QP Director, Kenneth Yoder Takes on Ultimate Bodybuilding Challenge


Updated at 5:01 PM CDT on Saturday, Apr 18, 2015

A Chicago man on the cusp of his 40th birthday has taken on an extreme physical challenge with the goal of making a complete transformation.

Kenneth Yoder is a 39-year-old freelance filmmaker who wants to make a change in his life. Yoder admits he is — or was — out of shape. That’s why he decided to challenge himself to become a competitive bodybuilder in just four months.

He also made the decision for health reasons. “I felt like I was on the verge of tipping into poor health,” Yoder said.

The end goal is for Yoder is to compete in the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Inc. bodybuilding competition July 18 at the Harris Theater in Chicago.

Photo credit: Kenneth YoderYoder also thought the local bodybuilding scene might make for an interesting documentary. Instead of profiling someone else, however, the filmmaker decided to turn the camera on himself after looking in the mirror.


“I was rocking a pretty solid ‘S’ curve. That’s belly, you know what I mean?” Yoder said.

Yoder’s trainer, Dusten Nelson, is a friend of his who also happens to train bodybuilders for competition and is the president of the Core Store. Under Nelson’s grueling diet and workout plans, Yoder has already made strides in his 100-day transformation, which began almost a month ago.

Nelson has pushed Yoder to muscle failure a painful number of times in their workouts, but that’s why they are seeing quick results. In fact, Nelson pointed out that Yoder is already showing abs.

“We’re trying to push to failure,” Nelson said. “And we’re trying to push the edge of what he’s capable of every time, because that’s where the progress is made.”

The work doesn’t end when Yoder leaves the gym, however.

He must also adhere to a strict protein-packed diet. He eats six meals a day, spaced out every three hours. Between all those meals, he consumes nearly three pounds of meat each day. Despite the significant amount of food he eats, Yoder continues to build muscle and drop weight.

In 28 days, Yoder’s body fat dropped from 21.4 percent to 17.6 percent. At this pace, he will be under 8 percent the day of the competition, but he’s careful not to look that far ahead. He still has a long way to go.

One thing he does allow himself to think about is getting his body waxed and spray-tanned before the big day.

“That is the comedy portion of our project,” Yoder said, laughing. “Ready or not, I’m stepping on stage!”

Keep up with Yoder’s journey on NBC Chicago’s Stride blog, which will feature regular updates and posts about healthy exercise and diet. If you want to share Yoder’s story on social media, use the hashtag #100DaysOfKenneth.

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