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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

Bodyspace: http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/iron_curtis/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skinnyaaroncurtis


Written, Filmed and Produced by Miguel Valenzuela

  • Music by

The Ludovico Technique http://www.fb.com/theludovicotechnique
Die Sektor http://www.fb.com/pages/Die-Sektor-Official

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  1. Jackson says:

    Well done big fella! Great episode

  2. tim says:


  3. Mike says:

    Awesome video. He has an amazing physique. Very motivating.

  4. Kieran says:

    Interesting sleep pattern haha. Great interview & motivating episode!

    <3 Curtis

  5. Ricky says:

    The interviewer’s voice is just incredible. But yeah, incredible physique.

  6. Beatnik says:

    Time is still very much on your side, I am 56 and I still get stronger, I still get my gains, it’s a little harder with both hips being titanium but still there in the gym lifting with 28 year olds. Good luck kid, you look amazing and thanks again to Miguel for your work in bring this to us.

  7. Alan says:

    Great vídeos tbh, have not seen them until recently and I have to say they they are spot on, they definitely get the message trough (inspiring, motivating).
    And particularly this one talking about the reality when it comes to time span, it takes years of intense and smart training-dieting to achieve that kind of body.
    Congratulations to Aaron and Simplyshredded!!

  8. Rus says:

    Sick Quad sweep!!!

  9. Jan says:

    Dig These Videos! Really Motivating.
    Natural All The Way!!

  10. Justin S. says:

    Amazing physique. Glad to see him rep’n natural bodybuilding! Way to go bud!!

  11. Cliff says:

    Why the sleep schedule?

  12. Titt says:

    I got one simple Question. Why are there organisations / competitions for natural Bodybuilders ? How can you be 100% sure if someone has been natural for hs whole life. And those pro-bodybuilders at mr.O also claim that they are natural !? I´m confused

  13. Stewie says:

    Here’s one simple answer: For natural bodybuilders

  14. Houssayni Oussama says:

    Great Physique !!!! Unique Body , Nice Symmetry and size !!

    Carry On Brah , You’re an inspiration

  15. Adrian8020 says:

    @Titt If you want to compete naturally I think you have to have been drug free for at least two years.

    I doubt any Olympia competitor has claimed they are natural for quite some time.

    @ Aaron: Sucks about the ban, The guy that won the novice division I competed in 2011 copped the same thing for one of his sponsors pre workout supps.

  16. Holly says:

    @Cliff: Looks like his sleep is scheduled that way because he wakes up early to train clients in the early morning. A natural bodybuilder needs more than just 4-5 hours of sleep to achieve anything great. Growth happens when you’re sleeping, so the more he can get, the better!

  17. D says:

    @Titt @Adrian8020 – Most organizations actually require seven years drug free. Top natural organizations are PNBA, WNBF, and IFPA. There are a few people who compete in the IFBB who claim to be natural, but I don’ think any are good enough to make Mr. O. Jeff Willet has an IFBB pro card but admitted to taking pro hormones. Shaun Clarida is a WNBF pro turned IFBB pro. I believe he mentioned he is still natural. There are guys who will cheat in natural shows, but I believe that the overwhelming majority of guys are clean. Plus there is really no monetary benefit in natural bodybuilding so I don’t see the point to cheat in the first place.

  18. FitOverFat says:

    Sick video man! Loved it.

  19. Daave says:

    Was he interviewed by the Joker? That guy’s a weapon.

  20. Dirk says:

    Awesome video! I love it! Does anyone know the name of the song? I would love to add it to my workout playlist!

  21. prasad says:

    Why do you need to progress?… when you already are the ultimate.

    May be interms of size compared to the non-naturals….but interms of aesthetics…I think you are up there at the top….

  22. Jeff says:

    such a legend

  23. anon says:

    When they test you for drugs do they test the recreational drugs too?

  24. Ralph says:

    Damn it looks like his heart’s about to beat out of his chest

  25. Sambo says:

    Well done!… He’s out look on it all is spot on, that is the best way you can be I believe. Training and competing to better what you looked like previous is F**King wicked!.
    Once you hit that zone no one can stop you.
    Thanks for the motivation, just what I was looking for :)

    All the best bud!.

  26. Aaron Curtis says:

    @Cliff, the 2 x 4hr sleeps are due to my work timetable. Work early and late.

    @Anon, yes they test for performance enhancing and recreational drugs.

  27. SomeGuy says:


    Do you still follow a progressive overload training routine when cutting?

  28. Nat says:

    damn those quads look like an anatomy chart

  29. Matt says:

    Hey Aaron,
    Great article and video. Really admire your hard work and dedication. Is 3 sets in the 6-12 rep range enough volume to allow for adequate growth? And would 4 sets be better or too much?

  30. Aaron Curtis says:

    @SomeGuy, yes, but I tend to get weak towards the end of my prep, so it is impossible to overload, I still try tho, but I do add in more volume to make up for it.

    @Matt, I tend to favour 1 work set in the offseason, I would only do 3 sets when I am weak just before a comp. Do whatever gets you the best gains, I just like low volume.

  31. Charles says:

    Please keep the videos coming. They are great for motivation.

    Thinking back to when I was 14 and started training, I wish there were videos like this. I have came along way in the last 10 years without juice. This guy knows what it takes. Just Hard Training, Nutrition, and patients.

  32. CTK says:

    This guy activated his quad growth genes with sports as a kid. I have a similarly lower body bias from cycling a lot. Interesting to note for kids looking to get into lifting.

  33. Ian says:

    Aaron, complete respect for your work ethic, and staying natural. This article and your journey should be reminded to teens around the country to avoid steroids, and what is possible as a natural bodybuilder. Way to represent Melbourne also ! Great article. Also enjoyed reading that you eat Kangaroo, delicious red meat and perfect for BBers.

    Can you please comment on what your maintenance calorific intake is, and for your bulks/cuts, what surplus/deficit you aim for ? Also, your P/C/F ratios please ? 40/30/30 ?

  34. Nick says:

    Hey Aaron, how often do you get on the bike and what stacks do you use? cheers

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