Instagram, @nigel_st_lewis - photo by Glyn Dewis
Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Nigel St Lewis, I was born on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad and Tobago. I moved to the London, UK at the age of 14 after my father was tragically killed.
My family especially my grandfather were all sports fanatics. Boxing was his vice. Sadly, he’s no longer with us but I remember vividly, sitting and watching boxing with him on a Saturday night. For those familiar with boxing, this was the “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield era.
My fascination with sports grew from then on. I often try to recall when my interest in bodybuilding began and I would put that initial interest down to one of my elder cousins who was massively into the sport.
I fondly remember him making his own barbell and dumbbell from cement and metal poles whilst I watched with interest. This stayed with me right into my late teens when I began lifting myself, with no real clue what I was doing. My only interest was developing a huge chest and biceps in my attempt to impress the opposite sex.
Luckily, I was blessed with genetics, which was something I had no clue of at the time. I got results so I continued in my clueless endeavour. People would often compliment my physique, which massaged my ego so I continued training.
To cut a long story short, in my honest opinion, I don’t think I started training properly until my mid 20s when I began looking into bodybuilding — discovering the likes of Ronnie Coleman and wanting to be like these guys.
From then on, I began doing my research into eating and training right. I’d go to websites like bodybuilding.com, YouTube, etc. were all extremely useful in my research back then.
Admittedly, I was incredibly naive but bodybuilding excited me and training was never a chore. Find something you love doing, you’ll never work a day in your life, unfortunately despite my success as a natural bodybuilder, I do have a full time job as a business owner, but you get the point.
Describe a typical day of training
This all depends on the body part or parts being trained on that given day. My leg-days seem to go on forever as it takes me longer to recover in between sets. On average, I would say 90 minutes.
This year, I decided to change things up a little and prioritised what I consider not necessarily weak points, but body parts I feel I needed to focus on. Current quads and hamstrings are a priority. Always aim to work harder on what you consider your weaker body-parts.
My current training spit is as follows:
- MONDAY: Quads hamstring and calves
- TUESDAY: Chest and triceps
- WEDNESDAY; Back and biceps
- THURSDAY: Hamstring shoulders calves
- FRIDAY: rest/cardio
- SATURDAY: Back and calves
- SUNDAY: Shoulders
My sole purpose every session is to cause maximum damage or fatigue to the muscle being trained on that day by repeated reps utilizing supersets/drop-sets, etc. I’ve never been interested in one rep maxs, etc.
In the past, I’ve benched 180kgs for four reps, squatted 220kgs for 10 reps, and deadlift 280kgs for five reps. However, the way I see it is I’m a bodybuilder not a powerlifter.
Yes, I lift heavy as I’ve always believed this is the best way to stimulate growth, notice I said the best way and that’s just my opinion, the best way but by no means the only way, that said I know my capabilities, every-time I arrive at the gym my intention has always been to cause maximum damage to my muscles. I leave my ego at the door.
It’s me versus the weights. I could care less about impressing anyone but myself. If I leave the gym personally unimpressed with my efforts, I’ve let myself down. This is what I love about bodybuilding. You get out what you put in, your results are solely and for the most part based on your efforts.
I typically train alone, and whilst a good training partner can be an incredible addition to anyone, and again noticed I said a good training partner as some training partners can have an adverse effect on your training, choose your training partner wisely. I never really struggle with motivation so I’ve never really felt the need for a training partner.
My only training partners are what I carry in my training bag: My lifting belt, knee strap. I’ve never really been into pre-workouts because a strong coffee is more than sufficient when fatigued.
My training regime, knowledge etc. has changed over the years, this is inevitable it comes from years under the iron, you learn things about yourself you wouldn’t otherwise learn, I’ve pushed myself beyond limits I did not know I could.
If I go back to when I first began by comparison to what I know and do now, it’s literally night and day, everyday was chest day back then, chest and arms were always on the menu, legs neglected back neglected, curls for the girls not neglected.
