[Photo credit: Pat Lee]
Tuan Tran enlightens us on all things training, fitness and what it takes to be a completely ‘natural’ bodybuilder.
Thanks Tuan, for taking the time to answer some Q’s
Tuan Tran: No problem. If someone wants to become a role model or leader, it’s important for them to make time for others that are looking for guidance and direction. As an advocate of natural, drug-free athletics and training, I feel it is my responsibility to help others.
How did you get started in your career as a model, trainer and Fitness Pro?
Tuan Tran: I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a Fitness Professional, but you can say health and fitness was always a part of my life. From countless hours playing street football and basketball, to my father having me enrolled in Karate when I was only 7 years old — I cannot remember a time when I was not doing something that was fitness related.
During my middle school and high school years, I was always busy playing football and running track and field. Once I entered college at the University of Houston, I was told that I was not what they were looking for, mainly because I was too short and only ran a 4.69 forty. Because of that, I followed the advice of my father and started off as a student in the college of engineers. I hated every minute of it. After 2 semesters of average grades, I changed my major to ‘undecided’ not really knowing what I wanted to do.
…But as many different photographers have told me, there is something about me that stands out, and I understand how to make an impact on camera. I’ll just have to take their word for it.
During my 2nd year in college, I started working as a part time personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness and while working there, I realized that I really enjoyed training people. From that point on, I decided I would do everything in my power to become one of the best fitness professionals in the nation and make a name for myself in the fitness industry.
As for being a fitness model, that was all by accident. I was in the audience supporting one of my clients when a photographer came up to me and asked if I’d ever done any work as a fitness model or even competed. After talking with Joe from Mostmuscular.com and having him sponsor me for one of my first shows, things have been happening ever since. Some things planned, some things out of the blue; I never had any thoughts or dreams of being a model. To be honest, I never considered myself the model type. But as many different photographers have told me, there is something about me that stands out, and I understand how to make an impact on camera. I’ll just have to take their word for it.
What’s the most important thing that has kept you motivated over the years?
Tuan Tran: I would say that it’s my job to lead by example, but that is not the most important reason why. I want to make my wife, family, friends and clients proud. I want to show others that it’s possible to achieve great things without the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). To promote fitness without compromising one’s health.
I like functional athletic training that deals with mastering the human body vs. the so called “miracle machines” that promise to create the perfect body with little to no effort.
What are some of the other writers, artists, models and fitness leaders that have inspired you?
Tuan Tran: Anyone who trains for a goal and does it without the use of PED’s inspires me.
Bruce Lee’s life and MLK inspired me to stand up for what I believe in no matter how big or small the circumstance. Keith Tobias, the owner of BONA, has inspired me by showing what can be achieved through hard work. But the people who inspire me the most are my parents who have overcome so much to raise my brothers and I.
I could live multiple lifetimes and still not accomplish and endure what they have in just one life.
Anything built on a weak foundation will eventually crumble and fall apart. It takes a lot of mental strength and fortitude to train your legs and calves to become bigger and stronger.
I debunk a lot of gimmicks and scams on this site. Is there anything fitness related that you’ve fallen victim to yourself and wasted your money on in the past?
Tuan Tran: I can happily say that almost everything I’ve invested in has worked well for me. Then again, what I’ve invested in has been my education, my certifications and text books that have taught me what I needed to know vs “bro science” magazines filled with individuals that look like side-show acts, or the fad diets that only leave you unhealthy, bigger and worse-off.
Also, I like functional athletic training that deals with mastering the human body vs. the so called “miracle machines” that promise to create the perfect body with little to no effort.
Your own physical feature that you are most proud of would be?
Tuan Tran: My legs and calves. All great athletes stand on powerful legs. Anything built on a weak foundation will eventually crumble and fall apart. It takes a lot of mental strength and fortitude to train your legs and calves to become bigger and stronger.
What is your diet like? Do you stick to a method (such as intermittent fasting etc) What’s the approach that works best for you?
Tuan Tran: The science behind how the human body works is what dictates my diet/nutritional intake. From what kind of simple/complex carbs I eat to when I eat them, to calculating my BMR and stress factors to following the best macronutrient ratio to help me reach my goal.
Once one understands the ‘science of food’, you understand how to change your body at will. My goals also largely dictate my diet – whether it be bodybuilding, going into a hypertrophy specific program, getting ready for a powerlifting meet where I need to gain weight to max the 198 weight class or lose weight to compete in the 181 weight class, or even training to run a 10km race – no one diet/nutrition program is going to be a perfect fit for all of those different goals.
The honest truth is, my diet is like the seasons: always changing to meet new demands. But I promise you, as random as it may sound, each diet is backed with a solid amount of scientific data to maximise my results for each program.
Put down the ‘Flex Magazine’, pick up a human anatomy and physiology text book and start learning about the foundations of the human body.
When looking to build muscle, what’s your preferred training technique?
