Six Pack Nick Paniagua Talks To Muscle & Strength

Nick Paniagua
Quick Stats
Controlled Labs sponsored athlete Nick Paniagua discusses the training and diet secrets behind his amazing six pack abs.

You are absolutely shredded. What are the keys to your conditioning, and do you stay crazy-ripped all year long?

Thank you. I've always been a very lean person, as a child and into my teens. I have an extremely high metabolism. So it's always been a  challenge for me to put on weight. I personally never had any interest in doing the bulk\cut\bulk\cut deal as much as just slowly putting on lean muscle mass, my body just responds better. When it comes to training\conditioning I keep it very simple, I always train high volume\high intensity, training 1-2 muscle groups per session at around 20-24 sets total per session on a 2 days on 1 day off and so forth routine.

I hit about 4 sets per exercise starting at 10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps and then 1 last set at 10 reps or to failure if I am up for it. Some might look at that and go "He's overtraining"...but if you can believe this, I actually cut down my gym time to about an hour and a half. I used to train for two and a half hours 5-6 days a week in a row. I was overdoing it then and tapered down my training sessions a little throwing a day of rest and recovery in between every 2 days of training. I don't do any cardio at all...none. My metabolism does the work for me. I've learned to accept that I have no control over my metabolism and that it can work for me, even though early on I hated it more than anything because I just wanted to grow and grow fast. But I have learned to just deal with it which means I need to eat a ton just to maintain.

Ab Flex

My diet is for the most part in check and strict. I think diet is the most important when trying to reach those ultimate goals. If I miss a meal or don't eat enough calories that day I can tell and sure enough if I step on the scale pounds will be lost, so I have to keep on top of it. I try to stay lean year round, in the winter I may enjoy a couple more cheat meals than usual but my bodyfat percentage tends to stick around the 6% mark. I'm all about changing things up and trying new things so who knows, in the future I may decide to try the traditional bulk\cut deal, but for right now I'll stick with what's working for me.

Tell me about your athletic background, and how you found your way into lifting?

As a young kid I was very active. I played soccer, baseball and skateboarded quite a bit. On top of having an extremely high metabolism, I was getting all this cardio in which kept me very skinny. As a result of being so skinny I got teased a lot. It was something that really affected me. I was done with being teased, you can only take it for so I started to read some bodybuilding and fitness magazines, the pictures were   enough to get me amped up so I ripped out pages out of these magazines and posted them on my wall.

I had inspiration and motivation surrounding me. My father came home with a bench press and some free weights shortly after he noticed my new interest. My eyes lit up when he came home with all this! The bench got set up right in the middle of my bedroom, free weights next to the bed and a pull up bar along the door frame. This was where it all started for me. As I started to read about nutrition, I started to eat more. At that time I worked out Monday-Wednesday-Friday and I soon realized there was only so much I could do at home as far as certain exercises and movements went. So I checked out the local gym and as soon as I walked in, my eyes lit up! I wanted to try everything there. I immediately signed up for a membership.

Nick Paniagua

I learned so much from the more experienced lifters there and took all the information in. It felt like a family to me. If I had any questions regarding training or nutrition I could ask anyone and they'd gladly give me advice. Just a few years after I joined that gym, we got news it was closing it's doors. I was devastated and knew I'd have to look for another I did and got back to work. I trained and trained and trained, and noticed that there were people I knew, friends I had that would easily get burned out or just simply didn't want to work out anymore. It was something I enjoyed, it had become more than something I liked became a passion and a lifestyle.

You mentioned that you were a skinny kid...Any eating or training tips you can share with other fellow "skinny guys"?

We've all got a vision or idea of what we'd like our bodies to look like. Some actually do something about it and some just keep envisioning and saying someday. I didn't want to be teased anymore, I didn't want to be known as the skinny kid. I know there are a lot of kids out there with a similar story who want to do something about it.

