Doug Miller IFPA Natural Pro Bodybuilder Interview

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  • Age:

    37
  • Height:

    176cm
  • Chosen Sport:

    Bodybuilding
  • Years Training:

    21
  • Off-Season Weight:

    99kg (220lb)
  • Competition Weight:

    88kg (195lb)
  • In-Competition Weight:

    91kg (200lb)
  • Competition Records:

    • 2014 NPC Jay Culer Classic 1st Place Men's Overall Bodybuilding
    • 2014 Core Nutritionals’ IFPA Yorton Cup 1st Place Men's Bodybuilding
    • 2014 IFPA Gaspari Pro Classic 1st Place Men's Bodybuilding
    • 2009 IFPA Yorton Cup 1st Place Men's Overall Bodybuilding
    • 2009 IFPA Gaspari/Dymatize Pro Classic 1st Place Men's Bodybuilding
    • 2007 IFPA Yorton Cup Pro International 2nd Place Men's Bodybuilding
    • 2007 IFPA Gaspari Nutrition Pro Classic 1st Place Men's Bodybuilding
    • 2003 OCB Charm City Classic 1st Place Men's Bodybuilding (Won Pro Card)
    • 2002 INBF Presidential Cup 1st Place Men's Bodybuilding
  • Training Information:

    Can you please describe your general training style/split? How does it change from off-season to pre-contest?

    I am a big believer in high volume training. I think the high volume training really creates a fullness and density that you can’t get just doing Max-OT or HIT weight training. When people ask me do I like high volume or heavy weights, I tell them “both.”  I focus most of my training around the big compound movements, like deadlifts, squats, presses, rows, etc and really like to mix things up with different intensity techniques like drop sets, supersets, GVT, etc. My rep range is actually pretty high because that seems to work for me, but it’s not that I am using light weight. It just seems that my muscle fiber makeup allows me to train with a decently heavy weight for a lot of reps, but my one rep maxs are nothing super impressive. Most of my leg and back training is in the 15-20 rep range except for a few heavy top end sets I occasionally throw in. Most of my other bodyparts are also trained in the 10+ rep range 90% of the time. I’m personally not a huge fan of pure strength type programs (Smolov, DUP, etc) but they can definitely work for bodybuilders as well as powerlifters and do have their place. 

    My training really doesn’t change from “offseason” to precontest. The only things that really change are cardio and diet. This is a big mistake that a lot of newbies make. They think that to get “cut up” you should lower the weight and increase the reps. This is the quickest way to lose muscle in my opinion. You need to keep stimulating your muscles with the heavy weight so your body will want to hold on to its muscle even in a caloric deficit. Your strength will decrease some once you get deep into your prep so some of your weights will decrease, but you still need to be going heavy (for you) at that time. 

    What is your current training split?

    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
    Quads/ Calves Chest Back/ Traps Arms/ Forearms Hamstrings/ Glutes/ Quads/ Calves Shoulders/ Traps Cardio

    In the growth season I like to mix things up a little more. I do all sorts of different splits: rotating 16 day split, 3 on 1 off, 4 on 1 off, upper body/lower body, etc. Right now I am doing a 3 on 1 off split (chest/back, legs, shoulders/arms, rest/cardio, repeat). This split allows me to really mix up rep ranges and exercise selection each time through.

    You have some crazy volume rep maxs, what are your maximum bench press, squat and deadlift weights? (volume maxs & 1rm)

    I really never max out.  If I had to take a guess I would probably say:

    • Deadlift: 302kg (665lb) since I've done that. 
    • Squats: 227kg (500lb) I have done 225kg (495lb) for a couple.
    • Bench: 163kg (360lb) I don’t really bench much and mostly focus on incline bench.

    As I mentioned above, I’m not great at 1rm but if I train a little for it (which I may do this growth season) I think they could improve a lot. I’m just not a huge fan of training that way.

    For volume lifts I’m pretty strong.

