Tag Archives: bodybuilding

Meeting top bodybuilder Simeon Panda

One of bodybuilding’s current top icons, Simeon Panda held an open training session at South London’s Metroflex gym in Sydenham.

Panda has his own very own unique physique. His huge, chiselled upper body sits on his small waist, making him almost look as if he’s a cartoon character.

The Musclemania Pro is a natural athlete with the ferocity of a powerlifter and arguably one of the most aesthetically impressive physiques in the world.

The 30 year old measures 6ft 1ins and currently weighs 104kg, with under 10% body fat.

The London-born athlete who maintains a stage-worthy defined physique all year round, is an advocate for natural bodybuilding and an inspiration to fitness enthusiasts worldwide, receiving millions of views of his workouts and blogs on YouTube.

Early stages

Panda first started lifting as a skinny 16-year-old wanting to improve his strength and overall size. He was inspired to go further when he met a friend in college who was very muscular and ripped.

He wanted a change his small frame and asked his friend how he got so big. The answer: weights and workouts – and lots of them.

That same day, he ordered himself some dumbbells, and thus began his transformation.

Panda said: “My friends even thought I was weird at one point as I would bring my dumbbell over to theirs when I stayed over.”

He is now a global star, with 2.9m followers on Instagram alone, and competes in shows around the world, judges top bodybuilding competitions and is the owner of his own sportswear company, SP Aesthetics.


When he first started weight training, he recalls working out every day without fail. He soon realised he was on to something big.

“I was training in my living room and a friend of my brother’s who had not seen me in a while came over and was shocked and said I was huge. That really motivated me to go at it even harder.”

Panda realised he was gaining strength and size rapidly so he eventually bought heavier weights until it was time to find a gym.

“The only regret I have is not training legs from my first years of gym as they would have been much better than they are now, but they’ve still come along way.

“My perspective on training is do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.”


As Simeon built up his strength and knowledge of fitness over the years, he’s now a firm believer in training heavy, both physically and mentally.

“I say mentally because nothing gives me the same buzz as moving a tremendous amount of weight,” he said.

“Warming up is very important to me as I tend to lift heavy very regularly, so I make sure my joints are prepared as I have a current elbow pain. So I heavily wrap it up before training.

“Everyone’s body is different, but training heavy was the most effective way for me to gain muscle and size as well as eating well.”

Panda says muscle growth occurs when your body is trying to repair the damage done by lifting weights on your body. Over time, your body will adapt to even the toughest routines. To make sure that he doesn’t hit a plateau, Panda will change and cycle his routines every so often.

Changing exercises frequently tends to shock the muscle as its being hit in a different movement which allows further muscle growth.

Below is Simeon’s training regime which he does tend to change by one or more exercises from time to time.

Monday: Chest

8 sets of Bench Press ranging from 1 – 20 reps

8 sets of Incline Press ranging from 1 – 20 reps

6 sets of Cable Fly’s low ranging from 6 – 20 reps

6 sets of Cable Fly’s high ranging from 6 – 20 reps

Tuesday: Legs

3 sets of Leg Extensions 20 reps

8 Sets of Squats ranging from 4 – 10 reps

8 Sets of Leg Press ranging from 12 – 15 reps

8 Sets of Lying Leg Curl ranging from 6 – 20 reps

4 Sets of Calf Presses on Leg Press Superset with Raises off the wall 20 reps

4 Sets of Donkey Calf Raises Superset with Raises off the wall 20 reps

Wednesday: Back

8 sets of Bent Over Row ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Lat Pull Down ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Seated Row ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Deadlifts ranging from 6 – 20 reps

6 sets of Single Arm Row ranging from 6 – 10 reps

Thursday: Shoulders

8 sets of Shoulder Press ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Dumbbell Lat Raises ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Front Raises ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Barbell Shrugs ranging from 6 – 20 reps

Friday: Arms

8 Sets of Close Grip Bench Press ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Preacher Curls ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Pushdowns ranging from 6 – 20 reps

8 sets of Hammer Curls ranging from 6 – 20 reps



Sunday: Legs

8 Sets of Leg Extensions 20 reps

Dumbbell Walking Lunges 20+ Laps of the gym

4 Sets of Calf Presses on Leg Press Superset with Raises off the wall 20 reps

4 Sets of Donkey Calf Raises Superset with Raises off the wall 20 reps

Panda suggests compound workouts are the foundation of building muscle which includes squats, bench presses and deadliest. All three work multiple muscles at once which increases the speed of muscle growth.


