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ROUTINE

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PHIL HEATH WINS HIS SIXTH MR. O IN VEGAS!

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INSIDE THIS MONTH

COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY PER BERNAL

DEPARTMENTS 16

CHAIRMAN’S LETTER A message from our chairman, president, and CEO, David J. Pecker.

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GUEST EDITOR’S LETTER IFBB Pro League and NPC president Jim Manion.

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ONLINE Stay current with all the hot topics trending now at FLEXonline.com.

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HIT LIST Everything you need to know this month to make life worth living.

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OLYMPIA FACTS Numbers from the greatest bodybuilding show on earth, the 2016 Olympia Weekend.

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“THAT GOOD”

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list, Phil Heath talks about his latest “statement win.”

FEATURES 106

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CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND

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BIG SHOTS The best moments of Olympia Weekend 2016.

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NOT BACKING DOWN Has John Meadows abandoned Mountain Dog? Not at all—but his new back workouts do come with a shocking twist.

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THE UPSTART Ariel Khadr made her Fitness Olympia debut in 2016—and she’s ready to apply the lessons she learned to 2017.

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TIMELESS VISION Photographer Per Bernal recounts the early days that led to a brilliant career of creating art through physique.

WINTER MASS, PART 3 As the snow continues to mount, so should your absolute gains in muscle, strength, and power!

THE PEC’ING ORDER One of the most popular bodybuilders ever, Victor Martinez is still a major force. Here, the Dominican Dominator takes on chest training.

GIVE ME FIVE

All the division winners from Olympia 2016.

LIFT Techniques that work, routines that produce results, and other things to help you make the most of your gym time.

Flex Lewis wins his fifth 212 Olympia.

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1ST SET All the happenings with the entire Team Weider roster. Plus, Dave Draper and more.

Fresh off a hands-down Olympia victory that

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PARTY HEARTY Banish fat-filled finger food from the holidays and celebrate with these healthy bites.

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FOOD & SUPPS All the things you need to eat, drink, or mix first and then drink to help you reach your bodybuilding and fitness goals.

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LAST SET Contest results, athlete profiles, and more from the world of competitive bodybuilding and fitness.

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THE SHOT Phil Heath makes one lucky fan’s day…make that year!

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SIXTH SANDOW Chasing history, Phil Heath wins the 2016 Mr. Olympia.


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FROM THE CHAIRMAN

THE O AND BEYOND THE 2016 OLYMPIA WASN’T JUST AN INCREDIBLE EVENT BUT A POSITIVE SIGN OF BODYBUILDING’S FUTURE If you attended the 2016 Olympia this past September or watched it live on amazon.com, then you know it’s an amazing time to be a fan of bodybuilding. At the Olympia I made a few announcements that are prime examples not just of the current health of our sport but of its future as well. For one, I announced that we were giving away $1.4 million in prize money— a new record. In addition, I allocated an additional $100,000 to the women’s divisions, recognizing that it’s high time we start closing the gap between what women and men earn. With more than 60,000 people streaming through the doors of the Las Vegas Convention Center, this year’s Olympia expo was the biggest yet, and it was punctuated by a very special appearance. As you’ve surely heard by now, none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made an appearance both at the Weider expo booth and onstage during the Saturday night finals. It was there that Dwayne had a special announcement of his own to make— that next year’s Olympia broadcast would be produced by Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions company and air on CBS Sports. That’s right, after more than 30 years, bodybuilding will be back on network television. All of us here at AMI have worked tirelessly to support and promote bodybuilding and fitness, and this year’s O was a clear indication that our mission is succeeding. It is indeed a great time to be a bodybuilding fan, and let me assure you, things will only continue to get better.

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President of the IFBB Professional League JIM MANION Founder and Chairman Emeritus JOE WEIDER (1920–2013)

FOREIGN EDITIONS

DAVID J. PECKER Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Offi of American Media, Inc.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16


GUEST LETTER

AN O FOR THE AGES Jim Manion with six-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath (left) and superstar Dwayne Johnson on the 2016 Olympia stage.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

that a multiday expo and satellite events over the course of four days and you have a challenge fit for Hercules. Yet somehow Robin Chang once again outdid himself by producing what I believe was the greatest Olympia to date. I’d also like to take a moment to congratulate my good friend, American Media Chairman, President, and CEO David Pecker. Since taking over the event in 2004 David has committed himself to consistently increasing the profile of the Olympia—by raising athlete prize monies (nearly 250% over the past 13 years), expanding the expo floor space (to ease crowd movement), and creating new opportunities for our sport—to get the kind of media exposure we need to continue growing. A perfect example of this last point can be found in The Rock’s

JIM MANION President, NPC, IFBB Pro League

PER BERNAL

Long before I became President of the NPC and the IFBB Pro League I was a bodybuilding competitor, and like you, a fan. I bought my first bodybuilding magazine in 1958 and attended my first competition in the mid-1960s, so I have a bit of history with this sport. Between then and now I’ve attended numerous Olympias, starting in the early ’70s, across the globe, witnessing some of bodybuilding’s greatest showdowns along the way. Yet as amazing as each of these events has been in its own right, none have impressed me more in terms of overall professionalism and entertainment value than the 2016 Olympia, held this past September in Las Vegas. As promoter of a number of shows myself, I know firsthand how big a job it is to stage a topflight IFBB competition. Add to

appearance at both the expo and at the Saturday night Olympia finals, during which he announced that next year’s Olympia would be broadcast on CBS Sports. Thanks to David’s continued efforts to increase our sport’s exposure, we are now poised to break out onto network TV. It’s certainly exciting times for bodybuilding, and David Pecker has had a key role in bringing about that excitement. Thank you, David, for your friendship and leadership. I’ve never felt more positive about the future of bodybuilding and the Olympia, and this past Olympia Weekend has given me only more confidence in that bright tomorrow. I’m prouder than ever to be President of the NPC and the IFBB Pro League and, like you, can’t wait to see what Robin and David have in store for us for next year’s Olympia.


ONLINE NOW FLEXonline.com/eatingformass

SOCIAL ALL-STARS

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FLEX LEWIS I’m so blessed to travel and get to see the world doing what I do!!! JUAN MOREL Another day in the office doing what I love, smashing these puny weights! People think that if you superset, you need to go light. Well, that is not what you should do.

LIKE US AT FACEBOOK.COM/FLEXMAGAZINE AND INTERACT WITH OUR 2 MILLION OTHER FANS JUST LIKE YOU.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

Always keep it heavy!! WILLIAM BONAC As I sit here in a hotel chair in Prague the morning after the #IFBB EVLS Prague Pro, I’m feeling proud with tears of happiness and the feeling of contentment! BIG RAMY Thank God for everything I have. And thanks to all the fans and supporters. I will do my best to be better every time. STEVE KUCLO I eat pretty much the same foods 90% of the time and throw in

some treats here and there. And I love dinners out with my precious wife where we indulge in whatever our taste buds desire. CODY MONTGOMERY Stay motivated to try to better yourself for tomorrow. SHAWN RHODEN Away from the fist pumping, cheering and clapping. Away from the bright lights and fans shouting. Here, there is no “Top 5.” You’re drained and depleted. This is where we do work.

OF COURSE, WE TWEET, TOO. CHECK OUT OUR DAILY UPDATES BY FOLLOWING US ON TWITTER AT @FLEX_MAGAZINE.

KEVIN HORTON

PHIL HEATH It’s always important to keep the body moving after competitions as your body needs to get increased blood flow through cardio, stretching, and some moderate weight training.


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4 THINGS TO KNOW THIS MONTH

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WEAR Pedestal Footwear: Wearing these durable, comfortable socks is the closest you’ll get to barefoot training—which allows you to transfer more power to your lifts since you’re closer to the ground—without compromising hygiene. The no-slip grips at the bottom help ent any midtraining mishaps, too. $25, pedestalfootwear.com

PREP Planet Box: Upgrade from basic plastic Tupperware with this stainless steel lunchbox. It holds 6.5 cups’ worth of food, is divided so you can portion out your veggies, carbs, and protein, and is dishwasher-safe for quick cleanup. $60, planetbox.com

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

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Star Wars Rogue One: This is the first anthology film stemming from Star Wars, and it revolves around non-Jedis (say, whaaat?) who are trying to steal plans for the original death star. New droids and characters are promised and, if it lives up to the hype, this should be one badass heist. Premieres Dec. 16


JUST THE FACTS

MR. OLYMPIA

BONANZA JEREMY BUENDIA

THE WINNERS 24

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

OKSANA GRISHINA

DANNY HESTER

PER BERNAL

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PER BERNAL

When you call something the best of the best and say it’s bigger and better every year, some people assume they’re hearing hyperbole. Well, in the case of Olympia Weekend 2016, those people are wrong. Billed as the Super Bowl of bodybuilding, the contest started by industry icon Joe Weider has grown and grown just as its participants’ physiques have grown and grown to the point that it’s no longer recognizable from the first Mr. Olympia in 1965. This past September’s Olympia Weekend set new records, and with a hightech stage packed

COURTNEY KING

with enough wow factor to satisfy the most die-hard stadium-rock fans, it was one of the most exciting in recent times. And speaking of rock, The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, was on hand to electrify the crowd and take the Olympia to a whole new level of entertainment. Add to that the event within the event, the Olympia Expo, with wall-to-wall fans watching, and in some cases participating in, obstacle courses, arm wrestling,

MMA, bikini and model searches, weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, and other endeavors. Fans come from all over the world to experience the industry’s biggest show of the year and meet the sport’s most famous athletes. Check out these record-setting numbers and then relive all the championship moments with our expert, in-depth contest coverage, complete with Per Bernal’s stunning photographs of the world’s greatest bodybuilding and physique superstars.

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2016 MR. OLYMPIA

PHIL HEATH

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THAT GOOD FRESH OFF A HANDS-DOWN OLYMPIA VICTORY THAT TIES HIM WITH DORIAN YATES ON THE ALL-TIME LIST, PHIL HEATH TALKS ABOUT HIS LATEST STATEMENT WIN INTERVIEW BY JOE WUEBBEN

Welcome back. We’ve been here before: On the heels of Phil Heath winning a Mr. Olympia title. It’s been six years in a row, which ties Heath with Dorian Yates for Sandow trophies. The chatter among bodybuilding fans, followers, and reporters is that it’s starting to get boring, just as it did during the prolonged reigns of Schwarzenegger, Haney, Yates, and Coleman. Fortunately, Phil Heath speaks his mind at Arnold-like proportions, so it never gets that boring when Mr. Olympia is in the room. Less than a month after his 2016 win in Las Vegas, we caught up with the champ to get his thoughts on arguably his most dominating win to date. Same time, same place next year? Quite possibly, yes.

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FLEX: YOU WON ANOTHER OLYMPIA IN CONVINCING FASHION. BUT I KNOW YOU’RE YOUR OWN TOUGHEST CRITIC, SO TELL ME, DID YOU BRING THE PHYSIQUE YOU WANTED TO BRING?

Dorian Yates’ shadow no longer looms over Heath, who is now tied with him with six wins.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

So it’s safe to say this was a statement win for you? Definitely. I just tied Dorian Yates [with six Olympia wins]. I’m only going to be compared against legends. I’ve been compared with legends from the beginning. Honestly, I’m not going to let anyone steal this one from me by being negative, because that’s what people were

doing in previous years. They were just so unable to say, “Hey, he did his job. Was he the greatest ever? No, but he did his job and got the win.” This year? Just crickets. No one’s saying anything. Guys are so negative these days, and they’re unable to acknowledge how cool this sport has become. People have the nerve to say that bodybuilding is declining. How is that possible when there’s a packed house at the Olympia every year and guys like The Rock actually want to get involved? That brand right there is a billion-dollar brand. Why would The Rock want to associate himself with trash and something on the decline? He doesn’t, obviously. And we were doing fine before him, too.

How do you look at other competitors during a show, either backstage or while competing? Are you sizing them up or just worrying about yourself? I try to get a friendly barometer of what’s going on, so I’ll look at guys, sure. Thing is, I’m still a fan of a lot of these guys, so I just want to see what they look like. I’ll look at all of them, then I’ll start looking at guys who are going to be my main competition. And I’ll think, “Oh, gosh, I really hope this person doesn’t think he has a shot, because he’s going to get embarrassed tonight.” And that’s what I told myself. Guys are going to get their feelings hurt. I looked at all of them, and I knew right away that they just did not have what I was about to present. I wasn’t trying to play any head games. I was just trying to keep it as calm and cool as ever this year because I just knew I had it won. I had it won backstage. I had it won at the press conference. When I finally peeled down backstage, I could see the reaction of everybody. They were trying really hard not to concede victory at that point, but they knew in their hearts that I wasn’t playing.

PREVIOUS SPREAD: PER BERNAL. THIS SPREAD: COURTESY OF WEIDER HEALTH AND FITNESS; PER BERNAL (2); CHRIS NICOLL

PHIL HEATH: Absolutely, 100%. Ultimately, I just showed the world that these other guys don’t have what I have. They just don’t. Those critics who have gone against me, they can just sit back and be quiet for a while. The competition wasn’t close. I came in there and beat everyone’s ass. I know it, and they know it, so much so that I haven’t received any congratulating texts from anyone other than William Bonac. They all were praying for my downfall, they were all hoping to win, and I understand that. It was really a letdown for all of them. And it wasn’t about them being off; it was about me being that good. And there was nothing they could do. And I’m only going to get better. People need to start acknowledging what the hell I just did. Because I’m not going to be around that much longer. I’m not going to be around here for 10-plus years, competing at 46 like Dexter [Jackson]. They need to appreciate what they just saw.


I JUST SHOWED THE WORLD THAT THESE OTHER GUYS DON’T HAVE WHAT I HAVE.

Shawn Rhoden and Heath are all smiles onstage during a break in the action.

FLEXONLINE.COM

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I WASN’T TRYING TO PLAY HEAD GAMES. I WAS TRYING TO KEEP IT AS CALM AND COOL AS EVER BECAUSE I KNEW I HAD IT WON.

Heath doubled-up on leg workouts every week to improve from last year (left). Pinpointing specific areas has kept him on top.

PER BERNAL; ERICA SCHULTZ; PER BERNAL (2)

Speaking of other competitors, who’s your rival right now? Do you even have one? Or has it become a “Phil Heath vs. the Field” situation like it used to be in golf with Tiger Woods? Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. Honestly, a lot of people think it’s boring because there’s no rivalry. Who are you going to stack up against me? No one. Shawn Rhoden [who finished second to Heath at the Olympia] couldn’t

even win a show after the Olympia. So you can’t really use him as a rival going into 2017. There was barely even a rivalry between Kai Greene and myself, because I beat Kai more than he beat me. Now it’s more me against the field. They’re all praying for my downfall, no different than they were for Tiger Woods. I’m sure people are jumping for joy now that Tiger can’t play anymore, because we all know if he comes out doing his job, it’s a wrap. Same thing with me. No one’s going to say, “I want to see Phil at his best, and my best is going to be better than his.” Not one person is going to say that, because they know better. They all said the same thing going in: “If Phil slips, I’m right there.” That’s not a competitor. That’s like saying, “If Mike Tyson doesn’t

show up in the ring, I have a chance.” But I still train knowing anything is possible. I train knowing that I could potentially get hurt. It’s just me against myself at this point. I may sound arrogant, but I know I made this boring, because no one can even talk s--- anymore.

