USPA Raw Drug Tested National Championships 2018 Review

Here’s my first USPA National Championships performance from June 23, 2018. I wanted to give you all a more in-depth experience to my meet for those of you who watched it live. I did my best to keep it relatively short.

This is also probably the longest video I’ve ever done at around 12 minutes.

Key Take-aways:

1.) Get a handler- someone to look/listen out for your name/heat you’re lifting in. It’s not worth the headache and stress. There was another kid name Donovan there competing and I freaked out thinking I wasn’t going until later. So I ended up warming up too early and therefore got even more tired…yeah. Wouldn’t recommend going at these meets alone.

2.) Weigh-in a full day in advance. You’ll have all day to eat, re hydrate and rest. It’s worth the extra night in the hotel.

You can check out my entire meet prep on YouTube here.

Hope you enjoy it!

My First Magazine Published Article!!!

Yes. It’s finally happened. I’m a published writer! I started this website so I can get used to writing more. My one of my mentors,  Tony Gentilcore, has been saying for years “in order to get better at writing, you have to…write. A lot.” Over the years I’ve used my social media to get used to writing content every week for the last 10 years.

You might ask how I did I get this gig? You might not like the answer. Long story short, I emailed and called the owner. We had a chat at the gym. And I asked her to be in her magazine and she agreed. I swear that was it.

I sent her the piece I had pre-written. Kept it clean and simple to keep the barrier of entry low so most reading would get it. Sure enough it made the cut (with no edits by the way which was low-key amazing). Anyways, here’s the article below with the link embedded at the bottom. Enjoy!

What is the Best Program You Should Follow? Written by Donovan Muldrow, ACE-CPT

“The best program is the one you’re not on.”

Most definitely a quote to live by and probably one of the least sexiest answers to a very common question. That means whatever you’re currently doing will eventually stagnate, and you’ll need to move on to the next best thing. Often times, thanks to the over-saturation of programs and plans out there, it’s real easy to get impatient when results don’t come around “fast enough” and jump to into a class that one of your girlfriends joined recently and can’t stop talking about it. Of course, if things are heading in the wrong direction completely (injuries, loss of energy, increase in body fat, etc.), we need to scrap that plan and find one that works. More often than not, you have to wait until that plan has ended in completion. It’s the only way to know if the plan worked or not. So, how do we know the plan isn’t working? Well there are some dead giveaways:


If the program doesn’t peak your interest: It doesn’t make sense to be on a plan you don’t want to be on. This is life. You should go about it in a way that you can enjoy which keeps you coming back for more. It promotes consistency, and consistency is the X-factor to get you results.


If you feel more tired than energized from the program: You should feel better not worse after your workout. Going hard for 45 minutes plus is not effective. There are other implications to consider, like lack of nutrition or sleep. Outside of that, if you’re too whipped from the body bar class you just took to do other things that need to get done, that’ll become a problem. You don’t have to go hardcore to get a good training effect in. You should leave the session energized and ready to do anything and everything you need to continue your day.


So, make sure to be honest with yourself or your coach/instructor. If nothing is going right — strength, weight management, body composition — there needs to be an exploration on both sides about what to do moving forward. Make a change. Implement that change. Trust the process. Focus on the positives, and navigate through the challenges. Move forward. Always.

10 Lessons in 10 Years…Damn, I’m getting old.

Ever since I began this journey, I’ve always believed I could get to this point. How cool it would be sitting here writing to all of you my “I’m-a-veteran-in-my-field-so-here-are-my-lessons-over-the-years” article.


The hard part was waiting for it to show up.


Once I decided what and who I wanted to be in this world and what I wanted to do, I knew change was imminent. What I didn’t know was exactly what it was going to take and how scary it was going to be.


The stats said that I had an 80% chance that I was going to quit within 5 years into the Personal Training biz. The cards were already stacked against me it seemed: I took my A.C.E.-CPT exam 4 times before finally passing it by 13 points, I had only 10 academic credits of Kinesiology courses under my belt; I was one of a few male minorities in the business in my area and with a University Studies degree in Sociology. 


And now many years later, bestowing the wisdom from all the great and not-so-great decisions I’ve made that got me to this point. Hopefully this inspires you to make mistakes worth making to get you to where you want to be in life.



