3 Rules Of Strength: Maximize Your Gains

Don’t overcomplicate strength training because a DVD said to. Harness the gains you seek with proven lifts and the principles of practice, efficiency, and intensity.

I coached high school football for a year after I graduated college. Working with teenage linebackers taught me to condense and convey information quickly because they could only handle so much at one time. Now, several years into my professional career, I find the same training rules apply to adults.

 

I give my clients one piece of information at a time, and only two or three coaching cues during a training session. The limited information keeps my trainees from overanalyzing, which subsequently improves their performance. The same is true for exercise selection. Rather than crowding a program
with excess miscellaneous, wonder exercises, I keep it simple and use 2-3 solid movements per session.

Cut what’s meaningless and keep what’s productive. That’s my program mantra. I used to overcomplicate and overanalyze every program I wrote, which was dumb. Instead of spending limited time on a thousand lifts, it’s better to build strength with the basics. That’s what I’m here to help you do.

Strength Made Simple ///

Practice, efficiency, and intensity are elements that build a strong human. Whether you’ve been a competing powerlifter since the 1980s or a desk jockey looking for manly time with the iron, using 2-3 concentrated movements per session will hit all three elements. Oh, and it gets you strong. Strong like if Godzilla and Sasquatch had a baby named Thunder.

1 / Practice

Most people don’t view gym time as practice, but that’s exactly what it is. People who achieve excellence aren’t born excellent. They achieve excellence because they do what they’re excellent at often. A terrific housepainter most likely got that way through painting a lot of houses. If you want to be a great squatter, do lots of squats.

2 / Efficiency

Efficiency comes from time spent training quality movements. Concentrate your focus on a few solid exercises and you’ll spend less time in the gym. To be strong you must put yourself in the best position possible to efficiently generate force. Finding the best position for your body requires countless reps.

3 / Intensity

Reps must be performed at varying intensities for the same exercise at different times within a training session for maximum results. You don’t have to move on to a random exercise. You can continue to focus on a lift that requires practice.

Take these three elements and apply them consistently to get big and strong. Forget “muscle confusion.” The body adapts with consistency, not randomness. Use the same lifts consistently and progress by building size and strength. Unless you’re in the midst of a seven-year plateau, training at maximum intensity, you don’t need a variety swing.

What Lifts Should You Perform? ///

It depends on what lifts you want to be good at and what lifts work well for your body. Luckily, there are movements faithfully devoted to the promotion of human strength. They should be familiar to you: squats, presses, deadlifts, and Olympic lifts.

When you determine what you want to master and what lifts don’t leave your frame in shambles, all that’s left is to combine the elements: practice, efficiency, intensity, and your chosen lifts. The result? A supernova of progressive strength and size gains!

(Note: If you’ve never had your movement assessed by a qualified strength coach, make it happen. It’s the most efficient way to discover what exercises work for you.)

Let’s get started with an example week.

Sample Training Week ///

Under the intensity column, you’ll see @6 or @8. This nomenclature is based on rate of perceived exertion, not percentages. @6 means the bar moves fast without maximal force. You will still apply maximal force, but you’ll choose weight that doesn’t require it for speed. @8 means you could complete 2-3 more reps with the given weight until failure, but won’t.

This is a snapshot of a program. It’s a Polaroid, not a movie showing full progression into and out of the program. Progression depends on your current needs and goals. It’s your job to determine those.

The program volume isn’t remarkable. In fact, it’s low because it doesn’t take lots of volume to get strong; it takes focused and intense volume.

Sweet Success

Summer is winding down, but these 16 must-see BodySpace members will keep your motivation burning hotter than ever. Get inspired to crush your goals and build your masterpiece phsyique!

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4 Ways To Harness The Fitness Benefits Of Horseback Riding

If you don’t think riding a horse can shape you up, you’ve probably never saddled up before. Try it and your own fitness will rise to thoroughbred status

As a horseback rider, I’ve heard those snarky comments about how riding isn’t really a workout and how the horse does all the work. But straddling a large, powerful animal with a mind and agenda of its own is a full-body workout that will engage muscles you didn’t know existed. There’s a reason guys check out female riders, and why women chase around those big buckles and denim backsides. Riders have swag.

