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Name: Grayce (Teong Siu Hui) or just Siu will do
Height: 162.5 centimetres
Age as of 2015: 20 years old
Weight Off-season: 58-60 KG
Competition weight: 52-54 KG (52kg when water and carb depleted)
Years of Training: 1 year or a bit lesser (If talking about real serious training then only 5 months)
Occupation: Year 2 Psychology Student in Ngee Ann Polytechnic
- Physique War Women’s Bikini 2015 (4th placing)
- WBPF Nationals Model Physique 2015 >165cm (2nd placing)
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Below is an extract of the interview
Q) How did you get started into bodybuilding?
I learned some basic weight lifting skills from a friend in August of 2013. From there I started being interested in building muscle and getting “toned”. I was really inspired by “fitspo” people on social media and I really loved how muscles look on females. Not just being “toned” but actually having adequate muscle mass while being lean and strong. I also find it quite therapeutic to spend time in the gym because it’s “me time”.
Despite the pain and suffering felt in the gym, ironically, it is my favourite place because the pain is the kind of pain that makes you improve and grow physically and mentally. I started taking lifting more seriously in 2014 and became more curious and interested about how my body works/how to build muscle/how to lose fat/how to diet properly but I have never sought professional help before because I was still a lost sheep and I was just doing my own research online and asking fitness related friends for advice or their opinions.
I only started lifting with proper form and training intensely when I met my coach in 2015 March.
Q) What are your current training splits, or program?
Monday: Shoulders or arms + 20-30 mins cardio
Tuesday: Usually my rest day.
Wednesday: Back day
Thursday: Arms + 20 mins steady state cardio
Friday: Shoulders/abs/calves + 20 mins steady state cardio
Saturday: Leg day (focusing on quads and glutes)
Sunday: Hamstrings and smaller muscle groups (e.g. rear delts/lats/arms) + 40 min cardio
My usual leg exercises: Back squats/declined leg press/normal leg press/bulgrian split squats/hack squat/hip adductors/gluteus kickback/smith squats/weighted or non-weighted lunges/leg extensions/lying leg curl/seated leg curl/seated calf raises/standing calf raises/stiff legged deadlift/normal deadlift and these are usually done with lots of volume/dropsets/pauses/slow speed to feel the burn and strict form.
Back exercises: Lat pull down/reverse lat pull/seated rows with various grips/bend over rows/one arm dumbbell row/t-bar rows/assisted pull ups/close grip lat pull/
Shoulder : Dumbbell presses/smith machine presses/overhead press/lots of side raises/front delt raises/rear delt raises/face pulls
Arm exercises: Normal bicep dumbbell curls/preacher curls/tricep push downs/overhead tricep extensions/skull crushers/straight bar curls etc. again, with volume/drop sets or slow speed at times to make sure the muscles burn.
Favourite cardio: Stepper/stair master or spinning bike/cross trainer. I hate running.
Q) Has your training philosophy changed through the years?
Yes. It used to be “lift as heavy as possible”. But since I am almost strictly into aesthetics and bodybuilding, I don’t focus on weight lifting or lifting weights per se, but muscle stimulation and mind-muscle connection during a workout.
And feeling the burn. Bodybuilding is all about isolation and focusing on small details and small muscle groups rather than only lifting heavy and focusing on compound movements. My current philosophy is train really hard, diet properly and be consistent, and love the sport and lifestyle, and staying humble and true to myself.
Q) You’ve a pretty sick abs and middle section. Tips to those who wishes to look as lean and muscular as yours.
Abs are all about body fat, body fat and body fat. To uncover your abs you have to get your body fat percentage down until you can see your abs. When you are finally lean enough, you might want to focus on thickening the ab muscles a little so your abs “pop” a little more.
Otherwise, if you choose to have “girly” abs or just the lines, then don’t have to “bulk up” your abdominal muscles. If you want them to be a little more 3D, do more ab exercises to see more separation of the pacs.
The leaner you are, the more likely you will have a 4, 6 or 8 pac (depending on ab genetics). Otherwise, you’ll only have girly abs or a “toned” stomach. If you want to maintain a small waist, it is not advisable to bulk your abs up too much as it will give you a thick mid-section instead of a V-taper or hourglass shape (for women) which more people go for.
