The road to success started - and remains - in the weight room for WWE superstar John Cena and younger brother Matt.
School Of Hard Nocks
There is no minimizing the depth of the fraternal bond, yet there exists a great divide in the house of Cena, where brothers John, 32, and Matt, 28, lead radically divergent lives.
One is a flamboyant, hard-charging professional wrestler who spends his nights loudmouthing, and then summarily lambasting, opponents for an audience of millions. The other is a subdued, soft-spoken amateur bodybuilder who is content to eat, train and sleep - then repeat, in obscurity, to get where he wants to go.
They are different men with different goals, but whose worlds collide in the musty confines of Hard Nocks South - a bare-bones gym in Tampa, Florida - where barbells strain under the weight of clanging plates and dues are paid in sweat... and sometimes blood.
Big Brother John Cena knows training. One glance at his 6'1", 250-plus-pound frame is proof enough of that. Toss in his background as a Gold's Gym Venice employee, a former amateur competitive bodybuilder with four shows under his belt and a degree in exercise physiology, and it becomes undeniable.
For the better part of the past three years, John has been taking his training cues from Rob MacIntyre, adopting Olympic lifts as the backbone of his training. The idea, he contends, is to make sure that John is ready for anything he might encounter in the ring.
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"What we're trying to do with John is to turn him into the ultimate strength athlete," MacIntyre says. "He won't be the best at everything, but he'll be pretty good at most things."
"Little" brother Matt Cena is the second youngest of five brothers, but nobody can call him the runt of the litter. At 5'11" and 214 pounds - down from an offseason high of 242 - Matt's muscle-heavy pedigree is immediately apparent. His demeanor, however, is much different than John's - he exudes an "aw-shucks" persona. For the foreseeable future, Matt is fully invested in trying to earn a pro card, his best chance this year coming at the NPC Team Universe in September.
"Growing up, I'd pick up the magazines and watch FLEX Magazine Workout on TV and think, I might have a shot at this," he said, then nodding in his brother's direction. "When we train together, I try to train up to his standards. I can't, but I try. I just think it's a helpful dynamic to find anybody who trains hard."
To find out more about the work ethic and the intensive training that drives the careers of these two Cena brothers, pick up the August issue of FLEX on newsstands now.