Mark Chism

For me bodybuilding is the perfect sport because I can show up to practice when I feel like it. If I succeed or fail at bodybuilding, It’s all on me; It’s not on my coach, or bad play, or a player that went out and drank the night before the game – Just Me!


Mark Chism is 27-year-old bodybuilder and trainer from Denver, Colorado. We met him, as we meet so many people, on Facebook when he was a trainer at a gym in western Colorado. When the gym got some samples as a prelude to carrying them, Mark was hooked instantly and they became a standard part of his workout gear. We had always wanted to do a profile on Mark, and as he prepared for a show to be held this summer, he decided he was ready to talk.

Interview Questions

BBG: Now we met when you were a trainer at a gym in western Colorado. We sent sample BBGs to the gym after meeting you on Facebook. What was your impression?

Mark: Yeah. So one day I was hanging out on Facebook in the trainers’ office in Gold’s Gym Clifton during a free hour and you guys sent me a personal message looking for feedback on Big Back Grips. When the gym samples came I gave some grips out to my fellow trainers and of course kept a pair for myself.


First off, I sweat. A LOT!  So my first thought was “I’ll use these for my close grip press, but I stay with my traditional straps for lat pulls.”  After noticing my gripping power practically double in my close grip press, I started using them for my incline press. Still kind of set on my “old school” methods; I did not abandon my traditional straps … until I noticed that I was having severe wrist discomfort caused by the tension on the joint. I decided to just use my Big Back Grips instead of my straps and… PROBLEM SOLVED!!  I use them for nearly every lifting session now.  I have also noticed a huge gain in forearm strength since I am not relying on the straps to do the work.  I can find myself focusing more on the mind-to-muscle connection now that I don’t have to worry about my grip slipping. These grips have completely saved my workouts since I don’t have to worry about barbells and lat bars slipping out of my sweaty hands!

BBG: Mark, let’s talk about your upcoming contest: what, when, where, etc.

Mark: I have recently begun prepping for the 2012 NPC Colorado State Championships.  I plan to compete as a super-heavyweight in the Open Class in Men’s Bodybuilding this season.  This competition will be a national qualifier and held in the EXDO Center in Denver, Colorado.

BBG: Can just fill us in on your competitive history? Is this your first show?

Mark: I started training for bodybuilding in 2009 with my best friend and training partner.  I realized I had to build a physique that was fitting to the judging criteria, so I spent about a year and a half building up my weak points and ensuring even, overall growth.  I decided to enter my first competition in 2011.  I did two local level competitions that year, and got hooked on competing.  In the 2011 NPC MAN SPORTS Northern Colorado Championships I took 1st Place Men’s Heavyweight Open Class and 2nd Place Men’s Heavyweight Novice Class. Then, in the 2011 Armbrust Pro Gym Warrior Classic I took 1st Place Men’s Heavyweight Open Class.

BBG: What are your current stats? What category will you be competing in?

Mark: I plan on growing into the show and competing as a super-heavyweight. But my current physique stats are:

  • Height- 6’2
  • Weight- 253 lbs
  • Body fat percentage- 7-8%
  • Chest- 47″
  • Abdominals- 37.5″
  • Hip-44″
  • Thigh- 27.5″
  • Calve- 17.5″
  • Biceps- 18.25″


I’ll also give you my current strength stats:

  • Incline BB- 295×8-9
  • Wide grip pull ups- Bodyweightx20
  • Squat- 275×20
Mark Chism at the Colorado Championships

BBG: So let’s widen the conversation a little for some background. Where you grew up, where you went to school and for what. What do you do professionally? What was the path that led to where you are today?

Mark: I was born in San Lois Obispo, California.  I lived there until I was eight years old, when my mother moved my brothers and me to Grand Junction, Colorado.  I always had a love for physical activity, but I was also kind of a nerd. I was very skinny, and had a hard time making friends and getting picked for teams in PE. I tried some sports, but I didn’t like the fact that I had people counting on me to succeed. I couldn’t take the pressure so I dropped out of all sports activities and avoided that lifestyle for my adolescent and teen years. I attended Central High school, and began working construction shortly after I graduated. To be honest, I hated life; everybody in that surrounding hated their jobs and was miserable. I decided that I could not live like that anymore so I quit. I began focusing on my health and started exercising for fun. I responded very well, and started putting on some mass without even really trying. I decided to further my knowledge by studying Kinesiology at Mesa State College. I became a certified personal trainer in 2008 and got my first personal trainer job at Gold’s Gym Grand Junction. Shortly after I started I was given the opportunity to go help open up a new gym that was starting out as a pre-sale center. I started working for Gold’s Gym Clifton right about the same time I decided to focus on putting on serious mass. I weighed 190 lbs. @ 6’2″ so I knew I had a long way to go, but thankfully I met a bodybuilder who was prepping for the Colorado State Championships. He encouraged me to push myself in ways I never thought possible.

BBG: Where do you currently work out?

Mark: I currently lift at the gym I am employed at: 24Hour Fitness, Belleview Colorado, Club 664!

BBG: Did you play or excel at any sports outside of bodybuilding?

