Teen bullied for his skinny frame becomes bodybuilder


When 22-year-old Iliya Tsikov moved to the U.K. from Bulgaria he was a skinny teen with no confidence and was bullied for his appearance.

Not only did he have to adjust to a new school, new country and bullies but also the worry that his family was struggling to make ends meet in their new life.

To try and help them Iliya sold his lunch every day and started saving the cash incase his parents should need a helping hand one day. But the result was Iliya got even skinnier as he was only eating two meals a day.

Fast forward to the now 22-year-old Iliya and you won’t believe the transformation. With tens of thousands of followers on Instagram this determined young man is a bodybuilder and the transformation is startling.

View this post on Instagram

I’ve uploaded my transformation video on YouTube. Check the link in my bio At the age of 16, I started my fitness journey and I began with body weight exercises. Street fitness was the beginning to my exciting transformation. After 3 months of hard work and dedication, my appetite grew and I started building weight. The changes of my body motivated me to join the gym despite being under aged as the gyms’ policy was 18+. My training routine changed as I gain more knowledge about how to perform exercises properly. My diet plan became stricter as I was working towards a set goal of improving my body. With time, I realised that going to the gym was more than just another workout; it was the place where I felt alone with my thoughts, yet never isolated. Almost graduating from college at 18, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to continue studying, but I knew that fitness was something I was very passionate about. Fast-forward another year, I completely reconstructed my daily routine where I put fitness at the forefront of my lifestyle. I never thought I would have the courage to be the person I’m standing today, but I’m pleased enough to say that I did it – I become a better version of myself, I changed both inside and out as I was desperate to change back then. What I’ve learned throughout these years is that if you want something badly from yourself, you own it! I’ve had many situations where I was so discouraged and wanted to quit but I turned that discouragement into fuel that made me push harder and to never give up no matter what the circumstance!

A post shared by I L I Y A T S I K O V (@itfitness_) on

The bullying had taken its toll on Iliya who spent his days either at school dealing with the abuse or at home in isolation, playing video games. But at 16 years old Iliya decided to do something about his skinny frame and started weight training.

Sell his school lunch to help his family

Iliya moved to Bristol, England, with his family when he was 12 years old but they struggled financially so he would sell his sandwiches to his friends and store the money in a shoe box under his bed, should his family need the extra funds, according to Unilad.

His family found the stored cash but wasn’t mad with him, instead they set up a savings account, opened with the money he had made so many sacrifices to save. It was then he decided he wasn’t going to let the bullies win and started weight training.

“The first step I took was starting to be honest with myself about how I look and feel. I was a skinny teenager, who had no confidence, no self-esteem, no friends, far from having any girlfriend – nothing,” Iliya told Unilad.

“I used that anger as a fuel to take action and I went out and started doing any body exercises. I found a place that had calisthenics equipment and I started working out. The moment I started working out was the moment I started feeling hope in myself that I can change the way I look at things.

Inspires others on their fitness journey

“Fast-forward three months of hard work and dedication, I started feeling good about myself! My appetite grew and I started building weight. The changes of my body motivated me and I joined the gym.”

Now he charts his fitness progress on his Instagram page, which has over 36,000 followers. He also helps to inspire other people to take on their own fitness challenge through his YouTube channel.

I love that Iliya turned a negative into a positive.

From selling his lunch every day to help his family to his incredible fitness journey, this young man is such an inspiration. Please share if you agree.