    • Deadlift: I’ve done 184kg (405lb)x32, 225kg (495lb)x20, and 265kg (585lb)x10 (you can find these on YouTube here). I’ve also done 215kg (475lb)x10x10 GVT which is one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done
    • Squats: For squats I’ve done 206kg (455lb)x8 and 184kg (405lb)x15
    • Bench: For bench I’ve done 143kg (315lb) for around 7-8. 

    What type of cardio do you find most effective when trying to lose body fat? 

    I think both HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio have their place. For most of my clients I rely on a combination of HIIT and LISS. However, for me personally, I just don’t use HIIT. I like to save all my intensity for the weights, and I train with high enough intensity and volume that when I do HIIT cardio it takes away from my weight training. So for me, I do almost 100% LISS on an incline treadmill or stair mill. 

    Since your Yorton Cup win in 2009 you took a long hiatus from the natural bodybuilding stage. Can you describe how you approached your training leading up to 2014. What changes in training do you attribute to making such dramatic improvements since 2009?

    I took 5 years off from the stage to not only improve my physique but to improve my position in life. Although I compete at a high level, bodybuilding is still just a hobby that I work into my life. I think I have done pretty good job at this so it has allowed me to basically body build 24/7/365 without getting crazy and at the expense of other more important things in my life like family, career, God, etc. I’m not perfect in this regard, as it is still a selfish sport, but I think have found a good balance and have a great support team (wife, family, employees, team members, etc). This allowed me to do what I needed to do to be a good bodybuilder without a lot of unneeded stress (which results in elevated cortisol). I spent this time off building my businesses (Team Miller, Core Nutritionals, The Nutrition Corners) so that I could do something I love for a living. 

    During the 5 years away from the stage I was able to train uninterrupted the entire time. What I mean by this is I didn’t have to stop the growth phase to diet down for a show. I think this is where a lot of competitors go wrong; they compete every year and never give themselves real time to grow. Natural bodybuilding is a marathon not a sprint and a lot of people lose sight of this. You can hit your peak well into your 40’s so why rush to get on stage? 

    During this time too, I also really listened to my body and this allowed me to avoid any major injuries or set backs. I do a good job of going to ART therapy, Thai Massage, deep tissue massage, etc and also try to warm up well and foam roll/ice. All of these little things are important to longevity in this sport. I also take joint health supplementation very seriously (this is where people usually skimp). Even if I am not hurting I am taking Core FLEX, Cissus, Fish Oil, etc.

    What are your favourite exercise and why? 

    For me it’s the deadlift, squat, and incline barbell bench. Pretty basic. If I had to choose one I think nothing beats the deadlift. It really can build a complete back from traps to lats to erectors and also hits the hams, glutes, and even quads.  This is the king of all exercises for me. 

    What bodypart would you consider a weakness? How did you adjust your training to overcome this?

    My chest is probably my weakest bodypart in terms of relative strength, but luckily when I get lean I am able to get pretty shredded which creates an illusion of a good chest. I also think my traps lag behind my shoulders/back. I don’t necessarily train these any different but do try to hit these with extra intensity and maybe a few extra sets. 

  • Dieting/Supplementation Information:

    When transitioning from contest shape to the offseason, how does your approach to nutrition change? 

    The biggest change for me is that I don’t go out to eat at all when in contest prep. Not to say you couldn’t, but for me personally, I just don’t like to leave food prep in other people’s hands, and I don’t want to be “that guy” bringing a food scale to a restaurant. In the growth season I pretty much each mostly “bro” foods; those clean unprocessed foods that bodybuilders traditionally eat (chicken, lean steak, turkey, oats, rice, broccoli, etc). I just really enjoy this food all year, but in the growing season I definitely enjoy going out to eat frequently (but at the end of the day I am still hitting my macronutrient targets). Actually, in this last “offseason” I was so in tuned with my body that I didn’t even need to track my macros. I just knew what my body needed and when. Now I don’t recommend this for most people of course, but it did work for me. I pretty much could eye ball everything and listen to my body and know when I needed more carbs or less carbs, for example. 

