Shawn Rhoden: A Game of Thrones

Here, Flexatron reveals his strategies to upset bodybuilding's king on this year's Olympia stage


He already did the unprecedented. When he finished third in the Olympia last year, Shawn Rhoden became the first competitor to ever land in bodybuilding’s ruling triumvirate after placing out of the top 10 the year before. By comparison, if he climbs the final two rungs to victory this year it will not even be unusual. Four of the last seven Mr. Olympia’s have bounded from third or lower to first in single giant leaps. That foursome includes Rhoden’s sponsor, Ronnie Coleman, who hopped the highest— ninth to first—and two men, Lee Haney and Dexter Jackson, who preceded Rhoden’s dream voyage by going from the three spot to the top spot over a span of 12 months.Rhoden is not heir apparent to Phil Heath’s throne. Last year’s runner-up, Kai Greene, currently occupies that position. And there are two vanquished kings, Jay Cutler and Dexter Jackson, looking to regain what was once theirs. But Flexatron may occupy the strongest space from which to mount a challenge—far enough away to avoid most of the slings and arrows but close enough to overwhelm his foes without resorting to a risky surprise attack. The shock came last year. It’ll be an upset—but not a stunning one— if Rhoden defeats Heath and Greene (and Cutler and Jackson) to become bodybuilding’s 14th Mr. Olympia this year. He’s well aware that the pair who bested him in 2012 carried more armor, and he’s determined to match them shot for shot. As he prepares to battle on Sept. 27–28, we break down the strategies Shawn Rhoden is employing to muscle up and secure bodybuilding’s throne.