Riding horses regularly will test your preconceived notions of fitness and strength. You’ll feel uncoordinated while you’re in the saddle and sore and tight after you’re done. This challenge isn’t a quest to make you feel inadequate; there are some serious benefits to gain from going out for a horseback ride through the hills. If you’re up to it, saddle up. Here are four fitness benefits to horseback riding!

Saddle Up For Fitness

Balance And Stability ///

If you’re out water skiing with friends, you don’t want to be that guy who face-plants in the water as soon as you say, “Hit it.” Stability is essential to transfer energy into effort for any activity, riding included.

When riding on an unstable “surface” like the back of a horse, balance is critical. It sounds pretty easy when the horse is hand-walked by your Uncle Jim, but it can get messy quickly when speed and maneuvers are added. If the horse dives left, you don’t dive left also, but stay upright to maintain balance. This may mean transferring your weight to the right to stay stable in the saddle. To make this even more difficult, your legs and arms must be free to cue the horse, and that’s impossible if they’re latched desperately around the horse’s belly and neck.

If you’re already experienced, try riding bareback, but not just to and from the pasture—actually work your horse bareback. You’ll be surprised how poor your balance is sans saddle. If you or the horse isn’t up for that, try some in-saddle exercises: While trotting, (this is the bouncy gait slightly faster than a walk), take your feet in and out of the stirrups. Without the stirrups, there is no crutch to keep you in place.

Horseback riding, expert level or no, can improve your balance. This will carry over to other areas of your fitness and life.

Coordination ///

First time riders quickly realize that riding is tougher than it looks. A lot needs to happen simultaneously to get a horse to pick up speed or even walk in a circle without wandering off. This requires coordinating leg pressure, rein pressure, and body position all at once. Try to rub your stomach, pat your head, and skip all at once and let me know how that goes. Similar chaos can happen on a horse.

Ride a couple hours per week to see improved coordination. You’ll be more aware of the movements needed to produce a desired result, like making the horse go left like you want it to. After awhile, you will master the simultaneous, but independent movement of your hands, body, and legs. This has great carryover to other sports.

Therapeutic riding programs for the sight-impaired have had a lot of success developing better coordination. Without the aid of a cane or other instrument to guide them, they learn to ride just by feel. This “feel” is the same type of coordination that separates the good athlete from thebest. If an athlete has great body awareness, their movements will be more automatic, quick, and effective.

Saddle Up For Fitness

Thighs Of Steel ///

Prepare for leg, core, and arm soreness after a day of riding. Unless you prop yourself up against the fence with your horse half-asleep, there is no passive sitting in this sport. There is just no way to ride unless you engage your legs, especially the adductors. A rider has to “squeeze” these muscles to stay put in the saddle. The core must also engage to protect the spine and keep the rider upright.

The quads, hamstrings, and glutes all support the work of the adductors. They are also involved with the forward, backward, and lateral leg movement used to cue the horse. The glutes flex and tighten when you roll your hips down and forward to cue the horse to stop. Keep riding and you’ll have a strong enough leg grip to straddle a jet ski or the mechanical bull at your friend’s 21st birthday party. You’re welcome.

Move into faster gaits and the jarring increases. To compensate and alleviate stress on the spine and hips, you flex. When the horse changes direction you’re forced to engage the obliques and transverse abdominals to stay upright. Driving your horse forward will tax the erector spinae and lats. If nothing else, hop on a horse to build a stronger back.

Believe it or not, riding can also help your physique. Muscle tone is created by constant tension, so the flexing and contracting you do while riding will help you look better. Outside of Hoss onGunsmoke, you don’t see many obese cowboys, do you?

