Martin Daniels - WNBF Heavyweight Champion

Written & Interviewed by Alberto Nunez

In 2008 a juggernaut of a man made a lasting impression in the WNBF Pro ranks by winning his first pro show and then shaking things up at the Worlds with a 3rd place debut. The heavy weight division in itself is quite the site to behold, so when a competitor sticks out this prominently amongst the biggest of the elite, it’s a mind boggling thing! At this level it is supposed to be a game of inches, but then again Usain Bolt should not be able to do what he does either. Like Usain, Martin makes it look so easy!

The truth is that champions make it look easy, but they never take the easy way out. Unlike most of us, Martin Daniels has a little bit more than a 9 to 5 to deal with, but he refuses to be outworked and doesn’t take any of his gifts for granted. All of his symmetry and unbelievable muscle bellies aside, this is why Daniels will have a few World Championships under his belt when it’s all said and done.

3DMJ: First of all dude you are freaking huge! Not really a question just had to state the really obvious. Anyway, how did you get started in bodybuilding? Did this branch out from other athletic endeavors? Was the potential you had for this sport something that was obvious very early on?

MD: I always loved working out! I used to hit the gym at 5am on Fort Jackson, go to class, then work, and then back to the gym again. That was after high school. No one told me to go or asked why I was going. It was just my thing. I could have competed as a teenager, but I didn’t know anything about it. At the encouragement of a family friend, I did my first competition: The 1992 Capitol City novice division in SC.  I won my first three shows (first and overall) that year. To say I was bit by the bug would be putting it mildly.

3DMJ: It is very hard to think you went under the radar for so long. Tell us a bit about your first show, and what that was like? What inspired you to compete? Did you catch the bug right away?

MD: My first show Porter Cottrell guest posed! I thought I had legs till I saw a pro in person. I remember thinking, “I hope he’s not in my class”. My music didn’t work, so I posed to the clapping of the crowd, on beat, I was nervous as hell. I was thinking “I’m in front of all these people in my drawls with baby oil dripping all over my ass with no music and no tanner!”

3DMJ: Obviously you know a thing or two about putting on muscle? What do you feel has worked the best for you over the years?

MD: I didn’t use any supplements until 1996. Creatine was my first one. Almost was my last one. The first time I used creatine, I read the back and it said take 5g a day for a week. I translated this as ALL at one time. So yes, I took 25g of pure monohydrate creatine at one shot in grape juice. I thought this was the Holy Grail. That day I went from 315lbs on the decline with 6 reps, to 12 with a pump like I had never seen! “Holy shit, it’s legal juice” I thought. After about 45 mins of training, the effects of that large amount started to take its toll. I got nauseous and my face and head got swollen three times larger and I had to drink ginger ale to settle my stomach. I slept in the gym until mid-night, I was out! It scared the shit out of me. I was scared of everything after that. I eventually went back to creatine and haven’t stopped taking it since, in some form or fashion.

3DMJ: What is your diet like both offseason and when it comes time to get ready for a show?

MD: I keep my diet simple with a breakdown of 70%protein/20%carbs and 10%fats. On or off season I eat mostly beef, chicken, and fish as protein sources. While dieting I use a similar breakdown. I cycle my carbs for intense training days. My carb sources consist of sweet/white potato, rice and salads.

3DMJ: As far as supplementation goes, what are your staple supplements?

MD: Creatine, whey protein, glutamine, casein protein, bcaa, hydroxycut, and some type of pre workout supplement (n/o explode or super pump250).

3DMJ: Something many of the fans out there don’t know is that you spent plenty of time overseas, protecting our country, even while prepping! What is the balancing act like? What does one of your days typically look like?

MD: 12 hour days 7 days a week, 84 hour work weeks. NO days off! Training is my day off and I make the best of it. 

3DMJ: All talent aside, it takes tons of dedication, desire, and discipline to be a champion, what keeps Martin Daniels “hungry”? All pre-contest dieting aside of course.

