IFBB pro-athlete Deniz Duygulu always wanted bulging biceps—even when he was a little kid.
Remember how the cartoon character Popeye would eat his spinach and then his forearms would double in size? As a kid, I thought that was pretty cool. (Even now, I still do.) As far back as I can remember, I was always intrigued by massive, muscular characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. All little boys want to be like Superman and The Incredible Hulk at some point—but unlike most of them, it wasn’t a phase I ever outgrew!
My mom would take me to the supermarket, and in the checkout line, I’d get lost in a bodybuilding magazine. And when she took me with her to the gym, around age 12, I got to work trying to build a physique like those massive men in the magazines. I started doing push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups on a regular basis. When I got a little older, I’d jump from one weight machine to another kind of cluelessly; I would often pick out a person that had a great physique and emulate their every move.
Being an ectomorph, I was skinny and had trouble putting on mass—but I did start to have great definition. I went through high school as a wrestler on the varsity wrestling team at the 112lb weight class—weighing the same or even less than girls my age.
After graduating high school, I knew I wanted to really start working out and training like a bodybuilder to put on that mass, and I worked to become a personal trainer so I could help others achieve their fitness goals, too.
The education I received during certification motivated me to pay more attention to nutrition. I learned the importance of fueling correctly and applied it to my regimen.
Finally, I was putting on some size. While I still did not have nearly enough mass to be a bodybuilder, I was looking bigger than the average Joe, I guess.
In 2011 the NPC and IFBB introduced the Men’s Physique division and right away I knew this was exactly what I was built for. This division is for men whose bodies are sculpted and proportionate, though not necessarily massive in size the way a traditional bodybuilder appears. I started competing right away, winning many of the shows I competed in.
My greatest victory was when I became the fist ever USA Championships overall Men’s Physique winner and earned my IFBB pro card.
Get fitness and sports nutrition tips from personal trainer Deniz Duygulu, an International Federation of BodyBuilders Men’s Physique pro athlete. Like Deniz on Facebook to watch videos demonstrating correct form and for advice on fueling effectively.