The Physician’s Guide to Fitness is a multi-part series that covers the steps you need in order to get in shape and improve your health.   Read parts 1-6 here.


Step 7 (Part 2) – Training for Men


Advice for Men

Men have been perpetually fed with bad information largely based on bro-science (fitness lingo for unscientific knowledge) for eons. They are often deceived with ideals like “getting big” and “gaining a lot of weight” without any hard expiration date. Our career leaves little time for any spray-and-pray approach. So let’s look into what specific goals should men focus.


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  • Male Golden Ratio
    • Golden Waist = Height in inches x 0.45
    • Golden Shoulders = Golden waist x 1.618


Greg of Kinobody demonstrates what metric to track for your weekly check ups. The shoulder circumference measures the widest part with a good posture. This ratio focuses on emphasizing the V shape look with broad and wide shoulders and a tight waist. This is what we see in superhero movies today.




Stephen Amell who plays Oliver Queen in the show Arrow demonstrates the superhero body quite well. He is not overly muscular but has a lean athletic body with a broad shoulder width. Though a good training program will have you building all body parts, you should keep in mind which specific exercises to maximize the shoulder circumference.


  • Cut down fat: Follow Step 5 and 6 along with your weight training to control your nutrition so that you could get the tight waist and maintain it.


  • Caloric Surplus: Follow the general nutrition guideline for muscle gain Step 7 part 1.


  • Progressive overload with good form: Always maintain good form and lift as heavily as possible. Always try to finish all your sets and reps.


  • Focus on these body parts with the following workouts.
    • Deltoid: lateral raises, barbell upright press, upright row, front raise
    • Upper chest: Incline bench (varying angles), Incline dumbbell flye, Cable cross (Do not waste time doing flat or decline bench press.)
    • Upper back: Wide grip cable pull down, low pulley wide grip, pull-ups, one arm dumbbell row
    • Lower body workout (do not become an upside down pyramid): Squat, deadlift, lunges, step-ups


Fitness expert Mike Mathews has usually seen men gaining a lean muscle of 25 to 30 lbs and finish at 8% body fat in about 3-5 years of work. Of course in our case the tape is the more reliable metric than the scale. I have seen results while staying in the same weight level for weeks at a time so do not be swayed by the mainstream media’s obsession for weight gain. If anything happens too quickly there’s always a catch leading to more fat gain over muscle growth.


These are the most highly popular men’s training programs.






  • Shocking Fit by Mario Tomic – Mario is a world class trainer who creates many Youtube videos covering vast range of topics from physiology to philosophy. He is a true scholar who takes a holistic approach to improving the overall life quality in areas outside of fitness as well.



  • Superhero Shredding Program by Keith Lai – Keith is a proponent of the “non-fitness lifestyle” that emphasizes flexibility and gaining control to eat any food you wish and not be chained to the gym all day. He has a no-nonsense approach to getting results with supreme honesty. Check out his blog Fitmole.






  • Jason HaynesJason has first hand knowledge of a physician lifestyle having worked with me and he will give the best advice to get the results you wish and successfully meet your career goals at the same time. He is the best option there is.



If you can’t go, don’t



Life is not a linearly laid out fairy tale road. One must account for the inevitable life events that come along such as exams, travels, interviews, fatigue, and family. So skipping the gym has to be factored in. I have presented all the steps in a particular order for a reason. Step 1 to 6 does not take a huge amount of time to practice because they are activities that are already necessary to live or they are quite simple. Step 7 however requires you to be rested, properly dressed, commute, and put in extra time to perform the workouts.


If you cannot go, make sure you are sticking with Step 1 to 6. Your “fitness” doesn’t start and end with the gym. The training is just a part of it. Not having been to the gym does not mean you are getting out of shape. You can easily just reduce the caloric intake a little to account for the reduced exertion level or just add some walking to partially make up for it. For muscle builders, you can switch the objective to maintenance during a busy season so that there won’t be any frustrations or surprises. When in doubt strive towards maintenance. Like many others, all I did for years was spending the raw hours in the gym hoping the blind approach was going to translate into results. I didn’t count calories, checked my progress, controlled my stress, or cared to commit to a strict sleep schedule. I literally developed my routine by working backwards from Step 7 to Step 1. It is my wish to spare you from wasting your time repeating my mistake.