Flexibility ///

Even if you can get away without stretching in your normal routine, you can’t hope to get on a horse without flexibility. If you have tight hamstrings or glutes, other areas might help compensate to get you through a squat, but there is nothing to help your hips, adductors, or hamstrings when you’re awkwardly straddled over a horse’s back. Sit in that position long enough and your flexibility will improve. Better flexibility means better range of motion, which equates to improved, heavier lifts. Your calves will also get a good stretch when you ride in the correct position: feet in line with the knee, heels down, back straight. Improved flexibility and reduced tension will lessen the chance of injury when you play a sport or lift.

Saddle Up For Fitness

More than anything, riding can help improve weaknesses. Whether the problem is coordination or flexibility, you’ll see progression and reap major benefits in sports, hobbies, and daily life. So saddle up!

6 Lessons From The Cage: How To Unleash Your Inner Animal

The Cage turns man into animal. This is what The Cage can teach you, straight from the beasts who have studied there.

Every year at the Arnold Fitness Expo, in the midst of free supplement samples and hordes of hungry fans, Animal rigs up The Cage. Twenty-feet wide by 80-feet long, The Cage is far more than a brand booth. It is a massive, chain-linked arena of iron inspiration. It’s hallowed ground for pro bodybuilders and elite powerlifters. It’s home to everyone who lives the Animal life.

The Cage is bigger than any single space or weekend, though. It’s the embodiment of an idea. It’s whatever place pushes you to become your biggest and best self. The Cage is your favorite squat rack. It’s the empty gym at five a.m., beckoning you. It’s a stack of cold 45s and the sweet sting of a barbell against your palm. It’s wherever you transform from man to Animal.

The Cage can teach you. The athletes who have lifted, lived, and competed there have learned its lessons well. This is the story of The Cage told by the beasts who know it best. Get ready to stack some weights and rattle some plates. Get ready to break out of the box and into The Cage.

Lesson 1 /// You Can Always Get Better

Richard “The Ant” Hawthorne, Powerlifter
“It was incredible to lift in such an electrifying oasis of a world that has otherwise been hidden from the public eye in The Cage. I’m proud to represent the world of powerlifting and what it actually stands for. No matter your size, age, gender, where you came from, or what you do, if you put in time in the gym, if you’ve busted your ass, then you can gain respect. Whether we lift in the gym, on the platform, or in The Cage, we are all on the same journey—the one where we envision the best version of ourselves.”

Lesson 2 /// Let Your Competition Drive You

Grant “Higa Monster” Higa
“Lifting in The Cage is bigger than anything I have ever done in my entire life. When I get invited to lift in The Cage, I always feel the pressure. Will I be able to ‘man up’ and have people talk about what I did in The Cage, or be just another guy who happened to be there? I want to be the guy who makes a statement so that fans will remember my lifts for years to come.”

Lesson 3 /// Use the Audience to Your Advantage

Garrett “Gunz” Griffin, Powerlifter
“For my event, I benched 550 pounds raw at 198 pounds. I honestly don’t remember anything after my lift. I remember getting off the bench thinking, ‘Did they touch the bar?’ It came up so easy. People started congratulating me. I had done it. I was on cloud nine. This lift wasn’t just for me. It was for all the Animal fans who came to watch me hit a personal best. They all believed in me. I just want to say thank you to Animal for making this lifter’s dream a reality.”

Ernie Lilliebridge Jr., Powerlifter
“The Cage has it all. It’s big, but it’s small, too. I could feel everyone’s energy and hear everyone cheering me on. I started with the empty bar and did 45-pound plate flips up to 650 pounds. Then I jumped to 700. Before my last attempt, I was very anxious to go for my PR attempt of 750 pounds. I knew for sure I was going to make it. There was no way I could miss with all that energy and everyone cheering me on. I had all eyes on me and I wasn’t going to disappoint.”

