Dwayne Brinson was a 180-pound basketball player a dozen years ago at Riverside High School.
Today, the 6-4, 255-pound personal trainer – with less than 10 percent body fat – lives in Orchard Park.
“I get stopped all the time and asked, ‘What Bill are you?” said Brinson, 31, a former semipro football player and Buffalo Athletic Club trainer who recently opened his own gym, FitNation, in Amherst.
It helped that he played defensive end for a couple of years with the Buffalo Gladiators, but most of the work was done, deliberately, in the gym and at the dinner table – the natural way.
“I’ve never been an advocate of any type of illegal substance,” Brinson said. “I believe a person can maximize their body through time and dedication. Sometimes it might take a little longer, but muscle has memory. It’s literally just hard work, and a lot of people don’t want to put in that hard work to attain that certain look.”
Those bent on building a body like Brinson will need to follow a lifestyle that has turned him – physically, at least – into the nearly perfect man.
Brinson, who grew up on the West Side, decided he wanted to pack on more muscle after he graduated from high school and started modeling in Western New York and South Florida. He made a conscious decision to change his diet and devour stories about fitness and his favorite bodybuilders, including Lou Ferrigno and Jay Cutler, both of whom he has since met. The research helped him establish a workout routine that he further honed four years ago, after becoming certified as a personal trainer through the International Sports Science Association.
“Balance is everything,” Brinson said. He trains his clients to use the most weight possible to barely get through four sets of exercises, with 15 reps per exercise – the right way.
“One of his pet peeves is form,” said Jennifer Gruber, of Pendleton, who has trained with Brinson for more than two years. “When we were at the BAC, he would point to everybody who didn’t have good form, because good form not only promotes good muscle building, it prevents injury.”
Doing fitness right creates a solid foundation on which to build, Brinson said.
Brinson works out five to six days a week for 60 to 90 minutes. He pretty much keeps the same routine, but varies exercises within it, to promote muscle confusion and get the most from his workouts. “My belief is strong core, strong body,” he said, so he works his core and abdominals during all of his training, and breaks down other areas like this:
• Mondays: legs
• Tuesdays: chest
• Wednesdays: back
• Thursdays: biceps and triceps
• Fridays: shoulders
• Saturdays: core only
• Sundays: “I don’t touch any weights”
Watching his clients put on muscle and drop pounds motivates Brinson to stick with his own fitness training, he said, but that isn’t even the half of it when it comes to why he looks the way he does.
“The exercise part of it is the smallest part,” he said.
“Eating had everything to do with it,” Brinson said of his transformation. “Pretty much what times I was eating, and what proteins versus carbohydrates and fats I was consuming on a set day, that was the changing factor with my body.”
His daily diet: Brinson plans most of his meals for the week on Sunday, and eats six or seven times a day to keep his metabolism high, burning fat and feeding muscle. His typical diet looks like this:
• Breakfast: High in protein, light on carbs and low to nonexistent in fat. Common fare includes eight egg whites with one yolk, 3 to 4 ounces of chicken breast and two cups of oatmeal. “I also like to throw in a half of a grapefruit.”
• Midmorning: A protein bar, 3 to 4 ounces of chicken on a salad and a cup of Chobani peach yogurt.
• Lunch: Two cups of brown rice, 3 to 4 ounces of chicken breast, 1 to 1½ cups of something green, usually broccoli or snap peas. “Whole grain makes the metabolism speed up, too, and takes longer for the body to break down.”
• Midafternoon: “I’m normally training. I have roughly an hour training for myself. After that, it would be followed with a high-protein shake with amino acids and glutamine.” A protein shake within 45 minutes of a workout feeds broken-down muscles at a point when they’re most likely to thrive, Brinson said.
• Dinner: Two pieces of tilapia, 1 to 1½ cup of quinoa and another green vegetable. A shake with strawberries, a banana and blackberries, “just to keep my antioxidants in there.”
• After dinner: If he has “hunger needs,” Brinson snacks on kale chips or has another Greek yogurt.
Brinson doesn’t sack this routine for one or two “cheat days” each week to eat whatever he wants. He takes one, maybe two, cheat meals a week that usually involve his guilty culinary pleasure: lasagna or another pasta dish.
He generally washes down his meals with the same beverage. “Normally, I’ll just drink water with my meals and drink water throughout the day,” he said. “I use no flavorings. Drinking cold water can speed up your metabolism as well, because your body has to work a little bit harder to bring it back to that warm state.
“I’ve never drank any alcohol,” he added, “and I’ve never smoked cigarettes.”
This chosen lifestyle, he said, “is not something you try for a week or say, ‘I’m going to give this a 30-day or 90-day kickstart and it’s going to be over from there. Once you make this decision, you have to keep up on it, because if you don’t, you’ll go back the opposite way.”
Related story: See fitness reading recommendations, Page 10
On the Web: For more on Dwayne Brinson and his gym, visit fitnationdb.com