Greene Screen

Mr. Olympia runner-up Kai Greene’s arm workout is like a Hollywood thriller—you never know what twist is coming next


We all know that giant robots

that can transform into cars aren’t arriving from space anytime soon. We also realize a cyborg that looks suspiciously like a former Mr. Olympia can’t time travel, that Leonardo DiCaprio can’t enter our brains to steal our thoughts, and that no one would really contemplate hanging out at James Franco’s house if the end of the world was truly upon us.

Yet, that doesn’t stop us from suspending our disbelief, at least for those two darkened hours in the theater. There, we dutifully follow the plot, empathize with the characters, and ride the roller coaster of emotion as our celluloid heroes battle to save the world.

Why can we relate? Scriptwriters know it as plausibility, the idea that the plot—no matter how fantastical the premise and storyline—has to contain at least a thread or two that anchors the characters and events to the real world. (Think Bruce Willis’ bloodied, glass-caked feet in Die Hard.)

So what then can we make of one of bodybuilding’s most eccentric characters? Because Kai Greene—he himself a star of the screen, one of seven IFBB pros featured in Vlad Yudin’s 2013 documentary Generation Iron— has a training approach that defies plausibility.

Greene will switch an exercise mid-set, recalculating his approach from moment to moment. Before legs, he’s been known to climb the StepMill for an hour, then start the session with calves before doing hamstrings and finally finishing with quads.

He’ll warm up his chest by supersetting it with back exercises, following incline bench with chinups and fat presses with bentover rows. He’ll blast his forearms before his biceps.

But here’s the twist: Despite his radically unorthodox approach that runs directly against many of the established maxims of exercise physiology, Greene has built the second-best bodybuilding physique on the planet, as deemed by the sport’s preeminent judging panel.

And his script isn’t complete yet. This two-time Mr. Olympia runner-up has not only defied plausibility throughout his decade-long pro career, he may just write the ultimate ending to his story in Las Vegas come this Sept. 20.

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