Lesson 4 /// Push Past Sticking Points

Eric Lilliebridge, WR-holding Powerlifter
“The energy and motivation that I felt in The Cage was nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I have been competing in powerlifting for nine years now, and doing up to five meets each year. To this day, I haven’t done a single competition that gave me the energy and focus that I got when lifting inside The Cage. It definitely brought out the best in me—in all of us. It showed through the numbers we put up. I hit a PR. This is what it’s like lifting in The Cage.”

Lesson 5 /// Never Give Up

Chase Browning, Animal Fan
“When I look back over the years, I often think about what has separated me from others who had the same goal as me. I’m not more talented. I’m not more gifted. I’m not special. When I run into people in the supermarket or at the movies, they will often say ‘Hey man, I saw your video with the Animal guys,’ or ‘Dude, you’ve blown up.’ These things are always followed by the exact same statement: ‘I wish I would have stuck with it.’ I never gave up.”

Garrett “Gunz” Griffin, Powerlifter
“Never stop pushing and working your ass off. People told me I was a powerlifter and I would never get a sponsor, let alone a major one. Well I proved everyone wrong and I will continue to do that. The Cage felt like home. I just can’t wait for 2014.”

Lesson 6 /// Embrace Camaraderie

Frank McGrath, IFBB Pro; Flex and Animal Athlete
“The Cage makes Animal what it is. What other company can bring together so many people together to tear shit up? What other company lets fans meet and train with pros like we’re all family? There’s no jealousy, no ego, and no hate. You just have good people from all walks of life and at every level pushing and supporting one another. You really don’t see this that much these days. Animal is the only company which makes this happen.”

Chase Browning, Animal Fan
“Animal embodies camaraderie. That’s something that’s hard to come by in this sport. Animal has found a way to bring athletes and people from all walks of life together. We’ve formed a brotherhood bound in iron. We train together. We break bread together. We build each other up. We mentor one another. We lift one another in triumph. When defeated, we pick each other up. Bottom line: Animal is a family.”

10 Rules For Ripped Abs!

Use these 10 abdominal truths to effectively burn fat, target your abs, and build a strong six-pack.

As a personal trainer, I’m constantly bombarded with questions about how to build six-pack abs. My clients want to know the best core exercises, what to eat, and how to train for best results.

To help you complete your own quest for a chiselled middle, I’ve gathered and answered my clients’ top 10 questions into one supercharged six-pack article. Start shredding!

1 / Are Crunches The Best Way To Get Ripped Abs?

No. Crunches work your abs, but there are more effective core-centric exercises. A study from San Diego State University showed that the vertical chair knee raise, for example, stimulates up to 210 percent more abdominal activity than a regular crunch!

Core muscles are also an integral part of deadlifts and squats, both of which are more effective than crunches. They also burn more calories, giving you extra bang for each rep you perform.

2 / How Should I Train For Maximum Fat Loss?

Go hard and go heavy. High-intensity exercise has been shown to stimulate lipolytic hormones, including growth hormone and epinephrine, which promote greater post-exercise energy expenditure and fat burning.1 This after-burn effect is associated with a boost in metabolism, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

High-volume, whole-body resistance training significantly elevates resting energy expenditure up to 72 hours after exercise in both trained and untrained subjects.2,3 In fact, a study from the National Taiwan Normal University found that EPOC after training with heavier weights—75 percent of one rep max (1RM)—is higher than after training with lighter weights at 50 percent of 1RM.

Basically, the heavier and harder you train in the gym, the more you burn when you’re done lifting.

3 / Why Is Stomach Fat So Hard To Lose?

Everyone’s different, but the stomach is generally the body’s favorite place to store and hold fat—even on a strict diet and fitness plan. When I was competing in bodybuilding, my lower abs were the last to appear before a show. Hormonal changes that result from lack of proper sleep, stress, and aging add more fat to your waistline.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a quick fix—it’s all about proper nutrition, consistent exercise, and overall caloric expenditure.

4 / How Long Will It Take To Get A Six-Pack?

This is probably the most common question we hear from our clients at CircuitFIT. There’s no sure-fire answer because so many factors are involved, including your current body fat, your fitness level, your exercise routine, your diet, stress, and your sleep duration and quality.

