In a sport consumed with size and showmanship, Troy Alves is proof positive that less can definitely be more. Don't get us wrong; Troy ain't exactly small. But since turning pro in 2002 at 222 pounds, he has added only 5-6 pounds of contest weight while still managing to get better every year. And he's no bore onstage, either, although you're more likely to see him striking graceful poses to classic ballads than riding the pony to an ear-battering house mix. Troy, 40, is a refreshing throwback to the days when balance and symmetry were still on par with muscularity in this sport. When he's posing onstage, you hear words thrown around such as graceful, elegant, flowing and magnificent that seem a stark contrast to the aggressive, alpha-male roots of bodybuilding. In a sport usually lacking in prose, Troy Alves is pure poetry.


Troy nearly wrote his last bodybuilding stanza early in 2006. He started the year off well, taking third place for the second straight year at the Ironman Pro in February. He slipped to 10th place in a stacked lineup at the Arnold Classic but quickly dove into contest prep for the Colorado Pro in May. Yet things didn't work out quite the way he had hoped.

"I was ready to retire after Colorado," he admits, having finished in eighth place due to some last-minute mistakes in his diet. "[m&f and flex Group Editorial Director] Peter McGough saw me 48 hours before the contest and said I looked right on target. But I carbed up on rice cakes and completely flattened out. I ended up looking really small."

The thought of walking away from a chosen sport has to cross any competitor's mind after months of hardcore training and dietary deprivation. Yet it weighed more heavily on Troy, who wondered whether it was less about his carb-loading snafu and more about Father Time catching up to him. But after taking some time off from the gym, he felt rejuvenated and ready to train for his next contest: the 2006 Mr. Olympia. After all, 40 is the new 20.


After missing the 2005 Olympia due to multiple hernia surgeries, Troy was eager to get back to Sin City in 2006 for his sport's biggest night. A student of the "train smarter, not heavier" school of lifting, Troy took to the task of eliminating perceived weaknesses in his physique. For years, judges had made Troy's hind parts the subject of much debate, explaining away some of his lower placings with what they called a "lack of striations in the glutes and hamstrings." He laughed at their fascination with his cheeks but still dialed them in to match the quality of the rest of his streamlined physique.

In Troy that weekend, a vocally appreciative crowd saw a man with no perceptible flaws. His back double-biceps was one of the most memorable of the competition. Troy believed he was in the best shape of his career, and while many thought he was headed for the top 10 – something he cites as his only long-term ambition in bodybuilding – the judges relegated him to 15th.

"I showed them what they wanted – great ham separation, lines in my glutes, one of the best backs in the show," he said. "But I didn't get any respect for that. I'm very honest with myself; at the Colorado, I knew I was eighth. This time, I was definitely good enough to get in the money."

But after the O, there was no lingering self-doubt about his capabilities in the sport. If anything, his placing bolstered his confidence in his longevity.

"Since I came in looking better than I ever have, I felt good about what I brought to the stage," he said. "I enjoy competing and could probably do so at a high level until I'm 45 or 50. There's so much fan support for more symmetrical physiques, I believe sooner or later the judges won't have a choice – they'll have to place me higher."

With newly crowned Mr. O Jay Cutler weighing in nearly 25 pounds lighter than his predecessor Ronnie Coleman, perhaps the 2006 show was a sign of things to come. Will V-tapered, small-waisted X-men such as Troy get a better shake at the world's most-coveted physique title in the near future? That, friends, would be poetic justice. M&F

Birthdate: Sept. 26, 1966
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Current residence: Glendale, Arizona
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 228 pounds contest, 245 pounds off-season
Family status: Married to Tara; daughter Devinie, 20
Career highlights: 2006: Ironman Pro, 3rd. 2005: Ironman Pro, 3rd; Arnold Classic, 8th. 2003: Mr. Olympia, 8th
To contact:


Day Bodyparts Trained
1 Quads
2 Chest (a.m.), triceps (p.m.)
3 Hamstrings (a.m.), shoulders (p.m.)
4 Back (a.m.), biceps (p.m.)
5 Quads, hamstrings
6 Chest
7 Off

Off-season, Troy does three 30-minute treadmill sessions per week. Precontest, he'll increase or decrease the number of sessions depending on how lean he is from dieting. Troy works abs and calves twice per week at his discretion and trains traps with back. He never trains forearms specifically.


Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Extension1 42 20
Leg Press 4 10-12
Dumbbell Step-Up 4 10-12
Leg Curl 4 10-12

1 Troy always performs leg extensions first in his workout to pre-exhaust his quads.
2 Preceded by 1-2 warm-up sets with lighter weight.

