Fitness And Magazine Model Matus Valent Talks To Muscle & Strength
What is your athletic background and how did you get involved with fitness modeling?
When I was a kid I played soccer for couple years. After I got to high school I changed my sport and became a volleyball player, and played it on a serious level for about 9 years. Hard and exhausting trainings on the field and in the gym gave me the basics for my physique, the sporty athletic look. Playing beach volleyball later in my career only helped to improve it.
These days I play it only for fun, am focusing mostly on my gym training and to stay on the top of this fitness game. I love this sport (lifestyle) a lot, sometimes it gets a bit stereotypy, but the final result always motivates me to push & train even harder. Winning the Model America ’06 championship and appearing on 10 magazine covers gets me the strength to go through hard workouts and diets.
What were the major milestones that gave you that “extra” motivation boost?
As I mentioned before in this interview I played volleyball for over 9 years. As the main achievements for me in this sport, was to win the Slovakian junior championship title I believe it was in 1999. We also placed 2nd a year before. Being a member of the junior national was really a big deal for me when I prepared with my teammates for the World Championship in Saudi Arabia. I won few small tournaments in beach volleyball, finished 2nd in the College Championship in Slovakia and won the California A-category title.
With my modeling, you can see my resume on my website. But as for the more important stuff I have done, I would say, being on covers of magazines like Muscle & Fitness, Fitness RX, Muscle & Performance all with enormous circulation is a great achievement for me.
Also the Pathfinder movie poster (as seen world-wide) is featuring myself which I consider as a big deal. Currently I am on 2 national TV commercials for workout products (Shake Weight, T*CORE), which are running on multiple TV channels constantly, this is bringing me a huge amount of exposure.
My best results in fitness modeling competitions, was the first place at the Model America 2006 event, which was held in Hollywood. It was a strong line up of over 50 fit guys and luckily for me the judges gave my the most points. I also finished first at the Model California ’05 & ’06, but these were a bit smaller contests. My best result at the Model Universe competitions was a 3rd place in 2006.
I am grateful for all the stuff I was able to achieve, some projects were smaller some were bigger, but at the end they all together create a package a signature of my hard work.
What keeps you motivated?
I jumped into this fitness modeling industry without even knowing any people or any names, so I never had anyone who would inspire me in this field. I had many bodybuilders I was looking up to such as Arnold, Ronnie Coleman, Markus Ruhl, Greg Kovacs and others; they were my motivation even when I trained just for fun back home in Slovakia.
Lots of my knowledge and information comes from FLEX and Muscle & Fitness magazines that were my favorite literature, to see and read the tips of pro bodybuilders. My dad is and was my inspiration as well. He is involved in lifting weights almost his whole life, and now, at the age of 60 he still goes to gym everyday. He wrote me my first workout plans, when I started to train at his gym at the age of 14. He is my big role model and everything I do now, is just to make him proud.
During my years as a fitness model/athlete I met almost everyone who means something in this field. One of my favorite person was Eric Carlson, who won the first Model Universe competition I attended as a contestant. As a rookie I placed 4th in a huge 50 guys starting field. Eric was always very friendly, generous and helpful…something not very usual in this competitive industry.
My motivation used to be the fitness modeling competitions I did participate in. It was always important for me to show up on the stage in my very best shape cause I knew there was plenty of amazing looking guys against me. After I won the big Model America event in ’06 and Model California in ’05 and ’06 I decided not to compete anymore, but still needed to improve my physique to be able to compete with the best guys in the industry in landing magazine covers, commercials, supplement ads etc.
So I would say getting better, adding some more lean muscle, playing with the diet to get the wanted results motivates me a lot. Plus emails and comments from fans from all over the world gives me the boost I need to push even harder.
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
I would like to stay on the track I am currently at, 2010 has been very good to me so hopefully I will continue with my magazine covers and features, supplement ads and commercials. The competition in this industry is brutal that’s why I try to improve as much as possible and be always ready to stay on the top. To find a great sponsor is one of my short term goals, I am known as one of the most lean and most published male fitness models in the world at this time so I would love to take advantage of it and get a great collaboration with a big supplement company.