Panda’s diet is like most professional bodybuilders and fitness models, being strict and accurate to his training needs.

Having a speedy metabolism, sometimes he tends to get in one or two cheat meals a week in order to get the extra calories he needs.

His daily diet will look something like:

Meal 1: Oats, Banana & Almonds

Meal 2: Rice Cakes & Cottage Cheese

Meal 3: Wholegrain Rice, Chicken Breast & Vegetables

Meal 4: Wholegrain Rice, Chicken Breast & Vegetables

Meal 5: Wholegrain Rice, Chicken Breast & Vegetables

Meal 6: 8 Egg Whites & Smoked Salmon

Meal 7: Mackerel & Vegetables

For more information, visit simeonpanda.com


vegan diet

Being a vegan bodybuilder

Naturally when you think about bodybuilding, you think about protein, and when you think about protein, you think about meat.

However, you may be surprised to find there are actually a lot of champion bodybuilders, such as Kenneth Williams, Robert Hazeley and Patrick Baboumian who live on a vegan diet.

Amateur bodybuilder Kiran Dehal does not feature in competitions but has gone from 63kg to 93kg in three years, having also implemented a vegan diet into his regime one year ago.

I talk to the 20-year-old about the decision behind becoming vegan and how he has successfully adopted veganism into his lifestyle.

Why did you become a bodybuilder?

I was originally introduced to bodybuilding by a friend I went to school with when I was 17. He was very interested in it and invited me to train with him at a nearby bodybuilding gym. From these sessions I developed an appreciation which turned into a dedication then into a love for the process of bodybuilding.

 What was your thinking behind turning vegan as a bodybuilder?

Looking at my diet I realised that the proteins I was getting in my diet also came with a lot of fat.

I found it was very difficult getting the toned and cut physique that I wanted.

After doing some research on vegan diets, and athletes who have followed them and thrived, I made the decision to transition into the lifestyle.

Ethical and environmental aspects also came into play through time but the main reason was health and cutting some fat from my diet.

 Were there any differences you noticed when you became vegan?

Due to the fact that I was paying much more attention to what I was eating and was cautious to the potential negative effects of drastically changing my diet, I only gained positive effects from this.

I had more energy, less bloating and felt fresh and healthy, keeping my muscle and becoming more cut.

 Is it any harder now getting the required protein you need to build muscle?

I have a big appetite and tailored my diet to keep a good amount of protein in it, so no.

I did my research into meals that would be suitable for me to eat and I now know what sort of foods I should be looking to include in my diet.

 What do you now eat daily to get sufficient protein?

My diet now contains more beans, lentils and lagooms, I have switched my whey protein for a sunflower protein, although the taste isn’t as pleasant.

I’m cooking more of my own food so I know exactly what’s in it and keeping to a strict regimented diet.

 Have you noticed any difference in the speed you build muscle since you became vegan?

I now find it much easier to cut than bulk which has both its benefits and setbacks, but overall I’m happy with the results.

What advice would you have for any bodybuilders who are thinking about becoming vegan?

Commit to it, do your research, plan ahead so you can be prepared for what’s about to come.

It won’t be too long until you don’t even notice being vegan and it all just comes naturally to you!

Addicted to the Ironhouse

Rory Vanhorn trains at the ‘Ironhouse’, otherwise known as the gym, seven days a week in pursuit of a career as a physique model and bodybuilder.

Rory tries never to miss a session – even if the gym is closed on Christmas he has to do an intense workout at home.

He trains each body part once a week but makes it his priority to work on his legs twice as he feels that’s what he needs to focus on.

My gym fanatic friend Rory is 24 years old, stands at 5ft 9ins and weighs 13 stone, with less than 10% body fat.Post Workout

He has been training at the gym for five years, and in that time has developed a heavily muscled physique.

He plans to compete at the 2017 Miami Pro physiques competition and his main goal is to look as ripped as he can, to catch the sponsors’ eye and get signed up for a career as a physique model.

