Author Lee Penman interviews Michael Anthony Charles
At age 25 and with 11 shows under his belt (the last being the 2015 NPC Eastern USA where he placed 3rd in the LHW class) there really does look to be no stopping Michael Anthony Charles!
With this years Eastern USA’s less than two weeks away I caught up with Michael – who I have seen improve immeasurably over the years – to find out a little more about this future Pro – yes I said it and you can quote me on that!
Can you tell us a bit about how you initially got into bodybuilding? I know your father Anthony competes...
“My dad does compete but he actually began competing after me. What initially got me started was high school football. We were required to attend the weight room during the winter and summer months, and we focused on the big three lifts; bench press, dead lift, and squats. The top three lifters in each movement would get their name posted in the weight room, and would also receive custom shorts and shirts. I was one of the smaller guys on the team at 140-145 lbs but was one of the strongest having the top three lifts in all of the categories. While training someone told me about Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman. I went home that evening and looked him up on You Tube and said to myself, ‘I want to do this.’ That was in 2007…I joined the gym and never looked back.”
You have made a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time. I recall a couple of pics where you compared yourself at 159 lbs in 2010 to 193 lbs in 2014. Apart from great genetics what do you attribute this to?
“I would attribute my progress mainly to consistency. I have taken weight training seriously for 9 years. I know often times people want to compete and fresh out the gate they want to do a 12 or 16 week prep but have not really done anything before. For some this may work but I would say not for the majority. For myself this is not a one time and done thing. This upcoming competition for me (The Easterns) will be my 11th show.”
Your metabolism is also freaky (reminding me of Juan Morel) I believe right now 2 weeks out from The Easterns you are on 300g carbs a day! Not many people could get away with that!
“Yes!!!!! This is difficult to deal with at times. Many people probably would not believe how much food someone at my weight can put away and that is just to maintain weight. I am what people would call a, “hard gainer”. As stated previously I graduated high school at about 145-150 lbs and will now walk around in the offseason at about 225 lbs. Even during “prep” or “dieting” I put food away. At this point about 2 weeks out I am eating between 3,500 - 4,000 calories. On my re-feed days the food may get up to 7,000 - 8,000 calories. One thing I must say is food is fuel, therefore I have also noticed that I am able to train harder, maintain my strength even during prep, train with a decent amount of volume, and also attack cardio with this amount of food. Even though the food seems high, I am still extremely hungry because I am utilizing it.”
I understand that you are also keeping an eye on your career outside of bodybuilding and going to school. What exactly are your plans in that direction?
“Currently I am getting my Masters Degree in Adolescent Special Education. As far as work I am a substitute teacher.”
I see you also have a pretty tough coach….I have seen some of your training videos (one ‘memorable’ one featured Michael throwing up into a trash can in the gym!)
“Yes! Phil (Viz) is different, he is not concerned with the amount of weight you move whatsoever. All he cares about is using the targeted muscle, making sure you are activating what is supposed to be activated, and the tension placed on the muscle. I have been working with him for two and a half years and it took some time adjusting to some of his ideas but when I opened up and tried them I have to say they work!.”
For those interested in details what is your normal workout schedule?
For this prep this is the routine I follow:
Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Chest and Triceps
Wednesday - Back
Thursday - Shoulders and Biceps
Friday - Legs
Saturday - Back
Sunday - Off
I also do cardio 6 days a week first thing in the morning.
Are you a fan of any particular supplements pre and post workout?
“This may sound horrible, but honestly I am not. Many of the pre workout supplements out there label the right ingredients but rarely at effective dosages. Many companies have also been caught not meeting their claims. Many of the reasons people LOVE pre workouts is because they are loaded with stimulants such as caffeine and 1,3. If that’s what you want go for it! As far as other sports supplements such as protein, I just do not see the need when you can get it from whole foods. I rather eat my food than drink it.”
What I love about your videos from the gym is your strict form…you don’t often see that from someone handling the kind of weights I have seen you do (feel free to boast about your weights lol)
“I have always been fairly strong but my form has developed and improved over time. With Phil I have also learned to focus more on feeling what I am working rather than just moving. My biggest goal when training now is control, feel, and creating tension and pain. Often times I do not even count reps because I am more focused on the feeling.”
Some of my l best lifts:
Flat bench press 315 x 24
Incline bench press 315 x 17
Flat bench press 405 x 10
Incline 405 x 6
Dead lift 495 x 12
Squat 495 x 10
Dumbbell shoulder press 150’s x 6
Barbell lunges with 225
Dumbbell lunges with 100 lb dumbbells
I also noticed a Facebook post where you said “Experience is making mistakes and learning from them”…what would you say those mistakes were thus far?
“Oh man! I have made many mistakes in my life! All I can say is we only have control of ourselves, our actions, and the way we choose to react to things. We should do our best to not judge others because we have made our own mistakes too.”
So with only a couple of months left in this year what are your plans for the immediate future?
“Well in two weeks, November 5th, I will be competing at the Eastern USA. Depending on how I do there I will make a decision on what I would like to do next. I’ll finish another semester of my Masters in December, leaving me with only 3 classes left which is pretty exciting.”
At the time of writing this Michael is weighing in at 205lbs and is going to be very hard to beat in Teaneck on November 5th. You can follow him and his workouts on Facebook (Michael Anthony Charles) and on Instagram: @michael_ar_charles .
Finally in closing I have to compliment Michael on his, not just dedicated and level headed approach to the sport but his focus on building a career beyond his competitive days!