With the right plan and the right discipline, you can get seriously shredded in just 28 days.Read article
James Edward Peña did his best to make the morning of Tuesday, June 19, 2007, the same as any other morning. He awoke, as always, at 4:45 a.m., had a cup of black coffee, read from his Bible and ate breakfast. This morning, however, couldn't help but be different. Jimmy, who holds the title of fitness director at Muscle & Fitness, ate four rice cakes, four potatoes and half the pizza left over from the night before instead of his usual two servings of oatmeal and 20 grams of whey protein powder. He had also spent the night in a hotel in Las Vegas, not his condominium in Los Angeles. And on this particular occasion, his Bible reading was specific to what he was to undertake that afternoon. 1 Samuel 17:49, the story of David and Goliath: And David put his hand in his bag, and took out a stone and slang it, and it struck the Philistine on his forehead, then the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.
Nor were the early morning hours of June 19 particularly eventful for Jay Cutler. He awoke in his 5,500-square-foot home in Las Vegas at 6 a.m., took his dogs outside, did cardio for 20 minutes and had breakfast. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But then again, the only thing special about this particular Tuesday for Jay compared to any other day he would encounter in the next 14 weeks was a training session and photo shoot with m&f. The idea of the story was for an average Joe to train with the world's best bodybuilder and have a miserable experience: to vomit midworkout, to quit the session early, to more or less have Jay mop the floor with his poor, exhausted body.
Only Jimmy, who circled the date on his calendar months in advance, would prove to be no average Joe. He had prepared himself both physically and mentally for the potential onslaught in the weeks leading up to the workout, not to mention he had been training intensely for 17 years now.
m&f shoots aside, Jay had an important date of his own circled on his calendar: Sept. 29, 2007, the day that he will, for the first time, defend his title as Mr. Olympia. He had placed second to Ronnie Coleman four out of five years before finally breaking through and winning in 2006.
Jay planned to compete in the Mr. O at a bodyweight of around 270 pounds. Fourteen weeks out, he was on track to achieve that, weighing 295 pounds on the day of the shoot.
STAND & DELIVER
Jimmy, all 168 pounds of him, arrived at Gold's Gym on Sahara Avenue, north of the Las Vegas Strip, at 9 a.m. for the 11 o'clock session.
"No one gives me a chance at all to last, and that's what has been motivating me," he said as he waited for Jay to arrive at Gold's. "It's just like I read this morning: Goliath laughed at David just like everyone has been laughing at me. And make no mistake, my Goliath is not Jay Cutler. My Goliath is to still be standing at the end of this workout."
Two hours later, it was hard not to notice how big the wheels on Jay Cutler's black 2006 Porsche Cayenne were when he pulled into the parking lot at Gold's. The 23-inch black rims practically made the SUV look like a four-door sedan. You couldn't overlook the size of Jay's wheels, either. They were enormous, way larger than 23 inches.
With pleasantries out of the way, warm-ups commenced, Jimmy on a stationary bike and Jay with leg extensions. The first exercise of the workout, barbell squats, would leave no room for cold muscles.
Jay alternates every week between back and front squats, and this was his week to do fronts, while Jimmy did the opposite. Both did two warm-up sets with 135 pounds. Jay did his sets with 10-pound plates under his heels.
"Any time you jack your heels with something, you get more sweep to the outer thighs," Jay said. "I've actually had greater leg development this year, which people will see at the Olympia."
From there, the duo each did 225 pounds for 11 reps for their first working set. Jay's form was strict, coming parallel to the floor and keeping his back flat as a board. On their last sets, Jay went up to 365 for 10 tough yet controlled reps. Jimmy went up to 275 and did 10 reps, more or less reaching failure by the end as Jay spotted. Between sets, they rested only as long as it took them to change the weight on the bar. And because it was just three sets into what would be a long, voluminous training session, neither of the two looked all that tired yet.
Wide-eyed and obviously impressed, Jimmy laughed at the warm-up set Jay did with 12 45-pound plates, six on each side, for 15 reps of leg presses, their second exercise. "Wow, that's a warmup?" he asked. Jimmy started off with six plates for the same number of reps.
Jay's first working set of leg presses was with 16 plates. He did 18 reps, lowering the weight until his knees formed 90-degree angles with his toes pointed out slightly.
"I prefer high reps on these—anywhere between 15 and 20," Jay said.
"With this exercise I'm going for shape and trying to hit the outer thighs with the toes pointed out."
