Real Deal Workouts

The training tenets that helped Chris Cormier finish second in the Arnold Classic for six straight years.
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Imagine being second best, over and over and over again. Tantalized but denied year after year, you’re going to almost, but not quite, fulfill your dream.

In the early ’90s, the Buffalo Bills fought their way through the AFC playoffs to the promised land of the Super Bowl only to get punked—for four straight years. Chris Cormier can top even that. He’s one of the most successful competitors in the history of the Arnold Classic. In his nine Arnolds, he never placed lower than fifth. He’s tied with Flex Wheeler for the most top-two finishes and one behind Dexter Jackson for top-three finishes. But those marks only highlight the depth of the Real Deal’s searing frustration, because Wheeler and Jackson are tied with each other for the most A.C. titles—four. Cormier has none. 

Let’s look at it another way. In the 25 Arnold Classics prior to this year, 16 men finished second. Of those, four did so multiple times. Three were runner-up twice, but two of those subsequently won the title, and the third is Phil Heath, who takes great consolation in his Sandow collection. Cormier is the odd man out. Not only is he the only person to be second more than twice and the only person to be second more than twice who never won, but he was also second a ludicrous six times. All in a row.

For six straight years from 2000 to 2005, he fended off all challengers—except one. For him, it was torturous. But, with time, we can place his achievement in perspective. Competitive bodybuilding is, first and foremost, about victories, but judging panels rank entrants from best to worst, and the Arnold trails only the Olympia for lineup quality. So let’s give only congratulations to Cormier and no condolences. A half-dozen consecutive runner-up finishes in bodybuilding’s No. 2 contest is a string of consistent excellence worthy of celebration. To honor it, we present the six training tenets that made Chris Cormier almost but not quite unbeatable for six straight Arnold Classics.

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