Exclusive online analysis of the Arnold Classic Competitors

April 14, 2008

by Peter McGough


In the May issue of FLEX, we devote 13 pages to coverage of the Arnold Classic. As an added bonus to that section, we bring you exclusive online commentary from FLEX Group Editorial Director Peter McGough in this analysis of each of the 15 competitors who took the stage in Columbus, Ohio on March 2. In the order they appeared, a shorthand guide to the physiques of the men who competed at the 2008 Arnold Classic.

*Each photo leads to the individual’s gallery.


United States, 14TH
>>AGE: 30 >>HEIGHT: 5’10”
>>WEIGHT: 245 pounds

This rookie made his pro debut at the Ironman two weeks previously. He immediately attracted attention with the size of his baseball biceps, but an instant later came the realization that he was soft and lacking detail and, therefore, he wouldn’t be in contention.Bulk up Your Biceps by FLEX’s Training Guide.


Spain, 5TH
>>AGE: 32 >>HEIGHT: 5’5″
>>WEIGHT: 222 pounds

Harder and drier than at the Ironman, where he had been disappointed with his condition. But with the extra tightness, he had forfeited some fullness, which made his trunk look a little shallow in some upper–body shots (e.g., less–than–full lats when hitting front double biceps). His waist (which has a propensity to billow) was much better. He has nailed dryness and hardness; now, he just needs to get a little fuller.Transform Your Upper Body.


3684 United States, 12TH
>>AGE: 33 >>HEIGHT: 5’5″
>>WEIGHT: 205 pounds

Seems to have lost his way a little this year after a breakthrough 10th at the Olympia. Usually one of the sharpest guys in any contest, he was, by his own standards, off—a situation not helped by a pale–ish coloring.Understand the Basic Bodybuilding Philosophies.


3692 New Zealand, 11TH
>>AGE: 35 >>HEIGHT: 5’10”
>>WEIGHT: 236 pounds

Improved remarkably in hardness to finish third at the Ironman, a placing I think was too much of a reward. On this occasion, things returned to normal. Still a great year for him, and his classy physique will be seen at the Olympia.Transform Your Metabolic Rate for a Body Boost.

Scroll through the page to view Toney Freeman to Ronny Rockell.

*Each photo leads to the individual’s gallery.

April 14, 2008



United States, 7TH
>>AGE: 41 >>HEIGHT: 6’2″
>>WEIGHT: 280 pounds

Better than at the Ironman, but not as good as he was when finishing third in this contest last year. Still possesses great frame and proportions, but now has to etch in the detail again, particularly from the back. Chest seems to be suffering more and more from a long–standing injury, but in the evening he gave an entertaining and refreshingly new posing routine.Strengthen Your Back with FLEX’s Workout.


United States, 9TH
>>AGE: 37 >>HEIGHT: 5’8″
>>WEIGHT: 235 pounds

Traps, delts and pecs are massive and eye–catching, but certain structural hurdles (wide hips combined with lack of thigh sweep) dilute the head–to–toe impact. Hams and glutes were soft (which unfortunately have become thumbs–up–or–down factors in modern bodybuilding), but his most–muscular was one of the best of the day.Gain Chiseled Hams and Glutes.


3688 Puerto Rico, 6TH
>>AGE: 35 >>HEIGHT: 5’8″
>>WEIGHT: 245 pounds

A bit like Johnnie Jackson in that his upper body is loaded with oodles of dense muscle. His midsection is better but can still improve, and again—like Jackson—his hams and glutes were soft. Would jump even higher with the overall leg development he had back in 2004 and ’05. Discover the Best Ways to Build Your Upper Body.


3686 United States, 10TH
>>AGE: 33 >>HEIGHT: 6′
>>WEIGHT: 260 pounds

Was tighter than at the Ironman, but I felt he came in a little too streamlined. Even his mighty thighs weren’t as humongous as we’ve seen them. Hamstring striations were unreal and his biceps were outstanding, but he needs a lot more back thickness, particularly in the upper lats. Grow Your Overall Thickness.


Germany, 13TH
>>AGE: 35 >>HEIGHT: 5’6″
>>WEIGHT: 230 pounds

As always, exhibits great shape, but wasn’t in the shape we’ve come to expect. Lacked his usual hardness and detail from the front—particularly in the thighs—and was off from the back.Watch Your Eating Habits with FLEX’s Nutrition Guide.

Adorthus Cherry to Branch Warren are showcased below.

*Each photo leads to the individual’s gallery.