By Troy Alves

1 Be honest with yourself when evaluating your leg development. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your legs and create your training plan from that analysis. Always aim for balance between your quads and hamstrings.

2 Always warm up properly, especially if you've had knee or back problems. I do about five minutes on a stationary bike and follow that with high reps on the leg extension to get a lot of blood flowing to the muscles. This helps reduce the risk of injury and gets my muscles ready to work.

3 Use at least one compound movement, such as squats or leg presses, in your leg routine. People who like to rely on leg extensions and leg curls won't experience much leg development. Barbell squats are great for overall mass, but they aren't ideal for everyone. Try to find the mass-builder that gives you the best results.

4 Make sure you get adequate rest between hard leg workouts. If you go into your next heavy leg workout too sore or fatigued, you might feel a bit weaker and can get hurt. Listen to your body. For most people, 3-4 days between leg workouts should be the minimum.

5 Occasionally incorporate unilateral moves like step-ups, single-leg presses and single-leg curls into your program to minimize muscular imbalances and keep up the strength gains in each leg. Try an all-unilateral leg workout every 4-6 weeks or so.

6 Make sure you're not doing the same thing over and over. If you keep your program the same, your progress will stall. Constantly vary your rep ranges, intensity levels and exercise selection – even if you swap out just one move – to shock your muscles.


LEG EXTENSION Targets: Quads
Start: Sit in a leg extension machine so the backs of your thighs are in full contact with the seat and your back is fully supported. Place your shins behind the resistance pad. Your knees should hang just off the end of the seat, forming a 90-degree angle.
Execution: Grasp the handles, inhale deeply and contract your quads against the resistance until your knees are fully extended. Exhale as you pass the midpoint, hold the peak contraction and slowly lower back to the start.
Troy's Tip: "I like to do these first in my routine so my quads fatigue first on the multijoint exercises that follow."
Advanced Technique: After reaching failure on your last set, reduce the weight by one plate and work your way down the stack, stopping only to reduce the weight and performing as many reps as possible at each level.

Targets: Quads, glutes, hamstrings
Start: Sit in a leg press machine with your back and hips against the pads, and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform. Grasp the handles and press through your heels to release the safeties. Your knees should be slightly bent at the start of the movement.
Execution: Inhale and slowly lower the weight until your knees form 90-degree angles. Pause briefly before forcefully pressing the weight back up through your heels, exhaling as you pass the midpoint of the lift.

Troy's Tip: "I vary my foot position to emphasize different areas – higher on the platform to activate a little more of the hamstrings and glutes, feet together and low to hit the teardrop, and in the middle of the platform for overall quad-riceps stimulation."
Advanced Technique: Troy suggests trying his extended sets of 90 reps, varying your foot placement between narrow, wide and high on the platform. Rest 2-3 minutes between each of your 3-4 sets.

Targets: Quads, glutes, hamstrings
Start: Grasp a dumbbell and stand in front of a stable bench, box or platform. With your eyes forward and back straight, step up onto the platform using the leg that's on the same side as the dumbbell. Bend your working leg about 90 degrees; if needed, grasp a nearby stable object for balance.
Execution: Press hard through the platform to raise your body, bringing your trailing leg up so you're standing with one foot on the bench. Step back down with your nonworking leg first, bringing both feet to the floor. Your working leg should only lightly tap the floor before starting the next rep; don't bounce or use momentum. Do all reps on one side before switching legs.
Troy's Tip: "Keep the dumbbell on the same side as the working leg to maximize tension on that side." Advanced Technique: Hold a dumbbell in each hand as you perform the step-up. You can alternate legs on each rep or do all reps for one side before switching legs.

Targets: Hamstrings
Start: Lie facedown on a leg curl machine with your knees just past the end of the bench. The resistance rollers should be adjusted so they rest against the backs of your ankles. Grasp the handles and inhale deeply.
Execution: Keeping your torso still, contract your hamstrings to bring the rollers toward your glutes, exhaling as you pass the midpoint of the move. Squeeze your hams hard at the top of the movement and slowly reverse direction back to the starting position.
Troy's Tip: "Pointing my toes out (as shown) helps me focus on my glute-ham tie-in and outer hamstrings. Keeping your toes straight is good for overall hamstring work, and pointing your toes in hits the inner hamstrings."
Advanced Technique: Perform these in "21s" fashion, doing seven reps through the bottom half of the range of motion, seven through the top half and then seven full reps.