I learn best when I make mistakes. To me life lessons are the best way to navigate through life. Parent’s tell you not to put your hand over the stove, but let’s be real, sometimes you want to put your hand over the stove anyway to realize how hot it is for yourself. This is what my dad calls, “being hardheaded”.


Ultimately, I take that approach with my clients. I know I can’t keep them from doing what they want, but when they do what they want and it doesn’t go well we can then reflect on the experience and move forward. Being open and real with your own struggles allows you to empathize because you’ve “been there before”.

 Circa 2007: Before I became a trainer, I worked behind the desk. Fun Times.


Don’t worry about appearing to be perfect. Things like injuries and overindulging in food will happen. Life happens. It’s all about how you work through and around it. If you can do that for yourself, you will be better off helping the people around you.


If you’re a crappy trainer, people are going to know about it. If you’re a great trainer, people are going to know about it too. Which one do you think would get more clients? You might think there’s not a lot of room for error. Everyone has the ability to learn and get better if they’re open to it. In my experience, the difference maker is who you are as a person.


You might not get the absolute best results on paper, but if you care enough about your people they’ll eventually want to stick with you for years.


One of the biggest reasons why most trainers don’t make it past the 5 year mark is because they can’t make it work for them financially. Ultimately, their heart isn’t in the right place. I’ll admit this industry is not for the light-hearted. It certainly isn’t for those who are looking to live a lavish life, make a ton of cash and party every weekend.


You absolutely have to put your time, effort and energy into your clients well-being. “They don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care.”  Sure, Personal Trainer is a title and a lot of people can call themselves that if they want.


But to be a COACH is so much more than a certification or academic achievement.


Who didn’t have someone to look up to growing up. We may not realize it, but we have mentors all around us. You might consider a teacher you’ve had in school, a family member, friend or co-worker. No matter what we know, we’ve learned from someone who knows more and have had the experience.


For me, early on it was guys like Mike Robertson, Tony Gentilcore, Eric Cressey, Ben Bruno, Molly Galbraith; listening to The FitCast with Kevin Larrabee, Jonathan Fass and Leigh Peele (yeah, that far back). Even my first boss in the biz, Kristen Nesvacil when I started at the Rec at my alma mater was a huge influence.  


                        With Molly Galbraith after the Train Like A Girl 2 Seminar


                            Private Coaching Seminar with Mike Robertson at IFAST


On top of that, being able to see folks like these up front and speak to them in person was life changing. Having them tell me that I can email them and hold a conversation and ask questions really helped me along the way. I can only hope to contribute to the industry in a positive way like these Superstars.


I’ve went back and forth with this for several years. At first, I believed you had to look the part to be a trainer.  But then I learned that looking the part was only the half of it. So I realized that you have to know your shit more than looking the part. Well…some people are influenced by what they see. If they can’t get past that part, they won’t give a shit if you’re a genius or not. If YOU don’t look like you take care of yourself, why would they think you can help them?


That being said, the phrase “the truth lies somewhere in the middle” applies here. You’re better off knowing your shit AND looking good while doing it. It makes you more marketable that way.


There are tons of trainers/coaches everywhere. In my town, there are over 100 licensed Personal Trainers. So, how else do you separate yourself from the pack?…


A quote from Jon Goodman that I live and die by. I realized in this industry I have the autonomy to be creative and let my personality flourish. After all, people don’t buy personal training sessions, they invest their time in the person coaching them. It behoved me to learn not just from other coaches on how to help people…but learn from the people I coach. Talking to them about what their goals are; their fears going into training, their struggles. Learning what makes them tick. That’s when you get really start to separate yourself. Putting together programs is a big part of it. That’s the easy part. The hard part that I want to see trainers pay more attention to, is to put more of an effort into understanding their clients better mentally and emotionally.

Not everyone enjoys being yelled at, yet some do. Not everyone enjoys doing heavy squats and deadlifts, yet some look forward to it. Simply creating an open and trusting space for folks to talk about things and get if off their chest will make all the difference. From that point, they’ll be talking about how awesome you are to their friends and family at the dinner table.


Continuing education is vital to staying alive in a forever growing industry. Fitness/Training as we know it today has only been around for 60+ years. With technology improving, so have methods to improve medicine and helping people live longer. Being on the cutting edge of fitness is not only smart…it’s the responsible thing to do.