Your legs were noticeably bigger this year. That was a point of emphasis coming in for you, right? What did you do specifically for the lower body in the off-season? It was pretty simple. I trained legs twice a week and made them a bigger priority. I also did cardio earlier in my precontest prep, which normally I thought would make them smaller—but it actually made them bigger and harder. On my type of physique, the harder I get, the more 3-D I get. So even if I drop weight, I look better. As far as legs go, the guy who had the biggest legs there was Ramy, right? Everyone talks about FLEXONLINE.COM

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QEvery big sports-related company—from Nike to Weider—seeks to have the most successful athletes on its team, and Ultimate Nutrition just landed the biggest fish possible: six-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath. This partnership won’t be just another athlete endorsement, though. In addition to doing appearances and advertising campaigns, Heath will be closely involved with Ultimate’s product innovations well into the future. Heath joins another former Olympia winner, the seemingly ageless Dexter Jackson, on the Ultimate team. In searching for a brand to partner with for the long

term, the reigning champ saw this decision as a no-brainer. “Why wouldn’t I want to be part of what Ultimate Nutrition is doing?” Heath says. “This is a company that stands for quality and integrity in addition to simply putting out the best products to help people achieve their training and fitness goals. More than anything, Ultimate Nutrition has longevity in the market, and that’s really important for me going forward. They’ve been around and have been hugely successful for many years. I’m always impressed by a person or a company that can sustain excellence for a long period of time.”

To see Ultimate Nutrition’s full product line, visit ultimatenutrition.com

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

PER BERNAL; KEVIN HORTON; PER BERNAL; MIKE MADER

When Heath won his pro card at the 2005 NPC USA Championships (top right), big things were expected of him. Then in 2011, he dethroned close friend Jay Cutler to win the Mr. O.

PHIL HEATH JOINS ULTIMATE NUTRITION


I’M ONLY GOING TO BE COMPARED AGAINST LEGENDS. I’VE BEEN COMPARED WITH LEGENDS FROM THE BEGINNING.


Heath has his eyes on breaking the record of eight Olympia wins, held by Ronnie Coleman (pictured) and Lee Haney.

his legs. So what’s the biggest kick in the balls to somebody? It’s to take their best punch and not even move. I neutralized Ramy’s strength. I neutralized everyone who had good quads by improving mine. Now what are you going to say? Because everything else was on point.

You were 246 pounds onstage at the Olympia this year, up five pounds

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

from 2015. Do you go up from here in weight, like, say, to 250? We could have hit that number this year if we wanted to. I could have been more 3-D and even been 252, but maybe I wouldn’t have been as hard or as dry. I think next year 250 to 252 is in reach. Hany [Rambod] and I learned a lot this time around. I think it’s very possible to hit that number, but I don’t think it’s

What’s next? Rinse and repeat and do it all over again for 2017? Or is there going to be a new game plan for next year? Hany and I spoke about a game plan, and we’re really trying to fine-tune it already going into next year. But Ronnie Coleman told us this: “You have to go hard. You have to take advantage of the genetics and the area that you’re in. You’re able to build dense muscle and all this other stuff, but if you can’t maximize it because of your work ethic, you may still win, but you’ll have regrets.” I’m really just taking advantage of the muscle maturity I have at this point. It’s fun. It’s fun knowing that if I train hard and heavy, I can get that grainy look and not have to kill myself with the diet. Here’s some history for you: No Mr. Olympia has ever really peaked twice in back-toback years. Maybe Ronnie in ’98 and ’99, but that was it. So that’s my goal, to peak for the remainder of my career.

PER BERNAL; COURTESY OF WEIDER HEALTH AND FITNESS; ERICA SCHULTZ

necessary. I can’t just get bigger at the risk of losing balance.


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Flex Lewis scores his fifth straight 212 Olympia win to continue his Ronnie Coleman–like domination of the division.

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PER BERNAL

William Bonac’s post-O cheat meal, Shawn Rhoden’s prestage superstitions, Big Ramy’s 2016 makeover, plus the rest of our Team Weider Athletes.

ALL THE HOT TOPICS IN BODYBUILDING & FITNESS

What’s the real secret to getting big? Is it heavy weights? Lots of food? Dave Draper has the answer.

Eddie Abbew was one of the most impressive tall bodybuilders you’ve probably never heard of. Check out the biceps routine of this British beast.

FLEXONLINE.COM

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1ST SET

WEIDER ATHLETES WEIGH IN

MAMDOUH ELSSBIAY

WILLIAM

BONAC At the Olympia, which is the most stressful night for you, Friday or Saturday night? A: Both nights are stressful, but there’s a lot more pressure before the finals on Saturday night.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

What will you eat after the Saturday night O finals? A: Fresh wok food—Chinese! Really, I would be looking forward to my favorite döner pizza, but I probably won’t be able to get it in the U.S.

Do you have any pre-contest rituals?

CHARLES LOW THIAN; PER BERNAL; PAVEL Y THJALL

You came to the Olympia with a different look this year. Do you have a new trainer? A: Yes, I did have a different look at the Olympia this year. I was able to lose weight, come in under 300 pounds, and still the muscle looked bigger and better. I’m training with Chris Aceto this year, and I was able to do this with his help. It’s been very good working with him.


You’ve talked about bringing Hollywood and bodybuilding closer together. How does that happen?

CODY MONTGOMERY What have you learned from your freshman year as a pro that you can apply to 2017? A: With the experiences of the last year, I realize how serious I need to get and how much passion it takes to really take it to the next level. This year has not only motivated me to come back in 2017 at my best, but it has also taught me a lot about who I am as a bodybuilder, on and off the stage—facing new challenges with the increased travel schedule, guest posings throughout the off-season, etc. I am going to apply it to being the best I can be next time I’m onstage.

JUAN MOREL How do you deal with soreness after an intense workout? How can you speed recovery? A: I do physical therapy— deep tissue massages once a week. Usually on Wednesdays. I will train legs, and then I head to physical therapy—it really makes a difference in terms of recovery.

STEVE KUCLO

JAMES PATRICK; ERICA SCHULTZ; PER BERNAL (2)

I think you look like Steve Reeves with your beard. Do you ever think about acting? A: I have thought about acting and would love to take on a role like the Rock does or an Arnold role in a movie. I have enjoyed wearing a beard while I’m away from the fire department. I do plan on shaving when I’m onstage, but I like to keep a clean beard in the off-season. I feel it gives me some extra “man power.” You beard guys out there understand what I’m talking about! Have a question for our Weider Athletes? Ask it on the FLEX Facebook page for a chance to see it here.

FLEXONLINE.COM

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1ST SET

ASK THE CHAMP

BY FLEX LEWIS, FIVE-TIME OLYMPIA 212 SHOWDOWN WINNER

SCOREKEEPER Lewis currently has a few ongoing winning streaks:

consecutive Olympia 212 titles (2012–16)

consecutive pro contest wins (2012–16)

consecutive Korean Grand Prix wins (2014–16)

RECOVERY

consecutive Prague Pro wins (2012–14)

THE 212 CHAMP DOES DOWNTIME HIS OWN WAY Were you able to relax after the 212 Olympia was over? Did you at least get a good night’s sleep after you won?

That’s a night when it’s a challenge to fall asleep, especially after you’ve won! There is a lot going on, on many levels, and all that excitement and energy doesn’t just vanish. And it’s inevitable that you start thinking about next year. It’s inevitable. After Olympia Weekend this year, I couldn’t relax—the following week I went to Seoul, Korea, to compete in the Korean Grand Prix, where I won, and then I made a guest-posing appearance at the NPC Greater New York Championships in the middle of October before I closed it down for the year.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

Q My body always aches, old pains and new. Do I need to stop working out? As a matter of fact, I woke up this morning, got out of bed, and I was bent over like a pregnant woman because my back hurt. Physical therapy is the best thing you can do for it. A couple of years ago, after my 2013–14 prep for the Olympia, I went into a clinic— my body was worked over. Physical therapy made all the difference in the world. That’s where I’m headed now, to see Dr. Ruggiero. He’ll push everything back into place before I hit the gym for my morning workout. As far as stopping your workouts, that’s another subject

entirely. You need to understand your body and know how it responds and reacts to physical therapy and make the appropriate adjustments to your training. Some people might say that’s crazy, but for myself, I know that I’m going to be at the gym ready to give my all this afternoon.

Q Name three things you’re looking forward to in the new year. I’m looking forward to spending more time in 2017 with my wife and daughter and my family and friends. I’m looking forward to continuing to work every day on my legacy, and, of course, I’m looking forward to defending my title.

PER BERNAL

Q


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1ST SET

BLOND BOMBER

BULK LIKE A BOMBER THE PROPER WAY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WINTER MONTHS TO ADD MASS

BY DAVE DRAPER

Back in my days as a competitor, I used my “off-season” to add muscle to my frame. For noncompetitive bodybuilders, summer and winter dictate when to shred down or bulk up, and with winter on our doorstep, it’s time to add mass. Here’s how:

THE FEEDBAG The first rule is more food, more often. Plan on six small meals per day so as not to overload your system; expect to absorb about 35 grams of muscle-building protein per sitting. Protein should come from red meat, poultry, and fish; consume milk by the quarts and lots of cottage cheese and eggs. Rely on whole-grain carbs and veggies to get your fiber and simple carbs like rice and potatoes for pre- and post-training meals. They burn clean, and with intense training they’re not likely to store as body fat. Never let your nutrition falter, even slightly. Keep extra food, protein drinks, and supps at work, in your gym bag, and in your car. We’re on a mission.

Remember that nutrition is half the battle. Only with heavy training will your heavy eating be productive. Add grueling sets of squats and deadlifts to your workouts, and don’t neglect your aerobic work: 20 minutes four times a week will increase your blood volume, raise your metabolism, and help you maintain maximum endurance for intense training sessions. Above all, don’t contemplate your navel—to get big and muscular, you’ll need to carry bulk. Bulk is fun. Your back, shoulders, and arms spread out, tugging on the seams of your shirt. With size comes power, and power enables you to train heavier, harder, and meaner. Proper training combined with more food equals big muscle. So ignore cuts and a trim waistline. Focus on the mass, separation, and balance. There’s a season for everything, and whether you’re training for the stage or the beach, you’ll want to be ready. FLEX |

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RETRO ATHLETE

BY GREG MERRITT

EDDIE ABBEW THE 1997 BRITISH CHAMP WAS ALWAYS WELL-ARMED

Q “Ronnie!” The kids in Timisoara, Romania, shouted at him as we strolled from the hotel to the restaurant. They knew about Ronnie Coleman, if only because his enormous visage was plastered all around the neighborhood before the 2006 Romanian Grand Prix. What they didn’t know was the huge man they were calling to was Eddie Abbew. Of course, it’s an honor to be mistaken for the legend many consider the greatest bodybuilder of all time. But there’s no comparing Abbew’s contest record with Coleman’s. After winning the 1997 British Championships, the 6'1" Ghana-born Englishman struggled to make an impact during his 12-year pro career. The highlight was his third in the 2007 Ironman, which qualified him to compete in that year’s Olympia. Though he was a little slight for his big frame, he never lacked biceps. Today, he owns Eddie Abbew’s Olympian Gym, in suburban London.

ABBEW ON BICEPS Q “Originally, all I did for biceps was concentration curls. My bi’s did most of their growing from that one exercise.” Q “I do barbell curls sometimes, but I really like dumbbells for biceps.” Q “I try to hold and squeeze hard at the top of each rep.” Q “When I do one-arm curls I don’t pause between sets. When I’m done with one side, the other side is ready to go.”

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

F L E X FAC T

DURING HIS IFBB PRO CAREER, ABBEW WORKED AS A NURSE.

CHRIS LUND

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The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, had astonishing biceps. Was it all genetics, or can you build a pair like Larry’s?

TRAINING TIPS TO POWER UP YOUR WORKOUTS

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

We hear it all the time: Lower the weight slowly to get the best results. Is it true?

Training heavy all the time is actually counterproductive to long-term growth. Use this trick to keep gains coming.

JOHANSEN KR AUSE

LIFT

Outer triceps give your arms that pop you need to get the double take. Here’s how to beef ’em up.


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LIFT

CROSSHAIRS

BY BRYAN HAYCOCK PH.D.

GO LATERAL BEEF UP YOUR OUTER TRICEPS HEAD

The term triceps means three heads: the medial, the lateral, and the long head. The lateral or “outer” head provides width to the arm and creates the classic “horseshoe” when the arm is extended. The most effective exercise for the outer head is triceps pushdowns using the rope. While performing rope pushdowns, to really engage the outer head, keep the elbows facing out and turn the hands out at the bottom of the movement by squeezing the triceps with your arms fully extended. As the weight comes back up, keep the elbows stationary, even if it means reducing the range of motion. Just focus on extending and squeezing. ALTERNATIVES Close-grip bench press, bench dip FORM AND FUNCTION The origin of the lateral head of the triceps is at the upper end of the humerus just above the radial sulcus. The lateral head inserts at the elbow on the ulna and extends the elbow, straightening the arm. Because the lateral head of the triceps does not span the shoulder joint, it’s not stretched by raising the elbow above the head as is the long head.

3 2

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

GREGORY JAMES

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ON TRIAL

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THE ECCENTRIC OPENING ARGUMENTS

EVIDENCE

Defense “Slow and controlled” is probably the most common bit of coaching that you’ll hear from a personal trainer while you’re doing any exercise. This is because performing an exercise in a slow and controlled manner reduces your reliance on momentum to move the weight. Reducing momentum increases the quality of contraction and increases time under tension, thus increasing the potential to stimulate hypertrophy.

Q Eccentric contractions are known to produce a more potent stimulus for growth than concentric contractions. Q Research from McMaster University recently demonstrated that fast eccentric contractions (<1 second down) produce greater muscle damage (i.e., Z-line streaming) than slow eccentric contractions (>3 seconds down). Q This same group also demonstrated that fast eccentric muscle contractions lead to greater strength and size gains than slow eccentric contractions over time.

Prosecution Performing negative or eccentric reps too slowly can significantly reduce the mechanical stress of each rep, thus reducing its potential to stimulate hypertrophy.

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

VERDICT Fast eccentric contractions lead to greater gains in size and strength than comparatively slow eccentric contractions.

WHICH IS BETTER: FAST OR SLOW?

SENTENCING Although it’s important to control the weight as you perform any exercise, purposely moving the weight unnecessarily slowly may reduce the exercise’s effectiveness. During traditional sets, use a onesecond-down tempo to increase the growth potential of each rep. When doing “negatives,” or sets in which you are focusing specifically on eccentric reps, use a weight heavy enough so lowering it at a one-second tempo is all you can do. Be sure to use a spotter whenever you are performing negatives.

