Drew Varick has never been the type of guy to do anything halfway. Though he only began acting in the last few years, he’s already has been featured on the hit show American Horror Story (as Toulouse) as well as on late night’s Conan. He’s even done some work as a stuntman.
So it should come as no surprise that despite having entered the world of competitive bodybuilding just a few months ago, he is already making a name for himself.
At 42” tall and weighing in at about 60 lbs., Varick is currently the world’s lightest competitive bodybuilder.
“I really only decided on my first competition about three months ago,” says Varick. “I decided to just give it a whirl.” The result? Two medals – a first place and second place finish in two of the categories.
It all began as idle, semi-serious chatter on the set of American Horror Story. The smallest bodybuilder (according to Guinness) had just passed away, and Varick’s colleagues suggested “‘hey, you could take that and gobble it up,’” he says.
Originally, Varick wasn’t overly interested, but he couldn’t quite shake the idea – not just for himself, but to show others who might often be underestimated that “hey, you can go and get it.”
He began working out with trainers, but they didn’t understand the unique challenges that Varick faced due to a rare form of dwarfism.
“They’ll say, ‘oh, you’re not working hard enough,’” says Varick, “but I’ve got a hummingbird heart. You’ve got to deal with that.” In addition, because of his smaller body, “whenever I grab certain devices, I tend to use more muscle mass in order to use it, so whenever I do a workout, I tend to use more of my body so I don’t have to work out necessarily as much.”
So Varick came up with his own regimen, “doing it, slowly, and taking your time with it. I do a lot of resistance training that gets me most of the gains that I need.
“It’s doing repetitions where you’re able to concentrate on the muscle and actually have that mind-body connection,” he adds, “and learning to breathe after every set as well. It’s not about pushing it to the limits so easily as much as making sure you get a good burn.”
Focusing on each individual muscle is crucial, says Varick, as judges in competitions are looking for symmetry. “They’re looking for how well you’ve paid attention to every single muscle in order to define it.”
That kind of attention to muscular detail may mean doing certain lifts in such subtly different ways that it may involve only a difference in the position of Varick’s fingers.
“So there’s a lot to do where you’re just working more on certain parts,” says Varick, “and that can take up some time.” Varick is in the gym two hours a day, just about every day. “There’ll be eventually a day off depending on what muscle groups I work with.”
But Varick is perhaps even more disciplined when it comes to his diet. “It’s everything,” he says of the importance of his vegan diet. “We’re talking about kale, we’re talking about spinach, chard, spirulina, barley, and certain grains. I don’t use whey. Right now I use pea protein and pumpkin seed protein.”
But he doesn’t feel like he is depriving himself. “It was all about taste,” he says. The first time he had an avocado, “it was like cotton candy to me.”
Currently Varick is gearing up for his next competition. “I’m going to try to make the one in Florida which is coming up in November, that’s for Nationals, unless I’m on a big movie…life happens.”
As it sometimes does. Varick just played his first lead in a feature called Devil’s Acid. “I really play an a-hole, which is something I’m not used to, although maybe my ex-girlfriend might not agree with that.”
There is also a documentary in the works about his life and new pursuits. “It’s about perseverance and the fact that many people are interested just as much as I am to seeing someone who looks like they can’t do much but without judgment and yet, here they go, they’re doing something that still brings life, everybody can learn from somebody.”