Written by Ron Harris
25 April 2007
Night of the Titus?
I just got off the phone last night with Craig Titus, as he was three weeks away from what could be the most important bodybuilding contest of his life- the 2003 Night of Champions. In his words, "If I don't win this fucking show, I will never win one." Though he does seem to be the favorite, I have been hearing others either declaring themselves, or being declared by others, as the eventual recipient of the first place check. Knowing that Titus isn't afraid to speak his mind, I threw these names at him and asked his opinion. Craig, of course, didn't hold back for a second. You have to admire that quality in this politically correct era we live in. I want to make clear that he was commenting entirely on the physiques of these men, and such assessments should not be taken as personal insults. Yeah, right! As if any bodybuilders I have ever known can separate the two.

Bob Cicherillo (2nd place at 2002 NOC to Craig's 5th): "Chick has been overrated since day one. His body has so many flaws that if it were a car it would be a Pacer or a Gremlin," opined Craig. I had to step in and remind Craig that many of MD's readers are too young to recognize either of these embarrassments to automotive manufacturing. "How ‘bout a Kia, then?," he said. "Let's just say it's a good thing he has friends on the judging panel or he would never be up in the top spots."

Idrise Ward-El: "I like Idrise a lot and he has a very good physique, but he still looks kinda narrow and he needs back thickness. He'll be a good pro soon, but right now, I don't think he's quite ready yet."

Toney Freeman: "Toney is just too tall and still needs to pack on a lot more size to hang with the best pros. Supposedly, he has put on 40 pounds of muscle since the Nationals last November, but I find that pretty hard to believe.  I guess we'll all find out real soon whether he did or not."

Art Atwood: "He's a freak of nature, but not very pretty to look at."
Paul Dillett: "I heard he can't leave Canada, something about a visa running out, but it doesn't matter. I only worry about Paul if he looks the way he did about seven or eight years ago, and he hasn't had that look for a very long time. Anyway, if that rumor is true, he can't come to New York to compete regardless."

King Kamali: "I think he finally figured out that you can run your mouth all you want, but it's your physique that needs to do the talking. Lately, his physique hasn't said shit. I wouldn't even think about him at all if he didn't keep talking about me."

New and Improved or Same Old Craig?
For Craig to go from fifth place last year to first this time (though I still wonder what the judges were smoking when they placed Paco "the refrigerator" Baustista ahead of him) would require some tangible improvements.  According to Titus, he has fixed all that needed fixing. "I brought up my chest and back thickness a lot since the Olympia, and that was all that was missing," he says. "I go by what my wife Kelly and a couple close friends tell me, because they don't worry about hurting my feelings. Kelly has no problem telling me I look like shit, if I do. You have to have people who aren't afraid to be hard on you and tell the truth, or else you never bring up your weak points. I can honestly say I don't have any weak points right now."  

Speaking of Kelly Ryan, I couldn't help but notice that she and Craig have been competing in the same contests for a while, which means they both diet at the same time. Oddly, neither has killed the other, nor have we even heard of any big blowouts. My wife and I just dieted for the same contest and we had to remove all handguns and sharp objects from the house during the last month.  "It's no big deal for us, probably because Kelly doesn't really diet," Craig explains. "She just ups her activity level and gets leaner." Of course, the diet is more painful for Craig, since he has to drop about 30 pounds to see striated glutes and a crystal-clear Christmas tree, but he reins in any mood swings that may come about toward the end. "Kelly is my best friend and I just can't get angry at her," he says. "I can't even remember the last time we had a fight."  Huh! Some bad boy he is.

Got A White Man's Waist? Better Get Some Big-Ass Delts!
Since Paul Dillett has opened up the freedom of speech on racial issues here in MD, let's be brutally honest. White bodybuilders don't often have tiny waists like their black brethren. Is that really such a shocking revelation? It's one of the major genetic differences between the two races. Think about the itty-bitty waistlines of Melvin Anthony, Flex Wheeler, Darrem Charles, Dexter Jackson, pre-2000 Ronnie Coleman, and even Paul himself. Now envision the wider waists of Gunter, Jay, Dave Palumbo, Tommi Thorvildsen, etc.  It's just a fact of life that most white bodybuilders have to accept.  

Craig didn't want to use his fair skin as an excuse, but he did say this.  "When you have a 33-inch waist in shape like me, versus a legitimate 29-inch waist like Melvin, you do have to have wider shoulders and back to create the illusion of the same V-taper. That's just basic geometry." So Titus has especially targeted his shoulders. "I had pretty good caps from wrestling in high school, but I worked very hard to put as much mass and fullness on them as possible since then. The guy I always looked up to for having the best delts of all time is Kevin Levrone."  Since Craig has successfully built a set of shoulders that have created the illusion of a small waist, let's look at how he trains those suckers.

Overhead Presses
"I always do my presses on a Smith machine or some other type like Hammer Strength or Cybex," Craig told me. "I like having the feeling of just being able to push without having to worry about balancing a bar."  Isn't he worried that free weights are allegedly far superior for mass-building purposes? "Not at all," he says. "Resistance is resistance. People can believe that if they want, but I know it doesn't matter." Conforming to his blood-volume training system, each body part is subjected to four sets of four exercises, 10-20 reps each. "I am a lot bigger and fuller these past couple of years since I started doing this," he explains. "Maybe other people grow better with heavier weights and low reps, but for me it turns out that getting an incredible pump while still using pretty heavy weights worked best of all."

