Man Or Machine: Natural Bodybuilder Aaron Curtis Talks With [Updated 2011]

How did you get started with bodybuilding?

Started training at home when I was around 14 years old, just with body weight exercises and a pair of dumbbells that a friend of the family gave me. Since then I just got progressively, more and more serious about my training and now here I am.

Photography Credit: Charles Lowthian Studio

Where does your motivation come from?

My motivation comes from wanting to be the best natural bodybuilder that I can possibly be and I get enjoyment out of doing the things, I know I have to do, to get me there.

Aaron Curtis – Chest/Biceps Training

What workout routine has worked best for you?

Probably a 5 day split. But I have almost always been on a 4 day split, as 5 days a week tends to flare up my tricep tendonitis. My training is based around progressive overload and training to failure. I tend to do lower overall volume and train each body part once a week.

I focus on full range of motion on all exercises, no use of momentum and holding the peak contraction on applicable exercises whilst emphasizing the stretch on others. Rep range are 6-15. 6-12 more so on upper body compound, 8-15 on upper body isolation, 8-15 on quads/calves, 6-12 on hamstrings.

In the offseason, I do 1 work set per exercise, that set will include, one or more of; forced reps, negatives, drop set, super sets or rest/pause. Later on in my comp prep (when my strength diminishes) I will add in multiple sets, as I can no longer overload my body with one heavy set.

Sample Routine:

  • Monday: Shoulders/Calves
  • Tuesday: Back/Rear Delt
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Triceps/Biceps
  • Friday: Quads/Hams
  • Saturday: Chest/Abs
  • Sunday: Rest

Example of some recent workouts. Recently changed to a 5 day split, up from a 4 day. Will continue on a 5 day split until triceps tendonitis starts to flare up, then change back to a 4 day split, where biceps are trained after chest and triceps after shoulders. Calves and/or abs will then be hit on a ‘rest day’.

Monday: Shoulders/Calves

  • Seated Military Press 80 x 9
  • Hammer Strength Shoulder Press 50/side x 9
  • Lateral Raise (seated) 15 x 11
  • Lateral Raise (cable) 20 x 12
  • Shrug (barbell) 170 x 11
  • 3 x Tri Set (front/side/rear raises) 12.5 x 12/12/12
  • Calf Raise (standing) 180 x 10
  • Calf Press (leg press) 190 x 9

Tuesday: Back/Rear Delts

  • Chins (shoulder width, neutral grip) 30 x 8
  • Pulldowns (wide, pronated grip) 90 x 8
  • Barbell Row 110 x 10
  • Hammer Strength Low Row 60/side x 10
  • Rear Delt Cable Fly 20 x 10
  • Deadlift 170 x 8
  • Pullover (standing, with high pulley) 20 x 8-12 (lots of sets, very short rests)

Wednesday: Rest

  • Recovery

Thursday: Triceps/Biceps

  • Close Grip Bench 115 x 7
  • Dips (parallel Bars) 35 x 7
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks 12.5 x 15
  • Overhead Behind The Neck Close Grip Press 35 x 10-15 (lots of sets, very short rests)
  • Barbell Curl 65 x 9
  • Dumbbell Incline Curl 22.5 x 10
  • Reverse Grip Cable Curls 35 x 8
  • Front Double Bicep Cable Curls 20 x 10-15 (lots of sets, very short rests)

Friday: Quads/Hams

  • Squats 140 x 10
  • Leg Press (45deg) 340 x 10
  • Lunges (walking) 80 x 12/12
  • Seated Leg Curl 90 x 8
  • Straight Leg Deadlift 110 x 9
  • Lying Leg Curl 30 x 8-15 (lots of sets, very short rests)

Saturday: Chest/Abs

  • Barbell Bench 130 x 8
  • Barbell Incline 100 x 8
  • Hammer Strength Incline Press 50/side x 9
  • Decline Fly 27.5 x 8
  • Hanging Leg Raise 0 x 10-15 (*Super Set)
  • Ab Wheel Roll Out (on knees) x 10-20

Sunday: Rest

  • Recovery

Aaron Curtis Leg Day

What is your diet like?

Clean. I have to eat more calories than most people, currently bulking on 5400cals and I think my last comp prep only got down to around 3500. I eat all my carbs at breakfast/pre training/post training, other meals are more fats/proteins. I like the Paleolithic diet for general health, but as a bodybuilder, I also include a lot of starchy carbs around my training and grains at breakfast.

Current Bulking Diet:

  • Meal 1: 2 cups muesli, 333g low fat plain yogurt, 166g cottage cheese, 1 apple.
  • Meal 2: 250g kangaroo mince, 2 lettuce leaves, 1/6 avocado, 1/2 tomato, 1 celery stick,1 small mushroom, nuts, seeds, apple cidar vinegar, 30ml flax oil.
  • Meal 3: (Pre Workout) 2 cups brown rice (cooked), 270g tuna, lemon juice, sweet chili sauce, 1 banana.
  • Pre Training Shake: 15g whey, 5g BCAA, 20g dextrose.
  • Intra Training Shake: 5g BCAA, 20g dextrose.
  • Post Training Shake: 30g whey, 5g BCAA, and 40g dextrose.
  • Meal 4: (Post Workout) 200-250g chicken breast, 300-400g potatoes, salt and pepper.
  • Meal 5: UPS Pro Form (Meal Replacement).
  • Meal 6: 250-300 steak/chops, steamed veg/salad.
  • Meal 7: 4 eggs, 1/6 avocado, 90g tuna, 30ml olive oil, salt and pepper.

P400, C500, F200. 5400cals.

When trying to cut down do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?

LISS over HIIT. I tried both during different comp preps. Personally I felt doing HIIT put too much stress on my body at a time when it was already under too much stress.

What is your supplementation like?

Very basic:

  • Whey
  • Dextrose
  • Creatine
  • BCAAs

I will try other things from time to time, but nothing other than the above on a consistent basis.

Favorite Bodybuilders?

Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dorian Yates, Flex Wheeler, Frank Zane, Kai Green, Evan Centopani.

Favorite Quote?

Success is the accumulation of many seemingly ordinary efforts, that together over time, can be something great. Every meal, every training session, every nights rest, it all adds up.

Personal Training: