6 Training Tenets for Longevity in Bodybuilding

The tenets that have propelled Darrem Charles to 13 pro wins over the past 25 years.


Chris Lund / M+F Magazine

We haven’t given Darrem Charles his due. In a year in which the biggest stories are Kevin Levrone’s comeback, Dexter Jackson’s longevity, and Phil Heath’s reign, consider this: Charles started his pro career back in 1992, as did Levrone, and he unretired in 2016 with his best competitive year. The 48-year-old has entered more pro contests than 46-year-old Jackson and is closing in on the record. And he’s won more pro shows than Heath. But Charles achieved his legend-worthy status with little fanfare—until now.


Born in 1968, Charles had racked up a slew of break dancing titles in his native Trinidad by age 17, when curiosity drew him into a weight room. He was 5'9" and a whopping 115, but his flesh responded rapidly to iron. Encouraged by friends, he entered and won a local bodybuilding show in 1986, and he took the teenage Trinidad and Tobago title at 154. Charles placed second in 1990 and 1991 in the light-heavy class of the World Championships but was too slight to make an impact in the IFBB Pro League in 1992. With his wife and young son, he moved to southern Florida in 1995, where he worked as a personal trainer. That same year, he returned to pro stages, hoping to make a name for himself.

The ’90s were bodybuilding’s second golden age, and Charles jostled to get noticed in talentladen lineups. Carving out his own niche, he was the perpetually peeled dude with the pointy biceps, zippered quads, and ice-cube abs. Showcasing his breakin’ background, he was also, arguably, the best poser in every show he entered. Never mind that he was competing at a slender 210, his strengths propelled him into posedowns, highlighted by a second in 1998 behind only Flex Wheeler. Still, 10 years into his Pro League career, he had zero wins. All the while, he had been slowly growing while remaining vigilant not to blur his lines.


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