Genetically, I have big/broad shoulders and a small waist and in addition to building big lats, it makes my waist look unrealistically or ultra small when I do a lat spread. To give an illusion of a small waist, try to build wider lats or bigger delts/both and focus on normal ab exercises rather than weighted ab exercises that can cause thickening of ab muscles/big obliques.
Q) Where do you train? Tell us about the gym environment there.
I have recently become a member of California Fitness. It’s a huge gym with two levels (Bugis) with lots of free weights and machines. It also has a large variety of cardio machines for me to choose from. It is definitely a stable and conducive environment to kill a workout because of the adequate or abundance of free weights. It’s even better during off-peak hours because of the sparse crowd. Additionally, my coach trains there so he can help me with my workout to make sure I am training properly.
Q) Who is and was your mentor? Did you have one, or are you self-coached?
My mentor is David (Chua chee keong). He helped me when I was 5/6 weeks out from my competition and I managed to transform my physique quite drastically within a short amount of time. He’s truly a dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable, humble, down to earth and helpful person that I am thankful to have met. He offered to help me unconditionally and even though it was difficult because he had many clients already, he still went all out to help me and answered all my questions.
I used to train alone at Khatib clubfitt with a few people teaching me occasionally, however I usually train alone or at times with friends that I met there when I first started lifting/exercising.
Q) Who are your bodybuilder idols, locally and internationally?
From overseas: Jessica Arevalo, Paige Hathaway, Michelle Lewin, Ash Nordman, Andreia Brazier, Dana Linn Bailey, Lacey Deluca, Ashley Endersby, Ashley Kaltwasser, Yarishna (Puertorican Queen), Sarah Leblanc, Anika Mejia, Tina Nguyen, Sandra Prikker (the list goes on).
Q) Care to share your maximum benchpress, overhead press, deadlift and squats?
Bench press: I rarely bench but when I do it’s probably 30kg max for working sets.
Deadlift: About 60-75kg for working sets. Not sure about 1RM because I don’t do 1 rep max.
Squat: The last time I did a one RM it was 100kg but that was more than half a year ago. For working sets I only do about 60-70kg.
To me, bodybuilding is not how much you can lift but how much you look like you can lift.
Q) Your top 3 favourite exercise and why?
Declined leg press. It really burns my legs and I’m able to stimulate my quads, hamstrings and glutes.
Leg Extensions. It feels good to feel my quads burn.
Side raises for delts. It’s nice to feel my shoulders being pumped.
Q) What’s your diet like these days?
Crappy semi diet. Trying to count macros while having a social life at times. Sometimes I fall off track but at the moment I am trying to cut so I’m gonna have to watch my diet closely soon. I tend to lose control off season because there is no tangible goal anymore and hence I am less motivated to “eat clean” and stay faithful to my macros. But since I believe in staying lean all year round, I should live up to my beliefs and start getting lean and then maintain from there while still gaining muscle.
Q) What is your favourite CLEAN meal?
Baby spinach with chicken/tuna and feta cheese and with some light salad dressing (olive oil or balsamic vinegar). Basically salads in general are considered delicious and healthy to me.
Q) What is your favourite CHEAT meal?
A slice of cake/ fries/apple pie and ice cream/waffles/brownies/lots of bread/Nutella/titbits/pancakes/cinnamon buns/satay/durian/chocolates/potato chips the list goes on and I don’t wanna talk about it hahaha.
Q) Do you believe in staying lean all year round or are you into bulk/cut?
I definitely believe in staying lean all year round. Too much fat will inhibit muscle building/muscle growth anyway. If you always have the mind-set of “bulk first then diet down” without caring about staying relatively lean and conditioned all year round, you’ll look the same again and again whenever you diet down because when you diet to get lean, you will lose fat but you will also lose muscle.
If you keep getting fat and diet down you will look the same again and again whereas if you stay lean and build muscle, you will be able to track your progress and actually see yourself gaining muscle.
The idea is to stay lean and still build muscle/make quality gains and so dieting for a competition need not be tedious and drastic such as cutting carbs drastically or extreme food/caloric restriction/starvation/excessive cardio.
Off season conditioning and contest season conditioning should never deviate too far from each other.
Q) Your thoughts on cardio? How to achieve the right balance with muscle building.
