Teen Amateur Of The Week: Big Time Benchmarks

Bench pressing was an outlet for Matthew. He started lifting for strength, then for size. At age 18, he benches 335 pounds and plans to keep growing to the top of the NPC and beyond!

How Did Your Fitness Journey Begin?

It all started when I was 12 years old. I was always a really scrawny and very weak kid, but I was competitive in sports. I remember looking at myself in the mirror one day and noticed that my waist was wider than my chest. The day after, I decided to start bench pressing with my buddy. When I first benched, I was 12 years old, 5-foot-5, and 125 pounds. Obviously, I wasn't strong. If I remember right, I could only do 110 pounds for one rep. Even though I was really weak, I loved benching with my friend in his basement.

I kept benching and started incorporating bicep curls and shoulder press. I got stronger, and by age 13 I weighed 135 pounds and could bench 175 pounds. I liked the results and stuck with it. At age 14, I added squats and leg press to my workout for basketball. I wanted to gain some leg power and speed. I weighed 140 pounds at this time and benched 210 pounds. I wasn't gaining much muscle, but I was fine with the strength increases.

I decided to start a four-day workout plan—an alternation of pushing and pulling days. My pushing days consisted of bench press, squats, shoulder press, biceps curls, push-ups, and abs. My pulling days included wide-grip lat pull-downs, close-grip pull-downs, deadlift, pull-ups, and abs. I didn't understand the recovery process back then and performed push-ups every night to get my bench press up. As a freshman in high school, I did 110 push-ups in a row.

As a sophomore in high school, I weighed about 150 pounds, could do 140 push-ups in a row, and benched 245 pounds. I loved being strong, but still had a hard time gaining muscle. I never knew that food and recovery time existed. I needed to do something to gain muscle.

It hit me during my junior year. I was one of the strongest kids in my grade and remember watching the bigger kids work out at a gym near my house. I never knew a gym could make such a difference. My basement was the only gym I knew. I got a membership at the gym and saw changes immediately. The third day I was there, I asked the manager how to build muscle and he told me to visit Bodybuilding.com. I learned to eat more food during the right times and to eat more overall.

By age 17, I was 175 pounds with eight percent body fat and could bench press 305 pounds. I started working separate muscle groups to speed recovery. Training, diet, and consistency was key to my success. I started supplementing soon after and gained an edge in muscle size and strength. At age 18, bodybuilding was my passion. I competed for the first time a few months ago as an 18-year-old weighing 170 pounds with four percent body fat.

Now I'm in a growing phase and currently weigh 185 pounds. I can bench press 335 pound, deadlift 485 pounds, and squat nearly 400 pounds. I plan to compete again in March at an NPC show.

How Did Your Passion for Fitness Emerge?

I was never a good team player at basketball. When I discovered bodybuilding, I found that you get all the credit for what you put in. I love this sport so much that I don't need motivation anymore. I know what I have to do and get it done no matter what.

What/Who Motivated You to Be a Fitness Guru?

My buddy I started bench pressing with, Anthony Brilla. He's a powerlifter and holds records for 15-year-olds throughout the nation. If he wasn't my best friend and didn't show me how to bench press, then I probably wouldn't be where I am today.

I would also like to thank my parents. If they wouldn't have been there for me during dieting and preparation, I would not have been able to compete.

Where Did You Go for Inspiration?

If I needed it, I went to Bodybuilding.com, Simplyshredded.com, YouTube to watch other people blast out some lifts, or read forums.

What Are Your Future Fitness Plans?

I'm going to keep competing and my goal is to get a pro card in physique by the age 21. I'm currently attending the National Personal Training Institute to become a personal trainer through NASM. I'm going to be in this sport for as long as I possibly can and never fade away from the world of bodybuilding.

What Is the Most Important Fitness Tip?

Always be consistent. Consistency is the key to success in this sport.

Who Is Your Favorite Competitor?

I look up to Steve Cook, Greg Plitt, and Jaco De Bryun because of their aesthetic bodies. They have the ideal body I'm looking for.

How Did Bodybuilding.com Help You Reach Your Goals?

Bodybuilding.com helped me with everything from forums to supplements. It has some of the lowest prices for supplements and some of the best forums for beginners.