Bartlett native changes entire lifestyle to become bodybuilder


Brandon Hendrickson grew up in Bartlett and fell in love with bodybuilding after visiting a few competition shows. He has transformed from a skinny teen with abs to someone with a world renowned physique.

After competing in local shows in 2012, He joined the International Bodybuilding (IBB) ranks. Among his accomplishments: Tampa Pro champing in 2015; fifth-place at the 2015 Mr. Olympia; first at the 2016 Arnold Classic; fourth at 2016 Mr. Olympia; third at 2017 Mr. Olympia; and first in the 2018 Hawaiian Pro show.

In this interview with the Daily Herald, he talks about his sport, his training and his goals and development.

Q. How did you get into bodybuilding?

A. I was working full time as a hospitality manager at a hospital from 2010-2012 and I was getting made fun of a lot for being skinny at the time and finally had enough. I was unhappy and simply wanted better for myself.

My friend at the time began competing in the bikini division and I started to follow some of the foods she was eating, just a lot more of it. I went to support her at one of her shows and saw men’s physique division and was immediately inspired to start competing myself.

Q. Were you nervous at your first competition?

A. My first competition was the NPC “Wings of Strength” in Tinley Park in July of 2012. I was very nervous because I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. I kept reminding myself that I’ve been here before, with my background in modeling in college (at SIU), and I immediately started to feel more comfortable once I stepped on stage. I felt like I was made for this. I finished second out of nine guys in my division.

Q. This sport requires much more than 7-day workouts in the weight room, doesn’t it?

A. It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. There also aren’t any seasons, it’s a year round sport. I’m constantly making sure I’m eating properly and exercising, stretching, taking care of my body.

Q. Your website offers online training and other support. Is that how bodybuilders make a living at this sport?

A. That’s one of the ways you can make a living as a bodybuilder. Other ways are landing endorsements/sponsorships from clothing, supplement etc. companies. Also, as a pro, if you make the top 5 or top 3 (depending on the show) you get compensated.

Q. What’s the biggest misconception of this sport, and how do you try to change it?

A. Steroid use and/or abuse. Although there is use of steroids in the industry to compete at an elite level, there has been a new division, Men’s Physique, that has opened up for guys like me who don’t want to be too big or get into the use of steroids, because in this division, you don’t have to have a massive unattainable physique. Men’s Physique is for guys that don’t want to or don’t have the genetics to get too big, and still compete at a top level.

Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

A. I see myself opening up my own gym, becoming the Olympia champion and helping people worldwide learn how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Q. What is a typical day like for you with workouts and nutrition?

A. Wake up and take vitamins, in the gym for cardio by 8 a.m. Do 50 minutes to an hour cardio plus 20 minutes abs. Come home, eat two meals and respond to emails. Go back to the gym to train for at least two hours, come back home and nap and eat two meals, and then go back at night for cardio.

Q. Besides bodybuilding, what’s your favorite sport?

A. Boxing. I played football, ran track and wrestled at Streamwood High School.

Q. What does your competition schedule look like for the next year?

A. I just competed at the Arnold Classic in March and placed third. The very next week I competed at the Hawaii Pro and took first place. After competition in Sacramento and Salt Lake City, then I will be taking time off to grow before competing for my fourth time at what we consider to be the Super Bowl of bodybuilding, Mr. Olympia, in September. A week after that, I’ll be at the Korea Pro in South Korea and then the Tokyo Pro show on Nov. 17.

Editor’s note: Brandon finished first at IFBB Governor’s Cup Pro in Sacramento, and second at the Salt Lake City Showdown on April 7. For more, visit his website at

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