I started training when I lived in Ohio at the age of 15 with the intention of preparing for basketball season. My entire life changed when I moved to Payson, AZ. My neighbor, Bill, had an incredible physique and helped me get a job at a local gym. I was 95 lbs. when I started training. I learned a lot by working at the gym, being mentored by Bill, and listening to experienced trainers that I was surrounded by every day. At 17, I was involved in a near fatal car accident. My friends and I rolled a 79’ Chevy three and a half times. I wasn’t wearing a seat belt and after being bounced around, came away with a broken hip, femur and head trauma. It was one of those moments in life when you look back and remember not just what happened, but how it felt. I remember after several days the nurses allowed me to get up and I saw myself in the mirror shocked at my appearance, but grateful to be alive.
A few weeks later, I wheeled myself into the gym. Since I had started working there, I had made great friends with many of the members and trainers. They would help me by setting up my weights, racking and unracking them. Without the support of these individuals, I could have never trained like I did being in a wheelchair. I was young and angry. Angry to be starting high school in a new town and livid that I had lost a year and a half of work that I had put into the gym due to the accident. Because of this, I took it all out on the weights. After a 2nd surgery a year later, I was cleared to train legs again. However, I did not dare step on stage yet, feeling that my lower body was out of balance from my upper body. It took me nine grueling years to get my legs to catch up to my upper body. At 26, I stepped on stage for my first bodybuilding show.
From the age of 15-19, I was lucky enough to have my first mentor, Bill. Bill not only advised me with training, but also nutrition and cardio. The first and last time I showed Bill “my” workouts, I was hopping around from machine to machine...calves...back...chest...legs... He stopped me, put his hand on my shoulder, shook his head and said, “No” as if laughing at my youth. From that day forward, he started training me properly and taught me how to eat smart. I carried a cooler of food and gallon jug of water around with me every day in high school. Through the years, I experienced and tested all different training styles and methods to meet my specific needs at that particular time.
Yes, no doubt my firm belief is hard work + consistency + time = results. The most important thing is to make fitness your top priority. We all have priorities in our life. Some we realize and some we don’t. No matter what, when it comes to training, you have to stay consistent with multiple things at once. You have to make the entire package top priority; weights, cardio, nutrition and sleep. For me, there is nothing better than getting up early and hitting the gym. In regards to nutrition, this includes taking the time to prep your food. Also, you can't forget how important it is to get the proper amount of sleep so your body can repair and recover for its next workout.
If you do not have the support of those around you, you must distance yourself from negative people. Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people whose lifestyle is compatible with yours and want to see you succeed. Your mental strength must match your physical strength if you want to have long-term success in this industry.
There is a wide range of music that I listen to and this depends on my mood and my workout. I listen to everything from hip-hop to rock to Christian worship to house music. On certain days, I might need that specific beat to keep my energy up, while on other days it's more about using the emotion I get out of the lyrics to fire my workout. When I need to throw around some iron, my “go to” list includes; Adema, Disturbed, Metallica, Kill Switch Engage, Linkin Park, Three Days Grace and Bullet For My Valentine.
I always think and feel the same things; how bad I want my dreams to come true, how hard I've worked, how far I've come and how many amazing people have helped me along the way. I think and feel of all these things in just an instant! The quote that I remind myself of daily is, “When your will to succeed matches your will to breathe, that's when you know you're on the road to success.”
I prep my food 4-5 days in advance as I'm always running around to auditions and gyms. I carry 4-5 meals ready to go in my six-pack fitness cooler. (Which by the way, if you don't have one you need to get one). Since traffic is always insane in LA, I'm typically out for the day once I leave the house. Having extra food prepped on hand is always a smart move. During show season, I’m sponsored by an outstanding company called Midwestern Meats Fitness based in Mesa, AZ. They weigh and cook all my food and ship it to me in CA. This is an amazing time saver!
What I am proud of first and foremost is being a Christian and my relationship with God. I have been and will always remain hard on myself as it makes me work harder and stay humble. This puts my ego at bay, no matter what happens [great or horrific] in my career. I am proud to be where I am, living in Hollywood pursuing my dreams. I am appreciative of how far I have come and of the many friends I have met in this industry through the years. It makes me feel good when competitors approach me who have read my story about my accident and they tell me that I have inspired them in fitness or even to compete in a show. This is priceless!
