Some athletes have genetics on their side, and others fight for every pound of muscle on the road to success. IFBB pro Deniz Duygulu is one of the latter.

Duygulu weighed 112 pounds as a high school athlete, and peers told him he’d never make it as a bodybuilder. Undaunted by the naysayers, Duygulu found his home in the men’s physique division, becoming the first physique winner of the NPC USAs. Now he’s eager for the pro spotlight.

“Expect to see five to six more pounds of muscle and better conditioning compared with last year,” says Duygulu. “I focused on conditioning in the off-season, keeping calories high but clean, which allowed me to stay leaner.”

Duygulu’s contest prep starts 12 weeks from the show, when he trains for muscle “hardening” rather than sheer bulk by fine-tuning his training with more supersets. At seven weeks out he lowers his calories from 4,500 to 2,500, with fewer carbs and fats.

Duygulu consistently trains his legs, even though the thighs are concealed in physique competition, because it gives him “better symmetry and a better overall look,” he says. Training legs also promotes fat loss. “I burn more calories during my high-intensity leg workouts than in any other workout during the week,” he explains.

No longer the skinny dude, Duygulu shares his passion for healthy living at fitness events and engages with his new fans online. His advice to underdogs: “Don’t let anyone talk you out of your dreams. If you want to compete, work hard and stay consistent.”

Train Legs Like Duygulu


Duygulu uses this routine once a week. Rest one minute between each set. Go straight to the next exercise after completing the previous one.


Squat                             4         15/12/10/8

Lying Leg Curl              4         15/12/10/8

Leg Press                      4         15/12/10/8

Standing Leg Curl        4         15/12/10/8   

Hack Squat Machine   4         15/12/10/8

Dumbbell Romanian   
Deadlift                          4         15/12/10/8

Hip Abductor                4         15/12/10/8     

Hip Adductor                4         15/12/10/8     

Barbell Walking
Lunge                           3       Walk 25 yds. and back


Duygulu trains his calves three times a week on upper-body days, when his legs aren’t fatigued, because he says calves are a “stubborn” muscle for him.


Donkey Calf Raise       3           20/20/15

Standing Calf Raise
(toes out)                        3           20/20/15

Standing Calf Raise
(toes in)                          3           20/20/15

Standing Calf Raise
(toes straight)                3           20/20/15

Seated Calf Raise       3           20/20/15


Height: 5’9″

Weight: 190 lbs

Age: 31

Residence: Coral Springs, FL

Twitter/Instagram: @DenizDuygulu


Sponsor: EXN Nutrition, Fresh Meal Plan