Nick PaniaguaThe first step is making a commitment. You need to commit to eating and training. Consistency and dedication are the key to progression. Most everyone knows you got to eat to grow. This is something every skinny kid looking to put on size should keep in the back of their head. Now when it comes to eating, I wouldn't recommend eating everything in sight as this will make you gain weight, but not the kind of weight you want to gain.

You want quality muscle, quality weight gain, therefore eat clean but keep your cals high. Your protein and carb intake should also be up there as well. You should be taking in 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound bodyweight and this goes for anyone. Some of us will take in a little more depending but this is usually the standard. For protein I'd recommend, steak (lean beef), chicken, fish, eggs, turkey and the 1-2 protein shakes you should get in daily.

Stick to oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice and yams for those carbs. It will be hard to eat, I won't say it isn't going to be hard. You will feel full all the time but this is all part of the deal. You need to stick to that eating schedule as any missed meals will effect you. When it comes to training, you got to get in that gym and train hard! Think about your goals as you train, think about why you want to reach those goals. Training routines will differ for most, this is why you need to experiment and try new exercises and movements, seeing what works "best for you".

We are all different therefore our bodies react differently to certain movements and routines. Try a certain routine for awhile and if it doesn't work for you try something new or mix things up, you will eventually find a routine that works for you. Don't get discouraged, results don't happen takes time to make progress and see results but I promise you will if you stick with it.

Many people want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Do you believe this is possible, and why or why not?

I do believe it is possible, however it requires a ton of patience and dedication. Those who want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time need to understand it takes time along with your diet being on point. Playing the lean mass game is something I've been doing for about 4 years now. I'll up my caloric intake quite a bit in the winter still eating the same foods as I would during the summer, just bigger portions. I try to eat clean year round which keeps my bodyfat percentage fairly low.

Since my metabolism is so high I need to make sure I eat every few hours just to maintain my weight, so eating is a constant thing for me. I try to stay as consistent as possible inside and outside the gym. Lean mass gains can be made but before going about that route, you need to understand how your body works. Everyone is different and what might work for someone might not work for yourself due to how your body reacts to certain foods and training routines.

Nick Paniagua

My best piece of advice would be to over look your current diet and write down your daily macros just to see where you are currently at. Start by adding around 3-400 cals of clean food, that might be another small meal somewhere in your daily diet and monitor\adjust things from there. If you feel you need to up it some more, do so. Be patient and give it time as results will not happen overnight. A clean diet is key, it is the most important thing when it comes to making gains and burning fat.

I was just checking out your website. Can you tell us a bit about it and some of the products you offer...

Sacrifice & Honor was established earlier this year and founded by Nathan Powers and myself Nick Paniagua. Putting out a clothing line together was something we had been talking about for years. We both had an interest in fashion\clothing and most of all bodybuilding\fitness. We decided, why not put out something for the bodybuilding and fitness community?

Ideas and visions filled our heads and we went ahead and put everything into action. We wanted to put out something new, something with true meaning that those who lived this lifestyle could relate to. We went through numerous names for the company and after some thought we decided to go with Sacrifice & Honor. Living this lifestyle you make sacrifices everyday and you do what you need to do in order to reach that ultimate goal...this is a lifestyle lived proud and honorably.

Nick PaniaguaWe offer premium fitted men's t-shirts and tank tops at the moment. We will also be putting out men's sweats, hoodies, shorts, beanies and hats very soon as well as the upcoming release of our women's line starting out with t's, tanks and workout pants for the women. This is a lifestyle lived 24\7 so we wanted to be sure that the clothing\material is something that can be worn in the gym or as casual street wear. You can check out the Sacrifice & Honor apparel here.

What's the most brutal thing you do in the gym - something that you dread doing, but do anyway - and why?

Right now I'd have to say it's my delt\trap workout. I am really trying to bring both out. It's about an hour and 20 minute workout that just brings the pain. I can't say I really dread any workout because it's what I love doing but this workout in particular is definitely killer, from the lateral raises, immediately to standing dumbbell presses etc. The burn is indescribable but we all do what we need to do in order to progress right?

