This week's interview is with one of the youngest and brightest stars in all of professional drug-free bodybuilding - Thomas Anderson. At only age 26 Thomas is rapidly establishing himself as one of the toughest competitors on the natural pro circuit, and he has to this point only realized a small portion of his genetic potential. With another 15 lbs of muscle on his incredible frame, Thomas could very easily become nearly unbeatable in years to come!
T: My name is Thomas Anderson and I am a Certified Personal Trainer, Sports Nutritionist, and Natural Professional Bodybuilding Champion. Originally, I am from the great state of Tennessee, from a small town called Ripley. I am currently still living in Tennessee - in Clarksville to be exact - with plans of making my way to a more health conscious environment such as Texas or Florida…whichever God has in store for me. I am currently 26 years old, and a single man. Once I gain a bit more stability in my life, I will consider looking for a relationship.
T: Ever since I was a child, fitness always had a place in my environment, especially due to the fact that both of my parents were in the military. As a teen, I did some working out, but not nearly to the extent of where I am currently. It was more to please our gym teachers and get a passing grade! Once I had made it to college and became more consistent with the training, I began to see my body really take the shape of what a bodybuilder looks like onstage. I did not consider doing any true bodybuilding until I was about three years into my training. I was approached by another individual at the campus gym at the college I was attending, and he asked me if I had done any research on doing any bodybuilding competitions. At this time, I was not familiar with competitive bodybuilding, so I decided to do some looking around online and at least learn about what it is and entails. I started to study the different aspects of the sport and began to gain even more interest. It was at that point that I decided to do a competition, in which I won first place in the Novice Division, and took the Novice Overall as well!
T: At the time when I first began working out, my parents were very supportive of my decision because of the fitness backgrounds that they had during their military careers. They believed in the many benefits that come with regular exercise, and considering the fact that I was just 19 years old at that time; they felt that I was starting at a good age. They felt that the sooner I developed the routine of exercising the better chance I had to stay with it longer. Now that they are older, the level of exercise intensity has gone down somewhat, but the regular workouts continue. Now they just tell me to make sure that I don't get hurt!
T: When I first started working out is when I believe I saw my most muscular growth, simply because my body was not used to that kind of stress. So, of course my body reacted to my workouts accordingly, and by the next year I had gained a solid thirty pounds! My nutrition was also as consistent and disciplined as my training, which was a definite plus. And of course at this time I was natural. As a matter of fact, at this time I had no clue what a pro hormone, steroid or anything like that was! The only products I was familiar with at the time were protein, creatine, and weight gainers. At this point I also did reading about body types and discovered from looking in the mirror that I was considered to be an ectomorph based on how my physique was structured, so that meant that in order for me to gain some noticeable size, my nutrition had to improve. That was when I discovered the protein powders, creatine, and weight gainers that I mentioned before. I figured out what they were for and how to use them, and because I my body was not "familiar" with products like these, it responded almost immediately to the extra supplements I had given it.
T: My serious, consistent training, and eventually bodybuilding, didn't start until I made it to college. At that point, I began reading a lot of muscle magazines to obtain information on exercises and correct eating and supplementation. I began to really understand what these things were about and how they work and affect the body. That was where my interest for the sport really started. I also changed my major in college to follow the Health and Fitness field, and the knowledge that I obtained also proved to be in my favor. The courses gave me an opportunity to not only learn about the body, but how the processes in the body take place in order for an overall reaction to occur. I learned a lot about how food works to supply the body with the specific nutrients it needs to bring about the chemical processes necessary to influence optimal functionality. I ultimately learned about the body not just from a bodybuilding standpoint, but as a living, fully functioning biological machine.
T: Most of the individuals that you see in the magazines are far from being natural athletes. If that were the case, both the natural and the unnatural athletes would have similar muscular builds. It did not take long to realize that these guys that I admired so much were doing or taking something "different" in comparison to what I was doing at that time. Starting out, I was making really good gains from my training, but I found myself wondering if there was something I was doing wrong, because I just could not seem to achieve that look that I was so familiar with seeing in every muscle magazine issue that I read. After a bit of research, it was then when I discovered that the use of illegal drugs was prevalent in the sport of bodybuilding. Ever since I came to understand what a true natural bodybuilder was, I've wanted to represent that, and what an individual can achieve without the use of any performance enhancers. I believe that natural bodybuilding is a much healthier form of competition overall.
