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Success Story: Building Muscle and Confidence

This student didn't let his scrawny genes get in the way of the physique he wanted.

MICHAEL FICOCIELLO
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Age: 22
Height: 5'10"
Weight Before: 130 Pounds
Weight After: 175 Pounds
Duration: 18 Months

This 22-year-old fitness enthusiast from Boston is not your typical gym rat. Michael Ficociello studies architectural design at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts and is graduating this summer. He hopes to pursue a career in architectural design or the fitness industry. “I figured I would start with my trainer license and get into it,” he says. “I like the idea of helping people and everybody feeling comfortable about the way they look.”

Ficociello himself needed a bit of help to look the way he does now. Brendan, his 24-year-old brother and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, got Michael’s feet through the gym door. “I started working out three years ago with my brother. [My brother] was a little chubby, started working out with friends and looked like a model two years later. I wanted to look like that,” says Ficociello.

MICHAEL'S ADVICE
Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition

“You have to eat like an animal to become an animal. I just started pounding food and working out like an animal and it worked for me. If you are little like me, learn to eat a variety of foods. The best advice I can give is to learn how to eat.”

Ficociello went to a technical high school that had a lot of big athletes. “I was literally afraid at my school,” he says. “I played video games a lot and was on a competitive team. I thought I was going to be a professional video game player.” But his confidence was low. He wasn’t athletic, struggled with being lactose intolerant and weighed 130 pounds before he started hitting the iron.

“I started working out religiously a year and half ago with a strict diet and nutrition plan,” he explains. Ficociello went from eating Pop Tarts, Little Debbie snacks and fast food to a strict diet of lean proteins, fruits, veggies and properly timed carbohydrates. “In the morning I eat about six eggs and a cup of oatmeal with a banana. Post workout I’ll have a protein shake that has two scoops of lactose free whey protein, 12 ounces of lactose free whole milk, peanut butter or olive oil and five grams of creatine. Later on I’ll have tuna sandwiches with olive oil on wheat bread and a sweet potato. At night, I usually have wheat pasta and lactose free cottage cheese. Within the day I’ll have another small protein shake and snack on almonds and peanut butter and wheat bread sandwiches.”

Ficociello currently weighs 175 pounds, lifts four to five times a week and does a weekly rotation of body parts. “I’ll train chest one day, back the next day, take a break, do legs and abs the next two days, then just rotate that. I try to shoot for the larger muscle groups with huge lifts like squats and deadlifts.” Sometimes on rest days he’ll do light cardio and abs just to get back in the gym. He has documented his progress and his story on his blog The Thin Man's Fitness Tips.

The biggest change Ficociello noticed since starting his weight-gaining regimen has been the growth of his chest. “I created something that was never there before. My chest was non-existent and now it is starting to shape up more.” Ficociello’s self confidence is through the roof, and when he goes out he feels like he can hold his own. “I wanted to get big. That way I look like I could kick somebody’s ass,” he laughs. Obviously, it worked.

GOT SUCCESS? Show us. E-mail your story, your contact info, and any pictures that help illustrate your progress to successstories@mensfitness.com. You’ll be considered for both the online and print edition!

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