Fernando Sardinha

From being teased for his small size to becoming one of the biggest names in Brazilian bodybuilding, Fernando Sardinha knows what it takes to reach the top.

With over 135 contests and 128 medals under his belt, Fernando has competed for over 3 decades and is still going strong. He continues to inspire generations of people, and this is his story:


Fernando Sardinha posing on the bodybuilding stage with a trophy

Athlete Statistics

Full Name: Fernando Sardinha
WeightHeightArmsWaist
245 - 255lbs (111.1 - 115.7kg)5'5" (165cm)50cm86cm
ThighsCalvesAge
74cm48cm49
Date of BirthNationalityProfession
November 18, 1969BrazilianBodybuilder, Fitness Personality
AliasEra
fernandosardinha2010, 2000, 1980, 1990
Weight245 - 255lbs (111.1 - 115.7kg)
Height5'5" (165cm)
Arms50cm
Waist86cm
Thighs74cm
Calves48cm
Age49
Date of BirthNovember 18, 1969
NationalityBrazilian
ProfessionBodybuilder, Fitness Personality
Aliasfernandosardinha
Era2010, 2000, 1980, 1990


Fernando Sardinha flexing his ripped and huge legs

Accomplishments

  • Champion Bodybuilder
  • Artist (Singer, Piano Player, Dancer)
  • Fitness Personality

Top Achievements

  • 3rd place at the 61st Mr. Universe
  • World Bodybuilding Championships runner-up
  • Brazilian NABBA Champion
  • 3-time Champion of São Paulo
  • 2-time Champion of “Paulista do Interior”
  • 7-time “Best Posador do Brasil”

Fernando Sardinha posing shirtless by the pool, looking ripped

Biography

 

From Martial Arts to Bodybuilding

Fernando Sardinha is a Brazilian bodybuilder who was born in 1969, in São Paulo.

He began training in the gym at the age of 15, with the goal of becoming stronger and better in martial arts.

“I started training at the age of 15 at the old Olympic Center to improve my judo conditioning. I practiced judo since I was 5 years old.”

However, after entering the gym for the first time, Fernando caught the lifting bug and his interests changed. It wasn’t long before he left martial arts behind to become a bodybuilder.


Fernando Sardinha flexing his triceps and smiling


The “Sardinha” Nickname Story

From the moment he first stepped foot into the gym, Fernando knew he’d compete on the bodybuilding stage sooner or later. But in order to get there, Fernando had to overcome some obstacles first.

Initially, Fernando faced a lot of criticism from his family – they didn’t support his decision to become a bodybuilder.

Not only that, Fernando also faced mockery from other bodybuilders in the gym. The place where he trained had a custom that every member needed to have the nickname of a certain fish.

Since Fernando was one of the smallest gym members, he was nicknamed “Sardinha,” after sardines. Although this didn’t sit well with Fernando at first, he grew fond of the nickname over the years.

First Contest, First Victory

As much as others criticized and teased Fernando for his ‘skinny’ looks and for wanting to become a bodybuilder, he took it all in his stride.

He kept training hard every day, and eventually, sculpted an outstanding physique. This is where the criticism stopped.

In fact, Fernando became so self-confident that he went on to compete in his first bodybuilding show – the 1989 Paulista Championships.

Weighing 70kg of ripped muscle, Fernando outshone everyone else that day, winning the contest.


Fernando Sardinha when he was younger, posing shirtless by the pool, looking huge and ripped

A Lifelong Career

From the moment he won his first show, Fernando worked hard on making bodybuilding his full-time career.

Over the next 30 years, he went on to compete in over 135 shows, winning 132 trophies and 128 medals.

In the process, Fernando Sardinha has become an icon of bodybuilding in Brazil.

Even though he’s now in his 50s, Fernando doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Not only does he continue to compete in bodybuilding, he also has a growing online presence – helping fans around the world achieve their best physiques.


Fernando Sardinha performing a side triceps pose before and after

Fernando Sardinha before and today.

Training

“Old-School” Training

Fernando Sardinha enjoys long workouts with big weights. In a sense, he’s all about the old-school training style, following the popular gym motto: “go hard or go home”

That said, Fernando keeps his form strict at all times. If he needs to lower the weight in order to do a perfect rep, he’ll do it.


Fernando Sardinha doing a heavy leg press in the gym


Training Seasons

There are two main phases in Fernando’s training: “off-season” and “pre-contest”.

When there are no shows coming up, Fernando will train six times per week and work on a different muscle group every workout.

As the contest date comes nearer, he’ll start training less often but with more intensity. His workouts last about 45 minutes during the contest phase.

Fernando also reduces rest between his sets, includes multiple muscle groups per workout, and does supersets to further increase the intensity.


Fernando Sardinha doing heavy barbell rows in the gym


Contest Workout

During contest prep, Fernando trains 3-5 times per week. Here’s how his split looks like;

  • Monday: Chest, Front and Middle Delts, and Calves
  • Tuesday: Back, Rear Delts, Abs
  • Thursday: Quads, Adductors, Glutes, and Abs
  • Saturday: Hamstrings and Calves

Music For the Intensity

Fernando loves listening to music as a way of boosting his training intensity.

This especially applies to his ‘in-season’ workouts where he needs to train extremely hard for contests.


Fernando Sardinha sitting shirtless by the pool, looking ripped and big

Nutrition

Diet

In terms of dieting, Fernando keeps things simple; keeping his meals packed with good fats, proteins, and carbs to promote fat loss and muscle hypertrophy.

Fernando’s favorite carb sources include pasta, brown bread, and oats.

If his workouts demand it, he’ll also throw in a couple of scoops of maltodextrin powder as an additional carb source for energy.

As for proteins, Fernando loves chicken breast, egg whites, and plant protein sources. He also adds whey protein to meet his daily protein goal faster.

Supplements Fernando Sardinha Takes

Alongside whey and maltodextrin, there are a couple of other supplements Fernando takes. They include;

  • BCAAs
  • Glutamine – 40g per day
  • B Complex Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Creatine – 14g per day

Fernando’s reason for taking high doses of glutamine is that it improves his muscle recovery, along with repairing his gut lining for better digestion.


Fernando Sardinha standing shirtless on the beach, looking vascular and ripped

Idols and Influences

Fernando says it’s impossible to name just one or two bodybuilders that inspire him.

Here’s the full list of people whom he admires;


Fernando Sardinha posing side chest on the bodybuilding stage

What we can learn from Fernando Sardinha

What we can learn from Fernando Sardinha is that through hard work, you can achieve anything.

Fernando was a ‘skinny’ kid growing up. His family criticized him for wanting to become a bodybuilder, and other guys in the gym gave him the nickname “sardine” for his small frame.

But Fernando had a passion within him. And by channeling that passion through lifting weights, he turned the odds in his favor and became a successful bodybuilder.

His story leaves us with one simple, yet powerful lesson; if you want to become successful, you should be ready to overcome any challenge that comes your way, including criticism and doubts of other people.

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