{"feed":"FLEX-Online-The-Ultimate-Bodybuilding-Information-Resource","feedTitle":"FLEX Online","feedLink":"/feed/FLEX-Online-The-Ultimate-Bodybuilding-Information-Resource","catTitle":"Fitness","catLink":"/cat/fitness"}
The 6X 212 Olympia champion puts the speculation to rest.


Imagine it’s 1979 and you want to do pullups. Already hanging from the bar is Roy Callendar, third in the previous year’s Mr. Olympia. You’d better hope he lets you work in, because he’s not moving on for another hour or so. And 25 sets at the pullup bar are just the beginning. Callendar’s back routines typically consisted of 85 sets, and his entire back/biceps/forearms workout could last six hours! All his body parts went through similar endurance sessions. Callendar is an extreme example of volume training, but his success illustrates that more is sometimes better. With proper nutrition and enough rest between workouts, volume training can lead to more voluminous muscles.

In the beginning, which is to say the first half of the 20th century, bodybuilders trained their entire physiques in every workout. By necessity, they couldn’t do many sets per body part per workout until split routines divided their workload. When routines were broken up, volume climbed. It peaked in the late ’70s and early ’80s with Callendar, Casey Viator (third in the 1982 Olympia), and Johnny Fuller. All three top pros did in excess of 40 sets in each body-part routine. 

Nobody sprints through an ultramarathon. Likewise, there is a limit to how long most people can maintain even moderate intensity when they’re grinding  through around 1,000 reps per quad workout, as Viator...




Intermittent fasting is simply cycling your eating patterns with periods of fasting. There are three types of intermittent fasting that have been studied considerably: alternate-day fasting, whole-day fasting, and time-restricted feedings.

Alternate-day fasting is when you fast for 24 hours and then feed for 24 hours. Whole-day fasting is when there are one to two days of complete fasting with zero calories. Time-restricted feedings require fasting for 16 to 20 hours and then feeding for four to eight hours. Alternate-day fasting is the most studied and promising for weight loss because you don’t increase your calorie intake on feeding days. Most successes revolve around an overall decrease in caloric intake, but research has mixed results when it comes with maintaining lean body mass during weight loss.

Studies have shown that whole-day fasting is the least reliable intermittent-fasting strategy. Research has shown that after six months of whole-day fasting, the results weren’t positive compared with a regular diet’s.

Time-restricted feedings, like those done during Ramadan (when Muslims fast completely from sunrise to sunset for one month), are the most studied type of intermittent fasting. Weight loss was certain but at the cost of lean body mass. More recent studies looked beyond the Ramadan fasting. One in particular that examined 16-hour and eight-hour fasting cycles for eight weeks showed significant fat mass loss while maintaining lean body mass.

Intermittent fasting may have a seat at the table with athletes,...

For the first time in IFBB Pro League history, you will have a say in who will be named this year's Mr. Olympia – if and only if you're in attendance for Mr. Olympia prejudging on Friday (9/14) and the Mr. O finals on Saturday (9/15) at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV.


  • Fans will be given access to a judge's scorecard on a mobile device via a code; all of the votes cast will count in the official decision.
  • Should the fans choose a different winner than the judges, that competitor will be awarded the honor of becoming the inaugural 2018 Mr. Olympia People's Champion!

That means all of you who felt Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay should've snagged the Sandow instead of Phil Heath last year, better get your tickets now at


The top three competitors primed to win the inaugural People's Champ award.


After taking a close second in 2017 to current champ, Phil Heath, the hype behind the 300-pound, seriously shredded Big Ramy is real. A lot of people thought he should've won, and bodybuilding fans everywhere are eager to see what he brings to stage this year.


  • 2013-2014 New York Pro, 1st
  • 2016 Kuwait Pro, 1st
  • 2017 Arnold Classic Europe, 1st
  • 2017 Mr. Olympia, 2nd


A former 212 competitor, Bonac's first Olympia was in 2014, when he placed 15th. The year after that, he grabbed eighth place. Then fifth place the next year. And then third place in 2017. And after winning...

 Tri Tip #1 

I wasn’t blessed with the greatest genetics for triceps, but I learned to work with my body structure. You have to be open-minded with the exercises you choose. I learned very early that skull-crushers (lying triceps extensions) weren’t the only exercise for tris, contrary to what a lot of people seem to think. Cable movements can be very beneficial for size and shape. It’s just a matter of finding the right position for your body structure and really putting your mind into working the muscle.

