IFBB Pro Matt Christianer Talks With TheAthleticBuild.com

(Last Updated On: October 29, 2020)

How did you get started in bodybuilding/fitness?

At the age of 15, when I lived in Ohio, I started training to prepare for basketball season. My entire life changed when my parents moved to Payson, AZ. My neighbor, Bill, had an incredible physique and helped me get a job at a local gym. At only 95 lbs., I was determined to build my physique.  I learned a great deal those early years, working at Payson Athletic Club, being mentored by Bill, and taking advice from experienced trainers.  At 17, I was involved in a near fatal car accident. My friends and I rolled a 79’ Chevy three and a half times. I wasn’t wearing a seat belt and after being bounced around, came away with a broken hip, femur and head trauma. It was one of those moments in your life where you don’t just remember the event, but you remember how it felt. After several days in the hospital, the nurses allowed me to get up and I saw myself in the mirror shocked at my appearance, but grateful to be alive.
 A few weeks later, I wheeled myself into the gym. My friends, which included club members and trainers, would help me by setting up my weights, racking and unracking them. Without their support, I could have never trained like I did being in a wheelchair. I was young and angry. Angry to be starting high school in a new town and livid that I had lost a year and a half of work that I had put into the gym due to the accident. Because of this, I took it all out on the weights. After a 2nd surgery a year later, I was cleared to train legs again. However, I did not dare step on stage yet, feeling that my lower body was out of balance from my upper body. It took me nine grueling years to get my legs to catch up to my upper body.  At 26, I went on to compete and win my first ever bodybuilding show. In 2011, I became the 1st ever Pro in the IFBB for Men’s Physique. Within the next two years, I achieved three Pro wins; 2012 IFBB O.C. Muscle Classic, 2012 IFBB Governor’s Cup and 2013 IFBB LA Grand Prix. In September, I competed as a contender in the 1st ever Men’s Physique Olympia in Las Vegas and most recently, in October, I took 2nd place at the Titans Grand Prix in Culver City.

Matt Christianer

What is your favorite body part to train?

My favorite Body part is legs, simply because it is the most challenging. I do legs more then any other body part, and its actually the most painful body part to workout for me. I broke my hip and femur in a near fatal car accident years back and this Hip likes to give me trouble from time to time! Leg training for me is like going into battle, but as Ive gotten older I have also gotten wiser! My mind to muscle connection is the best in my lower body, thus it being the most painful to train but also the most rewarding….everybody can throw up some curls once a week, but to go in there and hit legs til you crawl out..and do this twice a week..consistantly year after year after year, and thats why Legs is my favorite body part!


Do you do any other types of training besides weight training?

I ran a lot of cross country, track and basketball when I was younger. My roommate, another fitness model, Shaka Smith, I train with at times, also employs a lot of crossfit style into his routines.  So when I’m not training in the gym for aesthetics you can find me hiking Runyon Canyon, or Camelback when I’m back home in AZ, doing stairs in Santa Monica or taking a run down Venice Beach. I like to do active cardio outside, whether its HIIT intervals in the sand or a game of pickup volleyball on the beach.

Matt Christianer

Can you give us a sample of your routine?

I train instinctively (listen to my body) and use the priority principle. My priority has always been legs due to my car accident. Basically, the priority principle helps you bring balance, proportion and aesthetics to your physique. My weakest points are the ones I hit the most, on the days I feel the best. On days I feel weak; I do what I consider to be a strong body part just to maintain it. I focus on maintaining my strong points and bringing up my weak points to try and reach aesthetic perfection. I typically train six days a week. For five of the days, I always start my workout with calves and end with abs. My shoulders have always been a strong point, so, although I want to go heavy and hard, I have to dial it back and hit shoulders less often and with lighter weights. By doing this, I am maintaining a more balanced body.

This is my best shot at writing out a split.  Since I’m instinctive it could change, but I’ll start with legs. Anywhere from 8-20 reps and 3-8 sets of each exercise.

⁃  leg press

⁃  hack squat

⁃  ham curls

⁃  quad extensions

⁃  straight leg dead lifts

⁃  super wide plie squat

⁃  walking lunges

⁃  glute kick back

⁃  abductor

⁃  adductor

Calves are at the start of every workout, except for my main leg day.  I typically do three exercises for calves those five days, a seated soleus calf exercise, and two exercises for my gastrocnemius.  My reps are anywhere from 10-100 with this and my sets can range from 3-8 on calves.