That is why I do what I do because I want to progress. We all have weaker or underdeveloped muscles on our bodies that could be worked on and for some, training those parts might not be something that's looked forward to but regardless need to be trained if you're looking to have balance throughout your physique. You cannot ignore training certain muscles, even if it's a workout you do it because you know you have to.

If you had to start all over again, knowing what you know now, what would you change about your training and nutrition?

I'd have to say that I would have cut my training down a bit. I was definitely overtraining when I first started to get serious. I thought that the more and longer I worked out would give me muscles and make me bigger, when in fact recovery is what I needed more of. I started to progress when I cut down my time spent in the gym allowing a day off here and there. Since my metabolism is so high I also wasn't eating enough so I revamped my diet really looking at it and added quite a few more carbs, protein, fats and overall cals.

We all learn through making mistakes and if I would have known this from the beginning sure I might have been in better shape sooner but the journey through the years might have been different in which I wouldn't want to change at all. This has all been such an amazing experience and I'm grateful for every opportunity that has come my way.

Can you tell me about some of your accomplishments, and what your goals are for the coming year?

Here are some of my accomplishments over the years...

  • Controlled Labs Sponsored Natural Athlete.
  • Nutrition Zone Sponsored Athlete.
  • Muscle Ink Sponsored Athlete\Model.
  • Awarded Photo Gallery Of The Year 2008.
  • Appeared in IronMan Magazine July 2008.
  • Appeared as Abs of the Month May 2008, for
  • Appeared in Muscle and Fitness Magazine, and Flex Magazine, September 2008.
  • Appeared in MuscleMag Magazine, October 2008.
  • Appeared in Maximum Fitness Magazine, November 2008.
  • Appeared in Planet Muscle Magazine, December 2008.
  • Featured on's Physique Profile Series, Oye Body Survey.
  • Appeared in Men's Workout Magazine, Feb 2009.
  • Appeared in Status Fitness Magazine 2009.
  • Photoshoot\Feature for IronMan Magazine 2010.
  • Interview with Mike Arone for 2010.
  • Featured in IronMan Magazine\Full page spread 2010.
  • Featured Interview with 6 Pack Fitness October 2010.
  • Co-Founder and President of Sacrifice & Honor 2010.

Nick Paniagua

A few goals that I have for 2011-2012 would be to really focus on my bodybuilding and fitness clothing line "Sacrifice & Honor" that my business partner (Nathan Powers) and I started up last year. So far 2011 has started out great! I will also be continuing to focus on my training, hoping to step on stage sometime in the near future.

There are a few people in particular I would like to thank for the support over the years, my family, friends and fans. Without all of you, I would not be where I am today and that is the absolute truth. Ian L. Sitren who gave me my very first photoshoot and last but not least Ryan DeLuca.

How can people connect with you?

XNick EdgeX
Posted on: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 15:47

First off, I would like to thank Steve for the great opportunity, so thank you Steve!

Joel, thanks man!

Joe, thank you. Staying grounded and level headed has always been important to me, I've never been that over confident\cocky dude..after all, who likes an over confident\cocky dude? I know I don't.

What up Lee, if I do ever make it over to the UK I'll be sure to post it up on my Twitter page! I've always wanted to take a trip out there. Appreciate your support Lee!

Thanks Gaurav!

gaurav anand
Posted on: Sun, 05/15/2011 - 14:13

nick helloooo
My name is gaurav from india ,very nice pic for u

Lee Murray king
Posted on: Fri, 05/13/2011 - 03:17

Nick when will you ever come across to the UK, you have a massive fan base here and we would love to meet you.
P.S. Bring your clothing line here as well with you lol

Posted on: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 23:37

Nick's a great guy and had the pleasure of talking to him on another forum. Very down to earth

Posted on: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 19:33

You're the man Nick!