 Tri Tip #2 

For pushdowns, I like to keep my elbow joints working like simple hinges and not put extra pressure on them. What’s great about doing rope pushdowns first is that they really warm up the elbow joints, which, after years of bodybuilding, become very fragile.

 Tri Tip #3 

Dips are the number-one mass builder for triceps. I don’t like to do them for chest, but that’s just a personal thing. I always feel them the most in my triceps. The muscular development of Olympic gymnasts, who work on rings and parallel bars, proves how effective a dipping movement is for triceps.

 Tri Tip #4 

I think one-arm pushdowns have really added to my triceps detail and accentuated my horseshoes. I use an underhand grip and start with my hand near the opposite deltoid. Then I pull the handle down across my body. The effect is a cross between a pushdown and a kickback. Single-arm movements are always good for biceps and triceps because you can really focus on the contraction.

Per Bernal

As bodybuilding fans are surely aware by now, Phil Heath is still the reigning Mr. Olympia, with an incredible seven titles in a row.

But that last one? It sure as hell wasn’t easy, with a certain 5'10", 300-pound behemoth offering up a brutal fight. Mamdouh Elssbiay—aka “Big Ramy”—has been steadily gaining on Heath and all the other top pros in the IFBB Pro League since earning his pro card by winning the 2012 Amateur Olympia.

The 33-year-old’s steady ascension can be measured purely by his Mr. O results: eighth in 2013, seventh in 2014, fifth in 2015, fourth in 2016, and now a runner-up medal in 2017. Along the way, he’s captured five pro titles, including the 2013 and 2014 New York Pro, 2015 Arnold Classic Brazil, 2016 Kuwait Pro, and, just a week after this past Olympia, the Arnold Classic Europe on Sept. 23 in Barcelona, Spain.

Now the showdown is set, the irresistible force versus the immovable object, as Heath guns for a record-tying eighth Olympia title, and Big Ramy—indeed, the heaviest pro bodybuilder to ever step onstage—looks to take the next logical, thunderous step upward in his rise to the apex of the sport as he shoots for a rematch at the 2018...

I’m getting into powerlifting but still want to stay lean. Is high carb intake essential for strength athletes?

Strength athletes typically require fewer carbohydrates than endurance athletes because the carb requirements are mainly determined by the time, or duration, spent training and the intensity of training. For a strength athlete working out for about an hour a day, I’d recommend an intake of roughly 2.25 to 3 grams per pound. For a 180-pound athlete, that’s 405 to 540 grams a day; that comes out to 1,620 to 2,160 calories a day, or 30 to 50% of your daily intake. If that seems too high and you’re focusing on body composition and leaning out, you can alter those ranges— go with a range of 1.5 to 2.25 grams per pound.

Load up on these types of carbs when fueling up: fruits, vegetables, grains, pastas, and oats.

For example, good breakfast carbohydrate options might be whole-grain pancakes or bagels. Add berries or bananas, and avoid processed syrup, which

is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. Fruit smoothies are also a good option—stick to 2- or 31⁄2-cup servings of fruit, and blend with protein powders, dairy, or nondairy sources of protein. For dinner or lunch, go for nontraditional pasta choices like quinoa-based pastas, vegetable-blended pastas, whole-wheat pastas, and pastas with added protein.

Carbs to avoid are sodas, candy, pastries, cookies, and pretty much anything that’s going to provide a quick spike in blood sugar and insulin release and has no performance value to it. But in rare cases,...

For more than a decade, men have used MHP’s T-Bomb to naturally support higher testosterone levels. That’s because it has always worked.

Now MHP has taken an effective product and improved it. Which means if you want to add muscle mass, increase strength, boost performance, enhance libido, and feel your best, give MHP’s T-Bomb 3Xtreme a try. This powerful, 100% natural testosterone booster employs groundbreaking technologies and advanced ingredients to increase T levels among even the hardest-training elite athletes. Imagine how much it can do for you.


The driving force behind T-Bomb 3Xtreme is its revolutionary five-phase hormone-optimizing system, which increases free testosterone levels while keeping other hormones, like estrogen, sex-hormone-binding globulin, and dihydrotestosterone, in check. It also improves receptor sites signaling to upgrade your body’s anabolic environment. The result: optimal testosterone enhancement for maximum muscle building and performance.


