Powerbuilder Kaden “Abomination” Vu, age 31, of Albany, New York, has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Science and Head of Security. The 5’8” Vu trains at Bally Total Fitness and Best Fitness – Albany. He carries 270 lbs. in the off season and steps on stage at a weight of 230 lbs. Let’s learn a little more about Kaden “Abomination” Vu!
Q: What’s your definition of a powerbuilder?
A: One whose core power movements are the big three: bench, deadlift, and squat but surrounds those power 3 with isolation exercises to further develop muscle strength and aesthetics... best of both powerlifting and bodybuilding together. Why just be strong when you can also look the part?
Q: What are some of the lifts you are most proud of?
A: Benching 585 weighing at 235 lbs., squatting 675 for a set of 8, deadlifting 725 for a set of 8, and when I was in high school, I cleaned and press 365 lbs. for 3.
Q: What is your favorite movement at this time?
A: This is kind of messed up, but it gives you an idea of how messed my mind is. This movement gives me anxiety, especially the day before I do it all the way up till I start the drive to the gym. As I drive to the gym I start getting panic attacks then finally I enter the gym and get the bar situated on the back of my neck then I feel all the anxiety dissipate slowly and replaced with quiet sadistic thoughts. It's the squat.
Q: What does your current training split look like?
A: I'm training 7 days a week now:
WEDNESDAY: CHEST (FLYES)
THURSDAY: BACK (FIRST PART)
SATURDAY: BACK (SECOND PART)
SUNDAY: CHEST (PRESSES)
Q: What are the three most important movements for people trying to build strength?
A: Well, I would have to go with the power 3: bench, squat, and deadlift.
Q: Strength training, hypertrophy, or both?
A: Both, my core movements are the power 3, but I surround all those movements with isolation movements. I want to look and be strong, hence I'm a powerbuilder not a bodybuilder or powerlifter.
Q: What is the worst competitive experience you’ve had (injury, etc.)?
A: Blowing my back out eight years ago was the worst thing I ever did in training. I was squatting when it happened, last set, last rep kind of thing. I came up with the weight and felt a pop and then burn in my lower back. I immediately racked the weight and fell to the ground… herniated two discs in my lower back. Took me a year before I was even capable of doing 80% of what I was doing prior to injury.
Q: What’s it like working with Chris Aceto? He’s one of my favorite people in this industry, btw. Check out his Facebook if you have the time. I set it up, but he’s contributed pictures. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Aceto/635641089842805?ref=hl
A: I could go on for days talking about how wonderful it is working with THE TECHNICIAN. I started working with him last year and he totally gave me a new perspective to dieting. Up till working with him I believed you have to SUFFER to get the crazy conditioning that was possible to do well.
I was in the best condition of my life and it was the easiest diet I've ever done, he really listened to my body. He would never let me suffer, if I felt off, he would say, "Let's eat up!" and boom, two days later I lose more fat.
His name truly defines him. He works on your body as if it was just a dialed machine, but he'll speak to you in ways that makes you want to be better for him and most importantly for yourself. I never felt so good with how my progress has been and I owe it all to him.
My physique has changed in ways I didn't think was possible because of his mentoring. On top of that, he's one of the most humble people I've met in life. Ask any of the athletes that belong to TEAM ACETO and they'll tell you the same thing. If you're reading, Chris, I hope you know your hands-down the game changer for me.
I also wanted to add one last thing, for all his top guys he works with… I found it amazing he still has time to make sure I'm mentally sound by contacting me while he's working with the top guys at their contests.
Q: You’re a contest promoter as well as an athlete? How did that come about?
A: One of my friends, Richie, was a promoter for NPC here in Albany. He moved away and handed the torch to me. He introduced me to Jim Rockell who was the chairman of upstate New York. Jim gave me a chance and boom, A-NATION CHAMPIONSHIPS (NPC National qualifier) was born. This year our show will be on May 31st at the Performing Arts Center (SUNY AT ALBANY). I'm proud to say I'm keeping the NPC tradition alive in the capital of New York.
Q: What got you started in lifting, and what were your first memorable lifts?
A: Since I can remember, I've always been fascinated with the human body and what it's capable of. We are after all just machines, biological ones but essentially just machines. I've always wanted to push my body to its limits so I started to lift to get stronger and bigger. I wanted to be as strong and as big as I could possibly be.
Q: Did you have a goal from the beginning?
A: No long term goals, it was more of short term goals that I could keep beating over time. Once a long enough time has passed, all those short term goals add up and then you take a step back and realize you created something you never thought was possible.
Q: And did anyone influence you or serve as a mentor?
A: I was only in it to battle myself, no one else. I never had a mentor when it came to lifting, still don't. I battle with my inner demon every time I hit the gym. That's why I think I became so sadistic when doing anything that required me pushing my physical or mental limits.
