I’m halfway through my interview with 15-year pro bodybuilder Darrem Charles when the whiz of a blender interrupts us. Darrem, who consumes upward of nine meals a day to fuel his fast-burning metabolism, abruptly ceases the conversation until the noise abates. Not even my presence interrupts the clockwork timing necessary to take in the heaping amount of protein he requires daily. Except it’s Darrem’s son Renel (pronounced Ray-nell) who’s downing the muscle-building calories. And like his father some two decades earlier, Renel, now 16, has caught the bodybuilding bug.

For Darrem, a man who has probably come further than any other IFBB pro – he weighed a measly 115 pounds when he picked up his first weight, came from an underprivileged family on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and made the decision to settle in Miami at age 26 with just a few bucks in his pocket – seeing his son follow in his footsteps must surely make him proud. After all, Darrem has conquered his professional goals so many times over, winning seven pro contests to date, that he has to constantly re-assess what’s next. (He now says that it’s to finish in the top six at the Olympia.) But with Renel, Darrem sees no limits.

“I see [in him] something that I wish I had,” says Darrem. “His genetics are far superior to mine. He has wider shoulders, which is something you have to be born with. He’s got well-shaped calves. And he has all the nice things I have: same V-taper, same bi’s, really good legs. To be honest, he has it all. That’s not coming from a dad, but from a bodybuilding standpoint. If all goes well, there’s nobody in the world who can beat him.”

Pretty strong words about a guy who’s still a high school junior, not to mention someone who’s just plain strong. Imagine inheriting Darrem’s genetics (if you’re still not convinced, Darrem, now 38, says he never does cardio before a contest to get ripped, in part because his metabolism is so fast) and having a top pro bodybuilder be your coach 24/7. In fact, Renel, at 5’5″ and 145 pounds and still awaiting a growth spurt, squats 315 pounds through a full range of motion and can push 9-10 plates on each side of the leg press.

“I talk to him all the time [about] everything – his goals and life in general,” says Darrem. “As far as bodybuilding is concerned, he knows what’s out there. I tell him to keep a level head and try not to get carried away with things. Like training too heavy and getting injured, which could put him out for a long time, or for good. I tell him he has to train hard as well as smart.”

So what does Darrem think about his son’s interest in a sport that doesn’t always pay well and has a history of favoring gigantic physiques over streamlined ones like Darrem’s?

“As a father, you learn that you can only guide your kids. They’re going to eventually make the decisions as to what they do. Sure, I’d like to see him become a pro football player and get a $20 million contract or be a doctor or lawyer, but that’s his choice. It might not be meant for him to make $20 million, or even $100,000, but if it’s positive and something he can be successful earning a living at, I’m going to help guide him along.”

Darrem admits that Renel initially showed little interest in the sport he has been around since birth. “About four years ago, when I started to win some shows and get some placings, he could better understand the value of money. He saw that if you work hard enough and come in top condition, they can’t deny you. Now he wants to be a pro.”

While Renel has shown an unusual dedication at an early age, he’s pursuing other interests, including becoming a pilot. He has joined the area ROTC, undergoing drills and showing leadership skills. Darrem and his wife Kim have already paid his college tuition, ensuring Renel gets some of the things Darrem didn’t while growing up.

While Renel isn’t exactly following in the same footsteps as his dad, one thing’s for sure: When he steps onstage this spring for his first contest appearance, it may Mark The beginning of one of the greatest father-son combinations we’ll ever witness in bodybuilding. Just keep the blender spinning. M&F

Birthdate: July 22, 1968
Birthplace: Arouca, Trinidad
Current residence: Coral Springs, Florida
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 228 pounds contest, 245 pounds off-season
Family status: Married to Kim; son Renel, 16
Career highlights: 2006: Atlantic City Pro, 1st. 2005: Arnold Classic, 6th. 2004: Xtreme Pro Challenge, 1st; Toronto Pro Invitational, 1st To contact: promuscleonline.com

Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Overhead Barbell Press 3 10, 8, 6
Alternating Dumbbell Front Raise 3 10, 8, 6
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10, 8, 6
Seated Bent-Over Lateral Raise 3 10, 8, 6
Day Bodyparts Trained
1 Quads/glutes, calves
2 Chest, hamstrings
3 Back, calves
4 Shoulders, hamstrings
5 Arms, calves
6-7 Off

By Darrem Charles

1 Start your delt routine with pressing moves because they work a greater amount of muscle mass and you can use more weight for greater muscle stimulation. You’re fresher at the beginning of your workout, so that’s when you want to tackle the heavy weights. Get in a couple of sufficient warm-up sets before going heavy.