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LIFT


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LIFT

LAB TO GYM

BY BRYAN HAYCOCK, PH.D

SHAPE-SHIFTER CAN YOU SHAPE YOUR BICEPS?

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

RESEARCH Brazilian researchers performed an experiment to determine if doing curls would lead to muscle growth in specific areas of a biceps or if growth occurs evenly throughout the muscle. Subjects performed four sets of eight to 10 repetitions of one-arm biceps curls three times per week. Muscle thickness was then measured at the upper, middle, and lower portions of the muscle. FINDINGS After 12 weeks the researchers found that the biceps grew at the upper, middle, and lower portions of the biceps equally.

CONCLUSION Contrary to popular belief, it does not appear possible to make the biceps grow nonuniformly along its length.

APPLICATION The shape of your biceps is determined by genetics. The only thing you can control is their size. This study tells us that if an exercise will make your biceps grow, they will grow evenly and it won’t have an impact on their shape. That being the case, use exercises that you think work best to put size on your biceps.

MIKE NEVEUX

HYPOTHESIS Every now and then a bodybuilder comes along with an exceptional body part that gets everyone asking what the secret is to developing such amazing muscle shape. Larry Scott, for example, was known for the long muscle bellies and an impressive peak of his biceps. One of his favorite exercises for biceps was preacher curls, which started the belief that doing “Scott curls” would allow anyone to develop the same shape of their biceps. Is it really possible to grow specific areas of a muscle to change or improve its shape?


LIFT

ARNOLD CLASSIC

BY SKYLER WILDER

See Mas wrestling at the Arnold Sports Festival held in Columbus, OH, from March 2–5, 2017. More info: arnold sportsfestival.com

STICK IT TO ’EM MAS WRESTLING IS PART TUG-OF-WAR, PART ARM WRESTLING, AND ALL STRENGTH

ORIGIN: It’s the national sport of Yakutia (the Sakha Republic), which is in northeastern Siberia, in Russia. It’s derived from the ancient Yakut game mas tard’yhyy; the Russian phrase means “stick tugging.” In 2003, Mas wrestling was registered by the All-Russia

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

Sports Registry. It is formally governed worldwide by the International Mas-Wrestling Federation.

RULES: A coin toss determines grip placement. The match starts in the seated position, and on a ref’s whistle, competitors try to pull, twist, and yank the stick until their opponent either releases it or is pulled over the demarcation line. Foot readjustment and

raising the body to create leverage are permitted.

WHY IT’S COOL: First, because you’ve never seen two people wrestling with a stick. Second, the Arnold Sports Festival hosts the world championships. That means no schlubs or newbies— just explosive matches featuring guys and gals with insane back, core, leg, and grip strength.

COURTESY OF ARNOLD SPORTS FESTIVAL

WHAT: Mas wrestling is a one-on-one tug-of-war competition using a stick.


LIFT

TRAINING STYLES

THE HIGHWAY AND THE LOW ROAD HIGH-LOW TRAINING COMBINES HIGH AND LOW REPS 66

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

Variety isn’t just the spice of life. It may be the main ingredient of muscle growth. But variety doesn’t merely reference exercise selection. You might switch lifts every time you work a body part, but how often do you dramatically alter your reps per set? High-low training is a method for organized rep scrambling, switching back


BY GREG MERRITT

and forth between the high and low ranges—from workout to workout, from one exercise to the next, and even from set to set.

OUT OF RANGE OPENER PAGE: JASON BREEZE. THIS PAGE: CHARLES LOW THIAN

Research has proven that the eight- to 12-rep range is best for muscle growth, but it’s not the only way to grow. In fact, if you stick with it too long, your gains will likely stall. Don’t be too predictable. Besides, higher and lower reps have advantages, too. The former maximizes blood volumization and stamina. The latter is best for boosting strength. Both can generate growth. The best strategy is likely a mixture of rep ranges. Highlow is going to throw out the middle, temporarily, and focus only on the high (15–30) and the low (4–7). Let’s analyze the three distinct ways you can

High-rep sets are 15 to 30 reps. Low-rep sets are four to seven reps. Alternate high-rep and low-rep sets of the same exercise. Or do all high-rep sets of one exercise and then all low-rep sets of the next exercise, seesawing throughout the workout. Or do all high-rep sets one workout and all low-rep sets the next time you train that body part. Alternate for at least six workouts.

incorporate high-low in your routine.

WORKOUT TO WORKOUT This is the least radical method for going high and low. Alternate between all high reps one workout and all low reps the next time you train that FLEXONLINE.COM

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LIFT

TRAINING STYLES

body part. If you hit more than one body part per workout, you can also stress each with different rep ranges. For example, if you work chest before triceps, do all low reps for chest and nothing but high reps for triceps and flip that script on your next chest/tri day. Doing high-low workout to workout lacks the benefit of “muscle confusion,” which you get via attacking your muscles with rep variety in the same session. However, it allows you to better focus on one range at a time.

EXERCISE TO EXERCISE Another way to go high and low is to do all high-rep sets of one exercise and then perform all low-rep sets of the next exercise. Alternate that way throughout the workout, seesawing from pump-up to power-up. Plan your workout so you go low on compound exercises that let you slide on the most plates (like bench presses) and high on isolation lifts, which don’t easily lend themselves to low reps (like cable crossovers). It’s usually best to start with a sequence of high-rep sets because this serves as a working warmup. However, you can go low first as long as it’s preceded by a sufficient warmup.

It’s best to do high-low set sequences with exercises, like pulldowns, that allow you to easily change the resistance. On the other hand, heavy exercises like deadlifts or leg presses would likely involve too much plate loading between sets. During a high-low cycle, avoid midrange sets of eight to 12 reps. High-low can effectively shock calves and abs, which are not usually worked with low reps.

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SET TO SET We’ve arrived at the most radical way to utilize highlow—the method that best distinguishes it from other workout styles. Alternate high- and low-rep sets of the same exercise. This will have you seesawing back and forth from a pumping set to a power set. You’ll need to do some preplanning to make certain you can easily increase or decrease the load during what should be your rest periods. If you’re training alone, some heavy free-weight exercises won’t lend themselves to this training style because you’d spend too much time and energy stripping plates. On the

3

other hand, it’s easy to change resistance between sets with machine lifts like triceps pushdowns by simply moving the pin to a higher or lower slot. A method that combines exercise to exercise and set to set is high-low supersets. For example, immediately follow every heavy set of barbell incline presses with a light set of incline flyes. This way, the lighter work complements and expands upon the heavier work. The potential downside of set-to-set high-low training is that you’ll lose your focus. It’s easy to forget your immediate goal when you just did a light set and you’ve grabbed a much heavier weight. Rededicate yourself to the task at hand before each set, aiming for your rep target. A logbook can help you hit your goals. The upside is your muscles also never quite know what’s coming. Will it be a few reps with a heavy weight or many with a light weight? Answer: It’s going to change every set. You’re going to pump up and power up as you attack your muscles with high and low combinations again and again.

3 3

PAVEL Y THJALL (2)

FLEXONLINE.COM

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76

FOOD & SUPPS NUTRITION TIPS TO FUEL TRAINING AND GROWTH

COURTESY OF SONIC

Get rooted, dude! As in beets, carrots, parsnips…OK, so you won’t find many Root of the Month clubs, but these unheralded foods offer plenty of healthy benefits—even for meatheads.

Who doesn’t like a good stir-fry? It’s easy, quick, and supertasty. And speaking of tasty, your taste buds will definitely appreciate our protein-heavy duck stir-fry.

Pure protein. It’s what your muscles crave to grow. With all the choices on store shelves (or computer screens), it’s enough to make your head explode. Heed these tips to make it easier on your brain.

FLEXONLINE.COM

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FOOD & SUPPS

FOOD FOCUS

BY ADAM BIBLE

ROOT OF THE MATTER DIG AROUND IN THE DIRT TO FIND NUTRIENTAND VITAMIN-DENSE ROOT VEGETABLES RIPE FOR WINTER WELLNESS

TRY THESE! BEETS

CARROTS

PARSNIPS

POTATOES

Q

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FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

g based compounds that are thought to help fight off cancer. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are a good source of complex carbs, but save them for before or after an intense workout like an HIIT session, as their quickly digested starch can upset bloodsugar levels when not eaten around demanding exercise. Sweet potatoes are a bit better for you than regular old white potatoes since they have a lower glycemic index, “meaning they burn slowly, providing a long-term source of energy that helps you power up after a workout and recover your stores of muscle glycogen afterward,” says Fitzgibbon. Don’t be afraid to dig around in those oft-forgotten root-veggie bins on your next trip to the grocery store to give your body ingredients to revitalize weary muscles.

SWEET POTATOES

TURNIPS

BRUCE MCINTOSH/GET T Y IMAGES

you should make space for them on your plate. “Root veggies are dense with fiber and packed full of antioxidants, vitamin C, B vitamins, and iron,” says Jennifer Fitzgibbon, R.D., C.D.N., registered oncology dietitian at Stony Brook Cancer Center. “The fiber keeps you fuller longer, helping prevent the overeating that’ll shatter your dreams of getting shredded, and maintains your blood-sugar levels, avoiding energy crashes and reducing risk of developing diabetes.” Antioxidants like the carotenoids in sweet potatoes and carrots help our bodies produce vitamin A, essential for cell growth and organ function. Beets have a special phytonutrient called betalains, which, along with antioxidant effects, have been found to have antiinflammatory properties. And turnips and rutabagas have high levels of glucosino-


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FOOD & SUPPS

FAST-FOOD SHAKEDOWN

BY ADAM BIBLE

SONIC DRIVE-IN THIS ’50S THROWBACK HAS A MENU FULL OF THE TYPICAL GREASY FARE FROM THAT ERA, WITH FEW NUTRITIONAL CHAMPS

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PRE-WORKOUT

Jr. Breakfast Burrito: Sausage, eggs, and cheese in a flour tortilla

POST-WORKOUT

Grilled Chicken Wrap and Milk Jug: Chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, light ranch dressing in a flour tortilla with milk

|

|

COURTESY OF SONIC

One of the most iconic images of small-town America in the ’50s was the drive-in restaurant with its always on-the-go carhops swirling around on skates, delivering hot dogs, hamburgers, shakes, and fries to their car-bound customers. It’s a vision not often seen anymore unless you catch a rerun of Happy Days—remember the Fonz?—but Sonic Drive-In, an Oklahoma-based fast-food chain with more than 3,500 locations around the U.S., still boasts carhops at a large portion of its stores. Sonic, which started in the postwar era, helped popularize the skating carhop and still holds an annual competition featuring its own employees. It also championed the car-side speaker technology that is used at millions of drive-thrus every day—the name Sonic came from “Service at the Speed of Sound,” an early slogan. Its food, though, is not so sound, as the menu runs the usual gamut of almost everything fried, sticking to a menu straight out of the ’50s with loads of french fry, onion ring, tater tot, hot dog, hamburger, and milk shake options to glop up your arteries and grow your waistline. No salads can be found here, so your best bets are the usual and fairly boring grilled-chicken items and some halfway nutritionally decent breakfast bites. If you get desperate for vitamins and fiber, Sonic also offers the token apple slices that are popping up at lots of greasy fast-food joints these days. Whatever you do, steer clear of the numerous milk shake, malt, Candy Slush, and Blast options it offers. For example, a “mini,” or 12 oz, Oreo Peanut Butter Shake runs 800 calories alone and boasts 65 grams of sugar, nearly double the recommended daily amount of 37.5g for men! And a small 16 oz Green Apple Slush with Rainbow Candy runs 360 calories, with a whopping 90g of sugar, or more than 20 tablespoons of the sweet stuff.


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FOOD & SUPPS

DUDE FOOD

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DUCK STIR-FRY SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS 1 tbsp se 2 tbsp pe or coco 2 cloves minced 2 tbsp fr grated ½ red bel cut into pieces 4 green o into 2-i 2 tangeri into qu can be 1 lb duck cut into thick st 3 tbsp re sodium 2 cups b cut into pieces ½ cup wa Sea sa pepper

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Pour oils in pan and he medium. Ad and ginger well for 1 m bell pepper tangerines and sauté f minutes, st often. Add mix well, an for 2 minut broccolini, sea salt, an pepper. Co 10 addition stirring ofte duck and p in a dish. To remaining i

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OVING OUND DO MYOSTATIN INHIBITORS REALLY WORK? FLEX FINDS OUT.

Calories

Protein

Carbs

Fat

We recently came across a line of products with claims so amazing that we had to give them a try. Re, by a company called MYOS REN, comes in powder and bar form, both of which contain a patented compound it calls Fortetropin, which is derived from egg yolks. According to its site, Fortetropin has been clinically shown to reduce myostatin levels, resulting in increased gains in lean mass. Myostatin is a protein we all produce that acts to regulate muscle growth. When the gene that encodes it is turned off, as seen in animals like the Piedmontese cattle and bully whippet, the result is Schwarzenegger-size muscles. For years, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been talk in the sportsnutrition industry of oral myostatin-inhibiting products, with several that actually made it to market crashing and burning as sensational claims failed to produce equally sensational results. With the promise of unfettered muscle growth before us, however, we jumped on the latest to make the claim. We were impressed by the testimonials and studies on Reâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website and with its taste, but after a month of using the products, not so much with Re itself. Several of us here at FLEX gave it a try, sticking to our typical training and nutritional regimen while adding a serving of Re daily. After 30 days one of us gained a pound, one lost two pounds, and a third saw no change in body weight at all. In the end, our belief that science has yet to create an ingestible myostatin inhibitor that produces visible results still stands, proving once again that when a product makes claims that sound too good to be true, they probably are. For us, Re was a bust. LEXONLINE.COM

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FOOD & SUPPS

SUPP OF THE MONTH

BY JOHN LUMAN

BUYING TIPS QCHECK THE

INGREDIENTS

If the first ingredient isn’t a form of protein, someone is duping you. Rule 1’s are whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate. There’s no gluten, fillers, or banned substances. But it does contain the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine—aminos that can help induce protein synthesis and muscle growth.

CONSUME PROTEIN PRE- AND POST-WORKOUT

Q

BEFORE YOU PURCHASE YOUR NEXT TUB OF PROTEIN, USE THESE TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF EVERY SCOOP 80

Consuming protein and protein shakes is something you might be doing on autopilot. Bad idea. With the rise of “protein spiking”— when companies cheap out on ingredients and use additives as work-arounds to skew the nitrogen count—it’s crucial to stick with brands that are

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

transparent. Those companies are always trying to satisfy customers because word of mouth among gym-goers is still the most important advertising vehicle around. So when you’re down to your last scoop of protein, keep these tips in mind before you make your next purchase.

Q EXPERIMENT In the kitchen, that is. We all need a break from protein shakes, so consider mixing a scoop of Rule 1 with your oatmeal or adding some to whole-wheat pancake batter. For on-the-go snacks, make protein bars or overnight oats. Many recipes are easy and do not involve using an oven or wearing a “Kiss the Cook” apron.