MD: Here’s dedication for your ass: I’m 39 years old and my mom (and #1 fan) has been on her first and only job for 38 years.  She’s never missed a football game, competition or magazine article of mine.

I’m a fierce competitor. I train like every workout is the last workout of my life. It’s something internal that drives me to be the best I can. I will not do a show unless I think I will win it ALL. It’s hard to explain what drives me. I train with a grudge and a chip on my shoulder. Maybe I need to see Dr. Phil! My discipline no doubt comes from my mom; she still has her baby-boy in check!  Hi mom!

3DMJ: Seriously you are freaking huge! I recall seeing you for the first time at my pro debut, and I was simply in awe, at that point I figured I had seen all the extremes natural bodybuilding had to offer. I recall my friend Eric Helms (and fellow 3DMJ coach, and writer) talking to Robert Peacock backstage about how much accusations he must get about being enhanced, to which he replies…”You should see Martin Daniels!” How often do you get people who question your natural status, how do you handle this, and what motivates you to compete naturally?

MD: They never question it when I’m around! It’s usually in my absence, ha ha ha ha ha!  Seriously, it pisses me off, motivates me, and makes me feel damn good ALL at the same time! Now that’s a good workout day. I have to admit to myself that if I walk in a gym and saw me, I would think the same. People don’t understand that I have 20 plus years in the game. My homework is done. Just some fine tuning here and there. I can’t see it any other way but to be natural. I’m 39, it’s too late in the game to think about going the other direction.

3DMJ: As far as some of the weights you throw around in the weight room, I am sure gravity is getting pretty annoyed with you by now. Give us a mental complex, what are some of your best lifts?

MD: 620lbs squat for 1 at a police Olympics in 2004 w/ no lift suit; 315/8x front squats; 540x6 hacks; 225lbs barbell walking lunges; 275lbsx6 bent rows; 315x6 incline barbell press; I LOVE DUMBELLS PRESSES!!!! 150’sx8-12 on incline, decline, and flats; 75lbsx8 dumbbell curls; 135lbsx8 barbell curls.

3DMJ: Speaking of pressure, many have touted you the next big thing in the WNBF, including myself when I wrote my season preview earlier this year. What do you think are the biggest keys to you taking the whole thing this year?

MD: More detail in my hams and glutes, coming in HARDER and DRYER, and staying leaner year round.

3DMJ: Aside from other people’s expectations, what are your goals when it comes to bodybuilding, especially over the long haul?

MD: To come in better and better and spread the NATURAL way!

3DMJ: How do you want Martin Daniels the bodybuilder to be remembered?

MD: As the best natural heavy weight who was approachable and kept it classy and professional.

3DMJ: How has this offseason been so far? What have you done differently from other seasons? What should we expect?

MD: You can expect a more entertaining posing routine. I’ve done all narrow stance leg work for better detail in the sweep of my quads, and I’ve done some type of ham and glute work every other day in the gym. I will also have more detail everywhere else.

3DMJ: You have some leg development that is simply like no other. Take us through a typical leg workout.

MD: Psychotic! It’s never the same. I do crazy things like 100lb dumbbell walking lunges tri setted with power jumps and then 1 minute of leg extensions.  Or, 7x7 leg extensions, 3 sets of front squats followed by 3 sets of back squats. Another example is hacks or leg presses (I alternate these workout to workout) and lunges to failure.

3DMJ: Surely you know a thing or two about the balancing act that this sport demands. What advice would you give to young bodybuilders about the importance of balance? As well as any other tidbits of knowledge you have picked up along the way?

MD: Patience, Patience, there’s no overnight success. If you don’t eat, you don’t grow, it’s just that simple. Heavy training day in and day out will kill your joints. Cycle your heavy and light training days. You build a house from bottom to the top. The same applies to bodybuilders. Hit those quads, because someone like me will remind you!

3DMJ: On behalf of all of us here at 3DMJ we would like to thank you for your time.

MD: Best of luck this year. Thanks bro, I thank you. It’s always an honor to be recognized.

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