                                                Me and The G.O.A.T.: Ed Coan

You don’t have to implement everything you learn right away. It’s easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater when you’ve had your mind blown when Ed Coan says your deadlifts look good, and then proceed to make everyone deadlift the way you do come Monday morning. Exercises are like tools in a tool box. Simply, use a movement to address a problem when it’s appropriate. You don’t need to scrap the whole program. Especially when it works and your clients enjoy the workouts (..of course they won’t tell you that while they’re doing it. They’re too busy cursing at you in their heads…or out loud :).




One-on-one at one point seemed like it was going out the door. Many of the top influencers in the industry were calling for the death of Personal Training and praising small group/semi-private training.


Is group training cost-effective for the client? Yes.

Is it time efficient for the coach? Yes.

Is it potentially more fun for both the client AND coach? It definitely can be.


Though, like exercises, there’s a time and a place for everything. Personally, I  thoroughly enjoy one-on-one private training. I love the person-to-person connection and have a better experience understanding on an individual level. More importantly, there’s just something about having a coach personalize EVERYTHING for you. From your program to your overall training experience. I can proudly say that I still stay connected with many of my TWD (Train With Donovan) clients. Mostly because I’ve invested the time and energy to each person that is invaluable.


In addition, schedules are more flexible. Typically in group, you have the accountability of maintaining a standing time. If people don’t show, they’re S.O.L. Which is a nice feature on it’s own. For me, I find more and more people WANTING individualized training. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because that’s the energy I put out or what. But if Personal Training died, it’s been revived.


This can be damaging. Maybe even a little dangerous. It’s real easy to buy into a supplement that is well marketed. That being said, it may not be what you’re looking for. It may not even be the same supplement as advertised as far as results are concerned. There’s a famous scene in the documentary “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” where Chris Bell (the director) creates his own supplement with the help of a few people by putting sugar in capsules. Slap a label on a bottle. Boom. Instant supplements.


This isn’t to scare you from taking supplements. If anything, it should drive you to DO YOUR RESEARCH!! I utilize the website A “fully independent…education company that looks at the research-nothing more, nothing less.” Pretty sweet right?


So, do you absolutely HAAAAVE to take a supplement before you offer it to your client? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s a bit overboard. The point is to have the mindset of educating yourself to better serve the people you’re working with. Even if you don’t have the answers, you should definitely have the resources to find them.


Earlier I’ve talked about some of the obstacles that life has to offer. I’ll be lying to you if my job wasn’t in the top 3 things I care about. That isn’t uncommon. Lot’s of people would say their job is in the top 5 of most important things in their lives. For me, it’s more than what’s “important”. I facking love it.


When you believe in yourself you believe anything is POSSIBLE. You’ll want to learn more. You’ll fall in love with the process; when you get past a milestone or significant event, you’ll want to go back to work and get better. The idea of waking up everyday and getting better and euphoric. It’s the mindset that makes you great; before any action you take or words you speak. Everything starts with your thought process.


I leave you with this: Always be kind to yourself and to others. Strive for excellence in everything you do. Often what we think and say to ourselves is the deciding factor. You don’t do things to suck at it intentionally, right? So say to yourself what you CAN do and what you WILL do. It makes all the difference. And when you decide to help people reach their goals, they’ll benefit from it and you’ll have a lot more fun doing it too.


Here’s to the next 10 years.



Testimonal No.12- Meet, Kim Beitz

When did you start training with Donovan?
I started training with Donovan about a year ago.
What led you to “Train With Donovan” and why?
I slipped a disc in my back and had a injured shoulder. I wanted to train with someone to help me strengthen my back.
What were some of the things you’ve sacrificed to make your training a priority? Why is your training important to you?
I sacrificed time with my family. Training is important to me because it keeps me healthy in mind and body.
Have you worked with a trainer before? If so, how does your current experience with Donovan differ from past experiences? If not, what are some of the positive experiences you’ve had so far?
 I have not had a trainer before but Donovan has always taken the extra time with me if I ever had any questions like explaining what to eat and when and why it’s important to different stretches and exercises that would best benefit my body.
How do you feel now compared to when you first started training with Donovan?
I feel stronger with my mind, body and soul after training with Donovan.
Would you recommend training with Donovan to others, and why?
I would highly recommend Donovan to others. Donovan helped me regain the strength in my back and my shoulder pain is completely gone. He is a professional that took the time to listen to my needs and knew what to do to help me. He also made working out fun!!
What do you look forward to in the future with your training?
I look forward to continuing to get better with everything from my mindset, form and strength.