PER BERNAL

PROTEIN RULES

A study published in the European Association for the Study of Diabetes found that consuming whey before breakfast helped lessen blood sugar spikes, which is good for managing hunger cravings.


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SIXTH SANDOW CHASING HISTORY, PHIL HEATH WINS THE 2016 MR. OLYMPIA

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Not this time, not after he locked in his rear double biceps. And yet this Mr. Olympia was, from top to near the bottom, one of the strongest of all time. Numerous competitors were at their peak, leading to a furious free-for-all for the remaining top-10 slots. It was Ultimate Nutrition presents Joe Weider’s 2016 Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend brought to you by Amazon Sports Nutrition, and, from the emergence of new contenders to The Rock’s exciting announcement about next year’s contest to the Gift climbing ever closer to the ultimate record, the future of bodybuilding is looking as bright as the Las Vegas Strip.

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YOU MAD, BRO? Let’s talk about boredom. Let’s talk about the who-gives-a-crap malaise that can cloud a long reign of domination—Lee Haney pummeling another middleweight during his eight years on top, Sergio Oliva (in ’68) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (in ’71) living so large no one else even dared to show up, Ronnie Coleman at three bills, too much to touch. And now we have Phil Heath, and legions of bodybuilding fans are yawning. They weren’t when it was Heath versus Jay Cutler or Kai Greene versus Heath, but now that the Gift’s not dueling with his mentor or his fierce and oh-so-bitter rival, who’s going to make this interesting?


PHIL HEATH

SIX

OTHER THINGS Heath posed to “Waiting for My Moment” from the Creed soundtrack and said later, “I really relate to those lyrics.”

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From left: Dexter Jackson, Shawn Rhoden, Phil Heath, Mamdouh Elssbiay, William Bonac.

I put the boredom question to Heath two days before Friday’s first callout. “I think what happens is that people deep down know that I’m better, and they think it’s boring, so then they want to root for another guy,” Mr. O answered. “But if it’s boring for them, then I plan on bringing some excitement, because I definitely know that I have new muscle. I know people come to the Mr. Olympia to see the unbelievable. It’s like, although

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it’s a Ferrari, we’re tired of Ferraris. We want to see some concept car we’ve never seen before. Yes, this is great, but we wanted to be wowed.” Bereft of a close challenger, we’ve turned to virtual posedowns and conjectures about how he would’ve fared against other lineups. I didn’t bring this up, perhaps because I’ve been a perpetrator. He did. “I’m just here trying to be the best I can be, and I

think sometimes it takes the joy out of it to be compared to all these theories of what could be or what would be. This is what is. This is my reality. I’m here and I’m winning now.” He is indeed, though a lot of bodybuilding fans wish he’d lose. “I get it. People want to cheer for the underdog,” he said. “People want a close contest.” Those people were going to be disappointed, yet again, because it’s Phil Heath’s job to disappoint


OTHER THINGS

COMPETITOR NO. 9 Roelly Winklaar is a concept car. This year he pushed his dimensions to another level. He was already the owner of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hugest arms and delts, but now his back width wows, too. The pieces donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t all fit

SIX

them. But they did see a fleet of phenomenal Ferraris, many more than usual, and they were even wowed by some concept cars.

The high-tech stage backdrop with five enormous screens was phenomenal. Props to promoter Robin Chang for that and another sold-out contest.

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2 SHAWN RHODEN

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Rhoden (left) unfurls his lat spread next to Elssbiay.

together. His belly can distend. His rear double biceps is still overwhelmed by his arms and delts. And his quads need more width and separation to stay in line with his ludicrous upper half. But you gotta be what you gotta be, and going gargantuan is Winklaar’s best strategy. COMPETITOR NO. 14 Last year, Mamdouh Elssbiay caused a sensation when he stepped on the scales at the athletes meeting and 316 appeared. Still, he was fifth in that Olympia, proving size isn’t everything. I argued that he had more than enough mass, and he’d have to dial in a lot more cuts to claim a Sandow. This year, he brought a much different look to the stage. His weight was still listed at a lofty 290, but he looked to be 10 pounds under that by Saturday. Big Ramy had lost some of his wow factor, mostly because we’d seen his wheels and back broader before. But he had to decide: Do you want to just wow or do you want to win? He appeared a bit flat on

SIX

OTHER THINGS Rhoden had some new moves in his routine, courtesy of his posing coach, Melvin Anthony.

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Friday but much sharper on Saturday. This somewhat-lessbig Big Ramy with greater detailing and a superior flow is a concept car that should go into production. COMPETITOR NO. 15 If bodybuilding was judged on who is best maximizing their potential, William Bonac would be Mr. O. Though standing only a generous 5'7" with narrow clavicles, he crammed 232 pounds of meat on his skeleton and stripped away any evidence of fat or water. One can nitpick. He’d benefit from fuller pecs and hamstrings. But in regard to muscle quality and conditioning, Bonac’s physique was superb. “It’s a big improvement compared to last year, so I’m really happy with it,” he said after finishing just three points out of fourth place (the closest call in the contest).

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DEXTER JACKSON

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COMPETITOR NO. 16 Shawn Rhoden’s legs have long been his strength. This time his wheels seemed deflated. That’s the bad news. The good news was he’d brought up his previously weak back. The result was better balance, even if he’d lost some of the punch he had when the focus was mostly on his quads and abs. The perpetually cool Rhoden has an X-shape that could potentially X-out Heath, but he’ll need some of that conceptcar freakiness to get there. COMPETITOR NO. 17 The Blade was a little dull this time. From the front, Dexter Jackson’s legs lacked separation. His abs and thigh were all abs with precious few thigh lines. His side shots, however, were superb. With his feathered outer quads, his side chest pose was the best in the contest. This disparity in compulsory poses, with guys looking much better in some than others made sorting out the top spots (but not the winner) a chore for the judges and will keep fans debating for a year. COMPETITOR NO. 18 The biggest bodybuilding story of 2016 was the comeback of the legendary Kevin Levrone after 13 years off stages and at the age of (depending on the source) 51 or 52. At the press conference the day before the contest, he peeled off his sweat suit jacket to reveal his trademark curvaceous delts and arms. From the front, his upper half looked like a slightly smaller version of him in the ’90s. He exceeded my expectations as he traded impromptu poses with Cedric McMillan and Josh Lenartowicz, though his back was less impressive, and, crucially, we didn’t see his legs. A day later, as he strode to center stage to run through his poses, he was propelled via legs that looked almost ordinary. His 50-something knees had not cooperated with squatting and leg pressing prodigious poundages. Although he was destined to not place for the first time in a career of 63 pro contests (only once before had he even missed the posedown), the crowd roared. On Saturday, if you squinted just enough as he struck his

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MAMDOUH ELSSBIAY


WILLIAM BONAC

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OTHER THINGS

From left: Justin Compton, Josh Lenartowicz, Roelly Winklaar, Cedric McMillan.

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Josh Lenartowicz, Justin Compton, and Nathan DeAsha highlighted a superb rookie class. I had DeAsha in Compton’s 10 spot.

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trademark shots to Creed’s “Who’s Got My Back?” you could imagine it was 20 years ago and he was in his prime and contending for the Sandow. But of course we were all a lot younger then. COMPETITOR NO. 19 “Obviously, a lot of people in this show have great quad development, and I didn’t think mine was lacking size. I just felt


like I was lacking the density and the maturity, and now that I’m 36 I needed to take advantage of these maturity years,” Phil Heath said backstage on Saturday when it was clear he was going to win. “So we really used different types of rep ranges, lots of eccentric movements, lots of holds, and a lot of recovery through dynamic stretching. I actually started researching different types of

stretching techniques, and I realized I was so bound up that I wasn’t able to grow. “Glute work was really important this year. A lot of times I’d avoid the glute machines because they’re usually dominated by bikini competitors, but I realized if I got stronger glutes I could do better squats, so I could actually have a denser look from behind at a higher weight. Normally, to get

striated glutes I have to drop weight and really kill myself on the cardio. I didn’t have to do that this time, because I was doing more leg training.” The now six-time Mr. O hit legs twice weekly in 2016, the only body part he doubled up on, and, including quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, sometimes with as many as 25 exercises. As a result, his lower body was noticeably fuller. As

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OTHER THINGS Although it was clear from callouts that he wasn’t in the top six, McMillan sullenly milked the crowd for boos after his seventh-place announcement.

ROELLY WINKLAAR

for his weight, he said, “Last year I was 241 and still beat people on size. This time I was 246, and that was better. That five-pound difference gave me that 3-D look that I’m known for.” FIRST CALLOUT Roelly Winklaar, William Bonac, Dexter Jackson, Phil Heath, Shawn Rhodan, Mamdouh Elssbiay. With top-six perennials Dennis Wolf and Branch Warren absent, their two emptied spaces were filled by the most predictable candidates, Winklaar (seventh last year) and Bonac (eighth last year). In pose after pose, it was clear Bonac would make the greatest leap. It was also a fait accompli that no one was going to challenge Heath. SECOND CALLOUT William Bonac, Roelly Winklaar, Mamdouh Elssbiay, Cedric McMillan, Josh Lenartowicz, Dallas McCarver. Here’s the future. Within a year or two, all six of these men could be contending for the Sandow. It’s important to remember that McCarver, with all his boundless potential, is still only 25, a point he hammered home at the press conference when he noted, “Dex is the same age as my daddy” (Jackson was 46 at the Olympia). When I asked head judge Steve Weinberger about what he saw in McCarver, he shot back, “Incredible. Great future.” The same could be said of Lenartowicz, who had never

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From left: Compton, Lenartowicz, Winklaar, McMillan, Bonac, McCarver.


CEDRIC MCMILLAN

DALLAS McCARVER

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JOSH LENARTOWICZ

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JUSTIN COMPTON


before even attended an Olympia. He avoided the rookie mistake of trying to come in too full and was justifiably rewarded for his panoply of cuts. This was the strongest top 10 since 2006. NEW TOP CONTENDER In the end, after The Rock announced that next year’s contest would be broadcast by CBS Sports and produced by himself and his business partner, Dany Garcia, and after Jackson had lumbered off disappointed and only Phil Heath and Shawn Rhoden remained at center stage, there wasn’t much suspense to emcee Bob Cicherillo’s victory call. A wide gulf lay between one and two while two through four were bunched together. “Honestly, second through fourth changed a lot tonight, and it was very close,” Weinberger said. “You could’ve mixed any of those guys up, and you could argue it all day long.” “It’s a great feeling, a step in the right direction,” Rhoden said backstage with his silver medal and $150,000 check. “I didn’t feel as if the competition was as stiff as the end result says, but you just have to continue to move forward. I wish I’d had a callout with just me and Phil, pose for pose, but at the end of the day I’m

thankful that I moved up.” Rhoden will be 42 at next year’s Olympia, while Jackson will be two months shy of 48. In sharp contrast, Elssbiay will be turning 33—the prime age for a bodybuilder. Heath, the 13th Mr. O, thinks Ramy is destined to be the 14th, though Heath foresees this happening only after he retires with 10 Sandows. “He’s starting to become his own person and find his own path,” Heath said. “It’s not about just being bigger, it’s about being better.” On Saturday, Weinberger averred, “Ramy came back looking unbelievable tonight. He was really on, and he was very dangerous.” Having finally figured out, thanks to nutritionist Chris Aceto, how to dial it in, and now that he’s more focused on wins than wows, Big Ramy is the new top contender. CHASING ARNOLD Heath’s greatest competitors, however, are the legends who preceded him. With six Sandows, he’s tied with Dorian Yates. All year long, every time he toiled in Armbrust Pro Gym in suburban Denver, the Shadow was staring down at him from a larger-thanlife photo. “No matter where I am in the gym, I turn around and there’s Dorian, and it’s that shot,

that Kevin Horton shot of him hitting the side triceps with his black socks on.” Reaching Yates’ level motivated Heath’s Olympia quest. Now just Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman, with eight Olympias each, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with seven, stand between him and the record. The Gift nearly choked up when I told him backstage during Saturday’s show that Arnold was in the front row with Franco Columbu. “Arnold is actually in my office in the gym. I see him every day, too. I love Arnold. He’s Arnold, man. He’s the reason why we bodybuild—not just because of how he looked, but his swagger was just unparalleled. To know that he’s here, I’m going to be very emotional if I win, because that means a lot. I need that nod from him. Because I’m already Mr. Olympia, but I want to be in that fraternity. It’s like you got three, that’s cool, but the cool kids are over here. Now that I’ve got six, I’m with Dorian. But if I get to Arnold...” he shook his head as he imagined reaching such a celestial height. “That’s what’s going to motivate me for seven, all year, to be up there with Arnold.”

2016 IFBB MR. OLYMPIA

Sept. 16–17; Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV 1 Phil Heath* $400,000

6 Roelly Winklaar $35,000

11 Victor Martinez $4,000

2 Shawn Rhoden* $150,000

7 Cedric McMillan $25,000

12 Nathan DeAsha $4,000

3 Dexter Jackson* $100,000

8 Dallas McCarver $20,000

13 Steve Kuclo $4,000

4 Mamdouh Elssbiay* $55,000

9 Josh Lenartowicz $19,000

14 Ben Pakulski $4,000

5 William Bonac* $45,000

10 Justin Compton $16,000

15 Akim Williams $4,000

Did Not Place ($2,000 each): Brandon Curry, Kevin Levrone, Michael Lockett, Lukas Osladil. *Qualified for 2017 Mr. Olympia.

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11 VICTOR MARTINEZ

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12 NATHAN DEASHA


14 BEN PAKULSKI

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OTHER THINGS

13 STEVE KUCLO

15 AKIM WILLIAMS

The Rock, who received the “Man of the Century” award, handed Heath the Sandow trophy.

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GIVE M

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M E FIVE BY GREG MERRITT PHOTOGRAPHS BY PER BERNAL

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FLEX WINS.

That’s a given. Undefeated in the 212 division, he collected his fifth 212 Olympia title on Sept. 18. If you’re keeping score, it’s Flex Lewis: 5, the rest of Earth: 0. But nothing lasts forever. If not next September, two Septembers from now, some other Earthling will likely become the second bodybuilder to win a 212 O title. The Welsh Dragon says six will be enough, and that makes the shocking emergence of a new heir apparent all the more intriguing.

