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Off-season, Kai Greene looks like a 300-pound Michelin Man in red sweats and a red hoodie. Pre-contest, Greene looks like a 275-pound Michelin Man in red sweats and a red hoodie. But when the sweats come off, it’s pounds and pounds of ripped, grainy muscle. You’re left blinking—in the gym when he’s there, in the audience at the Olympia—

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left to wonder how a man has packed that much muscle onto a human frame, and doubting he can pack on more. But you know not to doubt Greene. He has a track record of proving doubters wrong.

Greene is one of the best bodybuilders in the world—there are those among his fans who would say the best. Guys like him and Phil Heath are the bodybuilders others compare themselves with. Yes, we all know Greene has a lower body like some Clydesdale monstrosity. We know he’s got the lowest lat tie-ins of any IFBB pro: From the rear Greene looks like he doesn’t have a waist. We know his arms achieved freak-a-mundo status long ago, with the wickedest peaks of any set of biceps.

But Greene also has pectorals few can hold their own against. When Greene turns to the side and hits a side chest shot, his pecs are bulbous and full. The pec farthest from you, the observer, ripples with striations. His upper chest resembles some kind of industrial shelving out of which his neck appears. It’s possible he possesses the best side chest shot in the sport today. How does Greene keep his chest growing and improving? Let’s take a look.


Monday is definitely not national bench-press day in Kai Greene’s world. If you want to begin to understand Greene’s mental focus, forget national or world views; think in terms of the galactic and universal, of oceanic consciousness. No two workouts are alike. Greene might go into the gym thinking he’s going to train chest and when he gets out on the floor he’ll realize he’s meant to do something else that day.

It’s equally impossible to nail him down on a general chest workout, since the exercises, the order in which they’re performed, and the number of reps and sets is constantly changing. Maybe he can tell you what he did in his last chest workout; there aren’t a lot of straight answers with Greene. Most of the explanation is going to be about his mental state and how he hopes other weight trainers are thinking and little to none of the usual nuts-and-bolts, three-sets-of-10 palaver.

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If there’s no regularity to his usual weight-training sessions, his warmups are a bit more predictable. He’ll start out on the stepper, working his massive thighs and glutes up and down, shifting his upper body into it, getting the blood coursing through veins, arteries, and capillaries. He’s keeping quiet and getting into his zone mentally.

Greene will perform a variety of exercises as part of his warmup: dumbbell pullovers, upright rows, chins, fiyes, the rear delt machine. Whichever he chooses and in whatever order, these are light, pumping movements. Greene goes through the range of motion. If this is a day he’s training chest, he’s paying special attention to his shoulders and elbows. Greene’s warmup alone would see a lot of people in the gym calling it a day and going home satisfied.

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Greene is known for doing some exotic exercises in the gym: Have you ever seen another pro do Jefferson lifts, Zercher deadlifts, or Zottman curls? Still, there are movements Greene favors and returns to regularly, and his chest is no exception.


4-5 sets, 4-12

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Greene will tell you emphatically that he is not and will “never be a weightlifter;” that he’s not concerned with the amount of weight he’s pushing and only wants to feel the muscle work and connect with it in his head, heart, and soul. And then you’ll see him regularly bench-pressing four plates with a perfect range of motion. His hands are spaced kind of wide actually. If he narrowed them he’d incorporate more triceps, thereby pushing more weight or getting more reps.

The bar is bending under those four 45-pounders on either side, and Greene is getting 8 reps a set, sometimes more. He’s been known to throw on five plates and, with the same perfect form, get 4 or more reps. Sometimes he doesn’t get his due, and Greene himself plays it down, but he’s one of the strongest IFBB pros on the circuit.


3-5 sets, 3-12 reps

Again, whether it’s his first exercise in that day’s chest routine or the last, whether he performs this movement with a barbell or dumbbells, Greene’s form is impeccable. He lowers the bar to his chest. Think about that: He doesn’t stop when his upper arms are parallel to the ground or when the bar is three inches from his chest. He’ll handle four plates regularly on this exercise for 6 or more reps and we’ve probably all seen him doing five plates for a triple in his FLEXonline.com video.

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Greene’s nostrils fare as he pushes out these reps, his face the only visible feature amid the red hoodie and sweats. Sweats that are starting to live up to their name now and cling to his enormous upper body as he perspires like some 300-pound sprinkler system. Work written on his features as he methodically—nearly robotically—presses out rep after rep.

Greene is no

Chest routine
stranger to incorporating dropsets on his barbell inclines or fat bench presses: There’s enough rest between sets to strip one plate from either side of the bar and then he’s back at it; then another plate gets removed and he’s pumping out reps; then another. Remember, the weight might be getting lighter, but if anything it’s feeling heavier to his taxed muscles. Yet Greene presses on, knowing he’s stimulating growth. Muscle hypertrophy is the name of this game.


3-5 sets, 8-15 reps

These will be performed on an incline or a fat bench. Sometimes Greene does them after pressing movements; other times between pressing exercises; still other workouts he’ll open with flyes to pre-exhaust his chest. He’ll go for greater reps as he stretches and squeezes his pectorals with this exercise, or maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll grab a big-ass pair of dumbbells, toss them up into position as he throws himself back onto the padding, and crank out a set of relatively-low reps for him, which will be around 8.

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3-5 sets, 12-20 reps

Greene knows he can torture his chest with this exercise—the stretch when the handles are out away from the body, the contraction when they’re brought down in front. He’ll vary the positions of the cable from workout to workout or even from set to set: high, bringing the handles out in front of his face; low, bringing them up to his forehead or higher.

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