We step into trainer, Mark Ciccarelli’s world, and learn how he made his dramatic transformation.

By: Amanda Cubello

Cross-fit trained health coach and upcoming model, Mark Ciccarelli, gives us the scoop on power lifting, healthy living, and how he managed to go from the skinny kid who barely worked out to the easy on the eyes, muscle-sculpted powerhouse, his hometown secretly drools over.

Mark started his fitness journey like most of us – snagging that zero money down, $10 monthly payment to the judgement-free zone. After making the decision to move back home to Albany, NY from NYC, where he was pursuing a degree in fashion, the gym became his stomping ground.

Mark took his athletic drive to the next level by joining Crossfit once he learned the basics. It was at here, at the proclaimed ‘elite’ workout center, where he learned the do’s and don’ts of power-lifting. But after realizing the physical injuries that come with this competition-focused environment, he began coaching at Purebred Athletics, a fitness center focused on “combining core strength building and functional conditioning with a holistic approach to prevention and recovery,” in December 2015.

At 4:00 a.m., while the rest of us are blissfully unaware of work schedules and daily duties, Mark starts his day with a cup of fruit, a handful almonds, laces up his sneakers and heads to his 5:30 a.m. Kettle Bell class, just one of the ten classes he teaches per week.  

“Bulking up starts with conditioning yourself,” explains Mark. “By working out early, you’ll be able to sustain energy for the day ahead, while allowing your body to continuously burn calories throughout the day.”

So what are some of Mark’s favorite exercises/tips when it comes to bulking?

Push/Pull Training

This training method is exactly how it sounds; use those muscles involved in pushing (chest, triceps, quads, lateral and medial delts) in one session and training the ones involved in pulling (back, biceps, rear delts, traps, forearms, hamstrings)  in another. By separating exercises based on function, you’ll be able to train more often without overstressing muscles, allowing you to burn fat quickly and safely.

Front/Back Squats

This full-body compound exercise is a staple in Mark’s workouts, and for good reason.

While these exercises focus on the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, they’ll also require extra core strength in order to stablize the body while keeping an upright position. By using a weighted bar, it’ll also require you to utilize the upper back, shoulder, and arm muscles for balance.

If you’re looking for the extra challenge, try stagnant holds when completing each rep. By pausing for 2-3 seconds, you’ll not only increase quad size and core strength, but they’ll also help to assist your one rep max strength. Take it from Mark, whose quads nearly doubled in just 3 short months from this techique.

Eat Responsibly

“I know you’ve probably heard the saying that abs are made in the kitchen – well, they really are,” Mark shares.

By choosing the right foods, you’ll not only fuel your body for the workouts ahead, but your recovery and muscle-definition will improve immensely. Protein, veggies, & water are the three most vital ingredients you need in your diet – and of course, the occasional pasta dish because everyone needs a cheat meal.

While Mark is currently trying to eliminate cheese from his diet (aren’t we all), he says the most effective strategy for him when it comes to eating is time management. Eating before a workout is crucial, whereas scheduling meals/snacks every two hours will boost metabolism while giving your body the fuel it needs for the day. For breakfast, try to stay light with yogurt, fruit, or nuts and save the heavier eating for lunch and dinner tuna, chicken, grilled fish, a big salad, etc.

Wellness Opposed to Fitness

“Fitness isn’t just about how you look, it’s how you feel,” Mark explains. “When I’m with a client, I can read them like book. Their consistency in the gym shows how their life is going; diet, exercise, workouts…it’s a domino effect.”

While Mark works out 6 times a week, sometimes hitting doubles, he says his Purebred environment has been a crucial influence on his fitness achievements. “Being around others who also want to be there is a big motivator,” Mark said. “People who have good energy and want to get their shit done help you to want to push through the workouts and make it to those early mornings everyday.”

Although he has made an impact on the 518 fitness community, he’s also been making a name for himself as a professional model.


I think we can agree he’s a natural, but it’s his humbleness that will capture anyone who meets this talented, uplifting, and downright handsome man. While Mark’s efforts certainly haven’t gone unnoticed, he says that the most important part of all this has been the journey itself.

“Positivity has always been huge for me,” Mark said. “If I had to give any advice I’d say to not get discouraged and be consistent from the get-go…be confident and f*cking do it.”

If athletic wisdom, worldly adventures, and the occasional shower pic peak your interest, be sure to follow this upcoming fitness bad-boy on Instagram @mark_cicca

By: Amanda Cubello | @amanda_cubello



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