Physique models get signed to advertise gym wear, equipment and supplements.

Rory has previously competed in men’s physique and bodybuilding competitions in the UK and hopes to receive his IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders) pro card in the long term.

This would allow him access to enter competitions such as Mr Olympia and Arnold Amateur which reward  bigger prizes.


Arriving at the Bodyworks gym in Tottenham, what first struck me was the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere at the venue where Rory trains to make his ‘gains’ – gym jargon for muscle growth.

The continuous grunts and heavily muscular physiques all around can make a newcomer feel very small and intimidated, but the giants of the gym were more than happy to help out a newbie, and offer tips on how to achieve the physique I was after.

My first day in the gym was ‘international chest day’ which is a gym in-joke as coincidentally in many gyms on a Mondays most people training are seen working out their chests.

Exercises included flat bench chest press, upper chest press and pectoral flies. Each exercise followed the same regime four sets and 10-12 reps on all exercises.

Fortunately I’d done a bit of this before as it’s the sort of activity I like to do whenever I visit any gym, but I didn’t manage to keep up with Rory, as he managed to squeeze 10 reps of 140kg on the flat bench.


My max was 10 reps on 80kg which is only half of what Rory lifts. I wouldn’t dare put that weight over my chest for one simple reason; I don’t want to be crushed.

We rounded off the session with a whey protein shake and I made sure I gave myself enough rest for the following day.

Rory’s diet includes chicken breasts and Caesar salads, vegetable soup and smoked salmon with boiled eggs which are all part of a plan he has been following over the last six months.No Carbs

I woke up on Day Two with slight pectoral muscle soreness but nothing serious enough to stop me training.

Today’s agenda was working on the back muscles, including exercises such as dead lifts, seated rows and lat pull downs.

Following Monday’s regime of 10-12 reps and four sets, we continued our intense training sessions.

What blew me away was Rory dead-lifting 200kg which is nearly triple his bodyweight as he weighs 82kg. I managed to squeeze a rep out of 110kg which isn’t even close but I guess not too bad.

I actually attempted Rory’s lift but the most I could do is push and roll the bar forwards and backwards as trying to lift it was a complete fail.


Due to the intensity of the back workout I had woken up with a stiff lower back and slight muscle soreness around my bicep, but I wanted to keep on training so I could have more of an insight into Rory’s regime.

Day Three was leg day – and for me, this was the most difficult one of the three as those are probably my least-trained muscles.

Never failing to impress, Rory managed to rep out three deep squats out of 160kg which is basically double his body weight.

My squat max was two assisted reps out of 90kg, and after the session I struggled to get home due to the muscle fatigue which makes you lose balance.

No need to fear as after a month of continuous exercise the muscle soreness and aches no longer appear as frequent because your muscles start to get use to the pain.

Social media

One of the common things you see in the gym world is people training their upper body at the expense of their legs. They are often labelled as ‘Johnny Bravo’ as they replicate the cartoon character’s top-heavy image.

Making sure every muscle is in proportion is why bodybuilders like Rory have a day for each muscle group, and even after just three days, I could see several muscles starting to bulge slightly on my own physique, and improvements made strength-wise by particular exercises.

Currently Rory looks up to bodybuilders such as Simeon Panda and Ulisses Jr who are very popular on social media with millions of Instagram followers.Back Day

They are known for their low body-fat, defined and bulky physique.

They also post motivational gym videos regularly on YouTube and footage from their training sessions at the gym.

What I learned from my sessions with Rory is that it’s all about consistency and hard work.

I seen more muscle growth over the few days training with him than when I trained by myself in my previous gym, which shows the intensity of the training he does on a day-to-day basis.

My sessions with Rory have been really inspiring especially when he shown me what he looked like when he started his gym work. It was very motivational and shows anything is possible once you put your all into it.

De Vis pursues his bodybuilding vision

They say you should never meet your heroes, but Clarence de Vis will never forget the special moment he shared with his idol.

The Belgian bodybuilder recalls a memorable encounter in Spain with actor, politician, environmental campaigner and iron-pumping legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“He is the grandfather of bodybuilding, he laid the foundations we’ve built upon, and we are all the flowers pushing through as a result,” said De Vis.

