Miguel Valdez, Breaking Records and Transforming Athletes Through Strength Training

A collage of Champions and Medalists across 4 different combat sport disciplines as Pros, Amateurs, Worlds Competitions, International and Local.

Champions and Medalists across 4 different combat sport disciplines as Pros, Amateurs, Worlds Competitions, International and Local.

West End Athletic Club prides itself on not only the quality and caliber of its Coaches and Trainers but the environment and culture it has developed and continues to foster for its members and staff. This gym values connecting with every individual that walks through its doors; regardless if you’re new or a veteran, you are treated like family. Personal Trainer, Miguel Valdez, felt this from the moment he began training as an athlete at West End AC

During the Covid lockdowns, Miguel had transformed his garage into a training facility. As winter approached, he knew the garage wouldn’t suffice to keep out the cold. One of the guys he knew mentioned West End AC, and Miguel asked if he could be connected with the owner, Silvia Cappuccitti. Valdez noted, “Initially, I thought it would be temporary, but being there and meeting everyone, I liked the environment and the people; I wanted to stay.”

A before and after photo of Miguel Valdez, on the left a young skinny boy with no shirt and black shorts. On the right is Miguel 10 years later, tattooed upper body, 8-pack abs, and strong quadriceps taking a selfie.

Miguel Valdez and his 10-year transformation.

As a kid, Valdez grew up in Brampton, Ontario as a competitive swimmer, “I was a skinny kid, so I got into weight training to add muscle to my game.” He began doing research on ways to add muscle and fell down a rabbit hole and stumbled upon powerlifting. There was a large group of his friends that worked out together, some of whom competed regularly. 

Miguel Valdez stands on the far left of the 9 Brampton Barbell powerlifting team, all wearing black or white, the guy in the middle wearing red. Two teammates squatting down in front.

Miguel Valdez with the Brampton Barbell’s first powerlifting competition as a team.

“We decided to start a Powerlifting club, we found local competitions we wanted to do.” Throughout this process, Valdez realized he was strongest at the bench press, he looked through the record book for his age group and record class and discovered that he was already close to beating the current record that was held; that became his personal goal, to beat the Junior 20-23-year-olds, 165lbs (age and weight class needed) powerlifting record.

Training to Break the Canadian Powerlifting Junior National Bench Press

  • Must lift/train the entire body
  • Eat as much as possible to support heavier training
  • Go to the gym 4-5 days a week for 2-3 hour sessions
  • Certain days for heavy lifting, others speed, variations and technique
  • 3 months to competition, need to add muscle and hammer out volume
  • Weeks until competition, taper or peak; less reps but increase sets in order to get closer to 1 rep max
  • 1-2 weeks before the competition, need to cut weight: zero carbs, high protein and fat
  • Week of competition still zero carbs but lower the rest of the calories, 
  • Water loading begins, drink as much water as you can (up to 10Liters in a day) and the day before, drink zero water and eat no food for 24 hours 
  • For the remainder weight, Miguel’s was about 14 lbs, sauna intervals; 15-45 minutes rinse and repeat the process

All of this for a 24-hour weigh-in. Valdez arrived under the 165 lbs requirement on Friday morning and then had the rest of Friday and Saturday to rehydrate his malnourished and dehydrated body. “Cutting weight was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, it was both mentally and physically hard on my body.”

There were 3 judges, and in order to have the lift count, 2 out of the 3 needed to approve the lift. “I hit the lift, but the lower part of my body left the bench, so I didn’t get cleared, my lift didn’t count. I was frustrated and upset that I had failed.” For all of the effort Miguel had put in, he didn’t waste a moment and immediately signed up for another competition approximately 8 weeks later; and that’s when he broke the record and benched 140kg in the Men’s Pro Raw Bench Only Junior 75kg..

The Shift From Powerlifting to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

“Leading up to the competition is fun,” Miguel noted, “you have a goal, but after? There’s so much emphasis on that one specific goal I didn’t feel much drive after it was accomplished. I realized I had more fun helping my friends and training others in the sport.” Wanting to do something more, Valdez began to inquire about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as he had always been a fan of Boxing and MMA fighting. The Massage Therapist he used at the time trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; one connection led to another, and soon he was doing classes at Legends MMA in Brampton with Coach Bojan Klajdanko and Coach David Mosleh. Miguel now trains out of Toronto BJJ under Coach David Mosleh.

Valdez’s training has led him to win a Blue Belt at Canadian Nationals in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; however, currently, he is not competing. He still trains very regularly, but competitions have been put to the side as he focuses his efforts on training others. It started with training anyone looking to be a better and stronger version of themselves. With a combat sports background, he started to hone in on athletes and, even more recently and specifically, Female Combat Athletes.