Regardless, you won’t build a six-pack overnight. You have to put in real work and give it time. Get a fitness and nutrition plan together and follow it consistently for at least 12 weeks before you expect to see noticeable results.

5 / What Should I Eat In Order To Get Ripped Abs?

Fewer carbohydrates and more protein! Stick to nutritious carbs like whole grains and vegetables, and make sure each meal or snack contains a lean protein source like chicken, fish, or non-fat Greek yogurt. Don’t be afraid of fat, however. Include good fats from fish, fish oil, nuts, olives and avocados in your diet.

I personally have 3-4 whole-food meals and 1-2 protein shakes per day. I have my shakes pre- and post-workout on training days. It’s all about choosing whole fruits and vegetables, and nutrient-dense, complex carbs. My diet includes whole eggsyams, Greek yogurt, fish, chicken,beef, nuts, olive oilalmond butter, fruits, vegetables, quinoa, and other nutritious grains.

6 / Can I Get Ripped By Taking A Supplement?

Remember that supplements need to supplement something. If you want to get ripped and build muscle, you have to get off your butt and do the work! I always recommend that my clients have a solid training and nutrition regimen in place before they add supplements to their programs. When you’re ready to add a fat-burning product, choose one with ingredients backed by published studies.

Caffeine, CH-19 Sweet Red Pepper Extract, and raspberry ketone are all backed by quality research. These are some of the ingredients we use in our PharmaFreak fat burner, Ripped Freak.

7 / Will I Be Able To Maintain My Results Once I Stop Using A Fat Burner?

Of course! As long as you continue to train hard and follow a solid nutrition plan, you’ll maintain your results sans supplements. Most people eat super clean and train harder than ever while taking supplements, but go back to their old, lazy ways once they stop. This leads to the dreaded “yo-yo syndrome,” which destroys hard-earned results. Consistency is the key.

8 / Is It Easier For Men Or Women To Get Ripped Abs?

In general, men can achieve six-pack status easier than women because they produce more testosterone, allowing them to build more muscle mass and burn more calories while exercising and resting.

Women have a harder time because of their hormonal and muscular makeup, which is one of the main reasons we emphasize compound—or functional—lifts with our female clients.

That said, the older we get, the harder it becomes for both sexes to get a six-pack. Our hormone levels naturally decline. However, research shows that strength training can increase lean muscle tissue and strength, which helps us stay ripped.

Pumping iron is the key. Proper nutrition and supplements can also help naturally raise key muscle-building and fat-burning hormones.

9 / What If You Don’t Want The Six-Pack, But Just A Flat Stomach?

Wait, who doesn’t want a six-pack? OK, even if you just want a flat stomach, I recommend you train your abs from all angles 3-5 times per week to build a strong core that not only looks good but also helps you perform better and stay injury-free. Check out my favorite abs exercises.

10 / What Are The Biggest Mistakes People Make When It Comes To Getting Flat Abs?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, when clients aren’t achieving desired results, they’re consuming too many calories, making bad food choices, or both. You can avoid this by tracking your progress. In addition to writing down reps and sets, keep a food journal. Documenting your daily progress is extremely valuable because it allows you to look back, review, and tweak your plan.

Everyone responds differently, so to determine what works best, get to know your body and listen to its feedback.

Fitness With Style: An Interview With WBFF Founder Paul Dillett

How did a former bodybuilder come to run a federation that’s built around the idea that bodybuilding is dead? We ask the man himself to explain.

It’s hard to miss them on the web: the racy shots of fit, beautiful hard-bodies rocking wild costumes that would look at home in New Orleans during Mardi Gras or Rio during Carnival.

These women are competing in shows presented by the WBFF, short for World Beauty Fitness and Fashion. They have the muscle and definition of ripped fitness models, but the theatricality, pounding music, and wild style of this competition make it clear that this isn’t a traditional figure show.