2 Include single-joint moves after your heavy compound exercises to hit all three delt heads. Because my rear delts are already strong, I do laterals and front raises first. If your rear delts are lagging, by all means move a rear-delt move up in your workout or rotate the order in which you train them from one workout to the next.

3 I do three working sets per exercise, pyramiding the weight up and going to failure at the designated rep range. When I’m feeling stronger, I hit basic moves with heavier weights for sets of 10, eight and six reps with an explosive motion. If I don’t want to go that heavy, I’ll choose shaping moves and do three sets of 12, 10 and eight reps.

4 I typically take rest periods of 60-90 seconds, but the length of time isn’t determined as much by the clock as by the bodypart. I rest just enough so that I can complete the next set with the best form possible and reach failure at the target rep. If you aren’t recovered when you begin your next set, your form will suffer.

5 Variety is very important because muscles get used to doing the same thing over and over. Not only do I swap out exercises while following the two rep schemes, but I also follow a routine in which I do nothing but supersets. This allows me to force more blood into the muscle and gives me a better pump than straight sets.


TARGETS: Front and middle delts
START: Sit back firmly against the bench, feet spaced wide and flat on the floor for balance. With your head facing forward – you never want to turn it, extend it backward or flex it forward during the set – grasp the bar a couple of inches outside shoulder width with a palms-forward grip. Your elbows point straight down in the bottom position, with the bar a little lower than chin level.

EXECUTION: In a strong, smooth motion and without jerking, press the bar overhead to just short of full arm extension. Lower under control but don’t allow the bar to touch your upper chest; this helps to ensure you don’t bounce it at the bottom to gain momentum going into your next rep.

DARREM’S TIP: “I find that the seated version is safer for my lower back when I’m using heavier weight. While I occasionally do the behind-the-neck version, going in front feels more natural to me.”

ADVANCED TECHNIQUE: Push past the point of failure with forced reps. Do as many reps as you can on your own, then get another 2-3 reps with the help of your training partner.

TARGETS: Front delts
START: Stand erect with your back straight, holding the dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Keep a very slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise and bend your knees a bit for better balance.
EXECUTION: In a strong motion, raise one arm straight up and almost overhead. Lower under control and repeat with the opposite arm.
DARREM’S TIP: “I don’t stop the motion when the dumbbell nears shoulder level because I still feel my front delt contracting strongly as I go above that point. Take the weight up to just short of your arm coming perpendicular to the ceiling. This has made a drastic improvement in my front delts.”
ADVANCED TECHNIQUE: For an added challenge, use both arms simultaneously. When that becomes too difficult, alternate arms. You can also modify the traditional front raise by using a barbell.

TARGETS: Middle delts
START: Stand erect with your back straight, holding the dumbbells with a neutral, palms-in grip just outside your thighs to help eliminate the swinging motion that can occur at the start of the move. Maintain a very slight bend in your elbows at the start and keep your knees unlocked.
EXECUTION: Lift the weights out to your sides in a wide arc to shoulder level, turning your thumbs down at the top as if you’re pouring water from a jug. Keep your form strict at the beginning of the set with just a slight bend in your elbows; as you start to fatigue, increase the bend a bit to make the move easier. Lower under control to the start position and repeat.
DARREM’S TIP: “A common mistake is to bring your hands higher than your elbows, but that reduces the workload on the middle delts. Focus on moving the entire arm in the same plane so that your arms are roughly parallel to the floor in the top position.”
ADVANCED TECHNIQUE: Do drop sets, taking off 10 pounds each time. On days he trains heavy, Darrem does 90 pounds for six reps, 80 pounds for as many reps as possible, then 70 pounds to failure.

TARGETS: Rear delts
START: Sit at the end of a bench and lean forward from the waist, feet narrow and in front of you. Grasp the dumbbells with a neutral grip, holding them directly under your legs with your elbows slightly bent.
EXECUTION: Keeping that bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to your sides in an arc as high as you can, maintaining the bent-over position. Hold momentarily at the top, then slowly return to the start.
DARREM’S TIP: “You’re not trying to bring your hands and elbows parallel to the floor like you do with dumbbell lateral raises. Instead, raise your arms out to your sides in a wide arc by keeping your elbows pointed up and straight out to your sides, not pointed back.”
ADVANCED TECHNIQUE: The seated version is stricter and puts less stress on the low back than the standing bent-over version. To add difficulty, straddle a low incline bench, chest on the pad, to eliminate body english.