T: I started training back in 2004. I did not decide to do any competitions until July 2007, which resulted in Novice Overall victory. I remember being onstage thinking to myself that this is just like practicing my routine back home. That provided me with the confidence and the comfort that I needed to have a good performance. I practiced my mandatory poses and my routine for five months before the show, so by the time I had to do the routine, it was just like practicing back home. It was strange, because even though I had put so much time and effort into having a good performance, the fact that it was my first time ever being onstage really made me nervous! I still get nervous to this day, it's just not as noticeable as it was back then. Knowing in my mind that I landed my poses correctly and nailed my routine is when I believe my love for the sport began. I still love it today just as much as I did back then, whether I win or lose. The night I turned pro was a very emotional one. It was September 2007. I remember being backstage after winning my class and seeing the winners from the other two divisions. At this time, I only weighed about 159 pounds onstage, and the middle and heavyweight class winners were anywhere from 15-60 pounds heavier than me! I remember standing onstage between these two guys thinking, "Wow, these guys are huge." When they announced my name for the overall title, I remember falling to my knees in shock, because the "little guy" had just beaten the "big guys" for the Open Overall victory! That night, I learned that in this sport, size does not define who wins a competition. It's about how well you present your physique onstage through your training and preparation.
T: My approach to training is to always be willing to incorporate new techniques into the regimen. That way you will be able to discover what works the best for your body. Try to keep variety in your routines so that your workouts do not become boring and stagnant. The body does not like it when you train (editor's note: meaning that the body views it as a "stress"), so it will do whatever it takes to prevent any changes. Thus it is up to you as the lifter to force the change, even though you will surely hurt for it. Recently I have been following the principles of high-intensity training that were brought into existence by Arthur Jones. I have been reading a bit of his material and the science behind his training methods. I am always willing to try new forms of exercise to see if it can produce benefits. The same idea can apply to your diet. As an ectomorph it is rather difficult for me to add a great deal of weight at one time. Since I am looking to gain more muscle, my nutrition has to correspond with that goal, meaning I will have to increase the nutritional intake to allow my body too add that specific amount that I am looking for. Again, this is where the "forcing the change" idea comes into play.
T: Supplements are excellent to add into one's diet and training program. When I am able to, I do use protein powders, creatine, pre workout powders, and weight gainers. These are the products that are sure to work. For natural athletes, the products I just listed are great to use. I wouldn't experiment with the products that affect the hormones, unless you are willing to take the risk. The protein powders will help your body to recover from your workouts. The weight gain powders can serve well after workouts or the perfect meal replacement for individuals who are always on the go and are unable to sit and actually have a meal. Creatine powder serves well for strength gains as well as for recovery purposes.
T: I do enjoy testing to see how strong I have gotten! I have free-weight squatted 600 lbs for twelve repetitions! The leg press is also another favorite. The best I have done so far is 1500 for ten reps, but the goal is to become "Ronnie Coleman Jr." and leg press 2000 lbs.! From the looks of it, I'm not too far off! I also enjoy deadlifting. My best has been 500 lbs for 10 repetitions. I enjoy doing endurance exercises for smaller muscle groups like my arms and shoulders, but every now and then I like to add a heavier set. Another good lift that I have done is a 200 lb barbell bicep curl for about 5 reps. Other than that, I normally keep things between 15-20 repetitions.
T: The natural bodybuilding movement, in my opinion, is not nearly as recognized as it should be. Some of the people that I have spoken to about it in conversation had no clue that it even existed! They would automatically associate bodybuilding, as a whole, with steroid use. It is frustrating sometimes to hear that, and then explain that natural bodybuilding does indeed exist. In the near future, I would love to see natural bodybuilding become just as mainstream as its "bulky, bloated counterpart," if not more so. The biggest way to do that is for the individuals that promote this style of competition to have a voice and speak up/out for what we practice every day. We as natural athletes should be ambassadors for our sport and show others that any kind of fitness/bodybuilding related goals can be reached naturally.
T: As big a shock this may be, I have always been a big fan of Kai Greene, despite the fact that he is no longer a natural athlete! Ever since Kai introduced himself into the sport, I have always been inspired and motivated by his outlook on life, as well as his mentality when in reference to his training. Based on everything that I have seen and read about his life, we share some similarities. Neither of us came from very good backgrounds and presently don't exactly have the most superb living conditions. But we both have learned to deal with it until the time comes where we can escape our current situations. His talk of positive thinking has much truth in it. When I hear him speak about it, it reminds me of the quote, "I think, therefore I am." If I believe in something long and hard enough, I can, and will, bring it into existence. And when it is applied to something such as bodybuilding, these words hold firm.
T: Thank you for this excellent opportunity to be featured to and share some of my experiences in the sport of bodybuilding! I only plan to do bigger and much better things in the near future and really make my mark in this sport! Thank you!