SAME OLD GANG This class has been growing old, literally. Based on last year’s results, the three top contenders this year—Jose Raymond, Hide Yamagishi, and David Henry— were all 40-somethings, and together they have 32 years of pro experience. You can frame this in two contrary ways. On the

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16


FLEX FLEX | DECEMBER â&#x20AC;&#x2122;16


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Above: The top three strike the front double biceps pose. Is Ashkanani’s place in the center a sign of things to come? Right: Ashkanani and Lewis hit the crucial rear double biceps, which again provides Lewis his winning margin.

one hand, it’s remarkable how consistently excellent they’ve been even in middle age. On the other hand, it makes one wonder, if not lament, about the future of the 212 division. After all, Father Time is undefeated. Coming off his 212 win at the Arnold Classic, Yamagishi seemed the most likely to challenge Lewis. Instead, Japan’s greatest muscle export slipped out of the allimportant top five. Areas like glutes and pecs were sushi sliced, but his delt and quad separation were deficient. Once again, David Henry delivered the best most-muscular in the 212, and he brought the divots to his rear shots. If only his wheels matched his upper half, he could contend again. Moving up one spot from last year was the perennially peeled Eduardo Correa. Like almost always, EC nailed his high-def detailing, and he’s done an admirable job of expanding his left arm since he tore the triceps. He deserved third. To make room, I would’ve placed Jose Raymond fifth. The Bostonian couldn’t muster any quad separation, and his lower pecs, when relaxed, were melting. He did, however, showcase an abundance of his trademark graininess in the crucial rear double biceps, so the judges must’ve put a premium on that pose.

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SURPRISE And then, in a flash, he arrived. Ahmad Ashkanani. Learn to pronounce that name, because the 5'3" Kuwaiti sensation took the 212 division by storm in a mere few weeks. He earned his pro card just in March, and he O qualified only six weeks before the Olympia by winning his pro debut. Then, in his second pro contest, on bodybuilding’s biggest stage, he was trading poses with Lewis the legend. His upper body would look at home on an open Olympia competitor, and he sports the broadest back on a short man since Franco Columbu. His front and rear lat spreads allow him to attack most 212ers, including Lewis, at their greatest vulnerability: width.


Moving forward, the conundrum for Ashkanani will be how to bring up his lagging legs without sacrificing too much back size, because when you’re brushing up against the 212 limit, in order to add somewhere you need to subtract from somewhere else. For now, though, let’s celebrate the muchneeded arrival of a new top contender with a physique that stands in sharp contrast to most shape-over-size 212ers. When Ashkanani heard Raymond’s name announced in third, he rocked back as if struck, stunned at what he had accomplished in his brief rookie season. Top two in the world. And he’s only just begun. SIX IS ENOUGH It wasn’t quite Flex at his best. His chest was a bit flat, and he didn’t possess his full panoply of striations. But he still displayed that pleasing combination of shapely curves and deep

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

2016 IFBB 212 OLYMPIA Sept. 16-17; Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV

1. Flex Lewis* $40,000 2. Ahmad Ashkanani* $17,000 3. Jose Raymond* $8,000 4. Eduardo Correa* $5,000 5. David Henry* $3,000 6. Hide Yamagishi $2,000

7. Charles Dixon 8. Guy Cisternino 9. Ronny Rockel 10. Alejandro Cambronero 11. Mark Dugdale 12. Dobromir Delev 13. Shaun Clarida 14. Sami Al Haddad 15. Marco Rivera

Did not place: Babak Akbarnia, Kim Jun Ho, Vojtech Koritensky, Andrej Mozolani. *Qualified for 2017 IFBB 212 Olympia.


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4 EDUARDO CORREA

5 DAVID HENRY

As evidenced by their spaghetti pecs, Correa and Henry brought the high-definition.

separation. What’s more, no one in any Olympia division had a better flow to his physique than the Welsh Dragon. Number 5 was an easy and unanimous decision. “It’s been the best prep of my life because of balance, with the baby being the focus of everything,” he said of his 10-month-old daughter, Adiena, whom wife Ali Rosen brought onstage moments after his victory. “I found a sixth gear I never knew I had.” Of the surprising emergence of Ashkanani, Lewis said, “We need new blood in this sport, and, that said, with him coming in and new

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

guys coming in in 2017, it just stirs up the pot. For me, my goal has always been six 212 [Olympia] titles, and I’ll be very happy if I get that sixth to walk away and pass it on to somebody else.” I put it to his coach, Neil Hill, who also shepherded 5'7" William Bonac to a fifth in the open Olympia. Would 5'5" Lewis be advancing to the big league after one more title? “We’re definitely thinking about it,” he answered. “I’ve seen how amazing he looks heavier.” Lewis, Hill explained, would need 18 months off stages to grow into the open class. Or could the next Olympia be the last time the Welsh Dragon locks in his rear double biceps? “I’m not saying retirement,” Lewis stated backstage after his fifth 212 O win, “but my goal has always been to get six and then move on. And if I do, I’ll know I helped to grow this division and that I’m leaving it in good hands.”


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2

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7 Gennifer Strobo 8 Carly Sparling Horrell 9 Vera Mallett

1

LATORYA WATTS

10 Jennifer Taylor *Qualified for 2017 Figure Olympia

4

OLYMPIA 2016 FIGURE

LATORYA’S LIGHT SHOW Latorya Watts

5 FLEX |


WHEN IT MATTERED MOST, WATTS FLIPPED IT ON, BRINGING THE NECESSARY CONDITION TO MATCH HER NATURAL SHAPE AND PHENOMENAL STRUCTURE.


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1

2

10 Bianca Berry

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5 FLEXONLINE.COM

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2

2016 MEN’S PHYSIQUE OLYMPIA Sept. 17, Las Vegas 1 Jeremy Buendia* 2 Ryan Terry*

3

3 Jeremy Potvin* 4 Brandon Hendrickson* 5 Andre Ferguson* 6 George Brown 7 Jason Poston

4

8 Joseph Lee 9 Logan Franklin 10 Dean Balabis

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JEREMY BUENDIA

*Qualified for 2017 Men’s Physique Olympia

5


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1

2

3

*QualiямБed for 2017 Classic Physique Olympia

DANNY HESTER

4

5


OLYMPIA 2016 FITNESS

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2

2016 FITNESS OLYMPIA Sept. 17, Las Vegas 1 Oksana Grishina* 2 Tanji Johnson*

3

3 Regiane Da Silva* 4 Whitney Jones* 5 Bethany Wagner* 6 Fiona Harris 7 Ariel Khadr

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8 Kristine Duba 9 Dominique Matthews 10 Aurika Tyrgale *Qualified for 2017 Fitness Olympia

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OKSANA GRISHINA

5


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Sept. 16-17, Las Vegas 1 Juliana Malacarne* 2 Danielle Reardon* 3 Heather Grace* 4 Kira Neuman* 5 Jamie Nicole Pinder* 6 Sheronica Henton 7 Mindi O’Brien 8 Autumn Swansen 9 Asha Hadley 10 Frances Mendez

1

2

*Qualified for 2017 Women’s Physique Olympia

JULIANA MALACARNE

3

4

5


PART 3 AS THE SNOW CONTINUES TO MOUNT, SO SHOULD YOUR GAINS IN MUSCLE, STRENGTH, AND POWER!

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PREVIOUS PAGE: CHARLES LOW THIAN. THIS PAGE: PER BERNAL; KEVIN HORTON

Part 1 of this series provided FLEX readers with one of my more effective hypertrophy-stimulating protocols known as Fiber Damage/Fiber Saturation (FD/FS) so that everyone could kick-start the winter by adding a new layer or two of rock-solid muscle. Part 2 discussed how to target some common weak points with unique exercises that can help fill in the holes, allowing you to create a more proportionate and symmetrical physiqueâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;to be revealed when temperatures again begin to rise. This final installment will introduce a training system I developed early in 2016, known as FTX2, which stimulates gains in muscle via different pathways, as I believe in tapping into every possible mechanism we have for igniting hypertrophy. In addition, I will talk a bit more about how cardio, diet, and supplements can be utilized to maximize growth while keeping body fat levels at an acceptable level.


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FTX2 FAST TWITCH

(FIBER) FIRING X 2!

While FLEX is never short on science, our main purpose is teaching the practical use of training, diet, and supplementation in order to manifest maximum gains in size and strength. So while I could easily write several pages regarding the research that my FTX2 system is based on, I will instead cut to the chase and provide you with the main points behind the program and why it is so effective at building new lean tissue.

■ While hypertrophy does occur in slow-twitch muscle fibers, the bulk of muscle mass will come via building the fast-twitch fibers, which is what FTX2 focuses on. ■ The first exercise will generally be an isolation-type movement and will be performed at a relatively rapid tempo for 21 to 25 repetitions. The purpose is to exhaust the slow-twitch fibers first, which forces greater fasttwitch fiber activation for the remainder of the workout.

■ The final two exercises can be isolation or compound and should be a mix of free weights and cables or machines. I encourage you to switch up your angles of push or pull, width of grips or foot stances, and choices of equipment. We will be looking to keep the muscle under tension for at least 40 seconds, which will be done via a rep range of 10 to 12, with each rep taking 4 to 5 seconds to complete. Several studies have shown that 40 to 60 seconds of tension is the “sweet spot” for stimulating hypertrophy.

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■ The second movement for each body-part routine will generally be compound in nature, with free weights usually being the best choice. The rep range will be around 3 to 5 and will be done while using a rather slow eccentric contraction, a one-second pause at the midpoint of

the rep, and a positive contraction that’s as explosive as possible. The goal here is to fire off the highest-threshold muscle fibers, as well as heighten CNS activation, which will continue to increase your ability to stimulate even more fasttwitch fibers.

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SAMPLE FTX2 WORKOUT MONDAY: CHEST/BICEPS/ABS EXERCISE

TEMPO

SETS

REPS

3 Flat Dumbbell Press

5/1/X

3

3–5

Incline Dumbbell Flye

2/2/1

2–3

10–12

2

Barbell Curl

5/1/X

Concentration Curl

2/1/1

2

3–5

2 2

10–12

2 Cable Crunch

3/0/1

2

10–12

TUESDAY: QUADS/HAMS/CALVES EXERCISE

TEMPO

SETS

REPS

3 Hack Squat

4/1/X

3

3–5

Smith Machine Split Squat

2/1/1

2–3

13–15 per leg

3 Lying Leg Curl

5/1/X

3

3–5

Calf Press

3/1/1

2–3

6–8

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SAMPLE FTX2 WORKOUT THURSDAY: LATS/TRAPS/REAR DELTS/ABS EXERCISE

TEMPO

FRIDAY: FRONT AND LATERAL DELTS/TRIS/CALVES SETS

REPS

EXERCISE

TEMPO

3 Seated Military Press 4/1/X

3

3–5

Underhand-grip Cable Row

2/1/1

2–3

10–12

3 2–3

4/1/X

2

3–5

2 One-arm Cable Lateral

3/1/X

REPS

3

Wide-grip Pullup

Upright Row

SETS

3/0/1

3

10–12

2 Dip

4/0/X

3–5

2

3–5

2

3 Lying Straight-leg Raise

2/0/1

2 2

21–25 or max

Dumbbell Kickback

2/1/1

2

10–12

2 Standing Calf Raise

2/1/1

2–3

10–12

PER BERNAL

EFFECTIVE PROGRAM.

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1 In part 1 of this series I talked a bit about diet and some of the best (food-related) strategies for building large amounts of new muscle tissue while keeping body-fat levels under control. Aside from just a few scenarios, I am not a believer in bulking up and feel that, in most cases, it is counterproductive. 2 Whether you are a recreational lifter or a competitive bodybuilder, your health should remain as much of a concern to you as how good your body looks. This is why I highly recommend performing at least three to four post-workout cardio sessions per week, each with a

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duration of 20 to 25 minutes. Steady-state cardio is your best bet during this time, with the goal of keeping your heart rate at 65â&#x20AC;&#x201C;70% of maximum throughout most of each session. Boredom can be kept at bay by utilizing a different piece of equipment each time you do your cardio. Not only will keeping some cardio in your regimen during the winter assist in keeping your heart healthy, but it will also stop too much fat from accumulating around your hard-earned muscle.

3 When it comes to nutritional supplements, it is best to keep things simple. Stimulate gains in muscle and

strength by taking such researchproven ingredients as BCAAs, L-leucine, creatine monohydrate, and HMB. Increase muscle stamina via the use of beta-alanine and betaine. Enhance blood flow with beetroot extract and citrulline malate. And finally, get focused by utilizing caffeine, L-tyrosine, and alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine. The wintertime is gaining season, and it is your only opportunity to display progress the next time you don your swim trunks at the beach or while posing trunks onstage. Make sure to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and create the perfect picture!

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CHRIS LUND

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SHOTS PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERICA SCHULTZ

Phil Heath checks the goods before going onstage to tie Dorian Yates with a sixth straight Sandow.

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1 // Flex Lewis poses for a photo with a fan who sports some pretty impressive guns himself.

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2 // Blondes do have more fun! 3 // AMI president and CEO David J. Pecker speaks with Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia of Seven Bucks Productions. Big things are happening in 2017!

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1 // Hey, we sure can’t blame India Paulino for checking out her assets in the mirror. 2 // One of the many events that tested strength, agility, stamina, and athletic prowess. 3 // Now here’s an Olympia Weekend fan with enough muscle to stand with the big boys.

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4 // There was a rumor floating around that Roelly Winklaar was going bananas backstage…


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1 1 // Yes, even Mr. Olympia competitors need their nap time. We’re glad we weren’t the ones tasked to wake them up. 2 // Um, I think you’re supposed to lift that, dude. 3 // Who says bodybuilders aren’t limber? 4 // Tanji Johnson, decked out in purple, rehearses her moves before thrilling the audience with her Prince tribute routine. 5 // William Bonac was one of the biggest surprises of the evening. Finishing eighth here in 2015, Bonac presented a physique that was bigger, harder, and crisper to leap up to fifth this year.

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1 // Dexter “the Blade” Jackson with a fan who really nails the trademark bodybuilding thumbs-up pose. 2 // Olympia fans hit a quadruple biceps pose in front of the FLEX letters. 3 // It doesn’t get more macho than arm wrestling. These guys were still locked in battle when the lights went out for the night. 4 // Sometimes when you hit a wall, you just have to climb it. 5 // Really, is there anything we can say about this photo other than, “Great shot!” 6 // You can’t have Olympia Weekend without lots of heavy lifting (and we’re not talking about at the buffet). Here, a competitor blasts out of the hole.

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1 1 // Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman (right) with Andy Haman. Big Ronnie looked healthy and happy. 2 // Victor Martinez leans on the dumbbell rack as he checks out the action happening out front on one of the TV sets backstage. 3 // Steve Kuclo gets the oil treatment. 4 // Shawn Rhoden (left) and Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay hold a private presser at the O Expo. 5 // Box office sensation, TV star, WWE superentertainer …this guy sure draws a crowd! Johnson takes a selfie with a few hundred friends at the AMI/Weider booth.

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1 // Big weights were tossed around everywhere you looked. 2 // Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t try this at home! Oksana Grishina warms up backstage. Her incredible Michael Jackson routine, complete with a slippery moonwalk and the lean, was the highlight of Friday nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s show. What will she do next year? 3 // Grishina, now a three-time Fitness Olympia champion, does her interview backstage. Can she make it four in a row? 4 // Believe it or not, this was not the winner of the Olympia Backstage Limbo Championships.

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1 // Hardcore bodybuilders, fitness fanatics, and weekend warriors alike enjoyed all the excitement of the Olympia Expo.

