I’m the short blonde girl you know who works diligently on getting stronger, coaching nutrition and dabbling in powerlifting and bikini competitions.
You also know I coach fitness classes at Barry’s Bootcamp and Cyc Fitness and work as a personal trainer.
You’ve read my articles and you know what I believe in as far as fitness and nutrition go; but I want you hear it all from someone else.
You know how siblings and close friends never listen to you, but when they hear the same advice from someone else it resonates?
Believe it or not there is a blonde guy out there who pretty much does all the same things I do, (minus the bikini competitions), and holds similar beliefs as far as fitness and nutrition go.
For all my male clients–listen up!
My new friend Kevin Mullins is a strong, passionate personal trainer and group coach who lives and works in D.C.
We sat down for a skype interview a week ago after connecting over social media and had a very engaging conversation.
We covered everything from deadlifts to pop tarts, bro-science to whiskey, from hypertrophy training to Precision Nutrition.
Two hours later I realized I needed to share the wonderment that is Kevin Mullins (of KevinMullinsFitness.com) with my clients for several reasons.
You see, there are quite a few things that stand out to me about Kevin, besides his great fitness articles, his coaching style, and the fact that he was featured on Men’s Health’s Next Top Trainer show, twice.
I want all of my clients to see that males and females can eat and train similarly and attain great results in a sustainable manner via learning about Kevin Mullins.
Even more, it doesn’t matter what sex you are, when you are committed to getting leaner, stronger, faster, being more productive etc. it takes discipline and hard habits.
Read on to learn about this dynamic, sweet-as-all-get-out, 27 year-old guy who helps a lot of men and women get strong, find their passion in the gym and who takes care of himself while training clients and coaching classes over hours 40 hours a week.
Quick note! I linked you to some of my favorite articles by Kevin at the bottom of the page!
What is the piece of advice you give your women clients the most often?
KM: Honestly, it is usually the assurance that they won’t suddenly turn into Hulk Hogan and start grunting and ripping their shirt off if they spend the majority of their workout in the weight room.
A lot of times when I first meet a new female client I find that they see heavy resistance training as a “boy” activity. They think of weights as the three pounds they’ll use in cycle class, or the ten pounds in their favorite barre class. However, a heavy resistance for a small number of repetitions is completely foreign to them.
GW: It was foreign to me too until three and a half years ago!
KM: It isn’t just about prescribing exercises at this point, rather it becomes an exercise in psychology and trust. So, really it isn’t about a piece of advice; rather, I try to listen to their concerns and demonstrate over the course of their programming that they can lift heavy and not grow a goatee.
GW: I’ll admit, I used to think heavy lifting would make me really bulky and running was the only thing that would “shed fat.”
What came first for you—a focus on nutrition or fitness/exercise?
KM: Definitely exercise.
When I was 18 and just getting into this I was lifting weights and slamming pop tarts.
GW: (insert a lot of giggles) This reminds me of something my brother would not only say but has also tried.
KM: I was not a dummy though. I learned through some simple research that I needed to eat enough protein to build muscles, and that I should eat the amount of calories that were appropriate for my goals. I was drinking two and three protein shakes a day and eating a ton of turkey sandwiches – that much is true.
The exercises were simple in the beginning – mostly the bro-lifts. Chest, biceps, back and triceps. Repeat.
How old were you when you started to really get into the nutrition side of things?
KM: I was about two years into my personal training career when I realized that there isn’t much you can do when you are eating incorrectly. Hard training can keep your outsides looking pretty good for a period of time, but eventually bad nutrition habits will break your body down.
KM: I was never a dummy about while I was training, and I feel comfortable now saying that I was giving sound advice based around eating sufficient protein, vegetables, and whole grains. The complexities were not yet my focus however, and so I knew I needed more knowledge. Enter the PN cert.
GW: Agreed. It gave me more tools in my toolbox when it comes to working with different types of people too, which is awesome.
What were the first core nutrition habits you formed that really helped you get results?
KM: Protein intake in grams equal to my bodyweight. No chips, cookies, candies, and fast food. Drink plenty – almost too much – water. Sleep. These were the foundation that got me to the body I had at 21.
Mind you I was in college at the University of Maryland at the time and so to say I acted perfectly would be a lie, but my foundation was solid. These habits are critical.
What piece of nutrition advice do you give men most often?
KM: Eat more freakin’ food.
GW: So funny! I am constantly tell my male clients that! They think I am nuts!
KM: Honestly, it blows my mind when I have a guy who wants develop some muscle mass and fill out his T-shirts…and he doesn’t eat. I’m like…hello dude…I’m giving you a license to eat meat and potatoes.
Other than that it is usually the limit the alcohol consumption. D.C. being quite the fit and drunk city (1st in USA today in both categories last year) – it can lead to some issues with body fat and muscle mass.
Other than those two – I’d argue the most scientific thing I say is – Consume more carbohydrates around the workout. That way they can fuel their lifts, runs, and recovery adequately.
