Build a Back of Legendary Proportions

The back routine that's helping Nathan DeAsha move up the IFBB ranks.


Photos by Per Bernal

Where I'm from, wearing pink posing trunks and flexing will get you beat down, Nathan de Asha says, laughing. “But my friends talked me into it by telling me about the girls who hung around the sport.” De Asha relates his origin story in a thick Scouse accent, every bit earned while growing up in a hardscrabble neighborhood of Liverpool, England. 

A former high-level soccer player and rower, De Asha found his way to the bodybuilding stage only after some lobbying by friends who had seen his transformation in mere months after picking up a weight. “I had started lifting to put on more mass for rowing,” he says. “I wanted to make the country’s rowing team for the Olympics when they came to London in 2012, but that didn’t pan out—it wasn’t paying the bills. But my friends said I should do a
bodybuilding show.” 

He was not convinced but begrudgingly entered a local contest. “I gave it a go, with no money,” he says. “I was eating canned tuna and drinking Diet Coke. That was all I could afford. I trained for six to seven weeks and won that first show.”

Eventually, after dominating the local scene, he made his way to the British Championships in 2007, winning the junior class. It seemed he was just a step away from the pros, but life took a turn. “I took a few years off from bodybuilding,” he says. “I had some trouble, got into a bit of mischief, but came back in 2012. I hadn’t trained for 18 months at that point, and I weighed about 165 pounds, but there was this show I thought I could win, beat [the favorite].”

De Asha started training for a comeback, but in 2013, five weeks out from the British Championships he was gunning for, he got an operation on his chest. “I thought it would heal in 10 days and I could train light and stay on track, but basically I ended up with two massive hematomas in my chest. That put me out of the contest.”

He vowed to return in 2014 and put it all on the line: If he won, he’d continue, and if not, he’d walk away. “I thought, ‘If what I got is good enough, it’s good enough. If not, it’s OK. The best man of the day will win.’ I was giving it one look, not going to compete for years and years to try and break through. I haven’t got the money. I have a family now, and I have to pay the bills.” 

Of course, he ended up with the championship and the IFBB pro card that came with the victory. “I was just shocked,” he says of the result. “I was overwhelmed—my hometown, my family there. It was a big thing.” 


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