Aflete loves transformers – not the big alien car variety, more the big muscular inspirational kind, so luckily enough we were able to catch up with Dave Cunningham – Online coach and personal trainer who made his own transformation from skinny to strong and now helps people from all over the world make their own transformations.
Dave helps people go from all shapes and sizes to achieve the physiques that they aspire to, which is no mean feat.
Aflete asks the hard questions to find out just what it takes to develop this kind of physique and get some pro tips and insights to his training.
Enjoy the interview…
For those who don’t know you can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure, my name is Dave Cunningham, I’m 28 years old and I’m a Fitness Model Competitor. I work as an Online Coach and Personal Trainer specialising mainly in physique transformations
When did you get into bodybuilding and what motivated you?
Growing up I was always that tall skinny kid, I had a crazy growth spurt when I was about 13 and shot up to the height I am now. My teachers approached me and said that while I had this
height advantage I should develop my skills as a basketball player, so I did. For my height I needed to play Center which is quite a solid position but I weighed 130lbs so needed to gain some muscle, so went along to my local gym and tried a few of the machines and loved the feeling it gave me and how tough it was, and that’s where it all started.
What has been your biggest struggle and achievement on the road to sculpting your incredible physique?
Well unfortunately for me I haven’t got very good genetics AT ALL! I was your typical skinny fat kid who could only gain weight if it was fat and mainly on my torso. So my biggest struggle has been muscle hypertrophy (building lean mass) so to have gone from 130lbs up to a stage weight of 190lbs at 4% bf, and I’m proud of that seeing as most of my teachers at school said that I was probably going to stay skinny for the rest of my life.
What is your favourite body part and what exercises do you use to train it?
I would have to say that my favourite body part to train is calves. Just like most people, they’re a lagging and stubborn body part for me to get any development from so over the years I’ve learned to love them and really learned to love that pain that comes along with isolating calves on machines like standing and seated calf raise. I use a variation of exercises for my calves but the workouts normally follow a similar structure. I always start off with a standing calf raise whether that be single leg, on a smiths machine or on a purpose built standing calf raise, then I move onto a sliding calf raise on either the purpose built sliding calf raise machines that we have at my gym or on an incline leg press machine, then I use the seated calf raise to finish off with. My rep ranges vary week to week but the main focus is volume because the calves are an endurance built muscle so can take a fair beating and I use that to my advantage with more total reps and sets in a workout.
Which is your weakest body part and how can people deal with muscles that just don’t grow as well as others?
Well as explained in my previous answer, my weakest body part is calves, although they have developed in the last couple of years and what’s helped me is I have trained them twice a week, on a Tuesday and a Friday just to get that extra work load in and pay them better attention. So if you’re finding that a certain body part isn’t growing as quick or as well as the rest of your body – make that your main focus and double up for increased growth.
You have to cut weight for competitions but what foods do you like to indulge in when you are far away from competition?
I love pizza and ice cream! I’ve always been a big eater so the only struggle I face is when calories start to come down and become restricted, although I tend not to indulge too much in the off-season as I work hard to achieve that stage ready physique and don’t like to compromise my conditioning too much, if I can help it lol
As a fitness competitor what do you do to give yourself the edge over your competitors? (Do use and unique methods or unexpected strategies?)
Where we’ve got so many outlets now such as social media, YouTube and the internet I see others posting what they eat and how they train, and agree with some of it, but respect that they know THEIR body just like I know mine, and what works well for me is to not over complicate things and keep everything consistent and simple – it’s easier to manipulate training and nutrition that way so I tend not to go crazy on supplementation etc. So I guess I’m a little old school in my approach and don’t over complicate anything really.
Have you ever experienced any negatives from bodybuilding (e.g. such as injuries, strain on relationships or biggerexia) and how did you overcome it?
Being that this is somewhat of a selfish sport, I personally try to make more of an effort to make time for family and friends as you need to maintain that healthy balance in life because it helps to keep a clearer mindset during prep and when the pressure’s on closer to show day. Injuries I just tend to work around (although I tend not to get many these days as I’ve learned a lot of my boundaries as an athlete and train my physique rather than my ego). There can be strain on relationships but only if you let it – I always keep in the forefront of my mind that my friends and family are very supportive of what I do and it’s only fair that I repay that support by being there for them just as much as they are for me.
Who do you look to as personal bodybuilding / fitness inspirations?
There are a few guys in the industry that I follow quite intensely as I admire or respect what they do, their achievements or their academics. I’m a massive fan of Steve Cook and aspire to lead the same lifestyle he does by spreading the word of health and fitness all over the world. I love to give back and help others so to be in a position where I can interact on a face to face and one to one basis with people from all around the world would be a dream come true. I love watching Dr. Layne Norton’s video logs as he takes science and translates it into the simplest forms to where anybody can extend their knowledge and understanding. Joe Donnelly’s work ethic is something I respect massively because he trains more for performance than aesthetics which resonates with me as an ex basketball player. A great physique by itself won’t necessarily inspire me, I like to know the story and the background behind the physique and like to connect with people on a more personal level.
You clearly care about helping people through social media – inspiring them with your physique and sharing your own recipes – why do you do it and have you been helped by other lifters through social media?
Like a lot of things in my life, I’ve had to learn everything the hard way and by my own accord, not all of what I know, but most through tried and tested methods. Growing up as a skinny teen I would’ve loved to have someone to look up to for inspiration, information and knowledge so I decided to take it upon myself to put the info out there and if it helps to make a difference to someone else’s life and makes them choose a healthier lifestyle because of it then that’s an incredible achievement in itself.
What do you think of Nomnom (a social app for 100% food, health and fitness aiming to provide a supportive and safe community to people) and do you think it can be more beneficial than current platforms to other fitness enthusiasts?
I think it’s great what you guys are doing. Anything where people are trying to help others through added information and important content can only be a good thing for this industry. Too many people are out for themselves so apps like yours are a great addition to the positive input towards our industry. I think the content that you guys are putting out there is a great addition to the other current platforms that are already available so just keep doing your thing guys!
What features would you like to see in Aflete? What features do you think would be beneficial for people serious about fitness?
Obviously you guys are heavy on the nutrition side, it would be great to accompany different training programmes and methods that would complement the apps and make for another great outlet.
What’s next for Dave Cunningham?
Well I am competing in The WBFF European Pro/Am on the 8th of November in the Fitness Model Tall category, so that’s where a lot of my focus is. Earning that pro card with The WBFF was my ultimate dream when I first started in this industry and I’m now a matter of days away from potentially fulfilling that dream.
How can people see more of you?
I’m a very interactive guy so you can always contact and find more of my content on my social media outlets like my Facebook Fitness Page: Dave Cunningham Fitness Or my Twitter page: @DaveC_Fitness Or my Instagram: @dave_cunningham
Thanks to Dave for taking the time to speak with us! We can certainly see the amazing work he has already put in and we wish him every success with his current and future competitions!
We hope to be back with more inspirational words from him and tips on making your personal transformations soon.
Congratulations to Dave as he claimed 4th at The WBFF European Pro/Am on the 8th of November in the Fitness Model Tall category.