Kai Greene's trainer Oscar Ardon talks about Greene's prep for the O
September 22, 2010
By Steve Downs
With Kai Greene just three days from taking the stage for prejudging at the 2010 Mr. Olympia in Las Vegas, his trainer/mentor Oscar Ardon sat down with flexonline.com to talk about his prized pupil’s conditioning and preparation, and Oscar’s prognostications on the 2010 Olympia outcome.
FLEX: With the Olympia days away, there are all kinds of numbers flying around as to what Kai is weighing and how heavy he’ll be when he takes the stage. What can you tell us about this?
OSCAR ARDON: The truth is, Kai is ready to step on stage now! He weighed in this morning at 277 pounds, and then stepped on the scale at 279 after a meal. He has paper-thin skin and is more shredded than he was at 255 pounds!
FLEX: So he’s actually heavier than he was a couple weeks ago when he was reported to be 274? How is this possible?
OA: He’s eating more food right now! For instance, today he had steak and three packets of grits for breakfast. For dinner last night he had one pound of fish and two cups of rice. For the last 10 weeks, he’s been eating eight meals a day. First meal is steak and grits. Second meal is orange roughy fish and baked potato. For his third meal he’ll eat more steak and fibrous carbs. After training he eats one lb. of flounder with two cups rice. Other meals are more protein and fibrous carbs. He’s been taking in 200 grams of carbs a day to support his training, mostly in two meals. Eating like this for the entire prep period got him to the point he is now his metabolism is racing. So for the last few weeks I had to cut back on cardio AND increase his food intake. His body dictates what I do.
FLEX: So the goal is to bring Kai in bigger and heavier than in 2009?
OA: The goal is not just to be bigger, but the best conditioned. And Kai’s actually getting bigger. He will walk on stage the biggest and most shredded he’s ever been. To win the Olympia, that’s what’s needed. I’ve heard some people say, “Kai is big and freaky, but Phil Heath has aesthetic, pretty muscles,” and that’s supposed to be his advantage. But the Olympia is not about pretty little bodies. If that were the case, Lee Labrada or Shawn Ray would have beaten Dorian Yates every time. But for the O, the winner has to be the biggest, hardest bodybuilder. Also symmetry and cuts and condition, yes, but with freaky mass. Phil is giving up 30 or 40 pounds to Kai, and Kai will be in his best condition ever. Last year Jay Cutler was around 255 pounds and Kai is an inch or two shorter and he’ll be much heavier than that. His waist is smaller and tighter, even though he’s bigger. This is the best training he’s ever had.
FLEX: The word on the street is that Kai is still using heavy lifting for his contest prep. Will this lead to him being blocky instead of symmetrical?
OA: There is a direct correlation between the weight you lift and the muscle mass you carry. And no one pushes more weight or works harder than Kai. His training has been so severe and intense that we had to cut back to four days a week for this Olympia prep. It worked for Arnold, Lee Haney and Dorian, so it must work for Kai. Go heavy and brutal on the basic barbell exercises.
FLEX: What kind of schedule has Kai been following?
OA: On Sunday he usually trains back, including heavy deadlifts, T-bar rows, chins, one-arm dumbbell rows and pulldowns. At the end of the session he’s lying on the floor in a bucket of sweat! Some people go to church on Sunday, but Kai goes to the gym! On Monday he’s off, just doing cardio and posing. Then Tuesday it’s chest and arms. He’s the thickest ever because this is heaviest weights he’s ever used in training. Kai actually benched 585 lbs. for four reps last week! That’s six plates on each side of the bar! He then stripped to five plates, then four plates, then three plates, hitting higher reps each time. Heavy incline presses come next, with 315 for high-rep sets. Then he’ll train arms with lighter weights. More isolation, aiming for 12-20 reps on every bi's and tri's exercises. Focus is on contraction; not much rest between sets. Moderately heavy weight feels heavy and hard if you’re doing it correctly.
Wednesday is a rest day because for chest and arms, as we do it, you need extra rest. The harder you train, the more rest you need. He has been training so hard he didn’t need as much cardio. Didn’t need to go five or six days a week with the weights either, or he’d break down muscle tissue.
