The Road to Competition – Duane Brickhouse

Duane Brickhouse wanted to step on stage for years, but simply didn’t believe in himself or in his potential. Plus, he felt that at his age, he had truly missed his opportunity. This has taught him that it’s never too late to go chase a dream or to make a change in your life, and that you never know what you are really capable of doing until you put yourself out there. He is now a successful physique competitor and incorporates the hard work and discipline he has built to become the best husband, father and person he can be.

Q. How did you get started in fitness and competing, all the way up to your recent successes?

A. I’m definitely a late bloomer. I started lifting weights to get stronger for basketball in my late 20’s. As I began to spend more time in the gym, I developed a passion for building muscle, and the gym quickly replaced basketball as my primary hobby. I started to read as many fitness magazines and textbooks as possible so that I could learn anything and everything about what exercises to do, and program design. I also started to meet people in the gym that competed locally in bodybuilding, which started to give me ideas about where I could go with this. In 2010, my wife and I made our first trip to the Olympia, which was the first year hosting the Muscle & Fitness Male Model search. I watched Steve Cook win and I felt like I could have been on that stage. Seeing the rest of the competitors throughout the weekend was extremely motivating. The following year, the NPC & IFBB created the Physique division, which has a very similar look to the M&F Model search. By 2012, I figured that it was now or never. I printed out the application for the Model search and asked my wife to submit it for me. Surprisingly, I pulled off the win, which of course motivated me to try my hand with the NPC Men’s Physique Division. I was fortunate enough to win the overall at my first show and I have competed in 3 regional and 3 national NPC shows and have placed top 5 in all but one.

Q. How do you balance fitness with your personal life and what does this lifestyle mean to you?

A. I feel like my fitness life has truly improved my personal life. The structure that I have while preparing for a contest really helps to focus on the important things in life that need to be done. That focus doesn’t really have an “off” switch, so it carries over into my family life and the workplace. My diet (in particular how often I eat per day) can definitely cause some challenges, but so far I have been able to work it in. It doesn’t hurt that I have a strong support system of friends and family that help me along the way.

I’m a father of four girls, so to me, setting a good example has become extremely important as they get older. I believe that my new lifestyle is helping me do that by showing them that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. Also, I am a big believer in continuous improvement. I step on stage to win against other competitors, but the real test is with yourself. You have to constantly push to be better than you were the day before. Again, this is something that carries over. It’s not just about stepping on stage.

Q. What you are up to at the moment?

A. From a fitness standpoint, I am coming off of five months of competing. I am relentlessly chasing an opportunity to be a professional physique competitor. Outside of that I am doing my best to help others reach their fitness goals (I’m a certified trainer) and just trying to position myself for what other opportunities may arise in this arena.

Outside of fitness, I’m focused on spending time with my family. My wife and I have 4 daughters ranging in age from 3 to 18. I’m also continuing to focus on my career in the healthcare industry. I have worked with the same company since I graduated from college in 1998.


Q. What is your training and nutrition regimen while training, and when you are in your “off season?”

A. To be honest, since I just started competing in September of 2012, I have not really had an “off season.” My guess is that from a training standpoint, I will focus on adding size. At the national and pro level, the competitors tend to be a little bigger. As far as nutrition goes (which is the hard part), I will continue to eat 5-6 meals a day, and I will most likely stay fairly clean. I will however add pizza back into the mix! Ultimately, I know this is cliche, but this is my lifestyle. I think it will be very hard to deviate too much from what I do now. Diet is key. You can work out as much as you want, but until you make consistent improvements in what you eat, you will not be able to achieve your fitness goals. It has to be a lifestyle.

Q. Do you have any advice for others looking to start the journey of competing, as well as on how to reach their goals?

A. I wanted to step on stage for years, but I simply did not think I was good enough, or had the dedication/discipline to do so. Also, I felt that at my age, I had truly missed the opportunity. This has taught me that It’s never too late for someone to go chase a dream or to make a change in their life, and that you never know what you are really capable of doing until you put yourself out there.

Q. What advice do you have for anyone looking to start competing? 

A. If you want to compete, I would suggest you go to a local show to see what it entails. Also, talk to others that compete. It really is a great community of individuals that have similar goals, and are very willing to help out. From the coaching side, I do think it helps to have assistance from someone that understands the business, but it is not necessary. There is a wealth of information regarding competing that is extremely easy to get a hold of. Also, make sure you research the organizations. I compete in NPC, however there are others out there that could suit you better.

Many people use time as an excuse (work, kids, etc.). Many people that compete in the NPC (or even professionally) have another profession that pays the bills. Personally, I have children that I take to school every day and a job that is not related to bodybuilding or personal training. Main point here is that competitions may not be your goal, but as long as you place fitness as a priority in your life, you can accomplish your whatever fitness aspirations you have. Lastly, set a date, and just do it. You can have goals, or you can have excuses. It’s all about what you want the most!

Q. How people can find out more about you?

Facebook –
website –
Instagram – dbrick11

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Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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