How Do I Get Swole like My Trainer?

From B/Spoke to Barry's Bootcamp, these Boston-based trainers are all subscribing to one fitness modality outside of what they regularly teach—and so should you.


Photo via Getty Images/skynesher

There you are, sweating away in spin class week after week, and yet somehow, still lacking what you might desire most: a body composition change. Sure, your favorite trainer is teaching 10 classes a week, but you’re in half of them. What gives? Where are your beefy biceps and sculpted six-pack?

The answer, of course, is multi-faceted. And besides including a proper diet and sufficient rest and recovery, one of the biggest differentiators is that trainers don’t only exercise in their classes. Trainers partake in all kinds of fitness (it’s kinda their thing), and it’s those other choices that may have a lot to do with the gains you’re so focused on achieving.

Lucky for you, we asked a few local trainers what their secret is, and the answer was pretty consistent: structured strength training programs. Incorporating some type of strength training into your routine not only increases your resting metabolic rate (a.k.a., burning more calories at rest), helping you to build muscle and the physique you’ve always wanted, but it’ll help you to be better at all the other activities you enjoy doing.

Below, read on to see how they’re making it work. Just remember: Instructors are a special breed. Feel free to be inspired by them, but don’t feel pressured to keep up with them. Also? Fit looks different on everyone.



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Yes I have love handles sometimes, it’s the first place I gain any amount of weight — and I can also hulk smash this ball INTO THE FUCKING GROUND RAPID FIRE / ride stationary bicycles at ridiculous speeds for lots of minutes in a row / sprint on a Woodway at a 14.5 / do lots of pushups / practice yoga / push sleds and do chin-ups / deadlift lots of weight. 👊🏼 We are always in flux. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t “look” the way you “want to” 100% of the time. I had wine 4 (yup!) 4 days last week AND just came back from a pretty indulgent vacation. I ate really well last week and still didn’t feel like it was “good” enough. The restrictive eating and over-exercising (I’m looking at you, all fitness professionals 👀) create a pretty harsh reality that’s just not sustainable for everyday life. Breaking old habits is so hard! I like to eat well, move daily and recently discovered I like to sleep more than 5 hours (who knew?) My training and life has changed drastically since 1 year ago. But as someone who spends 75% of the time shirtless I’m the first to be ultra critical of even the slightest change in my body. And I almost didn’t post this photo because I saw it and cringed that I didn’t look fit enough. Lol. Silly rabbit. Photoshop trix are for kids 😉 Be proud of yourself today, people. I bet you’ve come a long, long way. #HighlightREAL #BodyPositive #FYourBeautyStandards 📸: @ncoskyphoto

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Kara Lennon, B/Spoke
How many times she teaches a week:
11-14 rides, along with four Train bootcamp classes
What else she’s doing: Running 1-2 times per week and 2-3 heavy lifting gym sessions 
What she says: “Getting my own training sessions in outside of my job is super important to me because the majority of my ‘work’ workouts are cardio based. It’s important for me personally and professionally to cross train. Personally, I’m working on lateral and core strength for an upcoming fall marathon and professionally, it helps me perform as an athlete and stay healthy/free of injury.”   

Daniel Distefano, Barry’s Bootcamp
How many times he teaches a week: 
14 Barry’s classes and 4-5 hours of personal training
What else he’s doing: 1-2 hours of CrossFit, one Barry’s Bootcamp class, and some sort of outside endurance training
What he says: “Interval and weight training has helped tremendously with being able to work with an elevated heart rate. For example, with road running, not only do I feel strong and durable, but I am able to actively recover more effectively.”  


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Girl, step away from the machine you do not need to cardio your life away! I used an ab photo to get your attention so now that I have it …. SERIOUSLY if you want to see results then consistently start picking up some heavier weights. If you have been lifting 10lbs for the last few months why are you still picking up 10lbs?! The people you look up to whether it be at a studio or Instagram, or whatever it is, they STRENGTH TRAIN and they strength train with a purpose. They are consistent with lifting and I can also guarantee you they didn’t get their ripped back, shredded abs or whatever it is you are trying to get by just doing cardio for hours and hours a week. I’ve found the best way for my body is doing intervals with cardio combined with strength but if that isn’t your jam please please please pick at least 2-3 days a week that you work on strength training (and actually focus on it- pick up that heavier set today!) and not just cardio..and see what happens #sweatfixx #girlswholift #strengthtraining #bostonfitness

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Elise Caira, Sweat Fixx
How many times she teaches a week: 
12-14 Sweat Fixx classes
What else she’s doing: Isolation strength exercises every day incorporating a 10-20 minute warm-up, supersets, and maybe some additional interval training
What she says: “I constantly get questioned about my lack of cardio. Pushing myself with weights is where I see changes in my body and it makes me feel like an athlete again. At the end of the day I feel my best when I feel strong, when I feel like an athlete, when I can lift weights while cross training and not miss a beat when my heart rate is up.”

Billy Gamble, Yoga
How many times he teaches a week:
 14 yoga classes
What else he’s doing:
Three powerlifting sessions a week, which includes two big lifts (squats, bench, and/or deadlift) plus varying accessory lifts 
What he says:
 “Yoga is great, but it doesn’t train upper body pulling movements or increase overall strength the way weightlifting does. I think it’s important to integrate other forms of physical activities outside of the yoga studio. With that being said, yoga is a great form of active recovery for lifting and has taught me how to move my physical body before moving adding any sort of weight.”