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You have been able to pack on some significant size and still maintain a V taper. Do you see yourself going any higher or have you hit a comfortable plateau? Some bodybuilders go as high as 300 pounds in the off-season. Do you think that all of them need to get that heavy?

I will put on all of the size that I can but also be careful to continue to keep my V taper. This may be tricky because that is one of my best points and I can’t play around with it. But that’s what makes it interesting. I learn more and more every day working with Hany, and both of us have been right on top of making sure we do this properly.

It’s good if you can get up to 300 pounds with low body fat. But depending on your structure, you may put on too much size and lose some symmetry. That’s not good. You have to be smart with trying to get big. Don’t just do it because you see other guys doing it. Do your own thing.

Some people say that you can’t “grow” into a contest, while others think it’s realistic. Personally, do you think you can grow while dieting for a competition?

It depends on how far off the show is, but I do think that it is possible. Of course, it also depends on the person and his genetics. As for me, I always do it right in the off-season. Yes, I can grow while dieting, but I don’t even think about it, only my conditioning. If I grow, that’s good, but it doesn’t really matter to me.

In your shoulders training video on FLEXonline.com, you perform seated lateral raises at the end of the routine and said that you like to finish up with this movement. What makes it the perfect encore for your delt workout? Also in that shoulder video, you didn’t perform any trap exercises. Do you work them separately or do them at all?

That exercise gets me to finish up with a great pump and of course helps my shoulders to grow, too. After a tough workout, I really get the most out of it by doing these last. Of course, they are still good when done as any part of your shoulder day.

I do my traps only once or twice a month, but I don’t really need to do them at all. However, it’s good to feel all your muscles, and my traps react very quickly. I’ll do traps with my shoulders because they’re getting worked anyway during that body part. It’s better to finish with a couple of trap movements. It all depends on the person, though.

During your chest routine, you perform incline presses on a bench and also later on using dumbbells. Any particular reason why you repeat this movement? Do you prefer the
 bar or dumbbells?

I always change my routine around depending on how I am feeling that particular day. It’s not always incline presses, either. I may do a different movement in its place. The best way for me to shock my muscles is to see how I am responding and go from there.

Which do I like better, the bar or dumbbell? Ha! I like both!

With the announcement that you’ll be competing at the 2012 IFBB Australia Pro Grand Prix, that will make it three shows in the first three months of the calendar year (including the FLEX Pro and Arnold Classic). Are you concerned that you may experience some burnout issues as the season goes on, especially with your first Mr. Olympia contest coming up?

Of course I’m going to Australia for the experience, but also because I’m feeling good and I’m not concerned about my conditioning—it will be fine. I learned a lot of things about myself last year, and everything is totally different now.

What do you think happens physiologically? Why do some guys get harder with multiple shows and others looks like a water buffalo?

Some bodybuilders hold water and others seem to dry out from entering multiple shows. Guys like Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, and Kevin Levrone did this routinely, but bodybuilders today rarely seem to subscribe to the same theory.

You know, everyone is different. Some bodybuilders choose to compete in fewer shows while others feel comfortable doing more. I do my own thing and am not concerned about anyone else.

The guys who come in harder to 
each show are the ones who do their homework. First, it depends on how they did their program and then how motivated they are to come in better and better. If they look like that water buffalo you mentioned, that can depend on many different things. They may be under some sort of stress, have to travel a long way to the show, or they could have made a simple mistake with carbing up. They may not have noticed it themselves, but that’s why it’s important to have someone with you that can tell you that you’re losing those striations.

Staying on top of your cardio is also something that keeps you tight. That’s the first thing I do when I wake up at
 5 o’clock in the morning. I hit the staircase in my apartment building; during contest prep, I’ll go up to an hour doing it. Luckily I have a good relationship with my neighbors and they all know I’m a professional bodybuilder or they might think I’m crazy going up and down the stairs over and over.

In the past, you have had some difficulties finding the right type of food on the road right before a contest. What are you and Hany Rambod going to do to ensure that doesn’t ever happen again?

I may have only a handful of pro contests under my belt so far, but Hany and I are learning new things all of the time. He is finding out how my body reacts to certain types of food, and we will make sure that those things are always available to us on the road. That trial-and-error period is over. We both know what we need to do.