I stay under 6% body fat year round. For shows and shoots, I usually come in at 4-5%. I pride myself on staying in shape 24/7/365. Clark Bartram taught me this in the beginning, “Stay in shape all day, every day and you will never miss an opportunity.” There no better feeling than getting a call asking, “Can you shoot tomorrow?” and knowing your conditioning is on point. As time has progressed, I have earned the reputation for always being shoot and show ready year round. I haven’t been above 6% since I turned Pro in 2011. My days of bulking and cutting are long in the past. It's all about being symmetrical, staying lean and healthy and always having your physique ready. I have now reached a size where I can model and compete which was always my goal. I have a lot of respect for the few fitness models and competitors that stay in shape for years on end. I know the struggle. I know how hard it is and that just makes it all the more rewarding.
For cardio, I may do a slow sustained walk usually 20-60 minutes on 5% incline around 3.5mph. Or I will do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). When I do HIIT, I usually do sprints, with a two minute walk followed by an all out sprint for one minute. My total HIIT workout time would be between 15 - 30 minutes. There are times when I break my cardio up into two sessions per day. Currently, as I prepare for John Lindsay's IFBB Pro LA Grand Prix, I am throwing in morning fasting cardio. Since cardio can be tedious and boring, lately I have enjoyed doing my sessions outside whether at the beach, Santa Monica stairs, or Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood hills.
I am very instinctive when it comes to training and my workouts are based on how I feel that day. Did I sleep enough? Did I get all my meals in that day? Am I feeling weak or strong? Did I have a stressful day? Is any part of my body injured? My workouts are based in the moment and on the spot. If something feels good, I'll do 4-8 sets of it. Typically, if I do a set or two and it doesn’t feel right I'll move onto the next exercise. I usually train everyday but Sunday. I use the Priority Principle. My legs have always been my main focus to build and keep up since my accident 12 years ago. I always form my workouts around my leg days, always focusing on them a minimum of twice per week. I work my abs and calves five days a week, to various degrees. My training split is hard to duplicate because its set-up for my body with my goals in mind. I hit my weakest points first and hardest. For my areas that don’t need much work (like my arms and shoulders) I do them last, when I am at my weakest. My level of cardio depends on my percent of body fat. I stay between 4-6%, 365 days a year. I enjoy testing out different techniques to prep for a show or shoot. After 14 years of experience, I believe your workouts (just like your diet) should be designed specifically for YOUR body. Symmetry is number one in my book so I train accordingly.
My diet is nearly the same year round. I am always in peak condition so I keep the moderation low, but consistent all year. I start my day off with carbs (typically steel cut oats). After mid-morning, I switch over to fat sources with my protein. I eat four ounces of protein every 2.5 hours and usually a cup of greens with each meal. A clean, consistent diet and manageable cardio and boom...Peak conditioning is here!
Oh snap! Well, I have read, trained and duplicated Frank Zane's every diet and training regimen. Symmetry, symmetry, symmetry! If this were a draft, he'd be my number one pick since the age of 15. High on my list of fitness models, I'd have to start with Clark Bartram for his positive mentoring and ageless physique in the fitness industry. Another favorite would be James Ellis for his unstoppable work ethic and positive actions in our Christian community. The multi-talented Rachel Elizabeth Murray for her dedication to her “Cause Fitness”. Next on my list is Alison Burgess. Obviously, because of her amazing body, but what really impresses me is what she does off stage and the positive influence that she has on women with eating disorders. Last, but not least, Paige Hathaway, another fitness model known for her modelesque looks and mind blowing body but her off stage positive attitude and humility towards others impresses me most.
We all get a little wiser with age. I take very few supplements. To me, it's all in the nutrition. Most of the time, I'm a food over supplement kind of guy. When I do take supplements, I stick with the basics; a solid multi-vitamin, a clean protein, BCAA's and kava at night to relax. If I need a boost, I’ll drink a small black coffee prior to a workout. If you are going to take supplements, you need to research the company and their products to ensure you are getting the highest quality for your money.
Matt Christianer IFBB Pro
Year of birth: 1983, Weight: 165 lbs, Height: 5’9’’