I grew up in Roanoke,VA and currently live in Nashville,TN working as a personal trainer. I’ve been active my entire life. Growing up, my passions were baseball and basketball. Basketball was the main sport I focused on throughout middle and high school. It’s crazy to think about how much I used to hate lifting weights. When we would have to train a few days a week for basketball, I would skip a lot of my sets and just had a very lacklustre approach to the weight room because I hated the pain. After graduation everyone goes to the beach for a week, and one of my friends Justin had built a pretty good physique for being 17 years old. It inspired me to give it a try once I returned from the beach. At 18 years old, 6’3” and only weighing 175lb, my main goal was to get HUGE! So I started weight training in my parents’ basement and reading bodybuilding magazines to learn as much as I could. I got addicted to the feeling of getting a pump and immediately fell in love with training. Once my body started to change, I became obsessed with the hunger for more. After a solid year of training in the basement I then had the courage to join a gym. One thing that I didn’t realize at the time was the importance of nutrition. I really didn’t have much of an appetite, so there was a lot of force-feeding the first few years. I remember I even asked one of the bigger guys at the gym if there was a supplement I could take to increase my appetite. When I turned 21 years old, I decided that I wanted to give back all the knowledge I had learned and become a personal trainer. At that time my weight had jumped up to 255lb, so I guess you can say that my appetite finally came around. It wasn’t a good 255lb, though, because I was on a see food diet. Anything I would see that I wanted I would have. My daily food choices were pizza, burgers and more burgers. Competing was something that had always interested me, but being 6’3 I knew that the bodybuilding stage was out of the question. So in 2007 I decided to compete at Universe Weekend in Miami, FL in the fitness modelling division. I went from 255lb to cutting down to 215lb for that show. I still didn’t know much about nutrition or the amount of cardio that was needed, so I really wasn’t happy with my look. I still managed to place 25th out of 75 guys and was approached by Adam Silver of Silver Model Management. He set up my first photo shoot the day after the competition and talked to me about possibly wanting to come to NYC. I really didn’t hear much after that shoot, so I wrote it off until one day I randomly got a phone call a couple months after the competition from Adam asking me if I could be in Washington, DC the next day. There was a chance that I might have booked Under Armour. At that point I was extremely excited, and he called later that day to confirm that I had booked the Under Armour catalogue (in which I got the cover of). Once that happened, I decided I wanted to give the whole fitness-modelling thing a valiant try, so I moved to NYC! In 2008, I competed again at the Universe Weekend show in Miami and ended up placing 9th out of 100 guys weighing 210lb for that show. I was happy with my condition because it was the leanest I had ever been. After living in NYC for a year I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and partying became my priority. Since the fashion industry rules NYC, the decision was made to try fashion modelling out because there was potentially more money. So at the end of 2008 I quit lifting weights with the intent to get skinny. I just did lots of cardio and my focus was now on getting with a top 10 fashion-modelling agency. Jason Kanner, of at the time Major Models, signed me, and I thought I was going to be golden. That was not the case at all. Like I said before, my priorities were partying. I eventually developed an eating disorder. Part of my plan of attack to lose weight and get skinny was to starve myself. I would only eat a couple tiny meals a day and would smoke cigarettes to kill my appetite. After a couple of days of starving myself it would backfire on me leading to all out binges. I would eat crazy amounts of food and compensate with what felt like endless sessions of cardio. I fell into a deep depression as this eating disorder went on for several months. It wasn’t until I decided to leave NYC and move to Nashville that my life got turned back around in the right direction. I went back to my roots and picked up the weights again. I can truly say that bodybuilding saved my life. Good thing muscle has memory because I bounced back relatively quick. Fast forward to 2012, and this past April I got very ill with pneumonia and was sick for the entire month. I had never been that sick in my life, and when you are laid up like that, it gives you plenty of time to think. I lost 15lb, and my weight dropped to 200lb. I told myself that once I got better I was going to train harder than ever and do another shoot to try to get my foot back in the fitness-modelling door. I linked up with Tad Inoue, and he started doing my nutrition once I was fully recovered in May. After working with him for several months, my body went to a whole new level. For the past 7.5 months this has been the most dedicated to the lifestyle I’ve ever been. I just did a shoot with Jason Ellis at the beginning of November, and it is by far my favorite images I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to compete in 2013 and see what the future holds.
As a newbie the two main mistakes I made were not taking the time to learn about proper nutrition and trying to lift too heavy that led to not focusing on perfecting my form. I was under the impression that in order to gain size I needed to eat anything and everything possible. I remember my daily pre workout meal for a while consisted of two double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s. There was one right beside the gym, so I would go through the drive-thru, order and eat them in the gym lobby before training. Instead of perfecting my form, I got caught up in the numbers. Instead of having a mind muscle connection, I just was moving the weight from point a to b. If only I knew what I know now back then.
