There’s something about coming within a hair’s breadth of death that makes one appreciate life that much more, even if one’s life at the time revolves around lifting weights and eating chicken breasts. Roelly Winklaar’s motorcycle accident in February 2014—just one week before the Arnold Classic—forced Winklaar out of that contest, which he was a favorite to win.
Winklaar had a phenomenal 2013, both personally and professionally. He moved back to his birthplace, the tropical paradise of Curaçao to live closer to his family. He won the IFBB Wings of Strength 2013 Chicago Pro. He starred in Generation Iron, attended the red carpet premier in Los Angeles, and shortly thereafter placed seventh at the 2013 Mr. Olympia, his best showing there to date. However, all those accomplishments couldn’t quickly repair the torn hole behind his meniscus or heal the burned flesh from his accident. For that he needed to revamp his training quickly in order to compete at the 2014 Wings of Strength Chicago Pro.
If you’ve watched Winklaar’s training videos on FLEXonline.com you’ll notice that he remains fairly impassive no matter what the workout. His mind is clearly one of his strongest assets in the gym. That mindset came in handy during his recovery, which was done in tandem with his dieting for the Chicago Pro show. One of his recovery secrets is that he walked daily into the ocean, using the saltwater to heal his wounds and clean his back. Winklaar nonchalantly tells me, “Yeah, it hurt pretty bad, but that’s what you have to do to if you want to be the best.”
NO TALKING IN THE GYM
Winklaar often trains with his younger brother, IFBB pro bodybuilder Quincy. Winklaar decided to do his own training and nutrition in 2013. “It’s hard to do it all yourself,” he said. “I know how my body responds, and I know how to train, but I don’t always follow my own advice. I think it’s better to have someone show you these things.” Whereas his training sessions previously might have lasted anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours, he’s trimmed them down to a mere 30–45 minutes per workout. The trick is that he now does the whole workout with very little rest between sets, somewhere on the order of 30–60 seconds. “It’s really hard. You breathe hard, you can’t talk. As soon as one of us is done with a set, the other one goes right away,” Winklaar says. Not only were his old workouts long, he also hit the gym twice a day. On back day he used to train upper back in the morning and lower back later in the day. Those splits are a thing of the past. He goes in with a routine on paper and knocks it out in less than an hour. And the results speak for themselves.
BACK TO REALITY
“In reality, I was wasting a lot of time in the gym,” Winklaar admits. “I am just as strong now, just as big, and I have a lot more time to enjoy life with my family and kids.” He usually alternates between doing a back routine twice a week: one for width, and one for thickness. When I caught up with him after he won the Wings of Strength Chicago Pro, he had been doing back once a week since his accident. He walked me through the workout.
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