On Thursday he hits shoulders and traps with heavy military presses, plus lots of dumbbell work on front, side and bent laterals. He presses 315 pounds overhead for reps until he can’t move, then after a short rest he does it again. He blasts his muscles on every set. For traps he’ll work set after set of heavy shrugs, plus bent-over shrugs for his mid-back trapezius thickness.
We hit legs on Friday. Kai squats 20 reps on every set. Starts with one plate, then two plates, three plates and four plates. Deep bucket squats. On his last few sets he’s squatting five plates for 20 reps! Then we do walking lunges on basketball court. His physique is so hard and ultra-muscular because he’s busting his ass every set.
Saturday is a complete rest day. We’ve been doing this the entire Olympia whole prep. Kai also does cardio and abs in a.m. He started at 15 minutes, then 30 later on, and finally 1 hr. per session. But the last two weeks I’ve had to cut him down on cardio because all his body fat was gone. Didn’t want to burn muscle tissue so we cut back. Had to cut back cardio so he could come in full and hard.
FLEX: Did you do anything different with Kai’s diet to support this heavy training right up to show week?
OA: The last two weeks have been a little unusual. Every training session became super-intense, but he was taking in just enough food to get through training and then have little recovery. He’s going on fumes. Eating a lot, but burning through all of it. Everything so precise at this stage. If I will err, I’ll err toward more recovery instead of overtraining. If we do things wrong he could lose muscle mass or hold water weight. And the wrong thing now would be to overdo cardio. So no cardio today or yesterday. He’s already ripped, so no need for cardio. Need to hold energy to train. Cardio has already done its job. His metabolism is up and body fat down.
Kai has also relied heavily on MuscleMeds supplements through his whole training cycle for the Olympia. During most of the contest prep, Kai used Code Red before every lifting session to keep his energy up and pump up his muscles and strength. He also coupled this with eNOXIDE, which is a nitric oxide pill that kept him pumped all day long. Because he was eating lots of fish for a good part of his prep, he took in lots of Carnivor beef protein shots to keep his beef protein content up. At only 200 calories for 50 grams of protein they fit perfectly into his diet. He also needed Methyl ARIMATEST and Hexaghen to keep his hormone levels up while training so severely and limiting food intake. This helped him maintain muscle mass while avoiding overtraining. And for the past six weeks he’s been using MethylBURN to keep his metabolism racing. He truly believes in MuscleMeds and uses these products every single day.
FLEX: How does Kai compare right now with last year’s Olympia or his other contests?
OA: People usually say Kai’s best conditioning was in 2009 for the Arnold. But two weeks before the show he was out in California prepping and he was severely overtrained, underfed and ready to lose it. When I got out there two weeks before the show he was big, but soft and flat. As soon as I looked at him I knew he was way overtrained, so I gave him two days of complete rest and let him eat anything he wanted (donuts, pasta, anything!). In two days he put on 12 lbs. just by just filling out. Then for two weeks we went crazy training and getting him ready. In just 12 days we got him in perfect shape and fine-tuned to win. So we learned then that because he is so totally committed he has tendency to overtrain.
That’s something we both know now that we also did while training for seven weeks in Vegas before the 2009 Olympia. Last year his legs looked weaker from the front than they should have because he trained legs the Monday of contest week. But whenever you train legs so close to a show, you attract water to your muscles, which obscures your definition. Looks like you’re carrying water not crisp and dry. This year, we did our last leg session early last week so his legs are fully recovered and will be totally dry.
FLEX: So Kai is ready to bring it to the stage on Friday night?
OA: This is the best prep we’ve ever had and he’s in his best shape ever. Kai is easy to work with because he’s committed. I say jump and he says “how high.” I ask him for input and I tell him what I’m doing to get good feedback from him. All of it works together diet, training, psychological, counseling, etc. Keep his mindset positive and strong. Can’t be a thought of doubt in his mind. Need to increase self-discipline every day.
I have never known anyone who wants anything so bad. He works harder than any bodybuilder I have ever seen. For Kai this victory means the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I know in heart of hearts no one trains like him 24 hours a day, he lives it. He wants to dominate the sport and leave a legacy. When I dry him out the last 24 hours you’re gonna see the craziest Mr. Olympia to every set on stage!
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