“Nobody has ever been able to match his achievements in the history of bodybuilding. When I met him in Madrid a few years ago at one of his contests, the Arnold Classic, I got goosebumps.

“It was emotional. Thousands of people were present that day, but what struck me was his humility.

“He said that he was my biggest fan and that I had a great future ahead of me. This was a honour for me. It still is one of my biggest drives.”

De Vis has become a legend in his own right, putting bodybuilding on the map in Belgium and developing a reputation as its most in-demand personal trainer.


“People come to me because they know of my success,” the man known as ‘The Belgian Predator’ told me. “They see what I’ve done with other clients.

“I’m different to many personal trainers. Unfortunately, some don’t take their jobs seriously, or just do it for financial reasons. For me it’s a hobby, a passion. I have this job in my veins.

De Vis with his idol Schwarzenegger

Based at the Painworld Fitness Centre in Luxembourg, De Vis’s clients have included footballer Samuel Eto’o and Mr Olympia runner-up David Florentin.

Now a leading model for brands including Bikkembergs, Moncler and Porsche Design, Florentin, 28, has featured at fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris.

Does De Vis see him as his ‘product’? “Yes, definitely. He was my first client in Luxembourg [in 2010].

“What strikes me the most about him is his humility. He is modest – like his coach,” he smiles.

Like his role model Schwarzenegger, De Vis has always possessed the discipline, single-mindedness and self-belief to be the best at what he does.

And he insists that aiming for the top in bodybuilding need not involve using potentially lethal substances such as anabolic steroids.

The consequences of using them can range from acne and raised blood pressure to diabetes, low fertility and a high risk of heart attacks.

‘Eat well, train hard’

“Nowadays many young people take them,” said De Vis. “They read about steroids in magazines and on websites and they order them online.

“And more often than not, they buy fake products which can have very dangerous consequences.

“The sad truth is that today 13 and 14-year old kids take steroids. Incredible, I know. These teens won’t stay long in the business, let alone in the world. Taking steroids often seals their fate.”

“I eat six times a day, 15 eggs every evening and at least three meals of fish and three meals of meat a day. That’s how my life looks”

According to the 35-year-old “eating well, training hard and regeneration” should do the trick. No need for illegal substances. You can get your dream body without them.

“Basically, the secret to make it in bodybuilding is very simple,” De Vis claims. “Everything revolves around nutrition.

“Milk, fish, rice, noodles and water are indispensable. You need proteins, carbs and fat.

“If you eat properly and train intensely you’re going to get results. There’s no point training for hours and hours if then you don’t add the right food to it. Sometimes it’s better to train less but harder, and cap it off with great meals afterwards.

“Sleep is vital too because you know, muscles only grow during regeneration.

“I eat six times a day, 15 eggs every evening and at least three meals of fish and three meals of meat a day. That’s how my life looks. Muscles are built in the kitchen, not in the gym.

‘The past is gone’

De Vis also insists that anyone who is serious about building muscle and generally increasingly their fitness has to reject the unhealthy aspects of their social lives.

“Alcohol, cigarettes and fast food should absolutely be avoided,” he stressed.

“Alcohol is the biggest enemy of the gym. When I drink a glass for instance, which happens very rarely, I notice that I lose some volume.

“In fitness like in any other thing in life, you need to set yourself a target and work towards it. Focus. Concentrate”

“It chases water out of the muscle and as muscles are made of water…it’s like killing them.

“Not only is alcohol detrimental to the muscle growth but it also reduces your muscle mass while increasing your body fat.”

De Vis adds: “It goes without saying that if you want to see results you can’t cheat. Many people fail in this sport because they don’t train seriously and don’t give it their all.

“In fitness like in any other thing in life, you need to set yourself a target and work towards it. Focus. Concentrate. Don’t look at what the neighbour is doing, just focus on yourself.”

De Vis is not, however, resting on his laurels. “The past is gone, I have dreams for the future. I want to finish among the top three at Mr Olympia one day.”

He may never match Schwarzenegger’s seven Mr Olympia and four Mr Universe titles, but the Belgian already has a giant reputation in his chosen field.

Clarence de Vis is on Facebook. For more information about the Painworld Fitness Centre, click here.