This article will take you 8 minutes to read. Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!
Articles are written by different individuals. Most of the writers on this blog have had a rather relevant experience into training but these are their personal opinion. Take what sounds like a good idea to complete your journey.
We are happy to interview you and learn from your experience today as a natural athlete. I am sure people can learn a lot from someone with a great body transformation and who has been training for more than 15 years at a natural level and reached great results.
It is good to start this interview by asking you a bit about yourself: where are you from?
Hi, thanks for asking me about my story. I come from Blackpool in the UK, a busy seaside town on the west coast.
I heard you go swimming there in the winter when the water is just under 10 degrees?
Haha not really, I did it as a challenge in 2018, it’s very intense to go in the water when it is that cold.
So let’s talk about the gym journey now, what kind of lifter are you?
A bodybuilder, powerlifter, weight-lifter, calisthenics – many of these? Then, tell us when you started lifting weights for the first time.
I would classify myself as a bodybuilder but have implemented a lot of strength into my training which is similar to powerlifting in some ways.
I believe we can say I am a bodybuilder who likes to go heavy and implement powerlifting to its training, we can call it powerbuilding.
I started at 13 years old and I had no idea what I was doing. I bought my first weights from Argos, an EZ curl bar, and these normal dumbells with clips on.
My first routine was garbage.
Charlie at 13 years old
Getting back to my training routine when I started, it was all over the place.
For a year and a half, I just did curls and sit-ups.
At 15 years old I started training with my cousin, he had decent knowledge.
I managed to learn about muscle groups.
I had a pretty good routine but not eating enough, I’d get up at 4 am and do running. I was obsessed with getting in shape.
I then finished my exams and got time to start much harder at 16 years old.
Finally, I started doing things which work like progressive overload – I wasn’t messing around anymore.
But here is the thing, progress still was not as effective as it could be.
A lot of people stagnate because they don’t eat enough and that was my problem too.
My metabolism is fast and I loved running. I was really ripped, not much mass but a lean physique, 6ft2 for 10 and a half stone.
I then decided to eat more, this is when you realize the combination of progressive overload type of training and eating a lot pay off.
I went from 10 stones for 6ft2 at 16 to 14 stones at 18 years old.
If you lift for years like I did kind of improving slowly and all a sudden you start eating, it’s like being on steroids – strength gain goes to the roof.
I went from 1x100kg to 8x100kg on the benchpress in no time.
Before we go any further, what was your actual motivation to get into the gym?
Which makes a 13 years old boy wake up and think – I want to start lifting now:
I used to play streets of rage on my Megadrive when I was 7 years old.
The character is that muscly guy and I think I already had an idea I wanted to lift one day.
The kickstart was when I then grew from 5ft 6 to 6’2 in no time.
I was super skinny so I decided to start lifting.
All the action movie stars motivated me as well, Rambo, Terminator.
We talked before and apparently you also said you had attained some high level in other sports?
Yes, I was very good at sprinting, I am quite an explosive person. I managed to sprint 100m in 11.3 seconds and 200m in 22.8 seconds.
I also did a lot of swimming when I was young, from 6 to 13 years old and rugby from 8 until 20. Luckily without any major injury…
Now I like to do a marathon once in a while.
No one can deny these are some impressive performances, how was the rest of the journey from 18 years old?
At 19 I stopped gyming for a year, I just got fatter and went from 14 stones to 16 stones.
It’s a bulk without gyming so I guess you can just call it adding fat on.
I did a cut to go back to 14 stones. What’s funny though is that the year I stopped gyming, I actually did not lose much strength – because I ate so much.
Of course, I was 2 stones heavier, but I guess it was reassuring to see that the strength was not going down like that as long as I kept eating.
That’s when I realized: where would I be if I ate that much while smashing the sessions – the results would go to the roof.
Then I implemented what I learned from these experiences and a few years later, I was hitting my best lifts ever.
Like you said, after implementing longer bulks and respecting the principles of progressive overload, you hit very impressive lifts, tell us about them:
I’ve managed a 175kg squat, 160kg bench press and 235kg deadlift.
One of my best lifts is the dumbell shoulder presses.
I’ve managed to get 6x50kg. I also did 14 pull-ups at 110kg bodyweight.