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2 // One has to wonder what���s going through the mind of Phil Heath backstage. Maybe he’s thinking he needs a bigger house for all his Sandows? 3 // Now that’s power walking! FLEXONLINE.COM

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1 // Michael Lockett and fan. 2 // Meet the Olympians is the designated fan night of the weekend, when people get up close and personal with the athletes. It was so packed, it spilled over to the Orleans Arena floor. You can see the beginnings of what will be the Olympia finals stage. 3 // From left to right: Kevin Levrone, Josh Lenartowicz, and Cedric McMillan posedown at the press conference. 4 // Heath makes a deal with a fan that if he loses this year, he will grow his hair.

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5 // You can tell from his expression that Rhoden can’t wait to get it on. Either that or go back to his room and eat another Tupperware meal of fish and broccoli.

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1 // We bet this guy would kill it on the playground. 2 // Lukas Osladil proves just how irresistible Pringles can be. 3 // New Bikini Olympia champion Courtney King can barely contain her excitement backstage after her win. 4 // Would you have the stones to spot this guy in front of all those people? 5 // Dallas McCarver, in his second Mr. Olympia, cracked the top ten with his eighth-place finish. McCarver, only 25 years old, is definitely a rising star and one to watch for on future Olympia stages.

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1 // From left to right: Bethany Wagner, Regiane DaSilva, Grishina, Johnson, and Whitney Jones.

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2 // Brandon Curry pumps his lats. 3 // Is this guy cool or what? Veteran Dexter Jackson has seen it all and done it all, so he knows to relax until his name is called. 4 // Wow! First, to heave it off the ďŹ&#x201A;oor and then to clean it to shoulder height? Talk about impressive! 5 // Fans and competitive athletes alike get to try their hand at all sorts of competitions to show their strength and endurance skills. 6 // Jose Raymond sits with a pair of light dumbbells (for him), as he zones in on the moment. Raymond ďŹ nished third in the 212 O.

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1 // Heath exudes pure confidence backstage. 2 // Levrone autographs an iconic shot of himself taken by Per Bernal back in the day. The Maryland Muscle Machine said he will be back next year. We can’t wait to see what he will unveil with more training time under his belt. 3 // IFBB president Dr. Rafael Santonja (left) with Johnson, and IFBB Pro League president, Jim Manion. These are big-time movers and shakers in the industry. 4 // Three very nice distractions at the Olympia Expo. 5 // Two-time Figure Olympia winner Latorya Jackson shows what winning looks like. 6 // Somebody call Theseus! That pesky Minotaur is back.

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NOT DOWN HAS ABANDONED MOUNTAIN DOG? NOT AT ALL—BUT HIS NEW BACK WORKOUTS DO COME WITH A SHOCKING TWIST BY MICHAEL BERG, N.S.C.A.-C.P.T. PHOTOS BY ERICA SCHULTZ

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MOUNTAIN DOG TRAINING AT ITS GUT-CHURNING BEST IS A HELLACIOUS GANTLET OF PAIN.

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BACK THICKNESS One of the best exercises around for adding thickness to the lats is the dumbbell row. Pull the dumbbell in to your waist. Get a good stretch.

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FLEX We’ve heard you’re doing your back three times a week now—why the change? MEADOWS It started this year after the Arnold Classic 212. Back development has always been a priority for me—it has never been a muscle group that came easy— and I wanted to place even more emphasis on it. So I changed to a high-frequency system, with which instead of doing it twice per week I’ve been doing it three times, on Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday. For those familiar with the

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MEADOWS INVENTED THIS UNIQUE EXERCISE APTLY NAMED THE MEADOWS ROW. DO WHAT WORKS!

Mountain Dog training system, this is a little different. There are no intensity techniques included for back—no dropsets or forced reps at the end of sets. You can’t be nuts when training a body part three times a week because your body can’t recover from that quickly enough to be ready to do it again in two or three days. How much more volume are you now doing? Actually, that’s the same. To determine volume, I counted up how many working sets I was doing during the twice a week


SNAPSHOT JOHN MEADOWS Birth Date April 11, 1972 Height 5'8" Weight 234 pounds Birthplace Washington Court House, OH Current Residence Columbus, OH Contest History 2016: Arnold Classic 212, 9th; Arctic Pro 212, 5th; Charlotte Pro 212, 6th; Chicago Pro 212, 10th; Europa Dallas Pro 212, 4th; Toronto Pro 212, 10th; 2015: Tampa Pro 212, 3rd; Texas Pro 212, 5th; Vancouver Pro 212, 5th; NPC Team Universe Masters Overall champ (earned pro card) Online mountaindogdiet .com, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @mountaindog1

split. That was roughly 40 sets, 20 on Wednesdays and 20 on Saturdays. So I spread 40 sets now over three workouts, 13 to 14 sets per session. This isn’t about increasing the number of sets I’m doing—it’s to give myself another day of back stimulation. You have to remember your body does not have an infinite ability to recover. if that were the case, we could just train our whole body every day. Obviously, that doesn’t work. That’s why I pulled my leg training back from twice to once per week. Your legs require the most recovery, and

they’re also my strongest body part, so I dialed those back to one day a week and lowered the intensity somewhat to allow my back the resources to recover better. It’s a common mistake with high-frequency training. People add body parts and sessions but don’t decrease the intensity and they just end up overtrained. Are all three back workouts the same, or is there a different approach for each? Saturday is the crazy day. I travel to Elite FTS in London, OH, and I train with Dave Tate [founder and CEO of Elite FTS], and we go absolutely bananas. This would be our hardest, most intense workout of the week for back. It’s on a Saturday because I have to give myself two days of rest before my next back-training session on Tuesday. I have a day

off on Sunday, when I take the whole day off. On that day, I go to church with my wife and 7-yearold twins, and after we go to Tim Horton’s for doughnuts. Monday I’m doing other body parts, chest, and shoulders. On Tuesday, the intensity isn’t as high because I have to hit it again on Thursday, and on Thursday it isn’t as high because I have that Saturday one coming. On Saturday, I’ll take about 75% of my working sets to failure, but on Tuesday and Thursday it’s less than that. What that means is I’ll do some warmup “feeder” sets of 4 reps or so each to find the right weight, but when I get to the weight when 8 reps are brutal, I’ll stay there and do three sets with it. What do you consider failure in these workouts? To get to failure, a lot of people will FLEXONLINE.COM

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FOR A COMPLETE BACK, FOCUS ON PULLUPS AND PULLDOWNS FOR WIDTH AND ROWS WITH FREE WEIGHTS AND MACHINES FOR THICKNESS. FLEXONLINE.COM

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loosen up their form, and it turns into something really ugly. You’ve got to remember, I’m 44 years old. I can’t do that or I’ll get injured—I’m also training for longevity. The way I look at failure is the point when you can’t do any more reps with good form. So if I’m doing a set of 8 to failure, that means I’ve chosen a weight with which the 8th rep is the last one I can execute while maintaining perfect form—if I were to attempt a 9th rep, it’d be sloppy. Form is so critical, especially with your back. It’s so easy for your traps, biceps, your rear delts, all these other muscle groups to take over from the intended target. When that happens, your workout isn’t nearly as effective as it should be. Can you walk us through a typical Saturday session? We’ll do ball-busting, hardcore exercises. We start with the pullup, first with two to three sets of 6 nice and slow reps, to get warmed up and pump blood into the lats. Then I’ll shoot for four sets of 10. That’s about as many reps as I can do with good form. Anyone else doing this should be going to failure, whatever that may be. For me, it’s about 10. What’s next? Now that we’ve done a vertical pulling motion, we move to a horizontal angle with one-arm dumbbell rows. We have a lot of blood in our lats and we’re warmed up, so we’ll just do a feeder set or two of 4 or so reps to get up to the right weight. On the four working sets, we’re going as heavy as possible for 8 reps so that 8th rep is perfectly executed but I don’t have a 9th perfect rep in me. Let’s be clear, these are gut-busting reps. You need to be using a weight that’s really challenging and takes everything you’ve got to get to that 8th one. Where do you go from there? After dumbbell rows, we’ll do what’s called the Meadows row. For this, you’ll be using a T-bar station in a different way from what you’re used to. You don’t climb on and grab the handles like a regular T-bar row. You’ll actually grab the pole where you slide the weight on, bend over beside it, and do a one-arm row. Yes, it’s similar to a one-armed dumbbell

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row, but it gives you a slightly different stimulus because the angle of pull is not the same and your grip is pronated instead of neutral. The neutral grip hits more lats, while the pronated grip hits more rhomboids and upper back. We do three sets here. On the first two, I’ll stop short of failure at 8, basically leaving 2 reps in the tank. Then we add weight and do one all-out set to failure at 8 reps. And then we’ll finish the workout with reverse hyperextensions. That exercise will develop really thick spinal erectors, giving your physique a really powerful appearance. When you’re standing onstage and your spinal erectors are sticking out three inches, you can tell that dude has grinded, that he’s put in the work. On hypers, we’ll do three sets total, stopping 2 to 3 reps short of failure on the first two and then do the last set to failure, which is about 20 reps for me. So that’s a wrap? That’s it—we’ve done 14 total sets plus some feeders, 10 of those


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LOWER BACK Hyperextensions and reverse hyperextensions work the lower back or spinal erectors. Control the movement throughout and squeeze the muscles.

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MEADOWS’ WEEKLY BACK PROGRAMS EXERCISE

SETS

REPS

4

10

One-arm Dumbbell Row

4

8

Meadows Row

3

8

Reverse Hyperextension

3

17–20

Neutral-grip Pullup

4

10–14

Standard-grip Pullup

One-arm Barbell Row

3–4

10–14

T-bar Row

3

10–14

Back Extension

3

20–25

Pulldown to Front

4

10–14

3–4

10–14

Dumbbell Pullover

3

10–14

Seated Cable Row

3

10–14

Smith Machine Bentover Row

NOTE: This chart doesn’t include “feeder” sets of 4 to 5 reps to pyramid up to the appropriate weight.

sets to failure, using four exercises that have worked our back vertically and horizontally. We’ve hit lats on the one-arm row and pullup, the rhomboids and upper-back thickness with the Meadows row, and the spinal erectors with the hyper. We’ve hit everything but traps, but I don’t train those directly since mine are pretty dominant already. What do you do on Tuesday and Thursday? For the other two workouts, I have to dial back the intensity. I don’t take any sets to failure because there’s only one day to recover before the next back session. Saturday is about destroying muscle fibers, but the second two workouts are Lee Haney–style, “Stimulate, don’t annihilate.” On every single set, I leave a couple of reps in the tank. On both days, I change exercises to hit the lats from a slightly different angle. For

example, on Saturday, the pullup was with a pronated grip. Tuesday may be a neutral-grip pullup, while Thursday could be a pulldown. For the one-arm dumbbell row, Tuesday might be a one-arm barbell row, where the mechanics are different because a dumbbell swings free and a barbell is anchored into one of those land mines in a fixed plane. A Meadows row becomes a regular T-bar row, and I’ll finish with back extensions instead of hypers. The one big thing that’s not in these workouts that will surprise readers: no intensity techniques? Exactly, and it’s because of the frequency. If you follow me, you know I believe in a lot of highintensity work using partials, dropsets, iso-holds, and others. But remember, now we’re doing more sessions and the body can’t recover from all that work. Since the Arnold, I’ve made crazy improvements to my back doing this. How long will you stick with this plan? I’m finding that I can do this for six to eight weeks and then I get a little burned out, so I go back to twice a week for two weeks and then return to the higher frequency. When do you plan on competing next? I’m looking at April or May of 2017, but I don’t think it’ll be 212, it’ll be the open class. Right now, I’m really lean at 234 pounds. Getting down to the weight limit was killing me before. I was already extremely lean at 220, legitimately sub-4% fat according to underwater weighing, and had to shed another eight pounds from there; it wasn’t helping the way I look. At 44 years old, I just want to look my best, man. My placings will probably be about the same in the open class. In 212, they put some of these smaller, softer guys in front of me because they’re prettier, and in the open they’re probably going to put some of the bigger structures ahead of me. In the end I’m probably going to place about the same. So next season, I’m not shooting for any particular weight anymore— wherever I look my best is where I’m competing. FLEXONLINE.COM

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ARIEL KHADR MADE HER FITNESS OLYMPIA DEBUT IN 2016—AND SHE’S READY TO APPLY THE LESSONS SHE LEARNED TO 2017

THE

BY JAMES RILEY PHOTOGRAPHS BY IAN SPANIER

■ IFBB fitness pro Ariel Khadr had an early start in competition. At age 11, she was already a full-time gymnast competing in and winning junior fitness contests. Before she was old enough to compete in a bikini in the U.S., she trained for and competed in amateur European competitions. She competed successfully in NPC figure at 16 so she could get an idea of what that level of competition entailed, and then, less than two weeks after turning 17, Khadr won the Class A fitness division at the 2009 Team Universe Championships, becoming the youngest woman ever to qualify for pro competition in the fitness division. An injury stalled her forward drive, and Khadr took that time to heal and to earn her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She returned to the stage in 2015, taking third in her pro debut at the Phoenix Europa Games. A year later, Khadr won the 2016 Toronto Pro Supershow fitness division— her second pro contest—securing a berth at the Olympia, where she placed seventh. At age 24, she remains a young upstart sharing a stage with more seasoned pros, eager to learn what she needs to one day earn the top spot. FLEXONLINE.COM

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FLEX: How was your first Olympia experience? ARIEL KHADR: Definitely overwhelming. It was amazing to be on that stage—a dream come true! It’s what every competitor is fighting for. It was an honor, and it was a wonderful learning experience. The most memorable part was being onstage with the girls I have looked up to for so long. What did you learn that you can apply to your training going forward? The stage at the Olympia is different from any other stage I’ve been on. The floor is different. The material is a rug, where it’s usually wood flooring, and the space is really big. My routine needs to match and work with those elements. The other divisions don’t need a gymnastics floor the way fitness does. Do the other fitness competitors give you advice? What I’ve learned from them is that

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SHOT ON LOCATION AT CIT Y ATHLETIC CLUB, L AS VEGAS, NV


PER BERNAL

“COMPETING IS A PASSION OF MINE, AND PERFORMING IS A PASSION. YOU CAN’T KEEP DOING IT IF YOU DON’T LOVE DOING IT.”

YOU WERE THE YOUNGEST ONE ON THE STAGE AT THE O. Yes. I’ve been the youngest on the scene before. Back in 2009, it was such a big deal! This time, I couldn’t help thinking that without my injury I might have been making my debut on that stage even younger, getting an even earlier start on learning what I need to know to compete and win. FLEXONLINE.COM

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SNAPSHOT ARIEL KHADR

Age: 24 Height: 5' Weight: 110 pounds Birthplace: United States Residence: Miami, FL Contest Highlights: 2016 Fitness Olympia, 7th; 2016 Toronto Supershow, 1st; 2009 Team Universe fitness, Class A winner (earned pro card)

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you have to be yourself. I’ve learned you can’t always expect a placement. Competing is a passion of mine, and performing is a passion. You can’t keep doing it if you don’t love doing it. You competed in figure before. How do fitness and figure compare? The look for both divisions is very similar. Fitness is a little more muscular because we’re more athletic. Our bodies are harder. That’s not to say all of us would be competing in figure if not for fitness. Women’s physique

HAIR & MAKEUP MY NADIA SHALINI R AMNATH

an eight-time Fitness


For glutes, Khadr will superset kettlebell squats with cable pull-throughs.

