Motivated by other powerlifters he watched on YouTube…
Williams figured the way to get stronger was to keep adding more: He trained every day, he ate more, and he began taking steroids to excess. Eventually, he says, “my body decided to fight back. The list of side effects I experienced—we could talk all day about it.”
What Williams really needed was a trainer who understood him and his goals and could counsel him on proper technique and how to moderate his training so he didn’t get injured. He found that person in John Gaglione, a coach based in Long Island, NY, and a former wrestler whose clients include Division I wrestlers and competitive powerlifters. Gaglione is still Williams’ primary trainer today. “He transformed my lifts entirely,” Williams says.
Williams entered his first RPS powerlifting contest at age 18, competing in the 275-pound class despite weighing only 247—and he won. For a while, he found himself waiting tables as his mother once had, and then he became a personal trainer at an upscale gym to make ends meet. But he’s now grown his following to the point where he can make his living off social media and through sponsors, in addition to being able to train full-time.
In order to keep that growth coming, Williams recognized he had to diversify. Hence, the move into bodybuilding. He entered his first competition, the NPC Gold Coast Classic, last February and won the heavyweight division. But Williams admits that the move from powerlifting to bodybuilding is still something of a work in progress—in particular, the diet, which is far stricter than what he followed as a powerlifter.
Williams still tries to keep a little bit of flexibility in his diet. (Cinnabon rolls are his favorite cheat food.) He finds that if he goes under 300 carbs per week, he can “feel a rapid decline in strength.” In the early weeks leading up to a bodybuilding competition, he’ll largely stick to beef and rice, and as he gets closer to the event, he’ll add in some chicken and maybe some sweet potato.
While Williams admits he still uses certain steroids, he says he’s cut way down from what he took as a teenager. “I prefer to use the bare minimum to get me through,” he says. In late October, Williams published an emotional 14-minute YouTube video titled, “Steroids: The Raw Truth! LarryWheels,” in which he talked openly about his steroid use and the personal issues that led him to take them. He also urged anyone who was considering using steroids for the first time to educate themselves on the risks. “My biggest issue I have right now with the feats of strength I do on social media is that I hope it doesn’t lead some people to believe they should go on gear themselves,” Williams says. “I would never recommend it for anyone coming up or just starting to work out. I think it’s too much of a risk.”
But beyond his concerns about setting the wrong kind of example, Williams has found a sense of contentment with his newfound status as a social media role model. He moved with his girlfriend to Los Angeles in part so he could collaborate with more colleagues in both the powerlifting and bodybuilding worlds (and, he freely admits, to escape the New York City weather). Thanks to sponsorships and online training program sales, he no longer has to worry, he says, about “going to a job I hate to do.” He’s planning to move his mother to Los Angeles, as well, so she can help him run the business end of his enterprise.
All that Williams has to do now is continue to focus on his training. His options are wide open. Could he leave powerlifting behind for good as he transitions to bodybuilding? He’s considering that possibility. Could he conquer the bodybuilding world and then become the World’s Strongest Man? That’s another long-term goal. He’s set up to go after it all.
“That leaves no excuses,” he says. “But now I have no fear. I have all the time in the world now to fight for my goals. Making a living off social media is by far the best part of it.”