Training Tips from Teen Champs

10 NPC Teen Nationals competitors who went pro share their best advice for young bodybuilders.

Kevin Horton

Twelve years before competing in the Olympia, Williams curls. 


“I dieted [for the 2005 Teen Nationals] during finals [at Morehouse College]. Studying hard, training, and doing cardio, all that stuff  was definitely difficult. I was taking 19 credit hours per semester [15 is average] and playing in the school jazz band on top of that. Nutrition was the biggest challenge of all. Dorm food sucks for bodybuilding. It’s all burgers and pizza and stuff. I bought all my own food, which is a really big expense, but I had to do it. I helped other students eat as clean as they could in the cafeterias, but it’s never ideal. Living on campus is not healthy. You have to really work to keep up a bodybuilding lifestyle.”

The 2005 Teen Nationals light-heavyweight and overall winner, Gerald Williams, won the California Pro in May. This month, he becomes the eighth Teen Nats competitor to ex in the Mr. Olympia.

Courtesy of Jay Cutler / Weider Health & Fitness


“Don’t be in a hurry. Kids want everything right now, but it takes years in the gym to build quality muscle. The other thing I would say to a teenage competitor is that moving up to open shows is a big step. Suddenly, you’ll be standing next to 30-year-olds who’ve been training and dieting for 15 years. Pick your next move carefully. I didn’t compete again until I was 22, and then, though I was living in Massachusetts, I competed in California [winning the prestigious Tournament of Champions], because I knew that’s where I could get noticed and build a name for myself. It worked. The next year, I won the heavyweight class of the NPC Nationals and a pro card.”

When he was just an unknown 216-pound kid with potential, Jay Cutler won the heavyweight class of the 1993 Teen Nationals. How did he fulfill that potential? He earned 15 pro titles, including four Mr. Olympias (2006–07, 2009–10).


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