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“FITNESS IS A LITTLE MORE MUSCULAR BECAUSE WE’RE MORE ATHLETIC. OUR BODIES ARE HARDER.”

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holds a lot of appeal for a lot of us. Doing routines makes it seem like it might be great. What is your favorite body part and how do you train it? I love my back. A typical back workout routine would include pulldowns, single-arm lat pulldowns, seated rows, and bentover rows. I would normally superset them all after doing one warmup set of each, then three sets of 10 to 12. I would do that routine twice: once at heavier weights and then again using lighter weights. When will we see you onstage in 2017? I would really love to get into the Arnold Classic, for starters. Then Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to defend my title at the Toronto Supershow. If I could have my way, I would also do one of the overseas Arnoldsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Asia or Europe.

Khadr performs hanging leg raises slowly to avoid swinging.

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THE PEC’ING ORDER ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR BODYBUILDERS IN IFBB HISTORY IS OLDER, WISER—AND STILL A FORCE IN THE PRO RANKS. HERE, DOMINICAN DOMINATOR VICTOR MARTINEZ TAKES ON CHEST TRAINING WHILE REVEALING HIS COMPETITIVE PLANS FOR 2017. BY MICHAEL BERG, N.S.C.A.-C.P.T. PHOTOGRAPHS BY PER BERNAL


( ( Last weekend @arnoldclassiceurope2016 my placings have been mediocre but I’m always pushing to look better. #neverquit and I leave 2007 out of this and I know I need to bring my mass and legs up for all you pros out there. #myownworstcritic —Victor Martinez, Instagram Post, Sept. 29

DECLINE DUMBBELL PRESS

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There was a time when Victor Martinez was considered the heir apparent to Ronnie Coleman’s eight-time Olympia reign, and rightfully so. He had the symmetry and proportion of a Dexter Jackson, yet with enough mass to compete with the likes of Coleman and Jay Cutler. His physique was a wonder, and 2007 was the year it all came together. First, he roared to victory at the Arnold Classic in the spring, setting up a showdown at the Olympia against Cutler—who had dethroned Coleman the prior year—and the rest of a particularly loaded lineup, a who’s who of the era’s best. Yet, on that fateful night of Sept. 29, it was not to be, as Cutler edged him in a controversial decision by four points, all told. Victor would never come that close again. Yet, for those who figured Martinez was finished as a force on the pro circuit, the Dominican Dominator had a surprise for the doubters. Facing down some intense, soul-crushing personal dramas—including the horrific murder of his sister in 2009, a seven-month immigration-related jail stint in 2011 in which his fate hung in the balance as to whether he could remain in the U.S., and the ongoing challenges of raising two autistic children—he continued to do the one thing he could control: He lifted. After falling all the way to eighth at the 2010 O, he roared back to third at the 2011 Arnold Classic. He also earned his first win since ’07 by taking the Arnold Classic Europe and finished fourth at the Olympia. In 2013, he added a Toronto Pro championship, and in 2014, the Tampa Pro title. In 2015 and 2016, he entered nine contests, and he shows no signs of slowing past his 43rd birthday as he looks ahead to 2017, with eyes on shoring up his legs and shoulders for his pursuit of his seventh career pro title. On


TRAINING SPLIT DAY 1 // Shoulders DAY 2 // Quads, hams, and calves DAY 3 // Off DAY 4 // Chest and biceps DAY 5 // Back and triceps DAY 6 // Off or repeat from Day 1 NOTE: Victor does cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon or late evening, and hits abs twice per week.

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FLAT-BENCH DUMBBELL FLYE

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GONNA FLYE NOW

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thought. “I’m counting on symmetry, because size isn’t always the key. I’m not going to be Big Ramy–size or anything like that,” he says, referring to the 300-plus-pound behemoth, Mamdouh Elssbiay, who earned the victory in front of his home crowd at the Kuwait Pro. “You got to work with what you have, so I’m going to continue working on my shape and fill out those areas that need the most attention.”

45 DEGREES OF (SIZE AND) SEPARATION After warming up his pecs, from the upper chest to the outer sweep, Martinez is ready to move on to pressing. First stop is the incline bench for four sets of barbell presses. “I’ll start with one plate per side for 15, then work up to two plates, then three by the fourth set,” he explains before doing just that. “In the off-season, I’ll do three sets if I’m doing two incline exercises in the workout, or four if I’m doing just one.” While today he’s without a training partner, he notes the last set is sometimes a drop. “It depends on how I’m feeling, how the workout is going,” he says. “If on the last set I was aiming for 10 to 12 reps and I only get seven to eight, I’ll drop the weight and do those final reps.” He’ll also usually add a second incline exercise in the off-season, whether it’s on the Smith machine, where he’ll change up the angle sometimes and do 25 to 30 degrees, the stack machine, or the Hammer Strength incline press. “If I’m just doing one incline, I’ll do four sets, and if I’m doing two, I’ll do three sets each,” Martinez adds.

ON THE LEVEL Flat-bench dumbbell presses follow the incline barbell press. He starts with the 60-pounders, placing them flat-side down on his mighty quads. Staring for a moment into the mirror reflecting the array of white-and-red equipment that stretches out behind him through the cavernous space, Martinez takes a deep breath and lies back, moving the weights into position right next to his outer pecs, elbows deep toward the floor. With sweat running in drops down his brow, he presses the

INCLINE BARBELL PRESS


THE LOWDOWN

PECS IN THE CROSSHAIRS

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MACHINE PRESS

SNAPSHOT /// VICTOR MARTINEZ Birth Date // July 29, 1973 Birthplace // San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic Current Residence // Edgewater, NJ Height // 5'9" Weight // 245 pounds (contest), 275 (off-season) Sponsor // MHP Career Highlights // 2014 Tampa Pro, 1st; 2013 Toronto Pro, 1st; 2011 Arnold Classic Europe, 1st; 2007 Arnold Classic, 1st; 2004 Show of Strength, 1st; 2003 Night Of Champions, 1st; 2000 NPC Nationals heavyweight and overall, earned pro card Online // vicmartinez.com; Twitter @IFBBvicmartinez; Instagram @IFBBvictormartinez


CABLE CROSSOVER

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CHEST ROUTINE Incline Dumbbell Flye superset with* Flat-bench Dumbbell Flye

4 4

10–15 10–15

Incline Barbell Press

3–4

10–15

Incline Dumbbell, Machine, or Smith Machine Press**

3–4

10–15

Flat-bench Dumbbell or Smith Machine Press

4

10–15

Decline Dumbbell Press superset with Dumbbell Pullover or Parallel-bar Dip

4 4

10–15 15

Cable Crossover***

4

12–15

*Unlike with a traditional superset, Martinez does rest in between the two flye variations for about 20 to 30 seconds, just enough to regain some strength and maintain proper form on the second exercise. **If he does a second incline exercise, it’ll usually be one of these three options. ***He’ll do these every other workout during the off-season, and every workout pre-contest, switching it up between the high and low pulley versions.

to isolate and squeeze the muscle and bring in more blood flow to finish out the workout,” he explains. Like with his other exercises, he strives for fatigue. “You want to push out. You don’t want to finish a set knowing you had an extra few reps in you. That’s not gonna stimulate the muscle.” With the workout in the books, Martinez readies to head out, with some negotiations to handle for his new business venture—a gym in Manhattan that promises to welcome athletes and bodybuilders and anyone else who appreciates a hardworking, hardcore atmosphere. “Unlike some other gyms out there, this really will be no judgment. Overachievers are made to feel awkward at other clubs, but not this one.” Over the coming months, he’ll also continue his charity work with Family & Children’s Service in New Jersey, and plans to promote his own show, the Victor Martinez Legends Championships in the Bronx, which is a national qualifier for NPC athletes, as he takes aim at the later season shows. “I’m going to aim for the second half of the year and try to qualify for the Olympia,” he says. “And if I don’t, I’ll look to make a good run in the European contests. It would be a risk if I don’t get into the Olympia, because the judges may not even look at you without a top-six placing there, but that’s just the catch-22 when you’re a bodybuilder. I’m just gonna go for it.” FLEXONLINE.COM

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TIMELESS

VISION IN T E R V IE W BY JOE WUEBBEN PHO T OGR A PHS BY PER BERNAL

PHOTOGRAPHER PER BERNAL RECOUNTS THE EARLY DAYS THAT LED TO A BRILLIANT CAREER OF CREATING ART THROUGH PHYSIQUE List all the well-known bodybuilding photographers in the world. There aren’t many, but Per Bernal is one of them. In fact, Bernal is probably the most accomplished, most soughtafter working photographer in the fitness industry today. Professional bodybuilders want to be shot by him. Fitness models ask for him specifically. Those who have been reading bodybuilding magazines over the past 20 years are honored to meet him. Per Bernal was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but grew up about a fourhour train ride north of there in the

small town of Härnösand. At an early age, he developed a passion for both lifting weights and creating art. Years later, in his 20s, he combined these two interests and created a living for himself. Now 52, Bernal has a career that spans more than three decades and has a distinct portfolio to show for it. In a recent interview with FLEX, Bernal gave an oral account of how he got started and the events that led to him first coming to America and then creating iconic physique images that are known as much for the man behind the camera as the famous bodybuilders in front of it. FLEXONLINE.COM

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VISION

FLEX |


I came from a pretty artistic family, and I was always drawing stuff as a kid. I would draw these superheroes and muscular physiques, probably from the sixth grade and on. I was always fascinated with it, and it was always lingering in the back of my mind. When I first saw Pumping Iron back in 1977 or ’78, it had a huge impact on me. I wanted to hit the gym, but I was 12 or 13 years old at the time, which I figured was too early. I finally started lifting weights as part of my training regimen as a competitive swimmer at 16. I got hooked fairly quickly as I started to see my physique change within two to three months, and I stopped my competitive swimming soon after. Two and a half years later, in 1984, I competed in my first and only bodybuilding competition. I took second in the men’s junior lightweight division and qualified for the nationals. I was only about 70 kilos (154 pounds) at 5'9" or 5'10." In addition to weight training religiously, I picked up my first camera, a used Pentax Spotmatic, when I graduated from high

Per Bernal’s vision of bodybuilding transcends mere physique display. Previous spread: The photographer gets the right angle for Flex Lewis. Opposite: Legendary Kevin Levrone shows what a sculpture come to life looks like. Above, from left: Phil Heath is in good spirits after winning his sixth straight O; Bernal captures Eddie Robinson having some fun in the sun.

school at age 18. I loved shooting as much as I enjoyed training, so if I wasn’t hitting the gym I was snapping away with my camera. After high school I enrolled in a postgraduate course in marketing and language with a five-week internship at B&K Sports Magazine in Stockholm. That was the only bodybuilding magazine there at the time. During this tenure I was given the opportunity to shoot and write my own piece on two local bodybuilders, and it was published shortly after. This was my “aha moment,” when I decided to dedicate my life to what I’m doing today. By age 22, I was the assistant editor in chief at B&K Sports, writing, shooting and producing 60% to 70% of the magazine’s content. By 1986 or 1987, my images started to get published in the United States and Canada. I remember buying Muscle & Fitness in 1979 or 1980. Every month I went and bought the

magazine at the news rack, and I read every issue front to back. It was truly my bible. I was looking for bigger and better things, and of course I wanted to work with Joe Weider. The owner of the magazine I was working for was communicating with Joe, and he kept seeing my work. Joe contacted me to do a shoot with Samir Bannout in 1987 or 1988. After that, the owner of B&K Sports sent a letter to Joe on my behalf asking if he’d be interested in me coming over to the U.S. and if he could arrange some work for me. I got a very nice letter back from Joe—I still have it somewhere—inviting me to come over to the United States.

Bernal and his future wife, Anneli, saved up their money and moved to Southern California in 1990, when the young photographer was in FLEXONLINE.COM

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his mid-20s. Bernal met with Weider in his Woodland Hills office and showed him his portfolio. He began getting work shortly thereafter.

There were so many talented photographers around at the time. You had Mike Neveux, Chris Lund, Bill Dobbins. I was a small fish. I would almost say an underdog. It was great to be given that opportunity and to be able to prove yourself. It was like, How do I stack up against these guys? I had so much to learn. It was a struggle, though. I was on a very tight budget. We rented a very small apartment on Venice Beach. I remember times when we had, like, $5 a day to live on. It was very, very tight. The rent was like 400 or 500 bucks. I had to watch every dime. But I think it was a good thing to go through as a young person. It teaches you a lot of lessons.

Bernal’s first stint in the United States working for Joe Weider was short-lived. After only six months, he and Anneli moved back to Sweden. “We didn’t leave on the best of terms,” he says, “but such is life.” Bernal figured he was done with bodybuilding and would just go back to shooting fashion, which he had done before. But in 1991 he came back to the U.S. as a photographer for the World Bodybuilding Federation, owned by Vince McMahon. The WBF folded in 1992. A couple of years later, Bernal was hired by Steve Blechman at Muscular Development magazine, a direct competitor and major rival to FLEX. Over the next four years (1994–98), Bernal experimented with different styles to find a pleasing “look” that would distinguish him from the other established photographers in the fitness industry.

This was a great opportunity for me because I was MD’s staff photographer, and Steve gave me the freedom to experiment with stuff. I think this was very important for me. Because at

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Weider, Chris Lund was the main guy. So was I going to be feeding off his crumbs? There was a great competition between FLEX and MD, and I grew very fast at that time. People were starting to compare me to Chris Lund, which wouldn’t have happened had I stayed at Weider. I found a style that was very good for me. Because you can’t just copy other guys like Chris Lund or you’ll get fired, right? I read a lot of different fashion magazines, like GQ, Vogue, Elle, and Esquire. I would study them for hours. I was looking at the images, trying to understand light. Anneli was assisting me at the time, and she was so frustrated

with me. She would say, “You never do lighting the same way. You do it different every time.” There was no formula. I was just trying different stuff. I took inspiration from different photographers in the fashion world. I could never be them, but I could learn from them how they did their lighting. So maybe I was one of the first who brought that [fashion] style to shooting fitness; I don’t know anyone else who was. I think what I brought in was a little bit more of a wider perspective. Chris Lund was very good at what he did, and he was very specialized. He did some posing shots, but that wasn’t his strength. If you look at


TIMELESS VISION

my body of work, I have a big spectrum. I’ll shoot fitness girls, bikini, bodybuilding, stuff for Men’s Fitness. I pride myself on that.

For a brief period (1999–01), Bernal was back working for Joe Weider. It was only two years, but it produced arguably Bernal’s most iconic images: portrait shots on a clean white background, black-and-white film, meticulous lighting that

enhanced both drama and detail, Ronnie Coleman’s million-dollar smile and massive proportions, Shawn Ray’s flawless aesthetics— frozen forever as beautiful works of art.

