Muscle-bound teenager Max Roberts is topping up the tan and striking a pose for Sheffield in the national finals of his first ever bodybuilding competition.
Max, aged 19, took up the sport only last year – and, 18 months on, is stunned to have come second in the regional round of the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation’s British Finals.
Now he’s dieting hard and hitting the gym in earnest for the grand final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on September 21.
Former King Edward VII schoolboy Max, from Meersbrook, said he would be delighted wherever he is ranked on the night.
“There are 12 others in my teens category, so even if I come last I can always say I’m the 13th best teenage bodybuilder in Britain!” he said. “But I’d be over the moon to be in the top five.
“The top two go on to represent the UK in the world finals in Miami, but secretly I’d be quite happy to come third. That way I get a trophy but don’t have to progress in the competition, and can stop dieting!”
Max’s gruelling training schedule has meant sticking religiously to an intake of only 1,850 calories a day – while at the same time burning off 3,500 calories daily and weight-training three times a week in the gym.
His diet since February has consisted solely of porridge with water for breakfast, and chicken with brown rice, green beans and walnuts for both lunch and dinner.
“It does mean I’m constantly starving,” he admitted. “We measure our body fat with calipers and for the regionals mine was seven per cent. I am trying to get down to four or five for the finals.”
Max, who went to Norton College to do a sports diploma after his GCSEs, and is now a fully qualified personal trainer, was first inspired to take up bodybuilding through his job as a fitness consultant at Virgin Active in Heeley.
“I met Chris Chapman who is a natural bodybuilder himself, and he became my mentor,” he said. “Then my dad died in May and it was a godsend that I had the bodybuilding, because it has been such a massive focus for me.”
Max, who runs his own bootcamps every Monday and Thursday in Meersbrook Park, and also used to box, said competing in the regional finals was nerve-wracking.
“You have to wear these tiny little shorts, and cover yourself in fake tan – the morning of the competition I was in the bathroom with my mum, with just a sock to cover my modesty, while she applied my tan everywhere. That really brought me and my mum together!
“Then on stage you have to perform a series of poses, a symmetry round where the judges look how symmetrical your physique is, and an individual routine. I had never done anything like it before.”
For the next month, Max is setting his sights on the final, and saving up for the £30 of tan he will get through on the night.
But once the competition is over he plans a year off ‘to be a teenager’ and is moving to Newcastle to work as a personal trainer and run bootcamps for students who can’t afford gym membership.
“The thing I am most looking forward to though is eating,” he said. “I can’t wait to tuck in to an absolutely enormous Chinese buffet.”