Classic bodybuilder Austin Williams has already achieved more than most: he's won numerous contests, placed in the top three at the last five British Championships, competed abroad multiple times and met Arnold so often the Terminator knows his name.
But there is one thing he still covets more than anything - the British title. Here he discusses the incredible lengths he goes to in pursuit of his dream.
CONTEST WEIGHT: 84.5 kg
BEST CONTEST RESULT: There are so many wins that have meant so much, but finally cracking the Top 5 in America at the Arnold Classic after years of trying will stay with me.
AMBITION: To finally be British champion
How did you get into bodybuilding?
From the age of 13 I used to go to my rifle shooting club and the guy said I looked like Arnold. He showed me a cover of FLEX with Arnold on it and introduced me to the gym. Since that day I cannot remember my life without training and bodybuilding in it. When I moved to Yorkshire nine years ago my friend Dave Steca encouraged me to have a go at Mr Harrogate. After winning that the rest is history.
Why do you prefer classic bodybuilding?
Classic bodybuilding best fits what I am trying to portray with what I consider the art of bodybuilding. The symmetry and aesthetics of a well-balanced, polished physique should be something any guy who is serious about training wants to achieve. It stemmed from reading FLEX growing up and wanting to achieve a physique like Arnold or Frank Zane although with all the years that have passed keeping the weight down has become very difficult as the maximum I can weigh on stage for my height is 84.5 kg. You can always guarantee I will be shredded to the bone at that weight.
What would it mean to become British champion?
It would mean the world to me. It has been the focus of everything over the last six years. The first British finals I competed at were in Harrogate in 2013 and I managed third. In the years that have followed I have been second twice and third twice so you can imagine how much I want this coming so close year after year. I know it is in me to win and it means more and more to me. My nanna was one of my biggest supporters and she believed in me when others may have not. I made her a promise before she died that I would win, she hung in there till I did the 2014 British finals waiting to hear from me. But she is still my drive and determination to succeed.
Tell us about your encounters with Arnold
After eight Arnold Classics, Arnold has got to know me on a first name basis and each year comes over to shake my hand and have a photo while congratulating me on my conditioning. It is still very surreal when I think back to seeing him on the cover of FLEX, my dad renting Conan the Barbarian from the video shop and reading all of his books and watching all of his movies. He became an idol and a role model to me and I dreamt of the day I could meet him. The 2014 Arnold Classic was the first time I had been to America and it was all thanks to the UKBFF. I remember walking from the hotel to the conference centre with Pat Warner and when Arnold was walking towards us nothing was going to stop me, not even the armed security, and it was the icing on the cake that made my first trip to America something special.
You're known for your determined approach – give us an example of the lengths you go to to get in shape?
Anyone that has trained with me will know how much I love the gym and my training. It has become my life. I train seven days a week, 365 days a year! Christmas day I do a double split in my shed at home down south where I have my gym. This works off my dinner! I honestly do not stop and sometimes other aspects of life pass me by. I live alone, I often train alone and I push myself every single day in pursuit of my goal. I have never drunk alcohol and I don’t go out like a lot of my friends do but that is my choice and I am invested in me and my ambition. I knew I was always different but I love what I do and remain determined.
Describe a typical week's split
Monday: Chest and triceps / abs
Tuesday: Back and biceps / abs
Wednesday: Legs / abs
Thursday: Shoulders and traps / abs
Friday: Arms / abs
Saturday: Chest and back / abs
Sunday: Legs / abs
Why do you train abs every day?
I do a quick 5 to 10 minutes each day at the end of my workout. Just like cardio, it's a daily part of my routine.
Training partner – good or bad?
A training partner can be a great thing especially if you are starting out or find you have a lack of motivation. I would say learn to become self-sufficient because over all the years I have done this I have never found someone to match my drive, which leads to being let down. Rely on you, remember your goals are not always other people's goals.
How do you get such an impressive chest?
I was always impressed by Arnold's chest and the depth he built. It has always been in the forefront of my mind to be strong and I always aim to lift big weights when it comes to bench press or dumbbells. However, it has taken years of persistence and realising what angles the chest needs to be worked at. I love doing decline bench. It has made a difference over the years, along with a range of heavy cable contractions and flyes.
How often do you have cheat meals?
I am on diet all year round due to the number of shows I do and to keep my weight manageable, as this can balloon very quickly if I get carried away with the treats. You do have to be strict, otherwise I couldn’t bring the level of conditioning to the stage but every now and then I will have what I want.
Most effective form of cardio?
Everybody is different and cardio needs to be adjusted according to what condition a person is in. For my 20 years of taekwondo, high intensity cardio worked best to keep my cardiovascular system on point so I could fight five-minute rounds no problem. However, now steady-state cardio works best for me to chip away at body fat, especially fasted cardio in the morning. I have been known to rack up to eight hours of cardio a day. After a few months of this my feet begin to fall apart so I switch to cycling.