SimplyShreddedTV Episode 3: Beneath The Muscle Featuring Aaron Curtis

Quick stats:

Age: 28
Height: 5’11” – 180cm
Weight: 189lbs. – 86kg
Part 1 Interview: Simplyshredded Interview

What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?

Before I started lifting weights (or more importantly, lifting weights and eating at a surplus) I was very much into cross country/middle distance running and football. I was always very active and really enjoyed the competitive nature of sports, especially contact sports. Physically, I was pretty skinny and lean.

When I was running my best times on track, I was 54kg (119lbs) and that was 12 months or so, after I started training with weights, but I was still only 15 years old at the time.

Aaron Curtis

What was your low point or turning point?

There was definitely no ‘low point’ and really no ‘one point’ in time that I decided to be a bodybuilder. The longer I had trained, the more serious I got with my training/nutrition and the further my physique had developed because of this.

It had been a rather slow progression, in every aspect, over the last 14 years that I’ve been lifting.

Aaron Curtis

Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?

Not really. Other than injuries here and there.

I fell out of a tree in 2003 (100% serious), tearing a hunk of cartilage off the bottom of my femur and tearing my medial ligament in the process. That required a cartilage graft and 12 weeks on crutches. That has probably been the biggest problem I incurred, along the way, but even that wasn’t a struggle to get through. After the injury occurred and I had a proper diagnosis, there was nothing I could change about it, other than to have it operated on and look forward to being 100% again after it was all healed and rehabbed. So I just focused on doing what I had to do, to get better.

Actually! One other setback, getting suspended for 2 years from all ASADA/WADA sanctioned sports, after having 1,3,Dimeth(the stimulant found in many pre workout supplements) in my system during the 2010 competitive season.

That sucked. I actually didn’t even know what 1,3,Dimeth was at the time, a client at the gym had just given me a tub of Jack3d to try, because he had been using it and really liked it. For those of you who are unaware, 1,3,Dimeth is a legal stimulant, that is legal for use by athletes at all times other than ‘IN COMPETITION’ periods, that is, as stated by ASADA/WADA. The 6hrs prior to, time including and 6hrs post competition. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t even know I was taking this stimulant, and used jack3d all the way through my comp prep, hence the positive test. If I had stopped taking it 1 week prior before each comp, I would have been fine. Shit happens.

Getting suspended from competition wasn’t really a setback though either, as I could still eat/train/sleep as planned, I just couldn’t compete for a while. Less calorie deficit, more calorie surplus for me!

Aaron Curtis

Photo Credit: Charles Lowthian

What motivates you to keep going and push harder?

I just really enjoy living the natural bodybuilding lifestyle. Focusing almost all my time and effort on my eating/training/sleeping and working too (I need money for food). The fact my lifestyle keeps me physically fit and healthy, is something I appreciate also.

So why do I enjoy doing all the above?

I guess I just like trying to get bigger and stronger every year, setting goals and achieving them and continually trying to improve on my physique.

When you are doing something you enjoy, you don’t need motivation to keep doing it.

Aaron Curtis

What is your next goal? Where do you see yourself this time next year?

My next goal is to do well in the INBA and ANB in 2013. I hope to place well at the state and national titles and present a physique worthy of heading over to the U.S. to compete in the Natural Olympia.

This time next year, I hope to be at a buffet in Vegas somewhere, after competing in the Natural Olympia, impressing all the other competitors with my ability to eat copious amounts of food!

Aaron Curtis

What is your current training philosophy?

My training is based around progressive overload, time under tension and optimal form/range of motion. I am constantly trying to put any given muscle under a greater mechanical load than it has been exposed to previously. My target rep range could be anywhere from 6-15 reps, depending on what body part I am training and where I am up to in my repetition cycle (I cycle my rep ranges throughout my training blocks).

My form is always slow and controlled, to minimise momentum and keep constant tension on the target muscle.

My range of motion is always the maximum range possible, whilst keeping tension on the target muscle. For example, I COULD move the bar in a bench press further, by locking out my arms at the top of the movement, but that would decrease tension on the target muscle (pectorialis major), so I stop short of lockout, which keeps the pecs working harder.

Some may say, then that is NOT a full range of motion, but it is definitely more optimal, if you are doing bench press to grow your chest.

Training Split:

  • Monday: Shoulders/Triceps
  • Tuesday: Back/Rear Delts
  • Wednesday: Off or Abs/Calves
  • Thursday: Chest/Biceps
  • Friday: Quads/Hams
  • Saturday: Off or Extra weak point training
  • Sunday: Off

These are the sequences I was following throughout my 2012 contest prep. I do 1 work set per exercise, when I am in the depths of my offseason, as I get closer to comp and my strength starts to decrease, I add in extra work sets.

Monday – Shoulders/Triceps

  • DB Shoulder Press 1-3 x 6-12
  • Smith Machine Shoulder Press 1-3 x 6-12
  • DB Lateral Raise (seated) 1-3 x 8-15
  • DB Shrug 1-3 x 8-15
  • Dips 1-3 x 6-12
  • Close Grip Bench1-3 x 6-12
  • Close Grip Overhead Press (I made this up, triceps tendons don’t like isolation stuff) 1-3 x 6-12

Tuesday – Back/Rear Delt

  • Chin-Up (close, neutral grip) 1-3 x 6-12
  • Lat Pulldown (supinated grip) 1-3 x 6-12
  • Barbell Row (pronated grip) 1-3 x 6-12
  • Seated Row (neutral grip) 1-3 x 6-12
  • Rear Cable Fly (for rear delts) 1-3 x 8-15
  • Deadlift 1-3 x 6-12

Wednesday – Off or Calves/Abs

  • Standing Calf Raise 1-3 x 8-15
  • Calf Press (on 180 deg leg press) 1-3 x 8-15
  • Hanging Leg Raise 2 x 10-15
  • Weighted Sit-Up (decline bench) 2 x 10-15

Thursday – Chest/Biceps

  • Bench Press 1-3 x 6-12
  • DB Low Incline Press 1-3 x 6-12
  • Barbell Incline Press 1-3 x 6-12
  • Cable Fly 1-3 x 8-15
  • Barbell Curl 1-3 x 6-12
  • DB Incline Curl 1-3 x 6-12
  • Reverse Cable Curl 1-3 x 6-12

Friday – Quads/Hams

  • Squat 1-3 x 8-15
  • Leg Press (45 deg) 1-3 x 8-15
  • Lunge (stationary, alternating) 1-3 x 8-15
  • Straight Leg Deadlift 1-3 x 6-12
  • Seated Leg Curl 1-3 x 6-12

Saturday – Off or Weakpoint Training

  • Various triceps/biceps work, higher reps, shorter rests.

Sunday – Off

  • Rest day

Aaron Curtis

Favorite form of cardio?

My favourite form of cardio from an enjoyment point of view is getting down the athletics track and doing HIIT. HIIT is definitely my preferred form of cardio for improving my cardiovascular fitness also. I have not done HIIT regularly for years though. My preferred form of cardio when I am dieting for a show is LISS/MISS.

It is far less stressful on my body, at a time that I am already under stress from eating at a calorie deficit for so long and dieting down to rather low body fat levels.

Aaron Curtis

Describe/List your cardio routine:

30 min speed walk, in a fed state, everyday, as far away from the times I lift weights as possible.

*NOTE – For my own interest sake, I did absolutely no cardio throughout my 2012 contest prep, didn’t seem to make any difference to my conditioning.

What is your approach to nutrition?

I focus on eating very basic, whole foods and try to spend as much of my time eating at a calorie surplus as possible. My food intake pretty much consists of: plants, animals, eggs, whole fat dairy, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits, preferably in the most unadulterated state as possible. I like to minimize my consumption of artificial sweeteners, flavorings preservatives, caking agents, thickeners, etc etc, so I include very little processed foods, in my day-to-day nutrition. The more processed and further away from its natural state, that you take any food, the greater its loss of nutrients.

Ideally I’d eat solely organic foods that had been freshly picked or killed, shortly before consumption. Unfortunately this is rather difficult, unless you grow all your own plants and animals.

Aaron Curtis

Do you bulk and cut or stay lean year round?

I bulk and cut.

The majority of the 14 years I have been lifting weights was spent bulking, I only cut for the first time in 2006 and it has only been since I began competing in 2008, that I have cut down regularly (by regularly I mean once every 2 years).

That being said ‘bulking’ does not mean ‘getting fat’, it simply means eating at enough of a surplus so that you are SLOWLY gaining weight and fuelling your body with enough calories, so that you can progressively overload in the gym , each session.

Diet I followed for the 2012 competitive season:

  • 0530 – Breakfast: Chicken Breast, Brown Rice, Chili, Salt, Pepper.
  • 0930 – Pre Bed: Salmon, Lettuce, Celery, Tomato, Mushroom, Nuts, Seeds.
  • –==SLEEP==– 1430 – Pre Workout: Kangaroo, Brown Rice, Chili, Salt, Pepper.
  • 1700 – *Pre Workout Shake: WPI, BCAA’s, Creatine.
  • 1710 –==Training==– *Intra Workout Shake: BCAA
  • 1830 – *Post Workout Shake: WPI, BCAA, Creatine, Dextrose.
  • 1850 – Post Workout: Kangaroo, Potatoes, Chilli, Salt, Pepper.
  • 2200 – Dinner: Chicken/Beef with Steamed Green Vegetables or Salad.
  • 0030 – Pre Bed: Eggs, Salmon, Salt, Pepper.

Aaron Curtis

What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to reach their goal physique?

  1. Progressively overload
  2. Eat at a calorie surplus
  3. Always practice optimal form/range of motion on all exercises

Aaron Curtis

Favorite Quote:

One meal. One training session. One full night’s sleep. None of these things, in isolation, will get you any noticeable gains. Do those things day-in, day-out, for 10 years though and you end up with a pretty decent physique. – Aaron Curtis



Written, Filmed and Produced by Miguel Valenzuela

  • Music by

The Ludovico Technique
Die Sektor

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