Experience as an Athlete Gives Experience in Coaching

Understanding the requirements of a competitive athlete can be difficult unless you’ve been a competitive athlete. Miguel can relate to his clients because he was a competitive athlete and continues to train himself. “I have an understanding of what it takes, especially in combat sports, because I know how hard it is to succeed in that space. As an athlete, I would find excuses to skip work just so I could train more. I learned to Barber, so I had a flexible schedule and could train more. I would take naps in my car and on the mats so that I could make it to more training sessions. I know how hard it is to make the commitment and how hard strength training can be on the body, but also it’s important for performance. I also know it’s about finding the right balance.”

A side-by-side before and after photo of Miguel Valdez. On the left, he is wearing a white shirt, has short black hair, and is overweight. On the right, he has no shirt, tattoed upper body, and 8-pack abs.

On the right, Miguel Valdez today, versus on the left from 7 years ago.

6 images of Miguel Valdez’s work as a barber.

Miguel Valdez did what he had to do in order to support his training routine, which included learning how to barber.

Most competitive sports have some sort of standardized testing that helps measure where an athlete falls and which areas need focus. Every Coach has an idea of where they want their athletes to be. “I start my intake by asking questions such as: previous strength training experience, prior/current injuries, current training schedule etc. I often found that female athletes had never touched weight training, so I look at how well they move, and from there, I have set movements I want them to do well on before we focus on their strength training technique.”

As many of Coach Miguel’s clients would attest, he has a knack for connecting the needs of the athlete with the goals and demands of their sport. He has his athletes track themselves on an app so he can adjust their program as needed, and the longer he knows the athlete, the better he can customize their training.

He also finds it important to keep in touch with the athlete’s Coach, “I introduce myself in order to get a good idea of what their training regime looks like, and then I collaborate with the Coach to figure out what they actually need.”

Known at West End AC as Coach “Migs,” Miguel runs Strength and Conditioning classes there, along with being a Personal Trainer and training himself. Recently he started working with Olympic hopeful Sara Haghighat-joo, and he hopes to continue contributing more of his expertise to their many highly competitive athletes.

Miguel is very proud of his client Lexi Perez. She works a full-time job and is a mother of two. Lexi trains in Muay Thai and connected with Miguel in his online program. Her goal was to fight, she wanted to shift her training from strength and aesthetics to compete as a Muay Thai athlete. “She trains like crazy and is such a coachable athlete. Lexi will ask what she needs to do and then gets it done.” 

Mission accomplished, on May 27, 2023, Lexi competed in her first Muay Thai bout and won; this is just the beginning and Miguel is proud to be a part of her journey.

West End AC Offers Growth, Opportunity, and Empowerment

When walking around West End AC, you would never know if a member was brand new or has been there for years, “just based on the way people treat and accept one another, it’s welcoming and motivating.” Miguel continued to note that “there are high caliber athletes training there, being able to see some of the best in Canada sets a high standard and provides a resource to talk to and learn from. Silvia keeps the gym clean, tidy, and organized; every detail is considered to make the best experience for everyone.”

4 image collage; 1. Side view of Lexi in leggings and a black workout top 2. Side profile of Lexi wearing a bikini in a locker room 20 lbs lighter than first photo 3. Lexi wearing leggings and a sports bra squatting with a barbell at West End Athletic Club 4. Lexi standing in the ring, referee holding her arm up in victory.

After dropping over 20 lbs, under the strength training program of Miguel Valdez, combat athlete Lexi Perez wins her first Muay Thai bout.

Headshot of Miguel Valdez wearing his West End Athletic Club black zip-up.

Miguel Valdez, strength training Coach at West End AC.

As a Coach and as an athlete, Miguel has felt nothing but full support from the administration, staff, and members. He learns a lot from other Coaches and enjoys listening to their experiences. “They care. Even Silvia offering me this interview, and how they talk about me to other members, gives me confidence and gets me to open up more about myself. I have people I can rely on. They love to showcase what their Coaches are doing, this extends to supporting me as an athlete.”

Presently, Coach Migs is happy with the direction his career and training are going. He is proud of how his athletes are performing in competitions and notices an increase in the caliber of athletes that now seek his help in strength training. Miguel says he “would love to hire Coaches and take them under my wing, I would love to mentor others, to share my knowledge and experience.”

No matter what, Coach Migs wants athletes to remember that “failures and setbacks will occur, the feeling of not wanting to lose and the anxiety it can bring. Continue to work through that; eventually, you will get to where you want to be. Don’t let failures define where you are but embrace them as part of becoming a better athlete.”

Strength training doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating, Coach Miguel is ready to help you on your journey to a stronger self. CLICK HERE to view the class schedule or contact West End Athletic Club to book one-on-one training sessions.

Interested in practicing some techniques at home? Or getting insight into Miguel’s training programs? Follow him HERE and see for yourself the transformations that are possible.