This is the third article in the Amazing Tall People series.
In this series I interview a wide range of tall people that are embracing their height and not letting it stop them from achieving incredible things.
For this article I had the privilege of interviewing Josh, a 6 foot 10 Australian natural body builder, that is not only strong but has managed to build an incredible physique.
Check out his Instagram page @titan_giant_ to see what I mean – you’ll be blown away.
And now, without further ado, here is my interview with Josh.
Josh, you have an incredible and inspiring physique. Congratulations on your achievement thus far. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself including your height?
Firstly, thank you! It has taken me many years to reach this point.
My name is Josh, I’m 24 years old and a proud Australian! Growing up I quickly knew I would soar above others as I got older (every year I was always the tallest student at school). On both sides of my family, all the males are at least 6 foot tall and I reign as the tallest, standing at 6 foot 10.
I never played team sports growing up but always loved riding around on my bike or swimming. I’ve always had a dream of being a freakishly large human being, not only in height but also in muscularity. Fast forward to the age of 19: I was drinking and partying every weekend, and had huge amounts of lower back problems caused from my job (Auto-motive Electrician) due to a lack of any real muscle.
After a lot of low points in my life struggling with my height, I decided that ignoring the very obvious issues (i.e. lack of any real muscle) was no longer an option. I joined a gym with some mates and as soon as I walked into a gym for the first time I instantly knew this was for me.
At what point, and why, did you decide you wanted to pursue bodybuilding and did you have doubts going into it because of your height?
I had completed my apprenticeships in 2015 and become a tradesman only to be made redundant later that year which hit me quite hard. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself even after gaining another job. I needed something in my life that I could control, something that only I could make or break, something to take pride in!
At this point I had been training at the gym for 3 years already. Fitness was all I thought about, thinking about what I was working out that day consumed me! After many conversations with a local supplement store (that also did bodybuilding preparation diets) I believed it was an easy choice, working with Jamie at Rhino Food Coaching has possibly been one of my best choices ever!
From the get go I knew I would never place 1st, 2nd or 3rd as my greatest asset was also my biggest downfall….. my height.
Have you competed in any / or plan to compete in any body building contests? If so, can you briefly describe which ones.
In 2016 I competed in 2 bodybuilding shows, both local shows and received amazing feedback though I didn’t take out a placing (which I fully expected). With the fire freshly lit from competing I entered 2017 with a plan to take out a place!
Spending the next 8 months dieting, gaining strength, size and having a hunger for that 1st place I was ready to give it all I had for my next show.
I started dieting in April, so I could travel to New Zealand and compete in August for my first show! Let me say what an amazing experience that was! I took out 3rd place against competitors from NZ, India and Korea! Words truly can’t describe how I felt! Upon returning to Australia I had to prepare for another competition in Coffs Harbour (New South Wales) the following weekend, where I went for 3 different categories and walked away with a 3rd, 2nd and 1st – yet another success that drove me for a third contest that was 2 weeks later. I didn’t place at all in that contest but it didn’t bother me in the slightest as I had already achieved all my goals and more.
For 2018 I have no plans to compete in any bodybuilding shows but instead will focus on gaining size.
What / who inspires and motivates you?
Bodybuilders from the 70’s are who inspire me the most. Serge Nubret or Serge Olivia are who I want to eventually emulate proportionally and aesthetically. My biggest drive is for people to stare at me, not only because of my height, but for my shear mass i.e. being a giant muscular monster.
The fact that I have work to do every day, whether it’s an active recovery session, a training day, or just simply eating my planned meals for the day and knowing I am doing the right things helps keep me focused and on track.
At the beginning I was excited and motivated, looking forward to every workout, smiling after every exercise. Now I would call myself disciplined, committed and in a routine. I still get excited when I work out, it still consumes my daily thoughts and dreams but it is more of who I am, it is much the same as eating which has now become a daily habit, something I don’t consciously choose to do but rather do it sub-consciously.
What is your current weight and body fat % and do you remember your starting weight and body fat %?
I’m roughly 10 weeks from my last competition, weighing approximately 100 kg with about a 12% body fat and slowly climbing. I have reached 7.4% body fat at 91 kg. I was around 80 kg at age 19, with no muscle, pot belly and to have a guess would have been around 20%+ body fat.
Do you have a coach, and do you follow a certain training regime (e.g. 5-day body building split, push-pull-legs etc)?