Research with elite athletes at the University of Tampa Human Performance Laboratory showed that Clinical Strength T-Bomb 3Xtreme not only increased total testosterone but also resulted in 32% greater bioactive free testosterone in just six weeks—without increasing estrogen levels.

Researchers gave T-Bomb 3Xtreme to athletes training upwards of 10 times per week for six weeks. The workout conditions were so intense that the control athletes who did not supplement with this test booster actually suffered from decreased free T levels. But the athletes using T-Bomb 3Xtreme every day experienced elevated testosterone and increased free testosterone.


If you want to boost testosterone levels, you have...

Similarly sized with the same strengths, when they shared an IFBB Pro League stage seven times in 2005-06, they were sometimes ring shots side by side. In his initial pro years, Branch Warren came out ahead in six of those battles, while Mustafa Mohammad, in his final pro years, took only one. It was the dawn of Warren’s stellar career, which included two Arnold Classic titles and second in the 2009 Mr. Olympia. In contrast, the Jordanian’s posing occupation was filled with frustration, as he failed to place above third in a pro show. The reason was never a lack of muscle but usually his scarcity of details. The final victory tally could’ve been dramatically different if Mohammad had gone high-def or Warren never did. Cuts aside, these compact mass monsters were evenly matched as two of the densest musclemen and best wheelmen of all time.


as of April 2018

  • PRO WINS: Mohammad: 0 VS. Warren: 9
  • YEARS AS PRO: Mohammad: 6 VS. Warren: 13
  • PRO CONTESTS: Mohammad: 24 VS. Warren: 35
  • WEIGHT: Mohammad: 255 lbs VS. Warren: 250 lbs
  • HEIGHT: Mohammad: 5'8" VS. Warren: 5'7"
  • BEST POSE: Mohammad: Side Chest VS. Warren: Side Chest
  • WORST POSE: Mohammad: Rear Lat Spread VS. Warren: Rear Lat Spread
  • STRENGTHS: Mohammad: Legs, Chest VS. Warren: Legs, Chest
  • WEAKNESSES: Mohammad: Conditioning, Wide Hips VS. Warren: Forearms, Wide...

People always talk about how hard they go in the gym. They push so hard and so fast, and it’s so intense. Don’t get me wrong—I love the warrior mentality. That’s how I’ve lived for the past four decades. But if you are 100% intent on only getting better and training smarter, then you have to put just as much effort into the recovery as you do the work. 

I train like a warrior. I’m very intense. But I’ve spent my entire life learning my body, and I know how to correct whatever needs to be corrected in order to fix myself. After 12 weeks of getting ready for anything—photo shoots, guest posing—I drop back to 60%, starting over with foundation work. I’ve done this my whole career. 

Here’s the thing: You should train as hard as you can only if you can recover from each workout. It’s that simple. If you’re not recovering properly— and enough—you’ll do harm before you’ll see any progress. If you’re training so hard that you can hardly move the next day or two, you’re defeating the purpose. Training and tearing down the muscle is only 25% of the equation. Proper recovery nutrition and rest make up the other 75%. There are five things that are essential to full recovery: 

1. SLEEP I recommend aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Life is hectic. We need this time. I know it’s hard, and I know you’re busy, but try your best. If your...

When we first learned the story of Joe Weider was headed to the big screen, we knew it had all the makings of a blockbuster.  With a star studded cast and a highly respected director in place, BIGGER wrapped up shooting last November and quickly entered its post-production stage.  The movie has received a healthy amount of coverage from Hollywood trade publications and various mainstream outlets like US Weekly and Entertainment Tonight, indicating that the movie is generating interest extending well beyond the world of muscle and fitness.

Co-Executive Producer Dan Solomon tells us the film is now complete. “Director George Gallo created something beautiful, an emotionally charged, multi-layered, period piece spanning all the decades of Joe’s life. I can’t give away details, but we are all incredibly proud of how it came together.  This is the largest budgeted bodybuilding themed production ever made. Executive Producer Eric Weider and Producers Steve Lee Jones and Scott LaStaiti have given us something quite remarkable.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a private screening was held earlier this month during the Cannes Film Festival and additional invitation-only screenings are slated for later this week in Los Angeles and New York.  General release dates are expected to become clearer in the weeks to come.

