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Dr. Kenneth Benjamin Hughes: Bodybuilding, Health, and Nutrition

Dr. Hughes Describes His Journey into Sports, Fitness, Nutrition, and Injury Prevention

            From the time that Dr. Kenneth Hughes was capable of walking, he was running. This journey through fitness and sports started at about nine months of age according to his mother.  Dr. Hughes would run back-and-forth across the bathroom floor and slide in his pajamas.  His mother just knew that he was going to fall down and open a huge cut in his head or get knocked out.  Those things never happened but Dr. Hughes was into a whole lot of messes with all of his activities.


         His mother said that before he was four years old, she took him to the emergency room so many times that she thought the doctors and hospital staff were going to contact child welfare.  Dr. Hughes was extremely active and was looking to conquer new frontiers on a daily basis, whether it was jumping out of trees or jumping out of swings or running and falling.


         Dr. Hughes began to channel his energies into more organized activities that continued through childhood as he competed in soccer with club teams till about the age of six years old.  About that time, he entered elementary school and competed in sports throughout those early years but nothing organized.  He also competed in swimming during the summer in an organized swim league.


        Dr. Hughes was having fun during those years to say the least, but he was not really going after an athletic pursuit with a singular focus.  He was also at the head of the class as was anticipated and expected. When he reached about the age of 12, Dr. Hughes became fascinated with strength and building strength.  In one particularly relatable story, Dr. Hughes was tested for bench press prior to any weight training in a physical education class.  At the age of 12, he was stronger than the entire class by a huge amount but also the physical education coach.  When you have a gift, you want to pursue that gift.

          So at the age of 12, Dr. Hughes asked his parents to purchase a DP weight machine, and Dr. Hughes's odyssey into strength training began.  He would spend the majority of free time working out on that little machine, changing apparati and working different parts of the body.  Dr. Hughes recognized that strength training could provide manifold benefits to his athletic pursuits.  So he began to incorporate the weightlifting and the strength building exercises with other activities which at that time included soccer, Taekwondo, and swimming.


         Dr. Hughes began to get more serious by age 14 as he really began to focus on improving strength and size.  He started at 125 lbs and was up to 215 lbs in about 15 months.   From the age of 14 to 18, Dr. Kenneth Hughes began making a transition from swimming and soccer to joining the track team and starting shotput and discus.  There was no coach for shotput or discus so he had to learn the technical aspects on his own.  In his first competition after practicing only a few weeks, he won his first shotput meet.

          That was the spark he needed and motivated him to set his sights higher.  In less than a year, he won the indoor state champion in the shotput.   By the outdoor season, he became the outdoor state champion and state record holder in the shotput.  By the end of his junior year,  he won the silver medal at the nationals in both the shotput and the discus.  By the end of his senior year, he was recruited for athletic scholarships at Stanford, Rice, and many academic giants that also had a Division 1 Track and Field Program.


            Dr. Hughes made the decision to refuse those scholarships and attend Harvard University.   Harvard University had and continues to have the finest academic reputation on the planet.  Harvard provided a framework in which he could pursue academics but still pursue Division I athletics.  He was a four year letter winner on the track and field team, but he soon shifted his focus from track and field to a career in medicine.


           Throughout medical school and residency and fellowship, Dr. Hughes continued to exercise, lift weights, and build his body keep me in shape and for stress relief.   Those same things are part of the reason for working out today, and it is hopefully the reason why other people work out.


          At the beginning of medical school, Dr. Hughes was hit by a careless driver that resulted in a serious automobile accident.  The resultant trauma necessitated four different surgeries to repair one thing or another.  Over a year long period of recuperation and rehabilitation, Dr. Hughes was gradually able to walk and eventually return to strength pursuits and weightlifting.  It would be another decade before he was able to fully regain strength and confidence from those days when he was 23 years old. Throughout this period of time, Dr. Hughes continued to work out with weights and tried to rebuild what was lost. Needless to say, this period of time was incredibly frustrating for an individual who could bench press over 600 pounds naturally to someone who was having difficulty walking.   Everything physical was just so easy in the past, and the future presented obstacles to all things physical.


         The time for exercise and fitness during residency and fellowship was little.  And there was even less time as a busy plastic surgeon so Dr. Hughes ultimately committed to building a small home gym where he could work out at all hours of the days and night.  At age 43, it is certainly more difficult to keep everything intact and looking reasonable. Age is not your friend, and despite optimal management, you will notice things like increasing skin laxity and more difficulty retaining muscle mass. However, negotiating this is what you must do to be able to get the most of your body as you age. Dr. Hughes will try to focus on some of the things that he does to improve these aspects with regard to nutrition, exercise, and injury prevention as you age.   That will be one of the thrusts for this website as well as helping to explore the benefits of physical fitness and bodybuilding.