The male competitors look different, too. Sure, they’re jacked and cut to the bone, but even the largest of them has lean lines and proportionality that would leave them on the sidelines of a mass-to-the-max bodybuilding competition.

However, the founder of this series of physique contests is a former bodybuilder—and not just any bodybuilder, either. Paul Dillett was one of the biggest giants to tread the IFBB stage around the turn of the century.

So how did he find his way to promoting fit women wearing wings and tipping cowboy hats? To find out, Bodybuilding.com checked in with the big man himself.

Q

WBFF has a more dramatic, less hardcore look than the IFBB and NPC. But you were a mass monster in your day. What changed your preference?

I look nothing like those days. That was 80-90 pounds ago. It was a great time when I competed, because guys were actually friends with each other. That’s what made it so cool back then. Myself, Chris CormierFlex WheelerLee LabradaNasser El SonbatyDorian Yates—it was an amazing group of guys.

I look at bodybuilding today, and I can’t lie: It disappoints me. Back when I competed, guys still looked aesthetically pleasing. Even when the guys were big, they still looked incredible. Now, the bodybuilders just look like a bunch of powerlifters to me. They’re huge guys, but I don’t see any shape in any of them.

When the biggest guy gets rewarded, everyone else feels the need to get bigger too. Somewhere along the line, everyone forgot about symmetry and balance. Everyone is just going for mass, mass, mass. I was one of the guys who started the mass thing. I told people, “Mass is class.”

But, no matter how heavy I got, when I stepped on stage, I carried nothing more than a 30- or 31-inch waist. Today you can’t find that. Nobody has that flat stomach anymore. It looks like guys have abs on top of a basketball.

I think bodybuilding is dead. It’s nowhere nearly as popular as what it used to be in the ’80s and ’90s when it was at its peak. It was a different time.

What’s the new direction you’re trying to take with the men’s divisions of the WBFF?

For me, even though bodybuilding is dead, I know people still want to have a nice physique. They want to go into gyms, and they still want to have a great body.

I created a division called “muscle model,” which is a cross between a fitness model and a bodybuilder. Not big enough to be a bodybuilder, not small enough to be a fitness model, but he still has nice full pecs and a full back. I think “muscle model” fits him because he’s still a model, but he’s not a bodybuilder. When he lifts his arms up, he still has biceps.

There’s a market for the guys who like training, like working out, even like competing, but who don’t want to be a bodybuilder.

“Marketability” makes up almost half of your judging criteria. Explain what this means for your male competitors.

When a huge guy walks in the gym, you see the normal faces, and you see them whisper. When a guy walks in with a nice physique, you look at him. Girls look at him and go, “Wow,” and guys look at him say, “I’d like to have that physique.”

It’s attainable, but it’s also a sustainable physique. You can get that look naturally with proper nutrition. Yeah, you’re going to have to bust your ass; it’s not going to come easily, but it can be done. People look at the other guy and say it’s not attainable, it’s on another level. Either they just can’t get it, or they just don’t want it. The general public doesn’t want to be associated with it.

Look at baseball. Think of some of the great players who were so incredible, but because their name has been associated with steroids, all of a sudden their popularity has diminished. These guys were so beloved by people. What do you think is going to happen to a tiny thing like bodybuilding?

So are you saying you want to present physiques that people can “believe in” in some way?

Don’t get it twisted. I’m not a hypocrite. I love bodybuilding. I still admire all those guys, because I know they bust their ass. They’re so deep into something, they can’t turn back now. This is how they’re making a living. They don’t have a choice.

I am out of the game, and looking back at everything, I regret nothing. I loved the way I looked. I thought it was great. But, like anything else in life, you have to evolve. You have to change with the times. You have to give the fans and audiences what they’re looking for.

People want guys they can look at and feel like they can obtain that look naturally.

Do you think there is a major difference between North American styles of bodybuilding and how the sport works in other countries?

