The Tragedies and Triumphs of Kris Dim

He Built a Back Nearly as Wide as He was Tall


This isn’t always a happy story, but it is an inspirational one. Kris Dim was born in 1973 in Cambodia, a country ravaged by war and soon decimated by a murderous regime. His family fled to America in 1977 and eventually settled in Sacramento, CA, where he’s resided ever since. Dim initially took up weight training to help improve his high school wrestling but was soon winning teenage bodybuilding shows. But success came slow in national NPC contests. It took 11 pro qualifiers and more than seven years before he finally won the light-heavy class of the 2003 NPC Nationals.

“My drive now is to be the best Asian bodybuilder ever,” Dim said in 2004. And then, as a rookie pro, the 31-year-old achieved just that. Defying all odds, the 5'5" 205-pounder finished in the posedown in three of his first four pro shows. The only exception was the 2004 Mr. Olympia, where he placed a respectable 12th out of 19. Along the way, he slew giants, including twice defeating Markus Rühl, shortly afer Rühl was fifth at the Mr. O. Noted for his back width, arm girth, and vast V-taper, Dim was at his best at the 2006 Ironman Pro, where he finished fourth in a stacked field of 29.

FLEX FACTOID In 2004, Dim became the first Asian bodybuilder to compete in the Mr. Olympia.  Hidetada Yamagishi is still the only other Asian to do the Mr. O.

Then, tragedies struck. Dim suffered a heart attack in 2007. Still, he overcame the surgery to return to the stage in 2009, even placing fourth out of 21 in his hometown Sacramento Pro Championships—a fitting career finale. Two additional heart surgeries in 2010 hastened his retirement. Then last year, he went back under the knife to repair an aorta stent, but when he woke he received shocking news: A stroke during the procedure left his legs paralyzed. Today, despite being given virtually no chance of walking again, 40-year-old Dim is training daily to regain lower-body mobility. Forever a bodybuilder, Kris Dim promises he will “walk, squat, and leg press again.” Afer all he has overcome, don’t doubt him. 


- "Pre-contest, one week I train back twice and legs once, and the next week I reverse that, hitting back once and legs twice."

- "A lot of people undertrain their rear delts. I train rear delts just after back and do eight sets total - four sets of dumbbell rear laterals and four sets of machine rear laterals."

- "I don't push every set to failure, but I always try to push the last set of an exercise to failure with 25-30 reps just to really burn it out." - FLEX

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