Those images...I love that era. When I started working with Joe again, he pretty much said, “Per, go out and do your thing. You have my support to create art.”

There was no art director. It was me, my camera, the athlete, and my wife.

Bernal returned to work for Steve Blechman from 2002–13. Since then, he’s been shooting for Weider Publications. In 30-plus years as a full-time photographer, Bernal has a lot of wisdom to share.

The most important thing is to find your own voice. It’s OK to be inspired by others and mimic some of their stuff to understand lighting and other techniques, but you still have to find your own voice and your own style. The biggest obstacles at first are learning how to set lights and all that, but that’s just practice. When you learn that, your own voice and your own look are going to come. My look is nothing that’s conscious. It’s just something that I like to look at. It’s my taste. It’s an organic experience. A lot of young people nowadays are so eager to get something done in one or two years. But it takes time. There are some things that have to manifest. Let’s say you need to practice 1,000 hours to throw a perfect ball in football. In photography, if you did all those 1,000 hours in a row, it wouldn’t work. You need to be able to recuperate, to think, to reassess. I think that applies to everything.

What traits does a photographer need to possess to be successful? Clockwise from top left: Ernie Taylor, William Bonac, and Aaron and Brandy Maddron

First of all, you need to have an eye. It’s like with bodybuilding—you need to have genetics to be great. You need to have passion. Equally important is to have drive. Drive is a little different from passion. With drive, you want to do something and you’re going to do whatever it takes. And then there’s hard work and being persistent. How much do you want it? Of course, you need to have the talent. But what is talent? If you have talent and you don’t do anything about it, you’re not going to be anybody anyway, right? I think longevity is something where you have to be able to learn all the time and offer something new. My first published photo was in 1984, and I’m still at it and still loving it.


VISION Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman immortalized by Bernal

“It’s OK to be inspired by others and mimic some of their stuff, but you still have to find your own voice.”

FLEX |


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Y T R Y A T P EAR H BANISH FAT-FILLED FINGER FOOD FROM THE HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATE WITH THESE HEALTHY BITES

FLEX |


INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

SERVES

8


y ng!) South ppers known as or sweet are perfect stuffers for an appetizer spread. Look for them in the deli section of supermarkets or order jars on Amazon. Jamming them full of Greek yogurt ensures your finger food has a bit of muscle-friendly protein, while adding a finishing touch of balsamic syrup makes you look like a kitchen badass. INGREDIENTS

½ cup balsamic vinegar Juice of ½ lemon 1 tbsp honey 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 2 tbsp prepared pesto 16 peppadew (piquanté) peppers 2 tbsp chopped chives DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and honey to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until syrupy and reduced to roughly 3 tbsp, about 6 minutes. Let cool. The syrup will thicken further upon cooling. 2. Stir together yogurt and pesto. Using a small spoon, stuff peppers with pesto yogurt. 3. Place peppers on a serving platter and drizzle balsamic syrup over tops. Sprinkle on chives.

SERVES

8

FLEX |

SERVES

6


INGREDIENTS

¹/³ ¹/³

SERVES

8

DIRECTIONS

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS


INGREDIENTS

SERVES

8

DIRECTIONS


SERVES

8

INGREDIENTS

¹/³

DIRECTIONS


MY MOM DIDN’T HAVE MANY OPTIONS. TODAY’S LUNG CANCER PATIENTS DO. Twenty years ago, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had very few places to turn, and lost a diffi cult struggle.

And yet, more than 30% of all lung cancer patients still don’t know about the therapies, specialists, and clinical trials available to them.

Today, we are on the brink of real breakthroughs in lung cancer research and there are signifi cantly improved treatment options.

Lung cancer is a formidable foe, but we are fi nding new ways to fi ght it. Please visit SU2C.org/LungCancer for questions to ask your health care professional and to learn about options that may be right for you.

SU2C.org/LungCancer

Stand Up To Cancer is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Photo Credit: Kevin Lynch

Tony Goldwyn Stand Up To Cancer Ambassador


224

Yes, that’s Phil Heath onstage in his moment of triumph. But who is signing his poster?

LAST SET YOUR ONE-STOP SOURCE FOR MUSCLE NEWS

ERICA SCHULTZ

Steve Weinberger explains how to execute a perfect quarter turn. Sandy Williamson on getting separated and creating the illusion of greater height. Get it straight from IFBB Pro League judges!

Melvin Anthony was known as the Marvelous One for his eye-popping posing routines. William Bonac was a surprise standout at this year’s Olympia. See how these two fifth-place finishers, separated by a decade, stack up against each other.

FLEXONLINE.COM

217


LAST SET

JUDGE’S TABLE

THE JUDGES

QSTEVE

WEINBERGER

Q SANDY

WILLIAMSON

THE TURNING POINTS

THESE COMMON ERRORS CAN CRUSH A COMPETITOR’S CHANCES DURING QUARTER TURNS, AND THE KEY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “LEAN” AND “SEPARATED” Q: In bodybuilding prejudging, are there common mistakes made during the quarter-turn comparisons that can cost a competitor on the score sheets? STEVE WEINBERGER: The correct presentation of the quarter turns is very important since this is the first complete view that the judges have of each bodybuilder. Seeing the body from all four angles allows the judges to determine if the physique is equally developed in

218

FLEX | DECEMBER ’16

muscle size, shape, and condition. In both the front and rear stances, the back must be spread as wide as possible and the shoulders rolled back in order to give the torso a V-structure. The chest should be held high, but the athlete should be careful not to lean back or forward. Often the arms are held out too wide, and this makes the pose look too stiff. Instead, the elbows should be slightly bent and the hands relaxed. One common mistake is to

hunch the shoulders. This makes one’s neck look short and the pose appear awkward. It is important that the poses look natural and that they have “flow.” The stomach needs to be held tight and flat, and the knees should be just unlocked and the legs flexed. It is a mistake to bend the knees and “sit “ into the pose. In the side poses, it is crucial that the stomach be held in and the chest held high. Many athletes overarch their lower backs, and this will cause the lower stomach to protrude.


BY MICHAEL BERG

Q: Judges have told me after my shows that I’m “lean” but not “separated,” and that affected my score. What’s the difference?

PER BERNAL

SANDY WILLIAMSON: Being lean simply means that there is very little body fat or water between the skin and the muscle. However, separation is the deep grooves that are seen between the muscle groups—for example, the separation between the four heads of the quadriceps muscle. Separation comes from training, where leanness comes from nutrition. Often, athletes deplete too much or incorrectly, thus diminishing the fullness of their muscles. They end up coming into a contest lean but without separation, and the muscles tend to look flat. In that case, there is little separation to display, even

Just as you train in the gym for years to build big muscles, presenting your physique properly for maximum effect takes a lot of time and discipline. Practice in front of a mirror.

though the athlete is in fact lean.

Q: As an under-5'4" figure competitor, is there anything I can focus on development-wise and presentation-wise to help at least appear a little taller onstage? SANDY WILLIAMSON: When judging athletes, a judge looks at

overall shape, which includes a V-taper, as well as the shape and development of individual muscle groups relative to the athlete’s overall structure. The mistake that most athletes make is trying to look bigger or taller, when in fact the athlete just needs to concentrate on what looks good on his or her frame rather than trying to emulate other competitors. FLEXONLINE.COM

219


LAST SET

POSEDOWN

ANTHONY VS. BONAC MELVIN ANTHONY AND WILLIAM BONAC FINISHED FIFTH IN THE OLYMPIA 10 YEARS APART The most recent Mr. Olympia featured the deepest top 10 since at least 2006. But, winners aside, which O lineup was better? In an attempt to glean an answer, let’s zero in on the fifth-place finisher from each year: “Marvelous” Melvin Anthony in 2006 and this year’s pro sensation, William Bonac. At those Olympias, they were of a similar age, height, and weight. But that’s where the parallels ended. Blessed with wide clavicles and slim hips, Anthony had one of the most aesthetic physiques of all time. Still, he never possessed enough mass or fine details to challenge the best Goliaths. Though Bonac has a less-than-ideal structure, he’s kept his waist slim as he’s piled on a remarkable amount of dense muscle and gone high-def. When he won the Prague Pro two weeks after the Olympia, he overtook everyone who finished above him at the O except the absent Phil Heath, setting himself up as a top contender for the Sandow in ’17.

MELVIN ANTHONY AGE

43 PRO WINS 3 YEARS AS PRO

11

PRO CONTESTS

36 230 HEIGHT 5'8"

WEIGHT

WILLIAM BONAC AGE

34 PRO WINS 6 YEARS AS PRO

5

25 232 HEIGHT 5'7"

WEIGHT

ROBERT REIFF; PER BERNAL

PRO CONTESTS


BY GREG MERRITT

MELVIN ANTHONY BEST POSE

FRONT LAT SPREAD STRENGTHS

BACK, SLIM WAIST

WORST POSE

SIDE TRICEPS WEAKNESSES

CALVES, ARMS

WILLIAM BONAC BEST POSE

WORST POSE

REAR DOUBLE BICEPS

SIDE TRICEPS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

QUADS, DELTOIDS

CHEST, HAMSTRINGS

ROBERT REIFF; PER BERNAL

United States Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation (All Periodicals Publications Except Requester Publications) 1. Publication Title: Flex. 2. Publication Number: 8750-8915. 3. Filing Date: 09/30/16. 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly except combined December/January & July/August issues each of which counts as two of twelve in an annual subscription. 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 12. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $42.97. 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: American Media Inc., Weider Publications LLC, 4 New York Plaza, 4th FL, New York, NY 10004. Contact Person: Steven Jacobs. 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: American Media, Inc., 1000 American Media Way, Boca Raton, FL 33464. Publisher: Chris Scardino, Weider Publications LLC, 4 New York Plaza, 4th FL, New York, NY 10004; Editor: Shawn Perine, Weider Publications LLC, 4 New York Plaza, 4th FL, New York, NY 10004; Managing Editor: Brian Good, Weider Publications, LLC, 4 New York Plaza, 4th FL, New York, NY, 10004. 10. Owner: American Media, Inc., 1000 American Media Way, Boca Raton, FL 334641000. >1% Shareholders of American Media, Inc.: Chatham Asset Management, 175 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 2210, Chicago, IL 60604; Omega Advisors, Inc., Wall St. Plaza, 88 Pine St., 31st FL, New York, NY 10005; David Pecker, 4 NY Plaza, New York, NY, 10004. 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or more of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities: Chatham Asset Management, 26 Main Street Suite 204, Chatham, NJ 07928; Omega Advisors, Inc., Wall St. Plaza 88 Pine St., 31st Fl, New York, NY 10005; Equity Group Investments, 2 North Riverside Plaza, Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60606; HPS Investment Partners LLC 40 West 57th Street, 27th Fl, New York, NY 10019; Apollo MAnagement LP 9 West 57th Street, 37th Fl, New York, NY 10019. 12. Tax Status (For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at nonprofit rates): N/A. 13. Publication Title: Flex. 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: September 16. Extent and Nature of Circulation: (I) (a) Total Number of Copies (Net press run): Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months: 81,915; (II) No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: 84,459. (b) Paid Circulation (By Mail and Outside the Mail): (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): (I) 32,537; (II) 23,003. (2) Mailed In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): (I) 0; (II) 0. (3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: (I) 12,297; (II) 11,770. (4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS (e.g. First-Class Mail): (I) 0; (II) 0. (c) Total Paid Distribution [Sum of 15b. (1), (2), (3), and (4)]: (I)44,834; (II) 34,773. (d) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail): (1) Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies Included on PS Form 3541: (I) 1,948; (II) 4,621. (2) Free or Nominal In-County Copies Included on PS Form 3541: (I) 0; (II) 0. (3) Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS (e.g. First-Class Mail): (I) 0; (II) 0. (4) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail (Carriers or other means): (I) 1,002; (II) 1,086. (e) Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (Sum of 15d. (1), (2), (3) and (4)): (I) 2,950; (II) 5,707. (f) Total Distribution (Sum of 15c. and 15e.): (I) 47,784; (II) 40,480. (g) Copies not Distributed: (I) 34,131; (II) 43,979. (h) Total (Sum of 15f. and g.): (I) 81,915; (II) 84,459. (i) Percent Paid (15c. Divided by 15f. Times 100): (I) 93.83%; (II)85.90%. 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership: December-16. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager, or Owner: Ephraim Brennan, VP Consumer Marketing. Date: September 30, 2016. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties). PS Form 3526, July 2014.

Flex (ISSN 8750-8915), Vol. 33 No. 11, is published monthly except for a combined July/August issue, which counts as two of twelve in an annual subscription by Weider Publications LLC., a division of American Media, Inc. 4 New York Plaza, 2nd Fl, New York, NY 10004. Periodical Rates Postage Paid at the New York, NY Post Office and at additional Mailing offices. Copyright © Weider Publications, LLC 2016. All rights reserved. Canada Post International Publications Mail Sale Agreement No. 40028566. Canadian B.N. 88746 5102 RT0001. All accepted materials submitted without restrictions become the sole property of Weider Publications, LLC. and shall constitute a grant to Weider Publications, LLC., to use name, likeness, story, and all other information submitted of the person submitting the same for any and all purposes and cannot be used without permission in writing from Weider Publications, LLC. Flex is not responsible for returning unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, letters or other materials. Weider Publications, LLC and American Media publisher of Flex, does not promote or endorse any of the products or services advertised by third-party advertisers in this publication. Nor does Weider Publications, LLC or American Media Inc, verify the accuracy of any claims made in conjunction with such advertisements. Copyrighted under the Universal Copyright Convention and International Copyright Convention. Copyright reserved under the Pan-American Copyright Convention. Todos derechos reservados segúin la convención Pan Americana de Propriedad Literaria Artística. Title trademark registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Subscription rate is $42.97 for (1yr) 12 issues in U.S.A. In Canada (1yr) 12 issues $59.97. Outside of U.S.A. and Canada (1yr) $91.97 U.S. Orders outside of U.S.A. must be prepaid in U.S. funds. For Customer Service and Back issues call toll-free (800) 340-8959 or write to: Flex, P.O. Box 37207, Boone, IA, 50037-0207. SUBSCRIBERS: If the postal service alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within one year. U.S. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS (See DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL and MILITARY FACILITIES send U.S. Address changes to: Flex, P.O. Box 37207, Boone, IA 50037-0207. CANADA POSTMASTER: Send address changes to American Media Inc, PO Box 907 STN Main, Markham, ON L3P 0A7, Canada. From time to time we make our subscriber list available to companies who sell goods and services by mail that we believe would interest our readers. If you would rather not receive such mailings, please send your current mailing label to: Flex, P.O. Box 37207, Boone, IA, 50037-0207. Reprinted by special agreement in Australia, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Holland, Italy, Greece, Romania, Russia, Spain, Germany and Bulgaria. Printed in the U.S.A.

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THE SHOT



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