It wasn’t that long ago that Erik Fankhouser’s career was on the rise. He was featured on iconic ads and covers of magazines, had a loyal following, and even made it to the Olympia stage in 2010. Then out of nowhere he was gone. He disappeared from the entire bodybuilding scene, leaving many people wondering why the Wheeling, WV, native opted to go underground…literally. 

“I got a job in the coal mines. The money and insurance was good, and my family always comes first. I loved bodybuilding, but I had already reached a lot of goals I set for myself, so I was ready to do something else and take care of them.” 

While he was focused on climbing the ladder in his new career choice, the iron bug stayed with him and he trained whenever he could. He remained as dedicated as he could when opportunities presented themselves. “It’s very tough to eat every three hours because of what we’re doing but I stayed as disciplined as I could. I trained whenever I had days off or my schedule allowed it.” 

Now that he’s moving up in his company and his schedule is a little easier, the 2007 North American champion is scratching the itch that the iron bug causes. He’s recommitted to training and if every­ thing goes according to his plan, wants to get back onstage. 

“I love bodybuilding. I’ll always work in the mines. That’s my career and what I do to support the family, but my kids haven’t seen me compete and they are older now. They were both very young when I was onstage last. I want them to see me compete, and bodybuilding is a hobby for me. I enjoy it and want to get back onstage but I need to know I can prepare for it and pick the right show.”

As the Animal athlete makes this decision, he is contemplating more than the show. He’s also looking at another division. “I will never be 250 or 260 pounds like some of these guys. When I last competed, I was 228. I’m seriously thinking I could get down and compete in the 212 division. It would be great to get back onstage with those guys who are incredible bodybuilders and see where I can fit in. I think I could be competitive at 212.” 

Erik fankhouser hack squat
Pavel Ythjall


  • Leg Extension | SETS: 3 | REPS: 6-8
  • Squat | SETS: 3 | REPS: 8
  • Leg Press | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8
  • Lying Leg Curl | SETS: 3 | REPS: 8 
  • Straight-Leg Deadlift | SETS: 3 | REPS: 8 
  • Barbell Lunge | SETS: 3 | REPS: 8 
  • Single-Leg Extension | SETS: 3 | REPS: 20 
  • Leg Press Calf Press | SETS: 3 | REPS: 20 
  • Seated Calf Raise | SETS: 3 | REPS: 20

NOTE: Rest as long as you need to recover between sets.