Power Surge 2017 Write-Up

This past weekend, I competed at the USPA Power Surge 2017 Powerlifting competition in Carol Stream, IL. It was at a Holiday Inn. In a conference room.


The Weigh-In and Post Weigh-In Meal


I’ve been keeping track every day the week of the meet to see how much I need to dial back on the sodium and carbs. The last few days leading up to the weigh-in are the hardest, especially when you have to do a cut. I’ve been walking around fluctuating between 215-225lbs when I train. Since I know I will weigh-in between 9am-noon, I’ve checked once or twice each day between those times to get a realistic idea of what I might need to do if I’m over the 220 limit.

Though after years of competing I know that I lose water weight fairly fast when I stop lifting (when prepping for the competition). I chose to weigh-in in the morning so I can have the rest of the day to eat.

I drove 2 hours North to weigh-in and headed back to my apartment so I can sleep in my own bed. To me it was worth it and far less expensive (hotel + meals + gas). Plus, it was a nice day out and I enjoy driving. It’s calming for me…once you get off the Dan Ryan and out of Chicago!

After weighing-in at 219 I planned to have a protein shake with Magnum protein powder, fruits, peanut butter, OJ, oats and some ice cubes. I also had Pedialyte I picked up from CVS and had my awesome clients make me a batch of protein balls to snack on.

Lunch was a sammich with chips totalling easily over 2000 k/cals and 2 dinners: 2 rolls of sushi and a sirloin steak with 2 sweet potatoes.


Competition Day

My dog hates it when I pack to go places. It makes her nervous and so she defecates, urinate and vomits all over the place and won’t use the bathroom outside. She’s smart like that. Waking up not knowing how it was going to go, I was under some stress. I was also burying my grandmother 2 days after the meet.

Fortunately, I had 2 hours of driving early enough to watch the sunrise. It was just what I needed. Got to the hotel. Checked-in. Set up camp. Rules meeting and then the lifting begins.

One thing I’ve been focused on getting better at was competition-nutrition. Making sure I had enough of the right foods to keep me from cramping and have enough energy to push 100% every lift. Foods high in sodium would keep me from cramping and simple sugars/carbs that are fast acting would keep my energy up when I need it. However, I’m notorious for vomiting before I lift, but I made sure that I wasn’t too full of food coming into the meet. 

I made myself another shake for breakfast, loaded with calories, but easily digestible. Especially over a 2hr car ride. I got nervous as I always do, but I didn’t get sick. Diaphragmatic breathing and focusing on being in a parasympathetic system when I’m not about to lift really kept things calm and the food down.  My body felt amazing thanks to my Wellness Team: Erica Hartman Massage, Mitchell Family Chiropractic and my Life Coach, Rick Longstreth.

Here’s a video of the full meet:



Squat has become my least favorite lift. With a history of back issues and lack of confidence to go with it, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. But. I had goals. Sure enough, I fought like hell to get that third lift and I was super excited. It was a 17lb PR.


Bench had become one of my favorite lifts. Mainly because it was my weakest. I had a lot of fun training to get better at it because I knew I would improve dramatically. The best lift in the gym I’ve had was 350 (with a slight pause) a couple years ago shortly before I got injured. I knew I had more in me, but I had goals and I wanted to stick to the plan. I know I’ll achieve another personal best in next years competition whenever that may be. Until then, I’m going to be throwing up some big(ger) weights in the gym [finally].


By far my most favorite lift. Not because it’s the heaviest or the last. But because it’s what the audience (and judges) love to see. Brute strength. Picking up dead weight off the ground! It was a bit emotional for me because the image of my grandmother popped in my head. I failed my first attempt but got the second. The second attempt felt good, though it was 13lbs away from my final lift, which was still under my ultimate goal of 625. Nevertheless, I had made my second lift so it was worth taking the chance.