Cardio should be done off season too to maintain cardiovascular health and healthy blood circulation. It’s not an excuse to eat more per se, but it does create that bit more of a caloric deficit when you do cardio if you are trying to cut. Steady state cardio after a lifting session is what I usually do nowadays because growth hormone levels are the highest at that point and hence throwing in about 20-30 minutes of moderately intensive steady state cardio will you an edge in fat burning.
Q) What supplements do you use and recommend?
At the moment I use BCAA, creatine, whey isolate, fish oil and vitamin C. I recommend glutamine and BCAA for muscle recovery and a good pre-workout when you are tired.
During contest prep, I consume Vitamin B complex, ZMA before sleeping, vitamin C, CLA, Fish oil, BCAA, whey protein and an intra workout drink to keep my energy levels up.
Q) What advice would you give for someone who is new to bodybuilding?
Enjoy the process and be consistent. Don’t be impatient and always be willing to learn. Be receptive and open to advice and suggestions. Results takes time to show and giving up will only mean that all your hard work previously is wasted.
It is definitely not easy because it is a sport which focuses a lot on appearance and what is aesthetically pleasing to the eye can be highly subjective even though there are certain guidelines and standards to adhere to or meet for the specific categories you are in for bodybuilding/physique competitions.
It’s important to not allow yourself to become selfish, narcissistic and vain whilst pursuing your dream of being a bodybuilder as much as how this sport is highly based on these three traits. Bodybuilding is a lot of hard work and the right work ethics. It is also important to find balance during off-season because the body will be unhealthy and stressed if you force it to be in competition condition all round.
It is ok to be conditioned and lean all year round but not ok to be at a sub-level body fat to the point where you feel lethargy all the time or have major issues with social life and an unhealthy relationship with food.
It is also important to learn how to prepare your own food and pack them in tupperwares and know how to accurately count your macros especially during contest season because it’s all about the numbers. Calories/macros and calories/macros out will mean the difference if you lose that last bit of fat or not.
Bodybuilding is a very tough/intricate or complicated sport because everybody’s body is different. What works for you may never work for someone else and vice versa.
Diet and training can all be highly subjective depending on different factors such as body type/metabolism/muscle maturity/insulin sensitivity/genetics (whether you’re a genetic freak or not). It is also important to know when to eat what (meal timings). E.g high carb day on intensive leg day or back day and keeping carbs lower on rest days or small muscle group days.
It is also important to know how to release muscle tension by going for massages/foam rolling because as we workout more and more with more intensity/volume, our muscles get tighter and tighter and hence releasing them is important in order to go full range during a workout so we don’t plateau/compromise on form.
Even though this sport is superficial, one should remain objective and receptive to comments and criticisms. It is not easy to hear criticisms about your body as that can cause body image issues or eating disorders/distorted body image or overly high expectations of how you should look like due to the pressure of people expecting you to look contest ready all the time just because you are a competitor. It’s important to note that peak condition is only on contest day itself, otherwise it will not be called peak condition. It is ok to take a break and let loose a little during off season.
Basically, bodybuilding is not just working hard in the gym, it’s about watching your diet and knowing how to manipulate it properly to reach your goals (I.e build muscle, lose fat). Most importantly, you have to love the sport, have passion for it, stay dedicated and consistent, keep learning along the way, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, stay humble and be kind and helpful.
Q) How do you stay motivated?
The desire to improve my physique and push myself until I reach my genetic potential (which is still very far away because I have not even reached a state of muscle maturity). Seeing change in the mirror keeps me going and motivated to train harder.
Q) Aside from bodybuilding, do you have any other hobbies?
Nothing much. Sleeping/eating nice food/watching nice videos on youtube or hanging out with friends. I’ve never clubbed or partied before. I also like surfing the net and read up on fitness/diet/workouts and stalking my favourite bikini/figure/physique competitors.
Q) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Good question because that’s what I ask myself too. In 5 years time I want to gain more muscle and have a better physique. I hope to reach my genetic potential/peak condition before I hit 30.
Hopefully by then I can compete again in a much better condition compared to this year where I was completely and hopelessly lost, clueless and ignorant on what bodybuilding really takes.
I also hope that I will be able to help people like myself who started out knowing nothing and wish to pursue their dreams in fitness/bodybuilding/improving themselves and share my knowledge and experience with people around me.
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Photos published courtesy and with permission from Grayce Siu Hui.
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