Chasing Greatness

Senior Casen Malo has been on a fitness journey for several years, to reach his maximum genetic potential.


Scott Gotta

The sport of bodybuilding is a judged competition designed to push one’s physical limits to the max. From across the world, athletes share diet plans and training programs to inspire everyone, that with hard work and dedication you can achieve your fitness and physique goals.

BHS senior Casen Malo has put aside all his doubts about himself, and simply strives for his best physique. For the past year, Malo has been preparing for several bodybuilding competitions, where people from all over the country come to present their form. At first glance, many think it looks easy, but what they don’t see is the thousands of hours of training, dieting and programming it takes behind the scenes, to attain a respectable physique.

“Bodybuilding is a type of art, with everyone critiquing themselves to try to be the absolute best that they can be,” Malo said. “The common misconception is that everyone’s using drugs and illegal substances to get big, but in reality, they work just as hard as everyone else to get to their dream physique.”

Like many before him, Malo wanted to change his outlook and appearance after his middle school years, and he quickly realized what his priorities were.

“I looked back at my past and realized I needed a change,” Malo said. “When I was younger, I was what you would call a marshmallow, heavy, baby weight, anything you would consider overweight. At first, I went to the gym for the girls thinking the common trait that girls liked was guys with muscles. Not only is that far from the truth, but more guys have talked to me about my physique than girls. So I switched goals and decided to do this not only for myself but for everyone that thinks they can’t do something.”

In order to log his progress and share his achievements, Malo utilized Snapchat to vlog his training, and compare his physique each week. He also wanted to motivate his friends that they can enjoy working out with a little dedication.

“Due to my videos, so many people have reached out to me about how I have helped them in their physique or gym journey, and I can’t thank them enough for their support,” Malo said. “Another thing that motivates me is to help others achieve their goals by giving them the advice that I wish I had starting out.”

Due to the many different attributes of the competitors, there are many different types of events to compete in. 

“I competed in men’s physique, where you wear board shorts and it is judged based on your smile and complete v-taper,” Malo said. “I got third place at my first show, and first when I competed in the Upper Midwest Championship in Fargo.”

Through his experience, Malo can start to get into a rhythm when it comes to knowing how to prep and peak physically as well as aesthetically for competitions.

“At first, you think it’s going to be a piece of cake but you soon realize that there’s a lot of hard work and science that comes with building your dream physique,” Malo said. “You have to play with some macros, see what works for your body. On top of that, when you get closer to your show, you’re depleted of calories and it gets even more challenging.”

Like most serious competitors, in order to get to the next level, hiring a coach that knows the sport, and understands what your body can be put through, can be beneficial to one’s potential progress. BHS senior Cole Henke is also a competitor in the sport and has been a prominent figure in Malo’s journey.

“After a while of knowing him, I could tell he had an interest in the area of health and fitness but really didn’t know how to go about dieting and lifting weights,” Henke said. “He started as a chubbier guy just looking to get in better shape. Now, he is a lot more knowledgeable with a good chunk of the science behind competition prep and has competed in two bodybuilding shows.”

Henke has seen firsthand the dedication Malo has undertaken and put upon himself to be the best he can be.

“I am proud of Casen’s extreme dedication to every aspect of his prep. Whether it was practicing posing, dieting advice or the logic behind exercise selection, he loved to learn from everyone that was helping him out,” Henke said. “He was also not just willing, but excited to do the work that was required of him.”

Overall, Malo wants people to view him as someone who started out new to the gym and overcame his doubts about himself to experience the joy of staying fit. Not only being seen as an inspiration, but a role model for pushing your limits is what Malo wants to be seen for.

“For the people out there who are too scared or nervous to start going to the gym, I say there isn’t anything to it, but to do it,” Malo said. “Everyone is there for the same reason you are, to simply better themselves, so go see what you’re made of.”