    When in contest prep mode, I weigh, measure, and track everything of course. I stick to the same basic foods throughout prep but just adjust amounts and use strategic high carb refeed days (not cheat days!) to keep the metabolism humming along. This last prep I was to actually able to be stage ready about 5 weeks out and then brought my food up and lowered cardio going into the shows. This is definitely the best way to do it because I was still leaning out as calories were going up, my energy levels were better in the leanest stage of prep when risk of injury is the highest (so I was safer), and I kept my strength very well. Also, it made the transition to the growth season easier because I didn’t really have to reverse diet that much as my food was already coming up. As some people may know, reverse dieting after a competition can be harder than the contest prep diet! I definitely recommend people trying this approach if they can do it.

    How has your approach to nutrition changed throughout your bodybuilding career?

    As I am now in my mid thirties, I don’t have quite as fast of a metabolism as I used to have. I also work a sedentary job most of the times (at a computer) so my cals are lower than when I was in my 20’s. In the growth season I am around 3400-3700 cals with macros being 300-325 grams protein, 375-400 grams carbs, 75-85 grams fat. This breaks down to about a 35/45/20 diet. When dieting for a show, I use a carb cycling or reefed approach to keep the metabolism going. At the lowest point in my diet this past year, I was down to around 2300 (average) calories per day. Towards the end of my diet the calories were brought back up to closer to 2700. 

    When you diet, how do you deal with hunger and lack of energy? Do you use any specific foods to help you stay "full" and feel less hungry

    I just suck it up LOL! But seriously, dieting isn’t easy, especially if you want to get to that ultra shredded zone. If you feel “good” you are not lean enough. I think I have been blessed with the ability to endure and grind more than anything else. I just don’t want someone to outwork me and don’t want to regret anything so I just suck it up. For me it’s not that bad. 

    In terms of food though, this is why I use 100% “clean” or “bro” foods while dieting – they keep me fuller and more satiated longer and you get more bang for your buck per se. I get way more satisfaction out of eating a plain cup of oatmeal (with some added splenda and cinnamon) than I would eating one measly poptart. When you don’t have a lot of calories to spare, why waste it on something that will only provide you with a brief moment of pleasure when you can have something that will “feed the machine” much better?

    What is your favourite cheat meal?

    I don’t necessarily consider them “cheat” meals because I still have restaurants prepare things on the “clean” side. For example I love going to a good steak house and getting a big filet mignon, but I will have them cook it without butter. I absolutely love sushi, but usually opt for the non-fried or non-creamy type of rolls/sushi and sashimi.  I really like a lot of different ethnic foods as well, such as Thai, Pho Vietnemese beef soup, Lebanese kabobs with hot flat bread, etc. When not in contest prep I like to try new things once a week or so but always choose healthier options.

    Tell us about the most challenging aspects of dieting for a competition and how you overcome these?

    I think the most challenging aspect of dieting is just the long grind. To do it right, you need to diet long and slow. So in the beginning, it is sometimes hard to have patience in getting ripped when you know you have a long, long stretch of grinding ahead of you. I like to set up certain milestones/goals every week, month, few months, to keep me focused on executing day in and day out. It’s also nice to put in certain trips, or photoshoots, or any other type of distraction throughout the prep to give you things to look forward to or keep you distracted/busy. 

    I also don’t want any regrets during a contest prep and want to do the best that I personally can so this helps keep me grounded and prevents me from straying. I also have my wife as my support team to keep me grounded and focused. She is one of the very few people who I trust to tell me the truth.

    You are the director of your own company Core Nutritionals, can you describe your 3 favourite supplements, why you chose to develop these products and their benefits to users?

    This is a very hard question because all of Core Nutritionals product are my favourite! See, I work with my team to develop products THAT I WANT TO TAKE. I don’t cut corners just to save a buck and don’t hide behind proprietary blends sprinkled with pixie dust; we dose things properly! Not to mention our products taste awesome! I tell people that I am designing products for me and if they want to use them too, then great!

    With that said, I am huge believer in nutrient timing and pre/intra/post-workout supplementation. This is really the most important time to get things right. Although some people will argue that timing doesn’t matter, I truly feel that if you are training like an elite athlete then it most certainly does. Because of this I would say:

    Core FURY (pre-workout), Core ABC (pre and intra-workout), and Core PWO (post-workout) make the perfect workout stack.