What I find in Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East, and South America is that the guys are not as big, but they have conditioning. Their posing is so dramatic. It’s still an art form. It’s completely different. Bodybuilding is still popular there. I find that in North America, and even certain parts of Europe like the UK, it has lost its luster.

[International competitors] have the tiny wasp waists and the washboard stomachs I wanted when I started out as a kid. If I could look like someone, those are the guys I’d want to look like. And this is coming from a guy who was one of the biggest bodybuilders of all time.

Your competitions have a couple of other unique divisions: “Diva” bikini and fitness models. How are these different from what we know?

I was competing during the inception of the figure category in the IFBB. Figure was brought in because the female bodybuilders transformed, and people were calling for change.

The girls who came were drop-dead gorgeous, with bodies women liked to have and men wanted to be with. That transformed, too, to where the figure girls started looking like bodybuilders. I didn’t want that in my federation.

The diva fitness model is more of an athletic woman, someone you would see in track and field, with long, lean muscle and a nice midsection.

The bikini model is just more toned. It can’t be a girl who just walked in off the street. You still have to work out, and you still have to show in your physique that you work out, but it’s a much more attainable look—a sexy look. It’s Victoria’s Secret meets fitness.

The WBFF looks at everything. We look at your physique, your face, your hair, the way you put on your makeup—every single thing. We ask, “Could this girl be on the cover? Could she be in an ad campaign for Nike or Reebok?” We judge the complete package of what we’re looking for.

You also have some specific requirements for tanning. Explain your philosophy there.

How many times have you heard a buddy at a contest say, “They look orange,” or “My God, they have mud all over them!” You go backstage and you don’t want them to come near you because your nice suit is going to be destroyed.

[A show tan] doesn’t look mainstream. The bodybuilding guys need to get nice and dark, but for modeling? I don’t get that. You look at Victoria’s Secret or Miss Universe, and all those girls have on a tan, but it’s a natural-looking tan. That’s what we go for. We don’t want that muddy, dark, orange look.

If Armani, Paul Mitchell, or companies like that look at those guys and girls, they’ll never give them a second chance. They’ll never see their potential.

What do you do if one of your pros shows up to a competition with a traditional spray tan?

I tell them to take a shower. At a show in Denmark, I told a girl, “You need to go right into that shower stall and shower that off. It looks horrible.” If you let it slide, another girl will try it, and the next thing you know, there are 20 girls on stage looking like that.

Our girls are just as beautiful as any Victoria’s Secret model out there who is making 5, 10, or 20 million per year. Why shouldn’t our girls get paid? That’s my goal. Let’s see what we can do for our girls.

I’m a dreamer. The world was built by dreamers. I was a kid who left Montreal to the United States and no one thought I would have made it, and I became one of the best bodybuilders of all time.

So why would I believe them when they tell me I’ll never get a fitness girl to make that kind of money. Why not? Fitness girls works just as hard as anyone else. Right now the sport is being led by women, not men.

So are they getting paid these big bucks?

We’re not there yet. This is just our sixth year. We’re still building and branding ourselves to where we can get in the position to create some of the financial opportunities for our people. We’ve been fortunate in the past that some of our people have earned great opportunities through being with us, but we still haven’t reached the pinnacle of where we want to be.

To get there, we have to create something that competes with Victoria’s Secret, Miss Universe, and Miss America, so that when these girls win, they are on national television and people are throwing opportunities at them. We want to see that for our guys and girls. I think it’s 100 percent possible, and I know it’s going to happen.

One thing that really separates the WBFF is costumes. What does that add to the extravaganza?

That’s the show. One of the biggest things about Victoria’s Secret it was that the show was so big. It wasn’t just their lingerie. It was the models, the costumes, the theme wear. It’s like a carnival. The costumes, colors, music, and excitement make the carnival great.

Say you have 100 beautiful women with incredible bodies. After the first 20 girls come out, all of a sudden you start going cross-eyed. Everyone looks the same. With the costumes, every time someone comes out you are blown away. Each one is better than the next. It’s excitement.

