Greene Screen

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



Brooklyn, NY, is a sea of white. Parked cars are entombed in nearly solid ice, sidewalks have been narrowed to one-lane slush-soaked pathways, and the sound of metal against asphalt rings through the neighborhood as the plows put up a fractious fight against the elements.

On this February morning, a few inches of fresh powder coat the streets, adding to the nearly two feet that had fallen in the city by mid-month. But despite the difficult conditions, Greene is undeterred. After a long consult over the phone with contest prep guru George Farah, who’s been working with Greene ever since the 2011 New York Pro, he heads out to Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym in Syosset—an hour drive from the city—for an appointment with the iron.

Greene has made his home in New York for decades, although it’s been far from a typical existence. At six, he became a ward of New York and found himself shuttling between various foster homes and institutions. Rudderless and without the nurturing attention of parents to guide him, Greene had to rely on his own instincts early on for survival.

As a teen, he found shelter and an inspiration in ’80s action movies and comic books. In an effort to emulate Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and other muscular heroes of that high testosterone era, he created a crude weight set out of buckets and broken pool cues and began building his own larger-than-life physique. That now he has the incredible array of tools at a bodybuilding palace like Bev’s would’ve seemed like pure movie fiction to him at that point.

From the beginning, traditional methods—largely unknown to Greene—never played a significant role. Unencumbered by the dictums of muscle-building science, he forged his own path, developing an unconventional style. His approach to bodybuilding, admittedly, may not work for anyone else on Earth. But it has transformed him, now evidenced by a decade-long pro career that includes 17 top-five finishes and eight total titles, including wins at the 2009 and 2010 Arnold Classic.


STAGE DIRECTION: 4-5 sets, 15-20 reps

Dialogue “It’s not always the case, but last time I trained biceps I started with a hammer curl. When I do hammers, I concentrate on contracting the bi’s, but I want the contraction to start in the brachioradialis (a strong elbow flexor within the forearm).”

Action To begin, Greene stands in front of the mirror, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing his sides. With deep focus, he breathes deeply and—with elbows firmly at each side—bends both arms to bring the dumbbells up in an arc to full elbow flexion. With the briefest of pauses at the top, he then lowers the weights in the same exact arc to the start and immediately repeats the sequence.

Alternate Ending As you reach failure, you can try squeezing out a few more reps by switching from lifting both weights simultaneously to alternating back and forth.

Deleted Scenes Greene will often substitute other exercises to lead of, including the reverse-grip barbell curl, which more heavily recruits the forearms.

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