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Toney Freeman and Ed Nunn are two of the more notable bodybuilders with the elusive X-frame. While both men are noted for the muscle they carry, they’re even more well known for the shape they carry. Add Malcolm Marshall to that list of bodybuilders who combine superior mass with phenomenal, almost cartoonish, shape. The newly crowned IFBB pro will explain his start in the sport, his inspirations, and why he’s known as Conan.
I understand you once played pro football and used to be called Conan. Tell us a little bit about being on the gridiron and how you got that name.
Ever since I was young, I’ve always been muscular and pretty chiseled. I was always fascinated with superheroes like He-Man, Superman, Spawn, and Conan. But becoming a bodybuilder never crossed my mind. As a rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles during the first week of camp, many of my teammates were in awe of the physique I had and gave me the nickname “Conan,” and it just stuck with me. They even said to me if football didn’t work out, I could go into bodybuilding. Of course, at the time my dream was to play in the NFL.
Going from taekwondo, football, and now professional bodybuilding, it seems that you’re a natural athlete. Can you explain this evolution a bit?
They all require some form of physical fitness, resistance training, and discipline. My football days are over, but bodybuilding allows me to keep those three aspects in my life.
When you were done with football, what made you decide to take up bodybuilding?
I’m what some people call a gym rat. I lived in a gym long before I ever stepped onstage. When I moved back to Winston-Salem, (NC), there were a couple of guys in the local gym who encouraged me to compete in a show. They felt I could be a state champion within my first year of competing. My training partner at the time, Maurice Crocker, was one of the guys who took me to my first show. Watching that particular show, I felt like I could’ve been on that stage and won. I then decided to do my first show.
Being a taller bodybuilder seems to be a struggle for most, but you’ve adapted pretty well. What have been some of the contributing factors to filling out your frame?
Time is the main contributing factor. It takes longer to fill out a taller frame and to build the muscle it needs to make that symmetrical X-frame.
I imagine having long arms makes rowing and pressing pretty difficult, but chest, and back in particular, seem to be two of your best body parts. What is your training philosophy for those body parts as well as legs, shoulders, and arms?
I believe that genetics and my athletic history as a child have played a major factor in the physique I have today. As a child, I was a competitive swimmer and the 50-meter butterfly was my favorite event. All those years of swimming gave my lats the jump-start they needed to build a really nice back. I love to train to failure, and my philosophy is if the muscle that I’ve trained isn’t sore the next day, I’ve wasted a workout.
Do you find legs to be particularity difficult to develop, given your height? Are there any special tricks you’ve learned?
No, nothing special. As I said earlier, time was a major factor for me.
Obviously, you consume your fair share of food to put on size. What’s a typical daily breakdown?
Roughly around 7,500 calories a day spread out over eight meals a day with somewhere between 800–1,200 calories each meal. It drops down to 4,500 calories for a contest.
What about supplements? What role do they play?
For the past 2½ years, I’ve been using only Prolab products. I know for a fact they’ve played a role in helping me obtain my pro card at the NPC Team Universe.
Now that you have a pro card, what’s next for Malcolm Marshall?
Honestly, I want to compete as much as I can. I plan on having fun and trying to stay competitive.
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Quincy Roberts, for his mental and posing expertise; Ed Nunn, Bill Wilmore, and Adam Weidel, for the encouragement not to quit; Ryan Hays and Thomas Reike for their help throughout my contest prep; and my sponsor, Prolab. There would’ve been no pro card without this team behind me. – FLEX