to hide behind proprietary blends, so we let the consumers know exactly what theyíre getting in there.
I think, you know, the feedback from our users is that theyíve really appreciated that. So right now weíre working on a couple more flavors of Core ABC and we also, Iím very excited about, I have a new natural testosterone booster in the works, itís called Core TEST, that Iíve been working on for about almost a year now. Things are finally coming together, I expect that out at the end of January so weíre really excited about that.
Steve: Doug, any competitions coming up in 2011 that youíre zeroing in on?
Doug: Thatís all TBD. We have a lot going on with these new businesses and so Iím just hitting my stride now. Itís been a year since my last competition but I feel like Iím just really hitting my stride and some nice growth here so weíll see. Iíll take stock in probably another, Iíll take stock probably around, I donít know, March or April, and then if I do shows Iíll probably shoot, target the fall shows.
So weíll see. Iím in no rush to compete. I do get that bug every now and again but I gotta tell myself that, you know, thereís, you wanna keep making gains and so next time I step on stage, you know, I want that ďwowĒ factor, you know, even more so than last time. So weíll just see but Iím thinking, you know, probably around April-ish Iíll make that decision.
Steve: I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today and looking forward to seeing how you appear next time youíre on stage. Bigger and better.
Doug: Alright thanks, I appreciate you talking to me.
Steve: Thanks Doug, have a good day.
Doug: Take care.
:rockon: Nice interveiw.
So much to read... This will have to wait until later. I have ADD at work.
Seems like a cool dude, but I have a lot of trouble with "you knowers", you know?
Well now, I don't want to be disrespectful. It's very easy to do that when you never learned not to, and most would never notice if it wasn't written out. He's a bodybuilder, not a public speaker.
You know, with that leg developement, i give him the benefit of 'you knowing' as much as he want, you know.
Good work btb!!
This guy is one serious lifter and deserves respect of course :mh:
Please excuse the redundant language. This is a transcription from a phone conversation and was not edited.
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