Side Laterals
Fellow Las Vegas-area pro Jay Cutler has been helping Craig with his nutrition, and he was also the man who inspired his favorite shoulder exercise.  "I saw Jay in the gym a few years ago doing his side laterals one arm at a time, but didn't try it for a while," says Craig. "Once I did, I knew I had been missing out by doing them with two arms all those years. They isolate the shoulders so much more effectively. I have only been doing them for about a year now, but my side delts are rounder and fuller than they ever were before." Craig always does his laterals standing, as he feels sitting down takes away the opportunity to harness a bit of momentum in moving the weight. He starts with a 30-pound ‘bell and moves up to a 60 or 70 by his fourth and final work set.

Front Raises
Many bodybuilders shun direct work for the front delts, under the assumption that pressing for the shoulders and chest more than takes care of the anterior segment of the muscle. I happen to lean toward that theory as well, but Titus sure doesn't. "That's like saying you don't need to train rear delts because they get worked when you train your back," he argues. "My goal is maximum development throughout the entire muscle from front to back, so I am not about to leave anything to chance. I do my front lateral raises every time I work shoulders because I want those things popping out." Craig will usually stick to a 40- or 50-pound dumbbell, as he does these unilaterally. Often, he will play with angles and do something between a front raise and a side raise.  "If you just go strictly to the front and sides all the time, I think your shoulders get used to that," he says. "I like to mix it up and give the shoulders resistance from an angle they aren't accustomed to. It works very well." Craig usually uses a dumbbell for this movement, but once in a while he will do it with a cable attachment and a low pulley for a different feel.

Rear Laterals
As much as Titus is enthralled with one-arm lateral raises, when it comes to rear delts, he feels two arms at a time is actually the smarter choice.  "It's too hard to balance myself in that position with one arm and my body starts swinging," he explains. Craig does his rear laterals seated and bent over, though not with his torso parallel to the ground. "You don't need to go over that far to hit the rear delts," he adds. He alternates between dumbbells, using 50s or 60's, and the rear delt machine.  "That machine has a nice even feel to it that lets my rear delts really fill up with blood," he says. And with all three heads of the shoulders covered, Craig is done.

By the time you read this, the outcome in New York City will be known.  Though I know and like several of the men who wanted the NOC title this year, I honestly hope Craig gets it. The bastard has just worked so hard and overcome so much crap in his life. Few competitors have ever had to deal with the negativity from the press and his fellow athletes as Titus has. But that's up to a band of men and women in blue blazers, not me. I know Craig is thrilled with the exposure he's getting in MD and other independent magazines now that he has broken free from the Weider leash. We will be seeing a whole lot more of Titus now, and that's the way he likes it. Who would have thought that being under contract to Weider would take you pretty much out of the public eye? That's all in the past now, as Craig is repping Pinnacle. He claims his favorite product is their Juiced Protein with Myozap, but as a fellow perpetually horny meathead with a hard-body wife, I had to ask about Horny Goat Weed. "Yeah, that stuff works great, too," he admitted with a chuckle.

Just as with his arm workout last month, Craig's blood volume training for shoulders could be what you need to start packing on some good mass up there. If six to 10 reps at a slow tempo haven't been doing jack for your delts, it would behoove you to try the Titus way.  After checking out my wide-ass waistline with the usual self-pity, I know I'm going to!  

Top Three Titus Tips for Shoulders

1.    Ditch the behind-neck press. "Pressing behind the neck is such an unnatural movement that I don't even know how it got so popular in the first place. It's just too hard on the rotator cuff. Unless you are the rare exception, if you do this exercise long enough to get very strong, you will get hurt. I always press to the front. I know too many guys who destroyed their shoulders pressing to the back."

2.    Half reps for laterals are actually better. "Some exercises are actually more effective when you don't use the full range of motion possible because you can maintain better tension on the muscle. Side laterals are a perfect example. I never bring the dumbbells up any higher than my delts. Anything past that is just working traps. And I don't let them come all the way down, either. Coming down only about half the way makes it tougher because you can't swing the weight at all."

3.    Don't go too slow on laterals. "You have to use a medium to fast rep speed on your lateral movements, or else you are seriously limited in the weights you can use. I'm not saying you should cheat, but using a little bit of momentum makes a big difference. You have to pump that shit up and get some blood into the muscle. Think about it; are you going to get better results on laterals going super slow with 10-pound dumbbells, or a faster rep speed with 50s? I can tell you from having tried both that that the faster rep speed gets the job done better."


Training Split

Day one        Chest, biceps, abs, plus six sets for tri's
Day two        Back, traps, calves
Day three        OFF
Day four        Shoulders, triceps, abs, plus six sets for bi's
Day five        Quads, hamstrings, calves
Day six        OFF


Contest Highlights

1996 NPC USA            Heavyweight and Overall Champion
2001 Ironman Pro            5th place
2001 Arnold Classic        6th place
2001 San Francisco Pro        2nd place
2001 Mr. Olympia             12th place
2002 Night of Champions        5th place
2002 Mr. Olympia            11th place
2002 GNC Show of Strength    7th place
2003 Night of Champions        ?