That’s what people want to see. They want to be wowed. Cirque du Soleil isn’t just a guy on a high-wire. It’s the production, the costumes. That’s what the WBFF is all about.

The Gods Of The Gym: 5 Inspirational Icons

Itching for a fight? Just start the ”greatest physique of all time” discussion. Here’s one athlete’s take. What’s yours?

A picture may be worth a thousand words outside of the gym, but in bodybuilding, a great physique shot speaks volumes. I’m talking about the legends, the guys who have honed their bodies into perfect fulfillments of human potential.

Here are my five top bodybuilding icons. They made their mark on stage and screen, but only after long years laboring in the gym. They are some of the most inspirational physiques this young sport has ever seen. Agree? Think I’m nuts? Make a case for your favorites in the comments!

1 / Sylvester Stallone

Proof that age is just a number, Stallone seems to have gotten better with age. Though he never competed in bodybuilding, Sly did train with SchwarzeneggerColumbu, and other greats. He not only developed a world-famous physique, he also maintained it, unlike many actors and actresses in the biz. He shows up stronger and leaner in almost every movie; in fact, some of his best performances have come past age 60. He inspires all those who share his lifelong passion for bodybuilding and fitness.

2 / Frank Zane

Zane, had that “classic” physique that is still the envy of guys today. He masterfully squeezed every bit of potential out of every body part to create the ultimate V-taper. A born competitor, he knew that just a pound or two of muscle in the right places creates an incredible image of size and strength. Unlike the modern mass monsters, Zane won the Olympia at under 200 pounds, using the power of aesthetics to win over the judges.

Even if you favor today’s bodybuilding behemoths—or even the thicker powerlifter look—you can’t help but respect Zane’s sharp physique and incredible longevity. He competed for over a decade after his Olympia days and still trains himself and others today.

3 / Serge Nubret

Renowned for his incredible shape and conditioning, Serge Nubret joined the pro ranks after just a few years of training. His famously long and brutal workouts called into the question that you can train “too much.” Whenever a newbie starts to worry about overtraining at four workouts per week, vets point to Serge. Yes, it’s smart to eat and rest to match your training, but Serge proved that your body really can adapt to almost anything if given the chance.

Arnold once said that Serge reminded him of a racehorse, because you could see his muscles rippling beneath his skin when he trained. His classical, symmetrical physique is an inspiration to those who want to look their best without becoming as massive as modern bodybuilders.

4 / Dorian Yates

Known for his tendency to show up, clean house, and then quickly disappear, “The Shadow” is in my opinion the most impressive Mr. Olympia to date. Bodybuilding took him off the streets of England and out of trouble—which doubtless played a part in his discreet show appearances and gritty persona. Though Lee Haney, the reigning champ prior to Dorian, was certainly huge, Yates took muscle mass to a whole new level. His brutal, heavy training style was a sight to behold, which is why his Blood and Guts training video, although 20 years old, still inspires budding bodybuilders to this day.

Yates also changed the game when it came to conditioning. Bodybuilders had always gotten ripped for shows, but Dorian popularized a level of leanness that judges had never seen before. His intense dedication was his secret. He rarely took time off and committed himself to meticulous, year-round clean eating. He ate few cheat meals and always tracked his calories and macros.

It’s hard to get big and lean at the same time, but Yates proved that it’s possible. It just takes devotion.

5 / Arnold Schwarzenegger

His humble beginnings in Austria and his success on and off the stage makes Schwarzenegger one of the most inspirational bodybuilders of all time. He is renowned for his obsessive, single-minded focus on training and competition—a dedication that would serve him in other facets of his life. Like other “golden era” bodybuilders, he ignored warnings about overtraining and hit the gym hard for up to five hours per day. You’ve got to admire anyone with the drive to train so much.

After a record seven Mr. Olympia wins, he took his talents—and his physique—to Hollywood, starring in one film after another. He also served two terms as California’s governor. Arnold is an incredible example of the drive and dedication. His willpower led him to great success in everything he tried.