    • Core FURY (pre-workout): The energy, pump, and focus I get from FURY really helps me crush my intense training sessions.
    • Core ABC (pre and intra-workout): The high dose of BCAAs in ABC really helps recovery and stimulation of protein synthesis. ABC also has beta alanine to help aid in endurance during your training.
    • Core PWO (post-workout): Finally, the fast acting whey isolate and fast acting carbs in PWO (along with the added free form BCAAs and other recovery aids) are in a perfect ratio for what I like post workout (2:3 protein:carbs). When I first switch clients on to Core PWO post-workout instead of just a whey, the impact is quite significant in just a week or two.

    What is your opinion on IIFYM v Clean Eating? Which approach have you used? Did you notice any dramatic changes in your physique using one or the other?

    This is a loaded question! There is so much controversy these days surrounding “clean” or “bro” dieting and IIFYM. I want to first clear the air. I think some people think I eat 100% bro-foods all year round and that I carry tupperware in a fanny pack. This is far from the truth!

    With that said, I definitely am not an extreme IIFYM guy eating whey protein and pop tarts all day. I think most people think you have to be one extreme or another, which just isn’t true. At the end of the day, no matter what you are eating, dieting comes down to thermodynamics – calories in versus calories out. The only way to lose weight is by consuming less calories than you are burning. It is a little more complicated than that, but for all intents and purposes, that is the case. It just so happens that most of the foods I like to eat are what most people would consider “bro” foods or traditional bodybuilding foods. I like the way they make me feel and how I perform on them. However, I am really just using these to “fit my macros” so in a sense I am a clean eating IIFYMer.

    I do like to eat out and try a bunch of different things when not dieting for a show. You need to have flexibility and balance because a diet can only become a lifestyle if it is sustainable. So if I want some frozen yoghurt or sushi, I just make sure to work it in to my plan. I think people get so worked up about eating every 2 hours on the dot and only eating certain foods that the stress and cortisol from worrying about that far outweighs the effects of missing a meal or eating something “off your plan” (as long as you are still hitting your macro targets).

    So to sum up, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a “Bro” and 10 being a poptart loving  IIFYMer, I would say I am in the 4-5 range during non-contest prep periods. However, when I am dieting for a show, I do not eat out and do not stray from the foods I know my body responds very well to. But at the end of the day I am still IIFYM, I just choose to do it with 100% bro foods during contest prep. Although I can’t point to a given study, anecdotally I feel like it gives athletes a fuller, harder look than people who are eating mostly processed garbage with lots of fillers. I like all my pre-contest foods to serve a purpose and like foods that are high in micronutrients and phytonutrients that may allow for some benefit.

  • Personal Information:

    What led you to pursue the life of a natural bodybuilder, supplement company director and contest prep coach? 

    I was always super competitive in sports, and when I decided to go to college to focus on academics instead of sports, I needed something to fill that athletic/competitive drive. In addition to studying my butt off, I was introduced to the weight room in my freshman year and started hitting it hard. I was a skinny kid (and this held me back in some athletics), and I was tired of being skinny. So I started crushing the weights (and boxes of cereal for dinner) and quickly became hooked, as I could almost see my body change right before my eyes. After I graduated college and moved to the Washington, DC area, I was training at an old school gym that had a lot of bodybuilders who encouraged me to compete. After a 7 week diet for my first show and winning the novice overall title, I was once again hooked.  I never had a coach of my own but enjoyed doing research on bodybuilding. I was just fascinated with the whole process! I would spend hours on internet forums and chat rooms learning about diet, training, supplements, peaking, etc. For my first show I think I did every gimmick in the book (potassium loading, wine back stage, cutting sodium, cutting water, etc – all the mistakes I help my clients avoid when peaking). 

