Success Story: Parker Cote
No more 145-pound weakling. See how this once scrawny teen found refuge and big gains in the gym
Name: Parker Cote Hometown: Barrington, R.I. Age: 21 Height: 5'10" Weight Before: 145 Weight After: 190
Parker Cote lived a typical teenager's life. At least a typical skinny teen's life. Despite being on the wrestling team, he still had his share of adversity and challenges growing up. But that all began to change after a particularly trying day during his freshman year in high school. Cote came home feeling so upset, all he wanted to do was crash in his bedroom. Until, that is, his older brother, Tyler, persuaded him to join him for a workout. "I had no idea what I was doing," says Cote of his first trip to the weight room, "but I got hooked on it."
Now 21 and a senior at Boston University, Cote has kept at it, packing 50 pounds of lean muscle onto his frame. His secret? Smart training, healthy eating habits—and plenty of time off. "Once I hit my stride, it became fun and easy," he says. "It felt amazing when people started recognizing my results."
Prior to the transformation, the 145-pounder's diet had been right out of the teenage "diet" book: soda, chips, and other processed foods. That changed when he began to train regularly and researched the eating habits of many top bodybuilders. He switched to a six-meal-a-day plan consisting of chicken breasts, fruits, veggies, and nuts. Interestingly, he never counted a calorie. "People ask me how many grams of protein I eat a day," says Cote. "I have no idea. I've always seen this as a hobby, and I don't want to make it work."
Through trial and error, Cote put together his own body-part workouts, emphasizing lighter weights so he could focus on the feel of his muscles working. He also made sure to get plenty of rest, taking Thursdays and Sundays off—a scary concept to most gym newbies who think any day out of the gym is a day lost. "You need to be in the right mind-set to train hard," says Cote. "Not every workout is going to be incredible, but if I'm not really feeling up to it, then my body is telling me something, and I'm going to take a day off. So sometimes I'll just stay home, chill out, and live life."
Though hard training and good nutrition helped him immensely on the mat, Cote took his junior year off from wrestling, preferring to lift hard and let his body recover from the pounding that matches put him through. When he returned to the team the following fall, Cote had shot to more than 180 pounds—a 30-pound gain—and was more cut than ever. "I wrestled in the 189-pound class that year," he says. He was still smaller than most of his opponents but went on to have the best record on his team. "Everyone was shocked that I could do it because it was such a jump in weight," he says. "Usually, people stay in the same weight class all throughout high school."
Throughout his progression, Cote has made sure to enjoy the journey, never pushing himself so hard that he loses his drive or desire. "Staying fit is supposed to be fun," he says. "You're not supposed to be killing yourself."
Parker's Tip for Success: Cut Yourself Some Slack
"I have no problem topping chicken with BBQ sauce. Even though it may not be the best thing for you, it's not like the chicken is deep-fried."