Jimmy went up to 12 plates and got 20 reps, two more than Jay, pushing the last few up and cringing as he did so.
"Was that 20?" Jay asked, adding in his deadpan style of humor, "Pussy. You coulda done 21."
On their last two sets of leg presses, Jay went up to 20 plates and did 18, then 17 reps, while Jimmy went to 16 plates and did 15, grunting and moaning as Jay helped him get three forced reps. Jimmy really looked to be in pain at this point, but he didn't hesitate to move directly to the next exercise: walking lunges, outdoors.
BRING THE HEAT
"You really going outside?" someone asked.
"F— yeah," Jay said.
That same someone thought he felt a cool breeze as he opened the door to an empty blacktop lot behind Gold's. But it wasn't a breeze; it was the air conditioning escaping from inside.
"There's nothing cool about Vegas," Jay said. It must've been 105 degrees F.
Jay did his first set with 135 pounds. He lunged, taking small, quick steps, from the side of the gym to a small brick wall about 30 yards away, 26 steps total. When he reached the wall, he dropped the bar behind him and the plates hit the pavement with a thud.
"What weight do you want?" Jay asked Jimmy, who pointed down and said simply, "It's on the bar."
Jimmy did his set, lunging back the opposite direction with longer, more cautious steps. He reached the wall of the gym in 20 steps, dropped the weight and hunched over.
Jay added two more plates to the bar and again lunged quickly to the brick wall. He dropped the 225 pounds behind him and it made an even louder crash than before. Jimmy stuck with 135 pounds and lunged back. His grimacing face showed signs of an awful struggle, but he talked himself through the set, saying "All day long" over and over.
"The second set's easier," Jay said.
It was hard to tell whether he was joking.
Jay did 225 pounds again, stepping off another 26 paces but not counting. When he arrived at the brick wall and dropped the weight, Jimmy was ready to go heavier. He asked for 225, even though he had struggled with 135.
"You're gonna f—ing die," Jay remarked. Jimmy settled on 185 pounds, and managed to lunge 185 in the same manner he did 135. He was in pain once again, but he was battling, again talking to himself as he stepped off his last few reps.
"Puke! Puke!" Jay said jokingly.
Next was hack squats. On his first set, Jay did eight plates for 12 reps, going as low as possible, almost to where his glutes touched the platform. Jimmy started with four plates and did 10 reps.
"Go deep," Jay said to Jimmy when he didn't go low enough early in his first set. From then on, Jimmy went down as far as he could, often bottoming out the machine with a loud bang. At one point, Jimmy paused ever so briefly between reps. "Don't wait—go, go, go!" Jay yelled out.
Jay did his last set—12 plates, 10 reps—with his eyes closed, presumably by accident but maybe because he was visualizing how his quads will look onstage in late September. Jimmy did a demanding set of 10 with six plates with Jay's help, grunting loudly.
"Good spot," Jimmy said to Jay.
"I didn't help at all," Jay said. "You must've taken your zinc this morning."
After quad training, Jay and Jimmy moved on to hamstrings. They did seated hamstring curls, lying leg curls, romanian deadlifts and then finished off with two sets of wide-stance leg presses. Jimmy looked strong, doing drop sets on each of his last two sets of seated and lying leg curls, while Jay stuck to straight sets so as not to burn out his legs too much, especially with the high level of volume he was doing. After all, this was the day Jimmy had circled on his calendar, while Jay's contest was still months away.
By their last set of deadlifts, Jimmy was using the same weight as Jay, 275 pounds—an impressive weight on romanians, especially at a bodyweight of 168 pounds. "Come on, Jimmy, we're on the tail end now," Jay said in the middle of Jimmy's set.
"All day long," Jimmy said.
"What do you think of Jimmy?" someone asked Jay.
"He's hangin'," Jay said.
The leg presses at the end were almost an afterthought. They placed their feet high and wide on the platform to de-emphasize involvement of the quads, and went deep to stretch the glutes and hams for two sets. And just like that, the workout was over.
"You survived," Jay said to Jimmy.
"Fun stuff, great day," Jimmy responded.
"It just proves I need to toughen up a bit," Jay said jokingly.
As Jimmy drove back home to California that afternoon, he received an e-mail from Jay on his BlackBerry:
"My legs are dead. How are you driving home, bro?"
Jimmy responded: "Cramping. Good thing I don't have a standard transmission. And I'm hungry, too."
Rumbling stomach and quaking legs aside, Jimmy's Goliath was slain. Mr. Olympia's was next. M&F