If we know about your best lift, it would certainly be impressive to see how far you’ve come from, what were your first lifts?
I started in some local gym which did not even have a bench (classic) – so I had to get started on the smith machine before the bench.
I was doing sets at 25kg (including the bar), maybe 10-15 press-ups, and 4-5 pull-ups for a start.
From what we can say it is a long experience you’ve had in the gym, what is your best advice for a beginner or an intermediate natural bodybuilder?
- Don’t be scared of bulking
- Have a proper routine and stick to it, increase volume and weights over time
- Be consistent because it is a long term thing
- If you have time off, it is not the end of the world: a lot of it comes back
- When lifting heavy on my working sets, I’d suggest taking 3-4 minutes rest.
- Some people might say it’s too late when you’re older to start, it’s not true, you can do well at any age.
I believe following most of this advice will help people in their body transformation.
What are your experiences with bulking and cutting?
On a bulk, I just make sure I get the calories in.
On a cut, I try to maintain my performances as high as possible.
You should try and keep your strength up and keep the same training style.
Don’t get discouraged by what I like to call the “no man’s land period” – that moment in the cut where you feel flat and have lost some strength and size already.
Just push through and eventually, you will lose the extra weight of fat and water which needed to be gone to make all your gains appear.
I am very tall and when you are very tall on a cut, you’ll look good and athletic but you won’t look big like short people who can get away with looking big as they rather have a stocky frame.
Also, I would not recommend things like keto diets, you’ll just get tired super quick – keep your carbs and reduce them a little bit over time.
When I was at my leanest, I was weighing 95kg for 6”4, maybe at 11% body fat.
I guess this is what most of the natural physiques look like at their best.
Usually, the height equals the weight at a decent body fat percentage.
Because this website is about natural lifters, may we ask you why you stayed drug-free and never considered taking performance-enhancing drugs?
You are going to have to pay a price for it, something will happen.
Every person I’ve met taking stuff has had something or look older than they should now.
If you put a lot of hard work on your own naturally, you’d be surprised how far you can get.
Long term health complications do happen, you can see it on loads of bodybuilders, wrestlers. When people finish the gear, they look worse after.
I could understand if there are millions of pounds behind it but don’t understand for the average gym-goer.
A lot of people on steroids don’t understand the right way to train as well, I agree with saying it’s like running with a strong wind behind your back – even if the training methods are not that good, you get away with great results. That’s for sure the case if your genetics are responding well to the chemicals.
We think the fitness industry could be better. About yourself, do you have good or bad criticism about the current fitness industry?
Every industry is dirty and you try to make that money.
It is bad when you start the gym because there is so much nonsense and what should be simple is overly complicated.
Marketers want to sell their things to everyone so they repackage everything and come up with new stuff. It is difficult for beginners.
Because we know you personally, we know you have been on and off with the gym lately. It seems like doing some work has been more of a priority for you.
When you go back to the gym how does it feel? A word about muscle memory ;)?
You’d be surprised if you kind of keep eating after stopping the gym how much strength you still have. When you are natural your strength stays somehow better. Muscle memory feels like beginner gains or maybe “being on steroids”.
If you get back into the gym and go hard for 10-12 weeks, it will come back almost to its original level.
It also has crossovers for other sports.
Whenever I go do some combat sport I really feel the benefits training has given me over time.
I am just quite strong in general even when I’m off the gym. I will always keep these foundations now.
As a personal trainer, what was the first thing you were considering to help out your client the best?
Everyone is different, so how did you adapt for each individual?
I would try and determine what people’s goals are and build a program accordingly.
I would really focus on building a foundation of strength by focusing on the main compound lifts and work around it with isolation exercises towards the end of the session to get some volume in for the client and build some muscles.
You are talking about compounds movements and isolation exercises, what do you personally prefer?
My most favorite exercises are the basic ones and compounds movements – because I like to go heavy and do strength.
These kinds of exercises are obviously the types where you can go heavy, so that makes sense I prefer them.
Last question, where can people find you?
I’m on Instagram, my account is charlies.fitness.factory!
My facebook page is there too.
Any questions to Charlie? Feel free to leave a comment down below!