Classically Trained & Properly Fueled
Chris Nicoll

SIGNING A NEW SUPPLEMENT CONTRACT, PLAYING FRANK ZANE ON THE BIG SCREEN, PREPPING FOR THE DEBUT OF CLASSIC PHYSIQUE AT THE ARNOLD—ARASH RAHBAR HAS A LOT GOING ON THESE DAYS. HERE’S A SNAPSHOT OF THE WORKOUTS, DIET, AND SUPPLEMENT ROUTINE THAT HE SAYS WILL MAKE 2018 HIS BEST YEAR YET.

Arash Rahbar, one of the true superstars of the IFBB Pro League’s classic physique division, has put 2017 in his rearview. Not that it was a bad year—for just about any professional physique athlete, a fourth- place Olympia finish would be an undeniable success—but it wasn’t nearly as fruitful onstage as he believes it could have been.

“I feel I’m head and shoulders better this year than last year,” says Rahbar, speaking to FLEX in late October, roughly six weeks after the 2017 Olympia. If you’ll recall, he finished two places higher at the O in 2016, placing runner-up to Danny Hester. “I improved a lot as a bodybuilder. I brought up some weak  points, and I think I grew and developed considerably from 2016. That being said, I feel I had the tools to do better in ’17 than I did in ’16, but I just didn’t nail it on Friday. As everyone knows, bodybuilding is an art and a science. I can look back now and see the mistakes that were made during the week leading into the show, but at the time my coach and I didn’t realize it. I was flat and depleted. I didn’t come to life Friday morning for the competition. That’s it. In the days after, I just got better and better. It’s a classic ‘didn’t nail it on the day of the show’ type of deal. But you live and you learn, and I won’t make those mistakes again.”

And 2018 is even more promising. Three major developments have taken place recently in Rahbar’s professional life.

First, he gained an endorsement deal from Dymatize Nutrition.

Second, he landed the coveted role of the iconic Frank Zane in the upcoming film Bigger, which tells the stories of legendary fitness pioneers Joe and Ben Weider, creators of the fitness industry as we know it today. The release date for the movie has yet to be announced, but it could be in theaters in 2018. “I’m flattered and I’m honored to be a part of the first multimillion-dollar Hollywood production in our sport,” says Rahbar, who was set to film his parts as Zane the first week of November, only a week after his interview with FLEX. “Training- wise, I’m not doing anything crazy for the movie. I kept in shape, luckily, which is one of the reasons I landed the role. If I was full-blown huge and smooth in the off-season, there’s no chance.”

Third, there’s the Arnold Classic. For the first time, the prestigious show will be including classic physique. And for Rahbar, to compete or not to compete in Columbus was an easy decision.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he says. “Last year, I stepped off the Olympia stage, my left foot hit the ground, and I said, ‘I’m doing the Arnold.’ There was no Arnold. This year, same thing—but especially this year. For me, one word comes to mind: redemption. I’m not happy with the way I looked at the Olympia. Look, if I was at my best and I finished fourth, I’m in trouble. But I was nowhere near my best in 2017. I was way, way off. I was at 70 or 75%, and I got fourth place. So for me, the Arnold is redemption.”

And redemption starts with what Rahbar has already been doing for many years: hard and smart training, and proper nutrition and supplement intake. All three of these areas are addressed from Rahbar’s perspective on the following pages, including his highly intense, moderate-volume chest workout. He’s hoping 2018 will be a more successful year from a competitive standpoint, yet from a work standpoint it will be more of the same.

“For me, it’s never-ending,” says Rahbar. “I’m always trying to improve. I think I can get better and better in every department for 2018. I want to bring better conditioning, but the main thing for me is nailing it. The world has yet to see me at even 90%. I won Pittsburgh and New York and finished second at the Olympia in 2016, and I wouldn’t say I was 90% at any of those shows. And when I say ‘nail it,’ I mean hard, full, and dry. I have yet to show my best. I think if I come in at 90, 95% at the Arnold, I’ll have a very, very special look that will give anyone in the division a hard time. That’s my humble opinion.”

 

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Chris Nicoll

 RAHBAR’S GO-TO SUPPLEMENTS 

The Dymatize Nutrition products that help Rahbar craft his classic muscles.

In 2017, Arash Rahbar officially became a sponsored athlete for Dymatize Nutrition. Emphasis on “officially,” because for years prior he’d been taking Dymatize products with no affiliation, simply because he liked the supplements.

“First and foremost, I’ve been taking Dymatize’s whey protein since, I don’t know, probably my early 20s,” says the 37-year-old Long Island, NY, resident. “I wasn’t necessarily looking for a sponsor. Luckily, I’m not a starving artist, or a starving bodybuilder. Frankly, there are a lot of new supplement companies out there that don’t really rub me the right way. I wanted to feel confident in the quality of whatever products I was going to endorse, and I didn’t want it to be a case of me telling people I’m taking something I’m not taking. But I really do take the Dymatize products. They’re a great, great company. They’re very supportive of me, and I think we’re a really good fit together.”