It's almost like I formed another version of myself in my mind that wouldn't let me quit under any circumstance. They said you're not crazy unless you start answering yourself. I talk to myself all the time but have yet to answer myself. Hopefully I keep it that way. That other self pushes me to the outer edges of my limits and beyond.
Q: What motivates you?
A: My fear of failure. My motivation has always come within. Like I said in the last question, I formed this version of myself in my head that is a better me, that version always forced the current version to work that much harder.
Q: What activities do you do outside of lifting?
A: Lifting is not my life. It is but a part of my life, so I would have to say I do little things that keep me grounded, humble, and happy.
Q: How do you train now?
A: Definitely wiser. I listen to my body and let it tell me what it's capable of because I have learned that my mind is much stronger than my body will ever be. If I could push my body as hard as my mind would let me I would be limitless, but sadly we are just humans.
Q: Were you naturally strong or did you have trouble gaining weight? Any special weight-gaining breakthroughs that really helped?
A: I've always been a pretty strong individual for my size. I did have trouble gaining weight, but I've learned to push myself to a point where gaining weight wasn't an issue anymore. In order to gain weight, I had to eat 8 meals per day. Each meal had solid food but I also added a weight gainer/whey protein shake to each and boom I started to grow.
Q: What kind of advice would you give to beginners who are looking to get bigger and stronger?
A: Only one word, CONSISTENCY. Day in and day out you have to beat your prior versions of yourself. After time has passed you'll look back and see the amazing progress of what being consistent can do.
Q: Anything different for intermediate or advanced lifters?
A: I believe each person has their own progression as they constantly work to be better so time is the key. You need time to learn what your body's limits are. Once you figure that out you can then attack it correctly and further your advancement in lifting or anything in life. I believe working out can be a reflection of you as a person. Will you push through or break when faced with an obstacle?
Q: What about nutrition? How much do you eat, grams of protein per day?
A: It all depends on if I'm prepping for a show or I'm offseason. Offseason I eat about 4,500 calories to maintain a bodyweight of 270 lbs. I usually get in about 1.5-2 grams of protein per pound.
Q: Do you favor solid food over supplements?
A: I used a decent amount of weight gainer and whey during offseason but in prep mode I eat mostly solid food.
Q: And what – if any – supplements would your recommend?
A: Glucosamine and chondroitin, multi-vitamin, protein, weight gainer, and antioxidants.
Q: What does your weekly nutrition, eating or meal plan look like?
A: It all depends on Chris, but right now he mostly has me eating chicken and rice about 8 times a day. Last year, he had me doing beef in a couple of meals, but this year it has changed so it all depends on him. He goes with how my body responds. There's no cookie cutter diet from him.
Q: How much sleep do you get each day?
A: I get about eight hours of sleep a day.
Q: Do you do anything specific for injury prevention or rehab?
A: Yes, if I injure something I immediately back off and let it rest – ice on, ice off method for first two days of injury then heat to keep things circulating to help in recover and repair.
Q: In which weight classes have you competed?
A: Heavyweight class only so far.
Q: What is your overall training philosophy?
A: I use a saying that I live by: “It's war. Each challenge is a battle and after the smoke has cleared, did you just win or did you conquer?”
Q: How long have you been training seriously?
A: Since I was 16.
Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration or mentor in the strength game?
A: I don't have an inspiration or mentor. I only aspire to be better than what I was prior.
Q: What are the contests you are most proud of?
A: Winning the overall at Europa Connecticut.
Q: What is your height and weight now?
A: 5'8" and currently – as of 4/20/2014 – I'm weighing 241 lbs.
Q: Any advice for regular people trying to take their training to the competitive level?
A: Be realistic with what you can do and take your time to get there. Rushing anything will only increase your risk of injury dramatically. Listen to your body and you'll have a long and strong career.
Q: Training partners, yes or no?
A: No training partners, I like to train by myself. I don't like to feel rushed or wait for anyone and I like to do things my way. I've never needed anyone to push me as I have created a sadistic version of self in my head which pushes me when I falter.
Q: Any shout-outs?
A: To my A-NATION FAMILY, Jenaliegh (my girlfriend that has been with me through this whole journey), Eric Dwyer (my best friend who been through thick and thin with me), and lastly to my friend Shawn Casey, may you rest in peace.
Please check out my website for the 2014 A-NATION CHAMPIONSHIPS, there are two highlight videos on there that people love to watch to motivate themselves into getting ready to step on stage. I also want to thank Curt James for giving me a platform to express my thoughts.
Q: How can people contact you (email, social media, etc.)?
A: FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/kadenabominationvu
FACEBOOK for ANATION: www.facebook.com/anationnpc
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview, Kaden!