Performances are already being praised for a cast that includes Julianne Hough, Tyler Hoechlin, Robert Forster, Kevin Durand, Aneurin Barnard, Victoria Justice, Tom Arnold, Calum Von Mogur, and even a few well placed appearances by some celebs of the bodybuilding world. 

All of us...

Chris Lund

“THE BEST” IS A REMARKABLY FLUID CONCEPT. Debates rage in all corners of art and popular culture. What constitutes the best movie in a given year? Or TV show, or song?

So when a magazine like ours tells you they’re going to give you a listing of the “very best” biceps exercises, we understand your skepticism. We know you may look at the following choices by our selected panel of training experts with a raised eyebrow.

Is the standing barbell curl really the best biceps mass move? Does a preacher curl trump an incline dumbbell curl for the No. 1 peak builder? And when it comes to biceps isolation, how irked will you be that it’s a machine versus a free-weight exercise? (Let’s not even mention yet the controversial “top strength” entry.)

We encourage such debate—as long as you don’t miss the main point. That is, this list as a whole constitutes a kick-ass collection of proven, dependable exercises. Hate on a few if you must, but we think together they could make for the best biceps workout you’ve ever done.

johnnie1.jpg Per Bernal

There’s a lot of praise to heap on Johnnie Jackson’s career, which finally concluded last September. He is the most accomplished powerlifting bodybuilder ever. Last year, at age 46, he joined that other Jackson, Dexter, as the oldest men to win two pro shows in one year. His 13 Mr. Olympia entries ties him for the third most of all time. But perhaps most incredible are his 82 pro shows over 16 years, a mark topped— barely—by only that other Jackson, who had a three-year head start. From his stupendous strength to his middle-aged excellence and his workmanlike consistency, Johnnie Jackson is bodybuilding’s ultimate iron man. ARRIVAL Years before Twitter or YouTube, 30-year-old light-heavyweight Johnnie Jackson romped to an overall victory at the 2001 NPC Nationals, defeating heavyweight victor (and training partner) Branch Warren in the process. His rise seemed rapid, but it started half a lifetime before, in his native New Jersey, when Jackson’s older brother (who died in 1998) inspired him to take up bodybuilding. From the beginning, the younger sibling was even stronger than he looked. After a 10-year stint in the Army, he relocated to suburban Dallas and began...

Per Bernal

Jeremy Buendia’s physique is the standard-bearer in the IFBB Pro League men’s physique division. The California native has earned the nascent sport’s top prize—the Men’s Physique Olympia crown—four years running.

Even more surprising is what he admits about his first three titles. “For a long time, I was training my shoulders all wrong,” Buendia confesses. “My technique was awful on a lot of my delt exercises.”

Consider it a matter of degrees, but his delts, while certainly not a detriment to his overall physique, weren’t all they could be. “That was a lagging body part for the first few years I did the Olympia—especially the middle delts,” he explains. “And it’s just so important for the taper in men’s physique, that wide-shoulder-to-small-waist ratio.”

Per Bernal

His solution? He went to work with his long-time trainer, Hany Rambod, tweaking Rambod’s FST-7 training protocol to blow up his shoulders. “We prioritized lateral raise exercises, putting them earlier in the workouts, did more overall sets, and I...

Sponsored by Strong Supplement Shop

The new Top 10 Pre-Workouts for 2018 has shown that customers are eagerly searching for new contenders. With the recent loss of a popular ingredient, not only has a new king emerged, but a whole new ingredient category has sprung into the pre-workout market. Nootropics, which enhance cognitive function, appear twice in the ingredient panel of our new top dog. Newcomers to the list also include potent yet transparent ingredient lists, continuing the trend that customers prefer to know exactly what they are taking.

1. Wild Thing by Assault Labs

It was clear Wild Thing was destined for the #1 spot. Hitting the scene in 2016, it raced to the top of the pack, amassing an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and customer repurchases and when we take a closer look, it all makes sense why. Wild Thing’s formula goes beyond just stimulants and performance enhancers; it raised the bar on the whole pre-workout category adding in two new ingredients to the pre-workout world from the Nootropic category. Nootropics are cognitive enhancers that give Wild Thing the unique focus component customers are raving about. Also new are the muscle gaining and recovery nutrients rounding up the product’s tag line: “Activates Your Energy and Feeds Your Body”. Wild Thing represents a paradigm shift in pre-workout supplements that has turned the industry on its head and now has many others trying to replicate its formula and success.