Here, Rahbar offers a rundown of the specific Dymatize products he relies upon most for recovery, results, and maximum performance:

  • PRE W.O. PRE-WORKOUT: “I take the pre-workout year- round. I do one scoop now, but in contest prep I took 11⁄2 to two scoops before workouts.”
  • ISO100 100% WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE: “This is by far the best-tasting whey protein I’ve ever had. Usually, a rule of thumb for me is that high-quality protein doesn’t taste great. The ones that taste really good are concentrates, but they kind of bloat me and upset my stomach. But this is a hydrolyzed isolate and a whey isolate—that’s it. It tastes phenomenal. “It actually serves as a dessert for me. That’s how good it tastes. I make various desserts that I post on my Instagram. One of my favorites is ice cream—I make ice cream out of it with water and ice and cinnamon. “I’ll have a scoop or two of ISO100 after I train, and some- times I’ll have it as my last meal. If I have a sweet tooth, that’s pretty much my go-to. Also, when I do cream of rice or oatmeal, I’ll put the ISO100 in there after it cooks, and it’s insane. It tastes like a dessert or pudding. My favorite flavors are Peanut Butter, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Cinnamon Bun.”
  • AMINO PRO AND GLUTAMINE: “I take these two all the time. This morning I did cardio, and I had two scoops of glutamine plus two scoops of Amino Pro along with it.”
  • CREATINE: “I take creatine throughout the off-season but not leading up to a show.”
  • SUPERMULTI MULTIVITAMIN: “I take the SuperMulti daily with meals to make sure I’m getting all the micronutrients I need.”

 RAHBAR’S GO-TO FOODS 

How to eat like a classic physique athlete.

“What I eat changes from day to day,” Rahbar says. “I usually go higher carbs on back and leg days, because I want to improve those areas.” To get an idea of his favorite foods for building muscle and staying lean year-round, here are Rahbar’s main carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources:

  • PROTEINS: Egg whites, salmon, chicken, steak (lean cuts pre-contest, like hanger steak and 98% lean ground beef; fatty cuts off-season, like boneless short rib).
  • CARBS: White rice, sweet potatoes, cream of rice, oatmeal.
  • FATS: Salmon, fatty cuts of steak, nuts (cashew, almond, macadamia), nut butters.

 

 RAHBAR’S GO-TO CHEST WORKOUT 

  • Incline Dumbbell Press or Smith Machine Incline Press | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-12
  • Dumbbell Bench Press or Hammer Strength Press | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-12
  • Incline Dumbbell Flye | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-12
  • Cable Crossover or Dip | SETS: 3-4 | REPS: 8-12
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Chris Nicoll

SMITH MACHINE INCLINE PRESS

  • TARGET: Upper pecs.
  • DO IT: As your first main mass movement to prioritize upper chest thickness.
  • PERFORMANCE TIP: Keep your shoulders back and chest up to place maximum stress on the chest muscles.
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Chris Nicoll

FLAT-BENCH DUMBBELL PRESS

  • TARGET: Middle pecs.
  • DO IT: As your second main mass movement.
  • PERFORMANCE TIP: Slowly lower the dumbbells to just below shoulder height to give your pecs a full stretch, then press up to start position.

 

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Chris Nicoll

INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS

  • TARGET: Upper pecs.
  • DO IT: As your first main movement to prioritize upper- chest development. Alternate with Smith machine incline presses for added variety.
  • PERFORMANCE TIP: Squeeze your pecs hard at the top and hold for a one to two count.
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Chris Nicoll

 INCLINE DUMBBELL FLYE 

TARGET: Upper pecs.

DO IT: After your main mass-building movements.

PERFORMANCE TIP: Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the bottom of the movement to maximize the stretch on your pecs.

 

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Chris Nicoll

 DIP 

TARGET: Lower pecs.

DO IT: At the beginning of your chest workout or at the end. (See Bonus Tips.)

PERFORMANCE TIP: Lean forward to keep the stress on your chest.

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Chris Nicoll

 CABLE CROSSOVER 

TARGET: Overall chest.

DO IT: At the end of the workout to maximize the pump.

PERFORMANCE TIP: Visualize hitting a most- muscular pose and concentrate on squeezing the pecs.

 RAHBAR’S TRAINING SPLIT 

  • DAY 1 | CHEST
  • DAY 2 | BACK
  • DAY 3 | SHOULDERS
  • DAY 4 | ARMS
  • DAY 5 | LEGS
  • DAY 6 | REST OR CYCLE REPEATS

 BONUS TIPS

More training wisdom from the IFBB Pro League classic physique champ.

  • “My chest training is very straightforward, very intense, but basic. I don’t do a ton of volume.”
  • “Rather than stick with a certain number of sets and reps, I really train by feel nowadays.”
  • “Sometimes I implement techniques like dropsets and forced reps, which can take the reps higher.”
  • “I always start my chest workout with some mobility work for my shoulders as a warmup.”
  • “I usually just do three exercises for chest. If I feel like doing more, I’ll do cable crossovers or dips to finish. I sometimes do them at the beginning of my chest workout as a warmup instead of at the end.”

 FLEX