Set realistic goals. Have a plan of attack and realize it’s not going to happen overnight. Staying consistent and being dedicated to the lifestyle takes a person with the determination and drive to actually want to change. It’s easy to say you want something, but you have to be willing to put in the work day after day to achieve the physique you desire. Listen to your body. If your body is telling you to slow down, then slow down instead of just quitting. Never underestimate the power of rest and recovery. Have an understanding that each day you have an opportunity to do something in order to bring you closer to your goals.
Besides fitness, music is my other passion. I’m very eclectic when it comes to music choice… but to answer the question, I do listen to music while training. My mood dictates what I listen to for that day. It’s usually rap, hip-hop, R&B, hard rock and electronic. Some artists and groups that you would find on my playlist would be: Big Sean, Bob Marley, Chief Keef, DJ Drama, Drake, Krewella, Mimosa, Tiesto, Avicci, Afrojack, The Weeknd, Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, Trinidad James, Wiz Khalifa, MMG, Hatebreed, Disturbed, Incubus, Killswitch Engage and Asking Alexandria -- just to name a few.
I relish the pain, and I know that the more pain I’m willing to endure, the stronger I will become not only physically but also mentally. I know that in order to build the physique I want I need to push myself to the extreme and go where others aren’t willing to go. One thing that does come to mind when I’m towards the end of a set is a scene from Pumping Iron where Arnold is doing squats, and he’s telling his training partner that “it’s time to get serious” towards the end of his set. I don’t know why, but that has stuck with me, and I tell myself that often -- along with asking myself “how bad do you want this?”
So many great physiques were just built on free weights. So if I had to choose just one, I would definitely just train with free weights. That being said, I do prefer to use both. I think each of them serve a purpose, and both have benefits to building a physique. The benefits to free weights is that you have to use all of your stabilizing muscles to support the weight, and it forces you to learn the correct way to lift the weight. The con to free weights is that you are possibly at a higher risk of injury. The pros to using machines is that they already isolate the target muscle you are training and can potentially be safer. The con to using a machine is that you don’t have to use your stabilizing muscles etc.
I’m proud that I’ve found something positive that I love to do, and that I’m able to be an inspiration to people from all over the world. I love reading emails from people saying that I have inspired them to change their lives.
I stay lean year round. One of my favorite quotes is by Lee Haney “If you can’t flex it, don’t carry it.” I see no point in adding a bunch of unnecessary fat, when in reality, it’s because you are satisfying your taste buds.
Right now I’m just doing LIT. My favorite machine is the stepmill, but I do use the old school stair climber and incline treadmill walk from time to time. I do like to do HIIT as well, but the majority of my cardio is low intensity. I feel cardio is important to do year round not only for the metabolism benefits but you have work the most important muscle in your body -- your heart!
Volume training! I love volume. My typical workouts are anywhere from 15-30 total working sets. By using the muscle confusion training principle I never do the same workout twice, and it keeps the intensity high every single workout. My main goal with each workout is to get the best possible pump and to train with the highest intensity possible for that particular day. Every workout also consists of several intensity techniques such as drop sets, partial reps, static holds, supersets, tri sets and giant sets. Rest time in between sets is anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes depending on how taxing the lift is. I keep my rep ranges mixed up to hit fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. My split changes up all the time, but I’ve found that taking two days off from weight training every week allows my body optimum recovery time.
My protein and fats stay consistently the same year round. The only change when trying to get into peak condition is the amounts of carbs and the source or carbs. I monitor my progress by doing weekly assessments of my body fat and measurements. I also use the mirror as a guide too, so depending on the numbers and what I’m seeing in the mirror will depend on the amounts of carbs I will have.
Arnold and Frank Zane. I like the classic physiques they had. I get a lot of inspiration from reading about how intense they would train, especially Arnold. I’ve learned so much from studying Arnold and trying out different methods that he believed in.
Meal 1 – Multi Vitamin, 5g Glutamine, Omega 3,6,9, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3
Pre Workout (20 minutes before gym) – 10g AAKG, 5g glutamine, 10g BCAA, 5g Creatine Monohydrate, 750mg Agmatine, large black coffee
Post Workout – 5g Creatine Monohydrate, 10g BCAA, 5g glutamine
Meal 6 – Multi Vitamine, Multi Mineral, Vitamin C
Name: Tyler McPeak
Weight: 205lb - 220lb