Shawn Rhoden’s social media feeds often contain inspirational sayings like, “Live each day to the fullest—no regrets, no could’ve, should’ve. In the end when your story is written, let it be known you did with all you got.”
If you’re the least bit cynical, you might roll your eyes at such phrases and wait until some juicier piece of training advice comes along. However, if you’ve ever spoken to Rhoden at a bodybuilding expo or after a guest posing at a local show, you’ll see that his entire attitude and the way he lives his life closely align with those motivational sayings.
Rhoden’s meteoric rise from making IFBB pro in 2009 to placing top three at the 2012 Mr. Olympia in just three short years should be testament enough to that fact. Once he sets his mind to something, it’ll happen. This philosophy has allowed him to transform his physique in just a few short years.
OPINIONS THAT MATTER
Great bodybuilders possess a special combination of good genetics and a strong work ethic. Not only does Rhoden have both, he was fortunate enough to pick soccer as his first sport at the tender age of 5 in his native Jamaica. Having three brothers who also played soccer competitively made it even easier for him to continue to play up until college. He attributes much of his leg shape and strength to his years on the soccer field and kicking the ball around the yard with his brothers. Although his legs have always been a standout body part, Rhoden continues refining their shape and size every year.
It’s next to impossible to perform an honest assessment of one’s own physique. Like most pro bodybuilders, Rhoden relies on the professional critique of those who’ve been in the sport a long time. “I can only take myself so far,” he says. "For me to make it to where I need to be, I need to surround myself with people who know how to do that.”
Rhoden’s first real mentor was Washington, D.C.–area promoter and former IFBB Masters Mr. Universe Yohnnie Shambourger, whom he met in 1992, the same year Rhoden began bodybuilding. Shambourger’s initial guidance on training and diet took Rhoden from 155 pounds to 260. And not long after turning pro, he was lucky enough to spend a lot of quality time with Ronnie Coleman, who provided the type of feedback only an eight-time Olympia winner can offer.
His current trainer, Charles Glass, crafts Rhoden’s workouts depending on how he looks that week and month. Seemingly a glutton for punishment (as you’ll see by his workout), Rhoden declares, “Training by yourself, you don’t push yourself. Now, every day I’m challenged by Charles. I defer to Charles with regard to training.”
The pace and schedule of 2012 just about killed all of Rhoden’s motivation. Competing in seven shows along with traveling to guest posings all in one season is almost unheard of among pros, who know that adequate rest and recovery are vital to placing high in a contest. He also split his time between living in D.C. and Florida.
Rhoden has vowed to never again compete as much as he did in 2012. However, 2012 was also the year he made a name for himself and placed third at the Mr. Olympia, so he felt it was worth the effort. But third place still stung after all that work. Instead of becoming bitter, though, he regrouped. “I forgot about everything that happened in 2012. I read what the critics said, I listened to judges, and then I went back to the drawing board. You can’t take everything to heart, but you can use it to get better.”
Whereas he never used to take time of, his nutritionist, Chris Aceto, insisted he take a few months to step completely away from the gym. It was the first time in years he’d done so, and it clearly paid dividends: He came back heavier and in better shape in 2013, starting the season at a leaner 265 pounds.
NO EASY LEG DAY
Don’t hate Rhoden when he says his legs grow easily. Everyone has a strong body part, and legs are his. He needs to ensure that his routine doesn’t result in legs that overpower his upper body, but he still needs to refine their shape.
Rhoden never trains quads and hamstrings on the same day. He always wants to fully concentrate on the muscle he’s training.
Let’s get into his workout and see the method behind the madness.
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