Competitor and Personal Trainer Ben Garcia


Ben Garcia Front lat Spread Muscle Beach Stage


Big Back Grips has been working with Ben Garcia for almost 10 years, and this interview is long overdue. A personal trainer and competitive bodybuilder based in Los Angeles, Ben has represented us at Muscle Beach Venice, the Mr. Olympia Fit Expo, the LA Fit Expo, our many SoCal retail dealers and on the NPC competitive stage. He has never failed to make us proud.

We met Ben the way we met so many people we’ve worked with ̶ through social media. He was familiar with Big Back Grips through his Las Vegas gym when he lived there. We found out we not had only a lot of mutual digital friends on social media, but a lot of real-world analog friends in common too. Between his very busy personal training schedule and his intense contest prep, it’s sometimes difficult to find time. But at the time of this interview, we are unfortunately in the middle of the corona-virus lockdown. So, over an incredibly safe social distance, we found some time to talk.

The Interview

BBG: Ben, this is the first interview we’ve done since we all started to shelter at home. So, we’d to start by asking what you most look forward to doing the after the quarantine is lifted?

Ben: Well first off, just like all serious competitive bodybuilders, I look forward to gyms re-opening again, being able to train in a facility with full equipment and adequate weights, and train and contest prep properly. But mostly, I want to be out in the world in which we live again, to see the outdoors, recreational parks that we often pass by and take for granted, to see and interact with people and society again and to partake in the beauty of human interaction that was missed during quarantine.

BBG: We understand how you feel. May it happen soon. Ben, can you give us a little background if you would. How old you are, how long bodybuilding has been part of your life and how you got started in the sport.

Ben: I am 37 years old and I have been bodybuilding competitively since 2011. I was a sophomore in high school when I got introduced in bodybuilding, so it’s really been part of my life for 22 years, since I was 16. I was not a star athlete and not a star student, just a shy, quiet guy who sat in the back of class, drawing caricatures of the pro wrestlers I had admired since childhood. My interest in bodybuilding really started to take form when I wanted to emulate the very pro wrestlers I religiously followed on TV, guys like The Rock, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero. I wanted so badly to turn my physique into something like the heroes I was admiring. So, I attribute my love for fitness and competitive bodybuilding, and eventually my career, to professional wrestling!

Ben Garcia and Martae Ruelas, rear double biceps on the beach.

Competition History

BBG: What contests have you done so far? And what are your stats like? Is your competitive weight much different than your contest weight?

Ben: I have competed in more than 10 NPC shows so far, mostly the big NPC shows in Los Angeles, the California championships and Excalibur, and other NPC Events. I am usually 10-15 lbs. heavier in the offseason, around 180-185, to my contest weight. My contest stage weight is usually 170-175. I want to keep lean year round and maintain a pleasing aesthetic. That way I don’t risk losing hard earned muscle during contest prep.

BBG: What do you consider the highlights?

Ben: Some of the highlights include winning my first overall in the men’s novice middleweight division at the Muscle Contest in 2011, taking 1st place in the men’s open middleweight division at the NPC California Championships in 2013, 1st place in the NPC Excalibur in the men’s open middle weight division in 2013, and finally taking 1st place and overall win in the NPC Southwest Muscle Classic in 2017, men’s open middleweight division.

BBG: In fact, you were preparing for your next show when the pandemic hit. What show were you preparing for?

Ben: Yes, I was preparing for the NPC Jon Lindsay Grand Prix Los Angeles on April 4. I was nearly four weeks out when the gyms were closed, and eventually the NPC and IFBB announced contest cancellations until further notice.

BBG: You must find that very frustrating, as do all athletes from every sport prepping for competition.

BBG: Sure, it’s frustrating, but we all have a responsibility to ourselves and our fellow citizens, whether we know them or not, to make everyone’s health a priority. And athletes understand the meaning and value of sacrifice. So, we’ll be ok.

Ben Garcia side chest on the NPC stage

Personal Training and Big Back Grips

BBG: Now we’d like to ask about you and Big Back Grips. We hear you not only use them, but you have a lot of your clients on them too. What did you use before Big Back Grips and why did you switch? Why do you have your clients on them?