2. Seismic Surge by Hard...

Per Bernal

Y3T has become synonymous with adjectives pertaining to extreme intensity. “Hell week” is another perfect description of Y3T (Yoda 3 Training), especially when we’re talking about Week 3, which has gained an infamous reputation because of the high-rep brutality deployed for total muscle annihilation. This is not just for “effect” though—high-rep training within the Y3T cycle is an immensely potent hypertrophy tool that can transform a stubborn muscle group into one that turns heads. In this bonus FLEX feature, I’m going to explain the fundamentals of Week 3 of Y3T and how it can help you achieve the best results of your life. There’s also a full Week 3 program to experience for yourself. Brace yourself, s--- is about to get serious.

Charles Lowthian


There’s both mechanical and systematic stress taking place when your body endures high- rep training. Muscle fibers are exposed to new rep ranges that carry a bias toward sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, predominately targeting type I...

Per Bernal

William Bonac’s simple recipe for building bigger, more chiseled biceps and triceps:

PREFERRED REP RANGE: 12 to 16 reps.

TRAINING FREQUENCY: Biceps and triceps each trained once a week in the off-season (triceps trained with back, biceps paired with chest) and typically twice weekly pre-contest. 

TRAINING VOLUME: Eight to 12 working sets per workout each for biceps and triceps.

FAVORITE INTENSITY TECHNIQUES: Supersets and dropsets for both biceps and triceps; peak contractions for triceps. “I tend to feel the muscle connection more [with peak contractions],” Bonac says, “and it’s better for my elbows as well.”

TRAINING VARIETY: “I change up my routine about once every three months,” he says. “But each week I do different exercises. For example, one week I’ll do more barbells and some machine, and the next week I’ll do more dumbbells.”

CARDIO REGIMEN: “I don’t do cardio in the off-season. During my prep, it depends on my body weight—that will tell me how much cardio I need to do. My average cardio session takes about 30 minutes, and I do this five to six days a week leading up to a show.” 


Per Bernal

Please allow me to put this particular discussion to bed here and now, because the truth is that both free weights and machines have their advantages and disadvan­tages, pros and cons. In fact, the strengths of one can often be said to be the weaknesses of the other—and vice versa. However, without delving too far into the science, bio­ mechanics, EMG studies, and physiology, I can assure you that it is a proper balance of free weights (i.e., movements that require barbells and/or dumbbells) and machines (i.e., plate­loaded, selectorized, and cable exercises) that will pave the most rapid and efficient path to building the Herculean physique you are after—not just one or the other alone.

With that in mind, this article is going to focus on some of my favorite machine­ based exercises and why I feel that they’re so valuable in one’s pursuit of building more muscle. I will not be naming any specific machines by brand but rather simply discussing various types of machines in general—most of which are common to any decently equipped commercial gym. 










Cresencia or "Crissy" Chromek got into fitness like most people do nowadays—it was a way to spend time with someone she cared about, specifically her now husband, fellow competitor, and Rule One Protein’s VP of marketing, Chris.

“When we started dating, we both had very busy lives, and I would come to the gym to train with him and to spend time together.” Chris was making his mark onstage, and that challenge was something that she decided she wanted to take on as well. “Many times he was prepping for a show, which involved longer cardio and limited restaurant eating. I decided I should prep for a show since I was doing the same training routine and cardio.”

While Chromek embraced the challenge of stepping on a stage for the first time, she wasn’t sure about it being a long-term pursuit. “Initially, I didn’t think I would be doing multiple shows, traveling, working, and meeting so many people through bodybuilding. I
now feel like I’m part of the bodybuilding community—a dedicated group of people with a common interest to improve.”

While the bikini competitor has dedicated herself to being a serious NPC athlete, Chromek, who also works as a registered full-time nurse, never forgets that there is more to life than standing on a contest stage. “Understand the reason for everything in your competition plan. Even if you have a coach, make sure to ask questions and take responsibility for yourself.”

Both Chromeks competed in last November’s NPC National Championships. So what’s it...