Mark: For me bodybuilding is the perfect sport because I can show up to practice when I feel like.  If I succeed or fail at bodybuilding, it’s all on me; it’s not on my coach, or a bad play, or a player that went out and drank the night before the game – just ME!  I always get asked if I used to play football and I love the expression on people’s face when I tell them that I am not even a big fan of the sport. (I don’t watch much TV).

BBG: What brought you into the world of lifting and when? What are your main goals in bodybuilding?

Mark: I began training when I was 24 years old weighing 168 lbs. I hated feeling weak; I wanted to be the guy everybody moves out of the way for so I made it happen. My main goal in this sport is to achieve professional status. I realize this may take a while, but I am willing to work and wait. I also want to be successful in the “business” end of the sport by earning supplement and clothing sponsorships.

Bodybuilder Mark Chism modeling at photoshoot

BBG: What are your biggest accomplishments in your workout history so far? Titles, personal goals achieved, etc.

Mark: My personal accomplishments that I am most proud of are pretty much the gains in mass that I have achieved in the amount of time that I had. I am also proud of my two first place open heavyweight titles, especially because they were in my first season of competing. Oh yeah, and when I incline pressed 315 lbs x 12 reps touching my chest with full extension.

BBG: Not bad! Are there any bodybuilders – or any athlete for that matter – that you especially admire?

Mark: I look up to many people in the sport of bodybuilding. That includes athletes like

Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Branch Warren, Dexter Jackson and many, many more. I have a ton of respect for any true athlete that devotes themselves to a sport, but I particularly admire athletes that compete in bodybuilding or women’s fitness, bikini, figure, physique, and bodybuilding.

BBG: What is your workout schedule like?

Mark: I train on a 6-day split.  So I train two days on, two days off.  I am also a fan of the 9-day split: two days on one day off.  My current training split is as follows:

  • Day 1: Quads/calves
  • Day 2: Chest/shoulders/triceps
  • Day 3: Cardio/abs/SMR/stretch
  • Day 4: Hams/calves
  • Day 5: Back/biceps
  • Day 6: Cardio/abs/SMR/stretch


BBG: What about your diet?

Mark: I am currently eating 7 meals per day consisting of whey protein, eggs/egg whites, chicken, lean ground beef, tilapia, oats, white rice, green veggies, natural peanut butter, and fast carbohydrates post training.  I cannot go into much detail regarding the timing of these meals, or the structure of the program as I have promised my coach I would keep all consultation between us. But I can say that I eat every 2-2.5 hours and drink about 2-2.5 gallons of water per day. I am currently allowed two cheat meals per week.

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

Mark: My favorite body part to work is my back.  Right now I think my strongest point may be the width of my shoulders, and even deltoid shape, although you can ALWAYS have more rear deltoid!!  My arms have got to be the most challenging body part for me to grow.

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?

Mark: Finding a GOOD training partner is one of the hardest aspects of a training program.  I want to train with someone that is as serious about training as I am.  I hate excuses, and if they can’t show up then I won’t wait.  Expect to train heavy too, with minimal rest and no BS.  I want to train with someone that has the same understanding of technique as I do.

Mark Chism with heavy dumbbell

BBG: Is there a workout that really stands out from the rest? A particularly amazing workout where you ended going further than you ever had?

Mark: The workouts that really stand out to me are usually my leg days.  My best quad/calf day was as follows:

  • Front Squats- 315×8-10 parallel
  • Leg press- 1,170×15 close stance
  • Walking BB lunges- 135×15-20 or so
  • Leg extensions- low weight x15
  • Seated calf- 180×15
  • Calf press- 360×15
Mark Chism performing front lat spread.

BBG: What’s your advice to people just starting out?

Mark: To anybody just starting out I have one piece of advice:  HIRE A TRAINER. Not just any trainer though – you don’t want to end up doing your trainer’s high school football workout. Ask around, and don’t be intimidated by the big guys in the gym.  Odds are that if you approach a big guy and compliment his deadlift, he will be pretty cool to you from then on. Those guys will usually know somebody in the industry that will get you big and give you solid advice. Just don’t try to do this all alone. It is a long road to travel, and you need someone who knows the way.

BBG: Finally, since is an interview with Big Back Grips, can you tell what your back workout consists of? And what other body parts do you work on back day and why?

Mark: Now it’s time to talk about back workouts!! Excellent. I follow a pretty simple model; upper, lower, inner, outer. Train them all with equal intensity and they will equally grow. If there is a lagging area then the intensity and focus us increased to that particular area until the desired results are achieved.

Here is my back routine:

  • Rack deadlift every couple weeks instead of reverse grip BB rows
  • Wide grip pull ups- 3xfailure @BW
  • Reverse grip BB rows- 3×6-8 @315 or so
  • Hammer strength seated row- 3×8-10 usually 3-4 plates each side
  • DB pullovers 3×12 @120
  • Wide, neutral grip lat pull downs 3×12


I work biceps on back day to try adding more volume:

  • DB one-arm preacher curls 3×12
  • Close grip spider curls 3×12
  • Seated machine curls 3×12 *I only add the third set if I feel it is appropriate with my energy and strength.

And back extensions!