Greene Screen

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



One of the most compelling moments of the 2013 Mr. Olympia happened out of the audience’s earshot. During the Saturday evening finals of the Mr. Olympia, Kai Greene and Phil Heath—the latter on his way to his third straight Sandow, relegating the former to runner-up status for the second year in a row—had an exchange of words.

The tension between the two combatants had been mounting all weekend, sparked at the athlete’s press conference a couple of days prior. There, when the competitors were asked to sign the official contest poster, Greene put the black felt marker to the paper and after his signature, wrote “2013 Mr. Olympia.”

Heath silently fumed,

interpreting it as a sure sign of disrespect to the reigning champion. “He disrespected me by signing that poster as Mr. Olympia, and he’s been signing his autograph all weekend saying he’s the 2013 Mr. Olympia,” he told a Flex reporter after the show. “If I were to do that, people would say Phil Heath is cocky. When did I ever do that? I never signed Mr. Olympia until I was Mr. Olympia. I never touched a Sandow until I was able to touch my own. So that’s the respect I’ve had for this sport.”

Greene, however, is quick to shrug of any controversy. “Rivalry sells,” Greene says, chuckling.

While he claims not to remember the exact words exchanged on the Orleans arena stage, when it comes to the poster, he effusively denies any intended slight toward Heath. “No, no, not at all,” he says. “Signing the poster ‘Mr. Olympia 2013’ that day was not a knock on him. That was a person asserting where they were expecting to go. The truth is, the Mr. Olympia titles of 2011 and 2012, those belong to him. They’re his, he possesses them. But no one (had won the title) for 2013 yet. When I signed ‘Mr. Olympia 2013,’ no one owned that one yet, and I wanted it.”

The lesson he takes away from the beef with Heath? Don’t let a stressful situation get to you, and perhaps cause you to say something you shouldn’t. “Between the rigors of trying to be at your best, the travel to unfamiliar places, you need to maintain your responsibility to your sponsors and the fans,” he says. “You need to operate in a dignified way under challenging conditions.” FLEX


STAGE DIRECTION: 4 sets (each exercise), 8-20 reps

Action After adjusting an incline bench to about 45–60 degrees, Greene sits squarely, back against the bench and his feet fat on the floor. His arms start hanging straight down by his sides, holding the dumbbells with a palms-up grip. Keeping his shoulders back and upper arms in a fixed position perpendicular to the floor, he brings one dumbbell toward his shoulder, squeezes hard at the top, then returns to full stretch at the bottom while engaging the opposite arm. After up to 20 reps with each arm, he heads to the cable station. Attaching a long rope, he takes an end in each hand and faces away from the stack, bringing his elbows up alongside his head. Moving only his lower arms, he bends both elbows deeply, then engages his triceps—notably the long head—to straighten both arms overhead, repeating for up to 20 reps. alternate ending ❘ not getting enough out of these exercises? Slow down your reps, taking 4–6 seconds on the ascent and descent, flexing the working muscle hard all the way.

Deleted Scenes Carrying through his love of dumbbells, Greene will often turn to the two-hand overhead dumbbell extension instead of a rope or machine variation for the second half of this superset.


STAGE DIRECTION: 3 sets (each exercise), 15, 12, 10 reps

Dialogue “Finishing the workout with the close-grip bench press, my elbows and connective tissue are as warm as they’re gonna be. So I don’t have to move the whole gym to provide the appropriate stimulation to my triceps.”

Action For the machine curl, Greene tucks his voluminous upper arms against the pad and grasps the handles. In a smooth, powerful motion, he contracts his biceps forcefully to curl the handles as high as possible without allowing his elbows to disengage. He then straightens his arms under control and, before the weight stack touches down, begins the next rep. After finishing his set, he quickly switches to the bench press station, lying down with feet fat on the floor and the bar, on the supports, aligned with his mid chest. Grasping the barbell with an overhand, just inside-shoulder width grip, he lifts the bar to full elbow extension, then lowers it until it touches his pecs. His elbows bend and remain tucked to his sides, coiling up and then reacting powerfully as he pushes the bar back up toward the ceiling. His tri’s come into sharp relief at the top of each rep, then elongate, always under tension as he finishes up to 15 reps.

Alternate Ending Greene will sometimes add a fourth set “to saturate the biceps and triceps with blood.”