Ben: Yes, before discovering Big Back Grips, just like a lot of serious and dedicated athletes, I used chalk and lifting straps. I switched because one, the chalk was messy, and you could risk being kicked out of the gym for chalk residue and mess. And lifting straps were hurting and injuring my wrists and did not make lifting any better. The Big Back Grips not only improved my quality of lifting most especially for back movements, but overall pulling and pushing movements and performance has improved with Big Back Grips.

BBG: So what are your ultimate goals in terms of size and competitive level? How far do you want to take this?

Ben: First, size alone means nothing. I am a firm believer in the phrase “Size and Shape,” meaning I don’t train for size just for the sake of size, without shape, symmetry, balance, proportion and conditioning. I don’t get sloppy in the offseason. My goal is to turn pro and earn a pro card in the USA or Nationals in the Classic Physique Division.

BBG: We’d like to ask about your personal training work. What about it appeals to you? What do you feel you bring to a client’s workout that sets you apart from other trainers?

Ben: I love joy I get from personal training, and the joy I see in my clients from achieving their goals. I love that I can help them do that. But I don’t consider myself just a physical trainer; I consider myself a teacher. I’m not just leading clients through a workout. I’m sharing my heart and my experience, so they don’t grow just physically. They learn. What sets me apart from other trainers is that I don’t give out the same cookie cutter diet or training to everyone. They are individuals, with unique goals, needs and genetics. I learn how to work with and cater to each client’s specific concerns and genetic gifts to make sure we target that person’s goals, not some one-size-fits-all goal.

BBG: Do you have an overall philosophy about training that guides your work with clients?

Ben: My philosophy is simple, love what you do. And treat every client just as special as you would your own self. Training is not just physical, it is spiritual, emotional and mental. I make sure I don’t just make an impact on the client’s physique, but on every aspect of their being. I want that individual to feel a sense of great accomplishment when walking away from a training session with me and having learned something profound that they can take with them, even when they no longer train with me.

Ben Garcia spots Martae doing back at Muscle Beach

Training with Ben Garcia

BBG: What is your workout schedule like? How are you training now that gyms are out of the picture for a while?

Ben: Got to be creative during these trying times, so since the gyms have been closed, I now train at my home garage, where I made a make-shift gym with a few dumbbells, power bands and even bricks and rocks I found in the garden. In a gym bag or backpack, rocks become weights! The gyms maybe closed, but my passion and love for training and bodybuilding is still very much alive and thriving. I train early in the mornings around, 6 am, upon waking, when I find myself at my most refreshed and motivated.

BBG: What about your diet?

Ben: My diet now is still the same as when I was contest prepping. I do a ketogenic diet 6 days a week, zero carbs, and moderate protein and high fats, along with intermittent 16/8 fasting, meaning 16 hours of fasting with an 8-hour eating window.

BBG: What are your favorite exercises or body parts to work? What do you consider your best body part? Do you have a body part that’s especially challenging to make headway on?

Ben: Honestly, I don’t have one favorite exercise because I genuinely love to train each body part. I train hamstrings and calves, which I can never see in the mirror with the same clarity as I would chest, shoulders and arms. My best body parts I would say are my pecs and thighs, I am confident about those. Most challenging to bring out are abs and delts. I would say I’m slowly but surely improving, but they are behind genetically in my case.

BBG: If someone were going to work out with you, what are they in for, what’s your workout style? What would you want from a partner?

Ben: I am like a racehorse; I only see the path in front of me. So expect intense and very instinctive training. I’m a serious, no headphones, NO CELL PHONES in the gym type of guy. Breaks in between are rare, so prepare to be moving from one exercise to the next and NO SOCIAL TIME to be had! Occasional joking around is ok, as I am a self-professed wise ass and comedian. But expect to get the job done and done well when training with me.

Ben Garcia front double biceps

Some final thoughts.

BBG: What’s your advice to people thinking about their first competition?

Ben: First off, learn your body, take your time and don’t be in a rush to compete. Learn the sport and develop a passion for it, and be willing to become a student, put in the hard work, accept that you will fail in the beginning and even when at your best. Never give up or give in, do it with your heart, and listen to yourself first. PASSION + EXPERIENCE + ENJOYING THE JOURNEY = SUCCESS!

BBG: Finally, can you give us your workout for just one body part. Just pick your favorite.

Ben: I love doing front squats for vastus lateralis of the quad, done below parallel, deep ass to the grass style.

Ben Garcia on the NPC stage