So you wanna be a bodybuilder?

By: Chris Aldridge

Chris Culler's goal is to qualify to compete in a national bodybuilding competition by the time he's 40 years old.

Culler, 36, who works on the Department's web and mobile development in the Division of Information Technology, has four more years to accomplish his goal. He is coming off the best performance of his amateur career, winning the super heavyweight division of the Kentucky Open competition in Frankfort.

"That's the first time I've finished in first place," said Culler, who currently at 250 pounds competes in the largest division for men weighing 225 pounds or over.

Culler has amassed 13 bodybuilding trophies since his first competition in 2002, when he finished in the top five.

"There's only two competitions I didn't place in out of 12," Culler said, noting a bodybuilder has to finish among the top five in his class to receive a trophy.

In order to accomplish his goal of making it to the nationals, Culler has to not only win his class, but finish first overall out of all classes in the Kentucky Open. It won't be easy to reach his goal. His 6-foot-2 frame is actually a liability in the sport of bodybuilding.

"Normally, a light heavyweight or heavyweight wins first overall," Culler said. "Short guys are stockier, so they just look bigger. The only way I can look bigger is to gain more mass." "I still need another two years of training to get the mass I need," he added. "It's a competition, but you're competing against yourself, trying to get better at each outing."


Culler, a former center and defensive lineman on Nelson County High School's football team in the 1990s, became interested in bodybuilding watching buffed heroes in action movies like "Predator" and "Rambo" growing up. "Being a kid in the '80s, seeing [former Mr. Olympia Arnold] Schwarzenegger and [Sylvester] Stallone, I thought, 'I wanna try that,'" Culler remembered.

Day In Day Out

To keep himself in shape, Culler works out year round, alternating between cardiovascular training at home on a stair stepper machine to lifting weights at a gym when his wife's nursing schedule allows her to be home with the couple's three kids.

Weekdays on his morning break, he also climbs up and down 20 flights of stairs from his office on the seventh floor at Capital Plaza Tower.

Currently on days when he does cardio training his six meals only contain 100-160 carbohydrates in order to keep the body fat at reasonable levels. Days when he will be lifting, he eats six meals containing 300-600 carbs in order to aid his intense weight training. He also consumes 35-50 grams of protein with each of these meals in order to build muscle mass.

"I'm pretty much on a diet all year round," he said. "I cycle my carbs and work in some junk food during the off season."

Culler is hoping his strict diet and daily workout regimen will lead to a berth in the nationals, where he will compete against top amateurs. The top amateurs from the competition receive pro cards, allowing them to compete as professionals in competitions sanctioned by the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness.

"It's my goal to become a pro," he said. "But I'll be content with however the road ends. If it's not the pros, I'll know I did my best."