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There’s been a strange parallel between the careers of Phil Heath and Kai Greene. It started with their initial Pro League titles. Heath won the Colorado Pro in 2006, Greene in 2007. Much of the time since then they’ve been battling each other for top spots. They’ve finished one place apart six of the last nine times they’ve clashed. That includes the last two Olympias.
Familiarity has bred contempt, and bodybuilding’s ultimate rivalry has escalated via words as well as poses. But what is most compelling about their frequent duels is the sharp contrast between their physiques.
Strengths: Consistently crisp conditioning, aesthetic mass, triceps, deltoids
Weaknesses: Narrow clavicles, narrow lats
Best Pose: Rear double biceps
Worst Pose: Abs and thigh
Strengths: Freakish size, quad mass, and cross-striations, lat width, biceps, posing
Weaknesses: Inconsistent conditioning, waist/hip width
Best Pose: Rear lat spread
Worst Pose: Most muscular
Current and three-time Mr.Olympia PhilHeath represents, as he says, “freaky but pretty” —eye- grabbing size and details but in a proportional and pleasing package. Two-time Olympia runner-up Kai Greene is just plain humongous, especially when it comes to his lats and quads. “The Gif” has clearly found the winning formula. As he goes for his fourth-straight Sandow, his greatest enemy may be complacency. The world’s No. 1 bodybuilder needs to keep progressively expanding his musculature, especially when it comes to lat width, while he continues to maximize his cuts.
It’s been a frustrating four years for Greene, who beat Heath at the 2010 Arnold Classic, but has lost to him in seven straight contests since. He can’t turn back the clock, and at age 39 and at more than 270 pounds, the world’s No. 2 bodybuilder probably can’t dial in the extreme details he had when he was younger and smaller. But he needs to get some of those grooves back. He had a substantial size advantage last year, and yet he seemed to only slip further behind the champ. Muscle-wise, his shoulder complex (delts and traps) is the one place he can use more size.
Mostly, though, Greene just needs more fine lines. If he can come in as crisp as Heath and streamline his middle, he can use his breadth to great advantage. And then, assuming the current Mr. O is also on his game, this apple-or- orange contrast will truly be a judgment call at the 50th Mr. Olympia, as on Sept. 19–20, bodybuilding’s greatest rivalry heats up once again.