Interested in Reading More about Sports Health, Nutrition, Bodybuilding and Injury Prevention visit Dr. Kenneth Hughes's new website at

Athletics, Fitness, and Sports Health and the Management and Prevention of Injuries

         Let's face it.  No one wants to have injuries and have them detract from training and performance.  Injuries can be the bane of an athlete's existence and the end of many careers.  The injury highlight reel for Dr. Kenneth Hughes includes the following:


Age 14 rhomboid muscle tear --- rehab three months 

Age 20, 21 finger ligamentous damage --- rehab three months

Age 20 left quadriceps tear --- rehab three months

Age 21 right pectoralis major tear --- rehab three months

Age 24 inguinal hernia repair

Age 24  jaw surgery

Age 24 lumbar spinal surgery

Age 25 Right shoulder impingement with distal clavicle resection

Age 25 Left shoulder impingement with distal clavicle resection

         Although this list only represents a small part of what you to consider as you become an athlete, you will confront additional challenges as you grow older and continue with sports health and fitness.  As you grow older you must become much more conscientious about reducing the risk for injury by manipulating workout regimens and performing exercises in different fashions. There is no doubt that the risk for injury as you get older should be higher due to the wear and tear on tissues.  However, the improvement and understanding of the body goes a long way to injury prevention. You get to know your body over time and understand what types of exercises generate the best results as far as muscle bulk and appearance while reducing the risk for injuries to ligaments, tendons, and muscles.








            What does it take to succeed?  What does it take to become a champion?  What is the mindset of a champion?   Before Dr. Kenneth Benjamin Hughes was a plastic surgeon, before he was a doctor, before he was a medical student, before all that he was athlete.   Sure Doctor Hughes was always a fabulous and brilliant student and academician, but late night studying to score perfect on an exam does not conjure up the same feelings in the soul as winning the meet for your team, or winning the state championship, or setting the state record. 


             From an early age, a person has a sense for what gifts a person has and for which things he may not be particularly well-suited. However, the one critical thing that distinguishes a champion from a person with talent is the execution, mindset, and persistence involved in achieving that champion status. There are many people out there who have certain physical gifts which would seem to lend themselves to success.  However, very few have the heart and mindset to become a champion.


             There are countless individuals who succeed despite a seemingly huge disadvantage or multiple disadvantages.   Many have been limited by height, muscle mass, and general anatomic characteristics, but these people prevail against what would seem to be a physically superior opponent.  How do these things ever take place?  


             Time and time again, there is no doubt that the mindset and relentless dedication to preparation and training elevates individuals above their contemporaries.  


             Dr. Hughes grew up in a small town and went to a small high school with little athletic opportunity.  There was no football team.  The track team did not really have a coach and, certainly, there was coach for shotput or discus.   Yet, Dr. Hughes decided he would compete in shotput and discus, because it was an individual sport in which he could best leverage his talents, strength, speed, and explosiveness.


             When he first started, the throwing (shotput, discus) was an outlet and an afterthought.  He never thought it would lead anywhere.  Hell, why should it?  That would be about as improbable as any story in sports.  At the end of freshman year of high school, Dr. Hughes picked up the shot for the first time (the implement is the shot, and the event is the shotput).   It was a bit like throwing anything.  You expected to improve just by throwing it, but that thought process belies the tremendous amount of experience needed to excel in the sport.


         Doctor Hughes developed strength and speed and explosive power to the extent possible, but, without the technical knowhow, he realized that he could not achieve at the highest levels.  Imagine a world without a you tube and without a world wide web - that is right no google.  This information was not readily available.  Dr. Hughes would find old VHS tapes to learn the most basic of fundamentals.  He even read books on the subject, which were largely unhelpful.  Evaluation of personal video tape of the technique and comparing that with the technique of others proved invaluable without any coach around to help. 


          By comparing his technique to the technique of the experts, Dr. Hughes could analyze differences and implement changes to improve his own technique.   By replaying these videos thousands of times in slow motion, he gained fundamental knowledge of the sport.


          When Dr. Hughes first started throwing shot, he just stood at the front of the circle and threw transferring power from the legs, through the trunk, and into the arm and fingertips.  Obviously this is not taking advantage of the full length of the circle but that is what all beginners do.  Dr. Hughes started to perform a glide technique to utilize the entire circle.  The glide technique involves pushing off of one leg out of the back of the circle and transmitting that linear force into the stand throw.  However, the glide technique presented its own set of challenges and the rotational technique was gaining momentum in almost all venues of track and field.


        At this point, Dr. Hughes sought out one individual in particular who helped him with the rotational style.  This individual had been to the Olympic trials and had competed at a high-level shotput and discus and used the rotational style.  Dr. Hughes  would visit him every year or so and go half way across the country. 


        Although it was not a lot of time spent it was invaluable in creating a mindset and a discipline for the sport.  In just over a year from starting the rotational style,  Dr. Hughes went from throwing a little over 50 feet to about 64 feet and went from starting the discus to throwing over 170 feet.  However, Dr. Hughes knew that there was much more left in the tank as he transitioned to college. 


          The question would be could he exploit his tremendous strength and speed at the next level.  Dr. Hughes was the strongest athlete in college confirmed by various parameters,  but given his small time in the sport he was behind technically to compete at the highest level.  To be a world class thrower, you have to have a lot of physical gifts but you also have to devote your life to the sport.  At some point you must make a decision about whether to pursue sport as a career or move on into a career in medicine.  No matter how talented and gifted you may think you are, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do both. One diversion of focus will not permit you to fully focus on the other.  And while you can be great at both, being world class in one is a decision you will have to make.


Interested in Reading More about Sports Health, Nutrition, Bodybuilding and Injury Prevention please visit

The Mindset of a Champion by Dr. Kenneth Benjamin Hughes

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