What are your trade-offs to stay lean? Is it eating pizza and not drinking beer, for example? Or are you a wino who can “just say no” to cheese?
KM: My trade-offs are relatively few. I am not a huge junk food addict, but I do enjoy a casual glass of good bourbon after a long week.
A hearty two ounce pour while eating a big steak, or eating a few wings watching football with friends on a Sunday really helps me balance out the rest of the week.
KM: I see flexible dieting as a critical necessity for long term success. If you do not have something specific to be exceptionally lean for, such as you with your bikini competition, than there is no need to overdo the perfect food selections.
The key though, is to have what you actually like and not blow your splurge on something senseless and not satisfying.
Vegetables and clean proteins are the core of any good diet so if can you can focus on that 9/10 meals, then you’ll find yourself well on the way to having the body you are working for.
When did training/exercising/working out “click” for you and become a lifestyle?
KM: Corny as it sounds – immediately.
I was hooked on the “pump” if you will. My muscles felt tight, and my body started changing rapidly. People noticed…I noticed. Once I realized there was a direct correlation between efforts and my outcomes – I was hooked.
KM: Becoming a trainer became an urge not too long thereafter. I realized after working out for a year or so that I really enjoyed learning about it. Then, my friends wanted advice and tips. One thing leads to the next and I’m a Kinesiology major at the University of Maryland. The certifications and employment soon followed.
What is one piece of powerful information one of your idols taught you that you still adhere to or stand by?
KM: This isn’t so much of a fitness lesson, but it guides my every move. My dad was an interesting teacher during my childhood – he found ways to help me learn lessons that used to drive me absolutely crazy.
During my teenage years I used to spill my mom’s tea (the best tea in the world) all over the counter when I poured it. Like any testosterone filled boy I ignored it and went back to the confines of my room. When it came time to get my license to drive – he said no, because I couldn’t even pour the tea without spilling it.
I could have lost my mind then, but the lesson now is pure.
Do everything with care.
GW: You may have just given me inspiration for a new new year’s resolution! Is it too late? Love this.
KM: Big or small it does not matter. Excellence on the big stage comes from being willing to do the small things with excellence. How can you be expected to handle a large task when the small ones elude you?
So, I do everything with care.
What is a typical day for you?
KM: The alarm goes off a shade past 5:30. I have this hatred for even number wake up times, so 5:31 or 2, or 4…that’s the alarm.
GW: I am right there with you in the early morning crew. It can be brutal! But as soon as I am on my feet I am happy to be awake and getting ahead.
KM: I roll out of bed, chug two glasses of water, finding my nearest source of caffeine, and walk the five or so blocks to the Equinox which I work.
KM: I like intermittent fasting so I don’t eat until about 10 in the morning. I train until this point and proceed to enjoy the fine taste of an omelet with chicken and vegetables and some home fries. An hour later I’m usually lifting, running, or doing something to get sweaty and sexy.
Shower and clean, and train the rest of the day.
Somedays I’ll have a large gap in the afternoon, which allows me to read, write for my website, or study new certifications. I teach group classes twice a week too, so that fits in there.
Late nights and early mornings are my life. I’m pushing the limits at times, but I love it. My people and my coffee get me through!
What do you do for cardio? Do you do it?
KM: Ahhh…that thing. Cardio. Yes…I do it.
GW: This is a safe space, Kevin. It’s okay. I do it too.
KM: However, I prefer to think of it as conditioning. I don’t log thirty or forty minutes on any machines, bikes, or roadways.
Rather, I’ll load a sled and push and pull the darn thing until my legs feel like scorched chili peppers.
KM: I’ll set the incline to 8 or 9 on the treadmill and sprint until I feel like I’m going to do a front flip.
It’s all about pushing thresholds for me. Our capabilities expand exponentially when we push ourselves to our O2/CO2 threshold. We see greater fat loss, better cardiovascular adaptations, and you save a little time for lifting, stretching, and other modalities.
Do you like strength or hypertrophy training?
KM: Cop out here, but both. They both have a place in a training routine.
GW: Guilty here, too. It was the theme of my bikini prep; a nice mix of both.
KM: It all started with hypertrophy training for me. I wanted big pecs, big arms, and a chiseled back. So, I found that sweet spot of 75-85% of maximum load and put my muscles under tension. I saw great results.
In the last year though, I’ve fallen in love with true strength training. Loading a barbell with a few hundred pounds and ripping it through space it tremendously gratifying. Loading that same barbell with a ton of weight and squatting with it is a quick way to figure out your faith too.
The truth is – neither is superior. They are both critical – especially in the male body – for absolute development. Training is critical to stimulate hormones. Heavy strength loads have a tendency to stimulate testosterone releases, whereas high volume hypertrophy training will stimulate growth hormone and IGF-1.
KM: Phases in programming make it work best too. Heavy strength training can expand the range of weights that someone can use to stimulate growth in their muscles. The hypertrophy can help solidify the muscle mass needed for heavy lifting to occur. It is a constant rotation.