Tuan Tran: I like to do slow eccentric movements, pause reps, explosive/ballistic movements and elongate the muscles as much as possible to maximise the range of motion and reach every muscle-fiber possible in order to make them grown.
Do your dieting methods change when going from muscle building, strength gain and fat-loss? What are the key differences?
Tuan Tran: As I’ve touched on before, my diet is always changing depending on the goals I have. You cannot build muscle on a calorie deficit nor can you lose fat on a calorie surplus. You cannot maximise performance on a low-carb diet considering that glycogen is what is needed to perform at your best. Also, most people do not understand the different energy pathways such as beta oxidation, glycolosis and ATP-PC. Without this knowledge, how can one properly fuel their bodies to achieve the results they want? That would be like trying to do an algebraic equation without first learning how to add or subtract.
Are there any KEY diet or training tips that you adhere to and would recommend to my readers?
Tuan Tran: Here’s a few…
- Stop following fad diets and start learning about how food fuels each energy pathway.
- Put down the ‘Flex Magazine’, pick up a human anatomy and physiology text book and start learning about the foundations of the human body.
- Quit listening to the “bro science” from guys using all kinds of Performance Enhancing Drugs to enhance their bodies because unless you’re willing to take them, there is a high chance that you won’t gain anything if you followed their program/s without using the same drugs.
- Quit caring about what guys think of you when you’re training and leave your ego at the door. When you are honest with yourself and honest about your progression, you will change for the better and when that happens, others will notice and wish they could be as successful as you.
- Stay away from Performance Enhancing Drugs. There is no such thing as a ‘never-ending high’, meaning whatever you gain from using PED’s, unless you are going to keep using them until the day you die, all your gains will be lost once you stop using. As they say, “Easy come, easy go.”
- Lastly, knowledge leads to power. Power leads to freedom. Freedom leads you to success. If you need someone that can help you gain that knowledge, I can help.
What supplements do you use if any? If not, why not?
Tuan Tran: I use supplements sparingly. Too be honest, I really hate how people always ask what supplements I use as if the supplements were the only reason that I get results. Supplements are just things that you naturally already get from the food you eat and the water you drink. So if you’re missing something in your diet, that’s when you should perhaps consider supplements.
However, there are 3 supplements that I do use year-round because I ‘know’ I do not eat enough natural foods to get what I need every day.
- Omega 3′s
- Whey Protein (only if I don’t get enough natural protein from whole foods).
What’s a day-in-the-life for Tuan Tran like? Give us a run-down of how you eat, train and move on a regular day.
Tuan Tran: Right now I am getting ready for my main competition so I will give you a rundown of a weekday and also a video playlist of workouts I am doing to get ready for my show…
- I wake up at either 5:30 or 6am depending whether I need to train my first client or do my morning cardio. I will train anywhere from 8 to 12 one-on-one clients in a day.
- I do the best I can to keep up with my nutritional intake with bars, shakes and meals I have made. But with the knowledge I have about food, it gives me the power and freedom to make successful choices if I have to go to fast-food places for a quick bite.
- My workouts are at random times mainly because I never know when I might have a free hour or two. They can be as early as 6am in the morning or as late as 8pm at night. But work is work and I get it done (I make no excuses no matter how hard my life is).
- I get home around 7pm or 8pm depending on my workload and then start with my online clients and filter through the comments and emails from support, fans, haters etc.
- I try my best to get to bed by 10:30pm, but many nights I am working until 11pm. Oh yeah, I also do my own marketing – I shoot, edit and upload my own videos. I also take care of all the regular responsibilities as a husband and family man.
- Starting January 2013, I will be running my own fitness facility, so I guess you can say I’m a busy guy.
What’s next on the horizon for Tuan Tran?
Tuan Tran: Take care of business at Musclemania 2012 Fitness America in the Open Middle Weight Class and getting my fitness facility up and running before 2013.
As for my personal life, my wife and I would like to start a family soon.
[Photo credit: Pat Lee]
That’s great Tuan – I forgot to ask are you on Fitocracy or any other health related social sites?
Tuan Tran: I do a little bit on bodyspace, but for the most part, no. I have a hard enough time just keeping up with my online clients and my youtube channel. The last thing I need is something else taking up more time that I really do not have.
Fair call! Thanks for your time Tuan, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Tuan Tran: No problem Clint. I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported me through my fitness journey. I will do all I can to keep promoting the natural, drug-free movement. For those reading this article, I hope my answers give you a deeper insight on the different aspects of fitness and leads you on a path of enlightenment to better yourself and others around you. Take care.
Tuan Tran’s social circle
If you’d like to get in touch with Tuan, checkout his site and social pages:
Online personal training website: http://trainerforce.net/TIhealthandfitness/trainer_home.asp
You Tube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/roughneckasian?feature=mhee
Personal Training Promo Video: http://youtu.be/ILz-iToHOYY