As a priority for me is to be healthy. Once your health is ok, you have all the potential to do things you love in your life. I would want to continue with my fitness/physique modeling, to improve my body, get my name even more out into the public eyes. Maybe I will be lucky enough to transform all my exposure and achievements into something bigger, maybe a role in a movie that might be considered as my hidden dream. If I continue to work as a massage therapist I would like to have a strong built clientele so I would have a steady income and not worried much about chasing and finding new clients.
What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?
I have been training almost the same way the past 3-4 years, I don’t really like to change my routine. I train 5x a week, leaving the weekend for rest, which my body really needs after a long 5 days of heavy lifting.
I usually train 2 body parts a day plus my abs. Monday I have chest and biceps, on Tuesday I train legs, Wednesday is back and triceps, on Thursday I train chest and biceps again and on Friday it’s my shoulders and calves day. That’s my training split and since it’s working pretty well for me I think I would stick with it for a while.
I am a fan of big amounts of sets, so for an example on my chest day I train around 31-35 sets for chest, heavy, than I add about 16 sets for biceps and another 16 sets of abs, that’s why I am in the gym almost 2 and half hours. I always train in the evening hours, that’s my favorite time.
Which do you prefer, and why…steady state cardio or HIIT?
I really don’t do much cardio, only in my shredding phase. I always chose elliptical machine, in between 20-25 minutes, twice a week. I know cardio is very important, but my workouts are usually over 2 hour long so I burn a sufficient amount of calories lifting weights.
What are your favorite 5 muscle building exercises and why?
Flat barbell bench press, shoulder press, t-bar rows, weighted crunches, leg extensions. All of these exercises are very simple and basic, mass building in my opinion focusing on a large muscles. I have the best mass gain experience while training them…fairly heavy.
What are your best tips for getting ripped and shredded abs?
As we fitness people say, abs are made in kitchen so a smart diet is the main key to a lean physique. Of course with the gym combined and cardio on top of that, the results, if performed according to plan must come. I am quite a big fan of fat burner supplements, so adding that into the mix, will bring the desired look.
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
After my gym, I always take 3 tablespoons of liquid aminos, protein shake with whole milk and glutamine and the whole scale of vitamins and minerals. I always train late evening so my post workout supplementation is usually around 10pm. As a food I am switching between steak, fish or low sodium cottage cheese, sometimes pasta for simple carbs.
What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?
I would say hamburgers, pizza and ice cream. I only eat these foods when I am in my off season, when I am giving my body a rest from everything, even healthy meals.
Workout music – Don’t care, or MP3 player?
I always bring my iPOD with me when I go to the gym. I like all kinds of music, preferably dance, European style, but also rock, 80’s and little bit of rap.
What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?
Pain is temporary, pride stays forever.
If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to compete in your sport?
Competing in fitness modeling is fun, always a great group of athletes, fun weekend, something I enjoyed doing very much. Preparing for these contests is also an adventure, you want to present yourself in the best light, to be the most ready as it gets, adjusting your workouts and diet so the result will be satisfying.
Usually the best or most ripped body doesn’t secure a victory at these events. The judges look for the whole package, such as clothes (outfit), presence on the stage, smile, charisma and of course the physique. For a newbies I would recommend to check some videos (many of them are on Youtube) just so they have a brief idea how this competitions looks, how ready are the athletes and what to do on the stage.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I like to play volleyball, beach volleyball (my two favorite sports), I also like to go to movies. I try to go every Sunday to see a new release.
The Matus Is Back
Movies and TV shows you’ve enjoyed recently?
Social Network, Tron, Two and Half Men.
Funniest thing you’ve seen at the gym recently?
Not sure if things I see in the gym are funny. I would say they are more sad, as when people do one arm curls and hold a cell phone in the other arm, or when the most out of shape people (fat or skinny) train forearms like it will change their physique. I am really annoyed when hearing people dropping and throwing weights, it’s really disturbing, understand when Ronnie Coleman does it, but not people at LA Fitness where I train.
Which college or professional sports teams do you root for?
LA Lakers (NBA), all of the NHL teams with Slovakian players.