For all the guys who want their freshman year college bodies back, where would you tell them to start?
KM: Oh god, freshman year. I barely remember what it feels like to be a freshman in college. So…before alcohol and 3am study nights full of red bull became the norm. Ok. That’s the body we want…
GW: Okay, what I am getting at is that youthful strong body that a lot of young men have before they start working more, sitting more and drinking more while moving less.
KM: The key is to eliminate the absolutely obvious mistakes in the nutrition program. The snack foods, fast food, and excess alcohol have got to go! You can’t look like a stud when you eat like a slob.
As far as training goes – start with what you are comfortable with, but look to quickly expand your horizons. Learn new techniques and learn to love heavy loads.
KM: That fat loss and muscle mass goal you have is just a few good lifts, and a few good meals away. Consistency leads to constants.
What do you think is the easiest thing for people to do to stay on track for nutrition?
KM: Eat the same amount of meals at the same times every day. Don’t skip lunch on a couple of days and binge on others. If you can establish an eating schedule that is consistent, then your body will become tuned to it. Hormones will release appropriately, and sleep will come to you easier.
From there – Think in terms of vegetables, fruits, and proteins. If your meals are centered on these things then success is not far away.
Still though, focusing on consistent meals at consistent times will lead to long term success the fastest. That is assuming your meals aren’t fast foods and junk of course!
What or who motivates you to do you/be you / coach to help other every day?
KM: Life to me is all about legacy. In our simplest form we are nothing more than biological creatures designed to pass on our genetics to our offspring. They are our body’s legacy. As we teach them and counsel them, they become more than just a legacy of our body, but also a representation of our ethos, our values, and our personality.
As a trainer, a client, member, or just someone who reads my blog is like my child in this way. They will not reflect my body, nor my genetics. Yet, they can take from me my passion, my character, and my energy.
I am motivated every day to spread my legacy one person further. If one more person can wake up with the desire to make the world a happier, healthier place – starting with themselves – we would have an amazing world.
I work hard and do my best every day because when I’m gone…I want my time on this Earth to matter.
(That might have been a bit deep, but it is honest)
Favorite Fitness website/publication?
KM: I am a big fan of the PTDC – the Personal Trainer Development Center. Jon Goodman does an amazing job curating tremendous blogs from around the net and allowing us trainers to read them.
I’m also a T-Nation fan. I’m a no BS type of trainer. I hate frills, and I love science. So, guys like Cressey and Eric Bach tend to provide incredible, and actionable Intel for training purposes.
GW: My faves as well! Very helpful and authentic.
KM: I also like the NSCA strength and conditioning journal. You never want to be too far removed from the lab!
Biggest goal this year?
KM: I want to really cement myself in the National media. I’m tired of seeing people who just want to make a quick buck get all the press. There is a way to make fitness and nutrition work for everyone in this world – we just need the proper leaders out there doing the fighting.
I want the opportunity to bring attention to the correct exercises, with correct form, in the correct loads. The proper foods in the proper portions at the proper times.
On a more selfish front – I also love the attention. I enjoy the pressure of the cameras watching. I like the idea that “if I screw up – everyone sees me fail”. It makes me want to work harder and prepare more.
What are you netflixing?
KM: Right now I am into TURN. It’s about spies during the revolutionary war. I love history. Otherwise, I’m just waiting until the return of House of Cards. We Washington D.C. folk have an absurd love for that show!
What are your favorite “cheat meals?”
KM: I will bear crawl a country mile for a good rack of barbeque ribs.
KM: Same goes an amazing stack of pancakes with confectionary sugar. As stated earlier I also enjoy a really good Bourbon or Scotch. I don’t drink to be inebriated either…I just think it is nice to sit back and sip slowly on a small batch barrel. Beyond that – I actually love eating healthy.
What is one thing you eat that other people think is weird and why do you eat it?
KM: I think my passion for pineapple confuses people at times. I have to say I don’t think I eat anything “weird” per se. I love peanut butter – on bread or a spoon. Barbeque sauce on anything.
GW: Sounds like me with (sugar free) maple syrup!!!
KM: Ah…I know. When I’m cutting calories I’ll use steak sauce on any meat. A few ex-girlfriends have looked at me funny to say the least.
What is your favorite workout song?
KM: This is easy – Till’ I Collapse by Eminem. I could run through a wall every darn time!
On a more “clean” note – “Kings and Queens” by Thirty Seconds to Mars. Oh, and Bieber!
Don’t forget to check out Kevin’s website! If you are looking for a personal trainer in Maryland or an online coach, he’s your guy!!!!
My favorite articles by Kevin:
- Successful Strength Building: Don’t go Chasing Waterfalls
- No More “Leg Day” – Do More
- 4 Ways to Add Variation Without Compromising Exercise Integrity
- Weight Loss and Exercise Technique: Do it Right (Enough)
- 6 Habits of Highly Effective Lean People
- Training without a Program: A Necessary Evil, Occasionally