Even in the ‘off season’ where the plan is to gain weight which will help build muscle and strength, I keep in touch with my diet coach to keep within a tolerable amount of bodyfat. I have spent countless days spent reading articles, forums, anecdotal journals, tutorial videos, research training experiments where I have learnt all that I know and implement in my training. I’m currently working out 5 times a week where I bench 2 times, squat 2 times and deadlift 2 times and use a lot off accessory compound movement work, as well as isolation movements. Each workout lasts between 1.5 to 2 hours and a normal week typically looks like:
Mon – competition bench, squat variation and complimenting accessory work.
Tue – competition deadlift, competition squat and complimenting accessory work.
Wed – recovery day – swimming or bike ride.
Thurs – competition bench, variation deadlift and complimenting accessory work.
Fri – hypertrophy legs workout and core strength building.
Sat – recovery day – swimming or bike ride.
Sun – off.
Can you briefly describe a typical workout routine?
Each workout no matter what I train I start with 5 minutes on a rowing machine which I believe is a great way to warm up every joint and muscle in the body followed by some body weight movements like lunges, push ups and pull ups. This is my warm up every training session which usually goes for 15-20 minutes.
Each training session is starting to sway to more of a powerlifting/strength building phase. My workout starts with a main compound movement like bench press, squat or deadlift while implementing a linear progression method. The second movement will complement the first movement (e.g. deadlift then penlay row, barbell bench-press then shoulder press, squat then leg press) this is where I spend most of my time, building volume capacity, technique, size and having fun lifting heavy things.
The rest of the workout will be a few isolation exercises focusing on good contractions to tear the muscle down as much as possible.
Can you briefly describe your typical diet (including number of meals per day, frequency of eating etc).
A typical day with contain 6 meals as I find it easy to spread calories out rather than having huge meals.
Timing isn’t a huge concern at the moment, but I would consume a meal every 3-4 hours.
Most meals consist of lots of fish, rice, sweet potatoes, oats and some red meat.
Do you take / recommend any supplements?
I believe no supplement in 100% necessary but rather they are the cherry on top of a good diet and training program.
I currently use a WPI protein powder and use pre-workout when I’m lacking energy. I also use a turmeric supplement which helps with joints inflammation. I have been using a sleep supplement as I study up until I go to bed and it has been a huge help in helping the brain calm down each night.
Are there any exercises you find harder to perform because you are 6 foot 10 and how do you overcome them?
Deadlifting was my biggest problem!
Early on trying to learn this movement while having lower back issues was not smart of me. It took me a long time to figure out how to position my body so I could remain in proper form and not comprise anything. Deadlifts are now my favourite exercise as I have spent a huge amount of time becoming more proficient at them.
A lot of body weight exercises still remain quite a challenge because of having large body aka a heavier body. Some style of leg press machine doesn’t agree with my hips but this machine is quite easily substituted with other exercises.
Do you focus on mobility/flexibility too? If so, what do you typically do?
I don’t really do much flexibility work (stretching) anymore but I do some mobility work every training session (strengthening end range of motion). I believe having great flexibility is the greatest thing but rather being strong in end range of motion is the key as this is where most injuries occur (bottom of squat, start of deadlift) so I regularly perform lunges focusing on wide steps to create a slight stretch, sitting in the bottom of a squat with light weight or use stretch bands around of knees when squatting to force good movement pattern.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Deadlifting took me a long time to become not only comfortable and reasonably proficient but confident in myself to perform.
Usually the last 2 weeks of dieting before a bodybuilding show are extreme character building times. The accumulation of 10+ weeks already spent dieting with daily cardio, almost all daily life task become very fatiguing and taxing. Coming out of each bodybuilding show has always been hard for myself as I never had a 6 pack or any abs showing till I was 22. I was always a very chubby child growing up, so I had a bit of a hard time putting weight back on and watching the abs disappear after all the work spent dieting. For me, abs aren’t very a maintainable thing but I have overcome these feelings by setting new strength goals or even work-related goals.
Having the next “goal” and staying driven and focused has always helped me move forward.
How long did it take for you to get to where you are now?
I am just shy of hitting my 5-year mark of training.
Where I was not even thinking of good dietary choices but was just as focused on training as I am now. Only the last 2 years were spent 100% focused on dieting and training. In the last 2 years I have spent a total close to 40 weeks dieting down for bodybuilding shows with a cumulative weight loss of 45 kg.
What are your current goals?
My current goals are to become stronger than ever!
I don’t plan on doing any bodybuilding shows in 2018 but I have actually started training for a powerlifting competition early on in 2018. The general goal still remains the same: bigger, stronger, faster, meaner, leaner and become better than the year before.
A new venture I am aiming for in 2018 is to start having a crack into the modelling world, whether its fitness modelling or fashion modelling I’d like to try all avenues.
