Shawn Ray’s diet

As runner-up for the Mr. Olympia, Shawn Ray certainly knows the right diet to follow. Catch his tips here.

Most professional bodybuilders claim that getting ready for a show is pure science. That’s not for Shawn Ray. He relied on instinct to lead him through his 12–week plan that garnered him legend status and runner–up in the Mr. Olympia. Here are some of his guidelines:

1. I never keep a running account of the quantities of food I eat–neither the calories nor the grams of fat or protein. I use the mirror, not the scale, to chart my progress.

2. During the off–season, I stay within easy striking distance–15–20 lbs.–of my goal weight. That might be the most important point of all. The stress and effort it relieves is more than worth the off–season vigilance.

3. At 12 weeks out from the show, I make sure I’m about 15 pounds above contest weight. I then drop a pound or two a week, slowly, until I hit my contest weight.

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All-time Arnold

By now, we all know the Arnold Classic brings out the best of the best. But who’s the best among those best? Heading into the 20th edition of what has become one of the biggest events in bodybuilding, we decided to go to someone who’s seen them all – FLEX Group Editorial Director Peter McGough – in ranking the five all-time best physiques to ever step onstage at the Arnold.

Simply the best physique I’ve ever seen onstage. At 245 pounds King Ron was full and shredded from head-to-toe: his cuts being deeper than Bill Gates’ pockets. His delts, arms and chest were spectacular, his back really beyond description. Ten seconds after he first walked out the contest was over.

This was Flex’s best ever shape. He was chiseled to the max, exhibited more balance than the Cirque du Soleil, and his back double biceps was a thing of beauty. Although he competed until 2003 he was never again as good as he was in his second pro contest that dramatic Columbus night in 2003.

Apart from the 2001 Mr. Olympia contest maybe the hardest he’s ever been. With deeply embedded abs and full thighs more ripped than Britney Spears’ copy of Hide and Seek For Dummies, Cutler relegated Chris Cormier to the third of what was to become a run of six consecutive runner-up spots.

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Staying injury free

What can send make a big, bad bodybuilder quake with terror and frantically scramble for help? The specter of injury—a twinge that’s not supposed to be there, an inexplicable loss of strength, a pin-prick pain that intensifies through the set, or one that starts throbbing long after you leave the gym—can curtail your progress for months or even end your career. To avert such disasters, alert yourself to the real-life advice from these four pro champions; then, put it into practice, not as a casual habit but as a continuous, conscious constitutional for every workout.

Vince Taylor “I once tore my biceps tendon loose from doing curls with warm-up weight; another time, I had such a tendon problem with my wrist that I couldn’t move my thumb. Consequently, I decided to train as heavy as I safely could. Maniacal workouts are injuries waiting to happen. If you feel a twinge in your back or knee with squats, switch to leg presses for a while; if your heavy benches produce a warning sensation, lighten them, and use higher reps.”

Shawn Ray “I like 8-15 reps, performed smoothly and hard, but if fall short of that final, extra burn before asking for a spotter to help me with a few more, I feel I’m also falling short of some injury potential. I’ll take the latter. In the long run, I’ll be ahead. My advice: Use perfect form all the time.”

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Police officer Dennis Hopson’s back casts a shadow over New Jersey crime and a light on the amateur ranks.

In his bliss, Dennis Hopson can be found sequestered in what he calls his “Loud Library.” There he peruses the classics, contemplates their wisdom, recurs the techniques that gave the physiques of Flex Wheeler, Bob Paris, Shawn Ray and Kevin Levrone their ancient Greek aesthetic of perfect symmetry and dramatic proportions. Immemorial volumes of bodybuilding are written there in the chalk-smeared walls of the gym, in the rough cast-iron plates, in the glorious symphony of crashing weights — their inspiration is palpable to Dennis. “It’s weird,” he muses. “As much noise as there is in the gym, I don’t hear anything because I’m so involved in my workout and my own zone.”

Dennis had that ability to tune out external sounds, he says, right from the start. New Jersey has long been home, and still is, for the extended Hopson family; it was there, at age 12, that Dennis first touched weights. “I happened to be at my older cousin’s place,” he recalls. “He had a gym in his garage, and he had friends who were close to Rich Gaspari. I was told I could have a glass of iced tea afterward. I never forgot that experience. Ultimately, I asked my parents for a weight set, which I got for Christmas, and it went from there.”

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