‘We’re not all shaved and bronzed’: Meet the athletes competing to be crowned Britain’s henchest student

Some of them are shaved and bronzed


How many times a week do you go to the gym? How much can you squat? Do you even lift?

These ripped contestants are stronger and look better lathered with baby oil than you do.

They’re competing in the Mass Student Physique Championship and spend hours in the gym on their daily work-outs, benching hundreds of kilos — they’re essentially the human version of tanks who still manage to do their degrees.

We spoke to them about the upcoming competition, the size of their arms and what it feels like to have nearly as many shredded abs as fingers.

Brooke Wood, 20, Sheffield Hallam

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Psychiatric nurse Brooke competed in last year’s championship and liked it so much she wanted to go again. At 5 ft 8 (and a half) and 60 kilos, she can leg press 150.

“I loved last year’s contest, it’s helped me into a healthy lifestyle. I’m in the gym every day for at least an hour and a half, sometimes two or three.

“I eat fresh, healthy food and I don’t drink. It’s not worth the dead calories which can affect my training.

“I’ll be in the gym when my mates are on a night out.”

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Credit: LA Muscle

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Credit: LA Muscle

Serife Ustuner, 22, Bath

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Serife is a fourth year electrical engineer at Bath. She’s 5 ft 1 and weighs 51 kilos. She can squat 95 and is competing in the Mass SPC in Southampton on 14th March.

“I’ve never done any competitions before but I’ve always been very lean so it was easy when I started gymming seriously.”

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Chris Lyttas, 24, Sussex


Now Chris is a law finalist at Sussex but he used to be a soldier in the Cypriot Army. He’s 5 ft 9, weighs 89 kilos and can squat 180.

“When I first came to university, the first thought I had was ‘Where’s the gym?’

“I was quite chubby when I was a child and after I saw people in the gym being really buff, I thought ‘Can I be like that?’

“Now I gym five to six times a week, for about an hour and 20 minutes at a time.”



Natalya Rose, 22, Newcastle

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Third year Natalya said she started to become a hardcore gym fiend after she saw pictures of a bikini competitor. The 5 ft 4, 56 kilo dentist benches 90 and wants to become a powerlifter.

“I train six times a week for about 45 minutes to an hour at a time and I do cardio three times a week.

“I can have a drink as long as it fits into my calorie allowance. I have a coach who sets how much I have to eat and sets my training plans.

“Most people won’t drink 10 weeks before the contest.”

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Sharon Shergill, 20, Loughborough

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Stacked Sharon is in her third year of reading Physics and Maths. She only started going to the gym a year ago and works out five times a week and kickboxes four. She’s 5 ft 4 and is 54 kilos and her deadlift record is 110.

“Seeing all the pictures from last year’s Mass SPC contest made me think competing would be an amazing thing to do.

“I changed my diet and my exercise regime and now have met loads of people in the gym.

“It’s great seeing changes in your body and setting goals to reach.”

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Sam Parsons, 24, Medicine

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Sam’s been going to the gym for eight years but only taking it really seriously for a year and a half. He says he hits the weights 13 times a week and his first session is at 6:15am. Sam’s 6 ft 1, 92 kilos and his deadlift personal best is 160.

“All my mates thought the competition was a piss-take at the beginning. Everyone thinks bodybuilders are shaved and bronzed.

“But it means I don’t laze about, it gives me more energy.

“I only allow boozing on Friday, never in the mid-week. It’s a gin and slimline tonic for me.”

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Holly Couzens, 20, Leicester


Second year physiotherapist Holly has been toning her physique for the past two years and says it has become a lifestyle for her. Measuring 5 ft 8 and 57 kilos, she can squat 100.

“Eating healthily and working out can be tough sometimes but I follow a load of bodybuilders on Instagram and we prop each other up with motivation.”



Jonathan Lai, 18, UEA

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Fresher Jonathan just started at UEA doing Medicine, and is a year and a half into doing a proper work-out plan. He says he wakes up before 7am every day to get into the gym before lectures. He’s 6 ft, 84 kilos and can deadlift 170.

“I did a powerlifting contest in Hong Kong and I’m doing the British National Bodybuilding Federation teen category next year.

“My aim is to be a functional bodybuilder. I want to be a doctor that body builds on the side.”

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