Hah, needless to say chest days were the best days, fast forward 15 years and this could not be further from reality, I look forward to leg and back days more than anything, but thankfully now I train every body part equally.
I only wish I had the knowledge I have today back then, so if you take anything from this interview take this: Train every body part equally and stay consistent. This doesn’t happen over night, and on that note though I strongly suggest each man or woman to their own, I’m a huge advocate of training and staying natural.
How do you keep going and push harder?
I never really ever struggle for motivation, that said knowing my fellow competitors are putting in work always motivates me to push that final rep.
However, my biggest motivator is my 11-year old son. You have to be able to walk the talk, by this I mean I cannot tell him to be the best he can be without showing him. Talk is cheap, whatever it takes to draw motivation I would say use it. Fitness isn’t easy, I probably won’t be doing this interview if it was as I’ve previously eluded to.
Set goals and stay on them, remember why you started, make this a lifetime mantra and not just for your fitness goals. If you can learn and keep the discipline, it takes to get in and stay in shape, you can utilize that same discipline structure to achieve almost anything, ask Arnold or The Rock.
Manage your time, I see so many excuses not to train, when all have the same 24 hours in a day, whilst I would never ever suggest this is easy, and this is one of the many reasons I love training. If you make it a lifestyle rather than see it as a chore, you’re on your way.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Dependent on how you see life, I believe most people view their health as the single most important thing in their life, if you don’t, then in my opinion you should really re-assess your priorities.
Staying healthy by partaking in some form of physical exercise has been medically proven to be of significant benefit to you, so for me as a direct result of training not only do I feel better about myself when it comes to my physical appearance, but also by staying physically active, my health is the ultimate beneficiary.
So you ask how I’m doing, I’m alive, I’m healthy, and everyday I wake up. I’m working to make a difference on the limited time we have on planet earth as human beings.
I’m currently working really hard behind the scenes on my clothing brand Blacksthetics Apparel, a gym and casual wear brand, it has been a passion of mine for a while now, and I fully intend to make Blacksthetics Apparel a global brand, huge goals but 100 percent achievable.
I make no excuses. I work full time. I’m a single Dad to an 11 year old boy who is my inspiration. I train almost every day and I still compete at the highest level as a natural bodybuilder. I rarely have time for excuses, but for those who make them, I understand. I’m extremely privileged to be in my current situation.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Luckily, over all my years of training, I’ve never suffered any major set backs, whether this is a combination of smart training and luck?? Possibly, that said I have always done one thing consistently throughout my bodybuilding career, I’ve always utilized good form when lifting.
I cringe at guys/girls to this day, that I see lifting with bad form. Again, substituting form by lifting beyond your capacity is a recipe for a trip to A+E (Accident and Emergency) and long term injuries.
Be smart, no ego, that said though I have never suffered any major injuries that’s put a stop to my training, I would strongly advise stretching before and after training. Advise I should take on board myself as I too neglect doing so, I would also advise having frequent physiotheraphy or sports massage, lifting puts an incredible amount of pressure on your joints you only have to see what’s become of Ronnie Coleman as an example.
Taking multivitamins such as cod liver or fish oil is also advisable. Rest and recovery also aren’t emphasized as much as training itself. I can assure you, without proper rest and recovery, the entire process becomes counter-productive. It’s essential to growth, prioritize rest and recovery as much as you physically can.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
Nothing beats a solid meal, I believe to many people get carried away with supplements, and need to be reminded that the majority of them are simply meal replacements, they are not a magic potion, and they’re not going to make you look like your favourite YouTube or front page magazine bodybuilder.
Yes, used them correctly. Supplements are great, and are proven to work, but please treat them for what they are. Two supplement I use regularly are protein powder and creatine, everything else to me is a gimmick.
My diet consist of protein carbs and healthy fats every meal, six meals a day on average, again as I’ve previously stipulated on rest to recover, you literally are what you eat, you CANNOT out train a bad diet, train as hard as you want rest as much as you can. If you do not consume the required nutrient training becomes counter-productive, I simply cannot reiterate this enough.