The meet was very well ran. With a lot of mass and broad shoulders. I wasn’t sure where the warm-up space was going to be. If it was in another room or in the hallway outside of the conference room. No. It was 8-10 feet away from the platform (you can see it in the photos). It was interesting. But. It had a “gym feel” to it; close quarters, 2 warm-up areas. Lots of heavy ass lifting and interesting smells. It wasn’t bad!

It helped that I knew all of the judges and saw them 4 weeks earlier when the gym hosted the Illinois State Championships. That and some Powerlifting Legends showed up. It’s pretty incredible all these people live locally and could watch what was one of the best performances I’ve had yet.

I’ve written down my goals on a post-it note several months earlier after my meet in March. I can proudly say I reached 2 out of the 4 goals I’ve set for myself. Check it out.

What’s great is that I still achieved all lifetime PRs:

Previous All-Time Personal Bests:
Squat 512lbs @196.2lbs (2015)

Bench 319.7lbs @196.2lbs (2015)

Deadlift 600.8lbs @177.8lbs (2013)

Total 1416.5lbs @196.2lbs (2015)

Power Surge 2017 Results:
Squat 529.1lbs

Bench 330.7lbs

Deadlift 611.8lbs

Total 1471.6lbs

What’s Next?

I qualified for USPA Nationals in Vegas next summer. I’d like to do a push-pull meet sometime before [for fun]. My Squat is something that I really want to continue to work on as I feel it’s my most uncomfortable lift. This way I’ll have time to get my legs bigger and stronger (sorry jeans…It’s about to get real) so my total can be more competitive and get back into the rankings again. This is another reason why I joined the USPA. For the challenge to push myself to be better than ever.

It had been a couple of years since I’ve been able to compete at a high level, but this meet assured me that I’m on the right track. 




Game. Time. . @uspaillinois @uspapower @trainhylete @hardmagnum #rawpowerlifting #USPApower #powerlifting #squat #bench #deadlift #fitfam

A post shared by Donovan Muldrow, A.C.E.-CPT (@train_with_donovan) on

Predict The Future With Your Thoughts

Ever notice that when you do something it’s usually preceded by an emotion/thought? I know it’s trivial, but if we sit back and think on this for a second: we can predict the future by recognizing how we feel in the moment.

Ever been really happy about something? I can recall many times when I’ve had peak days, I usually have the best experiences with my clients and they tend to enjoy their workouts more so than usual. Even my own. And you know what? That usually starts before I even get out of bed.


Likewise, when you’re angry or have had a negative reaction to something, we tend to do or say things that reflect that feeling. It could be the tone in our voice that someone might take the wrong way or affect your cognitive ability to deciding to watch The Notebook. Alone. I’m not saying that happened to me. I’m just saying.


The simplest application of this thought process is the direction in which you go to achieve your goals. Remember the first time you came into the gym and talked to your trainer and you two talked about what it is you wanted to work on?

“I want to squat my bodyweight.”
“I want to not be tired walking up the stars.”
“I want to do a chin-up.”

What happens next?

You start squatting.

You start doing more cardio.

You start doing chin-ups/row variations.

All these actions begin from how you feel from one single moment in time. This feeling could set the course for action for months and years to come.

It boils down to this: if you do something BECAUSE you feel good [about yourself], trust that you’ll experience a positive result. If an action is born from a negative thought, understand that no matter the outcome you’ll be filled with dissatisfaction.

Be mindful of your thoughts and emotions. They say the future isn’t written, but if you really think about it you can get an idea of how it will be manifested.

The Key To Programming For Your Clients

This is the week of my 30th birthday, one of many milestones this year. This year will also be my 10th year as a trainer/coach. It’s amazing how long it’s been and I’m only getting better. While not many trainers can say that, I wanted to help change that with this video.

Most new trainers are kind of thrown into the wolves when it comes to starting off their careers in the field. The education usually stops when they graduate college. And let’s face it, there’s not really a degree in Personal Training. Personal Training is like shop class, you get good by getting your hands dirty.


With sooo many trainers out there, it’s not good enough to be seen and heard. You have to be good if not great at what you do. One slip up and your client can easily jump ship and onto the next one.

One of the biggest issues that newbies have is knowing how to program workouts for their clients. So, I address the issue in this video.

Please share with any and all new professionals as this concept will pretty much ensure long term success with getting great results and client retention.