What advice would you give to a tall person that wants to build a physique like yours but isn’t sure where to start?
Just start now!
No time is better than the now!
Be smart, listen to your body, start slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day. These are all things I would say to anyone wanting to start regardless of height. I would only emphasize the listen to your body for taller people. If something hurts/ doesn’t feel comfortable, back off, break the exercise down to easier movements that you can first master then work up to things like squats for example. You don’t have to go buy all the expensive things straight away, you don’t have to workout 6 times a week or workout for 2 hrs each session. Small manageable steps is the best approach, if you can do 1 more rep, 1 more minute than yesterday you are doing great!
What’s the most common question you get asked because of your height and how do you respond?
Just the usual comments: what’s my height, do I play Australian Rules Football (AFL) or basketball, gee it must be nice, what’s the weather like, wow your tall!
My favourite go to response is to act super shocked when someone says I’m tall or if I’m asked if I play a basketball or AFL, I ask if they play mini golf.
What’s the best thing about being tall?
I have been asked this question a few times, but when I really think about I can’t answer it, to me it’s the same question as: what’s it like to be me……..
It’s who I am, I have never not been anything other than tall, so I don’t really have anything to compare to that could be better or worse.
Though it is a fantastic conversation starter when I’m looking to talk to new people that I’m interested in.
But being tall to me means, that I’m not normal, I am truly unique and I take a lot pride in knowing I don’t fit in, that I have to do my own thing.
After this first round of questioning, I had two follow up questions for Josh:
FQ1: When you talk about dieting and cutting body fat for competitions do you follow the ‘standard’ cutting advice? i.e. calculate maintenance level calories and reduce those calories by 150-200 whilst continuing training? or do you do something different? And would the opposite apply for when you are training to put on size?
Leading up to each prep stage i.e. starting to drop weight, I actually began to ramp up calories roughly 4 weeks prior so I could figure out what my maintenance calories are and try boost my metabolism one final time before dieting down. Doing this allowed me to get the most optimal performance from my metabolism without having to do outrageous amounts of cardio closer to competition time.
Here is a bit of business term but F.O.L (Front End Loading) – prepare yourself in all aspects, aim to reduce minimum training and cardio.
So when your weight is stuck, you can increase energy output and still not be pushing to your absolute limit and not feel like you’re literally dying every training session and aim to increase calorie consumption/ improve metabolism efficiency so for example, the start of my 2017 prep to get on stage, I was only training 4 days a weeks, no cardio and eating 3800 calories a day and not gaining weight. So, if I increased training frequency, intensity or duration fat loss would occur or if I dropped 200 calories and ate only 3600 calories (still a huge amount of food) I would drop body fat.
Dieting down to low body fat% needs to be done smartly if you want to remain healthy throughout. I dieted for 16 weeks prior to my first show and at that point I was training 5 times a week, doing 40 minutes of easy low intensity cardio (didn’t leave me sore compared to H.I.I.T ) and I was consuming approximately 2600 – 2800 calories. The most important thing was that I still enjoyed training! I wasn’t miserable, just ‘Hangry’.
FQ2: In the past did you find you had any body parts that were stubborn / difficult to grow? If so, how did you grow them? e.g. high volume lighter weight training or heaving weight training for that muscle multiple times per week etc?
LEGS….. every tall person’s nightmare!
What I found to work best for gaining size was strength training. Being a natural body builder (not using any performance enhancing drugs), training needs to be thought out and to follow this principle: a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle and a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle.
I saw the best growth doing a combination of high frequency training for all body parts. Instead of training legs once a week at a really heavy weight and going hard, being sore for 5 days then repeating this cycle over, I would train legs 2 – 3 times a week where I would leave the gym with a nice pump in the muscle but not sore and left wanting to do more which kept ambition and drive at a all time high!
If you think about training heavy and hard once a week this would equal 52 training sessions a year OR train legs 2 times a week this would equal 104 times a year, double the muscle adaption response!
The approach to training needs to be thought of what is the minimum needed for growth, not trying to break yourself every day. If you can improve a small amount each week, this adds up to a huge amount each year, all the while remaining safe, healthy and always improving. Seeing improvements each week will only add to one’s determination rather than trying to max a squat every week and failing the same weight every time.
If you have any questions or comments be sure to leave them below.
Stand tall, be proud of your height and strive for greatness.
Other Posts In: Amazing Tall People Series
01. From Tall and Skinny to Jacked: Larger Than Life UK Interview
02. Tall, Strong and Flexible: My Interview With A 6 Foot 8 Yogi
03. My Interview With A 6 Foot 10 Body Builder