The next Mr Universe? East Hull's Dan O'Brien in finals
AN EAST Hull man is in the running for top bodybuilding title – Mr Universe.
Dan O'Brien, 31, followed in his father's footsteps to train as a bodybuilder.
Now, he has made it through to the finals of Mr Universe despite only competing in bodybuilding competitions twice.
"Mr Universe is for the best of the best around the world," Dan said. "They will have all won a show.
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"It's the show Arnold Schwarzenegger won five times."
Dan's dad Paddy, of Hull, was himself a bodybuilder.
Dan remembers seeing him train back home.
"My dad has been a bodybuilder since I was three," he said.
"It never really appealed to me but I was used to all his mates being big fellows.
"Then about five years ago, I thought I could do with putting some weight on – I was about 11st."
After joining a gym in Holderness Road, east Hull, Dan moved to Dublin for work.
He said: "It wasn't until I came across to Ireland and met some lads who were into it that I took it to the next level."
Dan puts his success down to a strict diet and exercise regime.
He eats about 5,000 calories a day – the equivalent of more than ten fast food burgers.
"You can easily get your 5,000 calories from eating Big Macs and still go to the gym but you wouldn't look like a bodybuilder," he said.
Instead, he eats healthy food – and lots of it.
"I have ten egg whites in the morning, a couple of bowls of porridge and protein powder," Dan said. "Then I have three meals of chicken and rice, a protein shake after the gym and another chicken and rice, then a shake and another ten eggs before bed."
He goes to the gym four times a week, except during competition season when he trains for about two hours a day.
The competitions come after the hard work has been done.
"It's a bit like a beauty pageant," Dan said. "They get the guys on stage and compare them to each other.
"You all do seven mandatory poses and it's up to the judges to compare each competitor to see who's got the most balanced physique."
Dan entered his first competition in April and came fourth.
He then entered the Mr Ireland competition last month and was surprised to win.
"When I saw the other guys, I thought I might as well go home," he said. "They were monsters.
"It's only the top six who are placed. Everyone else is just ranked as a competitor.
"The numbers just kept dropping and I realised I was in the top three, then there was me and one other guy – and then there was just me.
"I thought, 'Here I am from Hull and I've done two competitions'. There are guys who take years to win. It was an honour and a privilege."
The Mr Universe competition will be held at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre on Saturday, November 3.