Muscle-Munch talks with bodybuilder: Darren Ball

Muscle-Munch talks with bodybuilder: Darren Ball

How did you get started?

I first started weight training just to get bigger and stronger for football, since I was a decent semi- professional footballer back in the day. I then remember one summer when the football season had ended, I started weight training really hard and stopped running so much and it was then that I found I put on muscle really easily. Then when I was 15 I remember seeing the cover of Flex Magazine with Dorian Yates and Nasser El Sonbaty on the cover and it was then that I decided to really start a career in bodybuilding. I just remember thinking they had awesome physiques and that’s what I wanted to achieve!

What supplements do you use?

Well I’ve started 2012 by announcing a partnership with Myprotein.com, I’ve used their products for a long time and I’m very happy to be an official ambassador, so now I get all my supplements from them. Firstly obviously you need a good protein shake and that’s why I use Myprotein.com’s Impact Whey Protein Isolate since it’s been micro filtered to make sure it contains even less carbs, calories and fat. I do love crunchy peanut butter as well and since 20% of my diet is made up of fats, I find this is a

good way to get this in. I love liquid egg whites and find I can either drink Myprotein.com’s liquid egg whites or I cook an omelette out of them. Also I am a fan of the fruit flavoured proteins that Myprotein do, since I find most protein shakes are thick and milk based and when I’m performing my cardio I find the fruity flavoured protein is so much more refreshing and digestible.

What does your current work-out routine look like?

Typically I train 6 days a week and I try to vary each week so I’m working the muscles in a different way each time and constantly mixing it up. At the moment though I am training:

  • Monday: Shoulders and Legs
  • Tuesday: Chest and Back
  • Wednesday: Arms
  • Thursday: (Repeat Day 1) Shoulders and Legs
  • Friday: (Repeat Day 2) Chest and Back
  • Saturday: (Repeat Day 3) Arms
  • Sunday: Rest

Also regarding volume, intensity and rest periods; I really don’t have a lot of rest between sets at all. I like to constantly feel a pump so generally I won’t have more than 45 seconds rest between sets (this is absolute maximum.) Also I do tend to lift quite heavy as well, for example my favourite exercise is shoulders and I’ll lift about 190kg for 10 reps.

Example of diet

For breakfast I like to make my own breakfast mix. It consists of baby rice, liquid egg whites and raisins and you then mix it all in a bowl and eat it with a spoon. It’s such a good start to the day and really quite nice. Also I’ve found my body doesn’t respond well to gluten so I find this is the best start to the day and I don’t get any digestive problems.

  • Meal 1: Baby rice, Liquid egg whites and raisins.
  • Post Workout: 100g of Vitargo and 4 scoops of Impact Whey Protein
  • Meal 3: 300g of cod, 75g of rice and vegetables and Super Omega Oil
  • Meal 4: 200g Steak, 15 grams of peanut butter and vegetables
  • Meal 5: 200g chicken, 50g rice, 10g peanut butter and vegetables
  • Meal 6: 200g Steak, 15 grams of peanut butter and vegetables
  • Meal 7: 3 scoops of Impact Whey Protein, 75 grams of baby rice, peanut butter and vegetables
  • Meal 8: 3 scoops of Impact Whey Isolate

What are your max lifts?

At the moment I’m lifting about 220kg for 7 reps on bench, about 340kg for 4 reps on squat and about 340kg for 4 on my deadlift. But I’d say my favourite exercise is shoulders, I’ll shoulder press about 190kg for 10.

What Music do you listen to when you’re training?

When I’m training I love to listen to R&B and Rock, specifically a bit of DMX, I really finds this gets me focused when training. When I’m chilling out though I might be listening to a bit of old school R&B like R Kelly to unwind.

You famously stay in shape all year round? What would you say your body fat percentage is?

I would say at the absolute highest it’s been 8% but for competition it really gets so lower that they can’t measure it accurately. I would guess around 3% fat when I’m actually on stage.

Do you find this is better than going on an extreme bulking phase?

I definitely do. I think guys who do that get to competition and then have to drastically change their diet and really there is no way of knowing how their body will react, when you are consistent you can almost guarantee you will get good results with no nasty surprises. Also I think putting on 50lbs isn’t good for your health, I always try to stay healthy all year around and that means keeping an eye on my weight and body fat. I literally only drop 10llbs when I’m cutting up for a competition and I just find it’s healthier on my heart. Also bodybuilding aside, I’m a proud dad and obviously have to attend to dad duties, so I wouldn’t ever want to be too big that I couldn’t play football with my kids.

How do you stay motivated?

I really find my kids are the best motivation for me. They love to watch their dad compete and they like seeing me win. So ultimately  I would say that they are the driving force behind my training.

What are your overall goals in Bodybuilding?

I think first and foremost it’s to win my Pro Card but maybe more importantly than that is to be fit and healthy.

What has been the highlight/s of your career so far?

I think winning the British was amazing and a great accomplishment. But perhaps the highlight of my career so far was guest posing in 2008 at the Hercules Show where I was able to take my daughter on stage to throw t-shirts to the crowd. That was pretty amazing and something I will always remember.

Do you take part in any other sports other than Bodybuilding and who do you admire most from other
sports?

I still love to play football and play as often as I can. I also love doing a bit of boxing and Muay Thai and I’ve actually got involved with a bit of Mixed Martial Arts. There are some great MMA fighters down my gym including great athletes like Andre Winner and it’s brilliant to sometimes learn from these guys and do something a bit different.

Free weights vs machines, what are the pros and cons and which do you prefer?

I use both; I really think there is room for both in your workout since they do very different jobs in my opinion. Free weights really help to build your stabiliser and inner muscles, where as I find machines will enable you to hit the muscles in a different way and perhaps help you build a better physique.

Who is your favourite bodybuilder, strongman or powerlifter?

Firstly I’ve so much respect for Jay Cutler, I just feel he has taken bodybuilding to the next level. Not just in terms of the sport but also because he is so businesses minded and has made a lot of money selling himself. Then of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, just because he really put the sport of bodybuilding on the map. Oh and of course Dorian Yates since he was the one that inspired me in the first place. Then in Strongman probably Terry Hollands, since he is a good friend of mine and just so strong. I remember I did a photo shoot with him not too long ago and I remember putting 5 plates on the bar for a deadlift. He then put 8 on either side and did it no problem, he is just scary strong. But such a nice guy, a really big friendly giant.

If you could give someone any advice, what would it be?

I would say rely on yourself and take control of your own body. By all means listen to other people that know what they are talking about and take it on board, but ultimately you know your body the best and better than anyone else.

Photography: Fivos Photography
Supplement Sponsor: MyProtein
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