The end game



Our patient managements are taught in algorithms so I will summarize the entire transformation course in a bird’s eye view for both men and women.


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Believe it or not there is an end to everything we do. Fitness is a lifestyle indeed as you should continue to train for life and improve. However if we set our goals at an actual destination, we will reach a point where we can see similar or better results with much less effort level and mental investment. In the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, the second habit says to “Begin with the end in mind.” If you have followed Step 4 and declared your goals with written affirmations, you can start picturing an end to climbing uphill to restructure your body and the beginning of enjoying your life perennially in shape.


While you should envision your goal, try not to suppress your fulfillment for the present moment. One day you will have to permit yourself to dial back on your fitness effort by either having reached the ratio or the subjective you look you have desired. If your waist shrank at 32 % body fat, pat yourself and back for being on track. Why do you think so many strength athletes abuse anabolic steroids? They don’t know when to stop because they don’t know how to be content ever.


A day will come when we will all be too old to lift anything at all. Anyone who has spent extensive amount of time being bored and doing nothing should know just how important it is to have a mission in life. Each drop of sweat, rep, and increase in strength is a blessing. Every infinitesimal moment in life is a gift. Having a goal to work towards, having an unfulfilled dream to accomplish, just having anything valuable to pursue is not a burdensome chore but an opportunity to have a good time.



Resources: Fitmole blog by Keith Lai, Muscles for Life blog by Mike Mathews, Shocking Fit blog by Mario Tomic, Kinobody blog by Greg O’Gallagher, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey



Final Step: Enjoy Your Life



As I have repeatedly mentioned throughout the series, I wish to make this point very clear. You have to surrender yourself to the process and enjoy every single step. When you raise your average sleep time by another hour, enjoy the freshness. When you start cursing less during traffic just because you have decided not to, enjoy your poise as a grown person. Stack up all the small moments along the way so that when you finally head out to the beach looking good, you can actually feel good having actively practiced enjoyment every step of the way.


It may seem daunting at first. Medicine feels like it’s a career built for you to look after everyone else’s health but your own. The reality is everyone else doing other jobs is feeling the same kind of constraints when they are thinking about how to make time themselves. You may think you need an entire year of sabbatical to train. I have had stretches of time when I was younger literally doing not much else besides studying and training. Life really wasn’t all that rewarding being limited to so few goals.


Having a challenging career, a passionate business, and a loving family along side your workout schedule is the right way to be because they will synergistically improve each other. Most of my significant results came while studying for my first two boards, traveling for interviews, and wrapping up medical school. It was the most trying time of my entire life that somehow created the best growth I ever had. Learn to embrace who you are, where you are, what you’re doing, and what you have because it’s all part of your “fitness.” While you’re at it try to celebrate everything else you got going such as graduations, birthday parties, marriage, and occasional happy hours.


What you have covered thus far is one way to go about implementing the “lifestyle modification” that we counsel to patients. Think about all the pathologies that can be prevented: insomnia, anxiety, stress, depression, obesity, diabetes, hyperlidpidemia, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, diverticulosis, osteoporosis, cancer. Please continue to educate yourself on prevention and wellness. We are living in an incredible age in which high quality information is just a few key strokes away from us.


In closing I wish to impart one very important value. Be humble. I have seen this among the most successful fitness experts and entrepreneur interviews many times. It is unanimously agreed that mastery of our craft is meant to provide value to the world. If you learned anything from these tips and seen success, pass them on to your family, friends, and patients.


The more money you save during your working years, the less worried you will be later on. The more effort you put into building healthy habits, the less worried you will be visiting your own doctors as a senior. You can hang up your stethoscopes and white coats having given everything to the trade and walk away with a sizable nest egg and a healthy body to enjoy in retirement.


I appreciate the attention you have given to this series. Please send me your transformation photos and success stories of any kind (fitness, test scores, relationships, business) to if you wish to inspire all of us.


Live long and prosper!


Donghyun John Kim

Donghyun John Kim

DO, Founder of Doctors of Steel

John Kim is a Family Medicine Resident and founder of Doctors of Steel. John is passionate about helping medical students and physicians achieve fitness and work-life balance. Learn more at