    Using my background in biochemistry and molecular biology, I was able to understand a lot of the science or pseudo-science behind the supplement companies’ marketing and quickly became unsatisfied with what was out there. This is how and why Core Nutritionals was born. I wanted to create supplements that were high quality, backed by science, properly dosed and without all the marketing hype. I continue to create products that I personally can be proud of and that I am excited to bring out for my fellow “bodybuilders” (whether competitors or weekend warriors).  This really is my passion and there is nothing like the feeling you get when a satisfied customer emails you about how your products have changed their training/routine/performance for the better.

    My wife, Stephanie, and I also created Team Miller to help prevent competitors from making all the mistakes I did the first time around. I wish I had a Team Miller helping me when I first started. I think I probably lost 3-4 years of gains because of all of the dumb stuff I tried. We are here to prevent this! One of the reasons I don’t step on stage as much is because I can get that thrill of competition through my clients. I love seeing them go through the process. This is another really awesome feeling!

    What have been some of the biggest challenges as a fitness entrepreneur? 

    This is a tough question because nothing is easy! I think my wife and I have a great work ethic and this has allowed us to really stay focused on our goals and we don’t let little setbacks hold us back forever. I also think the biggest challenge is getting your name out there while not sacrificing your integrity. Everyone wants to be a social media superstar these days and many people are willing to do shocking things to get “recognized.”  We have never wavered from our core values and this may have held us back a little longer than otherwise, but with patience, we have been able to reach many people while not sacrificing our integrity. 

    What is your vision for Core Nutritionals in the next 5 years? How do you plan on increasing your exposure internationally such as the Australian market?

    My vision for Core Nutritionals is BIG! But at the same time, I don’t want to become a marketing giant with tons of overhead costs that force us to bring out very poorly designed products. I want to stick to our “core” values of not sacrificing quality for dollar signs and continue to exceed our customers’ expectations. 

    We have begun to go international (Australia, UK, Lebanon, Canada) and will continue on focus on these fronts. To be honest, we have pretty much grown completely organically (grass roots) from day one through the natural bodybuilding community and have never spent much on an internal sales force. This will change in the coming year as we are getting new account inquires from all over the U.S. on a daily basis. We are also now distributed through Muscle Foods USA and plan to become a top household name in the next few year (without sacrificing quality).  

    We have some awesome new flavours of our existing products in mind and also a number of really cool new products for 2015. We have spent considerable time, energy and money in our new labels/packaging/rebranding which should start rolling out in December 2014. Our new labels and packaging will be some of the best on the market and will be in line with the high quality of our formulations. We will also continue to expand our commodities line which we launched in 2014. 

    I think our new partnership with MassiveJoes in Australia is huge, and we are super excited to be working with them. The first two products will be a custom Australian formulation of Core FURY Extreme and also our complete line of Core ABC flavours. We hope to expand our presence from there, as these two products really establish our strength in the Australian market. I also hope to make it down for the Australian Arnold Classic this year to help promote the brand though MassiveJoes (We will also have a Core Nutritionals booth at the U.S. Arnold Classic this year).

    What other sports do you follow outside of bodybuilding?

    I love sports. I grew up playing a ton of sports all year round. But to be honest, right now I don’t have a lot of time outside of being a father, husband, and director and owner of multiple businesses. I do love college football though and always try to find time to watch my Penn State Nittany Lions play.

    How do you manage the balance in your life, especially when preparing for a contest, considering you now have a young family?

    The truth of the matter is it's all my wife, Stephanie. She is the better half of Team Miller, and she really helps keep me grounded, balanced (as much as I can be), and organized.  Even though she has stepped away from the stage, she still crushes it in the gym and pretty much helps me with everything, all the while being an amazing mother to Jackson. I think it's so important to have that support staff when in contest prep mode. If your spouse or significant other doesn’t understand what you are going through then the process can be dreadful. I always tell my clients to make sure they have their partner’s full blessing before starting a contest prep.

    Also, we have worked very hard to get to a point where we can work for ourselves and don’t have to work the typical work week. For 12 years I worked 50+ hours per week as a manager in an economic consulting firm. It was a great job and hard to walk away from, but it wasn’t my passion. During this time we also worked on building our businesses and brands outside of our day jobs. The hard work and grinding then has allowed us to have balance now with our son, who was born in February 2014.