April 14, 2008



United States, 15TH
>>AGE: 35 >>HEIGHT: 5’8″
>>WEIGHT: 230 pounds

Making his pro debut at the Arnold Classic (a unique feat), Cherry wasn’t as sharp as he was when winning the heavyweight division at the 2007 NPC Nationals, and, although relegated to the role of spectator for long periods, he and his family seemed to thoroughly enjoy the whole experience.Get Back to the Basics Bench Press-Style.


United States, 1ST
>>AGE: 38 >>HEIGHT: 5’6″
>>WEIGHT: 232 pounds

This was Dexter Jackson in his best-ever shape; it represented the step forward in progress he had to make after several years of being merely excellent. The big change was how full he was, which, allied to his arid and hard condition, made his cuts even deeper and more prominent, particularly in the hams. He states he was seven pounds heavier than at the 2007 Olympia. The Blade was sliced, diced and served as dry as a bone. In 2003, I had predicted an “on” Jackson could be Mr. Olympia, so if he repeats this form, the competitor who started as a 154–pound bantamweight could make this September’s Olympia really interesting. Continue reading for FLEX’s advice on Growing to Your Potential.


United States, 2ND
>>AGE: 28 >>HEIGHT: 5’9″
>>WEIGHT: 235 pounds

Although he came up against a best–ever Dexter Jackson, it’s clear that with the right flight plan, Heath has the potential to overtake this year’s Arnold champ. The 15 quality pound gains he has made since last year were impressive, giving him greater width across the shoulder girdle, and his back is much wider and thicker—his back double biceps was the best in the show. But he still needs to replicate the teak–hard condition he brought to battle in his pro debut at the 2006 Colorado Pro. Plus, he needs to build more size and density in the chest, and chisel himself a set of washboard abs. If he pulls all that off, the Olympia is waiting for him. Challenge yourself with FLEX’s workout for Read Phil Heath’s Secrets for Training.


United States, 4TH
>>AGE: 33 >>HEIGHT: 5’7″
>>WEIGHT: 240 pounds

The Wheel Deal inspires empathy with his blue–collar work–ethic credentials, so it was good to see him back in the fray when some quarters were of the opinion he would struggle in this contest. He was hard and full and packed a ton of Texas beef on his 5’7″ frame. Legs—thighs and hams—were, of course, showstoppers, and he was the crowd favorite. His cuts could be a tad deeper, but this is the best we’ve ever seen Warren. Whip Your Hams in Shape.

Finishing the show were Melvin Anthony and Kai Greene.

*Each photo leads to the individual’s gallery.

April 14, 2008



United States, 8TH
>>AGE: 38 >>HEIGHT: 5’8″
>>WEIGHT: 240 pounds

The Marvelous One was not in the form he was in when he finished sixth at last year’s Olympia, but it’s hard to resist the thought that he was overpenalized for the shortfall. By his own standards, he wasn’t sharp enough—although, quirkily, that didn’t apply to his front thighs—which made him appear overdepleted. On the plus side, his biceps and chest were outstanding, and he knows exactly what he has to do to retain his Olympia ranking.Gain Control in All Your Moves.


3690 United States, 3RD
>>AGE: 32 >>HEIGHT: 5’8″
>>WEIGHT: 255 pounds

From his manner, dress, grooming, choice of posing music and execution of said posing, Greene is probably the most avant–garde top–class bodybuilder the sport has seen, which is great: we need more characters in the sport. After two years as an also–ran pro, he was the breakout athlete of 2007 in winning the Colorado Pro show. At the time, he was 230 pounds; at the Arnold, he claimed he was 25 pounds heavier. He is an amalgam of freaky bodyparts looking for a set of tie–ins. His hamstrings are otherworldly; his back is batlike; his thighs are cartoonlike; his calves and biceps are unique configurations. But there are structural anomalies—a high waist and wide–ish hips, for instance. Overall he reminds me of a Coen brothers movie: fascinating to watch but I’m not always sure what the hell is going on. Yes, Greene is an interesting fellow who brings an audience to life. Let’s see what Pandora’s box of tricks he has for the Olympia.Become a Lifting Superpower.

For the record, here’s how I had the top six:
1 Dexter Jackson
2 Phil Heath
3 Branch Warren
4 Kai Greene
5 Gustavo Badell
6 Silvio Samuel

Apart from Badell, all the top six were arguably in their best–ever shape, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pro contest when that accolade applied to five of the top six competitors. FLEX