11. Sweat the Small stuff. Unlike most pro bodybuilders, Cutler schedules some forearm and ab sets into his routine, even during the off-season. Likewise, though he has two of the sport’s best calves, he trains his lower legs as hard as every other body part.
12. Eat, eat, and eat some more. When Cutler was a teen bodybuilder living in rural Massachusetts, he used to buy his beef by the cow, literally. He hit the 280 mark before his 20th birthday by training heavy and eating heavier. He’ll tell you that eating six or more high-protein meals daily isn’t something he enjoys, but frequent feedings have always been a necessary part of his growth plan.
13. Remain persistent. Five years—that’s how long he was the Mr. Olympia heir apparent. Cutler was runner-up a frustrating four times, every O he entered, from 2001 to 2005. A lot of pro bodybuilders rose and fell during that span. All the while, the three-time Arnold Classic champ stayed focus on his ultimate goal. He learned from mistakes and used each O loss as fuel for his next attempt. That’s why it was all that much sweeter when he did eventually best Coleman in 2006 to hold alof his first of four Sandows.
14. Don’t count reps. “How many did I get, Greg?” he would ask me repeatedly in the many workouts I observed through the years. He knew he was somewhere around the 10–12 range, but he wasn’t certain of the exact tally. Throughout each set, he focuses on his working muscles, because he believes that calculating reps is merely a distraction.
15. Work your warmups. Let’s get the terminology straight. Cutler refers to the lighter sets preceding his working sets as “feel sets,” not “warmups.” This is because he’s not merely going through the motion on those sets. Instead, he’s getting a feel for the weight, making certain his technique is on point, and monitoring his muscles to determine how hard he should push his working sets.
16. Heed the signs. Twenty years afer his first contest, at age 38, Cutler suffered his first major injury with last year’s biceps tear. One key to bodybuilding success is injury avoidance, and Cutler did this by rarely going less than 10 reps per set in recent years, utilizing feel sets to gauge his muscles’ abilities each workout, and working around small strains and pains.
17. Supplement strategically. Whey powders boosted his daily protein intake. Creatine and BCAAs powered him through workouts. Vitamins and minerals ensured that the salad-adverse Cutler had all the necessary micronutrients for recovery. Throughout his career he’s been on the cutting edge of sports nutrition.
18. Stick mostly to the 8–12 rep range. Until 2004, most of his sets were in the 8–10 range, and during his teenage years he often went even lower. But over the past eight years, he rarely strayed from the 10–12 range for big body parts. Arms and calves were mostly in the 12–15 range.
19. Learn from your peers. After he lost to Coleman at the 2003 Mr. Olympia, he began to adopt some of what made his rival’s workouts so successful— especially free-weight basics. Similarly, when Phil Heath was closing in on him and after he lost the Olympia title to Dexter Jackson in 2008, he employed Heath’s trainer/ nutritionist, Hany Rambod, and Rambod’s FST-7 system. Sometimes to be the best you have to beat the best at their own game.
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