When a 19-year-old Jay Cutler won the heavyweight class at the NPC Teen Nationals in 1993, Branch Warren took home the light-heavies and the overall. Three years later, Jay took his pro card on his first attempt at the 1996 NPC Nationals. He did it by besting a heavyweight class that included Tom Prince (second), Orville Burke (third), Bob Cicherillo (eighth), King Kamali (11th), and Bill Wilmore (13th). Willie Stalling won the light-heavyweight class and overall title that year (Dexter Jackson was sixth in Willie’s class).Bodybuilding glory didn’t come immediately for Cutler: He placed 12th in his pro debut at the 1998 Night of Champions (he would come back to win it in 2000); he was third at the 1999 Ironman Pro, and fourth at that year’s Arnold Classic (he’d win his first ASC in 2002 and take the Ironman title a year later); and in his Olympia debut in 1999, he was 14th (a year later he was eighth). But when he hit his stride, very few could hold their own against this mass monster. What Cutler might have given up to a few other competitors in aesthetics, he more than made up for with sheer mass and a seeming yardstick’s measure of width through his shoulders. Cutler’s physique literally crowded other competitors of the stage.
What a run it was. Consider a few of his many accomplishments on the bodybuilding stage: Jay has beaten two standing Mr. Olympias (Ronnie Coleman in 2007 and Dexter Jackson in 2009); he’s only the third Mr. Olympia to win the Sandow in non-consecutive years (2006–07 and then again in 2009–10); he’s the only man to regain the title the year after losing it; Cutler has won three Arnold Classics and eight other titles; and, arguably, Iron Jay should’ve won the 2001 Mr. Olympia. FLEX sat down to talk to Cutler about the evolution of his training through the years, about what changed, and what has stayed the same.
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FLEX: How did you get started in bodybuilding?
JAY CUTLER: I joined a gym on my 18th birthday, Aug. 3rd, 1991. My sister’s boyfriend used to collect bodybuilding magazines, and I started to pick up magazines with Chris Dickerson on the cover. These were older magazines that were lying around the house. I already had a muscular physique from working in the family concrete business, so I decided I wanted to take it a little further and try to look like the guys in the magazines.
Chris Dickerson? It wouldn’t seem that the sixth man to hold the Mr. Olympia (1982) title had much in common with the physique you would bring to the stage.
I remember his calves and the muscularity. I was picking up a magazine the year he was the man. It was kind of one of those things where, OK, this is the best guy. He’s winning the shows, so that’s what I wanted to look like. What my physique turned into isn’t necessarily how it started. I was pretty muscular growing up, but I wasn’t a freak. I had pretty decent lines. Eventually I got bigger and bigger and bigger and came to be considered more of a mass bodybuilder than an aesthetic one.
I was 16 years old when I picked up Bob Paris’ book, Beyond Built. That was the first book I’d ever read that I bought from the local GNC. Bob’s book was the one that taught me to do the exercises. In 2004 I wrote a book titled CEO Muscle, and I kind of followed Bob’s book as a guideline as far as how to show the exercises and group the body parts. I still have his book in my collection.
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