Abs are done at the end of every workout except for my main leg day.  I always start with a lower ab exercise. I will do two exercises for lower abs, one exercise for my obliques, two exercises for my mid and lower abs with reps ranging from 15-30.

For chest, (twice per week minimum) I do reps of 8-12 and sets of 3-8.  I always start with my upper chest:

⁃  incline barbell press

⁃  cable fly high

⁃  flat dumbell press

⁃  low cables (scoops)

⁃  seated hammer strength sideways on machine for mid and upper chest

⁃  flying dumbbell pullover

For back, I concentrate on width and not depth or thickness doing 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps:

⁃  wide pull ups

⁃  wide pull downs

⁃  wide pull thru’s

⁃  standing one are cable rows light

⁃  hyper extensions no weight

⁃  shrugs very light

For biceps, triceps and shoulders, I only do once a week for sets of 12-20 and light 3-4 sets:

⁃  bicep seated incline curl

⁃  standing hammer

⁃  cable spider curl for peak

⁃  tricep 12-20 (light 3-4 sets)

⁃  reverse skull crusher

⁃  rope extension

⁃  cable (no handle) extensions

For shoulders, I do very light, just once a week, reps 10-15 sets 3-4:

⁃  behind the head military press (to the ear line)

⁃  rear delt dumbbell flyes

⁃  one arm barbell laterals

⁃  front raise (drive the bus)

⁃  upright row smith machine

Matt Christianer


What kind of music do you listen to when you are working out?

The type of music I listen to depends on my mood and my workout. My ipod ranges from hip-hop to rock to Christian worship to house music. On certain days, I might need that specific beat to keep my energy up, while on other days it’s more about using the emotion I get out of the lyrics to fire my workout. When I need to throw around some iron, my “go to” list includes; Adema, Disturbed, Metallica, Kill Switch Engage, Linkin Park, Three Days Grace and Bullet For My Valentine.

Matt Christianer

We all have at least one, what is the most embarrassing song on your iPod?

Chris Isaak “Wicked Game” hahaha

What does your diet look like when you are trying to get lean?

When I am preparing for a photo shoot or show my diet is as follows:

⁃   5 egg whites 1 whole egg, 1/2 cup steel cut oats and 1/2 cup berries or 1/2 grapefruit

⁃  4 oz lean meat, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup greens

⁃  4 oz white fish, 1/2 sweet potato, 1/2 greens

⁃  4 oz white fish, 1.5 cups greens, 1 tbsp olive oil

⁃  4 oz white fish, 1.5 cups greens, 1 tbsp olive oil

⁃  4 oz white fish, 1.5 cup greens, 1/2 avocado

 List the top 10 foods we would find in your kitchen

1. Tilapia
2. Steel cut oatmeal
3. Eggs
4. Avocado
5. Tea
6. Spinach
7. Chicken
8. Flouride Free Water
9. Flank steak
10. Sweet Potato

Matt Christianer

What kind of cardio do you like best and why?

Running Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood hills.  This run is different everyday and this keeps it interesting. And I can also do steady or HIIT up the mountain!

Matt Christianer

If you could give somebody only one bodybuilding tip what would it be?


Matt Christianer


Tell us about your biggest bodybuilding/fitness influence?

This is a Two part answer. First I have to say for Aesthetics, training principles and my over all pick as the number 1 best proportioned body of all time would have to go to Frank Zane. As a young teen I read and studied everything I could find on him and in my early 20’s was blessed to meet him. For he had the Physique that I molded myself after! The 2nd part is my father, he never lifted or competed but he believed in me! He believed and supported my dreams along with the rest of my family. See my dad is my biggest influence, because he taught me morals, character, ethics and to treat others how you like to be treated. So simple but so hard for so many to follow these days…I want to remembered for my character first and my physique last! 

12. Favorite cheat food? My favorite cheat meal would have to a Red Robin Whiskey River BBQ burger with sweet potato fries, a pint of maple vanilla Arctic Zero ice cream, and all the Milk Duds and Red Vines I could handle!

Do you take any supplements?

Yes I take Pro Supps! My favorite fat burner which I have used for several shows now DNPX II and Also DR. Jeykll and Mr Hyde ! If you have not tried Pro Supps Supps then you are missing the boat!

What does the future hold for you?

Although I won’t be taking time off from the gym, I plan to take some time off from competing this winter and pick back up again in the spring 2014. I have been working on an upcoming reality tv series; Muscle Beach.  Stay tuned!!

Website: www.mattchristianer.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/mattchristianer
& Instagram: @mattchristianer
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/mattswoll13

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