    I used to work well after midnight and sleep in later but this schedule had to change with a baby. So my schedule is basically the same as the baby’s; I get up at 5 and go to bed super early. This allows Steph and me to maximize our time with each other and with our son. We have great communication and we try to sit down a few times a week to plan our crazy/busy schedules and also schedule in fun downtime/family time. This is so important. In order to have balance you have to schedule downtime because your to do list (or at least mine) will never be finished!

    You undoubtedly have one of the most impressive natural bodybuilding physiques in the world and many beginners would be quick to speculate the use of performance enhancing drugs. How do you deal with such accusations and what would your response be to those who may not believe your physique is attributed to hard work and consistancy?

    That’s a tough one. At first it was pretty upsetting.  It’s hard when you dedicate yourself to being one of the very best at something and when you get to the top, everyone wants to discredit you. But honestly, at this point it doesn’t bother me because I know, and everyone who is close to me knows, that I am drug free. It is really kind of sad how hateful some keyboard warriors can be. If they spent as much time in the gym putting in work as they do “hating”, they would get much farther in life.

    When I first started posting pictures to Instagram this prep, there was a lot of hate because people didn’t believe I was natural. It’s funny though, because if you look at the profile of most of these haters, they look like they have never picked up a weight in their life. I will also say that for every hater, I received many more positive comments, and I hope I am able to inspire some out there.  Some of the doubters are actually pretty comical and I actually laugh about it now. All in all, I wouldn’t want it any other way; it means I must be doing something right!

    And to answer your question directly, there is nothing I can do to respond because even with me posting drug test results, some people just want to put limits on what is possible naturally. That is why they will never get anywhere, in bodybuilding or life.

    We are aware of your ‘Crush It’ mentality, can you describe the meaning behind this mantra.

    I think the Core Nutritionals’ website sums this up perfectly: The CRUSH IT mentality is more than a slogan and it's bigger than a brand. Built on a foundation of integrity, CRUSH IT represents a fundamental drive and commitment to achieve success in all aspects of our life. From the gym to the stage, at home, and in our relationships with colleagues, customers, and industry affiliates, this commitment never waivers. We strive for perfection and success but always remain committed to our unwavering integrity and values while helping to bring out the best in others. You have to be willing to go against the grain, against the norm, and rise above mediocrity. You only get one life; if you want something bad enough, go after it!

    What passions do you have outside of bodybuilding? Do you have any aspirations in the future when you make the decision to step away from the bodybuilding stage?

    Luckily I have been blessed that my passions/hobbies are also what I do for a living now, and I can honestly say I really enjoy the process of being an entrepreneur. I’m always thinking about the next thing I want to tackle, whether it is with Core Nutritionals or Team Miller or something completely unrelated.  If I never step foot on another bodybuilding stage, I will still always be a bodybuilder at heart and plan to continue to give back to the sport and be involved in the industry.

    But most importantly, my passion outside of those things (besides golf and skiing) is my family. My wife, Stephanie, and son, Jackson, are everything to me, and I always look forward to spending time with them. Outside of bodybuilding and my career I try to dedicate myself to being the best husband and father that I can be. 

    Additionally, my personal relationship with God is very important to me. I don’t like to talk about it much because I think some people can come off preachy and this can turn others off from following Christ, but this is very important to me and something that I can always improve on!

    Is there anything else you would like to leave us with? (final thought)

    I am really excited that Core Nutritionals is now working with MassiveJoes, and I am super excited for my future involvement with the Australian bodybuilding community. Thank you for the opportunity!

    www.corenutritionals.com

    www.dougmillerpro.com

    www.stephmillerpro.com

    www.teammillerpro.com

    www.thenutritioncorners.com

    Doug Miller Natural Pro Facebook: www.facebook.com/doug.miller.pro

    Core Nutritionals Facebook: www.facebook.com/corenutritionals

    Instagram: @dougmillepro 

    Twitter: @dougmillerpro

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