What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with bodybuilding?
I used to run track in high school. I was 115 pounds and started weights after the season was done to improve speed. I started bodybuilding shortly after and love every aspect, from eating healthy to having a structured routine.
What do you love most about bodybuilding?
I like that so much of bodybuilding is individual. However, you have to have a strong team and support system, I feel, for you to really reach your maximum potential. I also love the feeling of accomplishment from working so hard every single day.
What were the major milestones that gave you that "extra" motivation boost?
The biggest milestone for me was getting diagnosed with ulcerative colitis last summer. I was in and out of the hospital, and literally lost everything. I lost 30lb in 8 days in the hospital, and when I was released I could not squat the bar for even 6 reps.
I literally had to start all over. I took each day as a milestone and never gave up. A month down the road, I am the biggest and leanest I have ever been.
When you get knocked down always get up. Continue to fight for your goals, and what you want in life and nothing will stop you.
What keeps you motivated?
To improve every show and shock myself.
Who were your heroes growing up and how did they help inspire you to get involved with bodybuilding?
My dad, he worked for everything he has in life.
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
I want to improve every show I do, and eventually turn pro as a light heavy.
How often do you perform cardio?
Never off-season, contest prep 6 times a week with treadmill at an incline.
How often do you change your training routine, and do you periodize your training?
I stick to the basics, but I like to change it up every 2-3 weeks for a different feel and depending on how recovery is going.
Which do you prefer, and why…steady state cardio or HIIT?
Steady state, I feel it preserves muscle the best.
What are some of your best training tips for someone who just wants to look good and ripped, but doesn’t want to compete?
Eat right, and train your ass off in the gym.
What are some of the most common mistakes made when someone is trying to build muscle and/or get ripped?
Not eating properly. People tend to not eat enough or don't have their meal timing right.
Which workout has worked best for you?
Volume training, I believe you have to train extremely hard each session, but there is no reason to stay in the gym for 2 hours either. Blast the muscle then go home and start the recovery process.
What advanced training techniques work well for you?
I like pre-exhaust and supersets for sure. Keeps the training intense throughout.
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
I always use Betancourt Nutrition's Pure Amino pre and post-workout. If I need an extra kick I will use D-Stunner pre-workout as well. It always helps the mental focus and helps me to push for a few extra reps.
What does your off-season eating plan look like?
I eat every 2-3 hours. I usually get in 1-2 egg meals, 1-2 turkey meals, 1-2 shakes and a steak meal. I eat one cup of rice with each meal, and sometimes eat baked potatoes as well.
Do you believe recomping is possible (gaining muscle while losing fat), and if so, is it as difficult as most people think it is?
I believe it without a doubt. I stay within 12-15lbs of stage weight all year and continue to improve each season.
What is your best diet, nutrition and supplementation tips for someone who wants to get ripped?
Be consistent. Keep a log of what you do, how you feel, and how your lifts are going. If it doesn't work in 1-2 weeks you need to change something.
What are some of the biggest training mistakes you’ve made?
The best gains I made have been while training hard for 2 days and 1 day off. Listen to your body. If you cant push it 100% wait another day.
What are some of your favorite supplements and why?
Betancourt Pure amino. It tastes great, especially the watermelon flavor. I take this in the morning, and pre and post-workout.
How important is nutrient timing for performance and/or building muscle?
Very important. You have to eat consistently around the clock and on time especially if youre trying to add size.
Which athletes do you admire any why?
Phil Heath. I admire his perseverance. When he first competed everyone said his back would never match up, etc. Now he has probably the best back double bicep in the sport.
Workout music – which groups/music styles are on your playlist?
I love Disturbed, Saliva, Linkin Park, Five Finger Death Punch.
If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?
- Instagram: @darkhorsesantamaria
- Facebook: Chris Santamaria
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to compete in your sport?
Always be consistent; with each meal, every rep, every day. It all adds up.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I like to play poker, watch movies, hockey.