Posted 04 June 2014 by Interview:

Dave Cunningham


How and when did you start training?

Well I was about 15 years old, I was captain of my school basketball team and being that I was taller than a lot of the other guys my age I wanted to be able to increase my vertical leap so I could have the lead in blocks and rebounds (because as we were taught, offense sells tickets but defence wins games!) so I approached one of my PE teachers who was 6’2 and an ambidextrous slam dunker which I saw as an incredible threat if someone was to come up against, so I wanted a vertical leap like his so sought out his advice and he showed me some basic exercises and within 3 weeks my leap increased by nearly 10 inches and by the time I was 16, I was regularly dunking, and had an almost 100% block scoring. So from this I learned that if you apply yourself and train hard then you can achieve greatness.

What mistakes did you make as a newbie?

The biggest mistake was poor nutrition, the weight training was always fun but didn’t give a second thought about correct nutrition. You make your largest gains within the first 6-12 months of training and I wish I knew then what I know now because those gains would’ve been a great deal better lol.


We know consistency is key, what tips would you give to anyone struggling to stay consistent?

Well, being healthy and in shape is a lifestyle and a part of who you are, yet most people think that getting in shape is a destination by setting a goal and achieving it, which don’t get me wrong, it is, but it’s all about setting the next goal and keep moving forward – this will help people to stay consistent. So my 3 main tips are number 1 – ask yourself – why did you start this journey, find that drive and passion again. 2 – set yourself constant goals, short term and long term so that way you are in a constant state of progression which will keep the drive going and 3 – just remember how bad you want it, because no matter what life throws at you, you WILL achieve it, as long as you stay consistent.

Do you listen to music whilst training?

I love music, always got my headphones on, I tend to listen to house, R&B and dance music when doing cardio, but when I walk into the free weight area, it’s a grimey playlist like:

  • Eminem – ‘til I Collapse
  • Godsmack – I Stand Alone
  • Linkin Park – One Step Closer
  • Dr. Dre – Kush
  • DMX – Who We Be
  • Ice Cube & Dr. Dre – Natural Born Killers (old skool!)
  • Limp Bizkit, Method Man, Redman, DMX – Rollin Remix

What do you think about when you have to dig deep and push out that last rep?

It’s kind of a collection of thoughts which all help me push past failure. Sometimes when that weight is becoming a huge struggle I say in my head “if you fail this rep then you will fail in your next show!” or “your competition think they’re training harder than you, show them that that’s a lie!” or “everyone who ever told you that you couldn’t achieve your dreams, prove them wrong here and now!”. Even though I know that stuff like an extra couple of reps in a set won’t guarantee me a win in my next competition, but it’s just a way to psych myself up for the task at hand.


How far ahead do you plan and prepare ahead your nutrition and training if at all?

To be fair, my training is always and always me just winging it. I walk into the gym knowing what muscle groups I’m training, but I never know what exercises I’m gonna do. I mean, for instance, on shoulders day I’ll always start with a press, then into a rear delt movement and so on, but I have no idea what the gym has instore for me – keeps my body guessing all the time. My nutrition however I tend to prepare a few days ahead at a time – I’m a lazy cook and aint nobody got time to be cooking up a storm every single day right! Lol.

What are you most proud of?

To be honest – it’s going to sound silly but I get real humbled and proud of being able to inspire others through my own journey, when I get tweets, messages, emails etc saying how what I’m doing is inspiring others to chase their dreams, it’s what keeps me going. Being able to give back from your own success is the biggest reward.

Do you bulk and cut or stay lean year round?

Haha, I wish I could stay lean all year round, however my body’s optimal training zone is when I’m sitting around 10-12% bodyfat because I’ve got plenty of joint protection and also my calories are higher so I can have the most beneficial workouts. However I think I’ve made the most of my gains that I’m naturally going to make so I may stay leaner after my next competition for more magazine features and cover shoots.

What types of cardio do you do?

I love the x-trainer, I can just hop on there, bounce away with my headphones on and I’m golden. However I love variety so I will throw in HIIT sprints on the treadmill, bike, rower, circuit training or if the weather is nice (which is very touch and go in the UK lol) I’ll dust off my old Air Force Ones and go shoot some hoops.

What is your training routine like?

  • Sunday – Chest + Biceps
  • Monday – Back
  • Tuesday – Hamstrings + Calves
  • Wednesday – REST
  • Thursday – Shoulders + Triceps
  • Friday – Quadriceps + Calves
  • Saturday – REST

Cardio can be varied dependant on whether I’m off-season or in contest prep and I couldn’t even tell you the details or my workouts, as even I don’t know. However I stick to a specific protocol of compound movements first, then onto isolation movements in ALL of my lifts.


What is your diet when trying to get in peak condition?

To be fair my diet tends not to differ too much between off-season and contest prep, just the macronutrient measurements. What I do to get lean is manipulate carbohydrates through a structured decline or carb cycle. For specific diet plans I can be contacted through my Facebook Page ‘Dave Cunningham Fitness’ for tailored nutrition programmes.

Who are your favourite athletes, bodybuilders or fitness models?

 You know what, there are so many, but the guys I admire are not only in good shape, but are also very humbled, down-to-earth kind of guys too like Steve Cook, Joe Donnelly, Shaun Stafford, AJ Ellison, Greg Plitt, Jaco De Bruyn, James Alexander Ellis and cant help but get fired up by CT Fletcher!

What supplements do you use if any?

 I’m pretty basic with my supplements as I’m not currently sponsored, so I just stick to:

  • Whey Protein
  • Casein Protein
  • BCAAs
  • Multi-Vitamins

What top 3 tips would you give to anyone wanting to get CutAndJacked?

  1. It isn’t 70% diet, 30% training – it’s 100% of both
  3. Love what you’re doing, otherwise what’s the point.

Dave Cunningham

Born: 13/09/1986 Weight: 86-92 kgs

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