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I Am Not a Weight Lifter

Kai Greene’s chest is in for a galactic pec pounding
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THE LOOK

Off-season, Kai Greene looks like a 300-pound Michelin Man in red sweats and a red hoodie. Pre-contest, Greene looks like a 275-pound Michelin Man in red sweats and a red hoodie. But when the sweats come off, it’s pounds and pounds of ripped, grainy muscle. You’re left blinking—in the gym when he’s there, in the audience at the Olympia—left to wonder how a man has packed that much muscle onto a human frame, and doubting he can pack on more. But you know not to doubt Greene. He has a track record of proving doubters wrong.

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Greene is one of the best bodybuilders in the world—there are those among his fans who would say the best. Guys like him and Phil Heath are the bodybuilders others compare themselves with. Yes, we all know Greene has a lower body like some Clydesdale monstrosity. We know he’s got the lowest lat tie-ins of any IFBB pro: From the rear Greene looks like he doesn’t have a waist. We know his arms achieved freak-a-mundo status long ago, with the wickedest peaks of any set of biceps.

But Greene also has pectorals few can hold their own against. When Greene turns to the side and hits a side chest shot, his pecs are bulbous and full. The pec farthest from you, the observer, ripples with striations. His upper chest resembles some kind of industrial shelving out of which his neck appears. It’s possible he possesses the best side chest shot in the sport today. How does Greene keep his chest growing and improving? Let’s take a look.

INSTINCTIVE TO THE NINTH DEGREE

Monday is definitely not national bench-press day in Kai Greene’s world. If you want to begin to understand Greene’s mental focus, forget national or world views; think in terms of the galactic and universal, of oceanic consciousness. No two workouts are alike. Greene might go into the gym thinking he’s going to train chest and when he gets out on the floor he’ll realize he’s meant to do something else that day.

It’s equally impossible to nail him down on a general chest workout, since the exercises, the order in which they’re performed, and the number of reps and sets is constantly changing. Maybe he can tell you what he did in his last chest workout; there aren’t a lot of straight answers with Greene. Most of the explanation is going to be about his mental state and how he hopes other weight trainers are thinking and little to none of the usual nuts-and-bolts, three-sets-of-10 palaver.

THE WARMUP

If there’s no regularity to his usual weight-training sessions, his warmups are a bit more predictable. He’ll start out on the stepper, working his massive thighs and glutes up and down, shifting his upper body into it, getting the blood coursing through veins, arteries, and capillaries. He’s keeping quiet and getting into his zone mentally.

Greene will perform a variety of exercises as part of his warmup: dumbbell pullovers, upright rows, chins, fiyes, the rear delt machine. Whichever he chooses and in whatever order, these are light, pumping movements. Greene goes through the range of motion. If this is a day he’s training chest, he’s paying special attention to his shoulders and elbows. Greene’s warmup alone would see a lot of people in the gym calling it a day and going home satisfied.

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