When not in my competition dieting phase, I consume on average between 3 and 4 thousand calories per day, I know this through experience and do not calorie count as this I find impractical.
I do not drink or smoke, I may have the odd drink socially. If I do go out for a meal, I do not restrict what I eat because I manage what I eat. At home, I would rather have fruits and crisp nuts than chocolates, I generally make healthy choices.
Remember, this is a lifestyle, I’ve managed to learn what works for me over the years doing so, that way I do not have to use a food tracking device or any other fancy app to track my calories. The only time tracking macros becomes a necessity is during the competitive season.
I keep myself in relatively good shape year round mainly because I hate being and looking out of shape, and secondly when it does come to getting competition-ready, I simply don’t have to work as hard as someone who is for example 50 pounds heavier.
Sample competition Diet:
- Meal 1: Porridge with water or milk. 7 eggs/scrambled. Almond nuts or avocado
- Meal 2: Chicken or Turkey breast. Brown/ white rice or potato and steamed veg.
- Meal 3: Chicken breast or beef steak with potato and steamed veg.
- Meal 4: Fish with brown rice or potato and veg.
- Meal 5: Protein shake or another meal as above.
- Meal 6: Eggs/cottage cheese and veg casein protein shake.
What has inspired and motivated you?
My mother, firstly I believe she gave me my genetics, sorry dad, haha that said he was stacked so I suppose they both played a part, but my mother inspires me, she’s the one person that makes be believe I can achieve greatness.
My father was murdered when I was 12 years old, my mum became a single parent to four kids, life was tough for her, I’m forever inspired by how she overcame this and what she did for us.
My 11 year old son is my biggest motivation, when everything gets on top when things get tough as they do for all of us. I remember why I do what I do, he will always be my motivation for success.
As for my day-to-day training, I cannot train without my headphones tools of the trade, if the music isn’t blaring through my headphones if I’ve somehow forgotten my headphones, I feel naked at the gym, anything from hip-hop to reggae gets me hyped especially on those heavy leg days.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Please understand what you’re getting yourself into before you consider this sport, this sport is unlike any other, if you’re serious about competing, do your research find out what bodybuilding is really about, this can save you a lot of effort and possibly embarrassment.
Know that there’s bodybuilding and there’s natural bodybuilding, this may be obvious to some, however, unfortunately, the sport is full of confusion and misinformation. I’ve found that despite everyone being aware of what bodybuilding is for the most part, most have no idea what the sport entails, especially what it takes to compete and do well.
Social media is a great informative tool, unfortunately, it’s also full of disinformation and straight up nonsense. Choose the people you get your information from wisely because a lot of these social media influencers are sponsored and are essentially paid to push certain products. Be mindful of this.
I would advise anyone starting of in the sport to stick to the basic, by this I mean stick to your compound exercise. Squats, bench press, shoulder press, deadlifts/rows are your basics. Incorporate these into your weekly routine and with a good diet plan and recovery progress is a must, it really is as complicated as you make it.
Instagram, @nigel_st_lewis - photo by Eric Rahul De'Cruz
Are you taking on clients right now?
Unfortunately, I do not personal train, I say unfortunate as I simply do not have the time to do so, I turn down potential clients weekly. I find it incredible the amount of clients I see some trainers take on, if I do in future decide to take on clients it will be minimal.
Every client is an individual, I’m fully aware of the generic diet plans some trainers give to clients, this is unacceptable and gives our industry a bad name, choose your trainers wisely.
Where can we learn more about you?
My clothing brand Blacksthetics Apparel is available at blacksthetics.co.uk.
Ready to get really fit and inspired?
I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.
Here on Bulk Hackers we interview bodybuilders, personal trainers and fitness heroes. We ask them to share their stories and all their greatest hacks!
If you liked this interview, join our newsletter below.
Interested in doing an interview? Send me an email.